The history of Chelon, and of the Chelonians is one written in blood and fire. It is not that we Chelonians are a warlike race, far from it. It was just a painful coincidence that our homeworld, our star system just happened to be at a strategic point between at the fewest, three warlike star faring races. We would have spent countless generations living in peace with Chelon, communing with the sun, the water, and the stones beneath our feet. Instead, when the warlike Yajag were expanding through their colonial phase, they came to Chelon. We were overrun, colonized, brutalized, and turned to slave laborers. Chelon was refaced into a farming planet to feed the Yajagi armies. But the Yajag were not unopposed. The Hagma, a gelatinous race of sadists and medical torturers quickly went to war with the Yajagi. Entire fleets on both sides were lost, and twice the Hagma and their drone warships contested Chelon. Millions of our kind died in bombardment from space, and in the ensuing ground war millions more died.
The Age of Chaos reigned as the Yajagi, Hagma, as well as the nearby Dravatzi went into a four way melee with the nascent Automek empire. The warlike Yajagi relished the war, while the Hagma were vastly reduced as a space power, their homeworlds razed by the Automek robot warships. The Dravatzi retreated, leaving countless minefields and Lurker drones in their wake. For nearly 300 years, Chelon was a major theatre of combat for any of these races. The extent of the damage to Chelon herself is almost impossible to imagine. Our peaceful populace was reduced to a sliver of its former numbers. Hundreds of native species were exterminated. The atmosphere itself almost destabilized.
But we persevered, and Chelon survived, and eventually healed itself.
The Chelonians are a turtle like race from a world slightly larger and denser than Earth with a slightly higher amount of surface water. Lacking a major moon, there are no tides, so the planet is a mix of high volcanic mountains ringed by lowland swamps, plains, and rivers. They are short and stocky compared humans, usually five foot tall, but weighing in excess of 300 pounds. The are meta-reptiles and have variable metabolisms, ranging from being hot blooded as juveniles, during the mating season, and when food and temperatures are favorable, to being cold blooded in lean times, older ages, and being capable of entering a state of hibernation. The most obvious feature of the Chelonians are their shells. The front plastron is approximately an inch thick and has a bony core. This offers significant protection to the Chelonian, and is capable of stopping light calibre rounds favored by hand guns and light SMGs. The carapace, or top/back portion of the shell is an some places up to three inches thick. The shell is capable of stopping even heavy calibre rifle rounds, and can dissipate light energy weapons. This means that among humanoid races, the Chelonians are among the most damage resistant and durable.
The species does not display sexual dimorphism, so telling a male from a female is remarkably difficult. They communicate such cues via pheremones and scent triggers. After mating, the female lays a single egg, which incubates for approximately 3 months and then hatches. The infant Chelonian has about 5 years of childhood, before entering a growth spurt over the course of 3 years bringing them to sexual and physical maturity in 5 to 10 years. The average lifespan is approximately 80 years.
We learned to fight, and we learned we were good at it. We had to be good at it, those of us who weren't, those of us who were soft died. Thin shell, dead. Weak legs, dead. Slow wits, dead. We had every trace of physical weakness burned, blasted, machine gunned, and cut out of us. They bombed us and we survived. They burned our planet, and we survived. We rebuilt, we repopulated, we armed ourselves and learned to fight. We learned their weapons, we learned their fighting styles and techniques. The Yaj knew how to fight hand to hand, and they liked knives and axes. We learned to fight with their knives and axes, and we turned our tools into weapons. We killed many of the Yaj. The Hagma butchers liked to play games with minds and pain. We learned to control our hearts, to slow our breathing, to ignore pain, or to embrace it. When the time was right, we took fists and flails to the butchers and they fled weeping like cowards.
We learned to build weapons, we made our own guns, our own tanks and mecha, our own fighters and eventually our own starships. We had no desire to conquer other worlds, no desire to harm or kill others. As we made our place we met others who thought like us. The Dravatzi were cowards, but desired peace and self protection. The Space Vampires were gyspies of the stars, and we made peace with them. But others we had to meet with lasers and missiles, cannons and hand to hand combat.
