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Benzite

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Hoya

Hoya, a Benzite female.

The Benzites are a humanoid civilization from the planet Benzar, an unusual species who breathe an atmosphere that differs from class M planetary standards. By the 24th century, Benzites were members of the United Federation of Planets. (TNG episode: "Coming of Age")

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PhysiologyEdit

Benzites are often shorter and physically weaker than the average Humanoid, but not exclusively. Their bodies are protected by a smooth, chitinous covering that ranges in color from purplish-blue with tan streaks, to green-blue, to dusky, pale blue with glistening silver undertones. Their head is bald and smooth and possesses a prominent, fleshy nasal lobe and brow. Two catfish-like barbells protrude from the region above the upper lip, another extends from each side of the nasal lobe; the Benzites refer to these barbells as "whiskers". A Benzite’s ears are positioned high on the skull, and rise into points. Their hands feature two opposable thumbs, one on each side of the palm, with three fingers situated in between. Webbing may connect the fingers to a limited extent, in some individuals. This is one of several physiological details suggesting that the genetic experiments that supposedly gave rise to the Benzites used amphibians as a starting point. [citation needed]

Benzites breathe in a gas heavy in chlorine, which is exhaled in the form of carbon trichloride. The gaseous mixture also contains essential mineral salts and a lot of moisture. Benzites traditionally wore an artificial breathing apparatus, a form of vaporizer, when off of Benzar. They could survive without it for a limited time, but prolonged exposure to standard class-M atmospheres resulted in lung damage that would eventually prove fatal. (TNG short story: "Acts of Compassion")

In 2372, genetic re-sequencing techniques allowed most Benzites to overcome this disadvantage, and the vaporizers are no longer necessary, although it should be noted some Benzites refused the re-sequencing and still utilize them. [citation needed]

The Benzite's forced adaptation to high levels of atmospheric toxicity gives them a hardiness beyond their build and a potent resistance to most poisons. A Benzite is capable of digesting a wide range of substances inedible to most species, but out of politeness, most limit themselves to the default menu choices of the non-Benzites with whom they live and work. Some compromise by programming industrial replicators in their colonies or work sites for a wide variety of mineral salts which, being toxic to most non-Benzites, could not be produced in their food replicators. [citation needed]

Benzite blood is based on mercury and platinum; it takes the form of a thick orange liquid when oxidized. (DS9 novel: Devil in the Sky)

A Benzite’s average body temperature is several degrees lower than that of a Human or a Vulcan. (TNG - A Time to... novel: A Time to Sow)

Benzite cellular growth patterns are unique; apparently a consequence of their engineered biology, although ironically this quirk of their physiology appears to be the result of tampering by the Benzites themselves, not their Forebears. Following the horrors of the Organ Wars (discussed below), Benzite scientists altered their race’s genome to prevent organs from other people being implanted into an individual. This means it is now impossible to successfully transplant organs into an injured Benzite. There was little Doctor Julian Bashir could do to save the life of the Benzite Monyodin when his alveoli were liquefied by a polymer gas in April 2376. (DS9 - Avatar novel: Book One)

CultureEdit

Benzites are highly competitive, preferring to work alone in order to claim credit when they achieve an objective. They find failure deeply shameful, and may conceal the results of their work until they are sure they are right. They prefer to act rather than react. Thoroughness is a high virtue. Things that can be measured are good. Tightly defined, exacting processes breed success. Benzites working among other races must work to downplay these traits if they want to fit in effectively. Still, many Benzites respond to any and all contests with fanatic zeal, going all-out to win any available awards. Benzite Starfleet officers, as a rule, hunger for commendations, medals, and positive performance ratings. (TNG episode: "A Matter of Honor")

Most Benzites are followers of a combination of philosophical teachings and statistical calculus collectively known as The Doctrine of Andragov, for the famous Benzite statesman who developed it. Using this doctrine, they list their personal objectives, both long and short term, on a regular basis, and rate themselves using a scoring system that calculates their level of success or failure. Their philosophy is almost an efficiency manual. This emphasis on measurable achievement should not be construed as a lack of emotion; Benzites care passionately about their scores and how they compare to those of other people. Under a strict interpretation of the Doctrine of Andragov only recently discarded, a Benzite takes his own life when his score reaches the statistically irredeemable -500, in an effort to redeem his geostructure for producing him. In recent years, the moral statistician Fathen convinced many with a counter-theory teaching that no life is irredeemable, and now the suicide tenets within the Doctrine of Andragov are under debate by the current generation of Benzites. This has not changed the basic principles of the Doctrine, however, and Benzites still "keep score" on a daily basis, with principles of organization, efficiency, and objective evaluation that can give Bolian bureaucrats a headache. [citation needed]

