History of the Sentinel Worlds: Garuda
by Aubry Thonon, with Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen, and Robert Morgenstern
- Star: Rhestad (red giant, G9III)
- Orbital distance: 8.5 AU
- Orbital number: 2
- Orbital period: 780.203 days
- Gravity: 1.03 g
Garuda is an Earth-like planet, with near to 48% of its surface covered in water – but while the total percentage of water is lower than Earth’s, Garuda seems to enjoy a more even distribution of it, leaving only 2.3% of its continental surface as a dry, hot desert-like environment. Some cold deserts do exist, but only run to about 4% of the surface and they themselves become rather saturated during the heights of summer.
There are three continents on Garuda: Amphur, the largest at 76% of the land-mass, running as a deformed ellipse North-West to South-East across the Equator; Diparn, 16% of Garuda’s land-mass, a vaguely starfish-like shape in the Southern hemisphere to the West of Amphur; and Rashif, the smallest continent at 3% of the planetary land-mass, slightly reminiscent of a Garudan forearm and clawed hand, located in the Northen Hemisphere to the East of Amphur.
With 6.3% of the surface given to a desert-like environment, both hot and cold, another 12% is taken by mountainous terrains of various types. The most impressive would be the Geparu Ranges on Diparn, with sheer cliffs of up to 5 kilometers in height. The highest Garudan Mountain, Hailas (12km), can also be found within these ranges.
10% of the continents is rivers and lakes, only 4% of the surface is given to grassy plains (generally in valleys), and Garuda’s famed forests take another 47.5% of the planetary ground-surface. Garuda’s last major environment, its marshes, covers 20.1% of the continental surface. These marshes are distributed almost evenly over Garuda’s three continents, with only the high-mountainous regions free of them.
It is interesting to note that although industrialization has taken its toll here as on most other planets, much of its physical impact was softened by the Garudan’s choice of location for their industrial complexes – almost all were built in the deserts or in mountainous terrains – and the fact that Garudan housing is built to blend into the forests’ canopy. The only city not built along these lines is Garuda’s only planetary space-port, Brophen, on Rashif. Only one spaceport is maintained on-planet as most of Garuda’s interplanetary transactions take place in orbital stations, away from Garuda’s anomalous atmosphere.
Garudans themselves, while similar to a bipedal Terran fox in outward appearance, seem to have more in common with the Terran arboreal squirrel; the lean fore-arms and curved claws, the strong but nimble legs, the clawed feet and the ability to bend in almost impossible directions, have all made the Garudan the undisputed ruler of the forests. While there still are predators that endanger individual Garudans (much like crocodiles, sharks and other predators do Man on Earth), the mastery of the planet belongs to one species alone.
About 2 million years ago, the first animal directly recognizable as the Garudan’s distant ancestor appeared in the forests of Amphur, Garuda’s largest continent. Following a somewhat hesitant evolutionary path (one branch of which is the burly Gtan, the ‘Great Ape’ of Garuda), Garudans first attained the point of industrialization by 11,240 B.C.E.
In 10,122 B.C.E., a bio-chemical agent was released into Garuda’s atmosphere. Although records of the time were mostly destroyed in the chaos following, it seems certain that the agent escaped from a military installation – Garudans, like Humans, flirted with bio-weapons as a means of warfare. But while Earth escaped these troubled times almost untouched, Garuda fell. Over the next few days the agent covered the entire Biosphere, causing untold damage. The primary aim of the agent was to produce a toxin which disrupts the higher centers of Garudan brain-activity, causing the host to experience hallucinations, loss of co-ordination and, eventually, brain-death. Much of Garuda’s wildlife was left unaffected, although the Gtan – to this day – seem to suffer from a severely short attention-span.
This event was to be later known as The Chaos.
