Introduction This is a species of provolve based on the Old Earth Marine Iguana of the Galapagos Islands. They were made by taking marine Iguana DNA and used a bioforge to directly modify it. The Iguanaphonts were developed in the Rothir system by a faction of Coronese military biotechnicians, during the First Consolidation War. This fearsome provolve was a crude but effective biological terror weapon. Any colony that rebelled against Coronese rule risked a visit from these vicious lizard-men who would destroy towns and kill civilians with no qualms; this was a quick way to ensure compliance in a time-sensitive manner. In their first field test, they were notably vicious and, if they had not been restrained, would have devastated the entire colony.
Anatomy The Iguanophonts are a bipedal sophont with a basic humanoid outine, approximately 1 meter tall (on average). They can range anywhere from .7 meters to 1.2 meters in height. They maintain many of the characteristics of the Marine Iguana, including their spinal spikes going from the back of the head to the tip of the tail. The spikes are longest in the center of the back and get smaller toward the head and tail. The tail is used for stability because of their short legs. Most have a simple gray color over their entire bodies, but a common variation is a red or green coloration, usually on the spinal spikes, but occasionally on their full body. Another minor change is how their heads are attached to their body. They have a specialized joint at the top of their neck that allows them to be equally comfortable looking up or forward. This allows them to swim easily and comfortably. They have also been given sharp teeth and claws mostly for the fear factor, but also for personal defense; today these are mainly used for catching fish, as iguanaphonts are predominantly piscivores (unlike their algae-eating proto-species).
History/Origin The Iguanophonts were kept under strict Coronese control until the year 3361 AT when they gained their independence in a bloody rebellion. In order to make them better at following orders, the Coronese increased their intelligence; however this only allowed the Iguanaphonts to realise that they could grasp their own destiny. They killed most of their captors, stole a ship, and fled the Rothir system, heading towards the unexplored regions to Rimward.
They searched the (then) outskirts of known space for a place to live until 3466 AT when they came across an abandoned space hulk; the wreckage of a long-abandoned worldship. They renamed it the Pagos after the Galapagos Islands (their proto-species birthplace) and made some major modifications to fit the needs of their species. This ship must have been launched in the Early Expansion Era, and had no working drive system; the Iguanaphonts installed the Conversion drive from the ship they had stolen from Rothir, and set off again (at a somewhat reduced speed).
They spent many centuries searching the Periphery for habitable planets and avoiding the rest of civilization. They kept up their hider ways until the year 5625 AT, the Pagos suffered a malfunctioning monopole chamber as they passed near to a ComEmp outpost. Up until that point, the Conversion Drive has been capable of self-repair; but now this function had failed, and the Iguanaphonts were unable to fix it. This caused a major divide in the population; a majority realized that they could not solve the problem on their own and should call out to the nearby world for help, but a select few thought they should maintain their isolationist ways. This minority boarded some of the smaller ships stored in the capacious hold of the Pagos; they thought that whatever fate that would await them in the void would be better than contact with the Terragens, and perhaps re-contact with their former oppressors the Coronese. (There were not enough ships for the entire species to leave). This faction travelled though space until 5681 AT when they found a small Terragen colony, which they destroyed without remorse. They then used the surviving buildings to start their own civilization. This world, known as Pinzon, is the largest permanent Iguanaphont colony, and they are known as the most violent and most second most isolationist faction of this species. If any attempt at contact is made, they respond with death threats. Pinzon is 1820 ly from Sol, in Auriga.
After the departure of this faction the Pagos made contact with the outpost and obtained assistance from them. The worldship then continued its journey, without major change, other than a population slightly more tolerant of outsiders on average, one that is more open to outside species, but still relatively isolationist in outlook. Up until this point, most Terragens thought that the Iguanaphonts were extinct, lost after they fled into deep space. After this, however, they were officially recognized as an extant clade.
Culture The Iguanophonts did not trust the rest of Terragen civilization after their creation, so they remained almost entirely isolated. Because of they were created for aggressive personal defense, they remained hostile to any sophont they encountered, this led to them being violently xenophobic. Which, in turn, led to them being entirely unheard of. They speak the language of their creators: Coronese. They developed record keeping and literature, but no poems or visual art. Their literature is simplistic and is mostly either non-fiction or realistic-fiction. Stories, for example, about the discovery of the Pagos or about the rogue colony.
Religion The Iguanophonts do not have a religion by the usual definition. Their 'religion' is based on gratefulness of the necessities of life, especially food. A religious 'ceremony' often involves a large fish hunt. A major part of their religion is fasting to help realize the importance of the food they eat. They remained completely unaware of the archai until the year 6132 AT when they were reached out to. This baffled them but did not change their beliefs being as they did not really have a god, to begin with. When the archai did make contact, they made the decision to leave them alone for the most part. It was a better plan than trying to change their belief in isolation.
The Iguanophont's salvaged worldship, the Pagos, is a flattened ovoid with five 'tendrils' coming out from each side and curving toward the back. The main chambers are used as reefs. They contain many species of fish and coral from old earth as well as the species favorite food source: green algae. The tendrils are used for all the non-food purposes: sleeping quarters, maintenance, hangers for smaller ships, etc. To protect against major internal damage, the conversion drive is kept in the back at the extreme rear of the ship, to reduce radiation hazards. The conversion drive itself was taken from the stolen Colonese ship, being as it was faster and more powerful than the drive in the Pagos at the time of discovery. Under the reef, disguised as coral, is the ship's bioforge which is used largely for the making of fish. The ship can hold about 18,000 Iguanophonts since they are smaller than a baseline human and have tightly packed living spaces because they spend most of their time in the reef or working within the tendrils.
Worldships Being as the Iguanophonts realized that if they colonized they would be forced into being more social, and did not want to leave the Pagos, they started production on multiple worldships to solve overpopulation. By modern times they had a fleet of over fifty worldships. They all varied in size and shape but maintained a few commonalities. These included the central reef and the tendrils. The sheer number of these ships they managed to get their population just above two million.
Current Era The colony on Pinzon remains almost entirely withdrawn from Terragen society. They have grown more and more secretive and ill-tempered over the years. The Encyclopedia Galactica and most other sources classify Pinzon as a Restricted System with a Hazard Rating of 7.5; most travelers are happy to leave them alone.
The rest of the population, living on worldships, tries to remain independent as much as possible, but occasionally various outsiders will attempt to make friendly contact with limited success. These ships travel around the ever-expanding Periphery, mining asteroids to make more worldships. Over the years they have become divided into three separate factions. The largest of which, consisting of twenty-eight worldships, is still very similar to the original species, very isolationist and somewhat aggressive. The second largest, taking up seventeen worldships, is a faction that has become slightly more social. They are not social enough to co-colonize planets, but social enough to communicate and share technology with other sophonts. The final faction is by far the smallest with only five worldships. These Iguanophonts are the most isolationist of all. When they are contacted, they turn their ships and fly away without a word. This leads to a high amount of suspicion from everyone who has met them, but no violence whatsoever.
Text by A Pork Chop
Initially published on 28 January 2018.