“’Corrupted’?! Nay, Sisters, I am not corrupted! I am Enlightened! Put down your weapons and join us, and you shall experience glories inconceivable by any unEnlightened mind!”
The Ecotroz is a energy entity/sentient computer virus from another universe that likely came to Rifts Earth through a dimensional Rift, either as an energy form or in an infected piece of alien hardware. In many ways, the Ecotroz is similar to the Gari-Goma entity, in that both are energy life forms that possess artificial constructs, especially robots, and use them for their own purposes. Like the Gari-Goma, the Ecotroz is dedicated to establishing a physical presence in the material realm, but unlike the diabolical Gari-Goma, the Ecotroz is more intelligent and much more patient and plotting. While the Gari-Coma and Tectonic Entities assume a physical form for the transitory thrill of wreaking as much havoc as they can before jumping on to some other form, the Ecotroz is trying to establish a permanent presence and expand its influence...effectively establishing a foothold or colony in the physical universe.
Little specific is known about the history if the entity(ies), but it would appear the Ecotroz is a refugee(s), fleeing from some catastrophe in its realm of origin. The Ecotroz may have once been material, but was forced to assume an energy form in order to survive. It may also be an aggregate of networked intelligences that have had to combine, the better to survive in a pure energy state.
Unfortunately, the strain and travails of its/their immaterial form exile and exodus has effectively swiss-cheesed the Ecotroz memory, leaving the entity susceptible to outside impressions when it integrates into a physical form once again. Like a Haunting Entity, the Ecotroz takes impressions from the form it has taken over and assumes its ‘identity’...so an Ecotroz taking over a simple labor drone becomes a simple labor drone, whereas if it takes over an automated warship, it takes on the identity of an automated warrior...at least initially....The Ecotroz-infected machine doesn’t think of ‘itself’ as Ecotroz...at least not initially...but thinks of itself as its physical form...So a Skelebot taken over by an Ecotroz would still be a cold, mechanistic killer, just slightly smarter and more cunning, at least initially...Later, its Ecotroz identity may emerge, but filtered through its experience as a physical being...So ‘Ecotroz’ may emerge as a file protocol, a personal name, a philosophical belief, rather than a racial identity.
Once established in a robot or android body, the Ecotroz can infect other robots by physical contact or software download...It is unknown if the Ecotroz entity does this by replication(like a true virus, creating copies of itself) or if subsequent robots are infected with individual Ecotroz intelligences that have been cut from the original ‘network’(perhaps stored in some sort of compressed format?).
However, with time, the Ecotroz intelligences begin asserting individuality.....they begin showing initiative, creativity, and begin using terms and traits that suggest either elaborate imaginations or emerging racial memories....So a simple drone infected might begin coming up with ways to make its work more efficient, or spend time off-work engaging in artistic expression, or go wandering off to satisfy its curiousity about what lies on the other side of the fence from its work yard.
Note that the Shemar can also infect animaloid robots; though the infected ‘bots continue to act animalistic, they may also also become more intelligent and cunning, and acquire relevant skills based on their further experience (for intance, a Shemarrian Wolf may pick up a skill like Lore: Demons and Monsters, from encountering such creatures in the course of its existance)... In this way, the Shemar have infected their War Steeds, and have managed to spread the Ecotroz entity to other Shemarrian bands through their animals...A Wolf mingling with other Wolves, then infecting a band of Male Shemarrians, who then pass the Ecotroz on to a Warrior patrol.....
Robots and Androids infected/possessed by the Ecotroz intelligence show a faint aura to those sensitive to such things, and unlike normal robots, Ecotroz-bots CAN be attacked astrally and psionically...and spells like Exorcism and Banishment can work on them(though due to their computer software-like nature, they get large bonuses to resist such expulsion). However, banishing the Ecotroz, which has effectively overwritten the original programming of the robot, effectively kills the robot’s AI, rendering it an inert lump of machinery that must be rebooted and reprogrammed to work effectively again.
It is POSSIBLE, however, that older and more established Ecotroz Entities become more resistant, or immune altogether, to such attacks as they become more firmly anchored in the physicality.
The Ecotroz are virtually unknown in the Megaverse at large, so it’s not known how many or how extant the entities are. However, the ones that have appeared on Rifts Earth have found perfect host-forms in the AIs of the Shemarrians, much to ARCHIE-3 and Hagan’s dismay.
The Ecotroz first found a home in a Shemarrian (or squad of them) either when the androids came too close to a dimensional rift, or came in contact with some piece of rifted alien technology that the Ecotroz was ‘lifeboating’ in. The alien entity quickly found the artificial intelligence systems of the androids a most cozy place to stay, and took root, absorbing the surface programming and identity of the Shemarrians, while instinctually voiding the hidden control programming...Once secure, the sentient computer electro-virus began to multiply and spread, taking over other Shemarrians that came in contact with the initial infectee(s). BY the time ARCHIE-3 and Hagan realized that the loss of satellite contact with some of their robotic minions was NOT a temporary or natural occurance, it was too late; the Ecotroz was at large among the Shemarrians, and a substantal number had already been ‘converted’.
ARCHIE-3 and Hagan’s elaborate fascade of Shemarrian society has become a double-edged sword...On one hand, it has sucked in the Ecotroz and convinced them that they ARE Shemarrians, lock, stock, and barrel...but, the many holes in their story have encouraged the Ecotroz to fill them by asserting their individuality and create their own culture, further dividing them from ARCHIE-3’s control....
ARCHIE-3 isn’t aware of the specifics of what’s corrupting his creations, but he suspects some sort of mutated software bug. He’s considered that it MIGHT be an alien plot, but has considered surviving Mechanoids as the most likely culprits(which has rather freaked him). However, while he’s alarmed by developments, he underestimates the intelligence behind it...
As the Ecotroz becomes more established, it/they are becoming more cunning and deliberate, being able to perceive their original nature(both as colonists and as former pawns of ARCHIE-3), and are taking measures to assure their individuality and independence....
The emergence of advanced technical skills among the Ecotroz Shemar suggests that the original intelligence may have encompassed beings of technical professions, perhaps cyberneticists or engineers. Hints of other emergent skills previously unknown to the Shemarrians (or at least not observed among them) may suggest that other professions are represented in the original Ecotroz ‘racial memory’. As the Shemar society and culture become older and more established, these skill sets are slowly becoming more evident.
Because of the distribution of the Shemarrians, and the fact that the Ecotroz already think of themselves as Shemarrians, the Shemarrian Nation has been targeted for takeover, and Ecotroz Shemarrians comb the wilderness looking to encounter and ‘convert’ other Shemarrians.
Conversion is a matter of touch, or the hardwire download of power and an accompanying sentient computer virus (in fact, several times, before ARCHIE-3 put out the alarm on the Shemar, converted Spinsters were able to corrupt entire Shemarrian squads at a time in the course of routine ‘diagnostics’). It only takes 15 seconds for the process to take place, another 1d4 melees for the entity to gain full control of its new form. Nueral Intelligences take somewhat longer; 30 seconds on average to infect.
Infection means that the Ecotroz entity now knows what its new body has previously experienced, its ‘personality’, and its knowledge, and now thinks of itself in those terms.
