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The Orajo

Lore vignette for the release of Deploy StarShip’s third official First Edition Creature NFT
The Orajo
“Sticks and bones, swinging, screeching, Drums in the darkness, O-ra-JO!
Echoes in the forest, biting, howling, Teeth in the darkness, O-ra-JO! O-RA-JO!”
To keep them from playing too closely to the forest’s edge, the mothers of the Ban’Thar tribes sing this lullaby to their little ones. The children of the river villages echo it as they dart around corners and leap from the rooftops, often startling the elders with their mischievous chase.
Since our arrival on these lush green planets, the clans of the Orajo remain one of the Grasslands’ most curious discoveries. Initially, we took them for another of this world’s simpler beasts, expecting them to keep to their territories in the woods, away from the noise of our troops and heavy vehicles. As we moved our forward operating bases closer to the treelines, however, one unfortunate camp began to observe strange things happening in the night. At first, simple tools would go missing— a lapse for which the newer recruits were held responsible. Not long after, they found the front axle of a deforestation vehicle completely disassembled. The parts lay among scattered tracks in the dirt that led into the woods, which had obviously been scuffed up and covered in haste. The next day, one of the men failed to report for first formation. His patrol radio was found nearby, smashed to pieces. The most startling discoveries among our bases came months later. Headquarters detected a large deposit of kyanite deep in the jungles of the northern mountains. A scouting expedition departed shortly after to assess the area’s constitution and collect samples. Their audio and video feeds were recovered in the following weeks and told a chilling tale. Days into the mission, the soldiers began to whisper to each other of the many eyes watching them from the shadows. The captain even increased guard duty from pairs to trios, but this brought little comfort to the night patrols, who couldn’t keep the tremble from their hands as they passed the radio solemnly from one watch to the next. Ten long days and anxious nights led them to what their resonators had been pinging: a massive stone structure unlike anything uncovered on any of the Grassland planets. Among the crumbling pillars and walls of these forgotten buildings, they found crude statues and crumbling carvings of startlingly familiar figures. To this day, our scientists remain baffled by images of the statues’ faces that could only be described as ‘chimp-like’. As the troops pressed deeper into the ruins, into the areas untouched by sunlight, they found markings and colors that more clearly defined the place as a temple of sorts. Patterns of red, blue, gold and black framed the doorways of the various chambers. In the largest of these, they uncovered grand engravings of symbols and images unlike anything found so far. Dynamic depictions of brightly colored spaceships covered the walls of this room, their thrusters propelling them from the planet’s surface into the stars. Figures colored the same reds, blues and golds stood among the smaller, four-armed beasts. Pairings of these figures and beasts mingled across the tapestries, their limbs graphically entwined in what was obviously more than a mere dance. In the center of this room stood a large and somber stone tomb. It was left unmarked in a distinct and obvious display of stark reverence. The soldiers began to carefully push the lid from this giant vault, sliding it to the ground with a massive crash. The echoing boom scrambled the audio feed for a moment. As the crackling static of the recording came back in, the lieutenant’s voice clearly captured his total disbelief. The dust in the room settled as his helmet cam revealed what lay within. A suit of black metal armor about a meter-and-a-half long lay neatly in its final resting posture. The shine of its immaculate surface, absolutely unscratched, reflected strangely from underneath a thick layer of dust. In fact, the entire suit was completely intact except for the shattered glass of its helmet’s large, domed visor. Fragments of bone were mingled with bits of broken glass and a single sharp rock, suggesting that the tomb’s occupant died after being placed inside. The camera panned over the smashed skull and zoomed in on the helmet itself. It was slightly larger than a human’s, and the inlets on the sides suggested ears that would have been almost comically large. Further down its body, the figure’s thick forearms were folded across its torso, protecting something the lieutenant recognized right away but couldn’t make sense of— It was holding an M28 series battle rifle! “— Captain — don’t understand what I’m— eeing— This technology— ouldn’t ev— be— ere! This rifle— issued— ust two cycles ago!— oesn’t make an— ense!” In the next moment, the broken transmission began to pick up the percussive pops of gunfire and the clamor of alarmed voices echoing in the hallways nearby. Wild howls and screeching began to take over the feed, exploding into the chaotic pandemonium of a firefight. Confused yelling mixed with the sounds of scraping footfalls hastily retreating out of the room. Then the feed went dark. No soldiers returned. This single encounter compelled a protocol update to include a new rule for all of the camps: give the forests a wide berth or suffer the consequences. Now we more clearly understand the warnings of our Ban’Thar friends, that no good comes from disturbing the Orajo. We have enough to do here to get our colonies established anyway. We can leave this mystery for another time. Let those beasts have their territories, and we’ll keep to ours…
“Swinging, gliding, howling, biting, Drums in the darkness, O-ra-jo…”
Written and released 2 Nov '22