The Ashkathi Union (Gaale: Niirane-met-Askatai), officially The Union of Ashkathi Tribes on Larine and the Darkness Beyond (Ga: Niirane-met Ras-pe Askatai nulus Larine iim Rukaku Golaani) is an interstellar nation descended from a religious movement on the planet Larine, in the Lukara system. The Ashkathi Union is composed of the Ashkathi species, and is a member state in the Galactic Nations.
5,000 Earth years before the present, the denizens of Larine were a belligerent, almost cultureless people, but one individual named Ashkai managed to quell the fighting and turn their attention to the destruction they were causing to the environment. The followers of Ashkai began to call themselves Ashkathi, or "The Disciples of Ashkai". Over time, the Ashkathi managed to overturn every other religion on the planet. They were content to remain on Larine, believing that Larine was at the center of the universe, until the Day of Ascension (June 10th, 2667). On this day, a strange metallic object fell from the sky, landing in a largely populated area. The object was an exploratory probe from another galactic power, and it was now that the Ashkathi discovered they were not alone in the universe. They quickly began to pool their resources and prepare for the vast journey to the Darkness Beyond in order to meet their visitor. In 3070, they managed to get their first space station orbiting Larine: Point Grace.
In the years that followed the Day of Ascension, the Ashkathi have mostly remained undisturbed by the other races. In 3228, the Ashkathi colonized their first new planet, which they named Salorin, or "Frontier" in the Ashkathi language. By 3241, they had colonized two more systems, and in 3250 they established the Ashkathi Union to better govern the different worlds. However, the most major event that happened after that was a conflict known by the Ashkathi as the Point Grace Incursion, which happened in 3432. Their homeworld's satellite base fell under attack by pirates, and since the peaceful Ashkathi had no true military at the time, the satellite nearly fell entirely. Then, however, the Minister of the Beyond at the time, Toth, decided to found the Brothers of Larine, and the pirates retreated. Their history has mostly been spotless after this incident, but the Ashkathi remained on their toes, in case another power attacks them. However, their fear of other races died down a bit by 3554, when the Ashkathi Union finally decided to join the Galactic Nations after being an observer state for several years.
The planet Larine is a religious parliamentary democracy, governed by the Ashkathi High Council, a group of scholars and shamans voted into power by the populace. The High Council is itself governed by the Board of Inquiry, whose job it is to check the power of the High Council. Every province or planet gets two representatives on the Board. If the High Council becomes corrupt, the Board of Inquiry has the sworn duty to remove the corrupt councilmen from power. Every province of Larine and every planet in the Union gets one delegate in the High Council, and each province or planet has equal say as to what goes on within the inner workings of the Ashkathi. Between planets, the Ashkathi Union has formed, led by the High Minister of the Beyond. The High Minister is also voted into power, and answers directly to the High Council.
The High Minister is himself part of another politician group called the Council of Ministries. The Ministry of the Beyond takes charge over the ministries, which are as follows:
- The Ministry of Community is in charge of city planning and infrastructure.
- The Ministry of Culture is in charge of tourism and the approved spread of culture from the Ashkathi Union to other nations.
- The Ministry of Defense is in charge of maintaining the Brothers of Larine, as well as protecting the interests of the Ashkathi Union.
- The Ministry of Education is in charge of the spread of knowledge and the maintaining of places of learning like schools and libraries.
- The Ministry of Energy is in charge of providing power to the nation.
- The Ministry of Environment is in charge of wildlife conservation and natural resources.
- The Ministry of Health is in charge of medicine and health standards for businesses and homes.
- The Ministry of Industry is in charge of production of goods and standards for industrial workplaces.
- The Ministry of Law is in charge of court systems and is the main legal advisory board to the High Council.
- The Ministry of Trade is in charge of commerce and the treasury.
Recently however, due to a Black Phalanx attack on Tranquility, a sizeable movement has surfaced calling for extensive political and societal reform. This group is known as the Brotherhood of Larine.
List of Notable High MinistersEdit
(parentheses list years in office)
- Maru-met-Toraku-Tal (3250-3276): The first High Minister of the Beyond, and set many trends for the Ministry, including general term length and responsibilities. However, Maru was not elected, but was instead appointed by the High Council.
- Taki-met-Biiran-Tal (3276-3295): First High Minister to be elected by the populace. Established protocols for succession of the Ministry.
- Aralu-met-Daande-Tal (3306-3327): High Minister during first contact with the Sirian Union. Helped to establish peaceful relations with the Sirians.
- Toth-met-Deneth-Tal (3416-3438): High Minister during the Point Grace Incursion. Created the Brothers of Larine.
- Fel m'Raan (3492-3510): First Nathean High Minister. Passed many laws regarding the rights of minorities, including Nathean and Trenchspeaker Ashkathi, and alien immigrants.
