An Utwig captain, wearing the Mask of
Ultimate Embarrassment and Shame
The Utwig live in the Aquarii constellation. They are an emotionally pronounced race of thin, yellow-skinned humanoids with a somewhat mystic culture, involving masks and their dependancy on an artifact known as the Ultron.
Before the Ultron
The distant past of the Utwig is not well known, due to the Utwig's few mentions of it. The very beginning of the Utwig race on their home planet of Fahz (Beta Aquarii I) was their rising from the "Murky Bog" (a reference to either a primordial soup or a swamp creature ancestry), along with the Chimt. After their rising, the Utwig did as all young species do and merely lived their lives as they came; the Utwig's early societies and activities, whether they were hunters or cultivators, are unknown. Eventually, the Chimt's tendrils reached up to what the Utwig refer to as the "sky canopies of Fahz," causing "the veils" to fall. The nature of these canopies and veils is again unknown, as the Utwig do not eludicate further on the topic.
This event caused the Utwig to collectivley reach an epiphany; that they were taking existence itself at face value. From this, they drew the conclusion that the face is a constant reminder of a being's grotesque, primitive urges that hold back true sentience, showing negative qualities such as greed, rage and lust. Consequently, they decided to hide their faces at all times so as to reach prosperity, and did so by crafting and wearing masks and veils of all kinds. Their first primitive masks were made of such things as leaves, hides, shells, and even living creatures. Over time, this developed into a complex set of social conventions called Mask Etiquette, which became a foundation of their culture.
The Utwig refined this culture more and more as time went on. An event at an unknown point in their past called the Morality Riots was centered around Mask Etiquette and was apparently a tragedy in terms of lives lost and damage caused, though exactly what the point of dissension was is not known. The results of the Riots were a much more standardized Mask Etiquette and also guidelines for revisions to deal with inevitable anomalies. The Utwig understood that the Mask Etiquette needed to also be flexible in order to create a firm foundation upon which to build their society. With the believed hindrance of their intellectual development covered and their society secure and flexible, they made substantial progress in many fields (evidenced by their technologically advanced Jugger combat vessels).
Eventually, the Utwig established contact with the nearby Supox, and befriended them. The Supox were a symbiotic race, and began to learn how they should conduct themselves from the Utwig. In return, the Utwig received a steadfast ally. The Utwig also established HyperWave contact with the Burvixese with whom they exchanged information on various topics. At some point in their exploration of the nearby space, the Utwig also discovered a Precursor device in an abandoned Precursor supply base; after futher analysis, they discovered that the device was in fact an incredibly powerful antimatter bomb capable of reducing an entire planet to dust. They moved the bomb to surface of the moon Zeta Hyades VIb and guarded it with a near limitless squadron of Juggers. However, the Druuge race had also learned through the Burvixese of the bomb's existence and eventually contacted the Utwig, intending to obtain it.
The Ultron and the Great Sin
In typical Druuge behavior, they used their primary skill of trade in an attempt to acquire the bomb. The Druuge offered an ancient device known as Ultron, a seemingly worthless piece of junk they had found. The Utwig were overjoyed, seeing this as an excellent turn of fortune, since they had been searching for a higher purpose for themselves. The Druuge claimed that the device would grant them powers beyond belief, and the Utwig believed them. Before finalizing the transaction, the Utwig High Proctor asked if she could hold the Ultron, just for a moment. The Druuge allowed her to, not wanting to appear rude and potentially ruin the trade.
The moment the Proctor took the device into her hands, she was wracked by a feeling of intense power — while the Druuge thought the Utwig were simply falling for their ruse with great enthusiasm, it was not so. When the High Proctor opened her eyes again after the spasm had subsided, the Druuge were thunderstruck — the High Proctor's eyes were glowing intensely with a light that frightened the Druuge. As it turned out, the Ultron actually had granted the Utwig powers of some description, contrary to what the Druuge believed the device was capable of. Not only this, but the High Proctor had become able to read the trader's thoughts to some extent; while not uncovering his ruse, she sensed that the Druuge captain was after an artifact.
The Druuge were incapable of saying anything, lest they spoil what they had believed to be a clever scam. The Utwig provided the Druuge with several artifacts from a vault, which were later found to be useless. The traders left with these artifacts, leaving the Ultron to the Utwig. The Supox believed the Utwig had been scammed, but kept quiet about it since it had made the Utwig so happy. Unfortunatley, the Ultron was later broken during the Chinz-Rahl celebration, when it fell to the ground due to a mishandling, and was rendered inoperative.
