Procurer or not, Lukas Sternflug hated this city. He hated the oppressive, jungle-like heat and humidity that choked his breath. He hated the strange and alien musks that swirled and clung to his nostrils, each provoking a strange and powerful emotion. He hated the snatches of bizarre music that always seemed to be heard from around the corner, but he hated its silence more, for then, he could hear the slow and rhythmic breaths drawn by the city itself. He hated the way he could feel the pulsing of the immense organs beneath his feet, as he walked along the strangely leathery material that served as foot-paths. Most of all, though, he hated the the way the sun fell in dapples from the leaved arches that twisted between the buildings, bringing shadow for the strange and twisted creations of these aliens to dart through…
He would be glad when he had inked the contract and could leave. Preferably before they tried to feed him something.
Nath’ar’Selass’Resan is the landing point, and initial colonization site of the world of Selass’Resan, the first major interstellar colony of the Kel’Regar. A cooler and more generally hospitable planet than Regar, their homeworld, Selass’Resan has nonetheless been recently the site of a major extinction event, a heavy asteroid strike that lead to the extinction of the majority of large lifeforms on Selass’Resan, a few short tens of millenia ago. This has left behind little except for small, warm-blooded, egg-laying creatures, and plants hardy enough to either survive the long, long winter, or whose seeds were able to lie dormant for that time. While the world’s life has begun to regrow and diversify somewhat, with vast plains of simple grasses and dark forests of evergreen trees with waxy needles spreading throughout the temperate areas of the world, and vast swamps full of ferns and strange molds have risen in the equatorial areas, the largest creature that walks through them is a small, furry omnivore, the four-legged beast not entirely unlike a miniaturized jackal. It was into this thinned ecosphere that the Kel’Regar first descended.
Yet, even here, they found potential, for the burst of evolution which would fill the hundreds of empty niches had begun, and observably so. And so, after much discussion, those responsible for shaping the world to the needs of the Kel’Regar chose to have a light touch, only releasing those creatures which would be needed to sustain the female half of their race upon the surface, much to the dismay and consternation of those same ladies. For the food animals that they released were relatively small, and though numerous, they would be easy prey, with little skill or excitement in the kill.
It was as they landed and began to plant their first city here, which would be known later as Nath’ar’Selass’Resan that they made their next major discovery - readily converted iron ore and free, nodular copper. While not especially more metal rich than the majority of life bearing worlds, Regar’s own metal paucity had put sharp restrictions on the growth of Kel’Regar technologies. All that would be needed would be a way to exploit this new resource. And so, this new enclave, this new city, would grow to become a new model of Kel’Regar industry, one centered around this new resource, while the metals were swiftly integrated into their organic technologies
As the single enclave grew, small bands of females began to strike outwards, seeking not their previous prey, but new and larger sources of these metals, and the fuels required to make use of them. In the early days, these were dug by hand, requiring frequent returns to the enclave to obtain new equipment, leading to frequent claim-jumping, which often turned violent. Others, recognizing an opportunity for both power and profit, soon implemented a system of guards and transport, which, when matched by advances in parallel batch production by the men inside the enclave, would create a form of industrial revolution within Kel’Regar society. While the traditional forms would never be completely abandoned, this new model would provide the Kel’Regar with the heavy industry they sorely lacked previously.
Accordingly, Nath’ar’Selass’Resan is an enormous city for the Kel’Regar, larger in population than any other metropolitan area under their primary habitation, and it is centered almost fully around the production and export of cybernetic materials. Many collectives, which interact with off worlders in a fashion similar to an earth corporation, exist, each producing a small handful of specific creatures, or, more rarely, components to be installed in creatures at other sites.
With the massive flow of goods and credit throughout Nath’ar’Selass’Resan, it has taken on a sort of strange metropolitan flavor, its buildings of flesh and bone filled with the men of the Kel’Regar and their artistic pursuits, which further leak over into the tools born and bred for export. Unlike in human endeavors, there is little line drawn between function and beauty, or between work and leisure.
The modern experience
Drawing one deep breath, though it made his head swirl with the heady scents of the air, Lukas began to descend down the path towards the abomination these alien called a subway system. It would be tight, he knew, and worse, moist, but at least it would be quicker, and probably safer, than walking.
The majority of personal transportation throughout Nath’ar’Selass’Resan is by the underground people movers, the kel’rakth. With cars consisting of smooth, plastic tubes with one conical, yet rounded end, the kel’rakth looks like nothing quite so much as an oversized suppository, big enough for a hundred men to ride inside, flexed along at speeds approaching forty kph by the enormous, overstimulated muscle that surrounds it, working the car forwards in much the same manner as a swallowing throat. Steamy, cramped, and dark, there are few outside the Kel’Regar who find the kel’rakth pleasant transportation. Above ground, movement throughout the city is dominated by a variety of beasts of burden, from enormous, six-legged hauler creatures to the comparatively tiny personal flitter, an insectoid creature capable of carrying 2 to 4 people and a very small amount of luggage through the air. Still, for ultra heavy cargo loads, and inter-city deliveries, imported grav-sleds of a variety of alien makes have started to replace the beasts.
Disoriented, sweaty, and unfortunately disheveled, Lukas emerged from the kel’rakth, stumbling out into the horribly brilliant sunlight, then tripping, his hand lashing out reflexively to catch himself against the disturbingly warm, and sickeningly leathery material underfoot. Lurching back to his feet, he did his best to straighten himself out as he finally found his stride, heading towards one of the patches of eerie music, his destination familiar to him from this ‘station’. It never seemed to get much more enjoyable, though, when it came down to it.