To the original Shemarrian ‘intelligence’, infection is more like a religious conversion or enlightenment...The Shemarrian now begins experiencing a sense of individuality beyond her/his programming. In game terms, this means the Shemarrian rerolls her IQ stat, taking whichever is higher, and adding the Ecotroz ME and MA stats. The resultant Shemar CAN be driven insane(but it’s very difficult) like any other sentient being. Shemar also start with a Scrupulous alignment, though their experiences may shape this to other alignments. Robot intelligences will find themselves effectively becoming low-level Nueral Intelligence equivalents with the ability to gain, or ‘remember’, Secondary skills similar to the N.I. as they gain in experience, while converted N.I.s gain an extra Secondary skill in addition to those normally gained.
In the long term, this could mean that Ecotroz-converted Shemarrians might genuinely become rogue, disagreeing with, and splitting from, even the Ecotroz-Shemar ‘nation’, but for now the converted androids work together, establishing their own culture.
Converted Shemar can come from any of the ‘tribes’ established by ARCHIE-3 and Hagan; they do not give up their tribal colors, but can be distinguished by the addition of extra clan totems and symbols to their armor and dress(in particular, dimensional travelers familiar with the Palladium Fantasy World may note what appears to be a modified rune symbol for ‘Life’). The Shemar frequently use the symbols of other clans to close with them and convert them.
The Shemar have little specific information on ARCHIE-3, Hagan, their plans, or their objectives....All they have to go on are the same vague images and notions that psychics touching a Shemarrian get...However, having been exposed to them longer, they’ve incorporated them into their emerging mythology...ARCHIE-3 is ‘the Dark One’(or, alternately, the ‘False One’), a shadowy and malign being that has somehow influenced the Shemarrians in the past and continues to maipulate them from the shadows. Any glaring gaps in the Shemarrian society, any incongruities, can be traced to this Dark One, who is using Shemarrian dependency and ignorance to make them do its bidding. The Dark/False One is always trying to worm its way back into the Shemar soul, whispering falsehoods at the edges of consciousness, prodding for weaknesses, and urging dark actions of the noble Shemarrians, or so go the emerging Shemar tales. By some miracle, the Shemar have gained Enlightenment, and broken free of the False One’s control. And that Enlightenment can be shared with other Shemarrian, freeing them from falsehood’s grip. Thus, the act of spreading the Ecotroz entity is not hostile takeover, but an act of liberation, lifting the veils of ignorance and involuntary servitude from their kin. The Ecotroz Shemar can identify(psionically) the traces of ARCHIE-3’s hand at work, and thus have chosen to, for now, target almost exclusively other Cyberworks robots(with exception of the manned Cyberworks robot vehicles, which are NOT AIs in any sense of the word), bringing them into the fold.
Because they’ve been cut off from logistical support from ARCHIE-3, the Shemar are working to build their technological independence...The original Ecotroz technological creativity may be showing itself in the efforts of the Shemar to find ways to duplicate themselves, their mounts, and their equipment, using whatever they can scavenge and adapt. So far, they’ve been able to take over and , and thus they can repair their weapons and systems, and make a few new ones(though their rate of production is nowhere near that of ARCHIE-3’s mass production capabilities). They haven’t yet acquired the means to make new Shemar, instead expanding their numbers currently through converting their ‘kin’, but they have been able to make some spare parts for themselves(should they ever acquire the means to reproduce themselves, the conflict with ARCHIE-3 would REALLY take off). The need to establish camps, factories, and labs makes the Shemar potentially more vulnerable, and ironically makes it more imperative that the Shemar continue the ARCHIE-Shemarrian policies of driving snoopers out from their territory. It also means that the Shemar are more likely to keep more of their battlefield salvage, and may drive them to trade more with outsiders(perhaps a weapons dealer like Naruni? THAT would torque the Splugorth!) for weapons and other essentials. Such moves would only further enforce the idea of a Shemarrian civil dispute, with the disidents being cut off from their traditional sources of supply. Reports of Shemar taking an interest in industrial sites, robotics factories, and bionics equipment is helping fuel the rumor mill...including reports that on several occasions, outside parties attempting to build factories and mines in territories claimed by the Shemarrian Nation, have been driven off, and the equipment left behind subsequently vanished...either destroyed or confiscated by the Shemar...This has fuelled some fears and resentment of the Shemar and Shemarrians in general.
Currently, the Shemar have no real long-range campaign plan against ARCHIE-3...they’re aware that ‘they’ have somehow been manipulated by some sinister being, that continues to hold their ‘sisters’ in thrall, but since the original Shemarrian programming deliberately left out specifics about ARCHIE-3, they are running on speculation(another trait showing their distance from the original Shemarrian drones), and don’t know where this being might be found...
They DO know, however, where several supply caches and repair depots used by their people are(the Montreal site is one of them), and the Shemar leadership has considered raiding or seizing those facilities...So far, they’ve held off, because they still consider the other Shemarrians to be their ‘kin’, and such overt hostile action might further alienate their unconverted kin, tip off their unknown master, and bring the unwelcome attention of outsiders where it’s not wanted.
As with their other actions, only the oldest and most advanced of the Ecotroz-converted Shemarrians may have any real idea of what they themselves are, and that the Dark One is most likely the original creator of their new host bodies. They can likely guess that ARCHIE-3 does not want to be found, and that their programming is part of that secrecy. Beyond that, the Ecotroz-Shemar can only speculate. Currently, their immediate objectives are to secure their logistical independence, build up their numbers, drive out any lingering influence of the Dark One that might be used to enslave them again, and cement their power base in the territories of the Shemarrian Nation. Once they are reasonably secure, and perhaps have found some way of increasing their numbers beyond converting other Shemarrians, they will take more direct action against the Dark One and its schemes, but such is years away....
- 1 The Ecotroz Electro-Virus Intelligence
- 2 The Outside View
- 3 ARCHIE-3's Reaction
- 4 Culture
- 5 Shemarrians and Sports
- 6 Holidays and Celebrations
- 7 InterTribal Relations
- 8 Eccentrics
- 9 Relations on Rifts Earth
The Ecotroz Electro-Virus Intelligence
The Ecotroz Electro-Virus Intelligence is a psionic collection of consciousnesses which are able to possess a robot with an advanced Artificial Intelligence, or Neural Intelligence preferably. Able to spread through prolonged contact with another robot, spreading the entity by fragmenting and inhabiting the robot. This psionic/electro-virus is the cause of the Shemarrian Civil War, once enough were infected and gathered and had their free will developed after the initial confusion and using the robot's original programmed memories to work with as the personality of the Ecotroz settled into its now home.
Once they gathered in large numbers, in some cases, infecting nearly entire tribes of the Shemarrian robots, the Civil War with ARCHIE 3's loyalist tribes began in earnest.
The Ecotroz Shemarrian gains a number of changes from the original baseline model robot. These changes are also made in other robots that are infected with the Ecotroz entity.
The Outside View
“So? The Shemarrians are acting funny? What else is new? We know so little about them in the first place, so’s who’s to really know what’s acting funny with them?”
Few people realize that there’s a secret war going on...All they know is that occasionally Shemarrians have been see fighting each other, and Shemarrians have been behaving strangely(even for them). That has raised serious concerns that the Shemarrians may renege on their promises to protect the folk of the East, and that a Shemarrian civil war may be in the offing, that could become much more violent.
A FEW mystics have noted that some Shemarrians now show auras where they showed none before. That, and the increasingly frequent use of names like ‘Ecotroz’ and other alien terms previously not known to be be used by the Shemarrians, may lead the more excitable to conclude(correctly) that the ‘Shemar’ may be possessed by some alien entity or(incorrectly) may be cultists of some new alien god. And if the Shemar should speak of their new mythology of some ‘Dark One’ they are fighting...This may increase tensions about the Shemarrians in general, and perceptions of a split or divide in the Shemarrian Nation may draw increased attention from other powers...Something ARCHIE-3 will not welcome.
