Clade Kelajuan

Nomadic Vec Clade

Clade Kelajuan
Image from Steve Bowers
A gang of Kelajuans exploring the dusty foothills on Matatag, an iron-rich moon of Azraq
Vec clade with a distinct historical culture centred around isolated nomadism, which first emerged in the Domovina system during the 3300's.

Appearance and Physiology

Kelajuans have a core body consisting of a featureless black ovoid around 2m in length and about 1.5 metre in width and height, mounted on four 1 metre high wheels with rubbery exteriors, that hold the main body 40 centimetres off the ground.

The black ovoids which house the Kelajuan's computronium, power storage, repair facilities, communications facilities etc have a very low-friction surface with a thin covering of ufog particles. The nanobot-coating can act as an effector frame for the vec when necessary. These are manufactured within the body of the Kelajuan individual as needed. This occurs at a steady replacement level automatically, but can be consciously accelerated if desired. While typically used for gross manipulation of surrounding objects down to the crude nanotech level, with sufficient time and information a Kelajuan can put together autoforges to manufacture the facilities required to produce another Kelajuan. However, this is generally done only as a rare affectation, when the garage-burrow reproduction facilities are more sophisticated.

Kelajuan vecs typically communicate by radio although they also have the capability to communicate by laser or through audible sound — some groups have integrated these more than others in their languages, sometimes to add mood or tense. Their sensory facilities are fairly standard for vecs of the period, being able to detect noise using microphones embedded within their bodies, see using small distributed 'eyes' scattered across their surfaces to give 360 degrees of vision from deep ultraviolet through to far infrared to a very high resolution, detect pressure changes in the air and in the surfaces they are in contact with and communicate via radio waves and laser/maser. They also have chemical sensory apparatus of some limited capabilities which picks up airborne chemicals and also analyses the surfaces over which they are moving.

Power for the Kelajuans is obtained via induction charging when feasible, and alternatively by a scattering of photovoltaic cells on their main bodies. As a backup they can manufacture kites containing wind turbines or other basic power generation equipment, but this is very rarely necessary, as their batteries can last a long time even at a high level of use.

Wheels on a Kelajuan are 1 metre in diameter, mounted close to the bottom of the ovoid body. They are covered in a slightly-rubbery high-grip smart matter surface which is auto-repaired and easily adjusted for different terrains, as regards the preferable level of grip and the conformation of the surface - a vec might rapidly change the contours on its wheels in response to entering a muddy area, for example. These wheels are very high-powered and versatile, and in the right environments Kelajuans can speed up to 700 kph with accelerations of up to 13 m/s2, while they remain nimble and agile at speeds well into the hundreds of kph. While this form is very suited to flat, open environments, it is very unwieldy in most other situations, although it is workable in some urban environments also.


The Domovina system was first settled by a number of Peripheral groups moving from system to system, mostly cyborgs. Their numbers were boosted by immigrants from the Inner Sphere, primarily from the Communion of Worlds, Terragen Federation and associated minor polities. These immigrants were a diverse mixture of nearbaselines, tweaks, vecs and ai. The initial Peripheral populations which developed the system were generally involved in confederal development-corps such as CivBuild Pioneer Development and Abiogenesis Founding Corp, and so these loose corporations received income from individuals and other corporations seeking to settle in the system.

The second planet around the central red dwarf star, Garam, was a HydroJovian called Azraq. Its largest moon was a Ferrinian world with a gravity of 0.8 g which was named Matatag. This world was fairly geologically active, meaning there were in several areas recent igneous rock deposits. Very large areas of the southern hemisphere were covered by huge expanses of flat rocky deserts, and remained so as terraforming proceeded.

Among certain elements of the vec population based in the primary settlements of Rao, Yehesh and Makemake and the scattered groups in bases and tents across the moon there developed a fashion for utilizing the wheeled prospector remotes based on the southern rock deserts. In particular many liked using the faster models, or modifying existing models for greater speed, so as to charge around the desert at great speeds, usually in groups. Among the groups enjoying this pasttime, some spent more and more of their time using the remotes, relishing in the freedom and peacefulness of the open desert. Ultimately a few dozen of these vecs modified their bodies to a new form, or abandoned their old bodies and transferred themselves. This was the Kelajuan form as it is today, and so the clade was born.

The founder groups soon set up a rather isolated nomadic society on the southern plains. Over the course of the 3300's and 3400's their initial lifestyle and culture emerged. Within this way of life, the majority of Kelajuans would be wandering in small gangs of less than ten vecs across the desert for the vast majority of the time. The only exceptions to this were the very young and the elders of the community. Scattered many hundreds of kilometres apart in these southern deserts were subterranean bases, known as garage-burrows, which were almost imperceptible from above, with the access being gently sloping tunnels emerging from the surface down which Kelajuans could drive into the subterranean chambers. Here were located reproductive facilities and living chambers, often decorated with artworks and gardens, in contrast to the stark surroundings of the wanderers on the open plains. These garage-burrows were the occasional gathering points for wandering vecs, but the main occupants were elders and the very young.