As with every pandemic, there were those whose bodies resisted the toxin. But this immunity did not seem to be dominant in the genetic makeup of the Garudans. Almost 80% of Garuda’s population died within a few months of the agent’s release. Of subsequent births, only 11% lived beyond the first few days. Given time and a stable biosphere, Garudans might have had a chance to adapt to their new environment… but with the rapid mutation and development of the bio-agent, and the subsequent release of new toxins into the atmosphere, Garuda seemed destined to become a dead planet – the bio-agents found, in Garuda’s marshes, an almost perfect breeding ground and reproduced at an explosive rate, covering the planet with their toxins.
However, somewhere around 8,050 B.C.E. an event changed Garuda’s fate. While no hard records remain of this event, almost all of Garuda’s religious texts contain a reference to it – a time of great heat came to Garuda, killing off some plants and animals, making others stronger. What this ‘time of great heat’ was is unknown – many speculations, ranging from a ‘blip’ in Rhestad’s life-cyle to the passing of a flaming meteor(1), have been presented. What *is* fact, however, is the recovery Garudans made after the event; over the next few centuries birth-rates went up, instances of insanity went down, and the now-famed Garudan Intuitive Awareness (also known as the Hin) came to develop. No longer were the Garudans negatively affected by the miriad of ‘pollutants’ in their atmosphere; they thrived in its presence, their mental processes now enhanced by the chemical soup around them.
The biological agents and their toxins had not, in fact, diminished in intensity – a fact that many first-time visitors to Garuda would later attest to. Without exception, all carbon-based atmosphere breathers will be affected to one degree or another by Garuda’s atmospheric mix. The exact effects vary wildly from species to species – Terragens suffer from extreme paranoia followed by hallucinations eventually causing cardiac arrest, while Karbarrans suffer an almost total loss of their nervous system. Perytonians, on the other hand, suffer nothing more than an itch of the skin – but unrelenting and severe enough to drive them mad after a few days.
But as the Terran saying goes, this gift was a double-edged sword. For while they are now safe from their own atmosphere, Garudans are unable to survive away from it. Absence of more than a few hours produces paranoia. A few days, and the Garudan experiences withdrawal symptoms of a severity unmatched by any artificially-produced hallucinogen. After two weeks, the Garudan simply ceases to live. Conditioning can, in many cases, help the individual spend longer periods away from the psycho-active ingredients collectively known as the Hin (Note that to the Garudan, the toxin and its effect upon them are considered one and the same). The record for prolonged separation from the Hin is about 7 days before the first withdrawal symptoms set in. But due to the Hin’s incorporation into many of the Garudan’s Religions, many view this attempt at even temporary non-dependence to be unsavory, if not heretical to some of the more extreme cults.
With the memory of their near-total catastrophy still fresh in the collective mind of their society, the Garudans rebuilt their industry from scratch. With most of their cities destroyed and most of their fuel sources running dry, it took over ten-thousand years for the Garudans to recover from the blow their war-like tendencies had dealt them. The major stumbling block was the almost-total destruction of their repositories of knowledge, both in the forms of books and electronic literature and in the loss of most of their engineers, scientists and other holders of knowledge. For the first few centuries, Garudans slid backwards on the civilization scale at a tremendous rate before finally beginning to make head-way towards a recovery.
Caravans and trade-routes began to take shape, and a group of Garudans arose to meet the trading needs of the planet. To facilitate bartering, the Traders evolved a language which is known as the Trader’s Dialect – a simpler offshoot of the Garudan’s Holy Language used in all religious meetings of the Rhinsah. The Trader’s Dialect is still the language of choice when Garudans deal with outsiders, as it is a simple yet powerful language, without much of the social complexities of everyday-speech.
With the help of the Traders, Garuda’s population once again began to expand and fill the continents. Science, for so long believed to be a Black Art, enjoyed some revival in the Traders’ attempts to facilitate their movements across Garuda’s terrains. How instrumental were these Traders to the recovery? Their success can best be seen in their current society, for almost all of Garuda’s richest families owe their fortunes to a Trader ancestor.
Eventually, in 1014 C.E., Garuda was back to the level of technology it had enjoyed just prior to The Chaos, but the new social infrastructure – based on the dual problem of their original lack of numbers and their growing dependence on the Hin – took longer to build.