Life aboard Benzite spacecraft differs in terms of various protocols from life aboard Starfleet vessels. One Benzite regulation states “no officer on the deck of a Benzite ship is to report any unexplained occurrence until a full analysis and resolution has been made”. Reporting an unexplained or undetermined anomaly is considered to be improper; information should be useful or not provided at all. (TNG episode: "A Matter of Honor")

Reporting a problem but no solution is especially frowned upon. It often took new Benzite Starfleet officers some time to adapt upon Benzar’s entry into the Federation. [citation needed]

Benzites tend to do well with sports and games that require the mathematical precision with which they organize their lives and calculate their Andragov scores. They are less interested in physical sports. The Benzite phrase "your accounting is off" means "you have erred, socially or professionally". [citation needed]

The Benzites practice marriage, like most Humanoids. However, due to the complexity of Benzite biology, discussed further below, marriage and family have nothing to do with reproduction. The people a Benzite reproduces with are not those they spend their lives with, nor are the children in a family unit the biological offspring of the carers. To signify their marriage status, Benzites use pledge-stones, which are worn about the person. The pledge-stone is divided into halves, into which smaller stone shards are slotted. One half filled signifies the bearer has been approached, and should he or she accept they will then fill in the other half. Their partner will subsequently be given a stone for the first half in return, and will acquire the second themselves. Because marriage has nothing to do with breeding, there have never been any gender-based restrictions on courtship; same-sex relationships were always as acceptable, and common, as heterosexual pairings. (ST novel: A Singular Destiny)

HistoryEdit

Benzite mythology-history explains away the low probability of the race evolving naturally by admitting up-front that the evolution was not natural, but the result of outside genetic engineering. The process was begun by the mythical "Forebears" of Benzar; archaeological evidence strongly supports the theory of the Forebears and would seem to justify their effective "demiurge" status among the Benzite people. However, Benzite religion is considered private enough that the Forebears are not discussed openly even with other Benzites, let alone outsiders. The motivations of this ancient race are therefore not clear. In any event, the work of the Forebears was not quite complete when they left—the Benzite race had not yet been engineered enough to have complete immunity from the toxins in their own biospheres. Hence, when the Forebears left their children's world, abandoning the experiment, they showed the mercy of leaving behind the knowledge that would allow the half-made race to save itself. As the Benzites evolved, learning to use the biotechnology left by the Forebears, they also learned to create their cities, termed "geostructures", from the crystalline deposits of Benzar. Society evolved in a clan-like fashion, with geostructures serving as extended families as well as city-states. [citation needed]

Even to this day, the biotechnological legacy of the Forebears continues in the Benzite’s use of "birthing chambers", the same advanced medical incubators originally used for genetic experimentation. Into these chambers, newly gestated Benzite babies are placed for post-natal "fine tuning" which is effectively the last stage of their birth. The argument is that Benzite babies, like some animals on many worlds, are "born incomplete", and require extra-uterine incubation to complete their genetic and physiological development. Without the birthing chambers, physicians would not be able to defeat the birth defects resulting from the toxicity of the Benzite atmosphere. Biomedical scientists point to the rare non-incubated Benzite child, and the overwhelmingly high instances of deformities and death in such children, as evidence of this. A side-effect of this need is that since each geostructure maintains and calibrates its own birthing chambers, Benzites from a given geostructure tend to "look alike" with exactly the same base facial structures, shades of skin tone, and so on. Benzites have become used to cases of "mistaken identity" when dealing with non-Benzites, and most are quite patient about explaining it away as a "family resemblance". (TNG episode: "A Matter of Honor")

For much of Benzite history, although geostructures saw one another as competitors, actual warfare was rare. A thousand years before the rise of the Federation, however, the “Golden age” ended and violent wars broke out when it was discovered that a quirk of Benzite biology allowed any individual's organs or limbs to be transplanted into another person with no fear of rejection. In the “Organ Wars”, geostructures attacked one another to capture victims for organ harvest, until scientists altered the birthing chambers so as to prevent transplantation being possible (as mentioned above). A second virulent outbreak of warfare occurred when birthing chamber scientists found ways to "improve" on Benzite anatomy, breeding warriors with armor plates, poison sacs, spiked knuckles, and other martial modifications. After two hundred years of mutually destructive warfare, the geostructures banned these procedures. It was around this time, circa 1980, that Andragov developed his doctrine, leading the Benzite population into peaceful competition, with much of the “battle” being within oneself. The unification of the geostructures soon followed. [citation needed]

