|Homeworld||Mimu (Dagudashaag 0208)|
|Reference||"Contact:S'mrii." Signal-GK 5 6.|
The S'mrii, a species of hexapedal reptiloids native to Mimu (Dagudashaag 0208), participate widely in interstellar society, and yet humans see them as enigmatic. It is true that S'mrii are not an overly assertive race unlike certain other groups, they do not proudly proclaim their heritage. It is, however, a heritage to be proud of. The S'mrii were starfarers when the Vilani Industrial Revolution had barely begun. But for a truly unfortunate accident many millennia ago, the Galaxy may have been very different. The S'mrii are "the major race that so nearly was."
The history of human-S'mrii interactions has been riddled with prejudice and misconceptions on both sides. We hope that this work will go some way toward bringing our two species closer together.
- 1 Physiology & Environment (Ecology)
- 2 History & Background (Dossier)
- 3 Psychology and Philosophy
- 4 Culture and society
- 5 Government and politics
- 6 Technology and economics
- 7 Worlds and sectors
- 8 References and contributors
Physiology & Environment (Ecology)
Reliable S'mrii medical records span some twenty-six millennia. The typical S'mrii male measures about 1.9 meters head-to-tail, and weighs about 60 kg. Females are slightly smaller, measuring 1.7 meters and weighing 52 kg. Height at the shoulder is typically about 75 cm. Largely because their homeworld is a low-gravity planet, they have a comparatively light bone structure. The S'mrii more than make up for their lack of physical strength, however, by a high degree of manual dexterity.
The S'mrii are descended from flying carnivore/pouncer stock native to Mimu (Dagudashaag 0208) which inhabited the steep-sided forest valleys common to the areas surrounding Mimu's small seas. Information regarding the evolution of the S'mrii is somewhat sketchy, but it is believed that the key event was an unusual sequence of magnetic field reversals at around -1.6 million. The planet's magnetic field flipped polarity repeatedly over a period of about 10,000 years. One result of this was increased amounts of hard radiation reaching the planet's surface.
One effect of the heightened radiation flux was to deplete the foliage in these forested areas. The proto-S'mrii were forced to cooperate to fend off other carnivores from their increasingly rare herbivore prey. In addition, the increased radiation accelerated the rate of genetic change. Older proto-S'mrii lost the ability to fly, and so had to prey on tree-climbing omnivore/gatherers. It is believed that these creatures, the Mikhkiath, were herded by proto-S'mrii as long ago as -800,000.
The most comfortable gait for S'mrii is a four-legged one, superficially similar to that of the K'kree, which leaves the forward pair of limbs free to manipulate objects. The center pair of "claw-hands" can grasp or steady equipment, but less dexterously.
Males of our species have a dark-green scaled skin, shading to blue-green on the underside. Females are a lighter "silver-green" color. The skin of many individuals also bear geometric designs in metallic silver, bronze, or gold. Some humans seem to believe that these designs are cosmetically applied - they are, in fact, genetically transmitted.
S'mrii are basically carnivorous, preferring cooked meat rendered down into a thick paste, and mixed with a wide variety of spices and sauces. The diet also includes seeds, nuts, and similar plant-derived produce for variety.
Human and S'mrii biochemistries are largely (though not completely) inter-compatible. There are a number of foodstuffs which humans and S'mrii find mutually palatable and nutritious.
The S'mrii circadian rhythm has evolved to suit the thirty-hour rotation period of our homeworld, Mimu. Like other sophonts, they spend one-third of this time asleep. Because of local conditions, however, usually there are two periods of sleep during the day. The first, a period of roughly three hours around local noon and the second, a period of seven hours during the planetary night. Travellers to Mimu would do well to bear this in mind.
The S'mrii are an oviparous race. The eggs, once fertilized, are kept within the female's body for approximately eleven months before being laid. The eggs are originally soft-shelled, but the shells of viable eggs harden rapidly on contact with air. Clutches of three to five eggs are usually laid, but it is rare for more than three to be viable. It is possible for a female to lay eggs as frequently as once every four standard years, but, in modern S'mrii society, she often lays one, and only one, clutch.
