The Akashans are a powerful civilization whose records would seem to indicate they might actually predate the Pattern and the Logrus. According to their myths, the Sidar themselves guided the development of the early Akashan civilization, guiding them from a primitive state towards space-faring civilization. The culmination of this process was the development of the Tree of Life, whose first blossoming marks the beginning of the Akashan Calendar.
It also marked a great transition, for in that same year, the last Sidar embassy came to inspect the tree. Pleased, they told the Akashans that they had reached maturity as a species and were ready to become full partners of the Sidar on their endeavours. An Akashan embassy was put together to return to the Sidar homeworld with the Sidar. It was a great and glorious day.
Except that the Sidar were never seen again, and neither were the ambassadors. They left through the wormhole known to lead to the Sidar homeworld and never came back. The stargates used by the Sidar to visit their shadow still existed, but they've never found the Sidar down any of them.
What followed was a period of thousands of years in which they went forth through the gates and tried to guide other civilizations as they had once been guided by the Sidar. This had mixed results, including one shadow, Krypton, which somehow blew itself to bits and now exists only as a space full of primal chaos. This caused them to withdraw and become more isolationist, although they still watch over the various species of their home shadow.
It is currently the year 9168 in the Akashan League.
Relations with other Shadows
While the Akashans are rather isolationist at present, they are known to have quite friendly relations with Panopticon University, as they regard Panopticon as a society on a par with their own, if regrettably prone to using non-organic technology.
It is also noteworthy that from an Akashan perspective, Amber is a technologically backwards, primitive backwater hardly worthy of their time, trapped in some sort of strange slow-time universe where nothing useful works.
They are oblivious to the Outsiders, except perhaps 'The Nameless One', the demon figure of their mythology, who might be an Outsider (or just a local entity).
While not genetically compatible, the Akashans are suspiciously similar to human beings. Most Akashans resemble the Mayan Indians of Earth, with reddish brown skin, black hair, dark eyes, and a slender build, although many Akashans tinker with their appearance for aesthetic reasons; the most fanatical members of the three major political parties change their hair color, eye color, or even their skin color to match their party.
Akashans have a slightly lower body temperature than Earth humans, only 90 degrees, and thus feel a little cool to the touch.
Unlike Earth humans, Akashans are strongly psionic, with 80 percent of the population possessing psychic powers, while the rest largely use artificial means to gain the same effects. It is likely that this is partly biological and partly the result of a higher social axiom in the Star Sphere.
Many forms of entertainment for the Akashans would be easily comprehensible to Amberites (or Shadow Earthers). They play a variety of games of strategy and chance, including analogues to many Earth games. They also enjoy a variety of athletic activities--team sports, competitive one on one, and 'man vs. nature'. Many enjoy going out riding as a way to relax.
Their high technology makes a variety of unusual entertainments possible. Skilled telekinetics play 'Skyball', a team sport resembling a cross between football and soccer, but played in a zero-gravity arena where the players move about using telekinetic flight and can manipulate the ball telekinetically, carry it, or kick and throw it. 'Groundball' is the less complex but more easily accessible version for those who don't have antigravity generators and their own personal arena.
Multi-User Interactive Virtual Reality Entertainments (MUIVRE) are also quite popular. These range from VR bars for chatting to virtual alternate electronic universes full of 'NPCs' controlled by AIs capable of a full personality, memory, and long-term plans. Some Akashans become far too caught up in these and neglect everything else in favor of more Immersive Experience. But at the same time, they have contributed to making every Akashan world a truly global community as people interact with others on the far side of the planet on a regular basis. The communications lag between planets or through stargates has prevented the development of ones which would have players from all the planets of the Akashan League, however.
Easy mass communications access has reduced the power of entertainment companies over IE movies, music, print fiction, and other forms of entertainment which can be transmitted electronically and created with the help of computer systems. When everyone can distribute and sell their products themselves, such companies become less important. However, in many cases, the superior capital resources of such companies enables them to produce works of superior quality to those being produced by people at home, especially in the area of IE (immersive experience/aka virtual reality) movies.
