Four Castes/Four Species

Discuss Tau background and even your own Cadre fiction here.
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Calmsword
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Four Castes/Four Species

Post#1 » Sep 29 2015 05:24

Hey everyone,

This article has been on the BBC for a while now, but in essence it talks about why we are the only variety of 'humanity' around (when so many species have multiple sub-species)

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150929 ... till-alive

I thought this was interesting as the Tau have, traditionally for me, represented a version of humanity that went 'grim-light' as opposed to dark. They've been vaunted as unnaturally advanced technologically, by comparison to other species, but I've always argued it's because they stopped fighting and killing one another.

If humanity could have remained in the Pax Romana or the Renaissance and kept it going we might have benefited as much as the science fiction species.

But perhaps it's not just the technological advancement that the Tau have benefitted from, but also the survival of sub categories of the Tau species that are, now, the Castes.

Just a thought.
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Jefffar
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#2 » Sep 29 2015 08:06

As a large proportion of our advancements derived from war and its related activities, I suspect we would be far less along under such circumstances.

For example, we are communicating via a medium invented to survive a nuclear attack using devices descended from systems used to compute artillery firing solutions.

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Deepstrike
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#3 » Sep 29 2015 08:42

Jefffar wrote:As a large proportion of our advancements derived from war and its related activities, I suspect we would be far less along under such circumstances.

For example, we are communicating via a medium invented to survive a nuclear attack using devices descended from systems used to compute artillery firing solutions.


That may not be such a fair example as a lot of people may not be too familiar with how the Internet came about....

And of course computers..... ;)

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Calmsword
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#4 » Sep 30 2015 12:04

Without meaning offense- but that's a singular perspective on technology.

Technology advances as a result of both survival, necessity, but also as a result of extra resources. Albeit survival has almost always been as a result of competition amongst the different human societies, there are many many examples of technological advancement that were created in peace time as much as war.

Your example of the internet is an example of reactionary advancement. The war with the USSR never happened and so all of the tech advancement that was meant to combat them trickled their way into general use- a unique event in the history of mankind as there had never been such a build up and yet no application of any of the devices made in that time (aggressively).

Human advancement has been hindered, on a species level, by war and internecine conflict more then it has gained. While living in the first world or the remaining super power has been beneficial to a percentage of the population, it has not been anywhere near the majority which lives in worsening environmental and resource deficiency.

While speculative, if the human race had enjoyed a unification earlier in it's history, lets say after the First World War, with a directive to advance on all levels- we might be in our own hammerheads by now.
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Jefffar
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#5 » Sep 30 2015 01:02

If those supplying the directive had a near diefic ability to command us to unify and progress, sure.


But we are humans, and the major advancements in our technology and our society tend to occur during wartime, in reaction to a war, or in anticipation of a war. The modern social welfare state, for example, was originally brought about as a way to ensure that Britain had enough suitable soldiers in future wars. Modern medicine owes much to efforts to return wounded and ill soldiers to the battlefield or ease their suffering after the war. Radio may have been invented by Civil and, but the need to communicate in war drove it to become cheaper, lighter and portible. The Moon Landings were a propaganda effort in the Cold War to demonstrate that the Americans had missiles with a longer range and greater accuracy than the Soviets.

Humanity is shaped by war, of that I can have no doubt. Whatever unifies humanity must replace the urgency of war with a similar level of urgency to get us to continue to progress at a rapid pace.

Also, as for the Cold War, there was plenty of real war that happened to apply those developments to. The major powers constantly were using proxies to test their equipment in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Heck, the folks fighting against ISIL are still using weaponry and vehicles that have their origins in the Cold War.

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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#6 » Sep 30 2015 01:46

Jefffar wrote:If those supplying the directive had a near diefic ability to command us to unify and progress, sure.


