G'ahach is a newly discovered planet in the Triangulum galaxy. Home to a sentient species called the G'ahach'i, it orbits a K9.6 V star, and was discovered in 9978. The WDS Isvoy was on a focused sweep through the immediate area, focused on an open cluster of stars not too far from the system that was given the name "Lerienne's Cluster" (RC 1191-59), when their alien signal was picked up. When they arrived, they as usual hid themselves until they determined that these aliens were friendly, and after confirming that they DID have warp drive equivalents, detailed study was undertaken.
The first thing the scientists aboard the Isvoy noticed, was that the atmosphere was mostly water vapor, with close to 25% of the atmosphere being carbon dioxide. The native sentients (called the G'ahach'i) also helped with the science gathering. Through a translator, a G'ahach'i elder told the head of science aboard the Isvoy that they were actually a carbon-based species. This, as well as the atmospheric pressure, explains the crystalline look of them.
The G'ahach'i, after more study, was determined to be a mid Type II on the Kardashev scale. They too are explorers, charting their stellar neighborhood to a distance of around 100 LY from their home planet. The G'ahach'i elder said that as soon as their first contact with another race was made, they became interested in other cultures. His first brush with humanity amazed him. He had never seen such technology before, and expressed his wish that his people might one day explore like Humanity can. He said that their name for the Triangulum galaxy was "Y'ard'nalr", after a two-footed legendary creature in their mythology.
The Elder gave the planetside crew a tour of a G'ahach'i city, which awed them to no end. Sweeping vistas gave way to impossibly tall arched buildings, obviously buoyed up somehow by the atmosphere. There were low-lying buildings as well, most of which were designed to look like a G'ahach'i head-frill. This city was estimated to have a population of 120,000 or more. Due to the thickness of the atmosphere, the G'ahach'i use a specially-made glider to get around, instead of car-analogues. Due to the planet being too hot close to the central storm, most cities are close to the terminator. Only a few small towns exist in full daylight on G'ahach, and none are on the night-time half of the planet.
The local cuisine seemed sort of insect-based, and the planetside crew was given a wide range of samplers. One dish was called "Ku'Cheoj", a delicacy made from a whole "Cheoj" insect that was pan-fried. It vaguely resembled a 2-foot-long 6-winged Earth dragonfly, and tasted suprisingly delicious. Otherworldly flavor for sure. Another local delicacy was "Terileg", made from the eggs of a "fish" that lives in only a few places on the planet, due to the acidity of those places. It was sort of bland-tasting, followed by the feeling of butterflies in the stomach. They were told that this was the feeling of the "fish eggs" hatching in the stomach due to the environment of their natural home, and is part of the dish's popularity.
The G'ahach'i are carbon-based life-forms that form a hard diamond-like outer coating as they age, due to their planets atmospheric pressure bearing down on them. They are a hardy species, able to withstand the solar storms of their sun since their skin is pure white to reflect the intense rays. They are born with none of this "armor", aside from a small frill on their heads. This frill plays an important part in mate selection later in life, as females choose the males with the best-looking frill. Females also decorate their frills to be attractive to males. Thus, commenting on one's frill in public is considered inappropriate.
They are born with 3 eyes that merge into one central eye as they reach adulthood. The two unused neural pathways then slowly evolve over a couple local years to enhance hearing. Adults have vastly better hearing than juveniles, and they can hear things that are 12 times below, and 60 times above, the threshold of human hearing; juveniles by comparison can only hear low-frequency sound up to 1000hz, and cannot hear anything below 100hz.
The lifespan of a G'ahach'i is fixed, at 300 local years. None have ever surpassed this number, as through the years, they essentially slowly turn into diamond statues. "Memory Places" were shown to the planetside crew, and they seemed to consist of countless statues, all that is left of deceased G'ahach'i. Death is referred to as "passing into crystal", an apt description, and is measured from the instant no life signs can be detected within the crystal shell.
Reproduction consists of what is called "The Joining". When a male has chosen his mate, he tears off his "breast plate", revealing a large wound-like feature. The female does the same, and then they touch their wounds together, merge, and they are considered a single G'ahach'i for the next 2 Earth days. After this time, they separate and the female lays a completely round white egg the size of a basketball. It hatches after 1 local year, and the infant is initially helpless. It posesses a quite floppy frill and mandibles which harden over the next few hours. It does not eat its first meal until 5 hours after birth because of this.
Flora and Fauna
One of the first things a planetside crew does on a mission is find a forest equivalent, as that is where the most life is on a planet. They hit the jackpot here, as they found scores of unique plants and animals. One plant resembled a "tripod ball"; a round hollow body half a meter tall supported by three strong stems. There is an opening on the top where any moisture collects. "Trees" remarkably resembled Earth trees, except their foilage was black, not green, the leaves were considerably larger, and the trees themselves were taller. One remarkable species soars skyward up to 2 kilometers.
One of the most unique organisms encountered was a "planimal", dubbed by one of the planetside crew. It seems like a 1-meter-tall plant with 2 large leaves at first glance, but seemed to have some basic intelligence. When the planetside crew approached, it flew off flapping it's leaves.
The G'ahach'i are extremely religious, and Elders are seen as leaders within this community. There is only one religion called "The Order of the First", and all G'ahach'i believe that they are all descendants of the "First One", and have divine blood. the First One decrees that all beings are treated with benevolence, no matter who or what they are. As a result, no wars have ever taken place on the planet, and no countries exist. Religiously, when a G'ahach'i passes into crystal, he or she is assuming the form the First One took milennia ago. Millions of years in the future, it is believed that the First One will return and ressurect all of the G'ahach'i who have died.
The leader of the Order is so reclusive, not even his trusted aides are allowed to see him aside from official visits to other cities. It is rumored he lives in a lavish temple within the eye of the central storm on G'ahach, where fierce winds deter any potential visitor. His name is unknown; he is just called what is roughly translated as "Mouth of First One". His visits to other cities are frequent, and he arrives via a heavily modified G'ahach'i starship. Many greet him at his stops, and his sermons are attended by millions.
The technology of the G'ahach'i is quite primitive when compared to Humanity; schematics of their fastest "Hyperspacial Engine" were studied, and they yielded a top speed of around 100 light years per year. Still, this is more than enough for them to have discovered other life within their midst. They do have stations as well, and one of these has been built into the largest asteroid moon around their planet. Known to the locals as "G'ahach Iluu'Nal", or "G'ahachi Grand Station" (4.D3), it is a hollowed-out asteroid 59.2KM in diameter. At a semimajor axis of approximately 151,800km from the planet, this is the perfect place to study the G'ahach atmosphere.
The largest civilian spaceship dealer/manufacturer is located on the asteroid as well, and takes up a good sixth of the asteroid's volume. This manufacturer makes approximately 500 complete spacecraft per year, and Captain Lerienne was given one as a token of goodwill when it was obvious to the G'ahach that the Isvoy was concluding her stay, as well as a large flask containing a gallon of water from G'ahach's largest sea. It was placed in a secure location in her quarters, and was said to be blessed by the Mouth himself.
Conclusion and Departure
The planetside crew was more than happy to be aboard the Isvoy on conclusion of the mission. The weather planetside was borderline-unbearable, not to mention they had to wear bulky spacesuits as the atmosphere was quite poisonous to humans. Still, they enjoyed the hospitality and generosity of these G'ahach'i, and someday hope to return. The Elder did offer a home to some of the planetside crew, but it was feared that the Isvoy would not have enough personnel for their current mission in the galaxy.
After a month, WDS Isvoy left the system.