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Species

World Building logoIn order to understand the history of the Jarnian Confederation, we need to be introduced to three different species: the R’il’nai, Humans, and Maungs.

The R’il’nai are very human-like in appearance and environmental requirements, the major differences being that their facial features are set somewhat lower than ours, and their eyes have metallic veining. Most have well-developed esper abilities (teleportation, telekinesis, telepathy, and conditional precognition being the most important) as well as empathic ability (ability to actually feel what another is feeling, including sensory input.) They have an advanced science and an inherited language, but tend to be lacking in creativity. Artists, poets and musicians are very rare, but highly valued. Less obvious is the fact that they do not age, and have an extremely slow reproductive rate. (Women are fertile a few hours per century.)

Veil Nebula, hubbleHumans, at the time of the early history of the Confederation, were using learned language and living in hunter-gatherer groups, really extended families. They had developed a great deal of creativity, mostly expressed at that stage by personal adornment, which they regarded as what set them apart from animals. (This was about 125,000 years ago, our time.)

Maungs were a symbiosis, adapted to much higher gravity, denser air and somewhat different atmospheric composition than Humans or R’il’nians. They were not in competition for living space; a Maung would find Death Valley chilly and with the air far too thin, while a Human would find a mountaintop on a Maung planet a little warm for comfort. They were valuable trading partners to the R’il’nai, with the main items of trade being “spices” (often medical) which grew in the conditions preferred by one species or the other.

Physically, the Maungs were around the same mass as Humans, but much different in shape. The simplest description is an animated six-legged footstool with tentacles arising from a stripe down the middle and between the legs. Some of these tentacles carried eyes, others were grasping organs. Communication was via changes in skin color and pattern, and the central nervous system was within the body, not in a separate head.

There were other star-faring species, but they come into history only through a general agreement: intelligent species were to be left strictly alone until and unless they developed interstellar flight on their own. Aggressive species almost always destroyed themselves in the process of getting to the level of science needed.

Jarn

Starburst Cluster, HubbleA young and rather impatient R’il’nian starship designer, Jarn, designed a new ship and took it out for testing. Being young and thinking he knew better than his teachers, he neglected a few basic safety features. The result? A crash landing on Earth, during the penultimate interglacial, with Jarn managing to get to Africa alive. (His story is being blogged on Fridays, and accumulating on my author site.)

Jarn met early humans, and eventually yielded to the requests of their leaders to share his godlike powers by sexual congress with their female leaders and the mates of the male leaders. He resisted at first, but finally gave in as by everything he knew, there would be no offspring.

Wrong.

They were rare, and many were sterile, but a very few of the People (as they called themselves) began showing unmistakable R’il’nian traits. Jarn had with him a major computer library and by that time was very homesick – could he teach his descendants enough that they could build a starship that would get him back home?

It took over a thousand years, yet not one, but a fleet of starships eventually followed Jarn back to the planet, Kentra, that he called home. By then all Humans carried some of Jarn’s genes, and those who chose not to go with him became our ancestors. Those who followed Jarn were granted a planet by the R’il’nai who, however annoyed they were with Jarn, held the Humans blameless. They did, however, promise the other starfaring species that they would be responsible for the new species that had not really reached the stars on their own.

Early Confederation

Star birth in the Carina nebula, credit Hubble GalleryHumans accepted this guardianship of the R’il’nai for two reasons. First, the R’il’nai resolved disputes between planets. Second, it turned out that the Maung reproductive cycle was potentially deadly to Humans. The Maungs were a symbiosis of an insect-like, highly intelligent nervous system and a mammal-like body with an incomplete nervous system which required the insect-like symbiote to develop intelligence. Death of the mammalian body released the next generation of insect-like symbiotes. Maungs already complete gave off a signal that prevented them from being infected by the insect-like symbiote, and R’il’nians gave the same signal. Humans did not, and the symbiote acted as a true parasite in Humans, eventually taking over the brain. The R’il’nai could detect and cure infections if they were caught early enough, and agreed to do so if the Humans would allow them to mediate disputes

Kharfun Epidemic

Infant Stars, HubbleThe Humans, with their high reproductive rate, began to colonize many more planets, but the system worked until about 10,000 years ago, when a flu-like disease in Humans proved deadly to R’il’nians and many of the early hybrids that were often leaders in Human society. A treatment and a method of immunization were found, but there was a drastic reduction of the already low R’il’nian population and virtually complete death of the early-generation hybrids who often took leadership roles on the Human planets.. There simply were not enough left to act as mediators and protect the Human planets from the Maungs. At the request of some Humans, Human-R’il’nian hybridization was again tried, this time deliberately. The successful hybrids, called R’il’noids, took over the guardianship duties. A governing system developed with two Councils of R’il’noids taking over much of the day-to-day running of what was now called the Jarnian Confederation, though the R’il’nai retained veto power. Individual planetary systems were left strictly alone unless they asked for help (mostly medical or natural disaster related) or attempted to attack a neighbor, and a wide variety of planetary governments developed.

By the time of my first novel, Homecoming, there was only one surviving R’il’nian.

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