SETTING – SPOILER ALERT
||Summary: In the year 2046, it’s a new Earth – with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. To the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his charge, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). As they settle into town – overseen by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and filled with residents like the powerful Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), enterprising lounge owner Kenya (Mia Kirshner) and the ambitious, alien Tarrs (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) – events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for.
Creators: Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy, and Michael Taylor
Starring: Grant Bowler, Stephanie Leonidas, Graham Greene, Dewshane Williams, Julie Benz, Jessica Nichols, Tony Curran, Nicole Muñoz, Jaime Murray, Mia Kirshner, Justin Rain, Jesse Rath, Trenna Keating, Noah Danby
The series is set in the near future, where aliens, known collectively as Votans, have come to Earth seeking a new home after their star system was destroyed in a stellar collision. When the Votans left their solar system 5,000 years ago, their instruments detected no signs of technology on Earth, so they thought Earth was uninhabited. Upon their arrival in 2013, they discovered otherwise. The humans responded to them with hostility and suspicion.
A limited number of Votans were allowed to settle in a colony in Brazil, and eventually in three other colonies, but millions of Votans remained in hypersleep aboard their ships in orbit around the Earth, as negotiations dragged on with Earth governments to establish a full-scale settlement.
Tensions rose for ten years, but the Votan and human governments were on the verge of negotiating a peaceful settlement, when in 2023 the Votan ambassador to the United Nations was assassinated by a disgruntled human supremacist on live television outside of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. This sparked a disastrous global conflict between humans and the aliens, known as the Pale Wars.
The wars tore apart the planet for seven years, until their culmination in 2030 in the apocalyptic “Arkfall” event, when the Ark fleet in orbit mysteriously exploded. The aliens think a rogue human commander was responsible, while humans suspect it was an alien weapons experiment gone wrong. Millions of Votans died. During the Arkfall, destroyed Arks rained down on Earth and accidentally released terraformer technology.
While the Votans had intended to use their terraforming technology in a carefully planned manner, the Arkfall haphazardly unleashed chaotic and radical changes to the biosphere and even the geology of Earth, making the planet dangerous to both humans and the aliens. The earth was scorched, chasms opened in the ground, new mountain ranges were raised, and the surface of the planet was covered with dust and debris.
Animal and plant species from the Votan star system were introduced to Earth, and both native and alien animal species were horribly mutated by the uncontrolled terraforming technology, creating bizarre and dangerous hybrids and new species.
Within a few months, the Pale Wars wound down as both sides had fought to the point of mutual exhaustion, and a ceasefire was declared. Few organized governments remained for either the humans or the aliens, and both sides factionalized as their respective members began looking out for themselves. In several areas, local human and Votan militias began to band together when they realized that they had to cooperate if they hoped to survive on this new, almost alien planet.
The debris from the destroyed Ark fleet now forms an artificial “Ark belt” in Earth orbit, which periodically rains down in small-scale “Arkfalls”, which present a hazard for survivors on the surface, but also provide valuable opportunities to salvage advanced technology aboard the Arks. More frequently, most of the debris breaks up on re-entry into shards of metal shrapnel, a dangerous phenomenon known as “razor rain”. Electromagnetic distortion created by the malfunctioning terraformers have rendered most long-distance communication and air transit impossible, isolating far-flung regions much as they would have been isolated in the 19th century. Low-flying aircraft such as helicopters are still safe to fly, and will still function, but high-altitude long-distance flights are too dangerous; neither the humans nor the Votans are capable of launching vehicles into Earth’s orbit any more, as it is not only dangerous, but prohibitively expensive for societies that only just managed to pull themselves back from complete collapse. Fifteen years after the armistice, a new proposed maglev train line is being built with the goal of re-establishing regular transit between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America. Short-range radio stations will still function within the localized area of a town, as will personal smartphone-like devices known as hailers, but otherwise, the disruption of long-range telecommunications means that information must be sent between different regions by courier. At best, an unreliable method known as “text relay” can be used, in which local radio-stations rebroadcast a message received from a neighboring station to reach other regions of the continent, but this can take days or weeks.