The Chelonians have had one of the more violent and traumatic histories of the the sapient races. They had technologically just entered the early iron age (Iron being rare and excedingly valuable on their world) when the first round of invasions occured. They entered the modern space faring age by adapting to and learning about alien technology. As the centuries of warfare went on, the less physically durable Chelonians were weeded out by violence, starvation, and contamination. The strongest of the race survived, creating a surprisingly resilient species. The old culture of Chelonia is long since gone, and they speak a mongrel dialect of Yajagi, and have a mish mash of beliefs, most based around environmental animism.
Another interesting aspect of the Chelonian culture and history is that after countless years of pacifism, the Chelonians have become a militant species. Their homeworld (they have no colonies beyond their home planet, but do have a few enclaves on cosmopolitan worlds) has a large fleet of warships, as well as impressive defensive forces. While some might consider such a response a sad commentary on violence and war, the Chelonian military has been regularly active, even if the scale of conflict is small.
The Chelonians have long since realized that their strengths do not lie in innovation, but rather adaptation. To this end, they have put little effort into scratch building or research technologies. Instead they trade, purchase hardware and otherwise borrow from other more innovative races. This ranges from starship construction down to a personal passion of many of Chelonians, martial arts. They have seen the trials and tribulations of their world and species as a ritual purification, and believe that the rigours of martial arts, and its spartan comforts mirror their racial souls.
Slow breath in, cool air. Slow breath out, cold air. Calmness at the heart of a storm. Cold blood where others rage. The sword flashed high block, counter stroke, a killing cut. Reverse parry, riposte, a crippling injury. The sword flashed again and the practice droid blinked red. Admitting defeat, the Chelonian removed his blindfold. The droid had touched him once, a light injury to his right elbow. It would have been more serious in a real fight, but in a real fight, most organic opponents would have surrendered or fled after the first injury to the head or groin. He laid the blind fold on the counter and reset the droid to recharge. More sword practice in the morning. It was time for more serious work.
He punched up the bounty network to see who was seeking who and for how much. He flipped through several pages before finding something interesting. A humanoid, Yajagi suspected, and a cyborg to boot. Wanted on six worlds for vandalism, theft, assault, murder, grand theft light starship. An interesting case. The Chelonian recharted his ship, and started off towards the last known location of the robot faced thug. Two and a half million credits would go a long way towards building a dojo back on Chelonia.
The others, a pair of Chelonian mating partners, an Automek android and a Cynopterid agreed that the contract was a good one.
The Modern Chelonian
With the morals and skill sets employed by many Chelonians, it is not surprising that these pacifists have proven capable bounty hunters, bodyguards, and mercenaries. Chelonians for the most part dislike killing, but have no issue with subduing with non-lethal force. As bounty hunters and body guards they excel in hand to hand combat, and frequently employ a range of exotic and archaic weapons.
The Bounty Hunter
The Chelonian Bounty Hunter explores the galaxy in a manner not entirely unlike the Predator species. They look for challenges to overcome, and employ all manners of exotic gear. A Chelonian bounty hunter is as likely to use an almost unknown martial art as to use a self tracking alien stun pistol to bring in their target. They are typically decked out in gear, and are loud in public. Those that arent loud are either brooding loners, or follow a warrior monk ideal that is based more right over might than profit margins. But the flashy loud Chelonian with the crazy weapon is the norm. (Boba Fett with a shell)
The Body Guard
Masters of hand to hand combat and possessing natural armor equal to combat plate, Chelonians are fantastic protectors. These turtles for hire tend to be more quiet and reserved. If moved to fight they usually subdue an attacker with the minimum amount of force. They favor either hand to hand exclusively and if they do use weapons they are small weapons, hold out gear, or easily concealable. (James Bond with a shell)
A small number of Chelonians actually enjoy fighting and conflict. Many of these go through personal augmentation. Cyborg Chelonians can carry a significant amount of firepower concealed in their torsos and many will have their carapace and plastrons replaced with actual combat graded armor plating. Chelonian cyborgs are also capable of surviving a greater degree of augmentation that most humanoids. With their durable biology, stout bones, and overall tank like structure, they can have double the amount of muscle augmentation. Their biggest limitation is that they cannot accept much in the way of neurological augmentation, such as wired reflexes.
