|Vollistan Light Singer|
|Scientific Name||Shohobi volir|
|Average Height||7" / 210cm|
|Average Weight||170lbs / 70kg|
|Average Lifespan||235 Years|
|Native Language||Volspak, Naliese, Telepathic|
Vollistan Light Singers inhabit the planet Vollista. These luminescent humanoids who once served the Nall - and, eventually, the Kretonians - now keep primarily to themselves within the caves of their homeworld. They are emotional creatures who can express themselves with personal light shows - red for anger, blue for sorrow, a shock of purple for surprise. Accomplished poets and singers. Their names all start with the prefix "Vol".
The Vollistans are a withdrawn, contemplative race whose culture emphasizes the expression of thoughts and emotions in many forms, the most prominent of which is an aura of colored light that they emit. They possess strong psionic powers of suggestions, which has led to the exploitation of their abilities by conquerors twice in their history.
Vollistan society has come full circle over the course of two millennia. The original culture on Vollista was agrarian and tribal, with the population clustered in small underground villages. The star of their system, Volir, emits flares of electromagntic pulses every three days, forcing most of the animal life to take shelter under the earth. Vollista's low fauna populations led Vollistans to become largely dependant on the plentiful underground growths of fungus. As such, they did not develop the aggressive instinctual drives found in many other sapient species. The low occurence of major conflicts on among them also lead to a substantially slower development of technology.
The first recorded encounter between the Vollistans and any other species occured when a Nall scout ship entered the system in search of new worlds for the burgeoning Parallax Empire. By this time, Vollistans had only just developed a level of technology necessary for space flight of any kind; when the Nall invasion force arrived in 2358, the conquerors met with little resistance. Besides lacking any sort of global organization or military, Vollistans hold their environment as sacred, and were unwilling to see it decimated in a war. The Vollistans were rapidly subjugated.
Today, Vollistans again live in small villages spread throughout the planet. While they have a minimal planetary 'government,' the towns also have a network of communication among them, usually with messages relayed by runners, travelling storytellers and priests. Average technology levels off at the medieval level with the occasional heavily-shielded datalink or Strider of Volir; Vollistans do shy away from high technology, but mostly regard it as a dangerous tool of power, not a source of evil. A small but growing group called the Striders of Volir has arisen; these Vollistans view technology as a gift re-given by Volir and make use of it more freely. Vollistan art thrives as much as ever, and includes painting, singing, play-acting, and especially stories. Most Vollistans come to hold their mythology as factual -- and it does draw from the details of actual events to a startling detail, religious embellishment notwithstanding. Volir still surges every three days, causing the retreat of all life to the traditional caves or to the occasional modern shielded building that does manage to exist.
Vollistan society has come full circle over the course of two millennia. The original culture on Vollista was agrarian and tribal, with the population clustered in small underground villages. The star of their system, Volir, emits flares of electromagnetic pulse every three days, forcing most of the animal life to take shelter under the earth. Vollista's low fauna populations led Vollistans to become largely dependent on the plentiful underground growths of fungus. As such, they did not develop the aggressive instinctual drives found in many other sapient species. The low occurrence of major conflicts on among them also lead to a substantially slower development of technology.
The first recorded encounter between the Vollistans and any other species occurred when a Nall scout ship entered the system in search of new worlds for the burgeoning Parallax Empire. By this time, Vollistans had only just developed a level of technology necessary for space flight of any kind; when the Nall invasion force arrived in 2358, the conquerors met with little resistance.
The Nall regime was brutal, but provided the Vollistans with important lessons about interstellar politics. The Nall began to systematically strip the abundant natural resources of pine forests and valuable minerals from the planet's crust. Refineries dotted the rugged landscape, spewing waste products into the once-pristine waterways. It was an affront to what Vollistans held dear, leading to the slow corruption of their traditional values. To tap the psionic powers of these people, the Parallax established the Academy on Vollista. Its primary function, along with the psi camps set up in villages across the planet, was to train adepts in the art of forceful memory extraction. While the Academy also provided education in science, engineering, and even the arts, its primary function was to recruit new members for the ranks of the feared Interrogators.
The Nall influence was a major factor in Vollistan society of that era. The newer generation of Vollistans born into oppression were a pragmatic, utilitarian breed. While they still held the arts in high regard, the stories of Vollistan religion became regarded more as fanciful mythology than dogmatic account. They had also learned that their psionic talents could be used on other races, to the benefit of the Vollistans. They were still a peace-loving people, but now possessed the unity and knowledge to become an interstellar power.