Elders were those respected vecs in the local community who were especially looked up to, generally within the top ten percent of the community's age demographic, who would choose to settle for a time in a garage-burrow for the purpose of helping to rear a brood of young Kelajuans. Nearly-blank Kelajuans would be manufactured in the reproductive facilities, with only basic language and motility skillsets. Typically, around twenty or thirty Kelajuans would be produced in a brood, and reared by half a dozen elders. A key difference between young Kelajuans and those who had begun to wander was that the young had their top speeds locked at 20 kph, and so had to stay in the vicinity of the garage-burrow. It was felt by the early community that keeping the young slow-moving for a time was more conducive to their education and growing-up than allowing them to immediately become captivated by wandering. So for the course of 10-20 years the elders would care for, guide and instruct the young, unlocking their speed caps and allowing them to head off to wander when they felt they were ready. Generally they would join passing gangs of Kelajuans, who they would have got to know during their childhoods both during visits and by keeping in touch via radio. Strong bonds often remained between Kelajuans and the elders who had raised them, and they would commonly keep in touch over long distance or wander together when the elders were not raising broods. Generally speaking, a 2,000-strong Kelajuan clan would have three or four broods currently being raised at once in different garage-burrows, with new broods being produced every five years or so. New garage-burrows were built as the clans grew. All this meant the populations often had a high growth rate (before opt-outs), and over time spreading clans would divide or bud off smaller clans.

Loose clans of Kelajuans consisting of about 2,000 individuals would make use of a cluster of a dozen garage-burrows, and while the composition of gangs shifted continuously they would tend to be within this one related pool, which was replenished by the raising of new broods by its elders.

Spread and Adaptation

In the late 3400's and 3500's, a Bishop Ring was constructed in the Domovina system, and named Dalatan. Many sophonts from around the system and beyond began to move into it, settling the plains, river valleys and coastlines of this Gaian-equivalent hab-world. This included several gangs of Kelajuans, who produced a close replica of their old lifestyle in the sandy deserts of Dalatan, which were also inhabited by some desert-adapted Sufant-tweaks from the Negentropy Alliance.

Beginning with the establishment of their society in Dalatan, and later on in other habitats and on other worlds in the volume, the Kelajuan society adapted and diverged. Many Kelajuans lived in rock or sand deserts, but also on ice caps and various artificial environments, and sometimes in plains or even sparse forests.

An important development, beginning in Dalatan and taken elsewhere with their diaspora, was the use of garage-burrows (in fact these were often build in mounds or outcropping of rock when on habs, but the name remained) as hotels or rest-stops for travelers, either visiting for the sake of it or while in passing. They began to act almost as caravanserai, or oases. This sometimes escalated, with non-Kelajuan sophonts, such as other vecs, nearbaselines and so forth, sometimes coming to live full-time in the burrows, and establishing above-ground dwellings. The Kelajuans growing up in these environments had much more varied upbringings, and were less likely to take up the wandering way of life.

There were various problems with Kelajuans feeling limited by the lifestyle, and their forms which were so specialized for it. A high proportion of young Kelajuans have always left the clade shortly after reaching adulthood, switching out the highly specialized Kelajuan body design for more adaptable forms or joining other clades. The inflexibility of the basic form of the Kelajuans means that any substantial change of lifestyle almost invariably requires a drastic transformation of their physical form, meaning they leave the clade. Sometimes Kelajuans maintain the lifestyle, but connect up to the Net regularly to participate in virchworlds, to trade or just to engage with broader society. Some Kelajuans from the 3600s onwards in NoCoZo-aligned worlds became well-known trades-beings, while still maintaining their old external forms and lifestyles. Other Kelajuans would spend a lot of time between wanders visiting occupied areas, be it the villages, towns and cities of broader society, or the garage-burrow-centred oases. In many cases the latter became quite large and well-established settlements, almost forgetting their garage-burrow origins.

Another important development in the cultural development of the Kelajuan clade which began during the 3500's and 3600's was an increasing exploration of the strong sense of presence, of being 'in the moment', which was associated with their rapid desert-roaming. Many Kelajuans began to look into different philosophies in which importance was given to mindfulness, including varieties of Buddhism, Daoism and various schools of Sophism. Some communities became heavily centred upon these religious understandings of their racing across the sands and flatlands, as a sacred act of presence, mindfulness and surrender. These communities were often among those where many spent a great deal of time out on their wanders. Nevertheless it was not uncommon for their garage-burrows and surrounding settlements to become local religious centres, with Kelajuan or other spiritual teachers in residence and temples and shrines prominently featured. Via these communities, some other sophonts entered into the clade through changing their forms or uploading. Over time, these populations gravitated towards the Sophic League and some Daoist, Buddhist and Sophist Mid-level Polities in the Outer Volumes.

Kelajuans in the Current Era

Having emerged over six thousand years ago, the Kelajuans have spread far and wide but ultimately largely declined by the Current Era. In particular, most members of the clade heavily involved in broader society gradually had more and more of their young people opting out of the clade, modifying themselves for less specialised designs. Cladisations budding off the Kelajuan stem include a number of wheeled and walking vec clades, as well as some derived clades of uploads/ai.

However, workarounds such as extensive use of the Net, or simply living in compatible urban areas in their original forms but often making extensive uses of the effector arm, meant that in some cases members of the clade have survived in multi-clade societies. Some scattered urban families can still be found within the Communion of Worlds, Solar Dominion and Terragen Federation.

More visibile are those which have maintained a lifestyle and culture similar to that of their ancestors in the first few generations. In several Utopia Sphere systems where there are habs and worlds with large deserts or expanses of ice there are societies of Kelajuans living much as they did on Matatag or in Dalatan - shifting clans centred around their garage-burrows, which sometimes double as rest-stops or the centres for small isolated settlements.

Outside the Utopia Sphere, and a couple of Outer Volumes isolates, those members of the clade continuing their old lifestyle are those continuing the heritage of the Daoist, Buddhist and Sophist Kelajuans. Many count large numbers of non-Kelajuan 'opt-ins' in their heritage, and these societies are very prominent within the cultures and populations of a few desert worlds in the Sophic League. They are also found in the Stellar Umma and in Outer Volumes polities like the Close Piscean Local Sangha and the HyFulani Association.

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Development Notes
Text by Kirran Lochhead Strang
Initially published on 11 April 2016.