One of the often darker aspects of Akashan entertainment are 'sims'. Sims are recorded sensory impressions. Those with proper technological devices or bionetic implants can experience those recorded impressions for themselves. Sims are used for some legal purposes, such as teaching, but most sims relate to sex and violence, often disturbing forms of such. Those inclined to surreal experiences often try sims of dreams. Some Akashans become addicted to sims and then require psychological treatment. Excessive use of sims can cause mental disorientation or even insanity, and some sims are known as 'braincrackers' because of their ability to produce such problems. Unfortunately, the Akashan government has been unable to reduce the demand for such things, especially since the legal uses of the technology have proved quite handy for more benevolent purposes. [One common use is to help people learn about other species by using sims of that species to enable people to 'walk a mile on the other person's paws', so to speak]
The Akashan home shadow is known to the Akashans as the 'Star Sphere'. It is a roughly spherical galaxy, substantially smaller than the Milky Way galaxy, home to 500 inhabited worlds populated by 100 sentient species. Another 1,000 habitable worlds which contain no sentient life are also known to exist at the end of various wormhole nexi. It's possible that far more habitable worlds or even intelligent races may well exist in the Star Sphere, since Akashans and the other sentient species rely on wormhole technology for interstellar travel and have no way to reach or survey worlds not accessible in that manner.
The Akashan League itself consists of twelve habitable worlds in nine star systems, linked by wormholes. They are listed here in order of their settlement by the Akashans
Wormhole transit usually takes anywhere from 6 hours to one day, depending on the length of the jump. All member planets of the league are connected by wormholes, so you can get from anywhere to anywhere within two days at most.
Akashan government is a strange and complex thing. The theoretical head of the state is the 'Emperor', once a hereditary monarch, but now chosen by the twelve High Priests of Apeiros from among the priestly caste descended from the old line of Emperors for a term of ten years. His main duties are to oversee the Tree of Life and its servitor priests, to grant honors to those who have served the Akashan League well, and to choose the Prime Minister who serves as the executive head of the League. Also, he can dismiss the Central Council and call for new elections at any time after the current Central Council has sat for at least one month. In practice, the Emperors almost always appoint as Prime Minister whoever has the support of the dominant party or coalition in the legislature, but Emperors have been known to sometimes defy this when the expected candidate was too scandalous in personal life.
The Prime Minister appoints a twelve man cabinet known as the High Council (one of which positions he himself will typically hold), which manages the executive functions of the government, and the twelve major departments. Most Prime Ministers take the job of Minister of the Treasury for themselves, although in times of war, some Prime Ministers have served as Minister of Defense. He also has the power to dismiss the Central Council and call for an election. He can be forced out of office at any time by a vote of no confidence from the legislature, which while not legally forcing him to resign and call for new elections, almost always has that result, as without the legislature's cooperation, government becomes impossible. The High Council consists of the major Ministers who head the great departments and certain other officials, such as 'the Advocate of Opposition', who is always a member of one of the parties not otherwise represented in the ministry, whose job it is to make sure other viewpoints are heard and to watch for corruption within the ministry. They control the policies and actions of their individual ministries. All High Council members must also hold a seat in the Central Council; no one can be appointed to the High Council who was not first elected to the Central Council.
The Central Council consists of two houses. The House of Planets has a membership of 144 Planetary Spokesmen, twelve from each world, who serve twelve year terms. They are elected at the same time as the Emperor. Each world chooses its Planetary Spokesmen as they see fit, but the most common pattern is a global election. The House of Planets approves the appointments to the High Council made by the Prime Minister and approves the judicial appointments made by the Emperor. They also approve treaties and have primary responsibility with regard to Akashan/Client? Species relations and other foreign affairs.
The House of the People consists of 480 representatives, six from each of 80 electoral districts each with an equal population. Their boundaries are reassessed every twelve years after the census. They are elected by proportional representation. The House of the People has the right to initiate all money bills, which gives them a great deal of power. They also have the right to force the Prime Minister to resign through a vote of no confidence. (Technically, he can choose to ignore them, but in such cases it usually becomes impossible for him to conduct any business in the Central Council whatsoever).
The High Council members head the various Ministries which form the executive branch of government and do most of its work. The major ministries of the Akashan government are: Biotechnology, Commerce (its greatest duty is regulating the Stargate network and collecting customs taxes), Defense, Exploration, Exterior (handles Foreign Affairs), Information (collates necessary information, handles patents, conducts espionage), Interior (handles miscellaneous internal affairs, especially the administration of public lands and colonies), Law Enforcement, Pultaak Affairs (dealings with the Client Races within Akashic worlds), and the Treasury.
The Judicial Branch of the Central Government is fairly small, and mostly deals with appeals from the Planetary Governmental judicial systems and with crimes deriving from Akashan/Client? Species relations. It consists of the High Court of twelve judges, one from each of the Akashan worlds, who have supreme judicial power, and one judge for each Region on each Member Planet.
