Name: Vislin (Little Brothers)
The Vislin are a race of bipedal reptilians. They have smooth, scaly hides that are naturally a striped grey, white and black but can change according to the whim of the Vislin. Their bodies, limbs and necks are long and slender and tend towards lean muscle. They have deep-set binocular eyes, a bony crest on the backs of their heads, and vestigial neck frills that expand when they become alarmed. Their fingers are tipped with claws that in modern society are often clipped down and occasionally colored. There is very little obvious sexual dimorphism in the Vislin; it is quite difficult for someone without familiarity or medical tools to tell their sexes apart. They have small, slender tails that reach midway down to their first set of knees. The Vislin will often change their skin color for social occasions to show allegiance, present an affront, or fit in; Vislin have been known to shade their skin white or black for Human funerals, for example.
The non-sapient predecessors of the Vislin are a species of territorial reptilian pack hunters. Comparison has been made between these creatures and Terran wolves. The early sapient Vislin formed communal tribal societies that feuded and traded with one another and prepared for the inevitable yearly migration of the Taratumm.
The Taratumm would pass through Vislin territory in great numbers, heedless of much of the damage caused by their passing. Their grazing and gathering would put a crimp on local populations of herbivores. Being tool-users as well, the Taratumm had strategy and weaponry to defend themselves with. The feud between the two sentient races has defined much of their culture and history, even in its current suppressed state.
As the Vislin civilizations expanded they discovered tricks of architecture such as walled fortresses. This helped to protect them from the numerous dangers of their often-violent ecosystem. It also gave the Vislin opportunity for prosperity and expansion, which provided them with the chance to explore pursuits less direct than simply hunting and feeding. Animal husbandry became commonplace and dangerous predators were cleared from their jungles. They began to ask questions about the physical natures of things and so developed their early pursuits of science.
The most important consideration for the early Vislin alchemists was developing a way to remain active and capable at night. Fires provided only a small vigor and remained inefficient. Central heating through hypocaust networks was developed early on, and panels to absorb and store solar heat followed soon thereafter. The Vislin civilization began to trade with the Hrotata as well, and often, insight into these and other projects was provided by their furry allies.
Vislin civilization spread, forming city-sized arcologies which shared heat to allow their race to maintain activity during their normally torpid night period. This period is looked back on as a golden age for their kind. This was also the period that the long standing feud with the Taratumm began to take an ugly tone.
The Taratumm, like the Vislin, had spread to all the available continents of Hrotata Prime. In most places, there existed an uneasy truce between the races, always brokered by the Hrotata. However, the tribes and nations rarely actually acknowledged each others’ sovereignty in practice. The weight of too many broken treaties bore down upon the feebly held goodwill between the races and brought it to the breaking point. Vislin guerilla squads, wearing suits that would produce and maintain heat at night and armed with incendiary and chemical weapons, would swoop down on Taratumm herds at their night time encampments and disappear back into the blackness, causing chaos as the Taratumm battle frenzy would turn against itself.
Had it not been for the discovery of off-world communications, the Vislin race might not have been swayed from eliminating the Taratumm from their world and history. The points the Hrotata diplomats made were logical and straightforward, and the Vislin were (mostly) pleased at having the deadly Taratumm as bodyguards, sentries and infantry in dealing with a galaxy full of hostile species.
Since the formation of the Great Family, the Vislin have served as deadly infiltrators, peerless engineers, precise pilots and dedicated researchers. The Vislin mental focus and appreciation for teamwork has brought both the Great Family and the Collective great regard. Their capability in the visual arts has netted them respect as holographers, architects, interior designers and aesthetic consultants as well. They have many well-renowned athletes and martial artists. If anything has brought disapproval upon the Vislin it is their callousness and disregard for the well-being of those who they have not identified as part of their pack. Many diplomatic incidents have been caused by their seemingly sociopathic tendencies.
The Vislin solutions to their race’s need to overcome their natural limitations are arguably the basis of the Great Family’s energy technology. Their struggle to remain productive during their world’s long, cool nights propelled them forwards to discover ways of harnessing solar, chemical, and biological power in their fossil fuel poor world. Military applications of these technologies helped to develop their first energy shields and weaponry.
The Vislin are a carbon-based, DNA-based reptilian race. They possess the usual quirk of the reptilian life of their home world: extreme stress and danger stimuli provoke a stress reaction that causes them to temporarily create their own body heat. As they are far less physically dangerous as individuals than as a group, this effect produces a flight reflex in them; they tend to rush to the nearest place of safety and attempt to meld in to their surroundings. They begin to run almost as soon as this reaction occurs, their long legs pumping the heated and highly oxygenated blood through their systems.
The Vislin frills and crest started their evolutionary lives as methods of absorbing solar energy to heat them up more quickly during the day. Although this application is less necessary nowadays, they still serve as sexual characteristics in both male and female, with size and ostentatiousness of display being the reproductive preference.
When they reproduce, the Vislin female provides a clutch of 4-6 eggs.. They have a mating cycle of approximately two of their own years but are encouraged by Great Family culture to engage in birth control as a precaution against potential overpopulation.
The Vislin are not nearly as hardy as the Hrotata or Taratumm but still have the toxin resistance common to the more evolved natives of their world. Their bodies are built for speed and precision and they fall short in the realm of raw physical prowess.
They are primarily carnivores but occasionally ingest plant material to aid in digestion. Their physiology is well suited their ancestors’ preferred diet of herd animals and vermin.
