Hiltorel
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Name: Hiltorel
"As one, we move." —Hiltorel

The hiltorel were once one of the Big Five, one of the most populous species in the galaxy, but now make up a very slim percentage.

In 3152, hiltorel are best known for being the race that enslaved mankind, and that humanity eventually overthrew and defeated, nearly eradicating from the galaxy. Children are taught in schools that the hiltorel are evil creatures that only want more power, and are depicted as such in popular media. Many people buy into this, and humans almost universally hate this species with an almost instinctive prejudice. Originally our first friend, they enslaved humanity when humanity began pushing to expand. Humanity eventually broke free and nearly wiped them from existence. Walking on six tentacles instead of legs, they require gravity alteration tech to adjust the gravity to 0.5 Gs or less, or they collapse in a heap on the floor. Although four-armed, they're very weak and unsuited for melee or ranged combat, relying instead on (primarily) hacking and psionic attacks - and most often, their famed charisma that made them the "peacekeepers of the galaxy".

Although they had been facing extinction back in the late third millennium, they have since repopulated multiple worlds in the outer rim, well away from human influence. Their numbers are growing stronger, but at this point, there's little hope of them coming anywhere close to defeating humanity and reclaiming their homelands - at least, alone.

Description

Physical appearance

At an average height of just over two meters tall, the hiltorel stand on six tentacles instead of legs. They also grow smaller tentacles from their heads and neck - larger from the heads, smaller from the neck. The exact reason for their existence is unknown, but it is surmised that earlier in their history it may have helped hiltorel babies cling to their mothers in the water more easily. For some, these tentacle growths extend all the way to their lower back. In addition, they also possess a second set of weaker arms beneath their main humanoid arms; this second set of arms permits the hiltorel to pick up and carry lightweight objects, and lack some of the dexterity of the primary pair.

Hiltorel have two eyes (very large and black, suited to taking in dim light, but not near-darkness), a mouth with somewhat sharper teeth than a human's, but no nose as such; their olfactory glands are instead located behind their jaws.

Hiltorel prefer warm, moist areas, as their skin dries quite easily. When a Hiltorel begins to dry out, they experience symptoms such as cramps, stiffness, itching skin, and in worse cases, cracked skin. As a result, most modern Hiltorel colonies focus on the creation of greenhouse-like areas to protect them from the outside weather, assuming the planet they choose does not possess a Hiltorel-friendly environment. It is not uncommon to see very stylized greenhouses in their colonies, with waterfalls, streams flowing over pathways, and steamy ponds. Hiltorel have a particular fondness for Earth plants as well, as they appreciate Earth's flowering plants.

Reproduction

Unlike humans, hiltorel lay eggs, typically 1-2 eggs at a time, up to four or five times during their lifetime. These eggs are typically laid in water, as they will dry out otherwise, risking the death of the baby. After roughly one year, the egg will hatch, at which point the child will be raised by the group of parents in the pod. As such, hiltorel do not commonly understand the human intimacy in the terms "mother" and "father"; to them, a mother and father are purely biological, although sometimes they bond with their parents as friends.

Abilities

Hiltorel characters have the following characteristics:

  • +1 agility
  • +1 willpower
  • +1 charisma
  • Extra set of weak arms: They have a lower set of arms that can hold lightweight things. This set cannot do anything requiring strength rolls, and all other rolls have a -1 penalty applied.
  • Water breathing: They can breathe underwater indefinitely.
  • Multiple languages: Each hiltorel gets a second language of their choice in addition to their "first language", completely separate from general knowledge rolls.
  • -1 to strength
  • -1 to endurance
  • -1 to unconventional
  • Can't wear suits: Hiltorel literally cannot wear suits or clothing. Suits cannot be purchased for a hiltorel, or custom-made for a hiltorel. They are capable of wearing helmets, however, of a sort - the hiltorel helmet serves primarily as frontal armor, clinging to their faces by use of the jawbone.
  • Gravity-weak: Hiltorel wear gravity/air shield belts instead of suits, called lifebelts. If the lifebelt breaks while they're under 1 or more Gs, the character collapses to the ground and can only move by crawling, no more than 10 meters per turn.
  • Sensitive eyes: Particularly weak to the effects of flash bombs and other bright, sudden lights. They lose all eyesight for twice the duration of a normal character.
  • Group dependent: Depends on their allies for help. If a hiltorel is caught completely alone, they get -1 to all rolls.