But we are humans, and the major advancements in our technology and our society tend to occur during wartime, in reaction to a war, or in anticipation of a war. The modern social welfare state, for example, was originally brought about as a way to ensure that Britain had enough suitable soldiers in future wars. Modern medicine owes much to efforts to return wounded and ill soldiers to the battlefield or ease their suffering after the war. Radio may have been invented by Civil and, but the need to communicate in war drove it to become cheaper, lighter and portible. The Moon Landings were a propaganda effort in the Cold War to demonstrate that the Americans had missiles with a longer range and greater accuracy than the Soviets.

Humanity is shaped by war, of that I can have no doubt. Whatever unifies humanity must replace the urgency of war with a similar level of urgency to get us to continue to progress at a rapid pace.

Also, as for the Cold War, there was plenty of real war that happened to apply those developments to. The major powers constantly were using proxies to test their equipment in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Heck, the folks fighting against ISIL are still using weaponry and vehicles that have their origins in the Cold War.


Very true, also, don't forget Israel. They were given American Aircraft during their wars and have proven them as well...mind you, they have very well trained pilots and soldiers.

Unfortunately, the majority of our advancement have come about because of war in a lot of respects. The automobile, jet aircraft, radar, submersibles.... The list goes on and on.

It would be amazing if we could have a unifying motivation, that didn't have a catalyst birthed in warfare or otherwise. And unfortunately, for the most part, politicians can't do it. (Personal opinion)

Ok.... How did we get into this topic?? Vre? Are we blaming you for this??

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Jefffar
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#7 » Sep 30 2015 01:53

I think it's a worthy exploration of how and why the Tau are different than the Gue'la.

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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#8 » Sep 30 2015 01:56

Jefffar wrote:I think it's a worthy exploration of how and why the Tau are different than the Gue'la.


Ok, I'll let you off this time Vre, but only this once!! :evil:

Truth be told, it's a very interesting philosophical debate, it could become very enlightening! ;)

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Calmsword
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#9 » Sep 30 2015 02:07

I don't want to come off as downplaying the wars in Vietnam the shadow war in South America or the conflicts in eastern Europe or the Middle East- but those were hardly the kind of apocalyptic showdown two super-powers would have been like that was successfully avoided.

Human Advancement is filled with examples of both peace time and war time bearing technological fruits. You should note that it is merely the more violent culture that typically topples the culture further advanced either technologically or socially.

And what I'm saying is that our society (based on western deductions of history) is not an example of a successful species since we've been doing a bang up job knocking one another down so that only a select few societies are improving.

Humanity is shaped for survival, not war. It was being hunted to near extinction that (evidence suggest) was the impetus to create language. It was food shortages that lead to farming and the first diaspora and it was terror of death that caused us to create religions. At the core of every technological advancement is the survival need.

The reason why there are technological bursts during war time is because of a need to win/survive but that's also because a government will pile funds into experimental projects. The splash from these funds, like the internet, outweigh their war time theoretical application to their real peace-time uses.

War is an expression of this need to survive and in many cases, especially in a world that is now this connected, war will no longer be the active state it was in the previous centuries which means it will lose it's value as a social tool.

AND to bring it back to the Tau- I think that the Tau represent a human race (since all aliens are aspects of humanity in fiction) that did not have that fear-driving and violent need to survive. Maybe the Shas would have become 'like us' but those initial genocides were prevented by the Ethereals where as humanity (real world) killed off our competition.
~Good Hunting

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Deepstrike
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#10 » Sep 30 2015 02:12

Calmsword wrote:I don't want to come off as downplaying the wars in Vietnam the shadow war in South America or the conflicts in eastern Europe or the Middle East- but those were hardly the kind of apocalyptic showdown two super-powers would have been like that was successfully avoided.

Human Advancement is filled with examples of both peace time and war time bearing technological fruits. You should note that it is merely the more violent culture that typically topples the culture further advanced either technologically or socially.

And what I'm saying is that our society (based on western deductions of history) is not an example of a successful species since we've been doing a bang up job knocking one another down so that only a select few societies are improving.

Humanity is shaped for survival, not war. It was being hunted to near extinction that (evidence suggest) was the impetus to create language. It was food shortages that lead to farming and the first diaspora and it was terror of death that caused us to create religions. At the core of every technological advancement is the survival need.

