Institut des Etudes Xenologiques

DM 34 2342 System

Humans share their worlds with a vast variety of lifeforms, both great and small. From enormous creatures larger than anything which has ever existed on Earth to tiny organisms visible only with microscopes, the universe appears to teem with life. The Institut des Etudes Xenologiques (IEX), an academic institution funded by the French government, is the foremost organization on Earth dedicated to studying the diversity of alien lifeforms. Frequently requested by the governments of the French Empire to conduct biological surveys of potential colony worlds, the IEX has, at any one time, a number of study expeditions out among the worlds in and just outside of the French Arm of explored space. Most of the data gathered by these expeditions must be brought back to IEX facilities on Earth where it is catalogued, stored, and analyzed extensively. Because the IEX maintains the largest and most complete collection of xenological data in the world, the main IEX facilities (located on a large campus in the French countryside) attract many of the world’s leading xenobiologists and sapientologists.

Brief History

The IEX went through several incarnations in its past before becoming the organization it is today. It was first established in 2140 (one year before the first extraterrestrial outpost was founded) as the Bureau d’Affaires Exobiologiques, an agency of the French government charged with collating and analyzing biological data obtained by survey missions studying newly discovered, potential colony worlds. The original Bureau staff was comprised of five people, all of whom were affiliated with the Universite de Paris’ biological sciences department before the establishment of the Bureau. Ten years after its founding, the Bureau boasted a work force of 52 people.

In 2168, the Bureau was renamed the Institut des Etudes Exobiologiques (IEE), and the years 2170-2245 were a golden age for the IEE. Since France established most of its colonies and outposts during these eighty years, the IEE was kept very busy with the amount of work involved with these worlds. In correspondence with the growth in workload, funding and the number of people employed by the IEE were both increased significantly (especially since France had gotten back on its feet and was once again a major world power). Off-Earth quarantine facilities devoted to the analysis of alien biological samples were established at the ESA L-5 station and on Luna. The educational programs offered by the IEE also grew.

The next fifteen years (2246-2261) saw some remarkable events relating to exobiology. In 2248 the first sentient alien race, the Sung, was discovered by the Manchurians in the DM+4123 system. France, like many other Earth nations, was very excited by this news and hastened to open relations with the Sung. IEE scientists, who had argued for decades over whether sentience could evolve on worlds other than Earth, were especially anxious to establish communication with the Sung and exchange knowledge with them, as well as to study the biology of the Sung themselves. Sapientology, a field previously limited to theoretical speculation, sprang into legitimacy almost overnight and quickly became a recognized field of study within the IEE. The initial excitement over the contact with the Sung was marred by the discovery of a second sentient race in the DM+4123 system, the Xiang. Considerably less advanced than the Sung, the Xiang were, at least to all appearances, being used as slaves by the Sung. While the IEE cautioned against jumping to conclusion about the Sung-Xiang situation (since communication with these newly discovered alien species was still very difficult at best, and the Sung-Xiang interaction was not well understood at that point), the North American Research League (NARL), reacting to what it perceived as a major social injustice, began a world-wide publicity campaign designed to mobilize world leaders into acting to free the Xiang “slaves.” NARL’s campaign was extremely successful, and the result was the Slaver War (2252-2255), which the IEE protested vigorously, arguing that more information was needed about the situation before engaging in war with an alien race that we had barely contacted and hardly understood. Fortunately, the war was over quickly with little loss of life on both sides (casualties were highest for the Sung, though), and relatively peaceful relations were soon re- established. When Canada was granted permission to establish an enclave on Stark, the Sung homeworld, IEE sapientologists were able to forge an agreement with the Canadians enabling the scientists to live and work at the enclave while being able to study the Sung on a regular basis. Two more sentient races were also encountered during this time period. One race, the Pentapods, was contacted by the French in 2251, just before the Slaver War. The other, the Ebers, was discovered by the UAR just at the conclusion of the Slaver War. The tremendous demand for knowledge about all these aliens overwhelmed the few sapientologists on the IEE staff at the time. Quickly, the IEE established a separate Department of Sapientology within its organization and began recruiting among the best universities of France and Europe for staff to fill the newly-created positions. With the addition of sapientological studies to its organization, the IEE opted in 2261 to change its name to the Institut des Etudes Xenologiques (IEX), a name which it has retained to this day.

The next twenty years (2262-2282) saw the IEX continue to expand its operations. Existing research installations on colony worlds in the French Arm were expanded, and new research stations were created on colonies that had previously had no permanent facilities of that type. By 2280 the IEX had at least one permanent research station on each of the seven French colony worlds.