The Akashans have a strong tradition of public service, which makes for active political participation and honest government, although periodic scandals of corruption continue to erupt, shaming the entire nation. The Akashans have three major political parties at the level of the Central Government, the Reds, the Yellows, and the Blues, who follow the Coar, Zinatt, and Aka philosophies respectively. Each is effectively a coalition of many planetary level parties. The Blues have tended to dominate politics since Krypton blew up in Primal Chaos. In recent years, however, the Reds have resurged.
Currently, the Prime Minister is Sarilla, who recently took office after some sort of flying bio-engineered war creatures ripped apart the previous prime minister; she has greatly increased the budget of her old ministry, the Ministry of Biotechnology.
Law and Justice
On the Akashan worlds, law and order is maintained by the Monitors, a highly trained central police force. Each level of the federal system has its own force of Monitors with jurisdiction over the appropriate area; the ones encountered on Earth are all from the Akashan League Monitor Force. The ALMF also doubles as the 'army' of the Akashan League, providing security forces for Akashan embassies and ground forces for the usually rare expeditionary forces and less rare exploration missions.
Akashans are tried by Zinatt-following judges who form a hierarchy of judicial systems from the local level to the Central Governmental level, while members of the client races are turned over to whatever justice system their local community follows, unless the criminal has broken Central Governmental law, in which case they go into the Central Governmental court system. Crimes committed by an Akashan against a member of the client species or vice versa are tried in the justice system of the committer of the crime. This system, which has been implemented by the Aka followers who currently dominate the government, has led to all sorts of complaints, but the Aka have remained reluctant to change it.
The Akashans use a system much like those in vogue in continental Europe, with a judge but no jury. They also make heavy use of psychic powers for evidential purposes. The Draygakk use a judge and jury system, the Lorbaat and Gudasko use trial by combat, the spiritually inclined Uigho use trial by miracle, and many other systems flourish as well.
Each community maintains its own prison system (Communities unable to maintain their own gaol system must forfeit their right to maintain their own justice system). The Akashan prison system uses living cells with psionic dampeners to confine prisoners, and focuses around rehabilitation and reeducation. It has been fairly successful, simply because the Akashans have low levels of poverty and high levels of employment. As a result, most crimes are either 'white collar crimes' or crimes of passion. The Akashans continue to hope for the complete eradication of crime, but their best efforts continue to fail.
In the past, the Akashans experimented with various behavior modification therapies--biological, psychic, and psychological--to try to remove aberrant tendencies, until a series of now famous cases of abuse of these methods convinced the Akashans it was too dangerous to endorse such modifications. In some cases, the treatments turned twenty percent or more of the subjects into mental vegetables. Others were abused by unscrupulous therapists to turn their subjects into sex slaves, zombie warriors, or worse. While such treatments have helped to greatly increase the ability of the Akashans to cure mental diseases, they have been largely banned from use in correctional facilities.
Akashan religion is a bewildering maze of sects, cults, churches, denominations and madmen howling in the wilderness, bound together by some shared myths, holy texts, and the belief in Apeiros and the Nameless One as the two great gods who stand behind all the lesser dieties worshipped by the peoples of Akasha. The Aka faiths tend to be highly mystical and abstract, encouraging strict ascetic practices and the creation of art. The Coar faiths are popularist and syncretistic, emphasizing social action and the transformation of the world. And the Zinatt faiths are usually somewhere in between, trying to balance the call of the world and of the inner light.
The uniting force is the Imperial Cult. The Emperors have traditionally been the guardians and gardeners of the Trees of Life. Every Akashan temple is home to a Tree of Life, be it Lesser or Greater, who guides the priests of the temple in following the way of their faith. The tree's miraculous powers also guard the temple and help to protect the faithful. Greater Trees of Life are also known as Reality Trees. Lesser Trees of Life aid the use of spiritual power within the area they shield. Like the Greater Trees, however, they are sentient and possess the abilites of whoever entered the tree during the gestation period (usually a priest).
All Trees of Life are descended from the Imperial Tree tended by the Emperor. It resembles a great ash tree, except for the blue wood and red leaves, nearly a thousand feet tall. The rites performed by the Emperor and the Imperial Cult fill it with spiritual power which it sends to its children, and should it ever be destroyed, those trees will begin to wither and die until it can be grown anew from its seeds. The tree itself contains the soul of the first Emperor of Akasha and is capable of spectacular feats to protect itself from assault. No such assault has been tried in a very, very long time.
Akashan religions tend to be incredibly syncretistic, and usually get along quite well. Still, philosophical and religious debates form one of the major areas of disagreement in Akashan society, and such debates help to keep things lively. Most Akashans move from faith to faith over their lifetime as their beliefs change or as congregations rise and decline.
Biotechnology has its own page to be found here