The reason why there are technological bursts during war time is because of a need to win/survive but that's also because a government will pile funds into experimental projects. The splash from these funds, like the internet, outweigh their war time theoretical application to their real peace-time uses.

War is an expression of this need to survive and in many cases, especially in a world that is now this connected, war will no longer be the active state it was in the previous centuries which means it will lose it's value as a social tool.

AND to bring it back to the Tau- I think that the Tau represent a human race (since all aliens are aspects of humanity in fiction) that did not have that fear-driving and violent need to survive. Maybe the Shas would have become 'like us' but those initial genocides were prevented by the Ethereals where as humanity (real world) killed off our competition.


That is a VERY well thought out argument for which I couldn't agree more with. Nicely done.

If you're not a philosophy teacher in real life, perhaps you should think about a career change. ;)

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Jefffar
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#11 » Sep 30 2015 02:18

In the vien of why the T'au could unite:

Humanity had a few deep calamities in the twentieth century alone, at the end of which there was the promise of "Never again." by all who participated. Yet, within a few years (if not months) of each of these near catastrophes, plowshares were being beaten back into swords.

Even the Japanese, who constitutionally forbade themselves from going to war in the wake of the devastation they suffered from the sky, re-armed as they rebuilt. Lately they have even rewritten their constitution to allow their soldiers to deploy alongside those of their ally and protector, the United States.

So how deep was the fear of the wars of The Terror that allowed all the nations of T'au to unite as one? Was true extermination of the inhabitants of T'au so plainly evident that the proposal of the Ethereals was the only option for all?

Or was the T'au psychology prepared to accept complete unity in a way that we, as humans, cannot?

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Calmsword
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#12 » Sep 30 2015 02:50

Should survival become paramount again because of resource shortfall- yeah, all bets are off.

Psychologically though it's much more difficult to rally a nation behind a single ideology because of the internet. Youth of the earth are more interconnected than ever and short of reducing enemy combatants to heat signatures- a military can no longer depend on the de-humanizing training that the previous world conflicts used to such an extent.

The only way you're going to get conventional warfare back is if the main artery of resources is somehow stopped.

I don't think of psychology as a stagnant infrastructure to a species so I would think that the early Tau were stopped before these initial eradications that killed of homo-sapiens competition. You'v got something like the 'planet of the apes' going on with multiple sub-species working together. If this was engrained in the unifying aspect the Ethereal's introduced then it is, by now, second nature.

Side note- I do think that the Tau realized shortly after the Mont'au that they, as a race, almost annihilated itself.
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Deepstrike
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#13 » Sep 30 2015 09:51

Jeffar:

The Japanese didn't willingly put that clause in their constitution, it was part of the Armistice agreement at the end of WW II. It was "agreed" that they would never have a military force as strong or as capable as it was before, nor could it be called an "Armed Force". The sole purpose of their forces would be for Defence and Defence only. They had to,petition the US for permission to go out of their area and assist with UN duties etc.

Calmsword:

I,don't fully agree with your assessment of the Internet. Although the Internet has allowed us much faster and personal communications, and for the most part put a "face" on things happening around the world, we as a society have taken massive steps to "desensitize" ourselves, starting at a VERY early age, it's called "video games".

The military used to use what are called figure 11 targets, they have the silhouette of a running soldier on it. The theory is that when you're looking down the sights of your weapon, all you really see is a dark silhouette of your target, which makes it easier to pull the trigger. Video game have made it that much easier for us to be able to do this.

You say that we've put a face on our problems, when I honestly believe that, although we are more aware, I wouldn't necessarily say we aren't more capable of committing those atrocities. Case in point, here, where I live, there were two teenage idiots who wanted to see what it would be like to kill a real human being, so they did. That to me is a reflection of what we have done, obviously that's an extreme case, but it's unfortunately very true.