The Central Asian War and its conclusion brought tough times for the IEX. With the army coup in 2289 and the runaway inflation that came shortly thereafter, stringent budget controls were established, with many operations having to be cut or shelved. In an attempt to keep alive major sapientological studies being done with the Ebers, the IEX enlisted the aid of sapientologists from the Astronomischen Rechen-Institut (ARI). Cooperation with the ARI held even through the War of German Reunification (2292-2293), as the scientists involved decided that political differences should not impede the advance of science. The existence of this arrangement, however, was kept quiet throughout the war in order to avoid trouble with the French and German governments.

France’s troubles got worse following the war in 2293, forcing the IEX to postpone even further a number of operations and surveys. Finally, in 2294, with the free elections in which Nicolas Ruffin and his followers stepped into power, things began looking up for the IEX. As the French economy was brought back on track, funding for IEX operations was gradually increased. IEX activities received an unexpected boost when, in 2295, the Kafers were first contacted. After the Kafers destroyed the French astrophysical research outpost at Arcturus in 2297 and attacked Aurore in the Eta Bootis system in 2298, the IEX was ordered by the French government to make the study of Kafers a number-one priority. Additional funding, specifically earmarked for Kafer studies, was allocated to the IEX. Unfortunately, due to the dangers inherent in capturing a live Kafer and the rapid decomposition of dead Kafers, the IEX has been able to make only limited progress in obtaining useful knowledge about Kafer biochemistry, sychology and culture. For the most part, the information gained on the Kafers by the IEX to date has been restricted to general anatomy and physiology. Plans to capture a live Kafer have been considered by the IEX, but, as of yet, no plan has been developed which would allow detailed study of a live Kafer while, at the same time, ensuring the safety of the researchers and the prevention of escape of the captive Kafer.

Present Day Organization

The IEX is presently comprised of a number of smaller departments

  • Le Bureau d’Administration: The Administrave Bureau consists of the President d’Institut, the Board of Trustees, and bureaucratic office staff. Official policy for the Institut is decided jointly by the president and the Board, with the heads of the other Institut departments serving as consultants to the Board. The Bureau d’Administration serves as the link between the French government and the Institut—receiving governmental directives, keeping the government informed of the Institut’s various operations, and handling the monies received from the French government to fund IEX activities, facilities, and staff. The Bureau also handles, through its office staff, in coordination with department heads and the Board of Trustees, the selection of candidates both for employment by the IEX and for admission to the educational programs of the IEX.
  • L’Office Extraterrestre: Closely linked to the Bureau d’Administration is the Extraterrestrial Office, an administrative branch coordinating the various off-Earth facilities of the IEX. The quarantine and experimental lab stations at L-5 and Luna, and the various IEX research installations scattered throughout explored space, all report directly to, and are administrated by, the ET Office. The IEX Zoological Park on Tirane (Alpha Centauri) is also under the jurisdiction of the ET Office.
  • L’Office d’Expertise et des Donees: Surveys of new territories and worlds are coordinated by the Survey and Records Office. The Survey and Records Office is in charge of planning any biological surveys (both on colonized and on previously unexplored worlds) and is in charge of maintaining, cataloguing, and disseminating any and all data from those surveys. A sub-branch of the Survey and Records Office, Les Services des Machines a Calculer (Computer Services) operates the vast computer system used by the IEX to store all the exobiological data presently known to mankind. Off-Earth IEX research stations maintain their own computer systems and databases, with regular data dumps being sent back to the Survey and Records Office via stutterwarp courier.
  • La Division de (‘Art de I’Ingenieur Biologique: The duties of the Bioengineering Division of the IEX encompass several areas and can be grouped into three categories: Pentapod product evaluation, genetic engineering, and hybrid development. Although the Bio- engineering Division’s evaluations and recommendations concerning Pentapod products are not the final word in determining the acceptability of such products, they are still relied on heavily in the decision making process by French government officials. Genetic engineering done by the IEX generally involves tailoring known organisms to fit a new environment or new purpose. Most of this work is done on terrestrial organisms—microbes, plants, and animals—and usually is limited to helping the organism survive better in an alien environment. Hybrid development programs have generally met with limited success. Designed to produce hardier organisms through crossbreeding, the hybrid development programs have usually progressed slowly. With virtually the same goal as the genetic engineering programs, hybrid development can be broken down into two areas: crossbreeding of only terrestrial organisms and crossbreeding of terrestrial and alien organisms.
  • La Division de la Sapientologie: The newest of the IEX’s departments, the Sapientology Division, is also one of the largest, encompassing such fields of study as sapient neurology, psychology, anatomy and physiology, alien physical and cultural anthropology, and linguistics. The study of alien intelligent life is the domain of the Sapientology Division, and, while it is an exceedingly interesting field of study to pursue, it can also be one of the most challenging. While communication with the known alien races has progressed significantly since first contacts, it is still often difficult to communicate clearly with a sentient alien race without misunderstandings occurring on either or both sides. Societal taboos have also served to limit the exchange of information between sentient species, with the result that large gaps exist in our knowledge of these aliens. The Sapientology Division has some of the leading experts on alien culture and biology working under its jurisdiction. Through their efforts, the Sapientology Division has amassed the largest body of information in human space concerning the known sentient species.
  • La Division Medicale: The Medical Division of the IEX has been kept busy with maintaining the health of French colonists, their livestock, and plants. New environments have brought with them new infectious agents to plague humanity. The main purpose of the Medical Division is to work on ways to help French colonists remain healthy in their new environments. Much work has been done on developing vaccines, antibiotics, and antiviral agents to aid the human immune system in fighting off extraterrestrial pathogens. Similar work has also been done by the IEX in developing agents to help the colonists’ plants and animals to stay healthy and disease-free in their extraterrestrial environs. Presently, the most important problem the Medical Division is working on is the fungal blight on Aurore, which is a lifethreatening problem for the colonists there. Although little progress has been made in finding an agent to kill the fungal parasites, the Medical Division has a number of leads which it is following that should, given time, result in a solution to this problem.
  • La Division de I’Exobiologie: Devoted more to pure research than to applied science, the Exobiological Division of the IEX is engaged in studying the diversity of nonsentient, extraterrestrial life. Staff within the Exobiological Division can generally be grouped within one of three categories: microbiology, macrobiology, and biochemistry. Currently, some members of the Exobiological Division are working on L’Encyclopedie des Organismes des Colonies, an extensive compilation of all the data presently known on all the organisms discovered to date in explored space. An exhaustive work, L’Encyclopedie will be regularly updated as new data is acquired or old data is found to be obsolete. Members of the Exobiology Division often find themselves working on a consulting basis with members of the other IEX departments (especially the Medical and Bioengineering Divisions) as their expertise is needed in solving problems related to their fields of specialization.
  • La Division de l’Education: The academic programs of the IEX fall under the jurisdiction of the Educational Division. Essentially, the Educational Division is a graduate school, offering master’s and doctoral degrees in exobiology, sapientology, applied bioengineering, and extraterrestrial medicine. Faculty of the Educational Division are expected to teach graduate-level courses in their specialties while, at the same time, doing research benefiting their department (faculty hold joint memberships in the Educational Division and in one of the four research-oriented departments of the IEX). Field work done by students (under faculty supervision) on colony worlds is coordinated by both the Educational Division and the Extraterrestrial Office. The training program for new IEX biological survey personnel is also run by the Educational Division, in consultation with the Survey and Records Office.

