Manowar: a super-species formed through evolved symbiotic interdependence, physically amalgamated into single “individuals”.
Kuralekt is a young planet, deeply covered in ammonia. 10% of the surface is land. Gravity is “average” (relative to earth).
The name “Manowar” has been adopted for use in communication with other races, as Manowars do not have a strong concept of individual self or of racial identity. The name was introduced to the Manowar species through contact in the early age of space travel and communication with other races. A forgotten race, most likely eaten (and delicious) applied the term well.
Manowars are 6-limbed (4 legs, 2 arms) crustaceans with two gaseous sacs that are only useful in liquid.
They have complex mandibles, and abundant fibrous hairs along the features of their faces that sense minute changes in water or air currents, allowing for a “sixth sense” of the presence and motion of other physical objects and sounds.
Manowar mandibles function as fingers would, allowing for fine manipulation of objects. Manowar claw-arms are suitable only for heavy lifting, striking, pinching, shearing, etc. Though they do possess “opposable” claws, their dexterity limits their application to heavy labor and violence.
Some unimpressive vocalizations may occur in Manowar subspecies. It’s viewed as a novelty, along the lines of making “armpit fart noises” in a human context. Manowars do not communicate vocally.
Translating dense, primordial Manowar thought-processes into communicative writing has resulted in rough translations that approximate poetry in other races’ impressions. Minimalist expression that conveys necessary information with a poetic eye are the norm. Manowars assume their wordings are apparent and obvious, as “reading between the lines” is an impossible concept to them.
Manowars’ awareness of their own complicated biological origins and reduced species involvement (considering 4 species, total, were requisite to reach this stage of development) has resulted in a malleable sense of self and body-image. Practical body modification, equipment and harnesses welded on to shells, religious inscriptions flowing the length of carapaces, etc. are universal.
-Scientist and artisan Manowars have infamously whittled-down front pincers, carved to become instruments of precise manipulation in support of their dextrous mandibles.
-Hunter and warrior Manowars have modified pincers suited to capturing, killing, or capturing (without killing) a specific type of prey.
-Laborer Manowars have scaffolding permanently welded through enzymatic bonds to their backs (and their buoyancy sacs rendered useless in the process) to assist in loading and transportation of heavy materials.
-Religious and cultist Manowar carapaces are commonly traded on the universal black market by art dealers and collectors infatuated with the acid-etched scriptures, murals and mandalas Manowars choose to bear in the name of their faith.
-Notably, there is no self-ascribed government or political caste or group in Manowar society; leaders and decision-makers are informally nominated by their peers and young to lead their tribes and species. “Greybeard” Manowars, aged in centuries, are less inclined to labor or work typically fill these roles.
ART, SCIENCE, HUMANITIES AND RELIGION:
All is seen through a biological lens. Manowars are unfamiliar with the “manufacturing” origins of many other species, having learned of the necessity of mining and industrial processes when space travel became fathomable. Terrestrially, Manowars focus on the curation of biological processes that grow and/or fruit their products. Plants, molds, farmed prey and farmed superfauna yield most “products” needed in Manowar civilization. Owing to their advantage in physical adaptability and reduced sense of self, comfort, luxury, etc. they have no need for “superfluous” production (clothing, entertainment, etc.).
Intellect and Diplomacy-
Manowar share ideas and knowledge and procedures freely within their civilization. No concepts of patents, proprietary techniques, etc. existed before Manowar met other species that put a price on such knowledge.
Manowar are fully capable of processing conversations, ideas, sensory input, and so forth that is tangibly applicable on any scale from interpersonal to inter-civilization. “Hollow” communications (insults, gratitude, solicitations without concreteness) are viewed as arbitrary and tend to be ignored.
The economy of Kuralekt is a laissez-faire barter system. While most easily quantified as “capitalism”, the Manowar government evaluates a consensus established by contributions from all professions and paths in Manowar society.
Thus, from the chaos of combining perspectives of radicals, cultists, artisans, hunters and engineers, the government distills the “consensus” via its centralized position and wisdom. In other words, the intent of the race as a whole is recognized, then enacted via the authority and experience of the senior leaders of Kuralekt.
