The Teth are a self-contained and self-motivating race, known for being focussed and driven toward the goal of being better than the other three races in the Four Systems. Indeed, since the first interstellar messages were received the Teth united as one race with one government, the better to present a united front. Once, however, the Teth were an amalgam of warring tribes. Carefully constructed articles of combat ensured that the tribes were never wiped out by what became ritualised battle. The Teth believe in survival of the fittest, and also that ritual battle both strengthens the individual and fosters an environment where the community grows stronger. Weak communities are less attractive and die as their members move elsewhere. Weak individuals get less of a chance to prosper – or to mate.
All Teth civilisation is underground – the planet was hit by a meteor a thousand years ago which radically worsened the weather, causing a climate of hurricanes and a sunless sky. The Teth learned to live beneath the surface, growing first fungus as crops and then using science to develop hydroponic crops
When the first transmission from an alien civilisation was received by the Teth it was, of course, regarded with intense suspicion. Once verified it served as a galvanising call to all of the tribes. It was time for the Teth as a whole to become as one tribe, the better to compete against the other tribes of the galaxy. Government for the Teth became almost like a Monarchy. There is a hierarchy of tribes, and those tribes jostle for power and position. Through ritual battle one tribe is chosen to rule, and this tribe puts an individual – who they consider to be the most fit – forward to be the system leader. Generally, each system leader lasts for between two and ten years. Teth that go off-world consider themselves as representatives of the “united tribe of Teth” rather than a representative of whatever tribe they belong to.
When the first JumpShip was detected in Teth space there was uproar. Here were individuals who were better than the entire Teth space effort. Here were the masters of space travel. Teth racial pride took a dent before it was learned that the Jump Drives were not the product of Human technology, but rather stolen from some fifth race.
Due to the fact that they are openly jealous of the Families and openly desirous of a Jump Drive, many JumpShip captains distrusted the Teth on principle. There were no Teth Families until diplomats purchased a Jump Engine from the Web family. This engine was used to construct a Jump-capable warship which caused massive casualties in the Teth-Human War.
From the outside – The other races see the Teth as grumpy, xenophobic and elitist. The Teth would take all of those criticisms as complements.
Teth are generally – Completely different among their friends and close family than among those they don’t know. They could follow one of a hundred gods favoured by their tribes. They solve problems typically by considering a number of strategies and employing what they consider to be the most efficient, making them appear cautious.
The Teth homeworld – Tethis – is the fourth planet in the Teth system of six planets. It is the only inhabited planet in the system, though there are a number of space stations in the system which hold up to ten thousand inhabitants each. Asteroid mining is a viable career in the Teth system, and most Teth find space to be a comforting environment. On Tethis there are approximately three billion Teth, split between approximately fifteen thousand separate tribes.
Tethis is a barren world on the surface, the climate of high winds and sandstorms making it tough to live above ground. Some above ground monitoring stations and spaceports exist, but the majority of Teth business, culture and life takes place below ground. The underground cities of the Teth descend almost two kilometers into the surface of the planet, and are characterised both by narrow tunnels that form the streets of towns as well as massive open chambers where gatherings, sporting and cultural events are held. Transportation takes place inside spacious boreholes connecting vast underground “cities.” Construction of new passages and chambers carries on today – it is an established fact that the lowest parts of Teth cities where drilling is carried out and drainage can be poor are the poorest and most dangerous areas of the cities and the places where crime festers.
The central Teth government is housed in the capital city of Areth. Areth is a newer city, designed and built in the last decade from scratch to become the planetary capital. For that reason it is considered to be extremely modern and an example of the best that the Teth race can develop for the benefit of visitors. In contrast to most Teth cities, some of Areth is built above ground, and these parts of the city are mostly composed of glass, the better to see what the Teth have overcome. Areth also contains the largest spaceport on the planet. Plans are afoot to build a “space elevator” that will connect Areth to a space station that orbits Tethis in geosynchronous orbit above the capital city itself. This will bring the cost of leaving the planet down massively and push the Teth space program forward past that of all the other races.
Teth technology is advanced, secondly only to that of the Tarn. However, since the two races have such different outlooks, and are advanced in different areas, the Teth believe their science to be the most advanced in the Four Systems. Teth biological science is advanced to the point where they have advanced anti-aging technology. This is a fiercely expensive treatment and is thus reserved for the super-rich only (the members of the Web Family Foss Grav and Lync Hosh were the first humans to undergo this treatment after successfully selling their JumpShip to the Teth.) Teth weapons technology is similarly advanced as can be seen by the damage done to the Human space habitat Hoboville during the Teth-Human war. One single bomb caused immense destruction.
Living underground has taught the Teth a lot about construction, hydroponics and recycling technologies. Although the idea of building generation ships as the Humans once did is absurd now in an age where Jump technology is commonplace, there is some talk on Tethis about the idea of creating asteroid habitats to live in on the outskirts of the system. In the long run these would be cheaper than space stations. Rumour has it that one such asteroid has already been commissioned and is being used by the Teth government as some kind of space prison or a training ground for an army of space marines – rumours vary.
Like all of the Seeder races, the Teth are bipedal humanoids. In a certain light a Teth could be mistaken for a Human – it’s only up close that the differences become obvious. Firstly, Teth tend to be a little broader than the average Human, and a little more physically developed. This is partly due to local conditions on Tethis – gravity is slightly stronger than on Hamak IV (or Earth.) Secondly, the average Teth pays more attention to his physical fitness than the average Human. Obesity on Tethis is an unfortunate disease of the mind. In addition, the long years spent underground have lent the Teth a pallor. All Teth are pale by Human standards, their eyes a little sunken and in shadow. Among the Humans the Teth are nicknamed “Vampires” and that nickname has spread, especially to the Krayce, who often seek to take their Teth colleagues down a couple of pegs and make them stop being so serious.
