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Literature / Hayven Celestia

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Your puny lives are in my hand

The Hayven Celestia universe is a creation of Rick Griffin and Gre7g Luterman, based on Griffin's short story Ten Thousand Miles Up.

The krakun, a race of massive, long-lived reptiles, have enslaved dozens of smaller species through their use of gateways transported by Generation Ships crewed by their shorter-lived slaves. The primary focus of these stories are the geroo crew of the White Flower II, and their attempts to survive the oversight of their krakun overlords.

In 2014 Luterman wrote a serial fanfic of Ten Thousand Miles Up on his Livejournal titled "Skeleton Crew", which received Griffin's endorsement and has been published as the first of a trilogy of novels by Thurston Howl Publications.

Rick Griffin's DeviantArt gallery hosts species sheets and other worldbuilding information. His website has retail links to all the books and the comic Skinchange.

Published by Rick Griffin:

  • Ten Thousand Miles Up (novella)
  • Final Days of the White Flower II
    • Book 1: Traitors, Thieves, and Liars
    • Book 2: The Captain's Oath
  • Skinchange (webcomic, posted on Rick's website.)

Written by Gre7g Luterman:

  • The Kanti Cycle
    • Skeleton Crew
    • Small World
    • Fair Trade
  • The Tori Mysteries
    • Reaper's Lottery
  • Long Way Home


  • Tales of Hayven Celestia (multiple authors)


