Children of Zorm

Children of Zorm

This race of gentle bipeds is not based on a planet. The entire species–over two million individuals—live in a flotilla of ships and a swarm of hollowed-out asteroids circling 18 Scorpii, a main sequence G2 star about 45 light years from Earth. Zorm is one of only two worlds circling 18 Scorpii.

The Children of Zorm have resided in space for over a thousand years, while their planet, Zorm, a Mercury-sized planet with a thick atmosphere, undergoes an ice age. They plan to return to Zorm, however, when the ice recedes,. In the meantime, they established themselves firmly in the asteroid belt, mining the rocks for metals and ice.

In appearance, Zormians are humanoid, with a small round head bearing a prehensile trunk, two gentle black eyes, a pair of huge ears; relatively thick, elephant-like legs, and long sensory whiskers, like those of Terran cats. Their bodies are covered with short, greyish-brown fur. They have long tails. Their stubby hands possess two fingers and a thumb

The Children of Zorm are oviparous (egg-laying), warm-blooded oxygen breathers. Their skeletons are less bone than cartilage, and because Zorm’s gravity is only about a third that of Earth, they require physical augmentation such as mechanical exoskeletons on higher-gravity worlds. All Zormians are vegetarian.

Physically delicate, the Children of Zorm achieved intelligence, as do many species, as a result of being preyed upon by larger, more savage foes. Before its ice age, jungle-like Zorm was home to a flourishing fauna of giant dinosaurian creatures. The Children of Zorm evolved intelligence to escape the marauding monsters. 

The Children of Zorm practice basic democracy: one Child, one vote. Overall rule is vested in the captains of their ships and in the governors of the asteroid colonies. All Children participate in debates and law-making. Sitting out an election is frowned upon. Their economy is based on precious metals and organic compounds that they mine from the asteroids.

The Children have two sexes, male and female. They are strongly family-oriented. The young is raised by their parents and extended families. The female lays one egg at a time, and can remain fertile for up to twenty years. Even so, small families are the norm, given the relatively limited space available on their flotilla and in their asteroid colonies. Certain families may be allowed to have additional children as a mark of respect or as a reward for service above and beyond the call of duty. Otherwise, reproduction is limited, with potential parents being chosen in a lottery on a yearly basis.

They discovered steam power when their main civilization was technologically equivalent to ancient Greece on Earth. Using steam-propelled projectiles the Children were able at last to drive the dinosaur-like creatures menacing them into near-extinction. The use of these projectiles, as well as simultaneous advances in electromagnetic theory, soon led the Children to experiments in heavier-than-air flight—relatively easy to accomplish on Zorm, whose thick atmosphere is the result of constant outgassing from the planet’s interior.

The rate of outgassing, however, was found to be declining; the air was slowly beginning to leak away because the planet’s gravity was not strong enough to retain it. The Children are working to establish experimental domed cities on Zorm’s equator, and plan to move into similar cities when they return from space.

Strong believers in democracy, the Children have long had a love of political debate. Other forms of government rarely took hold in their society, though this may not always have been to their benefit; the discussion of whether or not to abandon their threatened world went on for nearly two (Earth Standard) centuries before they decided to collectively take up residence in the asteroids.

The Children of Zorm originally had little interest in trying to reach other stars, though they had successfully launched probes to the only other world in their star system, Haddi, further in toward 18 Scorpii. Haddi possesses plant and animal life but is too hot for the Children; they prefer their climate-controlled asteroid cities and space vessels. Although Zorm and Haddi both have moons, none are capable of supporting life.

The Children experienced First Contact when their system was visited by an expedition of astronauts from the Reznak Empire. The two races were similar enough in development, worldview and technology to have a great deal in common. The Children had long supposed that there must be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, and were hugely excited by the visiting Imperial representatives. An exchange of information provided the Children with a great deal of knowledge and stimulated a belated debate among them concerning the practicality of visiting other star systems.

However, before the debate could proceed further, catastrophe struck. The contact between the Empire and the Children resulted to a sudden uptick in psychological disturbances among the Zormians. It was revealed, eventually, that the disturbance originated from the flood of telepathic energy from the Reznak. Mild though it was, this flow, which was involuntary on the part of the Reznak, triggered mental stress in the Children, and led to a wave of aggressive behavior and an increase in suicides. Shocked and dismayed that their mere thoughts could cause such a negative reaction, the Reznak withdrew from all physical contact They have, however, maintained electronic communication from a safe distance. Researchers on both sides continue to search for a way to solve the problem.

The Zormian fleet is larger than that of most other known space-faring culture, but their vessels are generally less of an offensive/defensive nature, and are oriented towards simple maintenance of the population. When the situation calls for fighting, though, The Children of Zorm have proven themselves to be formidable foes.