S'mrii juveniles develop slowly - maturity is reached at 32 standard years, and they require parental attention for most of that time. The need to devote so much effort to caring for children has shaped S'mrii society considerably.
S'mrii senses are quite acute compared to human's. Eyes are sensitive to shades from orange to near-ultraviolet, and sensitive to infra-red, although they are unable form images in this band. What a human sees as S'mrii eyes are actually just corneas: complex optical surfaces, each of which covers a medial and lateral compound eye, and two "true" eyes. The S'mrii cornea is a photochromic biopolymer as effective as many present-day synthetic materials. The complex structure of the S'mrii eye gives us excellent wide-angle vision.
S'mrii hearing extends somewhat further into the high-frequency domain than does human. Senses of smell and taste are roughly equivalent to human norms.
In common with other reptiloids, S'mrii are poikilothermic (sometimes wrongly termed "cold-blooded") and are thus sensitive to rapid changes in temperature. This is generally overcome with temperature-controlled "oversuits." In the absence of such technological remedies, they tend to become sluggish in cold temperatures (below about 8°C). The S'mrii cardiovascular system is similar to that of humans, but less efficient.The oxygen-chelating compound is hemoglobin, as in humans. There are four lung sacs, but these are relatively small: S'mrii experience discomfort when breathing thin atmospheres, so use a filter respirator combination under these conditions. Conversely, the S'mrii have greater tolerance for higher pressures than do humans, and are less subject to nitrogen narcosis.
The S'mrii are unusual in that they have multiple sets of vocal cords. Coupled with the unusual double structure of the S'mrii brain, this gives them remarkable verbal capabilities. Sfuizia (the S'mrii language) is acknowledged to be particularly difficult for humans to pronounce. In normal dealings with the S'mrii, however, electronic translators are unnecessary as the S'mrii have an excellent command of Galanglic.
S'mrii are among the longest-lived of all mobile sentient species. S'mrii typically live 250-270 standard years. Anagathics for S'mrii have never been developed.
History & Background (Dossier)
The S'mrii have always been reluctant to allow detailed examination of their historical records by Imperial authorities. The following derived is derived from the work of Professor Konstantin Andriseyev of the Free University of Ushra, and represents a "best guess" of S'mrii historical events.
S'mrii history followed a course similar to that of many other sentient races, passing through hunter-gatherer and subsistence farming phases, leading to a series of primitive feudal states by about -33,000. Technological development began to accelerate somewhat after -27,000; their Industrial Revolution is generally accepted to have occurred at about -26,300.
The most critical event in S'mrii history occurred in -25,790. According to the archeological and geological evidence gathered by S'mrii over subsequent millennia, the event was a thermonuclear holocaust. Nuclear devices totalling some 4,100 megatons were detonated over major population centers. The holocaust is known in S'mrii literature as the Satkrsach*'m*'iassiisk, or "Day of Dying." Pre-"Day of Dying" historical information is fragmentary at best, but it is believed that S'mrii society was originally much closer to a system of nation-states. At about -25,835, three distinct superpowers had emerged, each with its own socioeconomic bloc. The High Common Tech Level on Mimu was about TL 7 at this time. By -25,800, two of these nations (the Ssiarkuku and the Iakzikhu) had manned orbital spaceflight capabilities, while the third (Riachik) was well on the way to developing it. Ssiarkuku had already launched a number of soft-landing probes to nearby terrestrial planets, and plans were well-advanced for longer-range missions.
By this point, the end was almost inevitable. Riachik used its launcher technology to develop a nuclear Fractional Orbit Bombardment System (FOBS), and then attempted to use this system in nuclear blackmail to resolve a long-standing border dispute. The other two superpowers panicked, and vied with each other to put nuclear missile systems and laser Ballistic Missile Defenses on Suikhtreekh, Mimu's asteroidal moon. Squabbles between these nations degenerated into full-scale nuclear war.