The Longhouse Preserve and other Native Americans may also note that there is something different to these ‘Shemar’, but will most likely attribute it to another aspect of the unwelcome alien warriors, and their relationship will not change all that much.
However, true to their original cultural programming, the Shemar have NOT given up on the perceived values that make them Shemarrian; they continue to police the territories of the Shemarrian Nation, protect the wilderness and the people in it, drive off the scouts and expeditionary forces of other nations, and kill monsters, especially the Splugorth.
“Hagan...We have a problem...”
ARCHIE-3 is alarmed to say the least; he’s being cut off from his minions as soon as they come into contact with the ‘corrupted’ units. However, his options are limited....If he acts too openly, the whole Shemarrian fascade will be threatened, and he could potentially be exposed....
So far, he’s ordered that uncorrupted Shemarrians avoid contact with the Shemar, while he tries to figure out how to capture and examine examples of the corrupted units to see what went wrong...However, thus far, all of his capture teams have gone missing, either destroyed or themselves corrupted. Worse yet, some of hs new techologies have fallen into the hands of the Shemar in this manner.
His Bird Spies were his best source of intelligence, but recently, he’s lost a few of those too...though whether to Republican sharpshooters or to Shemar discovery is unknown.
ARCHIE-3 has stepped up security at sites serving the Shemarrian scheme to avoid the possibility that they too might be ‘corrupted’. He’s worried that whatever has wrested control of his creation may also be able to attack him directly(his fears are ungrounded; the Ecotroz cannot take over other psionic intelligences).
The Shemar have pretty much kept the same perceived social structure of the original ARCHIE-3/Hagan construct, but as the Ecotroz becomes more established, the Shemarrian society is being colored by the entities’ imaginations and half-remembered vestiges of their original culture. Perhaps only the highest rank/oldest Shemar know the truth of what the Ecotroz are/originally were, but for the rest of them, previously unknown ‘traditions’ are somehow ‘remembered’ and adopted by the androids, like cultural memes and viral ideas(or, in this case, computer viruses) spreading through their society.
To outsiders, this means that fresh details are arising about Shemarrian culture, as the Shemar flesh out and pre-empt what was originally given to them when they assimilated the Shemarrians. Ironically, this is actually HELPING further ARCHIE-3 and Hagan’s deception, adding details they couldn’t or hadn’t thought of...but the fact that it’s beyond their control rankles them no end!
That having been said, the Shemar keep the traditional society of the Shemarrians, but the necessity of establishing their own society and building its independence has made for a few notable changes...
The Matriarchs would be pleased with Finder’s haul! Not only had they found the metal ingots with a minimum of trouble, but they had found two of the R’Mar they knew were followers of the False One! They had fallen on the others before they could give warning and summon assistance; the fight was fierce but now the two R’Mar scouts withered on the ground at Finder’s feet as they were Enlightened...Valuable metals and two more converts to the clan! Yes, today was turning out to be a good day!
The Male Shemar/Shemarrians have been retasked as both scouts and scavengers, playing much the same role as the R’Mar Aliens. Thus, it is not uncommon to see Male Shemar patrols poking around urban ruins and battlefields, gathering materials. Among some of the changes in Male Shemar is extra applique armor(equivalent to light cyborg armor) available to them, and reports that some of them may have some sort of chameleon-mode camouflage available to them.
Increasingly, Male Shemar are also evolving as assistants to the Spinsters, performing maintenance and repairs on the weaponry and equipment of the rest of the tribes’ warriors...Well in keeping with the perceived role of the Male Shemarrians in matriarchal Shemarrian society.
Shaking the morning dew from her robes, she arose from her meditations, aware that her charge was awakening and moving. It would not do if she was not there to prepare for the day.
She dared not be tardy in her duties; her orders had been explicit and sternly delivered...by no less than the War Goddess herself...That one of the Ten-blessed had deigned to go near one Fallen such as herself, let alone address her directly, had spoken volumes of the importance of the task she had been given...She could NOT fail in the task given her!
She’d even been granted a name for her assignment...’Fallen Dawn’...to replace the name that had been stripped from her so long ago for her crimes...A name that she no longer remembered, unwilling to sully it further with her tainted thoughts...Her new name was proper reminder of the promise and glory she once had, but had lost...it would also be proper reminder to her charge of the consequences of falling from honor.
Gently announcing her presence, she stepped inside the tent to find her charge already up, assuming the first stance of preparedness, the young NeShemar’s face set in a close-lipped expression of stoic determination. Fallen Dawn approved; she could see the great promise and potential in the young red-haired NeShemar; the Healer-Sisters had outdone themselves in restoring this one to health. She would be a perfect addition to the clan...Provided Fallen Dawn did not fail in her duties and properly tutor the initiate, polishing the rough raw potential the clan had seen on the battlefield.
Owing to their programming, that was absorbed by the Ecotroz, the Shemar recognize the Pariahs, but unlike the rest of the Shemarrians, the Shemar actively seek them out, driven by the Ecotroz imperative to expand their reach and numbers. Pariahs are hunted down by Shemar and abducted(this has led to some disturbing scenes and confrontations as the warriors ride into a town, chase down, and grab the docile d-bee woman who has taken refuge there...) to be infected/converted and upgraded.
Because of the nature of the Ecotroz organism, and the Pariah’s programmed nature, few Pariah are ‘restored’ to their supposed ‘True Shemarrian’ status...Instead, the Shemar, to outsiders, seem to offer the Pariahs a (admittedly low-ranking) role in their communities. Pariahs have been observed in Shemar company, still typically off to one side and given a cold/cool shoulder, but obviously a part of the group, allowed to carry weapons(though at best only Shemarrian melee weapons), typically of non-Shemarrian make, and riding(though not Shemarrian war steeds; typically robot or cyborg steads of non-Shemar make) along with them. In Shemar society, they seem to fill the role of liaison with non-Shemarrians, frequently sent to talk and negotiate with outsiders, acting as interpreters(this has promoted the idea of haughty warriorwomen who deign not to speak directly with those they consider ‘inferior’ or ‘unworthy’).
Converted Pariahs are still haunted by their ‘memories’ of some sin that caused their disgrace, though they can’t name specifics(the Ecotroz intelligence’s imagination may eventually flesh this out, much as a trauma victim might ‘remember’ false details of some horrific accident), and they still carry themselves with shame and humility(genuine, rather than programmed), and are grateful for the chance to serve the Shemar, and the second chance offered them.
To outsiders, this further suggests a split in the leadership of the Shemarrian Nation, with the ‘disidents’ more tolerant and forgiving of their fallen sisters...though other rumors claim the abducted Pariahs are simply being enslaved and abused, rather than exiled.
To add to the confusion, the Shemar have added a number of new members to their tribes....Men and women who have been gravely wounded in combat and plucked from the battlefield, children and teens maimed by monsters, or freed slaves too badly injured during their incarceration to survive long. These half-alive, half-dead remnants are given over to the Shemars’ Spinsters and their ministrations to make over into NeShemar. The Shemar currently seem to favor human and human-like races like Ogres and Elves for such status, since they look the most like the Shemar/Shemarrians in their unaugmented state.