The breaking of the Ultron was devastating to the Utwig culture and collective psyche. The Utwig sank into a collective, even suicidal depression, destroying all masks except the mask of Ultimate Embarrassment and Shame, a purple hood-like garment. They contemplated ending the existence of their entire species using the gigantic bomb, but decided instead that they would prolong their suffering to atone for the "Great Sin" of breaking the Ultron. The Utwig became offended at the sight of the broken Ultron, seeing it as a loss of potential for the entire universe, and gave the shattered device to the Supox for safekeeping.
They eventually came into contact with the Kohr-Ah, who had recently entered the sector after slaughtering the Burvixese in Arcturus. The Kohr-Ah almost found the Utwig homeworld, but encountered the Kzer-Za first and threw their entire fleet into the renewed Doctrinal Conflict, confusing to no end the Utwig, who had seen the Kohr-Ah's arrival as their deserved punishment finally being administered. It was shortly after this that The Captain finds the Utwig in their melancholy state. After some talk (mainly depressed ramblings about the Ultron), The Captain visits their Supox allies, who hand over the broken Ultron, hoping that The Captain can fix it and cheer up the Utwig.
Involvement with the New Alliance
After analysis at the Earth Starbase, it is discovered that the Ultron is in fact a Precursor psychic amplifier of sorts. The Utwig are the only known race whose brain emanations are compatible with the amplifier's metawave gyrations, which explains how the Druuge had thought it to be worthless. After acquiring some replacement parts with which to repair the Ultron, The Captain returns the restored device to the Utwig. They collectively go from their depressed and anxiety-wracked state to a more motivated and normal state in mere seconds. In thanks, they and the Supox pledge their allegiance to the New Alliance of Free Stars and send a fleet to the Horologii constellation to play their part in defeating the Ur-Quan.
After the conflict, it is likely the Utwig will continue to help the other Alliance races, providing the Ultron's guidance and various forms of support to their allies. As a more direct reward to The Captain for saving the Utwig culture, they intend to create for him a unique mask, the Saintly Facade, so that he can "hide his unsightly mug with distinction".
Culture and society
Utwig culture appears to be dominated by two ideas: an emphasis on ceremony, and the concept of destiny. The emphasis on ceremony manifests itself in the Utwig's many rituals and celebrations, such as the Chinz-Rahl and the Exultant Caper of Revelation. It is also apparent in their preoccupation with etiquette and procedures. "Mask-Etiquette" is the most visible effect of this preoccupation and the most interesting aspect of Utwig culture. Utwig can never show their faces, and are required to wear masks for as long as they live. There are thousands of these masks, designed for different activities, moods, festivals, ceremonies etc. This custom was born in their ancient past, when they finally came to the strange conclusion that a face, that expresses primal emotions, creates all their wars and violence. Therefore the face must be hidden for all time in order for a culture to progress peacefully.
Utwig have been in the possesion of a mystical device called the Ultron, which they bought from the Druuge not more than fifty years ago. The Ultron is their source of happiness and enlightment, much like a portable God, and is the key to their destiny. Through the Ultron, the Utwig imply that they can subtly influence the actions of others and also claim to achieve a state of oneness with the universe and obtain a perfect knowledge of things, which they termed "the Universal." Often the Utwig use the Ultron to determine not only their own destiny, but also the destiny of other races and individuals. They also explain that because of the power and knowledge granted to them by the Ultron, they are the destined agents for effecting an essential service for the universe. When the Ultron is lost or broken, all Utwig fall into a state of collective Despair.
Few details are known about the social structure that supports and enforces the intricate Utwig culture. That which seems to function as the governing body of Utwig society is referred to as the Utwig Proctorate. The Proctorate is made of several Proctors apparently headed by a High or Grand Proctor, which seems to imply some kind of hierarchal relationship between Proctors. Another office in the Utwig social structure is the Chief Groo, though nothing else is known about this office beyond its existence.
The Utwig have a strong partnership with the Supox, their closest starfaring neighbours. When The Captain first encounters the Ultron it is in the custody of the Supox, to whom the Utwig had given the device when they could no longer bear the sight of it. The Supox have taken the Utwig culture as their model, and the Utwig in turn rely on the Supox for emotional support and occasionally wise counsel advice.
The Utwig Mask Etiquette includes roughly eighteen hundred standard "facial appliances," which are used depending on the current circumstances, such as attending to menial chores or mourning a recent tragedy. The Utwig also can combine physical gestures associated with their masks to express sentiments such as respect and gratitude. To not wear a mask at all and bare one's face is seen as extremely degrading and offensive. While this system may appear rather rigid, there is a clearly defined protocol to revise and redesign a mask should the need arise, giving the etiquette a flexibility and diversity that can provide a strong, viable base for Utwig society. The return of the functioning Ultron causes the Utwig to completely revise the etiquette and available masks, in part to be able to adequately express their attitude towards The Captain.
