Main article: Timeline of Njalryeth History
The njalryeth had advanced to the point where they had functional interplanetary space travel and limited communication with their interstellar neighbours the Kellsaran before they were discovered by the League in the year 530. When the Nomads discovered that Losshur was rich with rare conductive, non-corroding metals well-suited for various applications, they inducted the njalryeth into the League through gunboat diplomacy, and for almost a century they lived under the Nomads’ thumb.
Though their League membership was not without its benefits, chief amongst them a revolutionizing of their space development, the njalryeth chafed under the Nomads’ interference with their autonomy and government and broke away when the opportunity first presented itself. Now they traverse the stars on their own terms, seeking to expand their territory and broker mutually-beneficial alliances with fellow victims of the League’s rule such as the Kellsaran and the Sirian Union.
Prior to their “joining” the League, the njalryeth did not have a world government and lived in separate nations with different governments and ideologies, with an international council to settle disputes. The League reorganized this into a centralized government with a succession of puppet monarchs to act as their spokeswomen. The reign of the third such monarch,G'nova Binah Hok'ma Dreth, was very unpopular, and she was overthrown once Losshur broke away from the League.
Now the race has reorganized themselves into the newly-formed Losshur Federation, a representative democratic federated republic, in order to better establish their racial identity and stand together against future oppression. The Federation is run by a President Elect, and the Senate is comprised of representatives from the pre-League nations of Losshur as well as from their territories abroad. Foreign policy places an emphasis on strengthening the economy through trade and forging alliances with other nations.
The Losshur Federation's Senate is broken up into a number of political parties, both major and minor. The five largest political parties are presented below, in descending order:
- Joint Reefs: The Joint Reefs party wants the Losshur Federation to-establish diplomatic ties with other interstellar nations and strengthen existing ties. In particular, they push for closer relations with the Sirian Union and Kellsaran Archauthority. Their party headquarters is located on Losshur, capital of the Federation and home world of the njalryeth species. They enjoy the tacit support of the Choral Concordance, as their xenophilic political ideology dovetails with the Chorus’s doctrinal tenets. Xecna Handas N’dranath Tagore, the current (and first) President Elect of the Losshur Federation, is a member of the Joint Reefs party. Though they disagree with the Gated Trench party on several points, both parties nevertheless agree that their interstellar neighbours in the Archauthority cannot be ignored.
- Bounteous Tides: The Bounteous Tides party want to bolster the Losshur Federation’s economy through foreign trade deals. They understand that this is a vast galaxy and that, even with three systems under their control, they cannot prosper if they stand alone. Thus, they must reach out to foreign markets to broker trade deals that will ensure a constant influx of money, benefit Federation businesses and entrepreneurs, and provide access to mineral resources that they could not otherwise acquire. Their party headquarters is located on Nan’she, which serves as the commercial center and touristic hub of the Losshur Federation due to being a continental world where terrestrial species can actually go about on land. They are often at odds with the Gated Trench party, and with the Equal Shoals party.
- Gated Trench: The Gated Trench party are isolationists that want the Losshur Federation to withdraw from the Galactic Congress and close its borders to all but a select few nations. Their party headquarters is located on Nan’she, whose population provided many of the njalryeth soldiers who fought in the final League-Pact War: many of these soldiers lost their lives, and the League’s collapse following the war’s conclusion has left many of the planet’s citizens disillusioned with the greater galactic community, thinking that their sons and husbands died in vain. The Gated Trench party often brings up this resentment during their rallies: why should the children of Losshur give up their lives serving the interests of foreigners? In their view, the Federation comes first and other civilizations are a distant second.
- Equal Shoals: Like the Bounteous Tides, the Equal Shoals party wants to ensure the Losshur Federation’s economic prosperity by encouraging foreign trade. However, their motives and methods differ: while the Bounteous Tides are staunch capitalists, the Equal Shoals advocate socialism. Their political views came about when the Nomads meddled with njalryeth sovereignty by forcibly unifying them under an installed monarchy, which consolidated the wealth of Losshur’s nation states and people. While that monarchy has since been overturned, the Equal Shoals party continues to advocate the redistribution of wealth so that everyone gets an equal share, and corporate executives and politicians cannot become so wealthy as to lord over their fellow njalryeth like kings. Their party headquarters is located on Rán, the heart of the Federation’s vast aquaculture industry; its ideals resonate strongly with Rán’s population, nearly all of whom are workers in the trawler fleets.