- Hake-met-Kandu-Tal (3510-3533): Worked together alongside the entertainment board of Crystalia to build and design Larine's Outsider District.
- Tanaake-met-Kuule-Tal (3533-3553): High Minister during the founding of the Galactic Nations, and had the nation become an observer state.
- Denna-met-Kalaara-Tal (3553-present): The current High Minister, and the youngest. Advocates for a more liberal Ashkathi Union, and urged the Union to join the Galactic Nations as a member proper.
The Ashkathi Union attempts to maintain cordial relations between itself and outside powers. In particular, the Ashkathi Union and its neighbor the Sirian Union have been negotiating trade between Larine and Siria, as well as the colonies thereof. Supporters of the Brotherhood of Larine have been making talks about hiring Sirian PMC's for training soldiers. All in all, the Ashkathi Union considers the Sirian Union their closest allies.
The Ashkathi Union also attempts positive relations with its other neighbor, the Verandi Empire. The Verandi Empire is seen as a land of opportunity for many galactic working Ashkathi, and the Verandi Empire holds the most Ashkathi immigrants of any nation. The Verandi world Seralon is a sister world of the Ashkathi Union's capital Larine, and also holds an Ashkathi planetary council, the only such council outside the Ashkathi Union.
Despite fledgling trade talks between the Ashkathi Union and the Norb Network, the Ashkathi are wary of the Norb. They are put-off by the Norb attempt to imitate organic life, and they feel that augmenting a living creature into cybernetics perverts the natural order of things. The Ashkathi Union and the Norb Network get along, however.
The Ashkathi Union and the Free Minds Society are friendly, and share peaceful trade agreements between Larine and Heiwa.
Though the Ashkathi Union and the Rhizon Collective are on somewhat good terms, the Rhizon have yet to respond to requests for peaceful trade. This, combined with a strong hostile response towards any request for a Larinian embassy on the planet Rhizon, leads the Ashkathi Union to be slightly wary of the Rhizon.
The Ashkathi Union and the Savages of Jotun have a complicated relationship. The vast majority of interactions between Ashkathi and Nisi ships have involved Nisi pirates raiding Ashkathi cargo ships. For this reason, the Ashkathi Union has reluctantly hired a Sirian PMC to help patrol the border between Ashkathi and Savage space. The mainstream Savage government is a little more amicable with the Ashkathi Union, if a bit apathetic towards them due to the cultural incompatibility between the two nations.
The Ashkathi are not a violent race by principle, but they do have various organizations built in case of attack by others. The most well-known Ashkathi military organization is the Brothers of Larine. These holy defenders were organized by High Minister Toth during the Point Grace Incursion, an invasion of the main space station by outsiders. The Brothers carry heatstaves, an Ashkathi-designed weapon which resembles an ornate metal staff. When activated, the ends heatstaves grow intensely hot, allowing them to burn flesh on contact and even fire streams of molten metal from the tips. They more often prefer to use non-lethal methods to deal with intruders, such as stun guns and net-throwers. All in all, Ashkathi view war as an absolute last resort.
The planets of the Ashkathi Union mostly keep to themselves, and thus have differing infrastructure depending on where they are. However, most Ashkathi colony worlds (and Larine itself) are able to be told apart from other worlds by the presence of slip-tubes connecting bodies of water. These resemble huge clear plastic tubes filled with water, that allow the Ashkathi to travel between bodies of water where the main cities are. They mostly take the role of roads and transport vehicles, as they send water rushing through the tubes at high speeds. Another important bit of Ashkathi technology is the invention of the waterbelt. Before the waterbelt, the Ashkathi were limited to only leaving the water for a few minutes at a time. Now, with life-giving water running through the gills at their hips constantly, the Ashkathi are free to leave the water for up to a few months at a time if they must. To communicate across long distances, Ashkathi used to use a musical form of their own already melodic language that echoes across the depths like whalesong. Now with the advent of tele-communicators this is no longer necessary, but the Ashkathi language is described as incredibly beautiful and musical.
Ashkathi are not culturally a malignant people, so they have little need for enforcement within their own borders. For visitors to Larine or any of the Ashkathi colony worlds, there are troopers known as Protectors of the Homeland, or Protectors for short. These Protectors exist so that Ashkathi are not threatened by visitors. The Protectors can also function as police if need be, but this is rare, as crime committed by Ashkathi within their own borders is uncommon.
However, if someone does commit a crime, they are put on trial before the High Council. The accused is brought before the council, and both sides of the story are heard by the Council. Then the Council votes on whether or not the accused is guilty, and if the accused is guilty, appropriate punishment is meted out.
The punishment for most crimes is banishment to the wilderness. On Larine, most criminals are banished to the Gaaka trench. Violent crime, however, especially murder, is punishable by death.