Now, back to our universe... It wasn't until the Ethereals were able to speak to each of the leaders personally that they were able to change their minds... As has been hinted at, whether it be by hypnosis, or some other kind of mind control, it was them that made the changes...

So for me, the actual question is, who are the Ethereals and what is their final endgame?

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Jefffar
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#14 » Sep 30 2015 10:25

Deepstrike, the author of that clause, in his self aggrandizing vision, sought to build a future without war.

That the Japanese voluntarily kept to the clause for so long says something about the trauma their nation suffered. The intensity of the controversy surrounding them finally adjusting that clause to permit limited deployments has led to demonstrations and even a brawl in the Imperial Diet.

So, despite the external origin of the clause, the Japanese took it to heart as war had ruined their country utterly and they did not wish for it to ever happen again.

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Kael'yn
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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#15 » Sep 30 2015 11:02

Calmsword wrote:I thought this was interesting as the Tau have, traditionally for me, represented a version of humanity that went 'grim-light' as opposed to dark. They've been vaunted as unnaturally advanced technologically, by comparison to other species, but I've always argued it's because they stopped fighting and killing one another.

"Zachary Evolutive Adaptation Theorem" (or so it was called) is a theory by a Magos in his full extense: if something is not like they know or they imagine, it is unnatural.
4000 years (6000 to 8000 in human scale as Tau lives are shorter) is a very large amount of time for an intelligent species to have hi-tech stuff from tribes status.

Oh, and to avoid the comments saying research is better when war came: yeah war make sciences advances, but this is not the war that is the fuel, but a dedicated priority goal agreed by everyone, without resource limits.
Jefffar wrote:Or was the T'au psychology prepared to accept complete unity in a way that we, as humans, cannot?

We can, but our motives tends to lead to fight other humans to make them accept "our" unity first.
"Our against them" Caste mentality they had may let the Ethereal unification more meaningful to everyone (as one single Tribe against the rest of the Galaxy) when they united the Tau.

Calmsword wrote:But perhaps it's not just the technological advancement that the Tau have benefited from, but also the survival of sub categories of the Tau species that are, now, the Castes.

If by that you mean that dealing with each others make them more likely to adapt, it is a valid point.
Cooperation or theft is the way to advance for them and since each "caste" has different way of thinking, ideas could be found and problems could be solved 4 times faster.
If if is clear that "Castes" can be viewed as subspecies because they came from different areas with different features, "Castes" now are more cultural constructions rather than biological (Earth, Air and Water caste are sure to be warriors at some point in the past, even if they fight in their own way of thinking).

I believe too that Tau is a single species, as viewed in our biology terms. Interbreeding forbidden by Ethereal, but nothing says that it is not possible, the forbidding enforce to me the possibility.
Imagine a world/an era of the Tau Empire where the Caste system is less framed: a Shas Tau may join diplomatic groups because of high abilities of empathy/understanding, becoming a member of the "Water" Caste de facto. A skillful Fio pilot became a new Fire Caste Hammerhead pilot.
So each Caste renew their genetic pool, giving fresh "blood" and ways of thinking to an entire Caste. Less likely in a world/era where all education is Caste closed...

About our "singularity" as one species as told in the BBC article:
Elephants have only two-three sub-species on Earth (2 very similar africans, one asian), their area separated by deserts difficult to cross, coming from a common ancestor. If one or the other disappear, only one will remain. I don't know also if the two remaining are the more adaptive of their lineage...
It is not because we believe to be more adaptive that others were not from our point of view. Luck play a great role too (our 20.000 ancestors from Africa could have been wiped out by a strong flu that will have killed half of them).

Deepstrike wrote:So for me, the actual question is, who are the Ethereals and what is their final endgame?

They are the Yodas of 40k ?
They prefer talking and teaching, fight in melee if they must, can do mind trick, and could live 900 years... ;)

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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#16 » Sep 30 2015 01:34

Kael'yn wrote:
Jefffar wrote:Or was the T'au psychology prepared to accept complete unity in a way that we, as humans, cannot?

