With apologies to Alastair Reynolds.
Ultranauts are a creole civilization, a fusion of Spacers, Star Dwellers and Mechanican civilizations. While currently only a minor player, they are growing slowly but steadily and expanding into systems that no one else would want. Starting as society, the Ultranauts outgrew that and began buildign their own starships. The original society believed that cybernetics offered the best methods of adapting humanity to space. With the right gear and a net, a human could now sport (and control) additional arms, prehensile toes and tails and other things – without having to grow up with them. As they advanced and attracted more members, the Ultranaut adaptations became more successful (but remaining a minority taste among the parent civilizations). Once they built their first starship, the Ultranaut Star Ship Reynolds and began recruiting, they became a civilization. All members of this civilization sport space capable cybernetic bodies that can survive in a vacuum for either very long periods of time, or indefinitely. Many have built in cryo-sleep capabilities for their remaining organic elements.
Children in the society are born human, but once removed from the womb, modifications begin. Neural nets are added, and at the earliest possible point, the child's brain and spinal column (though some include additional tissue, like the head and or face) to an appropriate body. These initial bodies are deliberately kept small and low powered and only slowly increased over time as the children become more mature and capable of adult judgment.
Ultranauts tend to split between humanoid forms and others that resemble space probes or insects. They can be as colorful as an ad, entirely reflective or matte black. Most will have some form of visual ID, allowing those without a mesh to see their names, ship and specialties, plus anything else they want to share.
As a fusion culture, it is an odd one. It has the regimented aspects of Spacers, with the diversity of the Stardweller and Mechanican cultures. In many ways it resembles an Age of Enlightenment pirate ship's articles of agreement. The rules can be very strict and detailed, but everyone agrees to them. And like those historical pirate ships, the articles can vary from ship to ship. A majority of the crew can force a renegotiation of the articles, but this only happens away from times of crisis.
Ultras are very independent, acting in loose association with each other. Typically, they only come together in large groups for gatherings – or when they need to help each other.
Like the Stardwellers, they build starships, but concentrate on large ones – big enough to pass as generation ships and space stations. Also, unlike the Spacers, they have continued to improve their technologies. Their ships routinely accelerate to significant fractions of light speed, and for this reason alone they are sought out for rescue services and as mercenary vessels. For this reason alone the Survivalists have sought them out for long term communications and supply drops.
While they can be as easy going as the Stardwellers, not everyone is happy to see an Ultra ship enter their system. With their capabilities an accident can make things difficult and direct action can be terrifying.
They have good relationships with the Stardwellers, Mechanicans, Spacers, Disciples,Tao and Masqueraders. They are wary of the Replicants, Logicians and the Stored. Their relationship with the Union is cool at best (which usually restricts their ships to the outer systems). There are a multitude of Cargo Cults that spit at the mention of the Ultras and others that eagerly await their next visit.
Societies from core rules that can be found among the Ultras: All
Additional societies that can be found among the Ultras: Survivalists, Pantropists Gamma, Mushashi Flex, Explorers Society, Cognitechnicians and Social Engineers.
Common name: Ultras.
Benefit: Ultras may substitute their Stringtech or Nanotech scores for Biotech in almost all situations. The exception is when dealing with age and with poisons and diseases that actually penetrate to their living parts. All Ultras have a neural mesh, regardless of their Cognitech score.
Inspector Status: Equivalent to a local police officer in most cases.
Core Values: Freedom and Diligence.
Freedom refers to physical and ideological freedom. It helps Ultras resist any attempt to remove what they see as basic rights, and lets them argue more effectively against restrictions that might be put on their actions or selves. Arguing with an Ultra over the merits of restricted research, caste-style societies, indentured servitude, or similar ideological restrictions is an exercise in futility. What's more, it means they will act for free movement of individuals against restrictions by governments. This has meant that they have aided refugees with their wormhole projectors, as well as assisted in the movement of fugitives between star systems.
Diligence is what kept Spacer ships functioning for so long in the depths of space, and the Ultras have not changed that much. In fact they may value it more than the Spacers since it applies to their bodies as well as their ships. It gives a bonus to all actions performed very carefully and without haste, triplechecked and tested for certainty. This takes about twice as long as usual. Ultras can also use this to prevent people from convincing them to half-ass a job.