- Renewed Canals: The Renewed Canals party are royalists that wish to reinstate the overturned monarchy and bring the Losshur Federation back into the Great Interstellar League. It is one of the Federation’s smallest and least popular political parties due to these views, but it nevertheless wields a disproportionate degree of influence. Its party headquarters is located on Losshur, and its members are primarily old money and nouveau riche aristocrats who benefitted from the League’s imposition of a centralized monarchy. It is also rumoured that they have ties to the so-called Discordant heretics, a splinter faction of the Chorus that revered the Nomads as divine manifestations of the Great Mother’s grand design and advocates radical transhumanist policies. They are on somewhat friendly terms with the Bounteous Tides party, and are strongly opposed by both the Equal Shoals and Joint Reefs party.
The njalryeth are a peaceful people and prefer to solve problems with diplomacy instead of violence. That said, they are not naïve; they know the universe isn’t as kind as they wish it to be, and while they won’t start wars they will defend themselves if necessary. To that end, the Losshur Federation maintains a well-trained standing army and all ships have at least some armament.
The Losshur Federation Armed Forces are trained to operate in water, on land, and aboard starships if necessary. They are generally equipped with various sonic weapons for ranged combat and oscillating “harmonic” weapons for close quarters. They excel at amphibious and naval warfare. Njalryeth are naturally able to hold their breath for long periods of time and can dive down to considerable depths, and military diving suits (called “abysskins”) let them reach even greater depths without needing to surface for air. They act in a similar capacity to human combat divers, performing reconnaissance, bomb disposal, sabotage, assault, and other roles. During the League’s war with the Pact, such units were deployed to capture or destroy a world’s aquatic installations, crippling terrestrial navies. Similar units were used for boarding actions against enemy ships and space stations.
As sonic weapons are naturally useless in the vacuum of space, Federation starships are armed with batteries of particle beam cannons called stormcasters. These destructive electrical beams can strike targets at near-light-speed but lose coherence over long ranges and have long recharge times between shots, so standard naval doctrine is to stagger the firing of the batteries so that by the time the final battery in the chain has fired, the first battery is ready to fire again. Federation ships make use of the same deflector shield technology as the Sirian Union, due to their prior partnership with the Kellsaran species.
Federation cities tend to straddle coastlines, with part of the cityscape above sea level and the rest beneath the water. Buildings are designed to resist tidal waves and incorporate breakwaters in particularly turbulent areas. Open ocean cities are rare but not unheard of, though every building needs to have at least a few air pockets to accommodate the inhabitants’ need for oxygen. Stairs are practically unheard of, and most buildings feature inclined ramps instead. Interiors are typically wide, spacious, and well-lit, as the njalryeth dislike enclosed spaces and find underground dwellings claustrophobic due to their large size.
Because they lack legs, the njalryeth cannot easily move about on land. They have invented several technologies to make this easier. The most prestigious and expensive is the leviskin, a garment laced with piezoelectric quartz which levitates if the wearer hums at a certain frequency, letting her swim through the air as if it were water.
For those who cannot afford leviskins, various models of “rollers” (simple open-topped wheeled vehicles of varying quality) are available for purchase or rental. The most basic model has no motor at all, and the rider must propel herself using her arms.
Mass transit between terrestrial cities and across continents is handled via maglev railways.
Getting around underwater is much easier, though the commute can sometimes be troublesome. Most njalryeth have personal or family-sized diving scooters for when they need to get somewhere in a hurry.
For public transportation, most cities maintain networks of much larger “remora” scooters, so named because passengers cling to the outside of the vehicle like the titular fish.
For transportation of actual goods and materials, actual boats and submersibles are used.
The Losshur Federation takes its security very seriously, and the police respond quickly to reports of crime. Officers make use of high-speed amphibious craft to pursue fleeing suspects, and are armed with a variety of non-lethal weapons for incapacitating criminals.
The state seeks to rehabilitate criminals rather than keep them locked away, but for those deemed irredeemable the Federation reserves a harsh punishment. Traitors, murderers, and the like are not imprisoned for life; instead they are abandoned in the untamed terrestrial wilderness far from civilization, at the mercy of savage predators.
A vast majority of the Federation’s technology is built using piezoelectric crystals, as the njalryeth have mastered the art of converting vibrational energy into electricity and back again. Everything, from the simplest battery to the most complex starship engine, can be powered by literally singing into it at the right frequency.
Applications include but are by no means limited to: voice amplification, communication, personal levitation, personal deflector shields, sonic weaponry, underwater propulsion, hygiene, non-invasive surgery, sonar, sculpture, surveying, and more.
the Losshur Federation has learned to power their cities via geothermal energy. Deep sea plants on Losshur and Nan’she harvest this power directly from thermal vents on the ocean floor, channelling the energy along insulated conduits to wherever it is needed. Rán, being a purely aquatic planet with a mantle of compressed ice, does not benefit from this infrastructure and its people depend on sonic power and hydroelectric power instead. During their time under the League, the njalryeth shared this technology with the Tacheir.