  • Alas, Poor Villain: While he might be a brutal tyrant to the geroo under his command, the short story "Whatever Happened to Commissioner Sarsuk" shows him to be a frustrated middle-aged bachelor in a dingy apartment by krakun standards. The crime that leads to his execution isn't even his doing, he's framed by his girlfriend.
  • The Alcoholic: Tesko has a habit of overindulging in the shipboard moonshine in an attempt to quiet her demons, only to end up hurting herself or her family even more.
  • Alien Abduction: Standard practice for Interplanetary Acquisitions survey teams on low-tech planets. Towards the end of "The Castaway" Ava admits that her team was going to abduct Tin as he was isolated from the rest of kyacaotl society.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: The geroo ship Harvest Reaper III has a small but active lio manga club, even though some of their media is banned due to the war between the Lio and Krakun Empires.
  • Bad Boss: Commissioner Sarsuk is prone to killing geroo who annoy him with his own claws. He even "disciplined" Captain Ateri once by gouging out his eye. His replacement Pokokoro is calmer but not much better, introducing herself with threats of mass executions.
    • In The Captain's Oath executions are on hold while the WFII is orbiting a planet being prepped for terraforming, but the geordians Pokokoro assigned as security enjoy no such protections when they fail to control the geroo. And she attempts to covertly swap the highest-ranking crew with look-alikes.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Djedi from “Unintended” received cybernetic lungs that can tolerate vacuum for a period, following the extravehicular activity depicted on the cover of Tales of Hayven Celestia.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Krakun slaveholders insist that their slaves speak in their own language to them while they speak Krakunese. This inadvertently leads to Krakunese acting as a Common Tongue between slave races.
  • Black Box: Most krakun technology, especially that intended for use by their slaves, is designed to be usable without knowing how it works. In particular the Trinity of systems that allow gateships to run for centuries in deep space: gate, drive, and molecular recycler. The entanglement of the Trinity prevents a gateship crew from severing their gate to Krakuntec without cutting off their own life support, and allows the home office to strand a rebellious (for instance, trying to reverse-engineer the Trinity) ship in deep space by deactivating the gate from their end.
  • Cloning Body Parts: The technology is available on krakun gateships, though commissioner Sarsuk forbade Ateri from regenerating the eye he gouged out, leaving him with an eyepatch.
    • Sarsuk himself has the foreclaw he shoved into the Recycler at the end of Skeleton Crew replaced in the beginning of Small World, though his old cleaning crew starved while he was away.
    • Tori needs multiple cloned organs after prolonged sulfur exposure in Reaper's Lottery, though they fail to restore her sense of smell, which is so important to geroo that she almost commits suicide before Aziz pulls the strings to get her a full body transplant.
  • Data Pad: Shipboard geroo use smartphone-like devices called “strands”, as in “strands of the net.”
  • Drinking Contest: A common pastime among ringel pirates, though glycerol affects them like ethanol affects humans and geroo, allowing Gert to easily drink Inzari under the table.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Kanti in Fair Trade.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: As most sapient species are covered in fur or scales they rarely wear more than jewelry and tool belts. Geroo wear necklaces of beads passed down from generation to generation, ringel favor piercings, and sourang tattoo their ears.
  • Expressive Ears: The text refers to geroo's ears as their primary emotive signifiers, though Rick admits to drawing them expressing with their mouths for human convenience.
  • Eye Scream: The loss of captain Ateri's eye is shown in flashback in Skeleton Crew, commissioner Sarsuk gouged it out as punishment for contacting a ringel pirate ship and trading information.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Most of the krakun on screen treat their slaves slightly better than vermin, sourang are considered vermin.
    • Many geroo hold a grudge against the geordian species as the Planetary Acquisitions ship that discovered them was crewed by geordians.
    • Sourang tend to consider themselves superior to less adaptable species, and will gleefully extort slaves from krakun residential colonies by making them dependent on their food.
  • Flayed Alive:
    • In Reaper’s Lottery the first victim is skinned alive because he’d been bred for attractiveness.
    • During their first meeting in Traitors, Thieves, and Liars Commissioner Pokokoro informs captain Ateri that geroo are cooked by skinning them alive and throwing them into frying oil still screaming, while threateningly running a claw down his front.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": In The Captain's Oath, when To'onai and Loreel try to contact Pokokuro, they get put through to an AI answering program.
  • Generation Ship: The White Flower II has been in transit for four hundred years, the current geroo crew are several generations removed from the original ones.
  • Genetic Adaptation: Sourang have an innate control over their biochemistry and can incorporate genetic material from other species into their own. Enabling them to survive in the krakun's sulfur atmospheres.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: In “Life in the Stacks” Subject 059 begins to experience the same morning, over and over again. It turns out her habitat stack was part of an experiment in chaos theory, they have their memories and biochemistry “reset” every day. But after trying to fix her “blanker” she finds herself in a rather less explicable time loop.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: Most sapient species resemble Earth animals to some extent:
    • Geroo resemble a sort of cross between kangaroos and ferrets.
    • Krakun are somewhat draconic in appearance.
    • Ringel very strongly resemble raccoons, but typically skinnier, or ring-tailed lemurs.
    • Anup are blatantly Anubian jackals.
    • Geordians are catlike.
    • Sourang seem a bit like lemurs or rodents of some sort.
    • Lio are practically lions, with both sexes having manes.
    • Coosa look like round-bodied raccoons or tanuki.
    • Turek are saurian in appearance, like large raptors or small tyrannosaurs with arms.
    • Mysa look like foot-tall mice. Appropriately, most of the mysa in “Life in the Stacks” are employed as test subjects by the Lio Empire.
    • Hekiru are visually like fennecs, and are commonly kept as pets by krakun as they breathe sulfur too.
    • Kyacaotl are canine, with a culture based on pranks and trickery.
    • Umbrans look like bears.
  • Holographic Disguise: The geordian hacker Moani uses one to disguise herself as a geroo. Due to the height difference her eyes are in the hologram's chest.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • In TT&L Gert (geroo) finds himself sleeping with the ringel pirate Inzari, though how much romance is involved is debatable.
    • Fair Trade has a geordian and lio couple, though they both have sourang cell replacements so they can at least breathe the same air.
    • Subject 059, a mysa, has a crush on lio researcher Tunac.
