Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant
The Yengii homeworld isn't hospitable by most people's standards. It has an elliptical orbit, a thick anoxic atmosphere, and not nearly enough water (which mostly evaporates during the planetary summer, and snows back down during the winter). Life evolved in deep caverns, hoarding water in protein-crystalline structures. Energy density is low, and the complexity of their genetic structure is strictly limited by the tiny spaces available for aqueous chemistry within life. Most life is mutualistic: saving on individual complexity by specializing, and relying on other life to support it in other ways.
The Yengii consist of four species, named after their role in society. The gorilla-like Mules are the only Yengii that can manipulate large objects. The centipede-like Hands are the only ones that have enough dexterity to interact with technology, and the only ones that can think creatively. The monolithic and nearly immobile Paths are the only Yengii that can plan for the long term (indeed, they think more like computers than people). Finally, the flying Words are the only Yengii that can see, hear, and communicate over any distance. That communication consists of sonic vibrations of the crystal lattice that governs thinking within other Yengii, effectively passing thoughts between them. That said, Yengii are not a hive mind. Each is their own individual, with their own mind, hopes, and dreams, even if they can achieve nothing on their own.
In turn, that inability to act becomes the core of Yengii ethics. The idea is simple: if no-one can do anything on their own, and no-one understands each other well enough to convince each other to abandon ethics (since their means of thought are so different from one other), then unethical behavior (as defined by your peers) becomes impossible. The Yengii call this concept “Jii” (pronounced “djee'-ai”).
The other aliens lack Jii. From a Yengii perspective, they can't possibly be ethical (certainly, they can do good things, but they can also do evil things: nothing's stopping them from simply choosing to hurt people). The only path forward for the Yengii is to convince the aliens to adopt Jii: to become constrained and beholden to one another such that no action can be taken without the will of another. Unlike some other species (the Kjasjavikalimm in particular), “victory” doesn't mean being in charge for the Yengii. They honestly don't care who ends up on “top” -- so long as everyone follows Jii.
The Faderan claim that they gave the Yengii a modified, weaker version of the agreement (where they don't have to share technology freely) because Yengii crystal-organic technology is incompatible with everyone else's (which, like any good lie, is entirely true). The real reason is that the Yengii would never consent to working with “monsters” if they had to share everything, and the Faderan were willing to make sacrifices to garner their involvement.
Five Yengii: a Mule gesticulating with the help of a Hand, a Word flying above so everyone can see the scene, and a Path and second Hand in the background coordinating everything. Other than the Word, Yengii wear jewelry. Since they see themselves from an outside perspective (the Word's), having unique jewelry makes them more identifiable, so they can find themselves in a crowd. The sky is an anoxic yellow, and the ground broken and hostile, with some crystalline life growing from the crevices.
The Yengii symbol for themselves is just a stylized crystal formation.
Yengii ships are crystal organic. They're grown and modified, not built, and are technically a variety of “plant”. The exhaust is depicted with shock diamonds (which isn't technically accurate except in an atmosphere, but looked thematically appropriate anyway).
Yengii language consists of angular patterns which are more about their white-space than the inked parts.
Every other economy in the game is relatively linear: a clear progression of converters feeding into each other, working up a chain. The Yengii economy is a loop: their species working together and feeding into each other. They also have the only factories in the game that explicitly take more than one type of input.
Social Ecological Mutualism
Every economy needs a starting point, even a circular one. Social Ecological Mutualism represents the mutualistic interaction between Yengii species. It produces industry and biotech, which seems like a good representation of the crystalorganic tech base.
The three pictures represent different mutualistic relationships. The bottom-left is communication, as the Words talk to the other species, and facilitate communication between them. The bottom-right is physical ability: the Mules and Hands work together, and the Mules move the Paths about. Top-right is the flow of ideas and control: Paths transmit their plans to Words, who then express them to Mules and Hands, the latter of which close the loop by giving Paths creative ideas to assist their planning.
This can be upgraded to Mutualistic Alien Integration, where the Yengii have extended their society to accept and incorporate aliens. Now, the Im'dril feed into communication by sharing their culture with the Words, the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl work with the Mules to more swiftly build and shape things, and the Unity (represented by a fractal) assist with the flow of ideas and plans, much as the Paths do.
Empathy of Words
To the Yengii, the single most important aspect of the Words is not their ability to see, but their ability to understand, communicate with, and emotionally connect to alien minds. The illustration is of that connection.
With Cross Species Ethical Equality (or setting up a diplomatic world dedicated to the task), this can be upgraded to Interspecies Diplomatic Demesne. Here, the representation of Word empathy and understanding extends to all of the species.
Unsurprisingly, the Words produce information and culture.