Federation starships were only slightly more advanced than those of 21st-century Earth when they joined the League. By the time they left, their technology had advanced astonishingly. Federation starships are no longer built in the traditional sense: instead they are grown.
Each ship begins as a metal endoskeleton laced with seed crystals, which are then baked to full size in massive space dock furnaces. Once the ship has cooled, the interior is mined out to excavate crew chambers and connect utilities. This gives Federation vessels a distinctive crystalline aesthetic. The engine room is kept perpetually flooded, both to ensure maximum output for the choristers tending to the sonic engine and to deter boarding parties.
Propulsion systems are currently League standard, but Federation scientists have recently begun experimenting with graviton wave manipulation as a form of reactionless drive; practical models are not expected for some time.
The primary religion of the Losshur Federation is the Choral Concordance, a church which worships the Great Mother Losshur, a benevolent creator goddess and personification of the life-giving ocean. Her tenets include compassion, moderation, and respect for one’s self, one’s peers, and the world around oneself. The clergy is known as the Chorus or the Choir, and is primarily made up of women with a few male priests. Their ranks in ascending order are Choristers (ordinary priests and priestesses), Conductors (equivalent to bishops and cardinals), and the Composer (the head of the religion, always female, appointed for life but may choose to step down).
Some sects of the Choir revere the Nomads (particularly the Great Ones) as embodiments of Losshur’s will, and preach supplication to the machine. These heretics are known as the Discordant, and are scorned by the faithful as deluded machine cultists. Though few in number, these secretive beings represent a real danger to the Federation, plotting the return of the Great Mother’s “true” heirs.
For obvious reasons, njalryeth do not bury or cremate their dead. They honour the deceased by fashioning necklaces from their teeth, with each family member and loved one receiving a single tooth. Each recipient scrimshaws the deceased’s name onto the tooth before adding it to their necklace. The body is then carried out into the open sea and left for the great leviathans to devour, returning their spirit to the Great Mother’s embrace in an aquatic version of a sky burial.
Body language is a key component of interpersonal communication. A njalryeth who rears up into a humanoid stance with her spine perpendicular to the floor is baring her vulnerably underbelly, an expression of trust or submission. A njalryeth who holds herself parallel to the ground is being guarded or neutral. A njalryeth who slants her body with the tail raised and the head lowered is displaying agitation or hostility. Generally speaking, a head held high indicates openness while a lowered head indicates aggression.
The teachings of the Concordance state that a njalryeth’s claws and teeth may only be used for hunting. To bare these terrible weapons against another njalryeth, or any other sapient being, is considered a crime. Even soldiers who find themselves weaponless and with no other option but to attack an enemy with their natural weapons risks censure and court-martial for her actions.
The njalryeth evolved from transient pack hunters, and hunting remains an important part of their culture to this day. It is the one context in which the use of one’s teeth and claws is permitted. The Federation takes great pains to conserve the sea life of the worlds they colonize, so as to maintain a steady population of suitable prey for aspiring hunters. Parents often take their children on hunting trips when they come of age as a rite of passage for adulthood. Apart from one’s natural weapons, only melee weapons may be used in a hunt; firearms are considered unsporting for that purpose.
Because their sense of hearing is much more acute than their eyesight, njalryeth find visual arts less appealing than music and other sonic arts. Physical artwork such as sculpture and paintings are valued less for how they look and more for how they “echo”—for instance, a glass sculpture that produces a clear note in response to echolocation, or a bas-relief that produces an interesting silhouette from the same. They have a great appreciation for the music of other cultures, but regard paintings and similar artwork with bemusement at best.
Family has always been an important element of njalryeth culture. The line of descent is matrilineal, and every njalryeth is linked to a clan of relatives through his or her female ancestors. These clans are broken down into three distinct levels: the immediate family, which includes one’s parents, siblings, and children; the pod (or sept), which includes one’s grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins; and the greater clan, which comprises all pods descending from a common ancestor several generations removed. Federation genealogies are often very elaborate, and frequently get revised as old clans split and new clans are formed.
Every njalryeth has four names: a personal name, family name, pod name, and clan name. How many she uses when introducing herself depends on her relation to the other person; immediate family only need the personal name, pod members need the first two names, clan members need the first three, and strangers or aliens get all four.
The Losshur Federation's territory consists of the Yetu, Oilon and Benthos star systems, along with all their worlds.