The Traveling Monk
The Chelonian Monk travels to experience other cultures, races, and worlds. He grows as a spiritual being, refines his skill as a martial artist, and generally does good works in his path to enlightenment. Traveling monks are not uncommon, but they are frequently poor and survive on the good will others. They are generous and brave, and many have died fighting in forgotten conflicts on overlooked worlds. They travel light, taking the back roads, tramping on second tier freighters and cargo ships, preferring colonies to core worlds. (David Caradine in a shell)
So Michael Bay is planning on remaking the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise as he did with the Transformers. He is reportedly going to turn our mutant heroes on the half shell into aliens. I could only groan. But if Mr. Bay wants turtle aliens, I decided to write up some turtle aliens.
Additional Ideas (3)
Being a water world, Chelonia has almost no roads. Instead, there are canals, lakes, rivers, and a plethora of other waterways used for transit. The most common Chelonian vehicle is a flat bottomed twin hull boat. These range from 2-3 person craft and can be powered by sail, outboard motor or even repulsor engine. The upper end is represented by cargo ships easily over 1000 feet long and military craft, often little more than floating missile batteries. All of these craft are built to be tough, and to have shallow drafts.
When moving offworld, Chelonians favor hovercraft. this can range from basic air cushion vehicles to repulsor and anti-grav vehicles. These vehiclesdo tend to be fast, as the main Chelonian weakness is their relative slow speed over land.
Being adaptors, Chelonians have no compunction about adopting a non-Chelonian vehicle, gutting and refitting it to fit their physiology as well as toughening it up and generally pimping it out with gadgets and gear. Many a Cynopterid ship, mining buggy, or land crawler has been repurposed into a Chelonian rover, or scout. These modifications are seldom subtle or unobtrusive. Linear guns, rail guns and other projectile weapons are popular additions.
Chelonians are comfortable underground and underwater, and when they build enclaves on other worlds, they are frequently in said locations. This usually puts them in or near sewer and water processing facilities. A Chelonian geofront can house as many as 2000 and be largely self sufficient. They are frequently very quiet neighbors. Said geofronts will have multiple entrances, layers of security, as well as a cadre of defenders who can organize in minutes to respond to a threat. Many nests have the option of aggressive flooding to deny access to intruders, little more than a nuisance to the Chelonians and other amphibious or aquatic races.
Chelonians and Pop Culture
One of the casualties of the centuries of war on Chelonia was the nascent culture of the turtles. They lost their language, almost all of their cultural history and faith. They were forced to adopt Yajagi language and technology, and became a hodge podge of borrowed ideas and elements. The Chelonian modern culture is a pastiche of other races. They favor animism as mentioned above, and there is a general movement to seek enlightenment, though what this entails varies from individual to individual.
When dealing with Chelonians, they are very fond of whatever is the dominant pop culture, or popular counter culture. Their manners tend to be a tad on the juvenile side, with jokes and pranks being common. In reserved cultures they will gravitate towards being punks, while in tyrannical or oppressive cultures they will be more likely to be anarchists and rebels.
There is a small removed population of Chelonians, the Chellis, who can be found on a single water covered moon in the vicinity of Corvi star system. The Chellis are primitive compared to the modern Chelonians and have ridged shells, pronounced claws and a sharp beak in place of the normal mouth apparatus. They have a primitive hunter gatherer society, and there is evidence that they were separated from the rest of the Chelonian race some tens of thousands of years ago.
This race remains largely ignorant of technology, and will not use it even when presented with it. Physical appearances aside, the are almost nothing like their more advanced cousins. They are violent, sadistic, and cruel by nature. They live in small bands dominated by an alpha male and his harem, or roving bands of juvenile males, unattached females, and loners. (Tokka)