Sunsets on Anthrôpos IV Thalassa were always an Off-lander favorite: the densely jungled cityscape of its few landmasses violently giving over to the ageless black powder of the beaches, emptying into the endless seas therein – all this colored in brilliant jewel-tones of synth ultramarine and saffron as far as the eye could see. The rising of the enormous gilded light orb was akin to Tellus, the Off-landers’ world, a similarity the planet of Thalassa shared with its orbiting bretheren in the Anthrôpos chain: Gaeôn, Phlox and Ouranios. Ten-thousand aero-nots from Tellus, the planetary aero-ways were marked with taxonomic necessity, the fingers of the Off-landers marking their way as Trireme gave over to the genetically exact Atomic-sail, able to cut through the dark highways of the universe. These revelations was relayed via the Husplêx: tunneled through the dense dark matter of the universe ages ago with now obsolescent and crude high energy atomic Smashers, the inter-galactic filaments of a communications highway. And things had changed.
The Off-landers had not always been extra-species conscious, and it was their distant ancestors, the Erth, who had sculpted the universe to their design, the ten-thousand planets of the Web, now an inter-galactic clade claiming descent from the First, the Erth of Tellus. Many native fauna found extinction at the hands of the First: through disease, through obsolence, through genocide. The Cataetyx of Thalassa had not always walked upright nor strayed from the Sea. Bred to the oceans of Thalassa, they had lived in the undersea castles, coming only to land when they gave birth to their young. With under-developed vocal chords, the Founders had depended on telepathic communication, their innate direction sense unparalleled in the universe. However, once the vestiments of their origins had been shed, their voices trained, their lungs and limbs culled from the ocean-mold, little remained of the Cataetyx of old. Vestigial remains sometimes were seen among the young, as some did not lose the gill-sacs or water-eyes after birth. Very few yet could tap into their inherent telepathic abilities, and they lost as a race their direction sense (echo location) – for above the water, eyes were sufficient for survival.
But the Cataetyx, like the winged Galliformes of Ouranios and the thousands of lesser species who conformed to the Erth-founded clade lost much much more. The Web was a complicated entity, often cumbersome under administrative beaurocracy, but division fell into only one of two categories within the law. One was either OfTellus or OutTellus, Citizen or Unclean. <
The girl on the shore sat against the sunrise, legs brought up to carry the weight of her head. The long, livid strands of her unbound hair danced in lopsided waves against the tides of the wind, here and there some rough hanks of it finding succor in the narrows and bends created by her seated body. She had been there for some time: long enough that her opalescent flesh had taken on the vermillion shades of daybreak, without the life-giving warmth. The girl, called Zena by her grandfather and often other, less kind names in the Thalassan patôis, was dressed in a simple herringbone woven jacket of pea green and a muted plaid skirt that was wide enough to cover her stocking’d legs and heavy leather shoes. Devoid of the irridescent silks and native jewels (pearls, coral) of Thalassa, only an Off-lander would think her native - but for the wooden barrel of fish, Thalassan silver-fins, at her right knee. The granddaughter of a Returner (Aaydaa), her father unknown and a mother who had drowned in the Sea, she bore the tripartite stigma of her ancestors – the indigo eyes of the Old Cataetyx, called the “water eyes.”
The “water eyes” were a vestigial remnant of their distant past, bestowing upon the bearer a distorted chiaroscuro half-sight of glistening lights and the deepest of shadows. To the uninitiated, they were extremely beautiful, and had been collected from the earliest Cataetyx species of Thalassa, and worn like small, shimmering amethysts among the OfTellus. Exceedingly rare, not the least for their crippling vision, the affliction usually ran through familial lines.