Exans are a Precambrian, cephalopodic, non-humanoid, hyper-intelligent, endangered imperialist species from Exa, a world in the distant Immateriax Galaxy, and the founders of the Intergalactic Empire, an ancient interstellar state.
Exans are large beings, dwarfing most other intelligent lifeforms, as they evolved on a low-gravity world. They are entirely cephalopodic in appearance, with large, bulbous, grey-skinned bodies, four large tentacles extending from both sides of their lower bodies, two of which are near their mouths. Their mouths are bifurcated, with two upper components, all components arranged in a manner appearing to be a triangle, and appear to be perpetually open, sporting a set of sharp teeth on each component of the jaw. Exans have five eyes, with one central eye above their mouths, being fairly large and almost entirely black, but with a red circular pupil. Their four smaller eyes are almost entirely black in color, and are oval-shaped rather than circular, but have a distinctive pupil that is tinted red as well. These eyes are arranged in a manner that will have two eyes on either side of the central one, with one near the top of the central eye and the other near the bottom, angled for their more pointed ends to be pointing towards the central eye. All eyes are capable of seeing in the dark, as well as various wavelengths that would normally be invisible to humans. Directly above their central eye is a distinctive ridge that extends over the top of their bodies, along with another fleshy bump that takes up their "forehead," almost appearing to be an organic helmet. Although the Exans bear no true skeleton, their bodies developed a tough bone-like substance to protect their large brain and other vital organs, which their organic helmet extends out of. Exans are extremely intelligent, and the sheer complexity of their minds make psychic readings near-impossible. Limbs that are lost will regrow after some time, and injuries are known to heal quickly. Exans also have two distinct genders, male and female, and are oviparous, laying soft-shelled eggs, although few eggs in a batch are fertilized, and Exans only have a few cycles of fertility throughout their lives. Their lifespan can stretch to over 10,000 Earth years, with 200 of those years dedicated to maturing. On the sides of their bodies, two dome-like structures house their gills, three on each dome, and a tube-like structure meant for drainage, with no external ears. Exans evolved to be able to breathe on land as well as in the water, but only in the toxic atmosphere of their homeworld. Due to Exa's cold climate, the Exans have a heightened tolerance to cold. While initially able to use their tentacles for locomotion on land, they eventually became so heavily reliant on technology that their tentacles atrophied in length and strength, rendering them immobile on land without their hovercrafts or some other form of mobility technology, especially on worlds with higher gravity. Due to Exa being devoid of magical energy, Exans are not magic-sensitive, and are more vulnerable to magic-based attacks.
Culture and society
Exans have historically been ruled by monarchies, which became their only form of government after the foundation of the Intergalactic Empire, forming a totalitarian cyberocratic imperialist state bent on conquering the universe. Under the Intergalactic Empire, many personal liberties, such as freedom of speech and religion, were barred, and many aspects of subjugated cultures were repressed, although some, such as entertainment, were allowed to be kept in an attempt to keep subjugated populations calmer, with varying degrees of success. Exans would commonly control or otherwise manipulate the entertainment and education of subjugated societies, usually filling them with imperial propaganda and implementing heavy censorship. Societies that willingly joined the Intergalactic Empire or otherwise gained favor were known to keep the most freedoms, although they were still often heavily monitored.
While initially driven by a sense of bringing order to their galaxy by exerting their dominance over the "lesser" species, they soon grew to crave the power held beyond the visible workings of the universe, a power their flesh could never gain, making their ambitions spread to other galaxies. To this end, they regularly upgraded themselves with cybernetics, and extended this principle to assimilated lifeforms, creating a completely subservient army who could still think like organics and had some immunities to the supernatural that none of their machines had, appearing to have been uplifted into a higher state of existence in the eyes of the Exans.
Exans never held a high opinion of humanoids, most of whom were seen as weak-bodied sub-mental animals, although individuals and groups who proved their worth were allowed to rise in Imperial society. Other imperialists, highly intelligent species, or non-humanoids, especially those who joined willingly, such as Cnidans and Infernoids, often held a higher status by default. Most other species were seen as mere obstacles or garbage to be removed or repurposed in the wake of a greater purpose, although the value of masses to press into military service became more apparent as time went on. Exans soon lost all associations with the fully organic beings beneath them, always holding noble status at the top of Imperial society. The Exans desired to reach a point in their "evolution" where they would reach a singularity, finally able to rid the cosmos of flesh and be one with the power behind the physical veils, seeking to reconstruct the universe in their own image. Even after the fall of the original Intergalactic Empire, the Exans did not lose their views or ambitions, attempting to regroup in distant regions of space to attempt their conquest again, although many turned on each other for a brief time with the lack of a properly designated heir to the Intergalactic Emperor.