The effects were devastating. Some four-fifths of the planet's population of 2.05 billion S'mrii died in the five years following the Holocaust. The Skak Kakchuassa, the most densely populated, technologically advanced, and agriculturally productive region on the planet was turned into a radioactive desert. The climatic changes triggered by the war were also severe. Changes in the planetary albedo caused repeated "mini-Ice Ages," each lasting one or two centuries, as Mimu's mean surface temperature oscillated wildly. This phase of Mimu's history (the "Darkness") was characterized by a simple fight for survival. No one was interested in rebuilding civilization.
Mimu's climate finally reached a stable equilibrium at about -22,200, some three-and-a-half millennia after the original holocaust. Any memory of their previous civilization had been all but erased by this time. All that survived was a fear of technology. Such city ruins as had survived the war and subsequent glaciation were declared taboo.
The S'mrii rebuilt themselves into tribes, clans, and finally city-states, with an average tech level of 2. The S'mrii had found a tech level which gave an acceptable standard of living, and they stagnated there.
Friction between neighboring city-states was common, and most were in a constant state of low-key conflict. Such conflict and the shifting nature of city-state allegiances made any cultural development very difficult. Loose alliances of cities rose and fell during the following millennia.
The first signs of change in the S'mrii culture came at about -15,000. Groups of S'mrii who opposed the constant state of warfare began to organize themselves in the largest city-states. The authorities usually brutally suppressed these groups, but a few survived as an underground movement. A number made journeys into the ruined cities. Why is unclear - perhaps they hoped to find some ancient device which would end the warfare; more likely, they did it simply to break the accepted taboos. The majority of those who made these journeys did not return.
Encampments slowly built up around the city ruins as a steady trickle of refugees arrived from the city-states. The results of their forays into the ruins were at first disappointing. The scavengers found only the merest hints remained of what had once had been.
At about this time, possibly as a result of a discovery in the ruins, a number of refugee bands united. They began a trek toward the hitherto-uncharted northwest, across the Rmuree'm Mountains, and into the Kiamuskeekik Basin. There they made a discovery which changed the course of S'mrii history. A single mountain peak rose out the fertile plains of the Kiamuskeekik. Inside it, they found an Iakzikhu command/control center which had survived the holocaust. The S'mrii looked upon the incomprehensible artifacts they had found with a mixture of awe and reverence: who were these gods, who had worked such wonders? Word was sent to other refugees, and the population of Kiamuskeekik began to swell. However, a series of unusually harsh winters hampered efforts to bring more followers across the mountains...
The weather did not improve. The mountain glaciers slowly began to advance. Mimu's abused climate system was giving one last, reproachful spasm. The S'mrii refugees huddled in their ferro-concrete warrens, and prayed to the deities residing in enigmatic grey cabinets with featureless glass faces.
As they retreated from the winter cold into the complex they discovered deeper and deeper levels. Finally they came across a blast door which had sagged and warped with age. With a great deal of effort, they managed to pry it open. Inside, they found the mummified corpses of Iakzikhu communications technicians. Disbelief, then unrestrained excitement. As a refugee leader, Iak'Kiaskui, said, "We did this. We carved mountains. What we did once, we can do again!"
Reverential worship gave way to a systematic sifting through the complex's artifacts. What they could understand, they memorized by rote. What they could not, they preserved for examination by future generations. The task was approached methodically, with a patience almost incomprehensible by human standards.
The weather began to moderate by -14,300, but the passes across the Rmuree'm Mountains remained blocked by glacial moraines. The S'mrii Reborn were isolated, but they did not mind. It suited their plans.
By -13,770, the S'mrii Reborn were ready. In their isolated stronghold they enjoyed a high common tech level of 6 - a greater level of technological achievement than the planet had seen in 12,000 years. How could they carry this to the rest of the planet, which still lay in near-barbarism? Their leader, M*trkzia'm Kiaskui, ordered rapid-strike missions carried out against the largest city-states. As many city leaders were to be kidnapped as possible, and transported to a remote archipelago. The operation was carried out quickly and efficiently - knives and spears are no match for attack helicopters.
