Irivani Hegemony

Irivani Hegemony

Irivan is a moon circling the gas giant planet Majriti in the binary Upsilon Andromedae system. It is the third planet of the F component star, Titawin, formerly Upsilon Andromedae A. Irivan is

Physically the Irivani resemble tall (seven feet in height is not uncommon), thin apes with six limbs: four upper arms and two legs. Each limb ends in a hand: the upper hands and the “feet” have three fingers and a thumb, whereas the middle hands each possess four fingers and a thumb.

They have a pelt of short hair over a softer undercoat that serves to insulate them against the cold. They wear no protective clothing, save when they venture to the icy Irivani poles or out into space. They commonly wear belts bearing weapons, pouches or sporrans.

The Irivani are warm-blooded oxygen breathers. They are triploid mammals, the three sexes being male, female, and irimale. Males and irimales are very difficult to tell apart because they comport themselves similarly. Each sex contributes one of three sets of chromosomes to the young, which are born alive.

Irivan is a cloudy and rather cold world about the size of Mars, though extensively forested, with an atmospheric pressure nearly twice that of Earth. There are no seas, and only a few large lakes. Smaller bodies of water are common, however, and there are several long rivers.

The planet is not tectonically active; earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are rare, though there are major seasonal rain and snow storms.

Civilization arose in several places on Irivan, always organized around a ruling king or queen who was often the most physically powerful member of a given tribe. Early societies based on hunting and gathering gave way to agricultural settlements, often in a feudal system presided over by a single monarch. Dynasties were common in certain regions, though some kings were overthrown in coups designed to establish proto-democracies. These experiments never lasted long; the Irivani have no taste for, nor skill, at democracy.

Irivani governments were theocracies for centuries. Although there were one or two exceptions of an essentially communist nature, most Irinavian states were headed by religious authorities, primarily Veddists (see below). Having pushed the theocrats out, however, liberal reformers have pushed the world’s governments to adopt universal Irivani rights. 

Arboreal for most of their evolutionary history, the primitive Irivani descended from the trees following an asteroid strike that precipitated a worldwide catastrophe, killing off 99% of the moon’s forests. The pressure to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment set the Irivani on the road to intelligence.

Their religion was based on the worship of the Great Ved, who had created the universe and subsequently retired to live on Majriti (known to the Irivani as Veddash).

Though the distant stars—excepting Titawin itself—were only occasionally visible through rifts in the clouds enveloping their world, nearby Veddash was a constant presence in Irivan’s night skies. The moon’s forests returned slowly, but by the time they had returned to their original glory, the Irivani no longer wished to return to their primitive beginnings, although their mythology is full of pastoral tales. Instead, they established a thriving metropolitan culture in the trees, with outposts and settlements linked by a system of aerial roads and paths.

Fascinated by the flying abilities of the forests’ abundant avian organisms, the Irivani pursued their dream of flight until they perfected balloons, gliders and later, powered heavier-than-air flying machines. The moon’s thick atmosphere assisted in their efforts. Once able to rise into the relatively clear upper reaches of their atmosphere, Irivanian astronomy and cosmology began in earnest.

There had been clashes among the faithful for many years because fundamentalist Veddists would not relinquish their view of the stars. Even after the first expedition to Arrikiden returned to Irivan bearing rocks with strange devices embedded in their matrices, as well as the fossilized remains of alien creatures, the fundamentalists insisted that the fossils were fake, and that all reports of an ancient culture on the exoplanet were hoaxes. All members of the expedition were put to death.

This provoked a furious uprising of the Reformers, who massacred fundamentalist leaders and worshippers in their temples. A religious war exploded across Irivan, that did not burn itself out for nearly twenty standard years. When at last hostilities ceased, the Reformers were triumphant. From that time on, science and liberal thinking drove Irivanian life. However, the near-total extermination of irimales had lasting effects; the population plummeted, and the recovery to its vitality was slow. Irimale children were cosseted and protected, and often hidden away from public view by fearful parents. Regarded as chattels, a family’s irimales were forbidden to mix with greater society, and were jealously guarded and forced to procreate only with mates specifically chosen for them by family patriarchs.

Conservative forces have made great strides in the past century, however, with heads of state across Irivan becoming more beholden to Veddists ostensibly working for change but secretly working to return the entire planet to theocratic rule.

Though there were no planets in the Titawinian system capable of supporting life like theirs, the Irivani were soon able to voyage to the binary system’s smaller component—an M-type red dwarf about 750 AU from Titawin itself. It is much farther than the distance from Sol to Uranus (just over 19 AU), but considerably less than the distance from Sol to Alpha Centauri (273,196.8 AU).

The first expedition found no intelligent life on the small, rocky worlds of Upsilon Andromedae B. But there were, to the astonishment of the expedition’s scientists, buried traces of an ancient civilization that had once flourished on one world—a now-lifeless rock named Arrikiden. This discovery energized the Irivanian scientific establishment, and spurred the development of technology that would enable explorers to journey to other, more distant, stars.

Moreover, the revelation that there had been other forms of intelligence in the universe, even if none existed now, provoked a backlash among faithful followers of the Great Ved, known as Veddists, many of whom were irimales. They believed that the Irivani alone were the pinnacle of creation. There could be no other advanced races; to suggest as much was heresy. Even to admit that there were other worlds beyond Irivan and Majriti was to invite scorn and approbation among the stricter Veddidts.

The holy writings of Ved—which were collected before the piercing of their atmosphere’s thick veil—taught that Majriti and its attendant satellites were the only other worlds in creation. The stars, glimpsed on rare occasions through rifts in the eternal cloud cover, were thought to be the sparks raised by the sacrificial fires lit by Ved on Majriti, as he slew his enemies by casting them into the flames. Soon, this belief was abandoned; the upper reaches of the atmosphere were explored by intrepid Irivanian aeronauts, systematically investigated by scientists and the true nature of the lights in the night skies were revealed.

Nonetheless, a schism developed between hardline fundamentalists and a more liberal group of scientifically minded Reformers, who were prepared to reconsider their position on the superiority of Irivani to all other life. Clearly, the fact that other intelligent life forms had developed a technological civilization hundreds of thousands of years before the Irivani even discovered fire meant that there could be other such races elsewhere in space. It was thought that there might even be beings whose cultures were far more advanced than the Irivani, and that these beings, could be receptive to evangelical efforts on the part of the Irivani.