Present Day Activities

While the IEX has numerous research activities operating throughout the French Arm of explored space, it is, by no means, restricted to French space and has several on-going research projects located in areas not under French jurisdiction. The IEX has research installations on each of the seven French colony worlds, with several colonies having more than one IEX station on their world. Several of the nine French outposts also have IEX staff in residence, although the number of IEX staff members at these facilities is significantly lower than that of a colony world station. Over half of the people employed by the IEX, however, are currently working within Earth’s solar system, either at the main IEX complex in France or at one of the two quarantine stations located off-Earth.

Projects Inside of the Solar System

The IEX Main Complex is an impressive campus located in the French countryside near the village of St. Denis de la Campagne, where each of the eight IEX departments has its own building, housing offices, laboratory space, classrooms, and lounge/reading rooms.

As impressive as most of the IEX campus is, the aspect that seems to amaze visitors the most is the large number of greenhouse-like buildings. Situated immediately north of most of the campus, these structures house a multitude of alien lifeforms. Collected from all over explored space, these organisms live in specially controlled environmental chambers. Each chamber, controlled separately from the others, duplicates as closely as possible the natural environment of the organism(s) living within. Care is exercised in the selection of species for these habitats ; organisms that are extremely dangerous to terrestrial creatures are not allowed on Earth, but are instead restricted to the off-Earth quarantine facilities.

The two IEX quarantine facilities are located near Earth. One is in Earth orbit at the L-5 point (next to the ESA station); the other is based on Luna (see entries under those locations for descriptions of these facilities).

Projects Outside of the Solar System

Outside of the Solar System, the IEX has a number of ongoing studies of particular interest.

