At the Heart of the Abyss
|Trapped in their system for millenia, the Vailwer made the best of their situation by using every possible resource they could find. By the time they were capable of exploring their home system, they were aware of the presence of other sentients in the galaxy, mainly by radio and other transmissions coming in from nearby stars. Though they were able to decode and understand some of these transmissions, their scientists were unable to crack the secret of FTL travel. With the system’s only real concentration of E-Zero locked deep inside the Parnon gas giant, they had no physical evidence of eezo to spur their research. They were aware that some new element was missing, but could not locate or produce it.|
|Despite this, they prospered, and prepared for the day that a ship from the outside would stumble upon them. They built a mighty fleet, trained their soldiers, and collected every scrap of information that they could from the outside. When a Batarian scout ship stumbled into the system a little over sixty years ago, the crew got quite a surprise. The ship was seized by the Vailwer, it’s crew interrogated, and the ship torn apart for reverse engineering.|
It’s not uncommon to lose a scout ship in an uncharted system, so the sudden loss of the ship resulted in little more than the Sikyon system being marked as a navigational hazard. Five years later, the Vailwer emerged from their system in force, establishing a presence in the Abyss without delay.
Relationships between the Vailwer and the Batarians are tense, not because of the lost scout-ship, but rather because the Vailwer refuse to be intimidated by the Batarians, and have a fleet that can back such confidence up. Batarians as a people are well known for despising those they cannot conquer, and the last sixty years have taught them that the Vailwer are not an easily conquered race. At the moment, uneasy peace exists, with neither side interested in a full-scale war. In civilized systems, Batarians and Vailwer stay away from each other. In lawless systems, they are just as likely to kill each other as pass by.
Government and Society
The Vailwer government is a military geritoctracy, with rulership going to a council of older generals. The council is ruled by “The First”, a council member elected by the rest of the council to speak for the Vailwer as a whole. The First has absolute power in theory, though this is tempered by the Council’s ability to remove him from power with a unanimous vote, and the fact that traditionally all his orders come through the council as part of the grand military chain of command. Firsts who attempt to abuse their position are usually deposed quietly, there are so many ailments an old general might suffer from, after all. The Vailwer have never used any kind of democratic government in their history. When exposed to the idea, they found it ridiculous. Most Vailwer are honestly surprised at the persistence of democratic societies, unable to fathom how they can be effective.
Despite their similarities with Turians, the Vailwer do not press their entire society into the military. Citizens are members of the military, have a great many rights but little personal freedom. Military service is an honor to be won, not a right or a default profession. Around one quarter of the Vailwer are military, assigned a position in the armed forces by proving their merit on Taetus. Soldiers are expected to maintain military decorum, keep their training up, and keep themselves focused on military matters.The remainder of Vailwer separate themselves into two groups.
- Craftsmen: Honorable craftsmen are the first, including everything from engineers to scientists to farmers to clothing designers, or even artists. Craftsmen have less rights than military personnel, but more freedom and a fair degree of privilage. They can own property, speak before a military assembly, and serve as advisors in their area of specialty for an officer. Craftsmen are expected to be passionate and professional about their craft, and they rarely make friends of craftsmen outside their particular craft, or soldiers at all.
- Laborers: The rest of the Vailwer, their servants, criminals, free spirits, and common laborers form a caste that is viewed as something of a combination of indentured servant and wise-fool. This caste has nearly no rights at all, but almost limitless personal freedom outside of work. Because they are not expected to be as dedicated as craftsmen or soldiers, the worker caste of Vailwer also have a great deal more free time than the rest of their brethren. They are free to associate with anyone they know, regardless of caste, as well as to mate with anyone who shows interest in them. They can be moved to another job, another city, even another planet without notice, but what they do with their time once they get there is up to them.
Biology and Relationships
Physically, the Vailwer are saurian, warm-blooded sapients with many lizard traits. They carry an impressive bone structure on their upper skull, with correspondingly powerful neck muscles and sturdy vertebrae to support it. Long ago, these bones were used to compete for mates, and to fight, but modern Vailwer no more use their bony heads to fight than Humans throw feces. The extra bone does make them extremely difficult to kill with headshots however, though a shot through the eye is still a safe bet.
Vailwer live about 150 years on average, though most soldiers have a lower life expectancy. One cannot even be considered for the council until he or she is at least over 100, the median age of the council is much closer to 130. Gender descrimination is not much known among the Vailwer, they find it an amusing concept. Merit based assignment of responsibility and power has always made more sense to them.
Vailwer lay eggs, freeing their females from the need to be tied down by a pregnancy. They treat mating with the same no-nonsense attitude they treat everything else, mating with partners they find desirable at a particular time, then incubating the eggs themselves or sending them on to a nursery. In part because procreation only briefly slows down a Vailwer, contraception is expressly forbidden. The Council wants to see the Vailwer increase in number, so the government provides incubators and upbringing for any eggs that the parents don’t have time to raise. That said, most Vailwer prefer to raise their young themselves, Soldiers and Craftsmen will often take on a Laborer mate who can leave their regular work and watch the young full time.
That’s not to say that the Vailwer are passionless, they care for their mates, friends, and comrades very much. They simply have a very compartmentalized emotional system, one that allows them to put aside thoughts of distant relatives, only to bring those emotions back to the fore fully when they come in contact again. This is partially based on their biology, the Vailwer have both visual and pheromone based imprinting instincts that serve them all their lives, not just after birth. They imprint strongly on individuals they spend time with, suppressing their emotional connection to distant companions until they can imprint on them again.