Pack structure dominates much of Vislin society. Each individual is expected to contribute what they can to their pack. In modern Vislin society, this applies to both social group and family structure. Even the rare loner is expected to contribute in some ways; Vislin with the almost aberrant urge for privacy most often become scouts of some sort, bringing back intelligence to their family.
Vislin are raised communally. After fertilization, the Vislin females lay eggs which are transferred to a central living space: the nursery. The nursery plays an important role in their society, being equal parts town square, living room, school and temple. Almost all social events are performed in the nurseries. Any station, ship or colony that houses more than a few Vislin has its own nursery. This can provoke contention for those who are not familiar with their race, as the nurseries are also extremely private; not even Hrotata are permitted to enter. The nursery is sacrosanct.
Child-rearing is a communal activity; it is simply expected that one will spend some of their time directly tutoring and monitoring the young and unhatched eggs. On stations and ships, Vislin will often spend at least a couple of free hours a day there. Not all monitoring and child-rearing activities involve direct guidance and interaction. An engineer may bring a project to the nursery and work on it there, answering questions that the children have and provoking their curiosity. An artist may bring a blank hide and paints there and involve the children in a group project.
Vislin grow up in these communal settings and spend much of their lives frequenting them. When they reach their pre-adult stage those that have been born around the same time (clutches) are taken outside the nursery and pack territory on forays with adults, usually only a single adult leading an entire clutch at a time. Eventually one among the clutch is chosen by the adults to lead, and they are sent on a quest or mission themselves. The subject of this first autonomous Hunt is often a serious task and can sometimes take a few years to complete. It is also one of the most popular subjects of Vislin art (not to mention other races’ art involving them). In modern times these forays have even been known to be interstellar in scope.
Vislin are known to be fantastic. Vislin visual acuity and the width of the spectrum that they can perceive allows many of them to find careers as animators, filmmakers, and architects. They learn to paint and draw as they learn to write, and often with the same tools: the traditional hide canvas and pigments. The basics of reading, writing, and algebra are learned on the hide. Hide canvases are a universal symbol in Vislin culture. After childhood, writing anything on hide suggests that it is of great importance. Certificates and degrees are painted on tanned hides, as would are important proverbs or commandments.
Vislin children play-fight constantly; as a result there is a strong culture of martial hand-to-hand combat traditions in their culture. Sparring and duels are part of day-to-day life for them. They help to establish dominance and pecking order and relieve tension for both the participants and the viewers. These fights are rarely dangerous as punches are pulled and bites are turned to nips. Occasionally a formal duel is called, usually as a result of irreconcilable differences or deadly insults, and these may involve any manner of weapons and are often fought to first blood or death. Giving in to one’s stress reflex and skittering away in mindless terror is considered a pitiable failure and it is poor form to kill or wound one who succumbs to it. Likewise, their rules accept honorable surrender.
The dominant Vislin religion is quite similar to that of the Taratumm: a reverence of the spirits of family and the world. Every pack has a totem spirit who protects their ancestors in death and guides the living, and many Vislin have a personal totem as well that helps them to find their own worth and power. The pack shrine is almost always located in the nursery, and contains representations of all of the totems of its members. Hrotata deities have long been accepted as potential totems, and their religious custom of sharing offerings with their deities has been adopted by many as well, although it is usually only performed at the pack shrine. There are some among the Vislin that have found an interest in the Mauraug faith of Dominion. They are a tiny minority, but tend to be far more vocal about their beliefs than mainstream Vislin are. There are some Vislin followers of the Awakener philosophy as well. The idea of a galactic or universal mental harmony is pleasing to the Vislin hunting-pack oriented psyche, and there is practical appeal in working with a team that is able to communicate with the ease and speed that telepathy allows for.
When the Vislin come of age, it common to impress upon them that they will need to some day abandon their current family structure and create bonds with outsiders. Even the most isolated Vislin colony will have Hrotata visitors; but this does little to overcome their natural distrust of outsiders. A Vislin tends to form bonds quickly with those that they identify with, often through times of danger or strife. They refer to this as the “Second Meeting”, and the openness of the Vislin afterwards can be quite disconcerting to one who does not know what to expect.
Vislin have excellent attention spans and have an ability to focus almost unmatched by other beings and races. Coupled with their natural pack or group orientation, this allows multiple Vislin to function very effectively as a single unit, as can be seen in both military application with their commando squads and scientific exploration with their research teams.
Their peculiarities of social bonding affect their mindset greatly as well. Anyone who a Vislin has not bonded with emotionally is not identified instinctively as part of their social group. It is very difficult on a biological level for a Vislin to acknowledge the importance of the needs of a living being outside of their hardwired pack structure. Although intellectually they may comprehend the necessity behind such behavior, on an emotional level, threat to an outsider never manifests as any sort of concern.
Awakeners: The Hrotata trust them. We remain here on guard should they betray that trust.
Hrotata: They are truly the best option for the elevation and protection of our kind.
Humans: Strange creatures. Soft, slow, children, a little stupid… but children should be protected.
Ningyo: If I were unable to focus, I’d act like a clown, too.
Taratumm: Animate a boulder and give it simple needs and a berserk fury that comes when those needs are not met. It is well that the Hrotata have leashed these deadly, block-headed brutes.
Tesetsi: It is not just their cowardice that disgusts me. They don't care about their families! They abandon their children!
Zig: Allies that we must keep at any cost. Where the Mauraug are fractious, superstitious, and idealistic, the Zig are unified, pragmatic, and rational. Where the Mauraug can implant guns in their arms, the Zig can freeze whole worlds solid. I know who I want on our side.