Vox are a species of space-faring and largely insular beings. They hail from large stations known as arkships.
Vox and YOU
Greetings, esteemed crewmember!
In an effort to encourage inter-species cooperation and workplace efficiency, NanoTrasen has compiled a series of helpful guides on the various species that you may be working with!
(NOTE: If you are a member of the species this guide pertains to, please give it to the nearest crewmember of another species)
This particular guide refers to the species known as the Vox (singular: Vox).
Vox Naming Schemes
Vox generally use indigenous names which often prove hard to write. These names are often enunciated as a series of screeching sounds which are then transcribed into the phonetic equivalents in the Galactic Common alphabet, for example “Kikiriachiki”.
By and large Vox prefer to keep these phonetic equivalents rather than adopting the naming conventions of other species, a choice most likely due to prevalence of traditional Vox culture being a pinnacle of Vox social life.
There are three distinct naming schemes that the Vox utilize. The first, and most commonly used, are their use-names. These typically consist of a single notable physical or mental feature, the name of the clan of the Vox in question, and a short unique sound. For instance: Vicious Darting-Minnow Lex. 'Vicious' is the formative physical or mental feature, 'Darting-Minnow' is the clan name, and 'Lex' is the modifier sound.
Second to this are their formal names. These typically consist of a long complicated string of the Vox' production number, generation count, titles, affiliations, notable rankings, and references to military service. These names are one of the more difficult ones to translate to Galactic Common as many of the words often lack clear translatable analogues.
The last, and most personal of the three, are raider names. These operate in a similar fashion to standard naval call signs, and are common among military crews and raider vessels. These call signs are normally only constituted of one or two sounds or words, and are used for expedient communication. Using a Vox raider name while not being a direct member of their vessel, or when the Vox is no longer actively raiding, is typically seen as an invitation to violence.
The Vox species can be divided into four groups: Primalis, Armalis, Auralis and Apex. While the Primalis and Armalis respectively constitute the military and labour divisions in Vox society, the Vox are ultimately lead by the Auralis whom are closely entwined with the Apex. Larval Vox remain generic, sexless slugs until they are chosen to host a cortical stack. The type of stack dictates both the environment the larvae are raised in, as well as the form that the larvae will ultimately take. Cortical stacks vary from subspecies to subspecies of Vox, with each species having a particular type of stack.
More curious than their larval origin however is the prehensile tail of a Vox individual, acting both as both a temperature regulator and balance aid. A Vox's tail is lined with long, flat scales along its underside. These scales are laced with an intricate capillary network and when bristled allow a Vox individual to release excess heat in hotter climes. Autopsies have noted several sub-nodes of the Vox central nervous system are present within the tail of the standard Vox—such reports going as far as to even note the persistence of twitching reflexes in the limb even when detached.
Vox colouration varies wildly between settlements, ships, and crews, though the most common colourations involve a mix of olive, muddy brown and yellow hues. The Vox skeletal structure is unique for its light, porous, and flexile bones. This skeletal structure, combined with their long necks, allows Vox to swivel their heads almost a hundred and twenty degrees to either side. Vox tend to sway when either interested or anxious about something, and are capable of shrieking at glass-fracturing volume to drive off attackers—the origin of these behaviours are believed to be an evolutionary hallmark of the original Vox species.
The majority of observed Vox belong to the Primalis category and range from three to four feet in height. The skin of the Primalis is thick and reinforced with keratin scales. The molecular complexity of Primalis skin suggests that extensive engineering has been undertaken to adapt it to industrial and laborious environments. So far, attempts at lab-grown samples have produced no results with such efforts often producing highly acidic compounds capable of burning through most lab equipment. Short, fine fur typically grows on top of this greyish scale like skin, seeming to help control body temperature.
Despite their size, Primalis musculature is highly dense and capable of extremely powerful and rapid movement. Primalis physiology is ideal for sprinting and repetitive tasks, with experts surmising that the Armalis may be the predominant military force in Vox Society, while the Primalis seem engineered with labour in mind. Despite their engineered physiology, Primalis are still largely susceptible to the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles—rendering their often short bursts of speed little more than that, darting from task to task.
Primalis talons are often cited as being unusually hard, and are mythically attributed with having twice the strength of human bone. While not entirely true, the hardness of the skin on their upper arms and lower legs (along with their talons and the rest of their body) is one of the primary factors in the survivability of Primalis Vox.
Armalis are a smaller subgroup within Vox populations and have never been observed outside of frigate-class or larger vessels belonging to Vox crews. Armalis are said to tower over their Primalis kin, standing at twice the height of a Primalis and often bearing far heavier armour and equipment. In most cases, sensory organs like eyes and tongues have been completely replaced with cybernetics of bewildering complexity. No sample of an Armalis or their cybernetics has ever been successfully recovered due to inbuilt, self-destructive measures. Spectrographic analysis suggests that almost every internal cavity within the average Armalis is filled with semi-organic circuitry and cybernetics.
The Auralis are understood to be the true Vox with the Primalis and the Armalis are the bio-engineered subspecies intended to serve for labour, resource acquisition and military purposes. The Auralis themselves appear to be highly insular and shut-ins by nature. As a whole, the Auralis adamantly refuse to believe that the universe outside of the Vox Arkships is real and efforts to convince Auralis otherwise have always been met with failure.
While an Auralis has never been seen by any known living outsider, accounts from Armalis often claim that the Auralis posses staggering telepathic powers and are able to commune with one another across vast distances.
The groves in the Vox arkships are what houses the colossal organic computers known as the Vox Apex; the Apex are in fact a distributed synthetic intelligence woven throughout the groves. Every Apex is said to be linked via an incredibly sophisticated, ancient bluespace network through which the vast majority of Vox communications, technology, culture and science is transmitted—far away from prying eyes.
Due to their highly secretive and insular nature, the exact details of caste roles within Vox society, as well as their physiology, is relatively unknown to the outside world. While there have been accounts from friendly Primalis, anonymous sources, or captured raiders, such information is typically unreliable. The following information should be considered highly difficult to obtain, and subsequently almost always exclusive to Vox.
- When a Primalis has their cortical stack implanted into a new body, memories, experiences, knowledge, and genetic information are transferred to the new form. A Primalis is not considered truly dead while their stack is in condition to be transplanted into a new larval Vox.
- The Auralis are devoted to the pursuit of transcendence. They desire to leave this universe behind, and to "break through the veil and move on to true reality". It is unknown how long the Auralis have been working on this, but their understanding of theoretical and applied physics, intelligent systems and data processing/analysis suggests that it has been the primary goal of their society for several hundred millennia. Much of the Auralis mind is rumoured to be situated outside the physical host, and is instead coordinated and stored by the Vox Apex.
- When a newborn Vox is implanted with the stack of an Auralis, the stack provides the information required to recreate the body to the specifications of that particular Auralis, or any vox for that matter. The unstacked body essentially acts as little more than an unshaped vessel awaiting its form and personality. Since the vast majority of an Auralis' persona and memories exist in a bluespace network, the body merely acts as a shell from which the Auralis can inhabit once again. The cortical stack of an Auralis is said to merely serve as a conduit between the network, and the body.
- The Apex are entirely single-minded (in a figurative sense). An Apex is devoted to preserving the sanctity, purity and continuity of the particular Vox lineage its arkship is hosting. It is the duty of an Apex to maintain the archives of dead Vox via the cortical stacks and choose which Vox are to be revived when the time comes for a population hike. Apexes also provide access points and tremendous data processing capacity to the Auralis.
The Vox-Pidgin Language
The Vox language (Vox-Pidgin) is a language comprised largely of screeching and squawking sounds. As many of the vocalizations of Vox-Pidgin are beyond the range of hearing for most species, or simply prove impossible to reproduce for non-Vox, the language is largely shared only between Vox. Vox, while capable of learning Galactic Common, are typically deficient in its use as a result of both their vocal anatomy and the abstract structure of their language. As a direct result of this, sentences in Vox are often punctuated with shrieking, screeching cries.