Once they were assembled, M*trkzia'm Kiaskui proposed his view of a unified, technocratic global state to them. To reinforce his point, he demonstrated what had destroyed the civilization of the "gods" millennia earlier. The collection of emperors, kings, oligarchs, and priests witnessed a ground-level explosion.
Return to space
The S'mrii Reborn had a truly rare opportunity: to build a global technological society from scratch. They set about it with a will. Primitive castes and guilds were reorganized on a global scale as the phylum system, and the Kiaskui were established as hereditary leaders. The S'mrii returned to space in -13,610: Suikhtreekh Orbital Facility was rebuilt. They had equalled the achievements of their ancestors, but this time with a peaceful and unified world. They expanded slowly and methodically, first with chemical rockets, and later with fusion propulsion to further out in the Mimu system, establishing colonies and exploiting the rich resources of the system's planetoid belt. In -12,230, they stood at the edge of their system and gazed out at the stars.
The Alliance of Worlds
The scientific patronage system, which had served the S'mrii so well up to now, proved to their detriment when they faced the stars. Iaru'azikua, the greatest physical scientist in a millennium, the harnesser of fusion energy, had stated that faster-than-light travel was impossible. So be it: all research in that area was frivolous, and the S'mrii would travel to the stars at a more stately pace. The fusion rockets used for insystem travel were enlarged and adapted to produce Bussard ramjets. The designs were continually refined: the ships were rugged, supremely reliable, and beautiful, but no fundamental advances in propulsion technology were made.
Between -11,900 and -10,900, multiple colonization missions were made to worlds within six parsecs. Ramjet's efficiency was increased to where a one parsec journey could be made in fifteen years. This made commerce possible for the long-lived S'mrii. The Alliance of Worlds, a trading association, was established and sublight transport became regularly scheduled.
The S'mrii had discovered only pre-sentient animals on the worlds they had explored, and they believed that they were alone in the Galaxy. First Contact came as a complete surprise to them. The meeting occurred in -9,090, when a sublight colonization mission to the S'mrii colony world of Zuiar arrived in the Karrana'ch (Dagudashaag 0302) system, a system already occupied by a Naasirka frontier base.
The S'mrii maintain that they initiated the formal contact, though the subject remains a matter of debate. Though both sides were initially disconcerted by the contact, they maintained cordial relations. The S'mrii seem to have been unable to understand how much space the Vilani already controlled. They thought at first that the Vilani would be satisfied with Alliance membership.
Disconcerted by the contact with a high-tech alien race, the Vilani determined to dominate the S'mrii economically. The S'mrii were initially confused by Vilani insistence that no examination of their ships was permitted, and that S'mrii passengers could travel only by low berth, but they shrugged their scaly shoulders and accepted. Naasirka began regular freight runs along the Mimu branch of the Vilani Main by -9,020. Additional trade concessions were made conditional upon dismantlement of the Alliance administrative structure. In -8,922, the S'mrii Alliance of Worlds dissolved and power passed to the Vilani provincial governor.
The Ziru Sirka
The years -9,000 to -6,000 saw the S'mrii suffer gradual stagnation, as the Vilani thought their technocratic phylum society too dangerous to allow them complete freedom. They were not completely restricted: trade and cultural links developed with the Lancians, a minor human race to spinward.
By about -6,200, the Vilani finally released the travel restrictions on S'mrii: they were allowed to travel as middle or high passengers and to crew jump-capable vessels. The Vilani were actually glad to hand over those nasty technological details to the S'mrii. In -6,113, Naasirka allowed phylum U'chakzii-Ziask to build starships at its yards on Mimu and Zuiar, although jump drive "black boxes" were still shipped in from Vland sector. From the Vilani point of view, that was ultimately a mistake, as it allowed the S'mrii to develop their phylum system into a true starfaring culture. S'mrii technological development began to pick up speed.
