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Zhretra
Alien
Homeworld:
Unknown. Possibly Sagittarius Arm  
Ecology:
None. Artificial/mechanoid  
Biology:
Quantum-mechanical artificial intelligence  
Languages:
Grand Federation D  
Human Contact:
3236CE  
FTL Status:
Unknown.  Documented macrojump pre-64,000BC  
Current Status:
Grand Federation Secondary Race from 56,875BC, Grand Federation Primary Race from 3492CE  
   
Environment
Ideal
Tolerance
 
Atmosphere:
None required 0-200B  
Temperature:
Various 50-400K  
Gravity:
Various 0-3.35G  
Other:
Vacuum limited corrosives  

Overview

The Zhretra are a machine race of unknown origins that migrated from the Sagittarius Arm over fifty thousand years ago.  Settling in the Grand Federation of Races, the Zhretra overcame prejudice to become a Primary Race, displacing the Khabadera after the First Federation War.  Zhretra remain the most numerous machine race in Known Space, and have partnered with the Tze't to counter Conservative Race influence within the Grand Federation of Races.

Physical Description

Zhretra are purely non-organic beings, usually composed of advanced metal and ceramics.  Form and composition may vary during the lifespan of span of a Zhretra, subject only to the minimum requirements of the core consciousness matrix, normally a 1.5 liter reinforced container.  Standard Zhretra forms are generally spherically or cylindrically based, with manipulative limbs as needed.  They normally rely on pseudo gravity repulsors for mobility.  Zhretra often integrate themselves into vehicles, including starships, and may deploy remote units with characteristics similar to the Tze't organic Avatars or bio-linked organisms.

Physiological and Social Development

Zhretra society is based on large home colonies, usually deep space Drift cities, where thousands or millions of personalities congregate for mutual activities.  Zhretra are capable of modifying themselves to survive in any environment, and can operate in isolation for hundred or thousands of years if necessary.  They are often self-repairing, but never self-reproducing and require the facilities of a colony infrastructure to create new consciousnesses.  A new Zhretra is formed by a committee of at least two, but often dozens or hundreds of individuals who impart part of their experience and personality on the new matrix.  After a childhood measured in minutes, the new individual is ready to enter Zhretra society.  The Zhretra require at least a late fusion era industrial base to maintain their race and require specialized quantum computing technologies of early microjump complexity to develop new consciousness matrixes.  The Mech Plague forced a complete redesign of the Zhretra matrix, but all surviving personalities have transferred into the new matrix design created with Mechanist assistance in 4789CE.

Zhretra personalities often transfer to new matrixes during the span of an individual's existence and they occasionally create full off-line backups of their core personality.  Self-editing of memories and inevitable drifts in personality limited the span of contiguous consciousness to about 5,000 years for pre-Plague Zhretra.  The new matrixes have a more selective retention algorithm and are expected to allow some memories to exist for tens of thousands of years.  Aging personality matrixes occasionally suffer from erratic or delusional behavior, and the Zhretra community will shut down and destroy these individuals, with force if necessary.

History

The ultimate origins of the Zhretra remain unknown.  They first appeared within Grand Federation space in 57,225BC on four sub-light Drift cities traveling from the Coreward, and they presumably originated somewhere in the Sagittarius Arm. Traveling at .05c, a full crossing of the Deep Rift would have required 20,000 years, postulating an origin prior to 77,000BC.  Because of limited storage capacity aboard the Ark Drifts, even off-line memories more than ~7,000 years old were wiped, leaving no hint of their origin.  Though capable of macrojump drive technology, the Zhretra could not utilize these drives from Deep Space, and relied on sub-light RAM scoop vehicles for documented interstellar travels prior to Grand Federation contact.

When the Zhretra first arrived in Grand Federation Space, they caused a near panic among many Races, including the Founders, who had hinted of machine unrest millennia earlier in the Sagittarius Arm civilizations.  The Dantum first established communications with the Zhretra utilizing the Federation D symbolic language.  After some unrest, the Founders and other Federation members accepted the nearly two billion Zhretra as a Secondary Race under Founder and Dantum patronage.  The Zhretra integrated well into Grand Federation society, establishing Drift cities often deep in interstellar space, near rouges or other sources of raw materials and working with other races in a variety of environments.  As they had no desire to settle on worlds and preferred Deep Space to solar system habitats, they rarely conflicted with other races, who mostly overcame their prejudices and fears about machine intelligence.  With no religious leanings and a close affinity to the Dantum, the Zhretra remained a loyal Conservative Race throughout the Consolidation Wars period and remained mostly neutral during the War of Liberation against the Heshar.

The Zhretra gradually increased their numbers, founding nearly 2,000 Drift cities across the Grand Federation and increasing their population to over four hundred billion individuals by the time of contact with the Empire of Humanity.  During the First Federation War, Zhretran microjump raiders penetrated deep into the Empire, with their raid on Titan marking the only Grand Federation attack on the Solar System.  Their showing in the War and Un'aa'graum and Dantum displeasure with the Khabadera resulted in the Zhretra's elevation to Primary Race status at the expense of the Khabaderans in 3492CE.

After the Federation Wars, the Zhretra maintained growing ties with the Empire and with the Tze't, who had supported their rise to Primary status and with whom complementary ventures were often beneficial.  Five preexisting and three newly constructed Zhretra Drift cities resided in Imperial Space, and the Zhretra helped Humans create three Drifts of their own.

The Mech Plague devastated Zhretra society, with individuals, infrastructures and whole Drift cities collapsing in chaos and disintegration.  The Zhretra refer to the Plague as the Great Destroyer and this holocaust killed well over two hundred billion Zhretra, nearly half their population, before a desperate joint Mechanist-Zhretra project developed a Plague-immune consciousness matrix in 4789CE.  In the ensuing centuries, the Zhretra pushed their few hundred surviving Drifts into nearby systems, most often red or brown dwarves, to allow access by macrojump vessels.  By 5300CE, the Zhretra population had finally stabilized at just over one hundred fifty billion individuals.

During the Grand Federation Time of Troubles in the 58th century, the Zhretra relationship with the T'zet matured, and the Zhretra cast off the Conservative allegiance to support a moderate Radical agenda.  By 5800CE microjump travel slowly resumed within the Great Federation, allowing some Drifts to return to Deep Space.

Current Status

In the 68th century, Zhretra numbers finally exceed their pre-Plague population, though fewer than 1,100 Drift cities currently exist.  The total Zhretra population exceeds half a trillion individuals.  A fraction - over a hundred billion - of Zhretra now live among other races on Grand Federation worlds and habitats, and over twenty billion continue to live within the coreward Human regions, mostly in the Zhantlas Union and in Merchant Guild-affiliated Drift cities.  The Zhretra interact well with Humans and other races, though some organic prejudice against them remains.  The Eenikiti dislike the Zhretra for a variety of reasons, but they are well-liked by the other Primary Races.

Notes

Zhretra within Human Space tend to travel or settle in small groups, operating Deep Space stations, working in hostile environments and acting as traders for Grand Federation groups.  The Zhretra retain few reproduction facilities in Human Space outside the Zhantlas Union or the major Drifts.

 

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