Because of the basic resemblance between the two species, a mechalus (pronounced “meck-ah-lus”) can be mistaken for a human if the viewer only catches a glimpse or if the area is shadowy. Averaging about 1.8 meters tall and weighing around 90 kilograms, the mechalus has the general shape and size of a human. On closer inspection, however, the similarities are quickly outdistanced by the differences. Veins of circuitry weave with flesh and blood to form a totally synthesized body. The mechalus’s hair is a combination of protein strands and filaments of cable and wire. Even the skeleton has been reinforced with superstrong synthetic material, and bony protective plates can be seen beneath the bio-organic flesh at the shoulders and across the chest.
Mechalus have the same range of emotions as humans, though they lend to try to downplay hostile or aggressive emotions. They were once responsible for the annihilation of another species, and since then they have made a conscious and constant effort to suppress or regulate their negative emotions.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of mechalus for humans to get used to is their ability to merge with computer systems. While the mechalus can easily employ standard computer interfaces, they have the unique ability to personally connect to computer systems. Filaments extend from fingers, snake into the computer in question, and form a solid link between body and machine. This link gives the mechalus speed-of-thought access to the computer system, and more precise control than any manual interface can provide.
With a natural affinity for technology and computers, mechalus make excellent Tech Ops. They aren’t limited to this profession, however, and can be found filling the ranks of a variety of careers.
The mechalus have very ordered minds, which translates into a strictly structured society and an equally organized outlook on life. Although they think with the precision and logic of a machine, they are highly emotional people who work exceedingly hard to promote their positive emotions and subdue their negative ones.
In a tense or dangerous situation, mechalus are likely to remain calm and logical; it’s not difficult for them to suppress all their emotions when they deem such action appropriate or necessary. But in a climate of relaxation or celebration, their emotional pendulum can swing to the other extreme to humans, it seems as though they are making a special effort to appear cheerful or jubilant. The mechalus don’t consider their behavior at such times to be exaggerated: strong displays of positive emotion, when the situation permits, are simply their way of demonstrating (to themselves as well as members of other species) that mechalus are more than just machines encased in biological bodies.
The planet Aleer, an Earthlike world relatively close (on a cosmic scale) to the Sol system, gave rise to an intelligent humanoid species that would someday be called the mechalus by humans (who have a penchant for putting their own names to everything they encounter). The early history of the Aleerins follows much the same path as that experienced by Earth’s humans—primitive tool-makers eventually built great civilizations, with periods of enlightenment crudely punctuated by episodes of brutal warfare. Eventually, the development of technology led to the invention of computers—and this is where the technological evolution of Aleerins and humans sharply diverged. Strides in medicine and genetic engineering, coupled with their computer know-how and their fascination with all things mechanical, gave the Aleerins the means to bio-engineer their species. Cybernetic implants performed on a molecular level produced a synthesis of flesh and circuitry that now pervades the entire species—they are born with cyberbionics.
It was about this time that the species also developed space travel. Within a few generations, they had totally settled their solar system but this breakthrough had its shameful side. Aleerins had always been a warlike species, and this behavior was never more evident than when they made contact with the sentient but primitive natives of another planet in the system. In response to a hostile reception from these creatures, who were barely able to defend themselves, the Aleerins used their heavily armed ships to obliterate the population of the planet.
Almost immediately thereafter, an emotional backlash swept through the entire Aleerin culture when the members of the species realized collectively what they had done. In a change of character that was essentially unanimous, the Aleerins became more sedate and less inclined toward hostility (or at least toward showing their hostility). They resolved that never again would they use violence unnecessarily against another sentient species.
Some Aleerins took this new attitude to an extreme: a splinter group composed of pacifists and technocrats rose up, taking the position that incorporating circuitry into flesh was not going far enough along the technological path. “Creatures of flesh are by their nature aggressive and fallible. They cannot resist the impulse to do harm to others.” the leader ol the group proclaimed. “Only by completely shedding our flesh can we achieve the next level in our evolutionary development.”
The splinter group conducted illegal experiments in transferring living minds into computers. In the end. the computers that held the living minds were placed into spaceships, and the splinter group left Aleerin space to find its own destiny. To date, nothing further of these living computers has been heard.
Shortly after that time, humans encountered the Aleerins (renaming them the mechalus), and Aleerin space was pulled into the ever expanding human galactic community.