SentientMilieuCS Picture

My (largely non-canonical) take on the Sentient Milieu, a group of largely unseen aliens in my favourite game of all time, Star Control 2 (AKA, the Ur-Quan Masters (An absolute masterpiece which can nowadays be played for free, and which recently got a HD version! If you haven't played it, you REALLY should.)

Star Control 2 is a sci-fi action adventure game in which you explore a large starmap as you try to free the Earth from the Ur-Quan Hierarchy, who have put a forcefield around it. As you explore you meet various alien races, friendly or hostile alike. And discover the Ur-Quan slavemasters are fighting a war with their genocidal sister species, the Kohr-Ah.

Anyway, a part of Star Control's background is that the Ur-Quan in more peaceful times used to belong to a coalition of species called the Sentient Milieu. And I decided to do my take on what those guys where like.


Pictured:

Brown Ur-Quan (On Top)
Status: Canon

The Ur-Quan you meet in Star Control 2 are the green Kzer-Za and the black Kohr-Ah. But originally there was only one type of Ur-Quan, the brown.

Ur-Quan evolved from large solitary ambush predators, and thus are naturally extremely territorial and not particularly social. Other Ur-Quan are naturally seen as rivals, and other species as threat, intruders or prey.

Mastering their violent territorial nature, the Ur-Quan managed to develop a technological civilization and started exploring their solar system when the more advanced Taalo encountered them. Although the Ur-Quan attacked the Taalo, the Taalo where kind to them and offered them membership of their coalition of alien species, the Sentient Milieu.

The Ur-Quan managed to befriend the Taalo (Whom due to their rock-like nature did not trigger their territorial and predatorial instincts) And become scouts for the Milieu.

Unfortunately one of these scouts came upon the planet of a race of toad-like creatures with powerful mental compulsion abilities, who mentally enslaved the Sentient Milieu, using the Ur-Quan to spread through it's territory. The Dnyarri could not compel the rock-like Taalo, and seeing as how the Taalo where fighting back against them, they ordered their newly dominated slave species to attack them. Seemingly destroying them. (in reality the Taalo appear to have fled into another dimension.

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Now onto (somewhat) non-canon... The Ur-Quan, if I look at them. I would figure their large eyes are very acute and their smaller eyes, like insect ocelli help them analyze movement, making them very accurate when attacking something (An ideal trait for an ambush predator) Like a snake they're probably both physically strong, but also somewhat fragile (due to being soft-bodied.) The Ur-Quan in the game mention having talons, and I could imagine that their tentacles have retractable talons that have some degree of rotation, similar to the clawed suction cup of a cranch squid. (Which would both help the Ur-Quan hold onto prey very well as well as carve into the prey carved into the powerful tentacles.) The oral tentacles would inject acid into the prey's body. So all in all, a very nasty creature to fight. (And given their size and strength, a human would be no match in an unarmed fight at all.)


Next up,

The Mael-Num (AKA Melnorme) (Orange Blobby Cycloptic things.)
Status: Canon

The Mael-Num where ancestors of the Melnorme. And I just went with the assumption they looked about the same. (Which may not necessarily be true.

The Mael-Num/Melnorme are blobby cycloptic creatures who love trading. And in fact in their culture giving is inappropriate and each exchange must be met with an exchange of equal value. The Melnorme in the game allude to perhaps having mental powers. And their Mael-Num ancestors where one of the four founding members of the Milieu, along with the Taalo, Yuli and Drall.

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Now into Non-Canon... Perhaps the Mael-Num DID (And the Melnorme DO) have a psychic power in the form of Psychometry, a limited ability to psychically scan the history of places, objects and people. Such a quality would have made them useful to the Dnyarri as spies. (Spying on other Dnyarri mainly, as I imagine the Dnyarri empire being very chaotic. With different Dnyarri warlords vying for control of the 'empire' and using their slaves as soldiers. If the Mael-Num had such an information based psychic ability that would definitly fit their Melnorme descendants as portrayed!

I put the Melnorme/Mael-Num on some goofy floating platforms, because that fits the flavour of what Star Control 2 is like. Though there is definitly the epic and dramatic, there is also a lot of excellent humour and space opera fun. And Star Control shouldn't be super serious. It should be a mixture of light-hearted and serious! So... amusing floating platforms!


Next up,

The Drall (Gangly green fish guy waving in the lower right corner.)
Status: Semi-Canon?

There is very little information on the Drall, but as I recall they where described in some guidebook that I THINK is canon as tall gangly mudskipper aliens. I've seen another take on them before somewhat like this.

I decided to make mine colourful and green, because Star Control is a very colourful game. Predating the gaming era of grey and brown tones. The Drall where one of the founding members of the Milieu.

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Onto Non-Canon. I figured my version of the Drall where a friendly race of modest power, who rather like boring and predictable things. With boring things you know what you GET! Why explore NEW stars, when you can explore stars you already know! Because there you know where you're going and what you can do there! With new stars who knows!