Society

Personality

Hiltorel focus on the concept of "the group is more important than the individual", and their cultural ideology revolves around this. As such, while individualism is encouraged, it's always stressed that no one person should stray far from everyone else. They have another ideology called valkra totha, which translates literally as "accept others". However, what it means is that anyone with a good heart should be accepted into the hiltorel's overarching "family" - or taken as an ally. This ideology made them into the peacekeepers and ambassadors of the galaxy, forming a large federation prior to humanity's debut to the galactic community.

Culture

Hiltorel typically live in very close-knit communities of up to a few hundred individuals, referred to colloquially by humans as a "pod", or by hiltorel as a somid. Hiltorel tend to be very uncomfortable with the idea of living outside a pod, making them primarily city-dwellers - but they will very readily accept new members of other species into their pods to make them more complete, as long as the rest of the pod trusts the individual in question. Pods may be socially grouped in like-minded clusters of themselves, where a group of pods is known as a "school", or ntitsa. Larger cities may contain dozens or even thousands of these schools, but each school is largely self-contained.

More than most species, hiltorel are greatly fond of song and especially dance, and has developed a complex set of rules for poetry. One of the most popular and ancient of these, known as hibad hisax, is notable for integrating dance, song, and their poetry. Best performed in a large group, the hiltorel sing or hum together, utilizing their instincts to match with those around them. Each member will put their own elements into the dance or song, which will be instinctively copied by the others almost as fast as these actions are performed, in the manner of a school of fish moving together. The hiltorel find the execution of this dance extremely comforting and relaxing.

Homeworld

The layout of the Hiltorel homeworld, Hsilkori - a great ocean with a single large, low continent, without natural barriers such as mountains - helped to create a singular, well-developed culture. Much of the land area was too swampy to be inhabitable, however, and so the population remained relatively small compared to Earth. Their low gene pool necessitated much closer bonds and higher social tolerance in order to survive the chaotic Hiltorellian climate. As a result, they are natural peacemakers.

The Hiltorel homeworld lacked traditional fossil fuels. Due to this, they essentially skipped the age of coal and gasoline, utilizing energy from the waves and the frequent lightning strikes from storms to run generators.

Technology

Hiltorel were once renowned architects, creating beautiful works of art in the form of structure - the most well known, perhaps, being the famed Tsaki Honnin Palace on Hsilkori.

Their ships, built more for diplomacy than warfare, were likewise very beautiful, especially compared to the drab utilitarianism of humanity's ships. Nonetheless, they possessed quite powerful laser technology for defending their own, and attacking if necessary. Hiltorel did not actually begin using plasma until the past few centuries, and railgun/projectile weaponry was never a popular choice with them. "And the stars went hiltorel-blue" was a line of a well-known song in the 25th century, referencing the Battle for Earth prior to humanity being taken as a protectorate - specifically when they descended from orbit and the Rayleigh scattering from their lasers was plainly visible.

They do not currently possess much in terms of their own, unique technology, other than advancements in communications technology. After their fall and subsequent destruction of their homeworld in 2628, all their technology was either integrated or destroyed.

Government

Traditionally, Hiltorel government has consisted of a small group of individuals, chosen from the populace by different means. In a society that values collectivism over individualism, this can prove a difficult task. This small group, the hiltorel "High Council", would select a single person to elect as the king or queen (more typically, queen). This queen, while she had some power, was largely a figurehead and chosen for their charismatic ability, ability for fast critical thinking, and other valuable traits.

Languages

"Hiltorel" is technically a human invention, as the Hiltorel lack the ability to easily create the "t" sound with their mouths. Instead, they have a special sound that humans cannot make, which sounds roughly like a "d" and "kh" together. Humans are completely incapable of making this sound, and so use the "t" sound as a replacement. Moreover, a hiltorel's natural "h" sound only sounds vaguely like that of a human's, being akin to a cross between an "h", "th", and "s". In fact, the Hiltorel do not call themselves "Hiltorel" at all, and refer to themselves instead as Hsilkhroael (english approximation).

