|Crest of the Stars character|
Lafiel from Banner of the Stars
|First appearance||April 1996|
|Created by||Hiroyuki Morioka|
|Appearance||Blue hair and elfen ears|
The Abh are space-dwelling people in the fictional universe shared by Crest of the Stars, Banner of the Stars and Fragments of the Stars. They are the rulers of an interstellar civilization with feudal government and social structure.
According to the Seikai novels of Morioka Hiroyuki, there are six ways that define a person as an Abh:
The Abhs as a Race/Nation/Ethnic Group is the most commonly accepted definition amongst the citizens and subjects of the Frybarec (Abh Empire).
The Abhs as a Social Class, according to its definition in the story, any person, regardless of race, who is either of royalty, of nobility, or of the knighthood of the Frybarec is legally an Abh. Hence Rock Lin, Jinto Lin, Atosryac ssynec Atosr Lymh Raica Feubdash Srgumh, and Samsonn borgh Tiruser Tirusec are deemed Abhs though they may genetically be "grounders". Nonetheless, all their children must be genetically modified to become "natural" Abhs.
Though they are not considered as such by those not under Frybarec and a large percentage of its own subjects and citizens, the Abhs are human beings who practice genetic engineering so as to maintain physical features that allows for better adaptation for living in space.
Such features include the froch—space sensory organ—which is a compound eye made up of a bundle of approximately 100 million smaller eyes found on Abh foreheads that, with the help of an almfac or tiara connected to the ship, helps Abhs to sense the ship's directions and processes; such information is processed at a special section of the Abh brain called the rilbidoc or "voyage field" which allows them to make decisions that will make them navigate their ships with greater accuracy.
Other physical traits mark them different from other human beings, such as the requirement that all those who are born Abhs should possess blue hair, and from each other, the Abriel clan are distinguished by, and are the only Abhs allowed to have elfen ears.
Physical growth and development of "Racial" Abhs
"Racial" Abhs generally have longer natural lives than other humans—they may live up to two hundred and fifty years. Their developmental cycle is also distinct: until the age of fifteen they physically develop just like other humans which they call the period of growth (zarhoth), but for the next 25 years after that they go through a period of maturation (féroth) where they physically age the equivalent of ten years worth of aging of a "normal" human; they stop aging (at least as seen on the surface of their bodies) after that, hence remaining youthful in appearance until they reach natural death, which is triggered by a special gene programmed to make a person's body slowly shut down when he reaches his 200th to 250th year, thereby avoiding shameful senescence.
In the story it is revealed that the Abhs were originally engineered to be slaves (bioroids), meant to be used for deep space exploration. Their creators were a group of ultranationalistic East Asians (strongly implied to be Japanese) trying to recreate a "purified" version of their culture in space. One group of these bonded explorers left their space metropolis and chose not to return to their creators and instead form their own independent state. Unfortunately, their fear that their creators would send a punitive force to destroy them was too great and eventually these pioneering Abhs decided to launch a preemptive strike to destroy their creators' space metropolis. In the process they discovered that their former masters were not strong enough to put up sufficient resistance resulting in their destruction. This created a sense of collective guilt among the founding fathers of the Abhs which they try to ease through adopting, protecting, developing, and passing on to their descendants the culture of their metropolis of origin.
The space metropolis where the Abhs originated from was created to keep and reconstruct the culture of a certain land on Earth. In Crest of the Stars, this land is referred to as "islands in East Asia" and strongly implied that it is far-future Japan. Due to their feelings of collective guilt, the Abh founding fathers vowed to base their new culture on this "unadulterated" Japanese culture; but just like any living culture, it eventually changed, developed, and evolved as it is being transmitted from generation to generation. Nonetheless, even if they do not openly discuss it or write it down during the story, the Abhs do not deny the history of their "Volk" and "Kultur", transmitting it instead as oral history. The other independent states in the story know of their origin, but they use (and distort) this information to spread anti-Abh propaganda. Baronh (the Abh language) itself developed from the Japanese used by these ultra nationalists; an artificial form of Japanese devoid of foreign influence.
The Abh have no concept of marriage but that does not mean that they do not have families. They love each other but do not marry; though a couple may live together for a short period of time or even remain together "'Til death us do part". The basic Abh family is a single-parent household, though some Abh like to live with their relatives.