The liberation of Vollista by the Zangali, Grimlahdi and the Mekke, and its subsequent membership to the Stellar Consortium, unfortunately did not last long. The Kretonians swept through known space in 2651, crushing the Stellar Consortium and enslaving many of its member worlds. Although Vollista had again become the possession of an empire, the people were better prepared to deal with it. Before the brunt of the invasion force arrived, most Vollistans had retreated far underground, abandoning their cities near the surface. While not all Vollistans escaped the grasp of Kretonian conquerors, a majority of the population remained safe underground.
During their 200-year exodus from the surface, Vollistan culture began to regress. Their technology began to stagnate as more and more of their equipment fell into disrepair. All but isolated from interstellar contact, Vollistan mythology flourished again, and new myths were added as the stories of the Stellar Consortium mutated into new pantheon of heavenly figures. Despite being fractured into tribes again, they never lost sight of the unity that Vollistans had learned from their time "among the heavens;" a concept supported by the influence of a few of the elders had survived from as far back as Nall occupation. After the Nall eliminated the Kretonian presence on Vollista during their genocidal crusade of the 2800s, Vollistans gradually moved up to the surface. By then, Vollistan understanding of technology had waned to pre-industrial ... the Kretonian mining outposts appeared more like palaces to them. Vollistans began to make limited progress in regaining technology. However, certain ambitious Vollistans decided to become conquerors, like the powerful Kretonians and Nall in their mythologies.
Using clues hidden in certain texts (which actually happened to be ancient technical guides and user manuals), several self-made barons emerged, creating feudal societies and conducting what became the first wars fought exclusively among Vollistans. After a few decades, an extraordinary natural disaster befell the Vollistan solar system; Volir, the sun, experienced a minor nova, casting a light nebula through the system and releasing a powerful electromagnetic wave.
This shockwave, which Vollistans came to believe was the agony of their ancestors over the recent wars, destroyed nearly every piece of circuitry on the planet.
Finally, in the year 3000, the Ri'kammi placed the Mystic planet Val Shohob around Volir and at the same time removed the barrier of debris in the solar system, allowing contact again between the Vollistans and the other races. Popular opinion regarding this occurrence is varied, though few have forgotten the lessons of the past and most are wary of the dangerous technology revealed. As may be expected, with free contact with the outside universe this wariness is ever-so-slowly fading.
Vollistan mythology is very loosely structured, filled with many variations of divine beings. The pantheon of gods vary from village to village, but rarely have any glaring contradictions with one another. All of them share the same basic concept of the universe; that Vollista, the mother, was brought to life by the Volir, the greatest poet in the universe, made of pure creative energy. In the union of their souls exist the Vollistan people. Vollistans believe that there are an infinite number of such divine couples, and that they many beings of the universe are an expression of those pairings. Vollistans also believe that, while born ultimately from Vollista, the Vollistan soul travels to Volir upon death, so the sun is also the location of the afterlife.
Vollistan society is nearly anarchistic, with a government only in a technical, utilitarian sense. Most Vollistan communities, inclusing the planet, are loosely ruled by a group of three: the Overture, the Coda, and the Intermezzo. These three are elected democratically in a one-citizen, one-vote system that arose in 3006 from the consensus-based system of the past century.
Generally, it is the Overture's job to make proposals according to the will of the people, the Intermezzo's job to mediate discussion and lend a rational voice, and the Coda's job to take down in writing the decisions of the people.
Diplomatic functions are served the the priesthood. Individual community leadership is also on a purely consensual basis.
Food: No big chunks of meat on plates. No big animals to take chunks from. Vollistan cooking, like a lot of other things, is considered an art of sorts. Courses tend towards the small and numerous, with food whenever possible being arranged in a pleasing way. Vollistan flavours tends towards the exotic, leaning especially to the bitter, sour, and sweet.
Most of the staples of the current Vollistan diet are fungi of various types, with variety added through the agriculture that Vollistans only recently began to resume after the Kretonians left.
