Muuh

Muuh
Image from Steve Bowers

The Muuh (name given to them by an impatient Cygexpa communications officer) evolved on a cold low-gravity Titan-like moon somewhere in the Cygnus direction of the Orion Arm. Their biochemistry is based on liquid hydrocarbons, fullerenes, ammonia and nitrogen.

Life on their home world was based on the production of energy rich polymers in the upper atmosphere, driven by the radiation and magnetic fields of the central planet - unlike on most life bearing planets plants never became a significant factor in the local biology. Gatherer animals collected the nutrients, in turn becoming prey for other animals. Some gatherers were immobile, not unlike terrestrial corals or anemones, while others were mobile. Various scavengers and saprophytes broke down the remains, releasing methane into the atmosphere. The whole pace of life was extremely slow compared to terrestrial life.

The Muuh evolved from "rapid" predators/omnivores filling an ecological niche not unlike terrestrial raccoons. They are two-meter spider or crab-like creatures with a bark-like spiky exoskeleton that constantly grows (armor-carving is an important part of Muuh appearance and health). There is no difference between the upper and lower side, Muuhs can simply flip between them with little trouble. Locomotion is through six legs where the front pair branches off a number of manipulator limbs. Sensory organs, mainly echolocation and a heat sense were located around the rim of the shell. Muuh are hermaphrodites. As a rule they form lifelong pairs which repeatedly bear paired children. These marriage-pairs and sibling-pairs form the central social units of society.

Muuh are very resistant to extremes of cold, and can withstand being frozen solid for long periods of time. However, temperatures above -150 degrees C are lethal. In fact, they consider ice to be a useful solid building material which is often used as part of their spaceships. An ordinary Muuh moves at most one meter per second in a hurry, and most prefer to move much more slowly.

Intellectually the Muuh are slow but not stupid thinkers, with excellent long-term memories. Had they moved and thought at human speed they would likely have been viewed as nearly hyperactive romantics. They are highly imaginative and often prefer fiction and ingenious stories to real life, creating art, virtual worlds, role-playing scenarios or fantasies with great detail. This has somewhat hampered their technological development as the strict procedures necessary for science do not appeal to their mindset, and they instead tend to prefer inspired experimentation. The reliance on inspiration has made them dependent on their occasional geniuses or correct madmen, giving them further respect and support even if 99% of all the ideas doesn't work out.

Muuh society is variable between different worlds, but tends to be based on inherited status augmented by an elaborate system of advisers/challengers forcing the leaders to clarify their decisions. There is a great deal of leeway in how decisions are implemented or obeyed, making their society hard for outsiders to get into. Mutual obligations, gifts and persuasion are important factors in getting anything done.

Muuh civilization is extremely old and slow. It is uncertain how long it took to achieve spaceflight, but over the span of many millions of years they expanded across a sizeable volume, colonizing other Titan-like planets or building vast orbital habitats. They made contact with a number of xenosophont races, as well as creating and provolving a number of indigenous species, at least one of which, the Soft Ones, became a major empire in their own right. Contact was usually peaceful as their own interests seldom collided with others, and they have provided humanity with invaluable second-hand information on a number of undiscovered or extinct species. The main exception to the peaceful encounters was the discovery of a destructive species (now believed to be an artificial remnant of some other species, some have suggested an autonomous weapon system such as the Dawn Hunters but this remains debatable) that began to systematically attack the Muuh 14.8 million years ago. The Muuh were too slow in reacting to the fast and advanced enemy. They mobilized a desperate and powerful defense of the home worlds that they knew was doomed, but at the same time they sent out long-range colony ships to remote systems in order to save their race. It is unknown what happened to the original Muuh Empire, but it is generally assumed to have been destroyed.

The first Muuh colonies encountered by humanity exist within a volume between Cygnus OB4 and the Cygnus Dark Nebula, descended from one of the colony ships. The colonies in this region constitute a local empire around 100 lightyears across, discovered by a Cygexpa probe in 7154; after 400 years of slow (to humans) initial contact a wormhole link was set up in 7566 to the closest Muuh system (CEA-346746 / Muuhome). It is not known if other terragens had previously encountered the Muuh, but the possibility of contact by a relativist isolationist ai clade cannot be excluded.

Since the initial discovery many more Muuh colonies have been encountered in a large and sparsely settled volume of space to rimward of the Terragen Sphere; this is presumably the remnant of the old Muuh Empire. A border zone has been established in this region, centered on the Pluton Volume; many cold-loving clades have migrated there, as well as representatives of the race of Soft Ones known as the Epp. As is well known, the region was devastated during the so-called Epp War, which was the first time that the Muuh revealed their ancient System of Response defenses.

The Muuh do not consider sub-relativistic journeys to be slow, especially since they tend to freeze themselves during the trip and things do not change much between departure and arrival anyway. Their technology is largely cryobiological, based on low-temperature life feeding on Titan-like or Kuiper-belt environments and growing the necessary structures out of polymers, ice and frozen gas.

Muuh and To'ul'hs have some similarities despite their tremendously different biochemistries. Both come from dark worlds where nutrients descend from above, both employ echolocation and other non-visual senses. This has given them somewhat similar basic view of reality, making it easier for them to understand each other than humans. Humans are yet another hotheaded inner system species with more energy than style, although the Muuh have to hand it to them that they have some useful technology and original perspectives. Trade exchange has been profitable for both groups, although it is clear that the Muuh are not interested in becoming part of any human political organisation, despite having worked closely with the Archailects during the Epp War.

In some ways, the old and sparsely populated Muuh volume is a barrier to further Terragen expansion in the Rimward direction; the Muuh only use a fraction of the resources of the stars in that volume, and negotiatons are proceeding to allow Terragen colonists access to some of the unused planets and stars. This initiative has met with limited success to date (10405 a.t.).

 
Articles
  • Cygnus X-1  - Text by Steve Bowers
    High mass X-ray binary star system 5984 ly from Sol
  • First Contact  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Strategies and policies for contact with alien life forms (xenobiota) and Xenosophonts (intelligent alien life).
  • Muuh Iceship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    An interstellar spacecraft created by the Muuh from an icy object such as a comet.
  • Muuhian Epoch - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Local (Perseus-Outer Orion) historical epoch characterized by the Muuhian interstellar civilization; 1.2 to 0.6 mya. Approximately equivalent in time to the middle Pleistocene of Old Earth. The Muuhian Epoch was followed (after a long period of time) by the Auldlimnerian Epoch.
  • Muuhome  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The first Muuh world known to Terragens and the first linked to the Wormhole Nexus.
  • Pluton Volume, The (and the Epp War)  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Wealthy region in the Perseus Arm, with a large xenosophont population; site of the conflict between the Epp and their Methanoid allies, and the Perseus Princes (with the aid of the System of Response).
  • System of Response  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Alien AI Defense system.
  • Tholin Baths  - Text by Eric Lo
    Spa-like structures built by the Muuh that utilize liquid methane containing the complex organic molecules collectively known as tholins.
  • Unnamed species HIE300CZE  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Predatory species provolved by the Muuh; hopefully extinct.
 
Related Topics
 
Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
some material by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 21 February 2001.