Unfortunately the Dnyarri found THEM boring, and decided they weren't much use as slaves and wiped the poor Drall out.


Next up,

The Taalo (Three-Eyed Rock things behind the Drall)
Status: Semi-Canon

The Taalo where described as rock-like beings. And in other fanart I've seen of them they usually try to make them to much into some sort of creatures for my taste. Whilst the implication was that they very much where just ROCKS.

So like how the Chenjesu are just a crystal, my take on the Taalo are just a rock. Except I gave them three eyes. Maybe it'd make them a little more endearing to the Ur-Quan? I mostly did it to not have them be indistinguishable from a rock entirely.

The Taalo where a wise and benevolent race and one of the four founding members of the milieu. Being immune to the Dnyarri's psychic powers, they tried to fight back and develop a shield to make the other races of the Milieu immune. But much as they did make this shield they failed to use it and had to flee into another dimension.

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Onto more Non-Canon... I see the Taalo as the most powerful of the four founding members of the Milieu. But they used their military power to keep peace and protect. I think in fact it might be fun if the Ur-Quan Dreadnought is sort of modeled after the original Taalo ship.

The Chenjesu in Star Control interact with the world through manipulation of electric fields and perhaps the Taalo could instead manipulate magnetism to shape their metal-rich treasure world.


Next up,

The Faz (Small alien near the Taalo)
Status: Non-Canon, buuuut a fair possible take on them!


The Faz where not very broadly described aside from their name. I went for the interpretation that they are in fact the ancestors of the Utwig (who's homeworld is named Fahz), so my take doubles as an unmasked, unrobed Utwig.

The main canon thing about the Faz is that they where the first race the Kzer-Za Ur-Quan enslaved and slaveshielded.

My take on the Faz is that unlike their Utwig descendants they did not yet wear masks and where very prone to emotional extremes (Albeit of the harmless sort.) I deliberately drew my Faz as a little similar to Starflight 2's Dweenle race, who likely inspire the Utwig.

The Faz where the first race to join the Milieu and their fifth member. No one used to like them much because they where kind of whiny, got into silly fads, mass hysteria and other such tomfoolery and hijinks.

The Milieu however where nice to the goofy creatures and so the Faz became members of the coalition.

In the Dnyarri slave empire the Faz where personal attendants and servants to the Dnyarri, suitable for the role due to their small size and a generally dexterous enough humanoid bodyplan. Much as the Ur-Quan where the Dnyarri's favourites, they where a bit large for the role of butler. And thus where put in their canonical roles (Scientists, planners and thinkers for the Kzer-Za. Soldiers and builders and labourers for the Kohr-Ah) Besides the Dnyarri considered it fun to feed underperforming Faz slaves to their more giant predatorial slaves.

Now, when the Ur-Quan enslaved the Faz and put them under a slaveshield the Faz where forced to go back to pre-atomic technology. And seeing as how this was thousands of years ago and the Faz tended towards emotional unstability and mass hysteria, they eventually destroyed their old culture a few times, but survived and soon all Faz alive didn't know any better or they lived under that slaveshield.

They could have stayed there like that, but their slaveshield malfunctioned! And when it fell, so did the mysterious veils. And the Faz, by now long ignorant of their ancient history, became Utwig (Who through their mask culture became a little more emotionally stable, but retained the Faz's general tendencies (hence their belief in the Ultron and their depressio attitude when they break it.), redeveloped starfaring technology and the only reminder of their past was the name of their homeworld.

Being masked in that new form, the Kohr-Ah didn't recognize the Utwig as descendants of the Faz. (And wouldn't have cared.)



Next up,

The Yuli (Small colourful creatures with big ears)
Status: Completely Non-Canon.

Almost nothing of the Yuli is known other then that they where a founding members of the Sentient Milieu, whom where wiped out by the Dnyarri, who considered them inferior slaves.

My take on them is that they where a kind, friendly and cheerful race with surprising wisdom. Physically and militarily weak, but highly sociable, natural diplomats and ambassadors. People persons, who helped other races interact. And old friends of the Drall.

In my take on the Yuli (Whom I made cute because they sounded cute, and small weird creatures certainly FIT SC2 (Zoq-Fot-Pik!) the Yuli have a mythology that goes "And Earth Mother and Sky Father said to eachother "Let us give our children large ears, that they may listen."



Next up,

The Yuptar (Large four-armed furry dinosaur beast, with a Yuli friend on it's nose.)
Status: Completely Non-Canon

Almost nothing is known of the Yuptar, save that they where the first species to be exterminated by the Kohr-Ah after surviving the Dnyarri slave empire. And that's the end of the canon far as the Yuptar go.

My take on the Yuptar is that though they became Milieu members, becoming the sixth species to join, they didn't start out like that! Initially they where ferocious and powerful enemies!

The Yuptar (Who's name means Children of Ptar) evolved on the hostile planet of Ptar. A weird alien world given to climatic extremes, where all water is stored in thick blankets of moving microbial goo. Dangerous lifeforms roaming the surface no matter what crazy season the planet is in.