The highest body of government on Kuralekt is a circle of approximately 500 to 1000 Manowars of senior age, the majority of which are absentee, on a sabbatical or introspective sojourn away from the capitol. There is no discernible order or methodology to the presence or absence of any particular members, and the Manowar race as a whole is entitled to a transparent view of the goings-on amongst decision makers. There is all but absolute trust in the government. Dissenters and rebellious viewpoints are neither encouraged nor extinguished – Manowar over the recent centuries have abandoned Kuralekt quite regularly (often guessed by alien scholars to be Manowars that possessing higher levels of bio-informed thought, or enhanced intelligence thru other means). There are small Manowar colonies unaffiliated with the Kuralekt government across the universe, and they are of no note.
There are, additionally, other sects of Manowar that have departed the home system in order to escape the rapidly growing population of the last ~100 years, owing to civilization-wide shift towards colonization and industrial development. The population of Kuralekt doubled in that timeframe, and many Manowar sought their own space outside of what the government could offer them. There are rumors of a government-established college of sorts where knowledge of the outside universe is imparted in order to prepare young Manowar for their self-imposed exile.
Manowar have a difficult time understanding scenarios that are solely explored through higher, abstract thinking (diplomacy, for example). Other races might describe Manowar positions as “black and white” – having evolved on an unforgiving, predatory planet, the Manowar line can be summed up as “kill or be killed”. Manowar as a race are isolationist and peaceful, but aggressively self-defend. Nevertheless, they acknowledge that the universe’s current “food chain” is unstable and not all civilizations will survive and thrive equally. The Manowar role in this anticipated chaos is defensive and reactionary – politics, scheming and deceit are uncomfortable concepts for Manowars to grasp, let alone agree and act upon.
Manowar have a natural, subconscious inclination towards the natural improvement and beautification of their lines of communication (roads, heavy transport networks, etc.) and structures, farms, etc. Their ultimate desire is to resemble “nature” wherever Manowar have added their own features to the landscape. Furthermore, many Manowar have become enamored with the added possibilities for the exploration of this concept on other worlds. Foreign planets with their own xenoscapes offer Manowar architects and civil engineers the opportunity to find a more exciting form of expression than Kuralekt offers. For Manowars that have chosen those professions, this is alluring.
Art and Engineering-
Manowar schematics, designs and patterns tend to exemplify a theme of “natural harmony” that is noticeably driven by function, rather than form. This implies a natural understanding of engineering in Manowars, whose minds are only able to conceive of technical solutions that incorporate these forms. The “Golden Ratio” is found throughout Manowar patterns, weapons, structures and so forth.
Manowars value merit, skill and effort. There is no class system per se. Instead, the different subspecies-variations that contribute their being to the Manowar superorganism influence Manowar thoughts and “personality”. The crustacean “host organism” of the Manowar species is relatively unintelligent and devoid of depth in personality or psychology. Thus, the different subspecies of parasitic mold from different regions of Kuralekt, the type of jellyfish supplanting their digestive system, and their quantity and quality of vermin diets will determine whether a Manowar favors oneself a laborer, warrior, scholar, cultist, engineer, scientist, etc.
Manowar that have reached adulthood and chosen a path are trusted to labor in that regard for the benefit of the species. There is little bureaucracy, instead aged and peer-nominated Manowars are expected to supervise and build consensus on infrastructure, diplomacy, interstellar missions, etc. Manowar populations as a whole follow the guidance of these leaders. Civil war and revolt are unheard of in Manowar history, but intra-species conflict has occurred between radically different tribes, before Kuralekt unified as a whole.
Religious cults in Manowar society are an exception. A path chosen like any of the physical professions, religious cults favor their worship of natural processes over any specific trade – the cultists develop a skill set to sustain their tribes “after the fact” and which some guidance by religious leaders. Most cults are ignored by the “productive” majority. Until the discovery of UX-522, a small planet tidally locked by an extremely close star. The strange oceanic behavior has inspired a consensus of the cults to enshrine this planet, literally, with the limited support of the Manowar central government.
Manowars value predation and consumption, evolution, flexibility and desire to overcome biological barriers.
Manowars are exceptionally fond of water and extraordinary interspecies relationships.
Manowars are individually hermetic but acknowledge eachothers’ value, as equals, to work together on social projects and infrastructure. Manowars spawn hundreds at a time and do not form individual bonds with eachother. Working together is viewed as a necessity for the improvement of the species, and serves an intellectual need – there is no emotional or personal reward.
