The Rhizon Collective, also known simply as the Rhizon, is a plantlike organism from the planet Rhizon, in the Yugamon star system.
A long time prior to the present, the planet now known as Rhizon was home to two species: the Collective and the Other. These two species stayed at odds with each other for hundreds of years. The Collective lived in the forests, while the Other inhabited the coastal areas. Over time, however, the Collective had begun to spread, as plants usually do. The Other responded to this sudden outgrowth by trying to exterminate the Collective. The Rhizon refer to this time as the Dying Time, though the exact date of this Dying Time is not known as the Rhizon mother root experiences time much differently than most other races. Eventually, the Collective decided that the Other needed to be punished for its attempted genocide. The Collective developed the ability to create plantlike constructs resembling the Other, in order to learn their military plans and subvert them. This infiltration was successful, and the resulting war led to the Other's extermination. The Collective's mother root, a plantlike being known as the Rhizon, spread its biomass across the entire planet over the next three-hundred years, stamping out any signs of the Other's existence.
In 3510, however, a Verandi spaceship landed on the planet, christening the world Yugamon after the leader of the expedition. Curious about this new arrival to its seemingly complete domain, the Rhizon began to study the crew of this ship subtly. When the colonists tried to settle there, however, all attempts to build on Rhizon's surface were met with active resistance by the local plantlife. To settle the matter, the Rhizon decided to create constructs that resembled the spaceship's crew. The crew was both fascinated with and scared of the Rhizon constructs, and the Rhizon was told of worlds beyond Rhizon. Thus, the Rhizon asked the colonists if they could teach the Rhizon how to create starships. When the colonists refused, the Rhizon murdered the colonists and stole the ship anyway. This (and the radio silence from Rhizon) caught the attention of the Verandi Empire, who retaliated by attacking the Rhizon. The resulting skirmish in Rhizon space became known as the Battle of Yugamon. The Verandi warships decimated the Rhizon forces, and issued an ultimatum to the Rhizon mother root: surrender unconditionally, or "fire would rain from the heavens and consume them". After some mediation and explanation from the Norb Network, the Rhizon mother root decided to surrender.
After the battle, the Verandi Empire occupied Rhizon space. Throughout the occupation period, the Verandi worked with the Rhizon to attempt to make them a better spacefaring species and curb back their hostile, xenophobic tendencies. When the Galactic Nations were founded, the Verandi convinced the Rhizon to join, so that they could keep an eye on the Rhizon and so the Rhizon could have a more civil method of diplomacy with other nations.
All in all, Rhizon resemble Terran plants, only superficially. It is difficult to study a Rhizon in vivo, as the Rhizon are very secretive. Most studies of the Rhizon have been on Rhizon biomass, and constructs whose life functions have ceased. Rhizon biology most closely resembles algae. Their cells are photosynthetic, and are very primitive and generalized in comparison to other plants. Biomass in particular is extremely mutable and is comparable to animal stem cells in that it can change its composition over time to take any number of different roles, as directed by the mother roots. Being roughly analogous to fungi, algae, or plants, Rhizon have no internal organs of any kind. Their bodies are mostly rigid, with a solid inner core and a less rigid outer "shell" around the core. When cut, the shell leaks a green, viscous fluid, which is permeated through the shell like a sponge. This fluid, composed of water, chlorophyll, and sugars, provides nutrients to Rhizon constructs.
The Mother Roots
A Rhizon mother root is a large plant-like being found on Rhizon-inhabited planets, surrounded entirely by Rhizon biomass. They resemble enormous masses of vegetation, with a growth resembling a purplishg flower on the very top to collect sunlight for energy. Despite its seemingly sedentary and inert appearance, Rhizon life in the Collective revolves around these mother roots, the main one being located on Rhizon. The Rhizonian mother root's orders supercede the orders of all other mother roots. A mother root gives orders to its constructs and biomass via the use of pheromones, which only affect Rhizon. A Rhizon mother root can create constructs out of biomass, growing and fashioning the biomass into a useful form. Only one mother root can be active on a planet at a time, as shown by one instance where two mother roots were accidentally spawned on Rhizon Rakani: the two mother roots immediately tried to destroy each other.
The Rhizon Collective is technically an absolute monarchy, with the Rhizon mother root having absolute power over its created constructs. It uses pheromones to control its constructs, which are used to study other species. Normally, the constructs are unable to question the mother root's orders. However, the sheer distance between the Rhizon mother root and its constructs eventually results in the constructs gaining free will. It is difficult to gauge what sort of government freed constructs prefer, as a group of organized constructs usually end up generating a new mother root eventually and being controlled by it.
