Toh Chi Lok
While GEvidian's various provolve experiments were assisted by the Dino Kids, e also required the help of a "middle branch" - an executive level to interpret eir complex commands, supervise the majority of employees, and - most importantly - make their own decisions in order to ensure the richness, diversity and individuality of the many provolved dinosaurs. Early executives of the project were either superturing AIs and vecs, or superbright bionts of a broad variety of clades. It was only in the latter stages of the project that GEvidian saw fit to employ the most intellectually and creatively adept of eir own creations. Thus did the small minority of superbright dinosaur provolves gain positions of authority within GEvidian's provolve superproject. Inevitably, this included thousands of deinonychus provolves that had been successfully raised to superbright status.

These "Proto Chi" (as they have been retrospectively nicknamed) were employed not only for their sharp intellect, but also for their considerable patience and creativity - essential qualities in the provolving of presapient animals. They were well educated and multilingual, and frequently used art, music, storytelling, and drama in the education of the gengineered neosaurs. Some would organize large-scale dramatic productions with the Dino Kids and their provolve subjects as part of the learning experience. A handful of the virch productions have become minor classics in their own right, such as the exuberant comedy adventure A Tide of Ants, in which heroic Dino Kids and neosaurs save their planet from evil human ludds.

During the twenty-year preparation for the exodus from the planet Owen, the Proto Chi were given one of the largest ships constructed by GEvidian and the Caretaker God I Give The Horn Of Plenty. Obtusely dubbed Noah's Dragon by the Proto Chi themselves, it was a massive conversion drive colony ship piloted by a semi-aware second toposophic hyperturing intelligence. All the Proto Chi boarded the vessel, as well as all of the dinosaurs they had been raising - sapient and subsapient alike. Due to a complicated agreement regarding living space and life support, all of the Dino Kids who had directly assisted the Proto Chi uploaded their minds as virtuals into the starship's databank.

During the relativistic travel on board Noah's Dragon, the Proto Chi employed a system of rotational hibernation in which no more than 10% of the biont crew would be conscious at any given time. The provolving and education of dinosaurs remained an utmost priority. The virtual Dino Kids, meanwhile, developed a sophisticated cyberculture of their own, and assisted on the mission with everything from education to navigation. It was not long before they became every bit as intelligent as their saurian leaders. In a way, they were even more gifted considering their high-speed chronometric - more superturing than superbright. In the centuries that followed, many of these Dino Kids became transapients ... but that is another story.

On the long journey, one Proto Chi crewmember named Chalakathar found the time to ponder and write about the destiny of her race, of the dinosaur provolves, of life in general. (Her thoughts and philosophies are now well documented in her journal Stirring the Sleeping Dragon, which is available on the Known Net in millions of languages). In her prehistoric ancestors, she saw where her race had come from. In the transapients and archailects, she saw where they were going. The path seemed simple. Yet she realised that, while on the path, her people had to choose a specific purpose that was closely related to their identity. Inevitably, the provolving of subsapient dinosaurs had to be closely tied in with that purpose. And, in order to stay on that path, they had to understand where they had really come from, and where they were really going.

Chalakathar believed in a Supreme Creator God, but this God was too distant and abstract to be "worshipped" in the conventional sense. She also believed in a "blind" evolutionary force that was the creation of God - a sort of software algorithm within the fabric of the universe, a mathematical system of elimination and diversification geared towards many definitions of "perfection" (in quantity, size, stealth, intelligence, strength etc). This cosmic algorithm awakens consciousness in different ways; most obviously in humans, who in turn paved the way for the even more profound consciousness of hyperturings. In the original dinosaurs - and most other classes of animals - this consciousness is not unified, but spread out among its members. Here her philosophy sort of diverged into Socrates' allegory of the cave, with mention of the "Ideal Dinosaur" as a mystical / archetypal / mathematical abstract that the original dinosaurs were unable to attain. In the age of archailects, the realization of such an ideal was finally within the reach of possibility. It was the long-term duty of the Toh Chi Lok to "awaken" this archailect and nuture it until it becomes a real god. The provolving, ascension and transcendence of all possible species of dinosaurs was essential in the long run, for their final destiny was to be one with the Archosaurian Godhead, which needed the richness and diversity of the greatest possible combination of ascension-transcendence-ascension-etc threads to complete the tapestry of its being.

What resulted of Chalakathar's probing into the unknown - and the early history of the Toh Chi Lok-Nar - is intimately entwined with the rise of the Archosaurian Entity.

Toh Chi are bipedal neosaurs closely resembling their deinonychus ancestors, with a slightly larger cranium that is nonetheless beautifully streamlined. Females are two metres tall and over three metres long, with black and orange stripes. Males are slightly smaller, with black and red stripes. By biont standards, Toh Chi are remarkably strong, with among the fastest reflexes of their size.

Despite their reputation for being serious mystics and academics, Toh Chi are among the most good-humoured, leisure-loving, socially pleasant provolves in the known galaxy. Not only do they tolerate difference and individuality, but they often insist upon it. Toh Chi seem to be somewhat embarrassed by other clades' attempts to imitate their customs for the sake of it; especially in the case of nearbaseline humans who have neither the physical nor intellectual capacity to convincingly mimic their actions. It is this subtly elitist attitude that may have earned their somewhat aloof reputation. The ancient phrase "Only swish your tail if you have one" may well have originated with the Toh Chi Lok.

Modern Toh Chi language is far removed from the Middle Anglic that had once been the first language of their ancestors. Within the first thousand years of the establishment of their polity, the Toh Chi had developed a language that was more suited to their unique vocal system. The translation of "Toh Chi Lok" is "Wise Dinosaur Race". "Toh" = "dinosaurs" or "old ones", "Chi" = "wise", "Lok" = "race", "group" or "family". They call their polity the Toh Chi Lok-Nar. "Lok-Nar" = "kingdom", "world" or "home".

Today, the Toh Chi Lok are among the most prolific superbright provolve clades known within the Terragen sphere. Despite the erratic behaviour of their ruling archailect and their transapient warships, their relationship with most of the Sephirotic Empires has been reasonably stable. Besides, the Sephirotic Gods are always there to keep their little cousin in line.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Darren Ryding

Initially published on 14 July 2003.