The Yuptar nonetheless loved their homeworld and claimed that Mother Ptar makes one strong.

The Yuptar, like the Ur-Quan where large and powerful predators. UNLIKE the Ur-Quan they where tenacious pack-hunters and highly social amongst themselves. Fond of social grooming. Competing with their pack members against the elements.

The tough and intelligent Yuptar developped powerful technologies and encountering the Milieu they considered them ripe prey for their expansionistic ambitions.

It's a testament to Taalo leadership, that the Milieu forces stood their first great military test and defeated the powerful forces of the Yuptar. And a testament to the kindness and wisdom of the Taalo that they offered the defeated Yuptar membership.

Able to appreciate kindness and show gratitude, the Yuptar accepted milieu membership and managed to integrate. Turning former vicious enemies into formidable allies.

Getting to know the Yuli better, formerly deemed particularly pathetic, the small creatures in particular turned out to have a soothing influence on the ferocious Yuptar, who became very fond of them.

In the Dnyarri slave empire the Yuptar where a particularly sad case. Most species when compelled by the Dnyarri fall into a trance, described as nightmarish. When you wake up you feel disturbed as though you where possessed by a demon, but you do not necessarily remember what happened.

For the Yuptar this was not quite the case. Unlike the Ur-Quan, who where particularly easy to compel, the Yuptar where hard to compel. Though their psychic resistance was nowhere near powerful enough to resist the formidable Dnyarri. And they lacked the Taalo's immunity.

Instead a Yuptar's mind would struggle against the domination, would be fully self-aware of what happened, but unable to stop the Dnyarri's control. A helpless puppet, fully aware of what they where doing.

The sadistic Dnyarri found that most interesting! But also potentially dangerous!

They didn't exterminate the Yuptar, they had to many fun qualities for that. You could pit them in gladiatorial combat with eachother or the Ur-Quan, being one of the few species able to stand up to an Ur-Quan in unarmed combat. You could torture them knowing they'd fully experience everything and be unable to stop them, sometimes in the form of gruesome scientific experiments. You could train the young to try their mental compulsion powers on a safely caged Yuptar and train them... The Yuptar had use to the sadistic toad-like aliens.

But since they where a bit hard to control they DID make sure the Yuptar population was significantly reduced in a partial genocide. Keeping only a relatively small amount of the creatures alive and well away from weapons.

In this state they survived the slave empire. And even helped in the slave revolt. But where also left unarmed and without starships.

When the Kohr-Ah came, they thought they where being rescued by their fellow former slaves and milieu allies... Instead the once proud warriors, stuck on a planet surface with no means to defend themselves, where carpetbombed into extinction.

I like the idea that perhaps the Ur-Quan Dreadnought was based on a Taalo ship and the Kohr-Ah Marauder on a Yuptar ship. After all, the Ur-Quan in the Milieu just flew small scout ships! But if there where two militarily powerful races in the Milieu, one peaceful and well rounded and one naturally more aggressive, perhaps the Quans'd build similar ships once they started their new doctrines.

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The reason I made the Yuptar so beast-like and intimidating was because I had my own idea for a Star Control sequel that'd involve time travel (With the Mark II being a time-travelling ship.)

The plot would be that the Dnyarri did an experiment with temporal technology on one of their Yuptar slaves, rendering that individual immortal. (An experiment they never managed to repeat as Dnyarri trying to render themselves immortal instead killed themselves in the process.)

The immortal Yuptar, rendered ageless and continually healed into the state he/she/it was in when rendered immortal, survived the Kohr-Ah bombing (since he'd have simply healed back to normal due to his condition.) And found himself stuck on a ruined world, their people extinct. Clawing together enough from the ruins to build a spaceship they started to turn their immortal life to the purpose of both vengeance and finding a way to master time travel in order to exterminate the Dnyarri before they developed and exterminate the treacherous Ur-Quan for what they did as well, therefor also ending their own nightmare.

Unfortunately if said Yuptar where to succeed he would so alter the timeline that everyone NOT born thousands of years ago would be wiped from the timeline. And as you'd start to meddle with the vengeful timetraveler they'd also eventually decide YOUR homeworld is perhaps best eliminated from time too!

Generally the plot for this game wouldn't so much focussed on what happened to all the SC2 races, but rather be heavily time-travel based and offer multiple maps in different time periods (Where you could meet the Milieu and some Milieu era species. (Such as the Dramya (Who I envisioned as funny cowardly wannabe pirates (Who talk tough until you kill a few of them.) But also travel through the Hierarchy War era (meet some Chenjesu, Mmrnmhrm and Androsynth) And even a brief very vague encounter with the Precursors... or did you?

Naturally if your opponent is an immortal member of a species rendered otherwise extinct, such a creature would be an intimidating alien. And whereas the Ur-Quan's theme was fear (their fear of being enslaved.) The Yuptar individuals theme would be rage. (At the injustice they and their people suffered.)
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