General Exan architecture consisted of large and menacing structures, usually with black and red color schemes, which carried over into common Imperial aesthetics, often adorned with imagery of Exans or their central eyes, later replaced by the holographic eye of the Emperor. Due to their large sizes, coupled with the extra size from their hoverpads, Exan buildings tended to be very large and spacious. While they became heavily reliant on their highly advanced technology, they never gave up their own productivity, constantly in action in the government or military as to ensure their complex brains do not regress, and to keep their own machines in check. The old Exan language was incredibly complex, mostly unpronounceable by humans and most other species, and was extremely difficult to translate, with many words lacking any proper translations.
Exans reached an incredibly advanced technological state, the result of an eon of advancement. Exan spacecraft often had saucer-like or spherical shapes, colored black with some dimly glowing red elements on certain components, often blending into the darkness of space even without cloaking technology. Their ships ranged from smaller starfighters and gunships to battleships, dreadnoughts, and planetoid warships, capable of reaching sizes exceeding gas giants. Other spaceborne assets included space stations of varying sizes and functions, orbital defense grids, planetary shielding systems, and Dyson Spheres. While their smaller ships used conventional engines, large dreadnoughts and planetoid warships utilized reactionless drives, a technology only feasible at their size.
Exan cybernetic technology reached extremely advanced levels, able to fully digitize an Exan's consciousness through use of quantum computers, although most Exans remained at least partially organic. Exan hoverpads, another notable cybernetic technology, resembled some sort of sled or chair, grafted directly onto the Exans and maneuvering with hovertech, also equipped with retractable EV gear for other environments. Exans made great use of a metal they dubbed Imperialite, which was extremely durable against physical and energy attacks, commonly utilized for their spacecraft, personal cybernetics, and elite soldiers, although the inefficient production of Imperialite, a process even their technology could not improve, forced them to use weaker, yet still strong, materials for their soldiers and smaller technologies.
Exan weaponry consisted of high-intensity energy weapons, often utilizing dark energy plasma for lighter weaponry or phantom energy for heavy weapons. The Exans also developed incredibly advanced hyperspace-faring capabilities, building large hyperdrill fleets to carve new paths through the dimension, and utilizing the principles of hyperspace to create superweapons capable of effectively firing through hyperspace, crossing light years of distance to a target. An unrealized Exan technology was known as dimensional drills, utilizing the same principles as hyperdrills, meant to carve holes between universes and realms beyond realspace and hyperspace.
Old Exan technologies were known to consist of oversized arachnid war mechs, utilized in early Exan conquests with Exan pilots, and generally oversized machinery, with both old and modern Exan interfaces often unable to be used by any individual lacking eight large limbs or cybernetic uplink implants.
The Exans are an ancient species, coming into existence on Exa over a billion years before the Trans-Galactic War of the early 20th century. Initially an aquatic predatory species, they grew to large sizes due to their habitat and their homeworld's low gravity. As time went on, their complex brains grew more and more intelligent, enabling them to become the first and only sapient on their homeworld. As they began to communicate and create rudimentary societies under the sea, members of their species attempted to venture onto land. These attempts continued, gaining traction among the greater Exan population, until their species made the transition from purely aquatic to amphibious. On land, the Exans slowly developed technology, which was initially oversized and inefficient so that their large bodies could properly operate them. As they grew in intelligence and technological capabilities, they were able to create robots that could create smaller and more efficient technologies. With these manufacturing lines, the Exans entered a stage of prosperity. However, as they grew in power, they sought to expand across the stars, with many members of their species falling into conflict with one another and sparking a series of wars across Exa. At the conclusion of the wars, a large portion of Exa lay in ruins, but the remaining population was now under the control of a monarchy. With their unified status, the Exans developed space travel and began traveling across systems, colonizing and industrializing worlds, exterminating native life in favor of urbanization and mechanization. With a growing drive to bring their sense of order to space, and the need to expand due to their rising population, the Exans eventually came across other sapient lifeforms in distant systems. Seeing these lifeforms, most of whom were primitive, as inferior beings, the Exans massacred most of them with robot soldiers and war mechs, and had survivors pressed into service as cyborg slaves. With a workforce and army made up entirely of robots and cyborgs, the Exans began to withdraw from most frontal confrontations and direct interactions, instead confining themselves to space stations and utilizing large hovercrafts to move around, all while continuing to graft more and more cybernetic parts onto their bodies.