Internally, a Teth is also very similar to the other Seeder races, with minor differences to do with evolving under different gravitational conditions and with slightly different foods. A Teth does not possess an appendix and their hormonal balances are different. Medication that works on Humans can be expected to work 75% of the time on Teth.
There are perhaps fifteen thousand tribes on Tethis, containing anything up to half a million individuals, and as few as ten thousand. Members of one tribes will frequently live geographically in close proximity to each other, so the smaller Teth cities can be composed entirely of one or two tribes. There are a number of notable Teth tribes:
First among the tribes are the Veris. Over the past hundred years they have dominated the Teth political landscape. Notably, the leader known as Ninath of Veris was instrumental in creating the culture of space-faring Teth. While members of the Vikkil tribe are typically blamed for the creation of a Jump-capable warship and its use during the short-lived Teth-Human War, it was the famed diplomat Kreth of Veris who was present to acquire the Jump Engine that was fitted into the warship from the Jump Family calling themselves the Web. Most Teth would agree that the Vikkil tribe is the “old guard” and has ceased to be effective.
If Vikkil and Veris are the most powerful families, the third and fourth place should belong to Vallas and Vunith respectively. Members of the Vallas family are responsible for picking up many of the pieces after the Teth-Human War. The Vunith are active in space, keeping control of the small and growing Teth space navy, and in this respect they are growing in number, becoming more and more respected.
Teth names are usually a forename followed by the tribe name. Examples might be “Kreth of Veris” or “Thelles of Vikkil.” A Teth will have a second forename, but this is generally used only by their close family. Some Teth take the names of particularly inspirational ancestors, so certain names are quite common in space-faring Teth.
The Teth-Human War
Many Teth had been jealous of the Humans since first contact. Here was another race that had advanced technology – they had crossed interstellar distances in generation vessels and then found and controlled Jump technology. After discovering that the colonisation technology was lost, and that the Jump technology was stolen from the Builders, many politicians on Tethis were disgusted. With relations between the two races at a low, and Human forces refusing to share any aspect of either technology, the Teth government declared war on Hamak.
At the time, the distance between the two systems and the lack of transport between the two made war a mostly political affair. That was until the Teth acquired a Jump Engine from the Web Family. Using this engine a Jump-capable warship was constructed and piloted to Hamak where it was engaged by a number of spacecraft as well as the Furies Family. In the ensuing firefight the giant space habitat known as Hoboville came under fire. A docking pylon was destroyed and thousands of Human lives lost. Decades later, many Hoboville residents still hold enmity for the Teth, despite reparations being made. The whole war lasted only a matter of months, and it is widely understood among the Teth to have been caused by the machinations of the Vikkil tribe.
As a race, the Teth strive to be the best that they can be. This is demonstrated by the culture of ritual combat and a ranking of the tribes as well as the triumph of Teth engineering and spirit – being forced to live underground when their climate was decimated by a comet strike. The Teth can be seen as a forbidding people, hard to relate to and harder yet to be friends with. To outsiders this stereotype is often borne true.
However, amongst themselves, the Teth can be comfortable. Family is immensely important to the Teth, and family ties run deep among the tribes. The Teth take their culture and art as seriously as they do other aspects of their life, and in these enlightened times “ritual combat” between tribes can be as easily enacted as a comparison of achievement in the arts as an actual martial combat.
A Teth watches for areas to improve himself. A Teth strives to be all that he can be. A Teth’s ambition is strong but not overriding. Boasting about Teth superiority is seen as crass. After all – Teth superiority is a foregone conclusion.
It comes as a surprise to some that the Teth people believe in any kind of religion. What is more, as a race the Teth have a remarkably low incidence of atheism or agnosticism. Instead there are many gods in the Teth pantheon, each one extolling a different virtue, or combination of virtues. Typically a priest will follow a single God, which is most often the patron God of the priest’s tribe. There are exceptions, of course, but these are few and far between.
By way of example, in Teth mythology, the God Irith is seen as an unnaturally thin Teth. His eyes sparkle and his hair shines – he is the picture of health, though it is said that he neither eats nor drinks anything at all. Irith is the Teth god of frugality and he wastes no food on his own life, instead handing over everything that is his for the good of his tribe. Followers of Irith follow the same example, giving up what is theirs for the common good. Irith teaches that one should praise him and do his work by achieving the most in return for the least expenditure of resources – though it is sin to simply interpret his Gospel as an excuse for laziness.
In recent times, the Teth mindset of “be everything you can. Aggressively act to achieve everything you are capable of” has attained some degree of popularity outside of the Teth system. This is largely down to two factors. The first is the increasing amount of Teth in space – it’s easy to look at Teth superiority and conclude that it’s real and that the Teth really do have some measure of superiority over the other races. The second is slightly more insidious and considerably less well-known.
During the Cabal occupation of the Krayce home world, a member of the Cabal Family was captured by Teth forces. This human – named Savro Pado – was incarcerated on Tethis and underwent a number of Teth brainwashing techniques with the intention of making him a Teth spy. With the defeat of the Cabal at Teth forces and the liberation of the Krayce homeworld this never became necessary. On the other hand, Pado was released by the Teth. He appeared changed by the experience, acting and thinking a lot like the Teth themselves. Though Pado has since faded into obscurity (or has been murdered by anti-Cabal forces) his legacy remains.
Of course, there are those conspiracy theorists in the Four Systems who believe that these “Tethic” members of other races are being in some way manipulated by Teth forces. The truth of the matter remains to be discovered.