At the Heart of the Abyss
|While the Nemean Abyss has it’s fair share of human traders, pirates, mercenaries, and entrepreneurs, until now it was thought that there were no actual human colonies in the area. The Karuk, as they call themselves, are a sect of humans that have broken off from the alliance entirely, not just politically but culturally as well. They are nomadic, moving in habitation ships from system to system, much like the Quarian migrant fleet, but not as a single fleet. At most, the Karuk will travel in groups of three or four ships, but a single ship or a pair is more likely. Each ship typically houses a single, very large extended family.|
|One of the traditions of the alliance that the Karuk have left behind is written history, they believe that all history must be kept in oral form, within an organic mind. Supposedly the inaccuracies that creep in to such history will keep it constantly relevant to the present. This makes it difficult to verify the sect’s history but their claim to have been founded before the First Contact war is likely true, given their numbers. Current estimates require a large colony ship of Karuk to have reached the Terminus around 2055. They must have aggressively recruited among humans who wandered into the area afterwards. The sect’s numbers have been further inflated by the intense emphasis that is placed on breeding and large families.|
Karuk are always bald, not genetically, but rather shave their heads as part of the demands of their religion and culture. Their leadership is matriarchal, but women gain status by producing lots of children. Thus, while women have the final say in most matters, and make most of the plans, the men execute those plans, as the women are usually pregnant, surrounded by children, or both.
Family relations are very tight knit between Karuk, and individual families will put their own welfare over that of the sect as a whole. That being said, they will generally put the sect’s welfare over that of anyone outside it, including fellow humans. They move from planet to planet, providing labor work and trading goods. A fair amount of crime and grifting is common as well. They believe in a lack of what they call pretense and dishonesty, meaning that they have discarded most of the Alliance culture’s polite social norms. Nudity isn’t a taboo among the Karuk, though they wear clothes for utility reasons, and fashion as well. They are known for their brutal honesty, unwilling to engage in social niceties or hold back information that most humans would consider private.
There are rumors that the Karuk have secured a planet of their own, somewhere in the Traverse, but so far no one outside the sect has found any evidence this rumor is true. Currently the Karuk are tolerated in the Traverse and Abyss, in fact, they are often better tolerated by Batarians than regular humans are. Still, because of their well-deserved reputation for shady dealings, they are always carefully watched by the local law enforcement.
Government and Religion
Karuk society is theocratic, their government and religion are inseparable. The Sehqua (matriarch) of any particular family is an absolute ruler, while she may allow a wide variety of personal freedoms and take advice, there is no way to overturn her final ruling on a subject. Within the guidelines of their religion, each Sehqua establishes rules for life aboard her ship or planet-bound community and expects them to be followed. Violations of those rules and disagreements are handled in a family fashion, the Sehqua acts more as a mother and grandmother than ruler.
Upon the death of a Sehqua, her daughters are more likely to split off and form their own family units rather than elect a new matriarch, though planet-bound groups are more likely to simply elect a new leader. Because of the high emphasis on breeding, a family who’s Sehqua has died is often large enough to splinter into several self-sufficient families.
When Karuk families meet, the various Sehqua decide matters in council, coming to a consensus on any matter that effects more than one family. Most often the families simply trade goods, and young men, rather than take on any group projects. Young men are often moved to another family after they come of age, to prevent problems with inbreeding. Karuk women are also known to be very interested in having children with any outsider men, without any expectation that those men will stick around. This too is part of a strategy to keep the Karuk genetically diverse.
Marriage is not unknown but is not the norm, most Karuk women choose partners as they will, and marry only if they find someone they consider especially worthy. Any man chosen to marry a Karuk woman who has real status gains a lot of power in his family. Husbands of Sehqua have usually have an informal authority over men nearly equal to that of their wife.
The Karuk religion is a blend of various Earth religions, taking most strongly from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Shinto, though Christian, Judaic, and Muslim influences are felt as well. Rather than simply being a melding of such faiths, the Karuk have an entirely new doctrine that was written by a woman they believe to be a prophetess. Her revelations were written down just after the Karuk fled Alliance space, and have evolved in just a generation or two into a more or less cohesive faith.
The Karuk keep their faith from splitting via prayer-meetings between Sehqua leaders over the interplanetary net, but it is still very much in evolution. The key features that most outsiders identify about the faith are it’s insistence on the value of simplicity in many forms, the rejection of ‘civilized’ ways of living, and a strong focus on supposed mysteries to be found at the galactic rim. The emphasis on breeding is considered by sociologists to be normal enough for a small, newly formed religion. Although those same sociologists will admit that the Karuk take the usual religious commandment to multiply to a greater extreme than most.