The long strange trip
Status Major Race
Size 1.75 meters
Weight 75 KG
Homeworld Vland (Vland 1717)
Human Major Race (Homo sapiens vlandensis) that developed on Vland (Vland 1717) from human stock placed there by the Ancients.
The world of Vland, while possessed of a hospitable environment, boasted an alien ecology based on its own independently evolved biology, a biology that produced amino acids, proteins, and sugars that were difficult for humans to digest and metabolize. The humans just could not use local plant and animal life for food.
One of the oldest occupations in Vilani society is that of shugilii (which translates roughly as miller). The shugilii was a person who could transform raw food into edible food through special aging and chemical treatments. The shugilii position was more akin to that of shaman or witch doctor than that of cook. Since virtually no food on Vland was edible without some treatment, shugilii were powerful members of society.
The alienness of land was reciprocal: humans were unsuitable as food for predators, parasites died because humans provided no nutrition, bacteria could not infect the human system, and even viruses were unable to invade and take over human cells. Consequently, the primitive human society found no need for medically oriented shaman. Vilani medical understanding was very slow to develop because of this.
Vilani legends are full of accounts of the wars of the gods, terrible destruction, and occasional intervention in human affairs by the gods. Legends exist of early explorers who found lands with great living stone-metal gods possessed of immense magical powers. Modern archaeologists now believe these “gods” were actually great robot warriors and juggernauts used by the ancients in the Final War. Apparently, the last of these machines finally ran down around -20,000.
Early Vilani society was dominated by three groups: the shugilii, the aristocrats, and the merchants. Aristocrats were the natural leaders of society, the shugilii were the all important food processors, and the merchants controlled trade.
With the flowering of Vilani society (circa -11,000) and its attendant industrial revolution, each of these three forces gained power rather than lost it; each participated in the creation of the industrialized wealth of Vland.
In -9235 the Vilani made their ultimate breakthrough, one that would assure their ascendance for the next 6000 years. A research team working on the fringes of the Vland system created the first working prototype jump drive and demonstrated its effects.
The Vilani discovered intelligent lifeforms on other worlds within 60 parsecs of Vland. None of the races had progressed enough to have begun interstellar travel. The Vilani found it easy to dominate these less technically advanced races. The Vilani were able to impose Vilani culture and law on these other races among the stars. However, the Vilani conquering was not of a militaristic nature, but was economic subjugation.
As their sphere of influence was expanding, the Vilani found it difficult to maintain control across such great distances with jump-l their maximum rate of travel and communication. At the same time, each of the three power classes of the Vilani society found themselves threatened by the forces around it.
Three bureaus were established, each independent of the other two, and each assigned a territory among the stars for which it was responsible. Each of the three bureaus was effectively identical, but they initially espoused different philosophies, which were based on their origins. The bureaus maintained their own governments within their territories.
Sharurshid, originating with the merchant class, emphasized interstellar trade. Makhidkarun, originating with the aristocracy, emphasized interstellar government. Naasirka, originating with the shugilii, floundered after it found that it could not control food supplies on most worlds it dealt with, but it ultimately became a broad based organization, emphasizing energy, transport, and luxury goods.
In -5430, the Vilani finally discovered jump-2. No other race had jump-2, and the Vilani maintained its monopoly on jump-2 by jealously guarding its secrets from all subject races.
Beginning in -5400, a series of wars to subjugate the resisting fringe cultures was waged. This period of consolidation lasted until -4045.
Grand Empire of Stars
In -4045, the ruling Vilani council, the Igsiirdi, declared the Grand Empire of Stars, or in the Vilani tongue the Ziru Sirka. The Vilani calendar starts on this date.
At first, the Empire had no emperor. Within 10 years, the chairman of the Isgiirdi (elected for life by the council) was declared the Ishimkarun, the Shadow Emperor, who ruled by published proclamation, but never appeared in public. In -3610, the Shadow Emperor became Emperor of the Stars, who was absolute monarch of the Empire. Successors were elected from the Igsiirdi upon the death of the old emperor.
For nearly 1,200 years the Grand Empire of Stars kept peace among its star spanning population. However, the empire insisted on cultural rigidity. Exploration was brought to a halt by -4000. Scientific research was controlled and then stopped altogether by -3000.
The beginning of the end of Vilani domination, however, was emphasized when the Terrans contacted the empire in -2422. By -2400 the Terrans and the Vilani were at war; by -2219 the Terrans had surpassed the Vilani technology and were marching through the cities of Vland as conquerors, and the Grand Empire of Stars was at an end.
Currently, Vilani is a cultural rather than racial or national labeling, and it is applied to those within the Imperium who retain some of the old ways. Dialects of the old High Vilani language survive in certain places, along with a few other fragments of Vilani culture, such as musical forms and other fine arts. Certain of the old Vilani noble families have maintained more of the old culture. In particular, those who control the Vilani megacorporations instill a predominantly Vilani culture on many of their employees.