The Vilani discovered jump-2 drive in -5,430, giving them a considerable strategic advantage. In -5,288, an incident occurred which continues to baffle historians. There were considerable diplomatic ructions between the Vilani Provincial governor and the phylum Kiaskui. The S'mrii rapidly tried to arm their merchant vessels and sought assistance from the Lancians, but they were no match for the Vilani Grand Fleet. Tactical nuclear weapons destroyed several technological centers on Mimu. The outcry among other minor races in the region over this incident was a significant factor in the onset of the Consolidation Wars.
By the conclusion of the Wars, several S'mrii colonies had been damaged or destroyed altogether. The S'mrii had been forced to retreat to their core of six worlds (Gushemege 3208 Chzaar (world), Dagudashaag 0108 Zukchurukh (world), 0109 Tscho (world), Mimu, Akimu, and Zuiar). Vilani occupation armies were placed on these worlds.
The Vilani instituted a policy of re-education, attempting to model S'mrii society along Vilani lines. Any success was marginal, considering the monolithic nature of S'mrii society. The S'mrii retained sublight transport for communications between Mimu and its colonies, but any ships straying outside the "quarantine" zone were destroyed. It is possible that the S'mrii had penetrated the secrets of jump-2 travel.
The first Solomani scout expeditions reached Mimu in -2,173. Once initial communication difficulties were overcome ("Yes, we are human, but not the same group of humans..."), they were hailed as liberating heroes. The new Solomani administrators of Dagudashaag felt insecure so close to Vland sector. They needed a counterweight to the Vilani, and the S'mrii fit the bill perfectly.
The Solomani forced the Vilani to pay reparations for the damage they had caused: U'Chakzii was thus able to become a major starship contractor for the Rule of Man military. S'mrii were promoted to quite senior posts in the sector administration, and served as technicians on scout vessels which travelled as far as Antares and Ley sectors. The S'mrii outlying colonies were re-established, and S'mrii scientists assisted in the establishment of colonies on Medurma and Ushra.
Psychology and Philosophy
"Stability without stagnation, order without repression - these are our watchwords. An unstable society can only be damaging for both individuals and groups, yet a rigidly-enforced stability will destroy a society just as surely as war or revolution. Radicalism of any kind is to be avoided - we must seek a middle path, just as a physical system seeks its equilibrium position. Although leaders must be endowed with authority, a system of checks and balances is essential to ensure that this authority is not abused.
A person should never hold a position of authority for which he does not possess the abilities needed. Aptitude testing is an everyday part of life for those S'mrii in authority, so that those they lead may feel secure in placing their trust in them. The degree of trust which S'mrii show in their scientific and political leaders is often disconcerting to humans, but you may rest assured that we do not give that trust lightly. A S'mrii leader will always defer to another's expertise in a particular field, even if he be of lower rank.
We have a strong appreciation for our own heritage, yet we do not let it blind us to the wonders of the Galaxy. We were spacefarers when all the major branches of Humaniti dressed in animal skins and lived in caves, yet we are humbled before the chain of consciousness which links all sentient races. Sentient beings have been travelling between the stars of our Galaxy for over one billion years, a single fact which makes the claims of antiquity of our friends to coreward seem rather feeble. For the record, the S'mrii discovered electricity 15,800 years before the Vilani, the computer 15,780 years before, the fusion reactor 3,216 years before, and metaconductors 1,826 years before.
A great deal of time is spent caring for our children. Every effort is made to protect them from harm. Exploiting those who cannot defend themselves is anathema to us. If we see an individual or organization offending in this manner, we feel ourselves bound to intervene. Though we have been described as self-righteous, we seek simply to promote stability, order, and well-being for all."
Culture and society
- "Pyramids within pyramids..." - Dr. Eneri Giilaam, Sophontology Review.
S'mrii society is highly stratified, and formed from large socioeconomic groups known as Z*ssr'chaa (broadly translated as "phylum"). Each phylum has an overall rank in S'mrii society - this attribute is known as "phylum status" and applies to all members of that phylum. Some parallels have been drawn between the S'mrii phylum status and human social standing although there are important differences. S'mrii society is widely described as pyramidal, as there is only one phylum of Status 15 (the Kiaskui), while there are 5-6,000 phylum of Status 3.