Current-day Garudans are a deeply courteous people as a whole. Their existence seems centered on contact with the Hin. A typical Garudan greeting, here rendered in the Trader’s Dialect, is done by the raising of both hands, palm forward, and saying “Gheths’par dravio Hin shann. Fvidrro d’elrach.” This translates roughly to “I have glimpsed Unity. May we forever share breath.” This concept of ‘sharing breath’ is at the core of Rhinsah, Garudan’s major religion, and seems to entail the concept of sharing of mind and emotion. However, the Garudans are adamant that the full concept of Fvidrro cannot be properly understood without surrender to the Hin.
Around 1040 C.E., Garudans discovered space travel and reached their local satellite. Having experienced the fear of extinction due to a single planetary catastrophy, Garuda re-doubled its effort to conquer the stars – an endeavor difficult due to the limitations placed upon them by their dependence on the Hin. Life on other planets was impossible for Garudans short of total Garudaforming or the reliance on the Hin growth-incubators. Space stations, of course, relied entirely on the incubator systems (although some success was achieved by a few stations willing to sacrifice a large amount of their inner-surface to Garudan flora and fauna in an attempt to generate the Hin ‘naturally’).
In 1278 C.E., first contact between the Garudans and a Tirolian Merchant fleet en-route to Karbarra occurred. It resulted in disaster – remembering first-contacts with Karbarra, Haydon IV and Spheris and the trade opportunities opened by these contacts, the Trade-Commander sent a ship to parlay with the Garudan before checking for biological incompatibilities. Upon contact with the Garudan scout vessel, the contact ship fell prey to one of the bio-agents’ toxins in the Garudan atmosphere. Within minutes, thanks to the efficient air recyclers aboard the Tirolian ship, the entire crew had suffered brain seizures. The entire incident might well have resulted in interplanetary war had the Merchant Fleet not had, within its fold, Senator Viphardt. The Senator immediately ordered all Tirolian ships to withdraw and stand down. This done, radio communications were established and – eventually, after an extensive session of language-learning on both parts – biological information and air samples exchanged between the two parties. Ironically, this incident would have been less severe had First Contact happened in a planetary biospehere, as the Garudan bio-agents have a limited life-span and come out second best when in contact with a biosphere other than Garuda’s or a Garudan bio-culture tank.
Relations between Garuda and the rest of the Local Cluster, once established, remained good for the next 80-odd years. Then, in 1361 C.E., A coup-d’etat on Tirol saw the overthrow of the Republic and the setting up of the Triumvirate government. Garuda, in shock, withdrew from the Local Cluster and began to prepare itself for an invasion it knew would come.
In 1362 C.E., Tirol sent Zentraedi to take Garuda by force. The Zentraedi were ordered to take the planet with minimal damage and started by setting a beach-head in an isolated part of the Taroohm range. This first attempt at taking Garuda failed – during one night, Garudan commandoes infiltrated the Zentraedi camp and sabotaged the giants’ dome by destroying its life-support system. Sentries and stragglers were taken care of on a person-by-person basis. By morning, all Zentraedi lay dead or dying.
The Robotech Elders, in retaliation, ordered the 11th Zentraedi fleet to invade Garuda and to destroy a large section of forest. Once a large enough area had been cleared, an invasion force landed and began ‘pacifying’ Garuda. For twenty-six months, the fighting went on – the Zentraedi shooting and killing, taking little time for sleep. Attrition was high on both sides, but the Zentraedi had both numerical and weaponry advantage – finally, in 1364 C.E., the Garudan planetary government surrendered. Garuda had fallen. The Zentraedi were withdrawn and a Tirolian occupation force was set up.