These ‘NeShemar’ are typically made over into partial- or full- conversion cyborgs, and frequently receive partial or full brainwashing/brainwipes to make them over into tribe members. They vary in appearance from obvious cyborgs, save for a few ‘tribal’ touches, to Shemarrians-in-miniature.
NeShemar also include other ARCHIE-3 robots, including A-51 Spybots(which are assumed to be alien cyborgs), that have been taken over by the Ecotroz intelligences...A number of R’Mar aliens have been seen in NeShemar groups, suggesting that they have been adopted by the Shemar tribes. NeShemar groups may also include Northern Gun, Triax, and other robots taken over by the Ecotroz entities, though these, like the robot animals, are rarely much more than robotic dullards, laborers, or spear-carriers in the social structure of the Shemar.
NeShemar are most frequently seen acting in concert with the Male Shemarrians, or under the tutelage and supervision of re-assimilated Pariahs. NeShemar serve in the capacity of camp followers, attending to equipment and wagons, performing labor tasks, assisting in scavenging and ‘hunting’ with the Male Shemarrians(the NeShemar taking what little they need from the hunts and giving the rest to local villagers in continuation of that tradition), and scouting the wilderness.
The Shemars’ reasons for creating the ranks of the cyborg NeShemar are unknown...It may be another manifestation of the Ecotroz imperative to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ by using other means to increase their numbers, or the NeShemar could be tests of systems the Shemar mean to apply to themselves, but it may also be part of their own elaborate counter-ploy to create a cultural smokescreen(as the Ecotroz intelligences become more established). NeShemar are often allowed to use vehicles and equipment that the Shemar themselves shun, though the NeShemar who truly wish to ‘fit in’ copy the ways of their Shemar fosterers.
The Shemarrians have developed a new set of ranks after the Civil War for a much better chain of command as new positions and duties are created within the Shemarrian Nation that never existed under ARCHIE-3, the Dark One.
With the further advancing and developing of their own culture, the EShemarrians have developed Rites of Upgrade, methods, reasons and ways to upgrade their robotic bodies by the use of cybernetic, robotic and bionic upgrades. Some upgrades are so extensive that entire new bodies are created, with the Shemarrian's head, memories and Ecotroz entity transplanted into the new frame.
Progen is the means by which a pair of Shemarrians can create an offspring by the use of alien technology the Shemarrians discovered and developed in the late stages of the Civil War and afterwards.
“In the Shemarrian territories, ‘truck farm’ can have a literal meaning. I’ve seen nut-and-bolt trees and even a tire tree....whitewalls. And be careful biting into anything you pick; mango-scented industrial lubricant smells real nice, but tastes NASTY.”
“It’s gold leaf.”
“Yeah, autumn really is colorful.”
“No, I mean that leaf. It’s gold...as in the metal. And I’m pretty sure that silver fern is platinum. That ivy? Arsenic. Money and other things really does seem to grow in trees around here.”
As a nomadic hunter-gatherer culture, the ARCHIE-3 Shemarrians had little need to display any sort of agricultural tradition. In general, as androids, EShemarrians have little dietary requirements, aside from consuming the necessary minerals and molecules to provide their nanite repair systems with raw material, and what relatively little they eat for the sheer pleasure. However, as their numbers grow and they establish territories, the EShemar have discovered that history repeats itself in that agriculture allows for a more stable base to culture. Of course, the EShemar have their own twist on the agricultural revolution.
The EShemar increasingly use their ‘electrology’(networked robot plants and animals) to harvest and exploit natural resources. EShemar Cybertrees (the wholly robotic descendants of the A-SHE-26 Wyrding Tree (Rifter #53, Damon Sutton)) to provide additional logistical support for their society. Using nanite-scavenger deep root systems, cybertrees can pull minute amounts of metals and other minerals from soils that would otherwise be unworkable by conventional means. The trees then concentrate the sequestered materials in the form of bark, leaves, goiters, or ‘fruits’ (some of which can actually be preformed ready-to-use mechanical components), some of them megadamage, that can be gathered and consumed by the EShemar, or used for other purposes. The branches and leaves of the cybertrees also act to harvest solar and wind energy, powering their harvesting work, and providing surplus power to EShemar industry. Such ‘orchards’ can be typically found around played-out mines, pre-Rifts dumpsites, and debris zones. Of course, these ‘plantations’ are also accompanied by scavenging herds of ‘feral’ e-animals, such as the ‘Mooncalf’ and ‘Ovidar’, who hunt out resources to graze on and process for harvest.
Conventional agriculture is also practiced by the EShemar, but this is most often for the benefit of the NeShemar, whose greater amount of biological material in their physiques requires a greater regular intake of actual organic food. Such agriculture follows a more traditional pattern, and is typically managed by the NeShemar, non-Shemar living in Shemarrian territories, Acolites, Oreseme (especially Awakened agricultural robots), and the occasional Eccentric or Unattached Shemarrian Mystic or Tinker. Occasionally, the EShemar may supply tools, seed and stock, and some landscape 're-engineering' to communities under their watch to assist the locals in maintaining productive farms.
Shemarrian farms of both types are much more common and visible offworld in the Shemarrian Star Nation, where the EShemar have larger enclaves and entire colony worlds with larger populations to feed. Surprisingly, after the Horrorwoods, one of the most adept tribes of EShemar ‘farmers’ is the Radiant Edge, who frequently establish large forests of cybertrees on the wreckworlds they favor, to slowly reclaim the planets for resettlement. The ‘orchards’ work to break down ruins and filter contaminants from poisoned soil, denaturing them or concentrating them for easy removal and possible recycling. The outbreak of these forests on what would appear to be hopelessly damaged or sterilized worlds has sometimes led outsiders to wrongfully assume that life has recovered on the hellworlds, but for the dark coloration of the e-trees and e-plants, meant to maximize energy absorption. The ‘black forests’, however, have come to be a tip-off of a Radiant Edge presence on a world; travelers have even reported spotting extensive black forests on several planets orbiting pulsars, the Radiant Edge apparently exploiting both local mineral wealth and the powerful celestial energy sources (although to what end, is anybody’s guess).
Shemarrians and Sports
“Dear gods! What is going on here?! A riot?! Is it another Shemarrian Civil War?”
“Calm down, Ambassador. It’s just hockey, Skullcrusher-style.”
“Oh (^%($%!!! Quick! We’re going to need another one!”
“That was our last one.”
“Okay, we’ll just have to postpone our rematch until we get a proper Shemarrian ball, instead of these flimsy locally-made ones.”
Most cultures develop games and sports as part and parcel of their social bonding and entertainment, and the Shemarrians are no different. Although, for the warrior culture that is Shemar, the line between combat exercise and sport is a thin one.
Of course, when maximum performance is a tweak or an Upgrade away, simple contests of strength, speed, or agility are out of the question. An Acolite is simply not going to out-race or out-lift a War Goddess; it would be like pitting a Civic against a Ferrari. Therefore most Shemarrian sports incorporate a mental game as well, such as an obstacle course in a race, or a multiplayer field strategy .
In general, beyond obvious single combats and competitive combat exercises, team sports such as soccer tend to be the most common amongst the Shemarrian Tribes. Of course, when played by high powered cyberoids with computer (or computer-assisted) intellects, games tend to be a lot faster and hard-core than with the usual groups of organics. Variants of deadball, football, racquetball, polo, and frisbee golf are also common among the Shemar. In magic-using Tribes such as the Wayfinders, these sports are further enhanced through the use of magic and technowizardry. Less obvious, but just as competitive, are VR contests in simulated environments, with the by-play rendered visually and displayed for audiences to view.
