A typical Androsynth crew.
The Androsynth are a missing species that were a genetically engineered offshoot of Humans, developed after the Small War of 2015 but before the Ur-Quan Slave War. Abused for both religious reasons and for their legal expendability, they abandoned their progenitors in a feat of mass exodus. They eventually settled in the Vulpeculae constellation, former territory of the vanished Taalo. Later, the Androsynth were conquered by the Ur-Quan Hierarchy, joining them as Battle Thralls in the Ur-Quan Slave War, fighting against their former Human masters and the Alliance of Free Stars. Several years after the war's end, the Androsynth disappeared under mysterious circumstances due to the dangerous Inter-Dimensional Fatigue research they had been undertaking. This disappearance is apparently caused by the Orz, who seemed to come from out of nowhere, drawn to Vulpeculae by the Androsynth's experiments.1
The original Androsynth were all created from a few (or perhaps only one) genetic encodings. An SSRII report claims that they are obsessed with aesthetics (the Androsynth were even named, by a member of the SSRII team, the "fashion design engineers of space warfare")2, which, the report states, is reflected in the design of their ship, the Guardian. However, other sources cast doubt over this.3
All seem to have an asymmetrical hairstyle, brushing their hair to the right of their heads. In addition to this, all Androsynth wear gray uniforms with a triangular insignia and a band on their forehead.
The Androsynth are without functioning genitalia. However, one of the primary areas in which they focused their energy in the first three decades after fleeing from Earth was reproduction; this might have been accomplished through cloning.4
Androsynth names are alphanumeric, being composed of a group of uppercase letters, a dash and a number (AK-47 or HAL-2001, for example). Generally the letters are in the first part of the name and the numbers in the second, though there are some known exceptions to this pattern, such as 1040-EZ and XR4-TI.
The story of the Androsynth begins in the initial renaissance of peaceful development of science and technology in the first days after the Small War of 2015. The United Nations, fearing a future global holocaust if the development of weapons of mass destruction continued, had prohibited research in such areas. Among the remaining avenues for scientific expansion was biotechnology, which was the quickest of all disciplines to flourish.
In 2019, a brilliant Swiss scientist named Hsien Ho, at the Zurich BioTeknik, combining the now-complete human genome map with sophisticated genetic-engineering techniques, was able to perfect the technology of artificial parthenogenesis. Ho's clones were, judging solely by external appearance, Humans; however, their genes were modified so that they were unable to reproduce.
As the clones were slowly maturing, a new religious order, Homo Deus — also known as the "Godly Men" — was formed in the aftermath of the Small War and the emotional turmoil caused by the destruction of the Holy Lands, centered on the belief that the Millennium was near — on March 11, 2046, Heaven and Earth would join, and each devout person would be elevated to a divine status. The cult's charismatic founder, Jason MacBride, a former used car salesman, was able to amass millions of poor, disillusioned, and impressionable followers.
Meanwhile, Hsien Ho's clones had already become adults. Seeing them as a threat to his "Godly Men", Jason MacBride fought to have the clones declared sub-human. Calling them "Androsynth", or the "fake men", he used the vast resources of his Homo Deus organization to strip the clones of their human rights. Sadly, as the years passed, the Androsynth became little better than well-treated slaves.
The day March 11, 2046 came and went, and no detectable change in the human condition took place. MacBride, blaming the inaccuracy of his prophecy on a "lack of genuinely devout people", withdrew from public life, fading into obscurity; his fortune and power rapidly waned as well.
In the spring of 2085, the Androsynth, numbering tens of thousands and spread across the globe since 2070, broke away from their physically and mentally weaker Human creators and masters and disappeared to parts unknown. One of the events that triggered the eventual rebellion and exodus occurred when a group of scientists in Eurasia used several Androsynth as disposable guinea pigs in a highly dangerous physics experiment. The abortive Hamburg Revolt ensued, in which the Androsynth briefly seized control of that city's port.5 Although this initial act of defiance was ultimately futile, it did push the Androsynth to instead seek a haven in space rather than on Earth, laying the groundwork for the successful and final Clone Revolt.
