- May 21, 2016
The Sulmites are a molluscoid species, arisen from the damp rivers and shores of their ocean world named Sulm. It is unknown whether the planet was named for the species, or the other way around. But nevertheless, the Sulmites have risen to glory from the primordial sludge. (Molluscoid, Ocean Preference)
From time immemorial, Sulmites have been obsessed with their species' version of a voice. The Sulmites produce their language using a combination of the flutters of their leafy molluscoid "ears", as well as the slapping of their four short tentacles, known as radula, located on their neck. It is a quiet sound, much like the lapping of a calm lake shore. Many species would find it pleasing, even if they had no idea of what was being said. (Charismatic)
Before the advent of digital communication, the Sulmites gathered quite near together to hold conversation. There was no such thing as a "shout". A good Sulmite speaker is one who has mastered the crisp flicker of their ears, and the wet padding of their neck-tentacles, to make sounds as sweeping as a billowing breeze. Indeed, it is often in the mastery of the sonar of their speech, rather than the points made therein, that leads one Sulmite to be convinced of another's ideals. (Conformists)
Their characteristic obsession with the voice is amplified by their short lives. It is an eternal Sulmite yearning to make their impact on history, on culture, and on sciences, before their quick lives have run their course. A lifetime for one born of Sulm lasts less than eighty years. Eight short decades with which to learn, to serve, to mate, and to make an impression upon the next generation of Sulmites. (Fleeting)
The Parents and Children of Sulm
As for their reproduction, Sulmite females produce eggs, which if fertilized grow into larvae. Since civilized times began these larvae have been incubated in common by their community, requiring little intervention from the mother herself. This has afforded greater liberty and equality to the women in Sulmite society, especially mothers, as pregnancy is quite short.
As the species evolved over millennia, the Sulmites began to suffer a reproductive curse, as the women produced fewer and fewer fertilized larvae, and only later and later in life. Perhaps this is due to a changing in the tides, or due to some genetic quirk. The Sulmite reproductive window has thus shrunk to only a brief stint in their sixties. As such, they have a similar reproductive pace to humans, although having children only when they are elders.
The connection between Sulmite mates is deep, often being a burning passion that lasts the entirety of their lives. Sulmites have mandatory marriage customs, in which each individual must pledge a heroic act of duty, usually military service, in order to gain lawful assent to bear children. Terms of service are between ten and thirty years, accordingly to the glory won thereby. This has been an aspect of the reigning Sulmite society for thousands of years, and the dangling of love on the precipice of death is thought to be responsible for the military success of their society. (Warrior Culture)
It is a rare practice for a Sulmite woman to raise her own larvae. The practice of private rearing is taboo, as due to their very late fertility, when the children become but twenty years old, both parents have likely already passed away. This is the sadness that all Sulmite adults bear, to have only known their aged parents for two decades before their passing.
Sulmites mate decades before the children are actually born, the woman storing the genetic data of the male for as long as forty years before the female chooses whether to use those genes to fertilize her eggs. Due to their reproductive difficulties, this is aided with the usage of hormones to either implant or discard a male's genetic code. Often, such decisions are made in fertility clinics, in the presence of both the potential mother and father.
Often the father- and mother-to-be will secretly mate in advance of the father's legal service. In such cases where a father-to-be mates, and then goes off to die in war, his genetic code is somberly flushed by the woman through use of hormones. Rarely a Sulmite woman will choose to bear the children of a deceased father, although this is strictly against Sulmite virtue. It is more acceptable to find a new, living mate who has won their right to procreate in earnest. (Wasteful)
Sulmite children are raised in common from the instant they are born as larvae. They are taught to compete against each other in grand gymnasiums, and to speak eloquently in academic symposiums. In this way, they overcome the weakness of their origins, and gain the insight of thousands of generations of Sulmite culture. (Weak, Nationalistic Zeal)
The War Council of the Symposium of Sulm
Despite the militancy of the Sulmite state, it is also characterized by its positive yearning for the unknown. It is motivated to fill the gaps in its knowledge, to amass national wealth, to live and die for passions, and to ultimately meet and absorb neighboring empires. Through its history, the ultimate hegemonic empire of Sulm arose through warfare, but also through the trade and exchange of material and assimilation of ideas. Successful ideas were adopted wherever they were found, by force if necessary, and thereby brought benefit to the greater civilization. (Xenophile)
The Sulmite government is organized in a grandiose War Council. The seats within this governing body are exchanged four times in a generation, for the Sulmites, this means once every twenty years. A seat in the council is a highly sought-after position, one which only arises a few times in a lifespan. Chairship is only given to Generals, or nowadays, even Admirals of the budding stellar navy.
Within the chambers of the Council, the Sulmites wax poetic about the ruin of nations, the unification of the planet, and the furthering of the Sulmites towards the stars. Only a few fringe nations remain, and those are soon to come into the fold by overwhelming force. But this is their fault, as the Council would be more than pleased were their foes to lay down their arms and surrender.
These councilors each bear badges of the Symposium of Sulm, the newborn name for the top echelon of their empire. On the badge is a metallic engraving of a squid, emerging from the inky darkness below into a sky of crimson above. These councilors are crowded closely together, in huddles of dozens, such is the quietness of their language.
The councilors' low lyrics are easily silenced by the landing thrusters of an aerial craft on a landing bay outside of the reinforced glass windows. It would seem the new Warlord of this budding stellar empire has finally arrived. The woman Sler'huss, first Warlord of this new super-nation that encompasses all of Sulm. Grand Mother of the nation, they call her, for all of Sulm rests in her hands.
She strides into the chamber, the scars of war apparent on her features. Along the left side of her face is one long jagged shrapnel scar, accentuated further by blast marks. During the unification wars, as it is told, Sler'huss was marked during an assault on a hold-out nation of Sulmites. Those fallen Sulmites held the dictatorship of their Warlord to be supreme and incontestable to challenge, while Sler'huss fought on the side of the oligarchs. Ultimately, Sler'huss and the broader powers prevailed.
As result of that triumph, the powers of the Sulmite Warlord are held in check by the oligarchs. While military decision-making is left to the Warlord, it is not without the added consequence of being removed, or even sentenced criminally, by the oligarchical council if their agreement is not gained.
The role of Warlord, ultimately, is to be the final decision-maker. After listening to the whispering of the councilors, Sler'huss is to plot the general will of all the peoples of Sulm. It is a lofty, if impossible task. There will always be some who disagree. But the Sulmites are a conventional species, more likely to fall in line than to challenge one another. Especially so in the era of final unification.
May this new star era begin.