Empire ruled caste system
Highly intelligent, highly adaptable, semi-aggressive, highly social
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The Stenellis were discovered relatively recently in 2380 when a human scientist by the name of Walter Fitzgerald Rowe stumbled upon them while traveling with Ferengi traders. Their heavily freckled bodies and mainly aquatic nature reminded him of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and resulted in him dubbing the species “Stenellis”; a mash-up of the dolphin species' scientific name; Stenella Frontallis. The name stuck even with the race quickly learning federation standard.Pre-discovery, they are a race are said to be old enough to have survived 50 dynasties, each lasting more than four-hundred years with a period of upheaval and relative tribal anarchy leading up to that for several hundred years. Each dynasty seems to have been lead either by an Emperor or Empress, with no sexual bias or preference to gender of ruler, who prevailed over five distinctive castes. Each caste appears to have merit with no way of crossing into or co-mingling other than by the marriage of daughters who produce sons strong enough to hoist their family name and elevate them from one caste to another. In the highest caste, known as Mondoshawan, there appear to be 5 ruling families with territories spanning over the entire planet. Only sons and daughters of these houses can challenge for right of succession and wage war against the current reining house for power.
As a whole, they are highly intelligent and masters at gathering, learning, and manipulating technology to serve their purposes. After the fall of the Dominion, and the rise of the Romulan threat, they were able to obtain Dominion level technology through an alliance with the Cardassian Union that has more or less married the two societies together, along with several more, to give the Stenellian Ascendancy a dramatic leg up when it comes to technological development. In some ways they even surpass the Federation and there's no true way of knowing just how deep their roots have spread throughout other intergalactic societies given their secretive nature. It's even rumored that the Founders have been completely toppled by the Stenellis, ruining any chance for a third reprisal of Founder power.
In 2415, the race became a headline sensation once again when Empress Psy'Daio Nox openly reached out to the Federation and sent her heir to play the role of Ambassador aboard a Starfleet Vessel - an act which ultimately would lead the Federation and the Ascendancy together, but not through the graciousness of the Empress but rather her daughter. Empress Psy'Daio Nox was killed after exposing that she had been consulting with Romulan Senator, and known terrorist, Ssiebb V'rith Tr'Bak by the Romulan Praetor's nephew; Maec Tr'Verelan when she attempted to murder her daughter. The resulting shift of power has been beneficial for the Ascendancy as a whole with Empress Xue'Daio leading them into a sort of renaissance era.
Originally discovered on a planet simply known by the natives as Apsha, their word for stationary, the race was quickly harvested from as a slave race presented in small numbers by Ferengi traders on the darkest and deepest levels of the black market. Only females of the species have been introduced to the Federation as sex slaves more highly prized than their Orion counterparts. A grand total of ten were taken before the trade system was discovered. Out of those ten females, five survived longer than a year and one remained long enough to integrate into society. The other four committed suicide or succumbed to various illnesses within a short period of time. The one that survived, a small female known as Alira, married into the family of a Starfleet Marine, a member of the team that had rescued her, and produced one offspring of record. All that is known of the species was learned through Aira and the extremely sparse records kept by the Ferengi traders that confiscated during a raid on their compound on a small moon in the Cheydinhall Sector just a stone's throw away from Cold Station Theta.
As noted, the race is divided by castes, which are a relatively young system in this society. The caste systems spans for only the last 4000 +/- years, previously the species made up of nomadic tribes for an unknown length of time estimated to span at least another thousand years into the past. It’s generally accepted that the caste system is what allowed this species to coordinate itself enough to be thrown forward in the race for technology as their major technological advances have only occurred over the last thousand years.
Ruling Caste - Mondoshawan
The Mondoshawan or 'Guardian' caste comprises of 5 ruling houses and is overseen by one Emperor or Empress with no gender preference. The favorite companion of either is generally seen as their ruling half. The family figureheads are known to keep concubines of both genders, and it’s generally seen as a great honor to be chosen as a member of their court. Only members of the ruling caste can challenge for power and succession.
Warrior Caste - Makta
The Makta or 'Aggressive' caste is made up of Stenellis society warriors. These members of sociey are widely respected and often married into families of the ruling caste. They are prized for their abilities to protect and defend in wars both on and off planet and this caste, while predominantly male oriented, welcomes females with open arms.
Scholar Caste - Ma'raydio
The Ma'raydio or 'Contemplative' caste is made up of the scholars, scientists, oracles and speakers of wisdom. They, like warriors, often marry into families of the ruling caste and predominantly make up the regents of the court. Many women take up position in this caste as technology becomes more and more readily available and leave the utilization and implementation of their discoveries to the Makta.
Servants - Fänko & Bottom - Mol
Beneath the top three castes remain only two others. These bottom tier castes are widely considered worker and peasant castes. It’s extremely hard to find a way out of this particular portion of the political system. With no dowry, only the most beautiful and intelligent find themselves able to leave these castes, by way of becoming concubines, as they're usually seen as being unfit for marriage.