The beginning of the uprising was well orchestrated. Leading up to the actual Clone Revolt, Androsynth working at spaceflight facilities across Earth had prepared several thousand spaceships for the exodus. Within a day's time, every spaceflight facility on the planet was taken over by the Androsynth, aided by a number of underground Human sympathizers. Aboard thousands of stolen spacecraft, the entire Androsynth population was evacuated. Two days later, the clones had captured every off-world base, both in Earth's orbit and on its satellite, Luna.
For two months, the Androsynth rebels, with the help of their huge MASER weaponry improvised from energy broadcast units, held off attempt after attempt by the newly founded United Nations space military force, Star Control, to retake the bases. Meanwhile, the Androsynth were outfitting eight of the space stations, including the recently constructed StarLight Hilton, for interstellar flight. Unable to overcome the Androsynth strongholds with conventional weapons, the United Nations decided to unlock the Peace Vaults, where Earth's ancient stockpiles of nuclear warheads and orbital lasers had been dismantled and stored. However, before the mass destruction weaponry could be reassembled, the new Androsynth fleet left Earth orbit with high speed.
The Human military fleet was too slow to catch the rebels, but an unarmed ten-thruster ore freighter returning from a Titanium mining operation in the Asteroid Belt was able to make a high-V interception on the Androsynth fleet, witnessing their transition to HyperSpace in what the pilot termed a "great red hole" with a diameter of over 500 meters.
Little is known about the Androsynth's history after their emigration. However, they eventually arrived at the Vulpeculae constellation, the same region the Taalo inhabited in the days of the Sentient Milieu. Finding Eta Vulpeculae II a suitably Earth-like world, they settled there and began expanding, soon having a bustling population and a colonial sphere of influence throughout Vulpeculae space. They even established uneasy but peaceful interstellar relations with their Spathi neighbors, much to the Spathi's surprise. During this brief period of autonomy, the Androsynth invested most of their energy into reproduction and armament research.
They had barely been free for fifteen years when the Ur-Quan Hierarchy entered our region of space. The invaders quickly conquered the Thraddash, the Umgah, the Ilwrath, but were halted in their rimward advance by the Chenjesu and Mmrnmhrm's initial defense force. Unfazed, the Ur-Quan headed spinward, encountering and subjugating the Spathi before turning their attention to the Androsynth at about the same time that the Humans were recruited into the Alliance of Free Stars. The reclusive Androsynth had no advance warning of the Ur-Quan advance and were taken utterly by surprise when the Hierarchy invaded their territory. It took only a few short weeks of intense interplanetary combat for the Androsynth to be subjugated. After three decades of freedom, the Androsynth were once again slaves.
The Androsynth used the militaristic aims of the Hierarchy and their status as Battle Thralls to satiate a desire for revenge against their former Human masters. As such, the Androsynth became one of the Humans' most feared enemies in the war, second only to the Ilwrath. The thought of having to face the incredible speed and maneuverability of Androsynth Guardian vessels in Blazer attack mode — or worse, a Hit-and-Run squadron employing Guardians specially modified for extended Blazer range — instilled fear in every Human crewmember serving the Coreward Front, a fear amplified by the knowledge that the Androsynth had good reason for their hatred. Cruiser captains became obsessed with their invisible enemies and their inevitable vengeance, often mistaking nearby asteroids for Guardians and madly destroying them in bursts of what was colloquially termed "clone fever". Many Humans also feared that, should the Alliance be defeated, the Androsynth would exact heavy revenge on Earth itself.
At least a decade after the end of the war, an Androsynth Guardian discovered a set of Precursor artifacts somewhere in the Alpha Lalande system. The devices generated waves of a previously unknown space-time phenomenon, which the Androsynth scientists termed Dimensional Fatigue (or DF for short), that allowed for the observation of other dimensions. Hoping to be able to develop new and improved forms of hyperdrive and HyperWave, the Androsynth began studying this new technology. However, this research led to their eventual disappearance, about three to five years later.
