[STARMOTH INITIATIVE REPORT 7-B]
[Edited by vegetal AI Symanda]
Subject: Nonhuman species/society known as the Gardeners.
"Gardeners" is the colloquial name given to an extinct nonhuman species first identified on Mundis. The Gardeners roamed the galaxy at sublight speeds one million to five hundred thousand years before present. At their apex, they had a confirmed presence on at least seventy worlds within a 50 lightyears radius centred on Mundis. This area of space is referred to as "Gardener Expanse" in our interstellar cartography databases.
Very few remnants of the Gardeners have been found and formally identified. The latest research suggests that the Gardeners were a carbon-based lifeform that adopted the shape of ten meters large jellyfish-like creatures. The average lifespan or mode of reproduction of Gardeners is unknown and their social structure has yet to be established. The sheer density of micrometeorite impacts on Gardener wrecks seem to indicate that their ships were capable of NAFAL (Nearly As Fast As Light) travel. No signs of orbital settlements have been found, hinting at a primarily ground-based civilisation.
The main characteristic of the Gardener civilisation is that it was heavily focused on planetary engineering. All planets with Gardener ruins bear signs of geological engineering via orbital lasers, fault manipulation through seismic charges, climate adaptation via aerosol dispersal or biosphere seeding through genetically engineered plants. None of these endeavours seemed to have had any purpose beyond aesthetic concerns. It is assumed that the Gardeners engineered planets to their artistic standards and not for adaptation or colonization. This process was not limited to habitable planets: the Gardeners also carved airless worlds to their liking. It seems that their favourite piece of planetary art were vast canyons carved alongside longitude lines that would then be filled with water and vegetation over the centuries to create unique geophysical drawings visible from space.
(Note: the aesthetic/artistic explanation for Gardener modifications is far from confirmed. It is the most likely explanation we have at this point but without access to a "live" Gardener society we have no means of confirming or infirming this hypothesis however convincing it might be.)
While seemingly peaceful the Gardeners did not seem to have much regard for local life when carrying out their "improvements" from orbit. The Gardener expanse shows several worlds that have been seriously damaged or even subjected to mass extinction events due to geological or atmospheric reconfiguration.
(Note 2: Several fringe theories suggest that the Gardeners practised "aggressive terraforming" to expand their empire, erasing specific species or even destroying entire civilisations with their tools to make way for their own society. There is no solid evidence that suggests deliberate action over simple disregard for the locals but there is no denying a geological laser makes for a great orbital weapon.)
Hesperides, the homeworld of the Gardeners, is a thoroughly destroyed planet, covered in carvings so deep that they expose the world's mantle, surrounded by the shining debris of a glassed moon. Perhaps the Gardeners fell victim to foreign invaders. Or perhaps they put aesthetics above the survival of their own planet, sacrificing it to turn it into a cosmic work of art.
Illustration from the Wootha Public Domain Release.
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