Life as a Tirolian Protectorate was hard and uneventful, save but for a few revolts ruthlessly squashed as soon as they appeared. Then, in 1998 C.E., a joint Tirolian/Zentraedi group appeared in Garuda’s skies, bearing Zor and the seeds of the Invid Flower of Life. For nearly two months, Zor’s Battlefortress circumnavigated the globe, seeding as it went. When he finally departed, Garudans began to notice the shoots of a new plant appearing wherever the forest parted enough to admit sunlight. The Flower of Life had arrived on Garuda and taken root. By 2014, Garuda found itself once again under attack, this time by the Invid Regent’s fleet.
The attack by the Invid was quick and brutal. Garudans offered no overt resistance to the Invid but captured several Tirolian Bioroids by killing their pilots and hid the mecha. Eventually, these Bioroids would become the fore-front of the Garudan Resistance. At the same time, another group of Garudans who had been waiting for a chance to do so, took control of a Macross-class Border Fleet Battlefortress in Garudan Orbit. The Battlefortress had been left behind due to its lack of Protoculture supplies and the Garudans wasted no time in introducing a batch of stolen Protoculture to the Reflex furnaces. With the Battlefortress now active, the crew attempted to stop – or even slow – the invasion, but eventually withdrew to post-lunar orbit when it became obvious they were no match for the Invid.
The Tirolian division left at Garuda was overwhelmed in a matter of minutes. The victorious Invid began to construct hives and planetary defenses, blockading the orbital regions of Garuda to prevent interference with their conquest.
Unable to return, the captured Tirolian Battlefortress gave up all attempts to rescue Garuda and headed off into space. Eventually, the ship met with a rebel Karbarran fleet, the sole surviving ships of the prior invasion of Karbarra by the Invid. Together, these ships formed the core of the nascent Sentinels.
On Garuda, without outside help, the Resistance floundered. Its attacks were nothing more than annoying stabs at the Invid’s unprotected flanks. As the Invid had once been to the Empire, so were the Garudans now to them. Unable to find the Rebels headquarters, the Invid began setting traps – but with the help of their supporters, the Resistance managed to avoid them.
In 2027, help finally arrived on Garuda in the form of the Sentinels – a group of fighters formed from all the planets of the Local Cluster as well as a splinter group of the Robotech Expeditionary force. With the help of the Resistance, the Sentinels managed to push the Invid off Garuda – but not without some cost. By the end of the battle, half of the Sentinels’ command staff had been infected by the Garudan atmosphere. Although a serum to Garuda’s atmosphere had been known since 1296 C.E. for most species in the Local Cluster, a problem still remained. The serum works by counter-acting the toxins released by the bio-agents and the regime has to be kept up so long as the patient is in contact with the bio-agents. As such, each batch of serum has to be tailored for a particular species (and in some extreme case, for each particular individual). To make matters worse, the serum, like many others, has a very short shelf-life and could not be stored for any length of time. The race to manufacture a Terragen-compatible serum, on Haydon IV, in time was eventually won – the serum used for Tirolians was found to be a close analogue of the required formula and was modified to suit as a blanket serum for all Terragens.
With the eventual defeat of the Invid Regent, the Invid forces in the Cluster broke into myriad pieces. By 2035, a concerted effort was made to systematically patrol the Local Cluster and its fringes and remove the last of the Invid War Machine from it. Garuda joined the mop-up operations. While they saw service in many branches, the Garudans particularly excelled as advanced scouts – their ability to leap from place to place and to ascend seemingly unclimbable surfaces making them the perfect operatives for Intelligence gathering.
Garudans found the war harder than most, as their atmospheric requirements made service with other races a touchy subject. Few captains allowed Garudans on board, while many of those who did required the ships to be physically segregated into independent sections. It was eventually found expedient to allow the Garudans to crew their own ships.
When the Robotech Expeditionary Force finally left for Earth in 2044, Garuda had finally purged itself of the shadow of the Robotech Masters as well as the taint left behind in the forests by the Invid Protoculture farm-domes.
(1) This last was attributed to the Garudan version of the Terran National Enquirer, and as such not much credence is placed upon it.
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Content by Aubry Thonon, with Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen, and Rob Morgenstern
Copyright © 1999, 1997 Robert Morgenstern, Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker