The Starlifters

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The Starlifters are protoinfomorphs bordering on ascending to full infomorph status. They exist across fifteen stars (nine star systems) in the Bottlenose Nebula, all reached with sublight travel.

Nature

The Blowhole delivers massive amounts of energy and matter to a specific region of space, and where there is energy and matter, there is life.

The Starlifters are an unusual life form evolved in the noisy plume left behind by the massive matter surges of the Gravity Pump's activation. They consist of fairly standard chemical elements, but in a unique formation consisting of a crystalline core with thousands or tens of thousands of kilometers of fiber elements generally called a "halo".

The halo absorbs energy from any excited source, such as the Blowhole or a star, and also collects various freefloating chemicals.

The fact that the Starlifters are classified as protoinfomorphs is somewhat contested, since they are a naturally evolving physical creature. However, their behavioral core is pure data: Starlifters can transfer their minds between cores, and even temporarily share one core among multiple Starlifters. They can also rewrite their behavioral code, and apparently new Starlifters are often born with customized variants of their parental code. How consciously these choices are made is up to debate.

Because of their great sensitivity and tremendous size, Starlifters can communicate over vast distances with light flashes. Communication between star systems is therefore common, although the delay is immense and a Starlifter must navigate to quite a distance from the star in order to see and broadcast reliably.

History

Starlifters never thought about leaving the debris field around the Blowhole... but the Blowhole has no problems with dragging them out into space at a decent chunk of light speed if they are in the line of fire.

After millions of years of this, some survived and settled a star along the Blowhole's trajectory, the brown dwarf ZQ-R9-6, colloquially known as Fog.

Once established, it took only another million or so years to work out how to navigate interstellar space using their halos as a huge solar sail. From there, they went on to settle many stars near the Blowhole's trajectory. Their focus on binary and trinary systems has minimized their contact with other species, as has their unusual lifestyle.

Despite that, at some point the Transition Protectorate's own organic starships, the Cerdian Generation Fleet discovered them and, more importantly, their crystalline cores.

While the Starlifters likely never realized what happened, there was a noticeable change in their behaviors after this incident, and it's assumed they are in the middle of transitioning to full-fledged infomorph.

Legal Notes

International accord states that the Starlifters must be left alone during this time of transition. Scans must use passive sensors only, and ships should avoid approaching their habitats, as the engine's brightness may be misinterpreted.