Here is a list of the known masks used within the Utwig culture:
- Countenance of Stellar Representation - the most highly decorated mask
- Domino of Unrivaled Merriment
- Expression of Ultimate Gratitude - a mask consisting of a matrix of beetle secretions and Trooba Fern, very time consuming to create
- Facial Effigy of Remorse For Lost Comrades
- Lewd Monocle - a courting mask described as infamous
- Mask of Confident and Lofty Posture
- Mask of Gruelling but Neccessary Activity - a basic mask
- Mask of Natural Bodily Excretions - a disposable mask commonly found in every lavatory
- Mask of Rampant Jubilation and Jumping With Ecstatic Glee - a complex mask that is seldom worn as few events warrant its use
- Mask of Ultimate Embarrassment and Shame - the mask the Utwig wore as a sign of their Great Sin
- Mask of Valor and Derring-Do
- Veil of Flirtatious Prancing - a clever and intriguing courting mask
- Visage of Ceremonial Orations - a mask that exists in several contexts and revisions
- Saintly Facade or Great Mask - only one is made, which was given to The Captain, created from a planetary body
Relations with other races
Before their decimation by the Kohr-Ah, the Burvixese had friendly HyperWave contact with the Utwig, and talked with them frequently about various things. It was the Burvixese who provided the Druuge with the location of the Precursor Bomb in the Utwig's possession, unaware of the depth of the Druuge's avarice. It appears the Utwig, consumed by depression, did not notice the silence of the Burvixese at all, nor did the Burvixese have a chance to warn the Utwig about the Kohr-Ah before the Druuge's betrayal cost them their lives.
The Utwig's relationship with the Druuge is far from mutual. Where the Utwig are grateful and respectful to the Druuge for providing them with the Ultron, the Druuge see them as pathetic, prancing imbeciles with no-self confidence and huge naivéte, traits the Druuge are all too eager to take advantage of. The Druuge provided the Utwig with the Ultron (which the Druuge had believed to be worthless junk) hoping to get their hands on the antimatter bomb that the Utwig had discovered. The Druuge were foiled when the Ultron gave the Utwig heightened mental functions, and had to leave with a bunch of worthless artifacts. The Druuge harbor an ongoing resentment for the Utwig which they hide to this day.
After The Captain delivers the restored Ultron to the Utwig, they idolize The Captain and even revere him as a sort of saint. They extend their gratitude to humanity as a whole too, joining the New Alliance of Free Stars to assist in ending the Ur-Quan threats. They most likely use the Ultron and any other resources to help humanity and their allies in any way they can, being grateful in the extreme for their deeds.
The Supox, being in quite close proximity to Utwig space, have freindly relations with the Utwig, the "Wearers of Masks." The Supox learn their own ways by copying and adapting to other cultures, and in return provide their support to their source of inspiration. Nearly always the Supox will defer requests for important information to the Utwig, who they consider very wise. The Supox also care quite deeply for the Utwig, evidenced by their refusal to speak up about their beliefs that the Druuge had scammed the Utwig, as the Supox did not want to spoil the newfound happiness of the Utwig. They regret this action, however, believing it to have caused more harm than good. They continue to support the Utwig to this day.
Are the Utwig the Faz?
The name of the Utwig's homeworld, Fahz, is very similar in sound to the name of the Faz race, a member of the ancient Sentient Milieu. This coupled with the Utwig's memories of falling veils in the skies of Fahz (possibly a slave shield?), could indicate that the Utwig are, or are perhaps related to the ancient race, possibly explaining the Utwig's excellent technological prowess. However, the Utwig claim to have risen from the "Murky Bog" on their world, which would credit the Utwig's existence to simple biological evolution, appears to contradict this theory. Their lack of eludication on what the Murky Bog is, however, throws the matter into additional confusion.
Are the Chimt the Faz?
As suggested in the previous Faz theory, the name of the Utwig's homeworld, Fahz, is very similar in etymology to the name of the Faz race, a member of the ancient Sentient Milieu. Perhaps the Utwig evolved to sentience of the Faz homeworld, and the Chimt the speak of are actually the Faz race, who escaped captivity by destroying the Slave Shield over their world. The remnants of Faz technology might explain why the Utwig grew to be such a technological power in short order.