The Rhizon's most powerful weapon is its ability to create and adapt its constructs for nearly any situation. During the war against the Other, the Rhizon had enough military might to not only drive the Other to extinction, but remove any traces of the Other having ever lived on the planet. However, in recent years, with the "rogue constructs" weakening the Rhizon's overall power, the Rhizon itself is forced to use more desperate measures to defend its home turf. The Rhizon seedships can fight autonomously without a crew, as they are constructs themselves and can extend vines to lash out at enemy ships, or toss seed pods at ships which latch on to and grow rapidly on ships.
Nonetheless, Rhizon soldiers do exist. Rhizon soldiers often only vaguely resemble other species, in the sense that they have an animalistic body structure. Shock troops often take quadrupedal forms and attack by biting and clawing, as well as lashing out with vines. More advanced Rhizon soldiers are more humanoid, carrying smaller constructs known as hand-guards and windcatchers. The Rhizon, in times of strife, have been known to create "suicide constructs", which explode into a mossy carpet that envelops an attacker when it is killed.
Hand-guards are the Rhizon equivalent of blaster guns, resembling plant-like gauntlets that rest over a Rhizon soldier's left hand. Only a Rhizon can use a hand-guard effectively, as it communicates directly with the Collective via pheromones and sugar exchanges. If another species attempts to use a Rhizon hand-guard, it remains inert. When fired, a hand-guard lets out a deafening bang, followed by a shotgun-like explosion of thorny and poisonous plant matter at the victim, wrapping around the victim and constricting them if it hits. Inert Rhizon biomass can be "loaded" into an empty hand-guard to reload it on the battlefield, but over time a hand-guard will eventually reload itself.
Most all of Rhizonian technology is biotech; that is, constructs are created that duplicate the function of mechanical devices. The Rhizon travel through space using plantlike "seedships", containing dormant constructs in a malleable form, that are given form based on the appearance of a planet's denizens.
The Collective itself, however, can be seen as the most prevalent of the Rhizon's infrastructure. Almost all of Rhizonian development is born of the mother roots, which creates constructs, allowing the Rhizon to reproduce. A construct is defined as anything the Rhizon mother root creates to fulfill a specific purpose. Almost any feasible form can be taken by these constructs, ranging from forms that resemble other species, to forms that resemble spaceships, or guns, or other forms of technology. Depending on the complexity of the construct, it takes a varying amount of time to generate, anywhere from a few hours in the case of a Rhizon hand-guard, to up to ten years in the case of more advanced diplomacy constructs.
To the untrained eye, the Rhizon don't seem to have much of a culture as most other species would interpret it, but some analysis of their behavior reveals much of the truth. The Rhizon are a proud yet paranoid race, seeing other races as distant and possibly enemies. To the Rhizon, other species are enemies until proven friends, so to lower their guard, the Rhizon employ their special charms to help reveal certain secrets and intent to harm the Collective. Most other species are never allowed to set foot on the planet Rhizon, in order to protect the Mother Root. The two main exceptions to this are the original colony that landed on Rhizon as a method of first contact, and the Galactic Nations delegation to the planet, which was allowed to visit briefly when the Rhizon was asked to join the Galactic Nations.
A recent phenomenon to befall the Rhizon Collective has been the existence of what are often termed "rogue constructs" by members of the Collective. A Rhizon construct, if sentient, must return to Rhizon space every few years to fully re-establish its link to the Collective. If a construct fails to do this, it will eventually become a rogue construct. These constructs, having been very far away from the Rhizon mother root's pheromone influence, have gradually become independent, gaining free will and self-awareness. The Rhizon mother root sees these constructs as a threat to the Collective, and rogue constructs are often hunted down by other members of the Collective. If a rogue construct returns to Rhizon space, it is given an ultimatum: rejoin with the collective or else. A construct that refuses to rejoin with the collective is either forcefully rejoined, or destroyed. For this reason, most rogue constructs stay far away from Rhizon space, knowing full well the punishment they would receive upon their return.
The Rhizon hail from the planet of the same name, Rhizon (also known under the Verandi name Yugamon), located outside Levant space. As well, the Rhizon have an undisclosed number of small colony worlds surrounding Rhizon, each with a smaller mother root on them pumping out constructs constantly. Officially, the Rhizon state that, while the Rhizon controls 3 stars worth of territory, all in very close proximity to one another; since the colonies are linked by the Collective, there is only one Rhizon.
The only known Rhizon worlds are Rhizon itself, and the colonies of Rhizon Rakani, Rhizon Bulacha, and Rhizon Welaru. All of these planets have similar biospheres; Rhizon biomass has completely covered the planet. For this reason, Rhizon usually colonize and "Rhizoform" uninhabitable worlds rather than destroying the territory and species native to inhabitable planets.
The Rhizon pride themselves on their diplomacy, since their ability to create constructs in any form lets them take a form that is aesthetically pleasing to other species. This has led to the term "Green-Skinned Space Babe" being used as a semi-derogatory term to describe the Rhizon constructs.