Drink: Vollistan society doesn't tend to instill many of the same inhibitions that many other cultures do, so alcohol tends to be used less to reduce those inhibitions. Its place as a recreational and social drug is taken by various other beverages with varying effects:
Volir's Light A rather strong stimulant, this very sweetly syrupy liquid has a strange effect on Light Singers' bioluminescence, amplifying it to levels that verge on the blinding to many races.
Stonebright Distilled from a concoction of several fungi that live deep within solid rock, Stonebright's a faintly luminescent pink sour liquid that's vaguely alcoholic. Its most notable quality, though, is the manner in which it stimulates the creative and emotional centres of the brain. Those who consume medium to large amounts of Stonebright tend to acquire strong feelings abotu whatever they have in mind, as well as the desire to express these feelings to everyone in the area in the most effective manner possible. It makes for very interesting parties.
Seaglow Made from a particular cliffside bush that tends to grow by the ocean, this bittersweet drink is extremely popular. Along with slight physical discoordination and complete lack of control over the aura, it brings slight auditory hallucinations and also an extreme sense of wellbeing. Seaglow tends to be brought out whwn the arguements brought on by Stonebright get too intense.
Red wine Strangely enough, this is a very popular beverage on Vollista. Introduced by an eccentric human who was brought in to teach at the Academy, various grape cultivars and the knowledge of how to ferment wine from them flourished among those Vollistans who remained on the surface in servitude to the Kretonians. Wild grapes are a significant surface feature of the planet. It's known as 'Skyhin' to most Vollistans and believed to have been brought down by deities in the distant past.
Vollistans mature at a considerably different pace than humans. Their 'prime' of life is proportionally longer than ours, with maturity coming at thirty years of age and the beginnings of 'old' age and its accompanying physical disabilities starting at about one hundred ninety or two hundred. Within this span it's difficult to discern age for the most part; while it's easy enough to tell a forty year old from a hundred-and-fifty year old, a difference of a decade or two is inconsequential.
An average classic Vollistan's life followed one of two paths: they became an interrogator, or they did not. Children born to especially psionically talented parents were placed in the Academy of the Mind at birth, looked after by other Vollistans until they could begin their very first lessons at a young age. Most Vollistans who became interrogators, however, made it a conscious choice somewhere slightly before maturity. Nall propaganda was strong, and it was considered an honour to serve well. Of the interrogators who did poorly, most were killed or put into other positions, such as that of nursemaid at the academy, where they fit. Those who served well were allowed to retire to the general populace if they survived long enough for age to begin interfering with their skills.
Non-interrogators in both societies tended to serve something loosely akin to an apprenticeship; if they showed a particular aptitude in a craft or an art they worked with others who did the same as their interest dictated, until they were producing useful items. There was no particular age at one was considered to be a 'useful worker,' children contribute when they can and eventually that gives way to contributing as much as everyone else. There is a tendency among the race for younger members to wander somewhat from cave to cave, and for elder members to fall into leadership or diplomatic roles, though this is not set in stone.
The most notable Vollistan trait is the bioluminescent aura that glows from their skin. This is caused by small fibres in the lower layers of the skin, and changes colour with the Vollistan's emotional state. With practice it can be 'turned off' or with more practice made to show specific colours as desired by the owner. Classic Vollistans often have the ability to 'turn their auras off' because the Nall did not often allow those who showed auras to live long. On the other hand, modern Vollistans' auras are often more colourful and subtly expressive than classic Vollistans' because they have had more practice in using motion and colour expressively.
Scarring of the skin often has an effect on the aura, either destroying the bioluminescent fibres altogether or disrupting the signals that get sent to them, resulting in either a dark scar or a scar that can only show a certain colour. The bioluminescent fibres aren't in the Vollistans' blood: their blood is a bright magenta colour but does not glow of its own accord.
Vollistans develop a personalised 'palette' of colours as they use their aura, much as you or I might develop an accent or a personal vocabulary. While the majority of Vollistans use certain colours to express certain things, there are no absolutes. While modern Vollistans find expressiveness and honesty in their auras to be very important, sometimes classic Vollistans will choose their shades based on decorative value or with intent to deceive. The most common emotions, paired with colours, are:
- Anger, Passion - Red
- Love - Rose
- Happiness, embarrassment - Pink
- Affection, friendship - copper, peach, apricot
- Sadness - blue
- Irritation, wariness - orange
- Surprise, triumph - yellow or purple
- Joy - gold
- Neutral - green
- Depression - black
- Pain - white