In 2046, fifteen years after the armistice, both humans and Votans struggle to rebuild on this shattered world. In the western hemisphere, the Votanis Collective controls much of Central and South America, while the new unified Earth Republic has a major foothold in the populous cities of northeastern North America, now reorganized as a territorial unit known as “Columbia” (a combination of the United States’ Boston-to-Washington megalopolis and Canada’s Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, along with the Canadian Maritime Provinces), with its capital being in New York City. Otherwise, much of North America remains a badlands region, a “New Frontier” slowly being recolonized by several small independent republics and city-states. One such community is the independent city-state of Defiance, located in the heart of the continent, built over the ruins of St. Louis, Missouri.
CastithansThe Castithans are an aristocratic and ethereal race from the planet Daribo. Known for their pale skin and beautiful features, they’ve a cunning intelligence and unbridled ambition that helped them adapt to life on Earth. Very conservative in many aspects of life, including politics and a rigid caste system, Castithans are very liberal with sexuality. In season 2 it was confirmed that they can reproduce with humans.
IrathientsIrathients are the most common Votan race living on Earth, hailing from the planet Irath. Other races, including Humans, often view them as feral due to their tribal nature and love of the natural world. Irathients have deep red hair, highly athletic builds and bronze skin covered in naturally occurring contrasting patterns. While they’re quite able to succeed at any occupation, most Irathients prefer to be farmers in order to honor their forefathers. Irathients are able to produce viable offspring with humans.
IndogenesIndogenes tend to be slender, bald, with hexagonal-patterned skin of a solid color (most often pure white) who augment their bodies with a variety of cybernetic implants specifically designed for their chosen profession. They revere science and knowledge above all, allowing them to have invented most of the technology used by the other alien races.
SensothThe Sensoth physically resemble apes and giant sloths, being fur covered, and originated in a specific region of Irath. They have many of the Earth’s sloth-like characteristics, speaking and acting quite slowly. They have great physical strength and imposing presence, they can be intimidating to many, despite almost always having kind personalities. This strength of body leads to many of them being hard laborers, more often than not in the employ of a Castithan.
LiberataThe Liberata are physically short and stocky with thick hair around their head and face. They often fill the role of servants for the other races, performing menial tasks and labor. The other Votan races look down on them due to their past history of greed and avarice. They breathe nitrogen instead of oxygen.
GulaneeThe Gulanee are the biggest mystery of the Votan races. It is believed they are beings of pure energy, appearing as large balls of light; however this is just an image projected by their “encapsulation suits”, required to sustain Gulanee life. There are very few Gulanee on Terraformed Earth as most Gulanee stayed on their home Gula, confident they’d survive the destruction of the Votanis system. Most other races know very little about the Gulanee, as they have only recently established relationships with the other races.
VolgeThe Volge are feared by humans and Votans alike for their warmongering attitude. Originating from a different system than the Votans, the Volge conquered the Votan planet Omec. Volge stand over eight feet tall and always wear armor, which sustains them on Earth because they cannot breathe oxygen. During the Votan exodus, the other races chose to leave the Volge behind – their appearance during the Pale Wars was a surprise to all. They are seldom seen since the Armistice, having retreated to underground caves.
HellbugsThe Hellbugs are a once harmless crustacean race from the Votanis system that were mutated with Butterly DNA during the Terraforming. They are vicious predators who live in large collectives. They’ve a very similar hierarchy to ants or bees, headed by a Matron who commands Warriors, Archers, Skitterlings, and Monarchs. While very dangerous and always posing a threat to sentient life, they are not eradicated as they produce a valuable energy source: Petrohol.
BiomenWhile technically not alien, the Biomen are often considered such due to their inability to integrate effectively into communities – stigmatized by both humans and Votan. They originated from old Earth during the early Votan Wars, commissioned by a military project to combat potential Alien threats. Biomen are tall and very well muscled, coming in a range of colors and skin tones, but always with a batch number branded across their chest. All Biomen have an off switch somewhere in their bodies. If hit with enough force, they will be rendered unconscious. Several thousand volts of electricity will wake them up. Now effectively useless since the Armistice, they still suffer from the rage built in to their personae and need to be given a focused outlet.