Warp drive was invented in the 22nd century, and contact with the newly-formed United Federation of Planets was made soon afterwards. For many decades, the Benzites preferred a cordial but isolationist stance, trading with the Federation but never applying for membership. Over the years, however, as they began to extend deeper and deeper into space, the Benzites began considering the benefits of being part of a wider community. By the mid-2350s, the majority of Benzites were eager for membership, and Benzar applied for Federation protectorate status. Benzite officials and reporters began to be invited to functions within the Federation, and in 2364, the first Benzite citizen was admitted to Starfleet Academy (Mordock was not the first member of the species to join Starfleet, but was the first political Benzite cadet). At around the same time, Officer exchange programs were initiated, allowing Starfleet officers to serve on Benzite ships, and vice versa, in order to promote better understanding of the different cultures, regulations, and behaviors. Following in Mordock's footsteps, other Benzites enrolled in the Academy, until by the 2370s they were reasonably well represented within the ranks. [citation needed]

The Star Trek The Expanded Universe RPG book All Our Yesterdays states that first contact between Benzites and the Federation occurred in 2360.

Though genetic manipulation is technically frowned upon by the Federation, the use of birthing chambers is so wrapped in Benzite religion and medical science that the Federation Council has come to accept that there is an ingrained compulsion which prevents Benzites from abusing the genetic modification abilities of the chambers for needless change, and that the chambers are only used to "incubate away" defects that are either life-threatening or otherwise a clear handicap "built into" the Benzite genome by the Forebears. It should be noted, however, that the above position, known simply as "The Benzite Compromise", was not easily attained. It took nine years after the Benzites first applied for membership in 2357 for their world to be admitted, while the Council debated the birthing chambers. When the Council came to realize that the Benzites turned away from genetic warfare and onto their current moral and social path simply through careful consideration, it had little choice but to accept that the Benzite use of birthing chambers was guided by a moral code as ingrained in Benzite society as the Vulcan Code of Surak and the Betazoid Code of Sentience, and no less profound and important. Since the incubated modifications apply to all Benzites, and do not elevate any above any others, and since the modifications are not frivolous, and since they are completely part of Benzite religious and social codes, the use of the birthing chambers is accepted, though whispers still occur in the more distrustful factions of the Council. [citation needed]

In 2372, after further debate in which the Benzites were forced to violate their taboo against public religious discussion to explain their theories of their own genetic development, certain modifications were permitted to the birthing chambers under a groundbreaking interpretation of the Prime Directive by which the Federation Council mandates acts that are designed to "undo" the consequences of tampering with primitive species. Arguing strongly that the Forebears inflicted this kind of tampering on them, rendering them unable to evolve naturally, the Benzite Association of Birthing Technicians insisted that the Prime Directive trumped the Federation's stance on genetic modification, demanding that they be permitted to make the only species-wide post-birth adjustment in recorded Benzite history. Adult Benzites living off-world were allowed through a one-time-only deal to report home to Benzar for re-sequencing, while newly born Benzites would all be given the same modifications as part of the usual post-natal incubation from then on. This re-sequencing now allows these Benzites to do without certain "breather" modules they had previously required aboard the oxygen-rich, ammonia-light atmospheres of most Federation worlds and vessels. Not all Benzites accepted the change, however. The 2380 Federation Councilor from Benzar was observed using his rebreather in session. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation)

During the Dominion War, in 2374, Benzar was briefly occupied by the Dominion. The Benzites were liberated by the forces of the Romulan Star Empire. (DS9 episode: "The Reckoning")

Melnis was a Federation Councilor from Benzar. During his time on the Federation Council, he served on the Federation Judiciary Council. At the end of January 2380, Melnis retired, opening up a seat on the Judiciary Council that was eventually filled by Councilor Eleana of Delta IV. Melnis was succeeded by Linzner. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation)

BehaviorEdit

Though Benzite officers have only served in Starfleet since the mid-2360s, Benzites have a reputation for being too concerned with rank and personal achievement, and have to work very hard to balance personal ambitions with the social realities of serving at a Starfleet posting, where many races are critical of such ambition. Benzite meticulousness, when they can bridge the gap of resentment and personality conflict with non-Benzite colleagues, make them excellent coordinators of team efforts, and many gravitate towards Command and Operations sections as a result, though for some individual achievement in the sciences take precedence. It should be noted that Benzites admitted to the prestigious Association of Birthing Technicians are not permitted to serve outside their homeworld or its colonies, in order to assure that the strong moral codes and oaths which bind a Birthing Technician never conflict with oaths of service to Starfleet, the Merchant Marine, or any other Federation service. [citation needed]

NamesEdit

Benzite names are simple, consisting of 2-to-3 syllable aggregates of hard consonants and short vowels. When softer consonants are used, they are invariably strongly pronounced, and when a surname is used, it is invariably the name of the Benzite's geostructure—not all Benzites do this, however. [citation needed]

Benzite individualsEdit

External linksEdit

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