  • Kangaroo Court: The judicial system on the Harvest Reaper III, and not just because geroo resemble kangaroos. They convict Kaz of double homicide simply because she went on one date with the serial killer's first victim, and discovered the second victim's body. Fortunately Tori manages to convince them to give her and administrator O'lia a week to prove her innocence before they recycle Kaz, based on when commissioner Sarsuk next comes on board and asks questions about why a perfectly healthy geroo isn't working. This allows time for a Last-Minute Reprieve when the killer strikes again while she's imprisoned.
  • Long-Lived: The krakun live for twelve thousand years. Which might be why they don't mind sending slaves on multiple-century generation ships.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: In Skinchange a ringel film producer undergoes procedures to change his body shape and fur color while on the run from the mob, as does the geroo shuttle pilot he hired to get him off Ringeltec.
  • Mega-Corp: Planetary Acquisitions owns and operates most of the Krakun Empire's exploratory gateships, they're not technically part of the Imperial government but there is a great deal of crossover between the two in policy.
  • Microts: Krakun "major-years" are sixty standard years long.
  • Mile-Long Ship: The rail connecting the White Flower II to it's attached gate alone is a kilometer long.
  • Mouse World: Though geroo are around human size, krakun are so large in comparison that their homes have a similar effect on most of their slaves.
  • Named After Their Planet: Inverted, most species homeworlds are named for their native sapient species, Krakuntec, Ringeltec, etc.
  • Naming Your Colony World: One krakun colony would have been Krakuntec IX, formerly known as Gerootec. Pre-terraformed planets get mere alphanumeric designations like C18-3.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Played with to varying extents.
    • The krakun's atmosphere contains sulfur levels lethal to most of their slave races, as does their food, though Kanti finds some roots that geroo can eat safely.
    • Ringel metabolize glycerol (antifreeze and sweetener) as an intoxicating alcohol.
    • Geordians breathe ammonia, but they can survive the nitrogen-oxygen mix geroo and ringels favor without masks using implants that put ammonia directly into the blood.
    • Anup breathe bromine compounds with an atmospheric pressure of 130 kPa and preferred ambient temperature of 43 C.
    • Kyatec’s atmosphere is chlorinated. The geroo survey teams get implants that bind it to sodium from their blood.
  • Oh, My Gods!: The geroo use "Ancestors" in place of "God" and "Five Hells" in place of "Hell".
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Krakun are 100-foot-long quadrupedal reptiles who live for millennia and require atmospheres with a notable sulfur content.
  • Population Control: The White Flower II has ten thousand "birth tokens" given out to crew members at birth and given away when they die. Female crew are given nanites that prevent pregnancy unless authorized and "illegal" births are considered a capital punishment by the company.
    • The Reaper's Harvest III has a lottery system, while investigating a serial killer who targets geroo with multiple siblings Tori discovers evidence it's rigged for eugenic reasons.
  • Portal Network: The only means of FTL Travel. The krakun send gates crewed by slaves out as Generation Ships to explore, when they find inhabitable or potentially inhabitable worlds they use the gate to send more ships in.
  • Privateer: One of the reasons ringel are known for piracy is that their King-in-exile funds privateers to harass the Krakun Empire.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Ateri, though he does have his tough moments.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient:
    • Krakun occasionally eat their slaves. During their first meeting Pokokoro informs Ateri that geroo tastes best fried fresh (as in still alive) in oil.
    • In Small World Kanti's tribe start eating sourang meat after Saquel's militia kills a couple of them and brings the bodies back without their tattooed ears.
  • Sapient Ship: The krakun prefer to use slave crews because they can't be hacked, but New Gerootec and some other factions do use AI ship pilots.
  • Show Within a Show: Reaper's Lottery is interspersed with scenes from the lio anime Slave King.
  • Slave Race: The geroo and many other species are enslaved by the krakun.
  • Sleeper Starship: Long Way Home reveals that some smaller starships are run on autopilot with their crew in hibernation induced by adjusting the atmosphere.
  • Snake Versus Mongoose: Subverted with the cobra-like ssareth and mongoose-like montrose. The sareth are attempting a Benevolent Alien Invasion as they need a new homeworld and the montrose need protection from the krakun, but some of the montrose don't quite appreciate everything they've done.
  • Space Pirates: Ringel pirates tend towards Type 1 with some aesthetics of Type 2 (piercings, lax discipline...) They use cloaking devices to sneak through gates towards isolated ships discovered through spycraft and security leaks, and at least some times they have the collaboration of slave officers.
  • Stealth in Space: The pirates' plan revolves around the use of layered cloaking fields.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: Sourang and tureks use tattoos to display tribal affiliation among other things, though sourang can only put them on their ears as they have fur. Saquel rips the tattooed ears off the sourang pups his gang kills to conceal their sapience from the rest of the colony. Ringel favor piercings, even as kits.
  • Terraform: The krakun have the technology, deployed from specialized ships. Stealing an extremely valuable terraformer is the overall goal of the protagonists of Rick's Final Days of the White Flower II series.
    • Hostile Terraforming: Krakun need significant atmospheric sulfur levels, they attempted to increase Gerootec's sulfur levels, and accidentally turned it into a volcanic hellhole. They also successfully terraformed Sourangtec but the adaptable natives survived that one.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Kanti and Tish, Tish being a head taller than her mate. The third book of the Kanti cycle also features a geordian (~1.6 meters) and lio (~2 meters) couple.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: The generation ships use digital credits for their internal economy, but they're just company scrip, their krakun owners use gold as currency.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Jakari admits that the use of slaves for deep space projects makes some sense, they can't be hacked. But she thinks commissioner Pokokuro's use to slaves to bathe her when machines could do it just as easily seems unnecessarily decadent.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The serial killer's victims in Reaper's Lottery include three cubs, ages 1 to 3.
  • You No Take Candle: Captain Sinon's Geroonic grammar is... not fantastic, and since Ateri doesn't speak Ringelese they settle on negotiating in Krakunese.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Geroo on generation ships are euthanized at the age of sixty, with years taken off as punishment for crimes. Captain Ateri is just over two weeks from "retirement" in chapter 1 of Traitors, Thieves, and Liars, and part of the reason he agrees to the pirates' plan to steal a terraformer is that the company's Chiauo Gi policy delays euthanasia during planetary surveys and terraforming.