Writing in any Hiltorel language is generally considered impossible with most traditional typesets. Unlike human languages, which are written with arrays of characters, Hiltorel communication is written as lines, which differ by curves, bends, darkness, and thickness, not too dissimilar from the lost art of English Shorthand. Using this they are able to write out approximations of most of the sounds in their language. Alien sounds are generally added as extra crosses, dots, or dashes over the primary lines when necessary. For a time in the early to late 2100s, it was popular to put Hiltorel writing on products as it was considered trendy and attractive; this was later seen as outdated and has only come back on a few occasions since. The last time it was popular was in the late 2470s, but as only a shadow of its former popularity.

Short list of phrases

  • Amurer arima manun biahe? - "Would you like some help?"
  • Tab tina baro balkeva pau she e nanaah. - "I suppose we should be headed home."
  • Anaxo wamol mura jogha tsal arima nyahuh nada qi oa? - "What kind of food do you like to eat?"
  • Solenon khapa xe ikalan tab hilun. - "Welcome; this is where I live."
  • Lefa'e ehon nada falin arima lasama! - "It is good to see you again!"
  • Nababa isile baro lilde hapi haaboya hsalko. - "Tides willing, we will cross paths once more."
  • Kelka ihake Nirereli arima. - "May the Gods protect you."

History

Hiltorel did not first discover spaceflight themselves, but were "uplifted" by another species, the Qyrax, in 3666 BC. The Hiltorel welcomed the Qyrax with open arms, accepting them immediately into their society and helping them integrate. The Qyrax were interested in the wealth of Veloxium on the shallow Hiltorellian seabed, and in exchange they granted the Hiltorel people a space elevator and the knowledge to begin building their first space station. The Hiltorel would have been unlikely to become a spacefaring species without the help of that first space elevator, and the subsequent help that the Qyrax provided them with.

When the Hiltorel arrived on the galactic scene, war was already preparing to break out among the primary species in the galaxy. The hiltorel quickly stepped in, and, using their superior ability as mediators, managed to quell the tension. Over the course of the next few hundred years, they became seen as powerful political figures, and in 3240, they reformed the current galactic federation entirely, renaming it as the Galactic Community. They were able to successfully integrate dozens of other species into the federation, although as the number of species increased, their ability to mediate became strained. By the year 2000 AD, after a war with the Wralk and the Daxx, the Galactic Community is falling apart, and no longer listened to the Hiltorel's urging them towards peace. Tensions began to boil, and a war is likely to have broken out between the "Big Five" races of the galaxy, had the humans not taken advantage of the situation.

The hiltorel-human wars

In the year 2135, humanity made first contact with the Hiltorel outpost in Tau Ceti. Having expected the humans for some time, they welcomed them with open arms, telling them much about the other races of the galaxy (painting a much rosier picture than actually existed), but the other races were wary of letting anyone else join the Galactic Community, and thus the humans were not permitted entrance, and denied access to Hiltorel (and the other species') technology.

The Hiltorel homeworld was very near to Old Earth, and Old Earth was completely enveloped by Hiltorel territory. Nevertheless, the Hiltorel gave the humans a small patch of stars - the ones within a dozen or so light years of their home system. Naturally, as spaceflight became more ubiquitous for humanity, some members began expanding in directions the hiltorel had not allowed them to go - eventually attacking hiltorel colonies and enslaving members of their species. The hiltorel did not take kindly to this, but instead of firmly putting their foot down right away, attempted to resolve the situation diplomatically. The human governments made some effort to stem the tides, but not enough, and in 2307, war was officially declared between the two species. This war lasted far longer than the hiltorel expected, owing largely to the fact that the hiltorel military was unprepared, and the humans had advanced their own military technology quite far due to infighting.

The original purpose of the war was simply to urge humanity to remain within their borders, but very gradually over time, the war evolved to become much more than that. By 2335, 28 years after the wars began, the hiltorel were beginning to change their tactics from defensive corralling of humanity, to more aggressive strikes. The humans responded in kind, and the war continued to evolve until 2382, when the hiltorel had had enough and sent the majority of their fleets toward Old Earth - an action that, by that time, the paranoid earthlings were already quite prepared for. The war was long and bloody, with heavy casualties on both sides, until the hiltorel ships surrounded and began bombarding Old Earth in 2402. It wasn't until 2439 that the humans finally surrendered. The hiltorel immediately made an effort to turn the situation back into a diplomatic one, saying they were taking humanity under their wing for the humans' own protection.