Vox-Pidgin is the only known language in use aboard Vox arkships, leaving many Vox to either neglect the use of Galactic Common or simply not learn it in the first place. However, those that do learn Galactic Common often have a tendency to make heavy-handed use of various epithets. The most common examples include referring to Humans as "meat", Unathi as 'rotten', Skrell as 'leaking' or 'slippery', and Tajara as 'mouldy'. Vox are also known to jeer about how the lungs of other species are "full of dust", and how those they raid are "treeless". While linguists have theorized that the treeless insult likely derives from the groves aboard Vox arkships, there is presently no clear understanding as to why Vox attribute other species to having "lungs full of dust".
The Vox Homeworld
Vox lack a homeworld in the most traditional sense, with Vox society instead being encapsulated by massive arkships and the Shoal.
Each arkship houses a population of at least ten million to half a billion individuals if not more. Due to their size, arkships are largely immobile and are defended almost entirely by an accompanying, much more mobile flotilla. There are only twenty known arkships presently in existence, with each arkship tracing the lineage of its inhabitants back several hundred millenia. The names of the arkships are subsequently verbose, with titles such as 'Rolling Vessel of Seeking Souls Built on Bones of Leviathans, Scarred by Sunheat from Fifteen Systems, Scored by Weapons of Lesser Foes, Taproot to Thirty Tribes, Host to Six Trees'. Understandably, ships are awarded shorter use-names ('Sunheat Leviathan' for the previous example) for ease of military communication. Abstract poetry is preferred over concrete meanings in most Vox ship naming conventions.
Each arkship shares the feature of being roughly spherical. The central and largest component of any arkship is known as the grove (which contains an Apex), a sphere of metal containing soil and flora from the lost Vox homeworld. A universal practice aboard Vox arkships is the construction of the arkship's 'shroud'. A thick layer of prefabricated modules, the space equivalent of shanties, and stolen and scrapped ships are bolted to the hull and to one another, forming a thick cluster of chaotic wreckage.
The oldest arkship is simply referred to by the Vox as the 'First', and contains the largest grove of the entire disparate fleet. It's considered a holy site, and only maintains a skeleton crew to prevent strain on its fragile ecosystem. Each prospective Vox fleet leader will make a pilgrimage to the First, both to add a new ship to the shroud and to cement their fitness to command.
The original point of origin for the Vox is unknown as is the location of their homeworld, with the early history of the Vox being lost to time. Many scholars have come to the consensus that the closest we have to the original planet bound Vox are the Vox Auralis, but how they got to their current meditative state and how they devised space-worth vessels is unknown. A species entirely concentrated on transcendence and nothing else seems unlikely to ever build a modern civilization, let alone become spacebound. Irrespective of this, the Vox are a nomadic, spacefaring race. Popular theories argue that their original planet was likely destroyed or lost to some kind of natural disaster, and that the arkships they currently inhabit were built as an effort to preserve the species.
On the other hand, recent Vox history is well documented. Not by the Vox themselves, (as they are often reluctant to share information) but by those they have interacted with, and the few Vox who make an active effort to preserve their cultural heritage. First contact with the Vox historically occurred with the Greys and peaceful channels of communication that served mutual interests were quickly established. Conflict with the Greys was minimal with records indicating a tacit understanding of territory and boundaries and a minimalist or sparse approach to the affairs of trade and diplomacy. While the Vox made many peaceful acquaintances in their time through official diplomatic channels, among them the HSA and Nanotrasen, they are all too often loathed and regarded with suspicion due to their constant mobilization of raiding parties.
The first known hostile contact between the Vox and another species occurred in 2203. A small squadron of Unathi exploration vessels were encountered by a Vox raiding skipjack, which proceeded to engage in raiding operations. The Unathi were outraged by what they saw as an act of war which subsequently sparked the only known major conflict involving the Vox. At the behest of an enraged populace, the Unathi naval fleet was quickly dispatched against the Vox arkships. While the Unathi were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts, the war resulted in the largest loss of life in recorded Vox history and lead to wider adoption of the Vox inviolate. While some veterans of the conflict are even still alive today by Vox standards, they are generally treated with indignation for their role in sparking the war.
