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Ecological Guardians

Leader: Greenspeaker Alca Gabrio Headquarters: Arkship Equilibrium

With the advent of cheap interstellar travel, literally billions of worlds have been opened up for exploration and colonization. Yet not everyone considers this a good thing.

To the Xenowardens, every world bearing the spark of life is unique: a scientific mystery to be unraveled and a sacred miracle to be revered. In their eyes, the unregulated rush outward into the galaxy in order to earn quick credits or facilitate further urban sprawl is a tragic heresy—and one that must be opposed.

Believed to have been founded by a druidic order on Castrovel at the dawn of spaceflight, the Xenowardens are a strange mixture of people united under a common purpose. Many are mystics—spiritualists who channel nature magic in their quest to protect the sanctity of the wilds. Others are scientists who see in the study of alien life-forms the chance to greatly advance knowledge and make new medical discoveries, and who fear the ecological impact of unscrupulous mining and bioharvesting operations. Still others are career soldiers—environmentalist warriors willing to lay down their lives to force civilization to live in harmony with fragile ecosystems. Led by the hooded Circle of Keepers, the Xenowardens patrol the void in living arkships that are grown rather than built, bioengineered to reduce reliance on nonrenewable technologies, and given partial sentience so they can consent to the tasks their pilots ask of them.

While the Xenowardens aren’t above armed conflict when necessary—and indeed, elite units like the Greenguards and Wildknights are legendarily lethal in their symbiotic starfighters and biological powered armor—they understand that civilization is a natural evolutionary step and part of nature’s balance. As such, much of their political power is economic. Their research into biotech and renewable energy, from tailored bacteria to algae powerplants, is matched only by the Brethedans’, and the medical breakthroughs and other scientific advances they gain from researching alien biology benefit all the Pact Worlds.

Though they can’t hope to track every ship jumping through the Drift, the Xenowardens often use their political power to place members within corporate ventures as ecological advisors and observers, and they send patrols to newly discovered worlds to monitor development and make sure colonists adequately respect the local ecosystems. Most Xenowardens operate independently, quietly stopping abuses and doing their best to show nonbelievers the benefits of living in harmony with other organisms. Unfortunately, not everyone who believes in the Xenowardens’ ideals shares their governing council’s prudence, and a popular conspiracy theory holds rogue Xenowardens responsible for the Stardust Plague—a deadly pathogen brought back by early interstellar explorers, supposedly as part of a plot to discourage interstellar colonization.

As an organization, the Xenowardens are extremely egalitarian, where even the newest members are encouraged to speak their minds. Their leader, the Greenspeaker, is chosen by acclaim from among the arkship captains but is then dropped without gear on an inhabitable but completely wild and previously unexplored planet. Should he survive for a full year without significantly harming the local ecosystem, the new Greenspeaker then takes up the mantle of leadership. The Greenspeaker is advised in this role not only by his peers but by an assembly of psychically attenuated, mouse-sized creatures called lhoras, which, while little smarter than dogs, are gifted or cursed with the ability to answer questions about the future with uncomprehending honesty. Which planet the lhoras arose on remains a closely guarded secret so they might never be exploited by other groups.