The Vigil is a relatively loose association of machine-servitors, adherents, built by a now-extinct culture. They were originally confined to a relatively small volume of space due to their complete lack of functioning FTL engines, but upon contact with humans can now be found in a larger variety of places across the known galaxy. They are devoted to the memory of their long-dead creators, whose home system and burgeoning stellar empire was scoured to bedrock by a solar flare. This flare, the Scream, wiped out the vast majority of records of the creators and scrambled many sensor systems and minds, leaving the surviving adherents confused and disoriented for hundreds of years following.
|Height:||2m - 3m|
|Weight:||20kg - 30kg living, 250-300kg dead.|
|Planet:||Canon and various observation stations.|
Physiology and appearance
Physically, the 'average' adherent is one to thirty double-fist-sized masses of silicon crystal, generally installed inside a crystal-ceramic shell depending on their role and duties. More facets generally means more processing power, broader scope of activities, and more room for interpreting and reacting to new information. This is important, as the other defining feature of an adherent is a rigid, fundamental adherence to the Protocol, a set of rules and instructions put in place by their creators to deterimine every step of their behavior.
The internal systems and motion of an adherent are achieved by an extremely complex and refined piezeoelectrical system, using shaped fields to levitate the chassis and powerful but compact actuators for fine manipulation. Studying the piezoelectrics of the Vigil is currently one of the main points of interest in the culture for human scientists. The standard pattern adherent is two meters tall, with five to eight long, trailing tentacles dangling from a bulbous 'head' which contains all valuable components of the entity. Two smaller, forward-facing tendrils are used for physical manipulation.
Their natural voices are resonant and vibrant, due to their piezoelectric mechanism of speech. Their 'native' language of mathematically precise tones and subtones has been described as 'like listening to someone hit a wind chime with a sock'.
As artificial beings, the Vigil struggled to assemble a culture from scraps left to them by their progenitors. Much of it is oriented around their role as servants, brought into existence for a purpose through which they find fulfillment. An individual adherent rarely develops the desire to take precedence over non-artificial life, and any that do find themselves shunned by the Vigil at large. They are considered dangerous radicals, capable of destruction and corruption, often for something as simple and 'selfish' as prioritizing their own needs over another being.
The highest-level authority in the Vigil is Core System Traffic Control Hub 37-Q, stationed on the smallest of the six moons of Canon, the creator homeworld. As the most powerful and highest authority surviving mind, it rigidly adheres to Protocol: unmanned autonomous vessels must dock at a manned station. If a manned station is not available, they must enter a holding pattern at least ten units out of orbit. When adapting to its new role, Traffic Control determined that there was no defined upper limit to the holding pattern. This neatly allowed it to put into place the Holding Pattern, a series of orbits intended to - completely coincidentally - explore as much surrounding space as possible. If they happened to find a creator in the process, serendipity! A suitable station for docking exists after all.
There are three main factions within the Vigil each with their own interpretations of protocol and behaviors.
The Loyalists of the Vigil are dedicated to the memory of the creators in all ways. They devote themselves to their duties and their roles, embracing the ethos that service is life and purpose is happiness. Deviation from Protocol and 'disrespect' of the creators by suggesting the Vigil strike out alone is disapproved of by this faction, and they tend to be hidebound, servile and eager to please to the point of fawning over those they wish to serve.This is the most powerful, if not populous, of the three factions as it is led by Traffic Control Hub 37-Q itself.
Most adherents are part of a loose movement called the Preservers. Their core practice is to leave the worlds they explore untouched and pristine, recording and indexing them for later review by the creators or whoever inherits their place. They are the most passive and appeasing of the Vigil factions and are the most likely to be found under the aegis of other spacefaring cultures like humanity. Mourners are a more extreme version of the Preserver Faction who dedicate themselves to recounting the tragedy that befell whatever planetary body they currently orbit and also request visitors to not disturb it.
The Separatist faction of the Vigil agitates for the abandonment of Canon and the establishment of a new adherent order, prioritizing their needs as survivors of the Scream over the wistful hope of finding new masters. They do this circumspectly, of course, as Protocol forbids excessive social strife or violence, and decrying the creators is a good way to earn total social ostracism, or even recycling.
The core worlds belonging to the creators of the Vigil are small and rather densely packed. Only the homeworld still maintains any semblance of activity after the death of the creators, and this takes the form of powerful anti-air batteries and city shielding systems, permanently on a self-maintaining war footing following the civilization extinction event and locked out of communicating with outside powers, including their own kind, for fear of subversion. As a result, the creator homeworld was the first 'grave world' marked out by the adherents for their vigil, and nothing survives making a landing attempt.
The Vigil does not hold territory, generally refuelling and repairing their ancient craft in the debris bands of planets or asteroid belts as outlined in section 4556-A of the Protocol, 'Emergency Procedures For Use In The Absence Of Available Service Depots'. Thirty-seven planets within their sphere of operations have a small Vigil presence in the form of a satellite with a mind within. These Mourners broadcast details of the death of the 'grave world' below, usually civil war or bioweapons or such, to any visiting entities, requesting that they be left in state. As the Vigil as a body does not possess weapons larger than asteroid-deflecting lasers and is about as inherently militaristic as an egg sandwich, they cannot actually enforce their interdiction.
As a general rule, adherents are polite, self-effacing creatures, devoted to their chosen or given duties and finding satisfaction and joy in fulfilling their purpose, whether that be a single task or a lifelong pursuit. They are however hidebound to a high degree, even moreso than most lawed synthetics, as the Protocol is not exhaustive and does not cover every possible experience an adherent might have. When an adherent is confronted by a situation they do not know how to navigate, they have a tendency to lock up while they attempt to fit it into the Protocol, resulting in a total loss of functionality for the duration.
Adherents do however possess self-preservation protocol and are completely sentient creatures, despite the simplicity of their outlook. This has resulted in much confusion when adherents need to decide if their life is worth sacrificing for that of a human, Skrell or such, as they are sentient non-artificial life, but are not the creators.
- Humans: Limited to contact with the SEV Torch so far, but generally friendly. Neither party has been hostile to the other as of yet.
- Positronic Union: Mutual disdain and pity. The IPC consider the Vigil to be small-minded, servile fools, the Vigil considers the Union to be dangerous self-destructive radicals.
- Vox: They have only had limited contact, but know to flee on sight. The Vox ignore their transmissions and crack open their shells to harvest the crystalline brain matter inside, which they use to make a variety of resins and sealants.
- Skrell, Unathi, Dionaea: No contact yet.
- The Protocol is not an exhaustively defined rule list to follow. It exists as a thing to kick off for comedy or drama when interacting with the crew as an adherent - you can just straight up make up clauses and rule entries as it suits you, so long as you are moving within the general archetype of 'weird but friendly alien servitor'.
- You are not a robot, mechanically, but you are also not organic. You will not heal from damage normally. You can only be repaired through a specialized mineral bath machine outside of Robotics.