Vox culture varies radically depending on the caste of Vox being discussed. Primalis have a culture centered largely around life within Skipjacks and the associated raids launcher from them, while Armalis have a much more militant and naval culture to fit their much stricter combat centered lifestyle. Auralis on the other hand lead their lives within the confines of arkships and are said to lack the usual militant or eager behaviour of their kin.
While the will of the Apex and Auralis always come first, Primalis crews have a rigid pecking order typically established over many many years. Newcomers to a Vox ship have to fight to achieve their position almost always displacing a previous member to the bottom of the pile in the process. Older, unfit, or injured Vox will occasionally accede to the newcomer voluntarily, taking up a post on their originating arkship to allow a fitter crewmember to serve. Newer Primalis crews generally have an internal structure that is considered to be highly chaotic. Traditionally, they choose an item such as a 'leader hat' to determine who is in charge, and then fight over it constantly until a clear hierarchy is established. Younger Primalis are often cited as being loud, energetic, and proud to a fault.
Vox raiding crews are almost always made up of young Vox, rowdy and champing at the bit to prove themselves—hence the Vox stereotype of thieves or warmongers. Older Primalis or Primalis established on civilian vessels tend to be somewhat more sedate, though they are no less likely to fleece an unwary customer out of everything they own.
It's important to note that raiding crews will scarcely come into direct combat with the ships, stations, and their crews that they raid. Stealth and secrecy is a key tenant in raids as to mitigate the risk of losing lives and wasting resources. It's not uncommon for ships to not even notice they’ve been “raided” until taking an inventory of their cargo. Due to this a lot of Primalis culture and behaviour is centered around avoiding physical confrontation and promoting clandestine behaviour. If you find a Vox coworker lurking in a dark secluded locker in maintenance, you should be assured that this is perfectly normal behaviour.
Ritualized conflict is the cornerstone of both Vox crews and Vox society as a whole, with contest-by-insult and contest-by-combat as the two most common means of this. A challenged Vox is allowed to choose the manner of contest and refusing to choose or participate is considered a forfeit. A contest is called by rattling quills, bristling tails and declaring it vocally to the person being challenged. All nearby Vox are expected to form a circle and witness the contest, irrespective of whether or not they know the combatants or care what's being decided.
Armalis on the other hand, act quite differently when it comes to naval etiquette. While there is much less information available in regards to Armalis conventions, there are numerous first hand accounts from Primalis. Armalis crews appear to only be found only on fully fledged military vessels and the arkships themselves rather than the raiding skipjacks of the Primalis. Armalis command is generally established in a hierarchical ordering system due to the Armalis's relatively equal strength and skill. Ranking is largely decided based on the cortical stack the Armalis in question hosts, and is commonly passed down to their predecessors. While rare, candidates picked for empty positions (resulting from the loss of an Armalis cortical stack) may be chosen by the Auralis or Apex.
All Vox share a common code of conduct and ethics, known as the Vox Inviolate. Ships with wildly varying cultures will still share these same core tenets despite being millions of light years apart. Every single caste of Vox follows this code, even the Apex. Vox whom violate the tenets of the Inviolate are often cast out from their arkship, left to roam the universe in shame.
The Vox Inviolate
The Vox Inviolate is as follows.
- Kill as little as necessary.
- Waste as little as necessary.
- Preserve the arkships.
- Preserve materials.
- Adapt and expand to all circumstances.
While the Vox enjoy a wide variety of amenities aboard Nanotrasen vessels and have typically peaceful relations with most species, it's unlikely the full extent of Vox history and their original cultural heritage will ever be known. Despite this, the current generation of spacefaring Vox - along with their peculiar practices - have left a substantial mark on modern history that is unlikely to be forgotten.
Remember, crewmember, mutual respect and cooperation are the cornerstones of success and productivity!