We can, but our motives tends to lead to fight other humans to make them accept "our" unity first.
"Our against them" Caste mentality they had may let the Ethereal unification more meaningful to everyone (as one single Tribe against the rest of the Galaxy) when they united the Tau.


I think that the main difference between the Tau accepting the ethereals and the way that humans are divided is that the Tau are not xenophobic, while a sizable portion of humans are(in and out of 40k). Even if there was some ethereal like group of humans, some of us would reject their ideas no matter how good since they aren't our groups ideas.

One thing to consider is that have the Tau always been like this or did this change with the ethereals arrival, they don't talk much about the mont'au, but most of the fighting seems to have been started by the fire caste ancestors, it sounds like the other castes tend to have very little xenophobia, while the fire caste can have at least as much as humans. it took the ethereals a long time to reduce the fire caste's xenophobia to a level closer to that of other Tau.

If all the xenophobic humans were in one "tribe", rather than spread out in every major human group, there's a chance they would act like the fire caste during the mont'au.

I feel like pointing this out, the Tau do have a very different psychology than Humans, the Tau have no concept of personal possessions while humans have it as one of their centers of thought, they also don't think of personal relationships in the same way as humans, this would help them think of how something effects the group rather than themselves.

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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#17 » Sep 30 2015 02:04

Dal'yth Shas'len'ra wrote:
Kael'yn wrote:
Jefffar wrote:Or was the T'au psychology prepared to accept complete unity in a way that we, as humans, cannot?

We can, but our motives tends to lead to fight other humans to make them accept "our" unity first.
"Our against them" Caste mentality they had may let the Ethereal unification more meaningful to everyone (as one single Tribe against the rest of the Galaxy) when they united the Tau.


One thing to consider is that have the Tau always been like this or did this change with the ethereals arrival, they don't talk much about the mont'au, but most of the fighting seems to have been started by the fire caste ancestors, it sounds like the other castes tend to have very little xenophobia, while the fire caste can have at least as much as humans. it took the ethereals a long time to reduce the fire caste's xenophobia to a level closer to that of other Tau.


Though I don't subscribe to the full Grimdark-masquerading-as-Noblebright concept of the Ethereals, I have to imagine (given the level of cultural, physiological, psychological, logistical, and administrative control Ethereals maintain over the Tau Empire, and Tau Castes particularly) that the description of Tau before Ethereals is at best mythological and legendary retellings to the point where you can't recognize the reality, with hints of 1984's "We've always been at war with Eurasia" style redefinitions of history.

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Re: Four Castes/Four Species

Post#18 » Oct 12 2015 08:53

PART I
Disclaimer: I have been called on the carpet for being overly enthusiastic to point of annoyance (among other things), and rightly so. Therefore if I offend anyone or step on anyone's hooves, please feel free to also call me on the carpet. – Tauman

I would like to steer the discussion away from the whole 'war versus peace in the evolution of technology debate', and more towards the original title of the Four Castes/Four Species of the Tau. Here I want to share how the biology of the tau has influenced tau culture and vice versa.

First the Humans:
According to the National Geographic article, Neanderthals and Denisovian DNA can be found among many modern humans today. So it wasn't war or being driven off that defeated them, but something more warm and fuzzy. The mystery of what happened to the Neanderthals (Homo heidelbergensis) and the Denisovan (Denisova hominins) can be explained by the old adage: “If you can't beat them, marry them!

National Geographic Project: Am I a Neanderthal?

The Hobbits (Homo floresiensis) on the other hand however, do seem to have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Now the Tau
The originally there were four actual races of tau, or sub-species; which like their human counterparts were quite capable of interbreeding. There were the peoples of the plains, the mountains, the savannahs and the river valleys (later the Fire, Air, Water and Earth castes). That there are still the four original races plus one (the Ethereal caste) is somewhat amazing! Had it been Earth they would have all merged into one speices or some might have died out altogether (like our poor Hobbits).

So Why the Castes? Why Not Species (Racial) Amalgamation?