  • Aurore: IEX activity on Aurore, in the Eta Bootis system, has been given high priority by the French government due to the problems with the Kafers there. With a research station located in the town of Equator Flats, IEX scientists are trying to learn as much about Kafer biology and psychology as possible while, at the same time, trying desperately to find some means of combating Kafer Rot, a fungal blight. Introduced into the Auroran ecosystem by the Kafers, this fungal parasite affects both humans and Terran plants. In humans, Kafer Rot is a generally fatal manifestation of the fungal blight. Without the development of an agent to kill or arrest the fungal blight, the survival of the colonies on Aurore is threatened.
  • Beta Canum IV: On the major colony world of Beta Canum, scientists of the IEX are engaged in studies of the Pentapods and their bioengineering techniques. With an installation in the city of Nauseville (relatively close to the Pentapod enclave), the IEX has been examining both the Pentapods and their bioengineered constructs. Anxious to learn the advanced methods the Pentapods employ in their bioengineering, the IEX has been pressing the Pentapods to share some of their techniques. This has met with very little success, since the Pentapods are reluctant to reveal their “trade secrets .” Frustrated by the Pentapods’ attitude, IEX researchers are examining Pentapod products carefully in the hopes that, by studying the genetic modifications made, some insight into the techniques used can be found.
  • Tirane: In the Alpha Centauri system, the major activity of the IEX has centered around the establishment and maintenance of Le Parc Zoologique Extraterrestre, the zoo devoted to extraterrestrial species (see Tirane entry for more details).
  • Stark: Working out of the Canadian enclave on Stark (DM +4 123-4), the IEX is currently engaged in extensive studies of the Sung, the indigenous sentient race. Sapientologists are particularly interested in studying the interactions between the Sung and their ecosystem, hoping to learn more about the degree to which sentient beings manipulate, control, or disrupt their natural environment. Much work is also being done to learn more about the Sung, their language and culture, and their relationship with the Xiang. (Much is still not clearly understood of the motivations concerning the Sung “enslavement” of the Xiang). Frequent expeditions from Stark are made to the Xiang homeworld, where sapientologists have been having a challenging time studying the enigmatic Xiang. A truly “alien” species, the Xiang have proven difficult to understand in terrestrial terms of behavior. Much work needs to be done before IEX scientists will have a good understanding of Xiang culture and behavior.
  • Kormoran: IEX scientists on Kormoran (83 Eridani-4), the Eber homeworld, are engaged in two projects: study of the Ebers and evaluation of the Pentapod-designed “tree-houses” being used by some of the UAR colonists. The Eber studies are the more extensive and long-ranging of the two projects, with much work still needing to be done in piecing together the Eber language, culture, and history (especially the reasons behind the destruction of the other Eber colonies on Beta Hydri and Rho Eridani). The “tree-houses” are a Pentapod product currently being used on a trial basis by the UAR colonists after severe importation restrictions enacted by Manchuria following the “Black Sky Railroad Incident” with the Texan enclave. The French government, intrigued by the tree-houses which provide housing and subsistence-level nourishment for people living within the natural cavities in the trees, is considering using them on some of the newer French colony worlds. IEX scientists have been commissioned to do a detailed evaluation of these tree-houses to determine their safety, successfulness in accomplishing their intended purpose, and suitability for colonial use.
  • Beta Hydri: With the ruined Eber colony in the Beta Hydri system, IEX sapientologists/archeologists have been kept busy. Although a fair amount has already been excavated, large areas of the ruins are still relatively unexplored and unexplained. The ARI also has several teams of scientists working at the Eber ruins and has “imported” a group of Ebers from Kormoran to serve as consultants and guides in the excavations. Due to the ruins being about 4,000 years old, however, these Eber guides have not proven as useful as the ARI had hoped. Although the IEX and the ARI had cooperated in the past on Eber studies, the current relationship between the two groups is one of friendly rivalry, with each group trying to learn more about the Ebers in a shorter period of time than the other.
  • King: A colony world in the American Arm, King has in its solar system a )ovian planet which has been discovered to support life in its atmosphere. Invited by the Americans to participate in a joint venture to study these organisms, the IEX has only just begun to collect data on these unusual creatures, which have managed to evolve and survive in the atmosphere of a gas giant. Observations of these fascinating lifeforms have been difficult to obtain, so information-gathering by IEX scientists has proceeded at a slow pace.
  • DM + 17 2611-11: The Klaxun, a sentient alien race living on a world in the DM+17 2611 system, will probably find themselves the subjects of study by the IEX after the events detailed in the adventure module, Energy Curve. As ARI sapientologists will also undoubtedly be interested in studying the Klaxun, IEX scientists may end up competing with ARI researchers in a race to learn the most about the Klaxun in the least amount of time (both groups wanting to be the first to make vital discoveries about this new species).

Institut des Etudes Xenologiques

2303 AD GargoyleGoth GargoyleGoth