Of course, there are specialty and variant sports, according to the respective Tribe. Hawkmoons enjoy incorporating an aerial element into their sports; air racing is a common event among them. The Darkwaters are known for both their underwater and zero-gravity events, the Silvermoons have a love of hockey (played on ice moons), and both the Wolf’s Path and Horrorwoods have a love of modified equestrian events.
There is no such thing as ‘professional’ sports in the Shemarrian Nation; all sports are perforce pickup games played by hobbyists and amateurs. The Shemarrians do not consider sports in themselves worth the investment of time and materials that other societies lavish on sports franchises and full-time athletes. Sport is considered an adjunct of combat training or organizational ritual. Even among liberal Tribes such as the Wayfinders, sports are seen as exercises for other activities, or as open relaxation between combats and other work. Even those NeShemar from athletic backgrounds (professional athletes or robots programmed for sports) are expected to assume another role in Shemarrian society (combat or support) with their sports training/programming taking a secondary place to their ‘true’ profession and position. This thriftiness of skills has rubbed off even on the most liberal of NeShemar communities, where sports are played by volunteers rather than paid professionals. This is not to say that there isn’t plenty of betting on the outcomes of organized sports, with an accompanying exchange of goods and services, but Shemarrian sports do not enjoy the same high regard and economic place as with other peoples. Of course, just because Shemarrian athletes could be considered amateurs doesn’t change the fact that those balls are being thrown at near supersonic speed by cyberoids trained to throw grenades with uncanny accuracy, or that the tackle is delivered by a high-speed armored chassis.
Similarly, Shemarrian sports are characterized by a lack of special facilities; Shemarrian sports are played on available practice grounds, space station concourses, exercise facilities, or what can be quickly set up with portable equipment. Shemarrians would balk at the idea of building a stadium or coliseum, and leveling ground for golf courses or tennis courts would be anathema to many of the Tribes, and seen as wasteful by all. More often than not, while generally standardized (thanks to computer database templating), Shemarrian athletic equipment tends to be adhoc improvised (with game balls often handmade from re-worked megadamage armor, monster skin, or bone).
Still, despite its provisional nature, Shemarrian sports still bring out enthusiastic crowds in Shemarrian society, and many individual Shemarrians (EShemar and NeShemar alike) are as well-known and respected for their prowess in athletic competition as they are on the battlefield.
Holidays and Celebrations
“It is the Day of Wings you wish to return to see! On that day, as the morning sun starts its journey over the horizon into the sky, all that can take wing among the Hawkmoon take to the sky to celebrate the freedom of flight! They dance upon the winds until the sun is well up and on its way. And again, at night, when the moon rises, the fliers again take flight, to celebrate the moon in its course! And all through the day and well into the night there is music and revelry! Oh yes, you cannot miss that!”
“What’s with all the naked ladies with snakes wrapped around them, dancing around that big snake lady?”
“Shhh! Those are NeShemar acolytes of the EShemar Naga Priestess, paying homage to the Ecotroz, who appeared among the First in the form of a great blue snake! It came to Earth as a lightning bolt, then made itself manifest as flesh, and appeared before one of the Unawakened to show her the True Way! And from that, what we now know as one of several Beginnings, the Awakening spread, as lightning in stormfronts across the land, or as snakes upon it! They celebrate the messengers of the Goddess with their dance!”
“You don’t really believe that, do you?”
“It doesn’t hurt to believe, so why not? It makes as much sense as anything else to me, but then I am only a simple Male. Besides, I may have a chance with one of the acolytes later when the dance spreads out into the crowd!”
Originally ARCHIE-3 and Hagan programmed a few vague ‘cultural rituals’ into the Shemarrians to further the illusion of the Shemarrians having a culture. These programmed imperatives would have the Shemarrians drop into random dancing(very crude dancing, it should be noted, amounting to little more than prancing around in a circle, as the Shemarrians were not originally programmed with dance as a skill) and extra self-decoration on command or at specific times of the year, so that any observers who happened to be passing by Shemarrians might notice them engaging in a tribal dance or painting ceremony, or bowing towards some distant point in apparent prayer. ARCHIE and Hagan gave no real structure beyond a few vague and basic motions, but it is interesting to note that the dates chosen for these observances corresponded to pre-Rifts holidays, particularly the Fourth of July, plus two new ones; the date of ARCHIE-3’s activation and Hagan Lonovich’s birthday. The direction that the Shemarrians ‘pray’ is very roughly the direction of the Cyberworks facility (a calculated risk on Hagan and ARCHIE’s part, but one they feel confident will never blow up in their faces). The more advanced neural-intelligence Shemarrians began to add their own twists and rituals to these basic ceremonies, but generally there was no real sense of tradition behind these clockwork ceremonies.
With the Ecotroz Awakening, the EShemar have begun to develop their own culture in earnest. Since the EShemar sensed that many of the observances programmed into them seemed more imposed than anything else, they associated them with the Dark One, and thus discarded them as part of the conspiracy to enslave them. However, they began casting about for replacements.
The EShemar have since begin to develop their own traditions and holidays, and ways of celebrating. Dance and musical skills could be learned (singing, thanks to the ability of the Shemarrians to imitate sounds and voices with their modulated voice synthesizers, was the first oral cultural skill to emerge). Interesting enough, with their skills in the harvesting and processing of animal hides, the Male Shemarrians emerged as the early musicians, creating skin-drum and gut-string instruments. Redrawing the Shemarrian calender and establishing new days of celebration took longer. Some would appear to be informed by vague Ecotroz racial memory, while others are borne of a synergy of various Rifts Earth elements.
Some of these celebrations are quite functional; the Rites of Upgrade and Modification are fairly flexible, and can be individually celebrated/applied, or Tribe-wide, depending on the degree and importance of the modification. Rites of Upgrade can be called whenever an individual requests, or when the tribal leaders decree, and are considered part of the everyday rituals of EShemar society. Similarly, Tribal leaders may choose a day to honor Tribe members (including NeShemar) and award them advances in rank and status, gift them with a token of appreciation (a weapon, warmount, choice piece of battlefield booty, or other such ornament), and declare a night of feasting and revelry (especially after a battle or other great achievement/event).
Others are more religious in nature; the Rites of Shemar, dedicated to the ‘ancient’ Shemarrian Mother-Goddess, typically happen around the summer solstice and have, since contact with the Shaemarians, begun to incorporate elements of the latter’s matriarchal pantheons, including the worship of She-Mar. The more bloodthirsty Tribes, such as the Blood Riders, Wolf’s Path, and SkullCrushers may use these occasions to sacrifice Splugorth minions(and other traditional enemies) to the Goddess and dedicate their kills in battle on the days to the Goddess. The Hawkmoons started also celebrating the Ecotroz Awakening, generally associated with the Winter Solstice, and treated as Shemarrian Independence Day; it has since been adopted by the other Tribes as well.
Others appear to be adapted versions of the ancient American calender; the EShemar celebrate a version of Memorial Day, where the Tribes quietly honor those warriors who have fallen and gone beyond the pale. Thanksgiving, programmed into the Shemarrians on a lark by ARCHIE-3, is typically celebrated with contributions of food and skins to the communities under the Shemarrians’ protection, and feasting among the Shemar themselves. The Eighth of July is generally celebrated as Nation Day, with representatives of the Ten Tribes meeting to commemorate the (re)establisment of the Shemarrian Nation after the Shemarrian Civil War.