To call the buildings of Nath’ar’Selass’Resan architecture is a stretch of the imagination at the best, and an outright lie at the worst. Though carefully engineered, and strongly planned, all of Nath’ar’Selass’Resan is a single, enormous organism, woven together with skill and cunning. Buildings of wood and bark stretch upwards towards the sky, their moss-green exteriors seemingly stretched against the ‘beads’ that make up the floors within, while a tough, though faintly rubbery black flesh stretches between them, an insensate flesh taking the place of pavement, while beneath, a variety of many-hearted circulatory systems carry the raw materials of life throughout the metropolis. Maintaining the life of the city, meanwhile, is the duty of a sprawling, coastal biochemical ‘industry’, which primarily harvests engineered algaes for the feeding of the city.
There. That was the building? creature? whatever… where his contacts did their business. Even standing outside it, and looking up, Lukas could hear the strange, ululating music that drifted down from above, through the odd, rounded windows that he could see above. Drawing a deep breath, he chose the chance for billions of profits over his personal comfort, and entered, and after a brief sing-song conversation with the communal receptionist at the bottom, he entered the elevator, and thumbed the node that told it to stop at the proper floor, trying his best to ignore the disgusting flexing of the visible parts of the walls as they lifted the capsule upwards. Stepping forth, when it arrived, he finally straightened, and managed a brisk step out. It was time for business, after all.
Producing a vast number of organic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical implants, cybernetics, and even arms, while importing a variety of raw materials, the world of Selass’Resan, and in particular, Nath’ar’Selass’Resan, is the trade and economic capital of the Kel’Regar. It is here, rather than the much more physically hostile home world of Regar that other races come to make deals with the Kel’Regar, and it is here that the industries are eager to receive them.
Negotiating with Ras’thel was always difficult for Lukas. The blasted Kel’Regar was as hard to pin down as a piece of the wind or the water, and his mellifluous voice wore at his mind like a hypnotist. But, in the end, a deal profitable to both parties was brokered, as it always seemed to be. Until, at least, Ras’thel put his hand on the human’s arm, his grip tightening. "Lukas, you’ll let us entertain you tonight, for the harmony of our future." Trapped, there was no reasonable objection that Lukas could create, as he was steered towards the elevator once more. "And, I believe Mal’lana knows you were scheduled to arrive." The mention of the female’s name, alone, was enough to drain the color from Lukas’s face. Just… great.
Nightlife and culture in Nath’ar’Selass’Resan tends to come in three parts, primarily segregated by sex, as is the Kel’Regar’s habit. Though a few bits of things from other worlds and peoples have seeped in, this deep into Kel’Regar territory, the majority of activities are native.
For the men, a complex and vibrant artistic culture thrives, a kind of strange and alien Broadway. A vast array of art galleries, orchestras, theaters, and even a few cinemas, run on imported equipment dot the central areas of the city. While Kel’Regar theater is notably similar to several forms of earthly theater, their odd music concentrates more on shifts of volume and origin, played in complex manners on a relatively simple scale of notes, harmonious, but in a different fashion than human songs. Galleries, meanwhile, tend to have living creatures in addition to the familiar forms of art, free-expressions of genetic skill that serve no niche in the ecosystem, but rather, simply exist to astound and amaze at their very existence. As well, a vast array of ‘amateur’ options exist for performing and creating art - there are very few professionals, and most of those performing at any given venue are selected from a large pool of those who work throughout the city. While sports are not unknown to the men, most of those played tend to be indirect competitions of skill, with variants of throwing and marksmanship type games being very popular. ‘Fine dining’ is also available, for those that find the Kel’Regar idea of vegetables palatable, as are a establishments that serve a select and reasonably safe variety of intoxicants.
For the women, meanwhile, the fringes of Nath’ar’Selass’Resan tend to concentrate on a more rough and tumble variety of entertainments. Combat sports are common, as are high impact contact sports. Music is also valued here, although it is, again, less ‘refined’, with a strong value placed on rythym and beat. Surprisingly, human rock and roll has proven particularly valued, and many establishments pump it at high volume along with homegrown music. Particularly popular dining destinations tend to center around serving meat in one form or another, including the ‘Kill it and grill it yourself’ variety.
Dinner had been tolerable, if a bit bland, and awful hard to chew. Lukas was never quite sure if he was eating food, or cooked wood when he dined with Kel’Regar men, but as strong and strange as the drinks were, he had still managed to warm up and have a good time… until, at last, he looked up at his new surroundings, and realized where he was, recognizing it from his last visit. So, too, did he recognize the strong hands that gripped him, even as their clawed tips drew blood from the shallow tracks they made, and the throaty voice that purred in his ear from behind, and he shouted, that most versatile of curse-words from the English language.
And his ‘captor’ responded, her voice like an oversized cat, "Yes, delicious, that was the idea. Do struggle, I like that."
Meanwhile, Kel’Regar males and females tend to socialize together for a single purpose - Sex. Venues catering to this basic need tend to form a ring around the center of the city, where men generally live, and the fringes where the women have established themselves. A wide variety of tastes and fetishes are available, almost always with the full consent of those participating. Surprisingly, as with the arts, the powerful biological compulsions of the Kel’Regar mean that there are very few professionals, with the handful of prostitutes being almost entirely men.
Exhausted, but with all of the dangerous bleeding staunched, Lukas tumbled into the soft, fabric cushions that would serve him as a bed tonight, pulling the stuffed blanket over himself. The deal was done, at least, even if he would have a prime hangover in the morning, as he tried to get back off world. Next stop on the loop was Neo-Terra, thank the First Ones.