Back to Black
The Aesh are humanoid beings who practice genetic engineering so as to maintain physical features that allows for better adaptation for living in space. Such features include the spinil—space sensory organ—which is a unique form of eye located on the back of the neck that, with the help of a command module similar to a necklace, connects to the ship and helps the Aesh to sense the ship’s directions and processes.
Other physical traits mark them different from human beings, such as the requirement that all those who are born Aesh should possess blue or black hair in reverence to the void they love and elongated tapering elf-like ears, an affectation they admit is purely for cosmetic differentiation.
Aesh generally have longer natural lives than humans—they may live up to two hundred and fifty years. Their developmental cycle is also distinct: until the age of fifteen they physically develop just like humans which they call the period of growth, but for the next 25 years after that they go through a period of maturation where they physically age the equivalent of ten years worth of aging of a human; they stop aging (at least as seen on the surface of their bodies) after that, hence remaining youthful in appearance until the they reach natural death which is triggered by a special gene programmed to make a person’s body slowly shut down when he reaches his 200th to 250th year thereby avoiding shameful elderly degradation.
The Aesh have no concept of marriage but that does not mean that they do not have families. They love each other but do not marry; though a couple may live together for a short period of time or even remain together “’Til death do we part”. The basic Aesh family is a single-parent household, though some Aesh like to live with their relatives.
The Aesh gestate most often through the use of gestation machines, though, contrary to the belief of most non-Aesh, they do often conceive “naturally”. Those who conceive naturally most often remove the zygote or embryo from their own wombs to have it transferred to a gestation machine, though some more eccentric women would, after a having the embryo genetically examined and modified to ensure its biological integrity as an Aesh, have these zygotes or embryos replaced into their own wombs in order to carry it to full term naturally.
Aesh sometimes ask for DNA donations from close relatives or even strangers, or the genetic material of people of their own gender or even clone themselves to reproduce. However, most Aesh have children out of heterosexual relationships with people whom they have fallen in love. The offspring of such a relationship is called a “son/daughter of love”.
The hierarchy of Aesh culture revolves around family status, or members of a nobility or magistrates. The Aesh empire is socialist, where all ships and property is controlled by the empire, though some assets such as ships are loaned to private parties by the Emperor or Empresss. Aesh celebrate and observe important life events and rites of passage, like birthdays and death anniversaries. Since they spend most of their life in space, they always feel uneasy whenever they do go on land.