The Orz are — is — an alien species/projections of an extradimensional entity first encountered by The Captain in the space near where the Androsynth had been known to reside. Despite a notable distaste for the human-derived Androsynth and for the mysterious Arilou, the Orz happily joined with the New Alliance of Free Stars and provided its powerful Nemesis starship designs to aid in the Second War.
Orz appear as gill-breathers who resemble yellow parrotfishes with eyestalks, though it is not known if this is their actual true form. Direct conversation with Orz, despite the translation difficulties, usually leads to the conclusion that the Orz come from another dimension; additionally the Arilou describe the Orz as "dimensional travelers." When asked about their origins, Orz explain that the Arilou are from *above* and that Orz is from *below*. The precise meaning of this explanation is still up to debate, although the Arilou make it clear that the Orz are not from QuasiSpace. Since *above* appears to refer to QuasiSpace, *below* would then likely refer to another, similar dimension located, however, on the "other side" of HyperSpace and TrueSpace.
There has been some discussion — confirmed by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III — that the Orz as they are seen in normal space are actually a projection of some higher-dimensional being, namely Them.1 The Orz-entity refers to what is seen of itself in the known dimensions as its *fingers* and explains that it is not like other races who are *many bubbles*. The Orz sometimes refer to themselves in the singular third person, although whether this is another quirk of the Orz's odd speech pattern or a reference to their true essence is unclear.
The Orz are a newcomer to TrueSpace that appeared suddenly in the vicinity of the Vulpeculae constellation, the adopted homeworlds of the Androsynth. As the Androsynth vanished about the same time the Orz arrived, it is reasonable to think that the Orz did something to them, but asking the Orz about the subject infuriates them. It is possible that the Dimensional Fatigue experiments that were being performed by the Androsynth (and perhaps the Taalo before them) brought the Vulpeculae constellation to the Orz's attention.
Just where the Orz resided before arriving in the area of Vulpeculae is unknown. The Orz indicate that they like TrueSpace and even prefer it over their origin dimension and are now in the process of fully moving into TrueSpace. They also denote that they have no intention of returning at any time to their original home.
Relations with other races
Only a few of the races in Star Control II mention the Orz at all. This is not surprising as they appear to be new in TrueSpace. The relations that they do have are as mysterious as the Orz themselves.
The appearance of the Orz coincided with the disappearance of the Androsynth from the same location. In fact, both the Arilou and the Orz themselves suggest that it was the IDF research of the Androsynth which enabled the Orz to come to TrueSpace.
Whether the Orz themselves were the cause for the disappearance of the Androsynth is the subject of a lot of speculation. Evidence for it exists, but is very circumstantial. Whatever their involvement, asking enough about the Androsynth is enough reason for the Orz to attack you.
Dialogs with both the Arilou and Orz suggest that they have had contact outside of TrueSpace. The Orz do not like the Arilou very much, and complain that the Arilou always "*jumping in front*". Conversely, the Arilou warn not to trust the Orz, as they are dangerous.
The Melnorme know of the existence of the Orz, and that they appeared when the Androsynth disappeared. Whether they've met them in person is unclear. While there is a Melnorme trader in Orz space, the Orz never mention Melnorme.
The Spathi also mention that the Orz entered this space when the Androsynth disappeared. They think that they are creepy and warn against an alliance. This is all based on their own speculation though and arguably the Spathi would object to an alliance with almost any race on this basis. Whether they have met the Orz in person or only heard about them from descriptions is unclear.
The Orz mention the Taalo on several occasions. They seem to have been in contact over a longer period of time. According to the Orz, the Taalo have fled TrueSpace to *Pretty Space*, to which the Orz can also go. The Orz refer to Delta Vulpeculae as the Taalo playground, where the Taalo "are making *Time jokes*". As the Orz language isn't very clear, it may be that this is all in the past though.
The Orz briefly mention the VUX, as being "*silly cows*" for asking too many questions about the Androsynth, which prompted the Orz to attack the VUX. (*silly cows* are races disliked by Orz)
There are various theories to explain the various mysteries surrounding the Orz.
The Orz are Them
There are theories that the Orz are in fact the ghost-like creatures that the Androsyth IDF researchers (and Bukowski, probably) ran into. They are mostly based on the fact that They were coming into this world just before the Androsynth disappeared, which was when the Orz appeared. Even when accepting that the timing of the appearance of the Orz is not a coincidence, they do not have to be Them. The Orz could have detected the Androsynth in the same way as They did.
It has been confirmed (in the 2007 chat) that the Orz is/are a part of Them, or rather the projection of Them into TrueSpace.
The Orz *fingers* are projections of Them
This interpretation of the statement "The Orz is part of Them, the projection of Them into TrueSpace." holds that the fish-like bodies we see are those *fingers* of Them which exist in TrueSpace (so Orz, as the totality of the projections in TrueSpace, does not have a identity/conscience separate from Them).
The Orz collective entity is a projection of Them
This interpretation recognizes the existence of three separate identities — They, Orz (which is a projection of Them) and the fish-like *fingers* (which are projections of Orz). Each of these three identities may or may not have an own conscience/free will.
The Orz killed the Androsynth
This is based again on the timing of the appearance of the Orz and the disappearance of the Androsynth, combined with the fact that the Orz refuse to talk about the Androsynth. If this is true, then the Orz would be responsible for the violent land war that wiped out the Androsynth civilization. This is suggested by both the Melnorme and the Spathi. In the same dialogs however, it is made clear that they don't actually know that. However, a reliable source explicitly asserts that the Androsynth were indeed "snagged" by the Orz entity2.
The Orz are altered Androsynth
This theory is a variation of the idea that the Orz are responsible for the disappearance of the Androsynth. In this theory, "snagged" is interpreted as meaning some kind of infection or possession that transformed the Androsynth into the Orz. Usually this theory is proposed as a way to explain the mysterious lack of Androsynth corpses in the ruins of their city. The Arilou description of malignant, parasitic creatures from Beyond (Them) and reference to the Androsynth and Orz as an example are also usually taken as evidence of this theory.
The Orz are protecting races by killing those who ask too many questions about the Androsynth
This reflects the remarks made by the Arilou about parasites from beyond that can detect you when you show yourself. If you reject the theory that the Orz killed the Androsynth, this would provide an alternative explanation that connects 'Them', the disappearance of the Androsynth, and the Orz. In this case, the Orz, like the Arilou, would be attempting to keep TrueSpace races ignorant of and thus invisible to the extradimensional parasites. This theory has been proved as false in the 2007 IRC chat with Toys for Bob (see The Orz are Them).
The Orz snagged the Androsynth to protect them from Them
This one is a variation of the theory previously presented, that also explains what did the Orz to the Androsynth.
The Orz seek to take advantage of indigenous races in some undefined way
The Orz say they dislike the Arilou because they are "jumping in front." The Arilou claim to have changed humans to protect them from the "parasites" that would like to find them. It may be that the Orz want space and races that the Arilou do not control as these would be easier to conquer or manipulate.
Translating Orz Communications
- Main article: Orz communications
The translation computer aboard The Flagship is not able to accurately translate many of the words the Orz are using. While in most cases the meaning can be approximated from the context, an exact translation is usually highly speculative
Notes and references
- 1Paul confirmed that "The Orz is part of Them, the projection of Them into TrueSpace" in the 2007 chat when asked for clarification regarding the Orz.
- 2Fred and Paul, when asked about the Androsynth's fate in a 1998 chat, stated that the human clones "were snagged by the entity who/which projected its fingers into our dimension (which looked to us as the Orz.)"