In the case that an outsider commits a crime in Ashkathi space, the outsider is detained and a trial is conducted with the High Council via a communication screen. If the outsider is found guilty, he is released to the custody of their home government, and the outsider is barred from ever returning to Ashkathi space.
Most Ashkathi practice a barter system, as they have since before the Day of Ascension. Between planets in the Ashkathi Union and the Galactic Nations, the Ashkathi have begun to use the shiny shells of a bivalve-like animal known as a daati as legal tender, often referred to in common usage as "shells". To deal with other races, the Ashkathi use a digital currency also called "Shells". When an Ashkathi space traveler with digital Shells returns to Larine or one of the other Ashkathi colony worlds, his digital Shells are exchanged for physical goods and services.
The official religion of the Ashkathi Union is Ashkathism. The Ashkathi are an artistic and incredibly spiritual people, believing in the interconnectedness of all living beings in the Songstream. In essence, smaller creatures are eaten by larger creatures, which themselves die and bring sustenance to the smaller creatures. Plant life is also similarly sacred. For this reason, their technology is designed specifically to not be harmful to the environment. The Ashkathi believes themselves to be on equal footing with every other sentient race in the Beyond, and every sentient race equal to each other. It is for this reason that the phrase "We are all one within the Songstream" is as prolific as it is within the Ashkathi Union's borders, to the extent that is a common farewell.
Ashkathi families are split into clans, each with a head shaman to lead them. The head shaman is typically the eldest member of the family, and the title of shaman passes down to the current shaman's eldest child of either gender. A shaman is a spiritual leader among the Ashkathi, and also makes decisions regarding the betterment of the clan. Shamans also become leaders of villages and tribes. To become a member of the High Council, one must either be a shaman, or receive formal training from a shaman.
Young Ashkathi have jobs decided for them by their parents, and their profession is attached to their name like a title. After a time of sufficient success for the Ashkathi worker, they are given three options: either retire pleasantly, become a shaman, or choose a new profession from whatever they wish. Ashkathi who choose the third option are given complimentary education for their respective chosen profession and allowed to begin working in that field, even if it is the same job that they were working at previously.
The most prominent holiday in the Ashkathi Union is the Larinian New Year, which occurs at the beginning of the Larinian standard calendar. On the Larinian New Year, Ashkathi celebrate by "parading" down the main "street" of the settlement. Haana-gan is well known for the Dance of the Gaaka-Den, where many Ashkathi dress in a costume of a great Gaaka-den (very similar to the Chinese dragon dance of Earth's Chinese New Year) and dance in order to chase away evil spirits. To welcome the new year, young Ashkathi catch kull, and wrap a piece of shuulua kelp around them. On the kelp is written the Ashkathi's wishes for the new year. The kull are then released.
Ashkathi don't celebrate birthdays as humans do, because Ashkathi eggs in the same clutch hatch at about the same time. Instead, Ashkathi celebrate songdays, which commemorate the day an Ashkathi child sings his or her first song. This usually happens around 4 to 7 months after hatching. Ashkathi who sing earlier are celebrated as intelligent and highly connected to the mystic web of the Songstream, and they often become elders and shamans. On the 24th songday, an Ashkathi will sing the Song of Growth to their parents. This signifies an Ashkathi's coming of age, and is a day of great celebration.
The Ashkathi language is named Gaale. It is a language spoken slowly with drawn-out vowels and slurred consonants. It sounds much like whalesong, and when spoken underwater travels a great distance. The standard form, often called Classical Gaale, is very difficult to speak for humans, and outsiders wishing to learn the language are often taught Galactic Gaale, a shorter, faster version. Regardless, both languages are typically written in Ahtaatu characters, which are syllabic in nature.
Much of Ashkathi folklore revolves around animals, such as the trickster figure Torra. One of the best-known Ashkathi fables is "Why Torra Chases the Kull". Prior to ascension, the monstrous gaaka-den, an animal native to Larine, was worshipped as a god of death.
The Ashkathi Union is comprised of 4 systems colonized by the Ashkathi in the surrounding areas of their star cluster. They will only colonize a planet that has a surface area of over 80% water, meaning that Ashkathi will often live on planets that other races find uninhabitable without help. The Ashkathi Union's territory is a remote cluster on the frontier edge of Galactic Nations space. Music and art are some of the primary exports of Larine and the other Ashkathi systems, while they mostly import things like metal and peaceful technology. The Ashkathi Union borders the Verandi Empire and the Sirian Union.
The five planets of the Ashkathi Union are: their home planet of Larine in the Lukara system, Salorin in the Estaali system, Tehlana in the Usake system, and Andarr and Soskella in the Tokuune system.
In addition, the Ashkathi Union has set up research stations and fueling outposts on the following planets surrounding Ashkathi space:
- Lukara System
- Nolumani System
- Randuaan System
- Meskalli System
- Koretuura System
- Maaren System