Choice of Paths
The Paths plan for the future and give the Yengii the structure their society needs. The picture is of a circle of Paths: the usual arrangement for a group of Paths working together to coordinate some project or area. With Ubiquitous Cultural Repository (or setting aside a world for the purpose), this can be upgraded to Alien Decision Integration. Now, aliens are directly involved in the process of managing the Yengii. The picture shows two additions to the circle: a Caylion (communicating via hologram, since uprooting one to bring to a circle is unreasonable) and a Zeth. Both species were chosen for their ability to coordinate large numbers of individuals simultaneously.
Paths' primary production is the organization needed to produce ultratech.
Innovation of Hands
As important as the ability to interact with technology is, it is the Hand's creativity that the Yengii most value. The picture depicts a Hand creating an idea, and melding it with other ideas, extrapolating outward creatively. The Hand's primary production is ships, as well as that other staple of technology: electrical power.
With the advent of Achronal Analysis (or dedicating an entire world's infrastructure to the project), this can be upgraded to become Cross-Time Think Tank. Now the Hands communicate into the future and past, sharing ideas never before possible. The graphic on the top shows an idea plucked out of the timeline and moved into the past.
Work of Mules
While most species would consider the Mules mere work animals, the Yengii see them as full citizens and equally important as any other species. Still, the ability to labor is what sets them apart from the other Yengii, and makes them so important. Depicted is a Mule pulling a load of something. Mules produce ships and industry, naturally.
With the advent of Singularity Control, this can be upgraded to Gravitic Assembly. Now, antigravity is used to assist the Mules, massively increasing their ability to shape the world.
An atomic nucleus with a single additional nucleon being moved into position.
Instead of a DNA-analog, the left shows crack propagation, and localized hardening to prevent it from continuing. The right depicts crystalline regeneration.
Depicts the four Yengii species on the left, the snowflake-like seed crystals they use to store genetics at the top, and a zoom-in one one such crystal at the lower right. Notably, Yengii lack DNA.
A nanomachine at the top of the card, and two nanomachines working together to build something at the bottom. The marked big thing at the back of the nanomachines is the battery.
An image of such a computer, with the bottom is a row of bits (zeroes and ones) where some of the bits are in a superposition of zero and one.
Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
A map of the Yengii homeworld, with a slightly sparse network. There's no coastline depicted, since the planet lacks permanent bodies of water.
Is the same art for all versions of the card, mixing the written languages of all nine species.
The top is a picture of two computers linked by an achronal device (or the same computer linked to itself). The bottom depicts a string of ones and zeroes where a later block was transposed over an early one, moving the information back in time.
The upper-right side of the card has a picture of a methane atom where two of the hydrogens have been replaced with positronium.
Cross Species Ethical Equality
The bottom depicts all four species linked by their society. The top shows the different results between bad action and good. At the top left, a Mule and a Hand each carry a “broken thing” representing ill intentions. Between them is a small “x” indicating that nothing comes of this. At the top right, the Mule and Hand carry circles representing good intentions. Here, they combine into a vast, good circle.
The designer is cheating a bit here. “Circles = good, angular = bad” is a human (and Caylion) concept, and not one shared by the Yengii. But it's used anyway, otherwise this would be entirely unreadable.
An industrial space folding device which is pulling resources out of hyperspace.
Interspecies Medical Exchange
The lower left shows the crystal matrix within Mules that allows them to think. The lower-right shows the same for the Paths. The Path's matrix consists of five interconnected pillars running their length.
The top depicts the process of absorbing nutrients through the outer surface of a Yengii (i.e. “eating”).
As the Yengii use crystalorganic construction, the structured depicted are decidedly crystalline.
Depicts a singularity in a containment system, being powered (and spun up) by a stream of matter.
Galactic Telecomm Control
Top is a diagram of that network linking stars, bottom is a picture of a transmission array.
Top right is a waveform generator, top left some sort of gizmo, and at the bottom a device beaming matter into existence.
An orbital structure.
Poly Species Corporations
A corporate structure diagram. Kjasjavikalimm and Paths are in the position of leadership due to their organizational skills; Eni Et and Words take on an advisory role due to their emotional and ethical understanding; Caylion, Zeth, and Unity are in middle management due to their ability to coordinate many things (and people) at once; Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl and Words make up the research and development teams, while Im'dril, Faderan, and Mules make up the bulk of the rest of the work force.
Left is the Yengii homeworld. Right is a colony ship.
Various temporal manipulation devices, designed to evoke snowflakes “freezing time”.
Xeno Cultural Exchange
Representations of what all four species add to Yengii culture are depicted. Lower-left shows Hand describing sending a ship to colonize a world. Lower-right is two Mules playing something similar to volleyball. Top-left is a Path thinking about a 3-4-5 right triangle (representing math and analysis). Top-right is a Word singing (represented by a music note).