The Abhs gestate most often through the use of gestation machines, though, contrary to the belief of most non-Abhs, they do often conceive "naturally". Those who conceive naturally most often remove the zygote or embryo from their own wombs to have it transferred to gestation machine, though some more eccentric women would, after having the embryo genetically examined and modified to ensure its biological integrity as an Abh along with the maintenance of clan traits, have these zygotes or embryos replaced into their own wombs in order to carry it to full term naturally.
Abhs sometimes ask sperm or egg donations from close relatives or even strangers, or the genetic material of people of their own gender or even clone themselves to reproduce. However, most Abhs have children out of heterosexual relationships with people whom they have fallen in love. The offspring of such a relationship is called a "son/daughter of love" ("Fryum/Fryuk Neg").
The Abh think that it is important to have and maintain unique clan or familial genetic/physical traits and traditions throughout the story. A clan may share physical features (Ūalitec) unique to themselves. For example, the Abriel, the imperial house, have elfish ears called Nuic Abriel (Ears of Abriel). Each clan has its own unique feature and it cannot be shared by other clans. In regard to clan traditions, it is important that a clan preserve and maintain the uniqueness and the practice of these traditions. It is indeed deemed a grave social offence in the story for one to publicly insult the traditions of other clans. It is for this reason that the Abhs take long "parenting" leaves to raise their children not only to personally supervise the primary education of their own children but to ensure that their traditions are passed on to their offspring. The hierarchy of Abh culture revolves around family status, or members of a nobility of magistrates. The Abh empire is socialist, where all ships and property is controlled by the empire, though some assets such as ships are loaned to private parties by the Emperor or Empress as evidenced in the prequel Crest of the Stars. Abhs celebrate and observe important life events and rites of passage, like birthdays and death anniversaries. Since they spend most of their life in space, they always feel uneasy whenever they do go on land.
Abhs generally group social roles to three types: their role as soldiers of the empire, their role as businessmen of the empire, and, most important to them, their role as parents.
Social stratification is well defined within the Frybarec (Abh Empire). There are three general groupings: there are the Abhs (as a class), the Imperial citizens, and the subjects of the different feudal domains. The Abhs are legally defined as the titled aristocracy of the empire. The Imperial citizens are non-Abhs who are under the direct jurisdiction of the Empire. On the other hand, feudal subjects are those who are controlled by the Empire through the Lord of their planet or stellar system.
The Abhs themselves are classified into three. On the pinnacle is the monarch (speunaigh) in the person of an emperor or an empress. The premier class is that of royalty (fasanzœrh) . This class is exclusively occupied by one clan or gens with the nomen gentile of Abriel. This clan is composed of eight families, each with an inherited cognomen and each headed by a king or queen (larth). The monarch of the Abh Empire is chosen from a candidate from one of these families. Military service is compulsory amongst royalty; they are required to serve only under Flying (i.e., fighting) section of the Laburec. It is through a royal's track record and promotions within the Flying section that will eventually allow him or her to become the heir-apparent to the imperial throne.
Ranking below royalty in stature is the nobility (simh). The nobility is subdivided into two: the great lords or princes (bhodac) and the minor nobility. There are four ranks amongst the great lords. From the greatest, this would be the Grand Dukes or Grand Duchesses (nimh), the Dukes or Duchesses (laicer), the Marquises or Marchionesses (lœbh), and the Counts or Countesses (dreuc). They are deemed great lords because they are territorial magnates of inhabited planets. The possession of a single lordship of at least a single inhabited planet in a stellar system populated by less than one hundred million inhabitants automatically makes that domain a county. Higher status can be attained through an increase of population or other means. The minor nobility have two ranks, that of a viscount or viscountess (bœrh) and that of a Baron or Baroness (lymh). An uninhabited stellar system containing a planet that can be terraformed is deemed a viscountcy. A viscount is automatically promoted to become a count once he successfully terraforms and populates that planet. A barony on the other hand has no such planet within his domain. Like royalty, military service is also compulsory, it being a prerequisite to inheriting his domain and title; however, nobles are given the option serve in any section they wish.
The third and lowest general rank amongst the Abhs are the knights or dames (reucec). Unlike nobles, they are not territorial magnates. Also, military service is not compulsory to them, though most serve anyway due to the salary and pension and also due to the prestige of distinguishing oneself there.