Exactly how this happened is unclear. Some of the nearby races such as the VUX (who are attacked by the Orz for asking too many questions about the Androsynth) and the Spathi appear to have noticed the sudden absence of the Androsynth. Additionally, the Spathi, the Melnorme, and the Arilou all draw a connection between the disappeance of the Androsynth and the appearance of the Orz, but none of them know or offer further details about these events. The most extensive details come from an investigation by The Captain of the Androsynth homeworld during the events of Star Control II. Initially the lander crew discovers evidence of a relatively recent, massive land war, though strangely no evidence of an invasion from space nor any corpses. Upon examining the remnants of scientific research institutes in the civilization's ruins, the crew discovers incomplete computer records that detailed the Androsynth's DF research and their scientists' subsequent breakthrough — contact with an extra-dimensional, alien life form. The fragmentary records show that, soon after this contact event, several requests were made for information about "reality aberrations", the "mosquito mange", ghosts, poltergeists and other similar malevolent entities, requests that grew more and more urgent, almost frantic, up until the abrupt end of the computer record. Science Officer Bukowski of The Flagship, who investigates the ruins, himself almost goes mad as he learns more about the Androsynth's final moments; he destroys the computers, knowing that the information therein is dangerous, that even knowing could alert "Them" and would put the whole of Humanity in danger. "They" had already detected Bukowski, and were "moving toward him".
The Orz, who now inhabit Androsynth space, explain that the clones made some *slippery places* (presumably portals or something similar) through which the Orz were able to *smell* them, as well as the TrueSpace dimension, which was previously unknown to the Orz. The Orz then pushed his/their *fingers* through the *slippery places* and into TrueSpace, *pulling* the Androsynth, against the clones' wish. The Arilou account, though vague, seems to support this, stating, "The Androsynth showed themselves, and something noticed them. There are no more Androsynth now. Only Orz."
It still remains a mystery exactly what the fate of the Androsynth was; the possibilities suggest anything up to and including having been eaten by the Orz. It is not known whether there are any Androsynth who survived.6
Notes and references
- 1From the 1998 IRC chat with Toys for Bob (Fwiffo is both Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III here):
- <LordR-man> Fwiffo- What really happened to the Androsynth in sc2?
- <Fwiffo> In regards to the Androsynth: They were snagged by the entity who/which projected its fingers into our dimension (which looked to us as the Orz.)
- <LordR-man> Fwiffo- What really happened to the Androsynth in sc2?
- 2From the Star Control manual, p. 23 (PC).
- 3From a mail by Paul Reiche III to a Star Control II player:
- Hi Maria,
- Good question! My initial intention was that, yes, they were gay, or more properly, strictly monosexual. About the time Fred and I were working on Star Control II, I had my first friendships with openly gay folks. It always has felt good to me to discard a prejudice and I hoped to share that opportunity in teeny-weeny little way with the people who played my games. BUT, when I shared this notion with our publisher, some folks took this to mean that they should use stereotypes for humor, as for instance the "fashion designers of space" crap that ended-up in the manual. I feel like I should have been more courageous getting that comment edited out and if it offended anyone, I feel really bad about that.
- Hopefully as the future unfolds, we will find our species more accepting of others and more appreciative of individual expression... either that or we should all get jetpacks. I'm cool either way.
- - Paul Reiche
- Ps. By the way, now I am not so sure that all the Androsynth are male. I imagine they might descend from a few clonal lines, so I expect there would be both male and female and perhaps some neutrals.
- 4From the Star Control II manual, p. 68, 69 (3DO).
- 5This event in Eurasia and the Hamburg Revolt are only mentioned in the Star Control manual.
- 6From a mail by Fred Ford to a Star Control II player:
- : Were ALL the Androsynth destroyed when the Orz came?
- Perceptive lad. This was a leading plot candidate for our theoretical sequel.