Votan Arks are a type of spacecraft that features in Defiance.
The Arks were created during the time the Votanis systems were facing imminent destruction. In the face of the coming cataclysm, the Indogene were responsible for designing craft to take entire populaces to safety. The other Votan races were initially unwilling to commit the resources needed to build the ships but construction eventually began as the danger became more apparent. Once completed, each race had their own way to select which of their populace boarded the Arks. Among the Castithans they chose only the highest liros, the Irathients used tribal combat along with religious trials, the Indogene chose their best and brightest. The Omecs were among the races that had an Ark constructed but these were seemingly destroyed during the cataclysm with it claimed that their ships suffered from design flaws. In reality, the Votanis Collective had sent Indogene shapetakers to sabotage the Omec vessels from the inside in order to eliminate them.
Upon finding the planet was inhabited, any plans to terraform the planet for the Votan races were put on hold.
For reasons unknown, the Arks suddenly exploded in orbit creating a cataclysmic event known as Arkfall that occurred in 2030. This disaster saw the majority of the ark-brains being destroyed as well. After the Arks mysteriously exploded, the terraforming equipment within them ran rampant and initiated an unplanned attempt at altering the planetary landscape that merged Earth with those programmed for the Votan worlds. A result of this was the Earth's surface being changed greatly where it was neither fully human nor Votan in composition.
The remaining debris of the Arks remained trapped in orbit around Earth creating an area known as the Ark Belt. This was a persistent field of debris that surrounded the planet with the remains of the Ark fleet residing there. Those ships that did not crash on the planet remained in orbit creating a ring of broken ships. This debris regularly broke orbit due to the gravitational pull of the planet and impacted the world's surface with such events being referred to as Arkfalls. During such times, elements of the various Arks such as cargo pods or entire intact sections of the craft fell onto Earth thus bringing anything from precious resources to alien technology or deadly alien forms of life to the surface. In some cases, the smaller debris simply burnt up in the atmosphere with these showering over the planet as clouds of tiny metal shards with such events being called Razor Rain. It also led to large quantities of gulanite being embedded in the crust of the Earth.
In appearance, the Arks were gigantic spacecraft that were built to transport the Votans for the exodus from their dying star system. As such, they were designed to carry millions of alien immigrants along with DNA samples of every species of flora and fauna from their homeworlds.
A section of the Arks were the Cryo-Pod that contained the numerous Votans that were in hypersleep tubes. A key element of the crew ere Indogene scientists that rotated in maintenance shifts where they periodically awakened from hypersleep in order to check the critical systems on-board the Arks.
To supplement the crew support, there was critical component of these vessels which was the Ark brain that housed an artificial intelligence built into the ship and powered the craft. The Ark-Brains were developed as highly advanced artificial intelligences that governed all facets of ship operations from navigation to life support and even terraforming. They were designed with the primary goal that was to protect Votan life at all cost.
The core of the Ark contained the Terraspire that was the primarily vehicle that allowed the Terrasphere to aid in transforming a planetary landscape by way of terraforming. Terraspires were enormous missile-like structures taht were launched from the Ark whereupon the device embedded itself on the planetary surface. Afterwards, Terraspheres were deployed that were a kind of 'warhead' that appeared as powerful balls of energy that contained Votan DNA that was ready to be released onto the world. Terraspheres were a critical component in the Votan colonization effort that made them invaluable on the black market. Ark-cores that housed the artificial intelligence were required to control the terraforming process.