le Solitaire were inspired by and partly designed by Charlotte Garneau
One of the most unusual Earth Colonies in space is the “Ile Solitaire.” (Lonely Island) The colony traces its history back directly to The University of Antartica’s isolated Ice Sounding Station on Scott Island.
In December of 2219 a young, male Bowhead Whale appeared at the station. This was immediately interesting since Bowheads are confined to the Northern Hemisphere. This whale showed a particular interest in the station and its researchers. It was frequently seen nosing around underwater equipment and took to following boats and divers. University Researcher Daniel Roberts, who had nicknamed the whale “Fido” because of the way it followed him when he dived, is credited with first suggesting that the whale was attempting to communicate with the team.
Biologists from the University were dispatched and it was discovered that Fido was emitting subsonic”thumps” that formed a simple binary code. Roberts and the biologist quickly recognized “Up,” “Down,” “breathe,” and a number of other key phrases in Fido’s vocalizations.
Ice forced Fido away from the station by May of that year but Roberts and a small crew from the University followed him back to his Northern Hemisphere home waters. During the next 9 months, Roberts and the other researchers were, “introduced” to Bowhead Whale culture in the North Atlantic. The language quickly developed to more than 900 hundred words, and the researchers were able to respond to Fido and a growing number of other Bowhead whales using speakers lowered into the water.
It was clear to the team from early on that whales and other cetaceans knew a great deal about human culture and had chosen not to respond to earlier attempts to communicate. It also became clear that the Bowhead whales had become concerned enough about their own extinction to initiate contact with humans. Fido reported, as the communication continued to improve, that Bowhead Whales had first decided to contact humans more than a century before but human thinking was so unlike whale thought that it had taken a very long time to develop a set of shared concepts and a communication method. He, (Fido)explained that he had been chosen at birth to be the pathfinder. Rather than learning the songs of his species, he had spent his youth learning all that was known about humans and their ways.
Communication was very difficult. Whales’ sense of self was radically different from humans’. The researchers often found it difficult to tell if the whales were referring to themselves individually, to whales in general, or to other classes that ranged from “all things in the sea,” to something that translated roughly as “the middle of everything.” Likewise, while the whales were excellent navigators, they had nothing resembling a numbering system or measures of distances. Objects, and their relationship to other objects was regulated by a complex sets of emotional responses. The translations for locations seemed hopelessly indecipherable. A literal translation would look something like, “By the small sadness, where glad happened to another whale because the ancestors took comfort on passing before excitement and mating.” This was compounded the ever changing nature of the responses. If a whale was struck by a ship at a location, within months all the Bowhead Whales would have learned a new name for that location, but the new name would be different for different whales based on their relationship to and feelings about the struck whale. Without an in depth understanding of whale society and relationships, communications about locations was virtually impossible.
By the time Fido moved back into the waters around Scott Island,in November, 2220, it was clear that the whales understood that they were vulnerable to human technology and as much as they needed human help, were terrified of what would happen if the general human population learned that they were capable of communication. They found humans violent and unpredictable.
The University of Antarctica agreed to work with the Bowheads in secrecy.
In 2225 Richards, by then the project lead and fast friends with Fido, announced that he had identified two previously not understood terms. Both phrases were lengthy. He reduced them to “Lonely Island” and “Warmer Ocean.” He explained that “Lonely Island” was the Earth, or more generally any planet, and that “Warmer Ocean” referred to space. The whales understood that Earth was one of billions of planets and their decision to speak to humans revolved around the idea that they were not going to be able to stay on Earth much longer but believed that humans could help them into space.
Within months of Richard’s announcement, the whales stunned the University’s mathematics department by solving the “Frame Shearing”dilemma associated with framing drives as described by Lachmi Dryden. Intrigued, the University opened a secret research facility in Lake Vostok, Antarctica. There hidden under kilometers of ice, the University and their cetacean cohorts secretly entered the space race already happening across the solar system.
Life in the under-ice facility was difficult, especially for the cetaceans, several of whom died in the first years. Eventually a total 16 marine mammal species were incorporated into the project. Included in this number was the Baiji or Yangtze River Dolphin extinct since 2006 and resurrected in Vostok from surviving DNA.
First space flight by a cetacean was achieved in 2253, when a bottle nose dolphin, “Hides in Ferns” successfully piloted a cargo ship to and from orbit.
There was some talk of using cetaceans to explore the recently reached ocean of Europa but the cetaceans were adamant that exploration should only happen on uninhabited planets. They refused to participate.
By 2270 life in the Vostok station had become unlike human or cetacean life. The numerous species had developed a unique, shared language,and the combination of human and cetacean thinking had produced a set of ideas and beliefs strange to human and sea creature alike. While still genetically different species, they had come to refer to themselves as “IleSolitaire” an entity different from the University and whale societies.They had also become a highly “cybernised” population. Through the use of cybernetics, they had created communication devices capable of using the common language, water lungs for the humans, and other devices that allowedthem to work together. In June of that year, they requested and were granted formal independence from the University.
On June 9, 2298 radar, telescope, and other sensors detected the launch of a massive spaceship from the ice above Lake Vostok. Two days later,the ship, having traveled to a point well away from the Earth, engaged its framing drive and vanished from known space. Crews sent to Vostok found thefacility abandoned. There was very little evidence that the station had ever existed. It appeared as thought the inhabitants managed to enclose their entires tructure inside the ship and launch themselves, as a whole, into space.
Nothing was heard from the ship or crew until 2370 when the crew of the Pim Corp.’s ship “Braired” recorded a “whale like ship.” observed in orbit around a star system 40 Light Years from Earth.
Little is know about Ile Solataire in 2503. In a terse message to humanity as a whole, delivered to the League of Planets headquarters on League Prime, they declared several hundred star systems between 50 and 200 light years from Earth generally in the direction of galactic center to be off limits. There have been only a few known incursions into those systems. Syrch Corp. attempted to settle several of them but has lost all contact with all crews sent into those systems within a few months of the crew’s arrival.
Their home planet is called “Mere Ocean” (MotherOcean.) They are known to use free flying whales, cybernetically adapted to space as well as other unusual spaceship designs. They are curious and are sometimes seen exploring new systems. They seem to only colonize systems that have no life bearing worlds and appear to leave only research colonies on life bearing worlds. Their motives and lifestyle are largely unknown.
While “Flying Space Whales” and other aspects of their civilization are sometimes popular on Main Run planets, most of humanity view them as boogy men or fairy tales. Their existence is never mentioned on some company controlled planets.