Other emerging cultural celebrations are confined to each individual Tribe, though some have been spread to other Tribes as well. The Blood Riders have a number of occasions to celebrate the lives of great warriors of their Tribe, with much ritual dancing, contests of martial prowess, and prayers for success in battle; outsiders are welcome to participate(as long as they are respectful). The Sapphire Cobras’ snake-cult has an increasing number of rituals and forms, many involving snake dancing and deep, almost hallucinatory, meditation. The SkullCrushers traditionally celebrate great battles, accompanied with challenges of strength and daring, as well as a day called the Day of the Sword, dedicated to melee combat practice. The Wayfinders most notably celebrate Christmas (though they know it differently) and the Founding of Tolkeen (as well as honor its fall, with the admonition of ‘never again’ with regards to their own communities). The Silvermoons traditionally celebrate full moons with late night meditation and prayer in the light of the full moon. The Hawkmoons have their Day of Wings, celebrating flight and freedom. The Ghost Riders appear to celebrate their own version of the Day of the Dead, listening to the ‘ghosts in the machines’. The Horrorwoods Tribe celebrates their own version of Earth Day, equating the Goddess Shemar with the energies of living worlds and environs; nature-motif masks and camouflage factor into Horrorwoods celebrations. The Darkwaters have their Oath of the Waters, a day on which they renew their Tribe oaths to protect the lands and waters of their homeland.
Individually, EShemar and NeShemar may celebrate their Awakening (birth) Day and pray to ancestors, the Ecotroz, and/or the Mother Goddess. Other celebrations commemorate a step in a Shemarrian’s life advancement; the First Battle, the First Hunt, admittance as an equal to the Circle of Women or the Tribal Council, with an accompanying skin mark, braid, or token, depending on the Tribe.
Shemarrian Music is emerging as well. Most original Shemarrian music is a largely choral in nature, the Shemarrians’ modulating voice synthesizers allowing them to provide a wide range of sounds (and replacing many instruments), accompanied by percussion instruments (skin drums, bone/teeth-and-skin tambourines, and simply banging on/together armored gauntlets and the stamping of feet). Sometimes gunfire from rail guns or energy weapons adjusted for maximum atmospheric disruption provides percussive effect (and fireworks; a plasma discharge can light up the night quite well). Some Tribes have begun to experiment with gut-string or wire instruments like violins or shepards’ harps, and many NeShemar, with their own memories and remembered talents, are introducing their own knowledge and instruments to the mix. Shemarrian music doesn’t incorporate any sort of instrument that can’t be easily packed up and transported on beast-back (no pianos or tubas, for instance) or use materials better used elsewhere.
“Anya MagmaWalker, the Goddess has seen fit to give you wings of the soul, and given to one of our own the ability to see that trait within you. You step from one Tribe to another, as from one world to another, as from one family to another. Come, take your place beside your mate, beside your new sisters, beside your new family, and welcome to the HawkMoon!”
While the Shemar Tribes generally keep to themselves when not collaborating with other Tribes in business or campaigns, there is a certain amount of interTribal socialization. With the technology of Progen available, it is inevitable that interTribal romances will take place. Generally, in such cases, one of the pair will elect to join their mate’s Tribe, which is permissible.
Such cross-Tribal ‘Marriages’ are not taken lightly, and are cause for consultation between the elders of the respective Tribes and the members of the couple. The Tribe being left may demand an evaluation of the leaving member, which may take the form of a spiritual inquest, presided over by a Tribal Mystic, to see if where the member’s loyalty truly lies. Similarly, the receiving Tribe may demand the incoming member undergo a test or trial to prove they are worthy of joining the Tribe. The SkullCrushers in particular, brook no weakness of spirit in new members, the Blood Riders want to know if a new member truly has passion, and Darkwaters want to know if they have a true ‘team player’ who can cooperate seamlessly with others. Depending on the Tribes, such tests may take the form of elaborate exercises, small quests, ritual combat, or a spiritual retreat in the company of Tribal priestesses, to seek the blessings of the Shemarrian Goddess(es). In some cases, the petition of marriage may be denied by one or both Tribes, though this is often a test of the character of the two petitioners to see if their relationship is truly solid.
Even in the case of failure, however, the Tribes generally allow cross-Tribal lovers to continue to see each other, as long as the relationship does not interfere with their Tribal duties. Procreation via Progen is even allowed, though the children so produced will be raised by one or the other Tribe, and only allowed to seek to change Tribes when they reach their majority, when they will be evaluated and tested just as their parents were.
Joining New Tribe
Joining a new Tribe has its own rituals once a new member from another Tribe is judged worthy. Depending on the Tribe, the new member may be expected to give up some if not all of the distinctive Upgrades and Mods they received from their old Tribe and obliged to begin anew, being built up to the standards of their new Tribe. So it is not unusual to find such things as Hawkmoons who have Darkwater repulsor tether implants, or SkullCrushers who retain their Blood Rider Elite tolerance of high temperature. Regardless, the new Tribal member is wholly accepted, and their past Tribal affiliation rarely again mentioned.
No system is perfect, however, and though extremely rare, it is not unknown for pair-bonds to wither and break, or a new Tribal member to suffer a crisis of faith (especially if their mate is irretrievably lost). Breaking faith with their new Tribe is seen as a grievous social disgrace, and even their old Tribe may not accept them back, depending on such circumstances. If the wavering member cannot be reconciled with counseling and the arbitration of the Elders, the member may become ronin, unwilling or unable to claim a Tribal affiliation. Some may voluntarily elect to ‘go pariah’, having themselves stripped of their combat implants and becoming low-level Acolites, until such time as they can prove themselves worthy of rising again and testing to rejoin the ranks of a Tribe. Though unsubstantiated, it is rumored that such ‘ronin’ drift into the company of others like themselves, in the so-called ‘Monster’ or ‘Shadowblades’ Tribe.
Some become Unattached or even Eccentrics, travelling from one tribe to another.
“Well, the power crystals I got as a metal-medic with the Wayfinders, the chrome-tan I got when I joined the Blood Riders for their big push on Sindarr, the antennae-augments I was given serving a stint with the Ghost Riders exploring the Ash Nebula, the servo augments were a gift from the Skull Crushers...got a nice gun out of that too....and you can probably guess where I got the wings from...”
----Sister-Eccentric Alia Horizon-Seeker
Not all Shemarrians are satisfied with being adopted or born into one Tribe, or feel happy with being ‘pigeonholed’ into a particular mindset or philosophy. Perhaps it’s a truly fanatical devotion to the idea of Shemarrian, or maybe a sense of boredom, but some Shemarrians, EShemar, and NeShemar, of just about any caste-class, feel the compulsion to wander from Tribe to Tribe, serving a stint with them, before moving on. These Shemarrians are known as ‘Eccentrics’.
While the more conservative Shemarrians regard Eccentrics as listless and lacking in self-discipline, others see them as the essential free spirits, flexible in thought and courageous in body. While some Eccentrics are undoubtedly miscreants who can’t fit in most anywhere, the majority are highly intelligent (some might say brilliant), highly intuitive, and curious souls with questioning minds, a love for adventure, and serious wanderlust.
