Unfortunately, most of this material is derived from the records of a very YOUNG Arith Vaya – and so may be relatively superficial or even contain some outright errors, although any such are likely to be fairly minor.
The Arith Vaya are a species of living rotating-wheel style space stations/sublight generation ships. They’re normally 600 to 700 miles across and have lifespans of four to five million years.
Their lifecycle begins with a spaceship-seed – a fusion-powered bioship loaded with immense archives of genetically-stored information by it’s “parents” and sent off to a moon, asteroid, or small planet. There the seed will grow, extracting necessary raw materials from the rocks and atmosphere (if any). The initial growth is relatively fast by the standards of the Arith Vaya; it rarely takes more than a few millennia for a child to reach it’s adult mass and to blast itself free to return to space.
Once in a stable freefall orbit, the nascent Arith Vaya will reconfigure itself into its adult wheel-station form, establish some simple internal biomes to provide magical energy to work with, and begin to develop it’s mind under the “tutelage” (stimulation?) of any other Arith Vaya in the area – although its “parents” usually take a primary role. Limited-purpose (but MUCH faster) electro-chemical sub-brains develop first, but the central consciousness – based on storing information as genetic strings – develops and processes information far more slowly (although it can handle vast amounts of it at the same time). When you “talk” to an Arith Vaya, you’re usually talking with a sub-brain working with relatively limited information at any given moment – and by human standards they STILL aren’t very fast. Deep archive searches… may take many years and the sub-brains will often have no idea of what is to be found in them.
Once fully “awake” a young Arith Vaya will send probe-seeds to any lifebearing worlds in the system and build a current genetic archive to add to it’s hereditary archives – and will populate their internal biomes with more advanced lifeforms. Current and recently extinct local lifeforms tend to be favorites.
Full (if still childish) consciousness will develop around 200,000 – 225,000 years – and the new Arith Vaya will prepare to begin it’s period of wandering.
When the time comes to leave a solar system, an Arith Vaya will shut down it’s solar collectors, switch the support systems for it’s internal biomes over to fusion power, and channel the magical energies of it’s internal biome into defensive wards, cloaking fields, and acceleration. They are neither fast nor maneuverable – but their top acceleration of a little over 1/10’th g suffices to reach cruising speed (usually about 4% of the speed of light) in a little over four months. They’ll usually restock on hydrogen on the way out – whether from a handy gas giant or from the ice in an Oort cloud – but that’s really just to keep their reserves topped up.
Upon arrival in a new solar system, an Arith Vaya will trade some genetic information with any Arith Vaya currently there. If none are, then it will survey any living planets and archive genetic records of their biospheres, greet any local sapients, and spend a few thousand years there. If there are usable planets but no local biospheres, and it happens to be carrying the records for a biosphere which needs to be re-established due to some disaster affecting its original system, it will do so during that time.
The wandering period will generally last one to two million years – enough time to visit hundreds of solar systems and to cover tens of thousands of light years.
Eventually a surviving Arith Vaya will decide to “settle down” in a suitable solar system with at least one other Arith Vaya there for a time – long enough to have a few children anyway. Afterwards they may resume wandering, or – if the system hosts a sapient species or is often visited by sapient species – elect to more or less “retire” there, remaining to serve as diplomatic waystations and assist those sapients if they inflict too much damage to their planet’s ecosystems (which isn’t too uncommon). If worst comes to worst… carrying a colony to another solar system will preserve a lot more information about the original culture than reconstructing the species.
Along the way the Arith Vaya will have had plenty of time to go through their own archives, repair damaged sections, and study the material in considerable depth. That still won’t make it quickly accessible, but at least the communicative sub-brains will have a better idea of what is in there and how far back it goes.
Adult Arith Vaya aren’t especially talkative, but do seem to feel that facilitating interstellar diplomacy is a part of their purpose. Outside of using the devices their creators designed into them the Arith Vaya aren’t very technological either; they have their purposes, are well equipped to fulfill them, and they need little more. Their origins lie a very long ways back in their archives indeed – but they will usually tell visitors who ask that they were created by a long gone species called the “P’tol” in token of a hundred million year alliance some billions of years ago. Given their slow perception of time… it will probably not be time to follow after the P’tol for many more billions of years.
The youngest Arith Vaya and one of it’s parents are likely to be leaving the solar system in the next century or two; Earth… is entering an extremely high-risk period, and it’s important that the backups be well out of range of any major disasters.