The question I've always had is, 'Why was it necessary for their to be castes in the first place?' If the Tau'va states all tau are equals, and all professions are equally honourable, then why the castes? The tau needed to get together to survive, so splitting them into caste wouldn't matter right? In fact amalgamating the different tau species into one hybrid species would over come the racial and ethnic divisions among them right?
It would go something like this: You marry who you like, or who is chosen for you, and then you go to your assigned 'caste' i.e. your profession. It would then just be a matter of the Ethereals or a panel of elders, simply picking out the best individuals for any particular profession. The tau after all are not like Vespids, born to one task for life determined solely by genetics, or are they?

Some facts about the tau caste system: (as laid out in the canon)
1. There are no cross caste matings
2. There is no switching castes
3. All breeding is controlled by an earth caste run eugenics program. (The Procreation Centres)

This we have this little bit of information according to the Tau Codex (Games Workshop 2001) and the Tau Empire (Games Workshop 2005) the report by Genetor Secundus, Zachary Santiago, speaking on the subject of the separation of tau into sub-species:

Evidence of synthetic proteins and amino acid chains within the test subject's internal organs, leads me to believe that this process may have been accelerated somehow.

So this then begs the question: 'Why the Castes?'

Answers:
Number One (#1) Which is the most prosaic and practical: To preserve the cultural identity of the five sub-species of tau.

Uh, what? You mean nothing about picking the best as soldiers? Or the best fighter pilots? Or the best workers/engineers? Or the best diplomats?

Nope.

Certainly this is counter-intuitive, but then is the caste system of the tau really the Tau'va? All are equal and all work/professions/vocations as honourable as the next. So why not pick an earth caste man as a firewarrior, if he has the strength, aptitude and stamina to do the job?

No reason not to, unless of course, if there was some other reason to separate the castes?

Example: The caste system of India
Initially the caste system was based on the Indo-European (Aryan) tripartite division of society, as an extension of their cosmology. (See Gods of the ancient Northmen by Georges Dumézil). It was of course also about racial supremacy, with the white skinned Aryans at the top and black skinned Dravidians at the bottom. In time however it evolved into something for more elaborate and complex, the caste became a method of preserving the cultural identity of smaller sub-castes within the larger caste system.

Within the larger caste say of 'smiths' there would be black smiths, gold smiths, silver smiths, cartwrights, coopers, armourers, sword smiths, etc. Each sub-caste was the exclusive purview of a specific tribe or clan. The specific task of a identified smith, say armourers, would therefore be the exclusive right one particular tribe. This allowed that tribe to preserve it's racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious identity.

Case in point: Among the warrior caste of India, there is a Persian speaking minority that eats beef. Historically they part of the Moslem invasion of India, but converted to Hinduism. This allowed them to keep their language, traditional fighting style and the custom of eating beef, as they had done when they were Moslem. (No citation since book is in storage - TauM.)

Reason Number Two (#2) The Grim-dark (or Noble-bright?) answer: To preserve the Ethereal caste.

IMHO this makes the most sense.

If for whatever reason the Ethereals could not intermarry with any other tau (remember the genetic manipulation) and they want to apply the Tau'va equally for all castes, then setting themselves apart: “Sorry, we love all of you, but we just can't marry any of you,” wouldn't cut it. So if each caste was restricted to marriage within the caste, then it would be easy to accept Ethereal-to-Ethereal only marriage. Everybody has to marry their own kind, even if we are all tau.

Note: Worked on this late last night, but then there was a server for my internet provider was down, and I had to finish posting ot this morning. There was meant to be more, 'life stuff' needs my attention. Part II will cover the Psychology of the Tau and the Cultural achievement that is the Tau'va


Thanks to Calmsword for starting this discussion topic and for everyone who has contributed so far. It is refreshing to read a thread that is NOT dedicated to the latest plastic or resin monstrosity (what it's like five or six threads, with one having twenty-six plus pages?!). It's discussion threads like this one is why I love A.T.T.! :P

End of Part I
Viro’los gu brath!
N.Y.A.B.X.T.T.

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