When they encountered their first magic-using species, they were intrigued by the sheer power that was behind such abilities, seeking to harness it for their own gain. However, the scientific instruments of the Exans were unable to properly analyze or unravel magic, but the discovery left a lingering urge to find what could allow them to gain such power. With an inability to use magic, the Exans kept their strategy of mechanization, gradually cyberforming their homeworld into a planetoid warship. At the same time, the Exan emperor, whose name had the closest possible translation of D'rathuxsciliomar, developed incredibly advanced technology that could fully digitize his consciousness, and used it to transfer his mind into a specially-made quantum computer, held in Exa's now-artificial core. Becoming a software that could stretch across every colony and outpost that the Exans had, the emperor led a campaign on a neighboring galaxy, officially rebranded their empire into the Intergalactic Empire, taking on the title of Intergalactic Emperor, and renaming the fully cyberformed Exa into the Star Palace. As the Star Palace, Exa became a fully mobile, hyperspace-faring battle station equipped with armaments capable of destroying star clusters, but when the neighboring galaxies were conquered, Exa would soon remain back in its home system, which became the Imperial core. From the Star Palace and other command stations, Exans continued to mechanize themselves and the worlds in their own galaxy and those they subjugated, conquering more species and cyberforming worlds into factories, terracities, or battleships, with some worlds left intact to leave Imperial nobles content, creating hyperdrills to make their expansion easier.
During their expansion, the Exans came into contact with a group of Titanians of the Titan Regime, who agreed to work with the Empire, providing many forms of advanced science, in return for worlds to rebuild their faction, also providing the Exans with more knowledge of the supernatural workings of magic they sought after, telling them of the greater cosmic history, although even their combined efforts were unable to break through the barriers that kept the Weave on its plane of existence. During their intergalactic conquest, the Exans rarely met members of other species in person, and turned their method of reproduction to artificial insemination. As their power and influence grew, many species began joining the Intergalactic Empire willingly, one of their earliest willing allies being a sapient cnidarian species known as Cnidans, whose representatives personally met with Exans. Cnidans became one of the few species who truly had favor in the Intergalactic Empire, most becoming high ranking commanders and noblemen. Ancient Titanian maps and historical texts given to Exans spoke of "linkworlds" that were the sites of weakened universal barriers, funneling energy such as magic into a universe, with only one existing per universe as its true center. With the addition of Infernoids into their society, knowledge of demons and workings beyond that of the Multiverse could enter Exan sciences. Determining that their universe's linkworld would be the key to gaining the power they desired, they began searching for it, using their advanced technology to scan underlying cosmic energy for its origin point. As they continued expanding, their scanners found a pattern to the underlying energy, an intricate puzzle trailing back to its origin point, causing them to redirect their main expansion effort to follow it. With the ancient Titanian technology of Reality Drivers thought to be long gone, the Exans began secret dimensional drill research deep within the Star Palace, built off of their existing hyperdrill technology, preparing to break through the weakened barriers around the linkworld. Excessive hyperdrill usage aided in their expansion, and began to create hyperspace anomalies across the universe, some of which would not close for millenniums.
Soon, Imperial scout parties found worlds that had lifeforms that appear to have been previously modified in various ways by some other highly advanced species. Soon, the Empire came across the Progenitors, another highly advanced Precambrian species, who had been seeding and altering lifeforms across several galaxies. While the Exans initially opted for an alliance, knowing that the Progenitor's technological skills would help their research, the Progenitors refused to work with an imperialist power, prompting a war between the Progenitors and the Intergalactic Empire that spanned over a hundred thousand years, across trillions of worlds spread over several galaxies. While the Progenitors fought with allies from the various galaxies and with troops made up of their own members and creations, including an artificial energy-manipulating gyrokinetic spaceborne species, the Imperial forces slowly overtook them, but the Progenitors destroyed most of their technology to prevent it from falling into Imperial hands. While Exans were especially targeted by Progenitor allies, the presence of extremely few Exans at frontal command posts made it incredibly difficult to eliminate them. In addition, dissent among many conquered populations, growing for decades, centuries, or even millenniums, continued to fester across various Imperial sectors, many bolstered by the massive resistance the Progenitors and their allies put up, one unlike any that they had ever encountered. At the conclusion of the war, an untold number of planets were ravaged, assimilated, or completely destroyed, and the Progenitors were almost entirely extinct, although its final outpost was never found by Imperial forces. Although they lost a chance at accelerating their research, the Exans continued with their goals, continuing to follow the cosmic trails over the subsequent eon, conquering more regions of space as they went, such as the Croxtrov Prime Galaxy, soon reaching galaxies of space-faring civilizations that had been receiving refugees, news, and imagery of the Imperial advance, which gave rise to the Pan-Galactic Resistance.