Phyla vary widely in size, having anywhere between 6,000 and 15 million members. The basic social unit within a phylum is the Ka'usui (or "family") consisting of a pair of S'mrii, their children, and attendant Kiakh'iee. Three or four ka'usui make up an Sk*khua (or "circle") which is often equated to the human extended family. The analogy is not exact, however, as more often than not there are no blood ties between the families in a circle. It should be emphasized that family and circle ties are very strong. Loyalty to one's children and fellow circle members is what holds the fabric of S'mrii society together. Loyalty to the phylum governing council is also heavily emphasized as part of a S'mrii education.
Interphylum ties within S'mrii society are primarily feudal, with each non-noble phylum pledging allegiance to a particular noble phylum. The noble phylums in turn swear allegiance to the Kiaskui.
The individual phyla have responsibility for providing medical and social services. The higher in status a phylum is, the wider its region of authority, and the more its tasks tend to be administrative and organizational in nature.
Phyla tend to be broadly delineated depending on their major activities (communications, transportation, etc.), but this does leave a great deal of latitude for variation within individual phyla. Individual working groups tend to be formed for specific tasks - working organization within a phylum is often quite fluid.
Phylum rank: The structure of the phylum governing councils, and indeed any position of responsibility within a phylum, are decided on a strictly meritocratic basis. Upon reaching maturity, a S'mrii will rise rapidly within the ranks of the phylum to a position appropriate to his level of ability.
This aspect of S'mrii society leads to the saying that S'mrii "do not suffer fools gladly," particularly when they are in positions of authority! S'mrii in any position of responsibility are regularly (several times a year) given rigorous intelligence tests. If any consistent decrease in intellectual ability is shown, for whatever reason, the S'mrii is demoted (i.e., has his phylum rank reduced). This applies throughout all phyla, regardless of the current level of Phylum Rank. Phylum rank will therefore suffer decreases due to aging.
Major Phylum Listing: 1116
- Phylum Azikua
- Phylum Iakzikhu (Noble)
- Phylum Kakchuassa
- Phylum Kiaatrutkr
- Phylum Kiamuskeekik
- Phylum Kiaskui (Noble)
- Phylum Riachik (Noble)
- Phylum Rmuree'm
- Phylum Ssiarkuku (Noble)
- Phylum Suikhtreekh
- Phylum U’Chakzii
- Phylum Ziask
Government and politics
The S'mrii government is a charismatic oligarchy.
- It is trade union known as the S'mrii ConSentiency.
Technology and economics
The have S'mrii TL-15 society.
The phylum system is a technocratic one, and it is natural that the S'mrii show particular respect to their high-ranking scientific figures (who are, by the nature of S'mrii society, the most able ones). Because of this, however, the overall direction of S'mrii scientific endeavor tends to be dictated by a few individuals. A junior researcher in a particular field would never contemplate questioning the pronouncements of more senior scientists, even if experiments suggest they are wrong. An ill-considered statement by a prominent scientist can stifle a line of research for decades, and even centuries. S'mrii technology has gone through long periods of horizontal progress, where existing designs are refined, but no new technology is introduced.
Responsible senior researchers thus do their best to assemble teams of the most promising students they can find, and encourage them to be assertive with their findings. The result is that S'mrii researchers and development is usually carried out far more meticulously than that by humans.
Major S'mrii Businesses or S'mrii Incorporated Associations
Worlds and sectors
The S'mrii are most active in the following locations:
- Dagudashaag Sector
- Gushemege Sector
References and contributors
- J. Duncan Law Green. "Contact: S'mrii". Alien Realms Volume 2 Issue 2 (1992): 1-9
- Jae Campbell. "Contact: S'mrii." Signal-GK 5 (1992): 6-17.
- Artist: Tim Osbourne (from original designs by J. Duncan Law-Green)