Galactic Guide: Kayfa System
“The greater the thought, the greater the action.”
So states one of the main tenets of the Li’Tova, a moral and spiritual belief system popular among the Xi’An which guides its adherents’ view of the universe. In no place is that more apparent than the Kayfa System, which is wholly dedicated to the Li’Tova thanks to the existence of one astronomically special planet, Tovaroh.
Kayfa’s role as the focus of Xi’An spirituality was unknown by Humans during the cold war. After Humanity learned of the system’s existence in 2617, rumors swirled that Kayfa was the main staging ground for invasion or even the location of the Xi’An homeworld. The true nature of the system was so guarded that for two hundred years, all Humanity knew about Kayfa was that any UEE ship found in the system would be immediately attacked — a message made abundantly clear to the UEE by way of the two Navy pilots who found the system.
In 2617, UEEN Lieutenants Ahmad Harar and Carl Dyson discovered a gravitational anomaly while patrolling the Horus System. Harar and Dyson should have contacted their commander and reported the coordinates so a military pathfinder could be deployed, but, they later explained, doing so would have thwarted their chance at history. Without a word to anyone, they entered the jump point and became the first Humans to visit the Kayfa System. The decision to keep their excursion a secret was foolish but, in retrospect, might have averted an all-out interspecies war.
Unbeknownst to Harar and Dyson, their arrival in Kayfa triggered long range sensors that mobilized a nearby Xi’An squadron. Meanwhile, Harar and Dyson’s return trip was delayed because Dyson’s ship sustained damage from navigating the uncharted jump. While Dyson was running a diagnostic check to see if his ship was still jump-capable, an EMP blast neutralized both spacecraft. The Xi’An squadron swarmed and captured Harar and Dyson. For years, official UEE documents listed the two as on “medical leave” during this period. The full truth, however, was exposed after the Historical Truth Act of 2941.
Declassified UEE military records list Harar and Dyson as missing in action for three days. The two claim to have been held on a large Xi’An military vessel where they were interrogated while their ships were studied and stripped of weapons. After three anxious days, the Xi’An began to believe the pilots’ story that the rest of the UEE military didn’t know about the jump. The two were returned to their ships, escorted to the jump point, and given the message that any further UEE vessels would be attacked on sight.
It was only after the fall of the Messers and the normalizing of relations between the two species, that the Xi’An revealed the secrets of Kayfa. Imperator Toi’s first official visit to the Xi’An Empire occurred in the Kayfa System. Emperor Kray led her on a personal tour of Tovaroh and clipped a branch of a Centennial Bloom plant for her to take home.
Emperor Kray also elucidated a core doctrine of Li’Tova; that one small action can affect the entire universe. Harar and Dyson were shown leniency because the Xi’An knew the UEE would eventually rediscover the jump. The Xi’An wanted to avoid a similar situation, and another chance at aggression, when the UEE came through the jump for the second time. So it was with great thought that the Xi’An determined the right action was compassion because it provided the clearest path to peace.
In a surprise move during the summit, Emperor Kray amended Xi’An law to permit the Kayfa System to remain open to all Human visitors in the hopes that it would promote interest in Xi’An culture, customs and, ultimately, long-lasting peace between the two species.
Kayfa’s first world is a terrestrial planet with an atmosphere composed mainly of carbon compounds. From orbit, the atmosphere is a sooty swirl of black, brown and red hues. Some UEE scientists theorize that the prevalence of carbon throughout the planet and the corresponding atmospheric pressure could have given the planet a diamond substratum. Such theories remain unproven as the Xi’An government strictly forbids mining in the system.
Kayfa II is the religious heart of the Xi’An Empire, thanks to its unusual astronomical properties. One day on the planet lasts 100 Xi’An years, which roughly equates to 128 Standard Earth Years.
It is the custom in the Xi’An Empire for planets to be assigned a purpose and developed with only that purpose in mind. Kayfa II’s spiritual associations mean it was terra formed to be a place of peace, tranquility and meditation. Cultivated gardens and fields cover much of the surface with sacred temples built so that there would always be one on the horizon no matter where you look. The temples provide the bare minimum in resources and amenities for Xi’An monks pursuing the ultimate enlightenment in Li’Tova: spending a full day meditating on Kayfa II. To preserve the planet’s tranquility, Kayfa II has only one city, Su’Shora. The city has a small number of permanent residents, mainly government or religious officials and their support staff, who deal with visiting Xi’An tourists and religious pilgrims. Humans are welcomed but expected to adhere to the planet’s customs. Unless given special dispensation, Human visitors are also required to stay within the limits of the city.
Kayfa II’s religious focus means there is no manufacturing or mining, and only essential economic activity. All other necessary products are shipped into the system by the Xi’An government. Some black market activity exists, but perpetrators caught are severely punished. The planet’s solitary, legal export is the Centennial Bloom plant, which is famous for blossoming beautiful bell flowers once every hundred Xi’An years. Originally native to Koli (Eealus III), the Xi’An discovered that these temperamental plants thrive in Tovaroh’s gardens. Law grants each Xi’An one complimentary plant on their first visit to the planet. Humans can purchase them, but should not expect a discount. As a way to dissuade Centennial Bloom bulk haulers from clogging the system, the Xi’An tie the plant’s price to the going rate in the UEE. So buying a Centennial Bloom on Tovaroh simply guarantees that the plant is authentic and not one of the genetically modified knockoffs commonly found around the UEE.
The Xi’An once considered this gas dwarf as a potential candidate for platform-based colonization. The plan was squashed after Emperor Kray expressed concern over how increased traffic in the system might affect Kayfa II.
Kayfa IV is the system’s second gas dwarf. Since its rocky core and diffuse atmosphere are similar to Kayfa III, some Human scientists wonder why the two planets are so far apart. Theories abound but remain unproven, including one that suggests a rogue planet slicing through the system pulled Kayfa IV out of its original orbit. A recent request by an assembly of Human and Xi’An scientists to study the planet in greater detail was rejected by the Xi’An government.
The Xi’An consider Tovaroh sacred — a designation extended to the entire system, so be respectful. No violent activity of any sort will be tolerated; it will be immediately suppressed.
Heard in the Wind
"Footpaths wind through the gardens and fields with no apparent rhythm or reason, sometimes leading to temples well beyond one’s original location. It can be disconcerting to those acclimated to the Xi’An’s precise and orderly nature, but that’s the entire point. In a culture that plans almost everything to the last detail, the disorder of Tovaroh’s trails must be mentally liberating for those brave enough to get lost on them."
Margo Lekman, Li’Tova: A Beginner’s Path, 2851
"Two things that you should know about visiting Tovaroh: one is that there are a lot of temples. As many as you are picturing now, it’s like ten times more. If you love temples this is the place for you. Two, don’t wear leather shoes. Didn’t quite understand why, but had to buy a pair of expensive flip flops at the gift shop in u’Shora in order to walk around without monks giving me dirty looks."
Harry Tenny, A Complainer’s Guide to the ’Verse, 2939