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A Sleeper is the term given to those Kushan who were cryogenically frozen for the trip to Hiigara.
History of CryogenicsEdit
To make the great voyage to Hiigara possible, a way to transport and sustain the hundreds of thousands of passengers that would be making the journey.
The vast amount of food, water and other vitals needed for months or even years in deep space would be impossible to store and transport and the Mothership would be so huge that no number of drives could move it. Kushan scientists hit upon the idea of cryogenic suspension. Such a technology would allow such a vast number of people to be ferried across the 35,000 light years without consuming life support elements.
To make the technology a reality, Kushan biologists studied various forms of desert animals. Many creatures had evolved a method of depleting their cells of water during hibernation to avoid vaporization during the hottest periods of the summer. Kushan scientists used these studies to solve the opposite problem of cell destruction due to ice expansion during the freezing process.
The first successful test of the new technology was in 1185 KDS, when pilot Rei Magann was placed inside a cryogenic pod and sent on a ‘tour’ of the Kharak system. The journey lasted six months, and during that period the pilot did not consume any life support elements bar power. The cryogenic process had only one side-effect on pilot Magann: a book of poetry to describe a long and vivid dream he had during the journey.
Preperation for Cold SleepEdit
With the new technology tested and perfected, the Kushan began the process of selecting the 600,000 people who would be subjected to the freezing process.
Because of the newness of the technology, a strict set of criteria were laid down to select only those who were considered fit enough to undergo the process. No one under 17 or over 50 were allowed to be frozen. Also, the majority of those selected were chosen had useful skills that could be put to use when establishing a new colony deep coreward. While this seemed a sensible idea at the time, it would have cruel consequences when the Mothership finally reached Hiigara. Volunteers were expected to surrender up to 12 years of their lives before being placed aboard the Mothership.
Once inside the Cryogenic Pods, the subjects were slow frozen over a period of two weeks before being placed into storage deep under the surface of Kharak. Once enough people were ready, they were placed onto rack modules and boosted into orbit, and from there were loaded aboard one of the six Cryo Trays, each one capable of holding 100,000 people. The trays would then wait in a stable orbit beside the Scaffold until the launch of the Mothership and the testing of its Hyperspace drive.
Post Hiigaran LandfallEdit
The consequences of the strict criteria set down for cryogenic suspension became painfully evident after the Hiigaran landfall and the Sleepers were awoken.
Almost all awoke to the news that Kharak had been destroyed, along with all their loved ones left behind. Most had undergone the process safe in the knowledge that, even if they were never to see them again, they would be safe. To find out that they, along with those who were awake during the journey were the last of their race was simply too much for some. In the first weeks of the landfall there were dozens of suicides.
Many have coped with their grief by throwing themselves into the hard work of rebuilding or military services, while a few such as Iifrit Tambuur, have declared Paaura on the Taiidan Imperialists who destroyed their adopted world.
Roughly 92% of the total Kushan population following the Homeworld War were Sleepers, and a vast majority of these were men. Due to the strict criteria, no children or Kiith elders were amongst the Sleepers.
Effects on Kushan SocietyEdit
Over half of the Kushan population following the landfall now belonged to one of seven kiithid; Naabal, Sjet, Soban, Manaan, Paktu, Kaalel and LiirHra. As a result, these kiithid dominated Kushan politics while many of the smaller Sleeper kiithid were left with hardly any power. Many of these smaller kiithid, some reduced to just a few dozen members, were absorbed into the larger kiithid, while others, such as Kiith Somtaaw, sought to make their own fortunes amongst the stars.
The cryogenic suspension process, while the best solution for establishing the Kushan on Hiigara at the time, threatened to destroy the ancient kiith system once the homeworld had been reclaimed. Since the vast majority of the Kushan population were, or are descended from the Sleepers, Hiigaran society is still very much affected by this old necessity.
Nothing, save the original exile to Kharak, has changed the Kushan way of life as dramatically as the return to Hiigara.
- Homeworld Manual: Historical and Technical Briefing