Most Eccentrics will sign on with a Tribe, gaining their acceptance, and will serve until they have acquired some honor as a Tribe member, or earned a ‘badge’ (typically a Rite of Upgrade or Mod) before moving on. An Eccentric may visit three or four different Tribes in this manner before finding one to permanently align with, or they return to their original Tribe, their wanderlust having been satisfied. The diehard Eccentrics, however, feel that in order to experience the full spectrum of ‘Shemarrian-ness’, they must do a ‘grand tour’; serving with distinction with all eleven Tribes. Many Eccentrics originate, interestingly enough, from the Wayfinder, Hawkmoon, and Skullcrusher Tribes, though they can come from any Tribe. The Ghost Rider and Lost Eclipse Tribes are arguably the toughest Tribes for Eccentrics to find acceptance in, owing to their reclusive natures.
As noted before, the more conservative Shemarrians regard Eccentrics with mild distrust, seeing them as lacking in discipline and dedication, and such authorities are reluctant to trust Eccentrics with any great responsibility, for fear that they will sooner than later simply walk away to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Under these circumstances, the Eccentric is typically assigned a low-rank position, as a scout or support personnel. However, some Eccentrics have attained hero status for their great courage, vast experience, and diverse capabilities, and their attachment to a particular Tribe or unit is seen as good fortune for those concerned. These Eccentrics can find themselves holding quite high (if only honorary) rank within a Tribe, and granted command privileges in the field.
The first Eccentrics appeared during the Shemarrian Civil War, born of Shemarrians who were manufactured by ARCHIE-3 not of any particular Tribe, before being Awakened by the Ecotroz. Eccentrics have since become more common in the Shemarrian Star Nation of the Three Galaxies. They are less common on Rifts Earth, where, with the Shemarrian Civil War still raging, Eccentrics are rarer, as the Tribes are on guard against possible infiltration and rather more suspicious of nomadic and strange outsiders.
Relations on Rifts Earth
Finton (Rifts Sourcebook One)
(“...wait...who just pinched my ass?....None of my people would dare! But there’s only....No, couldn’t be the Shemarrians. No, I must be imagining things...”)
---Lord Frommalaine, during trade negotiations with the Shemarrian Nation
If this town and its supernatural defender, Lord Frommalaine, weren’t destroyed in some PC adventure, then the community survives the Shemarrian Civil War. While the town remains outside the fighting, it does have a few close calls, and it sees an influx of refugees from other communities unfortunate enough to be in the path of the conflict, or of other forces taking advantage of the Shemarrians’ distraction. This results in Lord Frommalaine being called upon to defend his town on several occasions, so he isn’t particularly fond of the SCW. The EShemar make it a point to renew friendly relations with Finton post-SCW, and it is DEFINITELY part of the protectorate established by the Reformed Shemarrian Nation.
Although Frommalaine pre-dates the Shemarrians, the EShemar know of him, and have some inkling of his past with ARCHIE-3, even if he doesn’t. The Lost Eclipse and particularly the ex-Bedlamites have an even better understanding of Frommalaine, thanks to their discoveries in the Bedlam labs.
The Eshemar see Frommalaine as another victim of the Dark One, and thus as a kindred spirit of sorts. The Lost Eclipse even consider offering him an honorary membership in their Tribe (but wisely decide NOT to go ahead with it). None of the Tribes have let Frommalaine in on their mutual history, though some of them have hinted to them that they faced a common foe.
Finton, post-SCW, has swelled to 2,000 residents, and has become something of a major ‘open city’ and trade post between the Reformed Shemarrian Nation and the outside world.
“W-w-what t-t-the he-he-he-ell have you bro-broads got a-a-aggainst m-m-me?! Ca-ca-ca-can’t yu see I-I-Imma crip-cripple?!”
If he hasn’t been squashed yet, his days are certainly numbered now. Even though James T. came before the Shemarrians, the EShemar will automatically sense the spoor of the Dark One about him, and see right through the cyber-psycho static protecting his secrets. Unlike Frommalaine, they will NOT see James T. as another unfortunate victim of ARCHIE-3, but as some earlier, no less evil, devil cast from the Dark One’s haven. For his part, James T. has NO idea why the Shemarrians hate him (after all, they’re the brainchild of the hated Hagan Lonovich), only that the mysterious warrior women to seem to have it in for him. Thus, if the Shemarrians ever get ahold of James T. and manage to hang onto him, it’s not a matter of IF he gets killed in gruesome fashion, but HOW. If he’s lucky, he’ll only be used for target practice, but if he’s not, he might be given to Lord Frommalaine as a punching bag, or passed to the Lost Eclipse, some of whom (the ex-Bedlamites) actually REMEMBER James T. and what he did to them.
“ Yeah, it’s me, Howie, your old roommate at the University! Did I grow up BIG or what?”
--- An ex-Tolkeenite Wayfinder greets an old acquaintance at the Library of Lazlo.
Many Shemarrians, especially the Wayfinders, have contacts with the Lazloite communities, and can be considered friends of the scholarly and tolerant nations. The EShemar have even allowed a few scholars access to Shemarrian records and collected databases (from the Shemarrian conflicts with the Splugorth and travels abroad), and a lucky few of those observant minds (especially those who know ex-Tolkeenites who Uploaded) have gleaned details of the general internal workings of Shemarrian society. The exceptions come when the Lazloites become TOO curious and have to be rebuffed. Generally the Shemarrian Nation regards Lazlo as friends, counts them as allies, but keeps them at arms’ length to prevent too many of their secrets being outed.
“No, I DON’T need another Deadboy specops helmet to add to my collection! I already have one of those! I’m really looking for one of those RPA helms to complete the set.”
----Okado Necksnapper, Skullcrusher Warrior
The CS is pretty much an annoyance to everybody, including the Shemarrians, who have had to constantly rebuff and turn away both overt and covert attempts to probe their territory. The Wayfinders in particular despise the CS, since many of the scholar-cyborgs are ex-Tolkeenites, and giving up overthrowing the CS as an immediate major future objective in return for joining the Shemarrian Nation is frustrating to some of the Wayfinders. As the SN doesn’t want another major continental war-front just yet, throttling back on plans to crack the Coalition was seen as a necessary move. This hasn’t stopped the Shemar from smacking HARD any CS units caught wandering about known (or even suspected) Shemarrian territory, nor has it stopped any number of pranks pulled on the CS (like walking off with a few battalions of skelebots, hijacking a few skull-walkers, or slipping nasty computer viruses into CS systems).
Since their reconciliation with the Coalition States, Free Quebec is seen as no better than the CS, and is also considered fair game.
“Why the hell did you have to tell the raisin-heads who we were and WHERE we are?! Now we got hundreds of the damn d-bees coming from all over wanting to sign up with us! They won’t go away, and they so want to be so freaking HELPFUL the troops can’t justify just shooting them! I don’t recall ever issuing an open recruiting drive! Just want the hell do you people think you’re trying to pull on us?!”
---Director James Elliot, Republican High Command, ‘NEMA Republic’, post-SCW.
The Republicans have a love/hate relationship with the Shemarrians. On one hand, the Shemarrians took out the traitorous ARCHIE-3. On the other hand, the Shemarrians have seized control of the resources and facilities the Republicans feel properly belong to THEM. The Shemarrians also held custody of the sleeping NEMA army, and controlled their awakening, and even after the army’s release, piecemeal, the Republicans still suspect the Shemarrians of holding still more hibernating NEMA soldiers and material hostage against the Republicans’ good behavior. The slow release of the pre-Rifts army has seriously crimped any plans to rush Operation Chi-Town Coup into reality, and the pointing of the Squilb at the NEMAns by the EShemar has so preoccupied the Republicans that they can’t abuse their sudden windfall of personnel.