Hiltorel occupation of Old Earth

The hiltorel made a number of large changes to humanity and their culture during their rule. First, they kept humanity from expanding any further, and attempted to ease the overpopulation problems to get rid of poverty, primarily by transferring humans from overpopulated worlds (such as Old Earth) to the younger, more empty colonies. Although the hiltorel provided resources such as food, they unfortunately didn't understand human social constructs or economies, and this led to a mass starvation across most human worlds that lasted just over a decade, from 2439 to 2450. During this time, an estimated 1.994 billion human lives were lost as a direct result of this famine. This led to attacks on hiltorel living on the planet, most often by religious terrorist fringe groups. The hiltorel, noting for the first time how violent Earth's religions were capable of being - particularly those that were monotheistic. The hiltorel's gods were actually very similar to Old Norse gods, and they found the idea of a single god abhorrent. Because of this and other factors, including the hiltorel's own politics, it was deemed necessary to eradicate these religions: the hiltorel saw this as a necessary step towards humanity's "maturity" and eventual integration in the Galactic Community.

All Christian and Islamic religious texts of any sort were destroyed over the next few decades. The religions were banned and people were kept under tight watch, and propaganda was released against them, painting them as violent religions full of hatred, and in particular bringing up the more barbaric elements of humanity's past. While over the next five or six generations humanity gradually fell in line, those that did not were quietly removed from their homes and genetically sterilized, so that they could not have children. Ones that put up a fight were put in solitary containment.

Over time, Christianity and Islam mutated into more terroristic organizations, trying to protect their identities, until they had all but forgotten who they were. As the only source of the information about their respective religions was word-of-mouth from older members, often intermixed with hatred of the hiltorel and xenophobia in general, the religions themselves began to take on these identities. Christianity gradually became known as Kristinity, while Islam split into several subreligions. Old Norse, on the other hand, was on the rise, as was Buddhism and, interestingly, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. While the Church of the FSM was purely monotheistic, the hiltorel did not actually perceive it as a threat, and more of a joke. While it surely started out that way, over time it became a genuine religion. The hiltorel saw this, but let it persist because it seemed silly and harmless, and ceased to meddle in the FSM church's affairs.

Humanity's rebellion

In the year 2439, Old Earth started a massive global war with previously-hidden nuclear technology from secret silos that the hiltorel had not been privy to - a war which became known as World War III. This led to a massive overturn of world politics, including the starvation of most of the United States due to their reliance on foreign industries, and the complete devastation of Russia. Japan backstabbed China after China had spent most of its nuclear arsenal on Russia, and Russia became part of the new Continental Japan. Meanwhile, Great Britain initiated a takeover of the United States, becoming the new United Empires - which they also did with Australia.

In 2551, the Hiltorel, previously innocent bystanders, had had enough of the war, which had lasted just over a century, and brought in their patrolling fleets from the outer colonies to put a stop to it. This was the start of their downfall. With the outer colonies largely unmonitored, they immediately began producing military equipment and manufacturing fleets of warships, largely with the help of funding from the Church of the FSM. Only forty years later, in 2591, humanity's colonies attacked the hiltorel forces trying to keep the peace at New Earth, thoroughly obliterating them, and then turned their attention to the hiltorel homeworld of Hsilkori. In 2628, Hsilkori was thoroughly nuked from orbit, destroying all cities and homes on their only continent and rendering the planet's landmasses uninhabitable.

Almost immediately following this, following a failed hiltorel counterattack in 2658, humanity began a mass extermination of the hiltorel, seeking them out and destroying them wherever they found them. Gradually, this began to spread to other species in the galaxy, but the hiltorel were hunted almost to extinction, until their former territory was almost devoid of them completely. They were forced to flee to the outer edges of the galaxy, where they slowly began setting up new colonies in a very desperate attempt to regrow their species.

Currently, the hiltorel are united under Wikin (Queen) Edibetso Malor, although this is largely a title without any power, as many of the hiltorel colonies are unable to reach each other beyond FTL communication.


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