Star*Drive: Visions of the Verge
By now, fraal and humans should be as close as brothers. They’ve known one another for almost 400 years, and they colonized space together. In the 26th century, fraal can be found as members of every significant society. The truth is, though, that fraal are in many ways still the most alien sentients that humanity deals with. A full third of the fraal live almost completely apart from humans. They’re from an ancient culture, even if their history lies mostly forgotten, and the differences between human and fraal loom larger than those between many of humanity’s newer friends.
Legally, fraal enjoy the strongest protection under the law and suffer the least discrimination. As humanity shares the credit for the stardrive with the fraal, it’s pretty well accepted that the fraal should be given equal consideration in other matters as well. Indeed, the respect given to fraal borders on veneration in some parts; this is especially true of fraal who have experienced their 300th or 400th birthdays.
As for the fraal themselves, their culture has been deeply divided since before 2124. The younger generation of fraal, called Builders by humans, pushed hard for contact with humanity. The older, more conservative Wanderers had become entrenched in their opposition, by then millennia old. This division remains in place in the 26th century, not surprising given the fraal lifespan. The eldest fraal still remember the arguments. As the centuries have passed, the Wanderers’ numbers have declined as more and more of their city-driveships leave human space in search of their homeworld. Those left behind are primarily the Builders, whose numbers continue to mushroom.
This population shift is largely a result of choices the two cultures have made. The Wanderers prefer life aboard city- ships. These lonely voyaging craft can be found within all stellar nations, starfalling from one end of space to the other. For the most part, the dwellers of the city-ships avoid contact with the humans they pass by, and the humans extend the same courtesy. Human folklore considers these fraal truly mysterious, as they were in the days when unidentified objects wandered over the cities of Earth. But the nomadic life has never been explained. Maybe the wandering serves a purpose that even the fraal have forgotten, but for the fraal it’s the life they’re used to.
The younger generation, the Wanderers say, has become tainted by the humans they watched for so long. The Builders have left the city-ships behind. Instead, they live intermingled with humans, taking up human causes and concerns. Fully absorbed in human society, they share in human interests and culture. They fight in what many would call humanity’s wars, as the Galactic Wars demonstrated. They are in all ways active citizens of the stellar nations. They live in human-dominated cities and find employment side by side with humans.