Long, long ago large (~12ft long, 8ft tall) nonsentient crustaceans thrived near the top of the Kuralekt ammonium-based oceanic ecosystem. These forebears of the Manowars are unrecognized as a species, instead referred to as (rough translation) “Inside of Us” in introspective histories.
Their diet was primarily a species of jellyfish-like creature. The predators were well-equipped to fend off threats from the very few stronger predators in the ammonium oceans thanks to powerful claws and thick shells. Their diverse and pervasive prey survived across the planet and, in areas of higher predatory activity, did evolve some defense mechanisms.
A resistance to complex digestive acids allowed for a symbiosis from these jellyfish that “settled” in the crustacean stomachs and effectively augmented the crabs’ digestion, allowing for more efficient and broader nutrition intake. Initially, crustaceans with supplanted stomachs were ahead of the curve thanks to their nutrition requirements being met in abundance. Ultimately however the improvements allowed for more leisurely consumption of other jellyfish subspecies, which afforded them biological “breathing room”. Jellyfish subsequently came to favor consumption by crustaceans as a “last act” necessary in their own reproduction. Being digested by one’s own species led to a creative, elegant solution: being digested in this manner allowed for a reliable reproductive technique. Jellyfish proliferated via the stomachs of crustaceans and vice versa.
Within a short time horizon, relatively speaking, each species became reliant on the other. At that time, still without sentience – though the beginnings of fashioned underwater and subterranean shelters, and advanced food preparation and consumption are the topic of research by Manowar anthropologists (actually just undersea farmers that stumble on old megafauna-shells, bones, etc).
It is this point in evolution, officially (By Manowar belief) “Co-dependent” in development, that the Manowar term is appropriately used.
Manowars then (and still today) reproduce on land – moisture-retaining egg clutches proving key to surviving the overwhelming presence of acid-cloud-fish, thousand-legged-ant-men and other eccentric predators now feared only by younglings in Manowar zoos.
The only predators feared by Manowars in those old days were the spore-based genetic parasites that lived, airborne, without need to land more than once every few decades to harvest and reproduce on Kuralekt’s sparse dry surfaces.
Gaseous sacs on young Manowar carapaces would inflate for the first time at early puberty, allowing total control of buoyancy in the ammonia seas – their only way of effectively maneuvering on their prey. The “filling” of these sacs is now regarded as a rite and is a common theme in Manowar culture and religion. Back then, the airborne parasites would harvest the catalytic enzymes that matured within the dormant sacs through the first several dozen years of Manowar childhood. When time came to “inflate” and descend beneath the surface, Manowars would helplessly sink, confined to the bottoms of their seas. They were culled by tribal Manowar abhorred at the crippled victims, or devoured by ant-men and megafauna such as the cooperative blood sieves and domino dragons.
Lucky Manowar young, always subject to the thread of unknown colonization by these genetic parasites, did instinctively develop traits to survive through their first descent.
The only slightly unlucky Manowar young might catch parasitic infection later in life, and successfully descend in spite of it, if the window of time were short enough. Genetic spore-based parasites being what they are, survival beneath ammonia seas, within the Manowar buoyancy sacs and nervous system required a new model of consumption. The enzymatic byproducts of reduced digestion of the Manowars’ organ systems allowed for a leap in intelligence and mental dexterity among the “slightly unlucky” Manowar.
At some point in early history, a critical mass of Manowars were “gifted” by these infectious symbiotes and reproduced with the parasites remaining present above and below the ocean surfaces. Manowar young hatched in their clutches, immediately harvested by the benign parasites from adult Manowars, and grew safely to adulthood and a healthy first descent.
The ecosystem of Kuralekt was greatly affected by the shift, over a few generations, of a more agile, increasingly smarter and predatory Manowar species. A six-legged vertebrate vermin that had thrived on the larger patches of sparse land on Kuralekt became an accessible prey. The rich, new and complicated nutrients fed Manowars like nothing else had. The robust “nutrition economy” required in Kuralekt’s harsh ecosystem to develop sentience was finally reached with this species incorporated into the Manowar diet. The vermin are afforded as a right to all Manowar, though inequal access in spite of greater-good oriented farming is simply a fact of life. Inequal intelligences, interests, aptitudes and skill sets result.