The Pan-Galactic Resistance focused on not only creating intricate defense webs across space, but also in spreading the word to any other inhabited part of space they could reach, especially those in the way of the Intergalactic Empire's projected advancements. The Exans, while waging war against the Pan-Galactic Resistance, continued searching for the linkworld, with hidden scout drones. They soon found that the trails came together in a galaxy they had named Uros-IV, the home of planet Earth, better known to Humans as the Milky Way. With the ongoing conflict, which was drawing Imperial armadas from all sectors of the Intergalactic Empire, Exans used Cyberformed Infiltrators and other scouts to enter the Milky Way, attempting to determine which planet was the linkworld. All early signs pointed to Crysonis, which at the time was the strongest planet in the Milky Way as the head of the Star Union. The Star Union, seeing the coming threat, had already begun building its defense forces and spreading to more inhabited worlds, soon reaching Earth. On Exan orders, Imperial hyperdrills carved paths around the ongoing battles in towards the Milky Way, allowing Imperial battleships to quickly reach the galaxy. Star Union-led deep space forces, heading out to secure the outer rims of the Milky Way, were intercepted by the Imperials, scattering while Imperial fleets flew to lead a direct assault on Crysonis, starting the Trans-Galactic War. After Crysonis was abandoned and the defense conglomerate collapsed, the Exans noticed that they were regrouping on the other side of the galaxy, around Earth, and that Crysonis lacked the readings that would be characteristic of a linkworld. Recalibrating their scanners, they found that the trails actually went across the Milky Way, to Earth. As most of their attack fleet was spent on Crysonis, galactic armadas launched a frontal attack on the Local Group, being forced to break through existing resistance, as what forces they sent to the Milky Way were soon outnumbered by aliens gathering in the galaxy, who were able to destroy the initial attack force and send their own troops through the very hyperlanes, back towards the outer galaxies that the attack was sent from. Exan commanders had as many Cyberformed as they could attack Earth and other Milky Way worlds, as the Milky Way was quickly becoming the center of resistance. However, millenniums of resistance across space finally culminated in the Trans-Galactic War, as the enemies of the Empire now found ways to use the very Imperial hyperlanes against them, making the "battlefield" incredibly chaotic and spread out across space, hoping to confuse the more logic-oriented Exans and Imperial cyborgs, forming the Trans-Galactic Alliance.
Exans were forced to divert resources and increase production to maximum levels, drafting large swaths of subjugated civilians into the Imperial military in the process. General dissent rose to historically high levels, aided by surprise attacks that managed to liberate fringe Imperial worlds. With several galaxies unified against the Imperials, the resistance grew technologically, taking every opportunity to capture and reverse-engineer as much Imperial tech as they could to utilize alongside native technologies. Although Exans continued their war effort, entire Imperial systems and sectors rebelled, holding back Imperial reinforcements and costing them many regions of space. This accumulated with Imperial Advisers, who were close to the Emperor himself, to defect from the Empire. Although most were killed while trying to escape, an adviser from the planet Phoomboombad made it to Government space, and in secret carried a copy of crucial data about the Imperial security system, and the location of the Star Palace. With this information, all Government allies had to rally at once. This accomplishment led to a mass revolt among captured worlds, and a quick campaign of daring assaults on critical Imperial relay stations were made, corrupting them with a modified version of the security code meant to lock out the Emperor's AI instead, spreading across worlds and making it impossible for the Emperor to transfer his AI from The Star Palace to another computer. By then, the Imperials caught on to the data theft, quickly recalling what fleets they could. Led by humans, a direct assault was launched on the Star Palace, the only chance humanity would ever get. The Star Palace Campaign, also known as Operation Evil Alien Overlord, was the longest single campaign of the Trans-Galactic War. It ended in a battle in and around the Star Palace, and the destruction of both the station and the Intergalactic Emperor. Exact casualties are unknown for both sides, but it cost over 85% of the Trans-Galactic Alliance's attack fleets. The other revolts and battles had targeted Exans, managing to take out more of them, and in the wake of the Star Palace's destruction, the Intergalactic Empire was fractured.
Exans became the main target of the Trans-Galactic Alliance, forced to flee to distant or unknown regions of space. Imperial forces scattered with them, although many kept fighting, having to be destroyed in order to stop. The Exans eventually regrouped in a galaxy in what became known as No Man's Space, seeking to build a new Intergalactic Empire. While coming into conflict over leadership, one Exan, known as U'romoristris managed to take charge due to being the highest ranking member present, being a Grand Viceroy, and thus automatically commanding all remaining Imperial forces through old protocols, being crowned as the second Intergalactic Emperor. As Exan reproduction rate was already incredibly low, combined with many of their members being killed in the Trans-Galactic War and previous conflicts, Exans are now considered endangered.