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Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far Future
Intelligent Minor Race native to the gas giant Jagd (Sotri / Lishun 2307). They are the most advanced gas giant dwellers in the Imperium, with a tech level of 13.
In so far as such terms have meaning, the Jgd seem to have descended from omnivore/intermittent stock. Jagd is a gas giant slightly smaller than Sol 's Saturn (110,000km diameter); its surface is covered by ammonia "seas" which are usually not far from their boiling point. Conditions are therefore very unstable, as minor changes in local temperature can lead to spectacular precipitation and evaporation effects. Life evolved in the depths of these oceans, but did not proceed beyond simple multi-cellular organisms until it adapted to the upper atmosphere. The most advanced of these moved down again to use the crystalline "icebergs" that proliferate on the Jagdish oceans for cover and resting places. The sentient Jgd evolved in this environment, although the exact means by which their intelligence evolved is still in dispute.
The Jgd have roughly spherical bodies, about 3m in diameter, dotted with clusters of sensory cells. Three long manipulative tendrils are distributed regularly around the "equator". The densest mass of sensory organs, plus a large number of manipulative "feeler" and feeding structures, are located on the lowest point of the body. The species' internal structures are based on a number of thin-walled compartments, one of which (near the body centre) houses the brain (or at least the largest neural nexus). Most of the other compartments are empty except for gases secreted by the body chemistry. Control of secretion rates and partially-directed release of the gases (mostly hydrogen) give the Jgd considerable control over their atmospheric buoyancy and direction of flight. However, these "living balloons" are still susceptible to atmospheric currents. It is generally believed that accidental population redistributions were common in primitive Jgd society, leading to loosely-bonded communal organisations and exceptional homogenity in Jgd culture.
There is only one sex; genetic interchange is achieved by air-borne spores, and reproduction by binary fission. Senses are based on extreme awareness of atmospheric vibration, plus very limited response to a very wide range of electromagnetic waves. Jgd can communicate limited information over long distances (20km +) using pitch-modulated ultrasonic "whistling". Their primary form of speech involves electrical impulses transmitted by direct physical contact. It is believed that this allows the transfer of very large amounts of information at the semi-subconcious level, further enhancing the homogeneity of Jgd culture.
The Jgd live extremely long lives; apparently, no condition of "old age" exists. However, a fissioning Jgd undergoes division of the parent brain, rather than creating a new "child" cerebrum. Average life for a Jgd is about 630+ standard Imperial years.
The Jgd developed a mechanistic civilisation when they learned to manipulate crystalline matter from the Jagd "icebergs"; thus crystallography is as central to the Jgd's technological history as metallurgy is to humaniti. They developed farming rather late, but their social systems are immensely refined, and spring from the need to organise for food-gathering and hunting.
The basic social unit is termed the "hunt" by human sociologists, and consists of a co-operative body formed for a specific purpose - not always anything as short-lived as a hunt for food. Many "hunts" are millennia old, but even disregarding natural mortality, the membership is extremely flexible, with individuals leaving and joining quite frequently in most cases.
Hunts to some extent resemble human businesses, trusts, colleges, or Hiver nests, but each hunt actually holds a deeper role in Jgdi culture than this implies, in a way only compehensible to the Jgd. The crew of a short-range spaceship will usually comprise one hunt, while an interstellar craft will have three or four "active" hunts aboard, plus the social nucleus of several more that become active as and when the ship establishes a colony or base on a new world. The system is remarkably flexible but robust.
The other key element to Jgdi psychology is an obsession with balanced equations, apparently running at least as deep as human curiosity, Aslan land-hunger, or Newt orderliness. A Jgd is literally incapable of thinking of "unilateral behaviour". For example, the Jgd never initiate exploration for its own sake, but only send ships where there is a very high probability of finding exploitable resources, or of establishing a colony that might eventually send vessels back to Jagd. This obsession, apparently linked to the inherently bilateral nature of the Jgd, has resulted in almost all contact between the Jgd and other races taking the form of trade. It also causes the Jgd to operate a retributive legal system (theft is punishable by fines, violence by violence, etc.); in short, "an eye for an eye" system. It is even hypothesised that the Jgd only commenced interstellar travel when and only when they were first contacted by humaniti, because only then was a degree of symmetry implied by the activity.
The homogeneity of Jgd culture is a major factor in Jgd society, but it must not be overstated.
Jgd are discrete and independent individuals, with distinct personalities and powerful personal drives; they have personal violence, if not wars. However, note that education - the transmittal of data - is very easy for them; hence almost any Jgd can employ almost any Jgd device or technique with at least minimal competence.
Jgd thought is alien to all other races, hence communication is a persistent problem. Simple conversion is performed through powerful human or Jgdi computer translators, but even these tend to struggle with many concepts. Pronunciation of synthesised phonemes is not easy; for example, the race name is a human corruption of something produced by an early Jgdi machine. In general, relations are restricted to trade and informational exchanges.
No formal pacts exist with the Jgd, although relations are in a state of stable equilibrium. Jgd systems are always patrolled by a number of well-armed vessels in the 2000 to 11000-ton range; non-Jgd ships will usually be ignored unless Jgdi interests are threatened. Note that fuel-skimming a Jgd world is unwise; shockwaves from the pass will cause severe damage to the Jgd and their environment, and their response is certain to involve high-energy weapons fire. For this reason, Jgd systems are well-marked with navigational beacons.
Other races get on with the Jgd even less well than humaniti; mankind at least has long experience with the race, and the Jgd obsession with exchange corresponds to human economics. Jgd do not settle with other races for long except out of necessity, and any mercenaries only hired for short-term jobs.
The Jgd failure to construct jump drive is a mystery; they certainly have the technology to do so. One theory is that the race refuses to use jump drive because it is impossible to enter into an exchange relationship with hyperspace. More plausible theories hold that jump travel is dangerous to them. Certainly, the Jgd travel units occasionally loaded onto human starships carry extremely heavy insulation.
Jgd are encountered on worlds where they can live unprotected; that is, where ammonia is a liquid and radiation levels are within a certain spectrum. This includes about 5% of gas giants. In other cases, they will use small sealed-environment capsules capable of carrying 3 to 10 Jgd; even less often, they will wear their equivalent of battle dress, a rather cumbersome personal suit.
Ref: JTAS-17, 1109; HIW Gj, 1120