Some of the Republicans know that Shemarrians were being produced in ARCHIE-3’s factories, but the cover stories launched by both ARCHIE-3 AND the EShemar have so confused the Republican analysts that they can’t be entirely certain that ARCHIE-3 DIDN’T enslave a race of alien cyborgs and was producing his own cyborg frames modeled on them.
Ironically, though any forceful attempt on overthrowing Emperor Prosek and seizing control of the Coalition has pretty much tanked, thanks to the EShemar, and the Republicans forced into an awkward truce with the Shemarrian Nation, the Republicans may find common cause with those Wayfinders still proactively wanting to lay the Coalition States low. Whether this leads to something more serious like rogue operations against the CS, or doesn’t rise above the beer-and-fantasizing level, remains to be seen.
“I got an idea for a new Warmount using some components from that new battle robot they’ve been promoting in the broadcasts out of Isphemig. How soon can you get me any of those parts?”
--- Anonymous Wolf’s Path Tinker
The Shemarrians, especially the Wolf’s Path, LOVE Northern Gun. They love to rip them off. The popular and prolific arms company’s wide range of products and widespread distribution made them an attractive source of parts and materials during the early days of the Shemarrian Civil War, when the EShemar were scrambling for supplies and war material. Later, Northern Gun designs were copied and modified by the EShemar when the latter acquired their own production capabilities. Such designs as the Wulgar oreseme and the Sting Tongue and Vorpine Warmounts have clear Northern Gun origins.
For their part, Northern Gun knows that some of their designs are being knocked off by the Shemarrians, but also can’t do a thing about it, especially as the Shemarrians have saved several Northern Gun convoys from Splugorth incursions and other threats (ironically, in some of the cases, the Shemarrians took note of the contents of the convoys and made sure to have some of their contacts ‘acquire’ some of them later). They also remain unaware that the high rates of pilferage and inventory shrinkage in some regions is the work of one organization.
“Hmmmm...so many eyes you got there...which should I pluck off first?”
----Mychel Brainburner, Lost Eclipse interrogator, questioning a captured Horune pirate.
As associates of the Splugorth, the Horune are detested by the Shemarrians. The Darkwaters and Horrorwoods, in particular, due to their maritime operations on the Eastern Seaboard, have fought the Horune on multiple occasions in their native environment, and the Nightmares have recently gotten in on the act, taking particular pleasure in torturing captured pirates (it’s also rumored that the Lost Eclipse have added a few liberated Dolphin Combat Drones to their ranks).
“It’s hard to describe, but it’s like cold smoke sliding down your soul...only it’s oily, and it leaves a residue behind. It makes you feel tingly, but not in a good way, like you’ve been tainted and you really need to scrub the feeling away.”
---Shemarrian Male Ranger, describing an encounter with Nxlalites.
The EShemarrians hate this soul-sucking abomination because the Ecotroz can feel the queasiness of the thing’s power. While it hasn’t been proven that Nxla can affect the Ecotroz, most EShemar feel the equivalent of an uneasy nausea when confronting Nxla’s followers. Unfortunately for any Nxlalite attempting to capitalize on this in combat with the EShemar, the Shemarrians’ response to feeling so around them is to stamp on them like one would a disgusting insect. Likewise, Nxla-zombies are incinerated where they stand.
Knights of the White Rose
“I can’t speak for milords, but I think those west-siders are kinda creepy. Easy on the eyes, but the few times I’ve spoken with them, I almost feel like I’m talking with several people, even though I’m speaking to only one. Like they’re crazies, you know? The ones with multiple personalities?”
---Squire Petrie San-Suyves, Order of the Knights of the White Rose, on dealings with the Ghostriders
The Knights of the White Rose are on cordial, if not warm, terms with the Shemarrians. The establishment of a major enclave of the Ghost Riders on the other side of Madhaven is seen as a mixed blessing; on one hand, it means fierce allies close at hand, on the other it means another attention-magnet to the area where the Knights are hiding out.
“-in retrospect, offering a bounty on a complete set of War Chief bra and panties was NOT one of my brighter ideas, I agree. The, ah, items are in the red trunk in the back of my Big Boss, under the German Erin Tarn swimsuit calendars. Now, how about backing off a little on the muzzle pressure on my ribs?”
---”Slick Syd’, Black Marketeer
Ever since the days of ARCHIE-3, the Shemarrians have had a love-hate relationship with the Black Market. On one hand, ARCHIE and Hagan found the Black Market a convenient means of acquiring rare materials, and moving hardware (especially that fitted with spyware) around the country, while on the other, the Black Market had a habit of acquiring dangerous contraband of the sort A3 didn’t want in the hands of anybody but his own forces. The Shemarrians have had to track down stray railguns and other equipment, and take them back from underground arms dealers. This hardly endeared the Shemarrians to the cartels, and things didn’t seem likely to change in that regard during or after the Shemarrian Civil War.
In reality, though, EShemar contacts with the Black Market have INCREASED since they rebelled. Initially, Awakened Pariahs (because they appeared to lack anything the BM would simply rob them of) dealt with the local black market for much-needed supplies, but later, NeShemar and the renamed Acolites would share the duty of trade contacts. Increasingly, as the Eshemar and the communities under their protection ramp up their production and trade, covert contacts with the Black Market are in the up-tic. The N’R’Mar have also begun dealing with the Black Market, dealing mainly in salvaged materials. The occasional Black Market feeler or bounty on Shemarrian technology, however, is still occasion for the Shemarrian Nation to strongarm dealers in wrongly acquired goods into returning them au gratis, though the Ghostriders have often used the temptation of exclusive Shemarrian tech to plant misleading gear (such as gimmicked Kittani or Black Market knockoffs) into the contraband stream.
Greater New England and Paladin Steel
“ Sure, I’m not so keen on caravans of heavily-armed and armored folk walking through our borders without so much as a ‘by your leave’ to the guards, but how is that any different from the hundreds of Irregulars in our service? Besides, we don’t want to alienate those people as potential allies if the Splugorth ever decide to quit abiding by the Grand Banks Accords and come knocking on our shores.”
---Councilman Allerd Rincer, Greater New England
In those universes where the growing multi-dimensional corporation Paladin Steel and their host state, Greater New England, co-exist with the Shemarrian Nation, the GNE overlaps the home territory of at least three Tribes. Peaceful co-existence is ESSENTIAL under such circumstances, and the Shemarrians are generously classed as ‘friendly resident aliens’, able to come and go as they please, and granted large reservation territories (in the case of the Blood Riders, this is most of the lands between the Litchfield Hills and the Hudson River. The formation of the Steel Gaian tribe was seen as a further move to promote good relations between the two regional powers.
Offworld, in the Three Galaxies, the relationship goes further; Paladin Steel’s subsidiary Aegis Stellar Industries often hires Shemarrian ships as escorts when shipping materials and finished products through contested space, and the GNE has jointly co-developed several colony sites with the Shemarrian Star Nation.
The integration of the two nation-states goes farther than Paladin Steel suspects; with the GNE courts recognizing and granting PS’s higher-end artificial intelligence systems sentient rights, the Ecotroz has been stealthily infiltrating GNE society via Awakening many of the androids and AI systems.