The Stenellis species is sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females exhibit different coloring and traits. The noted differences appear to be suited between warring dominant males and their smaller female counterparts. As a whole, the species tend to be fair skinned, covered in mottling (“freckles”) which are bio-luminescent in low light situations. Their hair coloring tends to range from dark cobalt blue to fair powder blue depending on age and eyes tend to be blue-green. There is the rare exception of one known albino who is extremely fair skinned, white haired, and pink eyed as well as one Human cross that is lavender haired and bright blue eyed.
As a species they are extremely athletic and tend to show longer, streamlined musculature better suited for an aquatic environment. Both genders typically have long, powerful legs, but the females tend to have a more willowy appearance to their arms, where the males tend to be heavily muscled through them. Their eyes are relatively large in comparison to traditional humanoid features, and are adapted for low light situations. They tend to have small, well rounded shell-like ears and refined, pixie-like facial features. All mucus membranes range from pink to coral in color, making their lips a stand out feature on their faces and, again, drawing attention to the eyes. Mottling ranges from nearly black to soft tan and appear to gain intensity over time. Newborns are often born without a single spot, but have them begin to take form by the time the child is a year old. Some members of the species are so heavily mottled that they have very little base skin pigment showing at all.
While carbon based, their blood is notably more pink or coral hued than red.
• Height range from 4’9” – 5’4” on average
• Upper-Caste members never cut their hair from birth often leading to hair that is longer than they are tall, and extremely thick
• Slight vertical dorsal-spinal ridges may be present depending on geographic origin
• Tend to be classically hour glass in figure
• Tend to be fuller lipped
• Extremely dainty and ‘typey’ or Pixie-like in a feminine sense with dishy nasal bones and delicate chiseled cheek and jaw structures
• Height range from 6’ – 7’
• Warriors and Upper caste tend to either shave their heads fully or wear one long Mohawk that is usually kept in a ‘pony-tail’ or braid
• Vertical dorsal-spinal ridges running the length of their spine from base of skull down to the tail bone region
• Long single vertical cranial ridge may be present depending on geographic origin, but runs from hairline to tip of the nose
• Slightly enlarged frontal lobes
• Ears are much smaller and lobes are tight to the skull
• Heavier muscled, though still long and lean
• Sex organs are internal and concealed within a ventral slit, not unlike their dolphin namesakes, located in the generally accepted normal humanoid location
• Sharper, cone shaped teeth with a reverse hook taper from incisors back through molar planes
The Stenellis are a highly evolved aquatic humanoid that has come a very long way in a very short amount of time on the evolutionary scale. Their ability to adapt and learn quickly has left them standing apart from most humanoids even though they still keep primitive capabilities and adaptations for a water-based existence.
• Echolocation; the species has evolved with the ability to echo-locate above and below water, giving them a chance to navigate in heavy fog and other undesirable low light situations. Blind folding them doesn't impede their ability to move freely. Studies on the original 10 females showed that their range spanned an average of 100 yards before becoming unreliable. In the Ferengi journals it is said that one can feel the ‘buzz’ or ‘bubbling’ sensation of their sonar when it’s directed at them. The sound of their sonar ranges from a quick ‘zip’, to rapid clicks, to slow, deep popping and is relatively audible depending on distance. Sonar use under water tends to carry better than above.
• Hearing and Eyesight; In spite of their relatively small ears, the Stenellis have an extremely keen sense of hearing and are completely acoustically inclined. They are notably near-sighted above water, but tend to see far clearer in the dark and while submerged than most humanoids. Unfortunately, it’s their acoustic inclinations that make them highly susceptible to barotrauma to the point that moderate cases can prove lethal in the days following an incident.
• Bio-Luminescence; All members of the species show a degree of bio-luminescence. Some are stronger producers of light than others. Their mottling or “freckles” appear iridescent under bright light and will glow white or varying degrees of aquamarine or soft blue in shadows and total darkness. Some members have also been reported to have glowing eyes, but not nearly as intense as the luminescent activity on their skin.
• Bio-Electricity; Not unlike certain species of eels and rays, the Stenellis are capable of producing an electric shock similar to that of a defibrillator or stun gun. The electricity is produced by several small organs within their bodies and travels the nervous system where it’s released by their hands or contact with mucus membranes. While obviously developed for defense, the species has been known to use this ability offensively but it is a limited defense in so far that the user must create and maintain skin on skin contact with the 'victim' --NOTE: Use of bio-electrical defense by half-human hybrid has proven to be detrimental to the health of the hybrid as it renders her unconscious and weakened for twelve consecutive hours on average. Xue'Daio Nox tr'Verelan has exhibited the exemplary ability to arc and 'throw' current that does not need to touch bare skin in order to be deliver its blow. It is estimated that her abilities are tied to the genetic mutation that caused her albinism.
• Lung Capacity; The species is known to have an impressive ability to hold their breath for an extremely long period of time when compared to other humanoids. As testament to their aquatic origins, the Stenellis have been clocked at holding their breath between 7 and 19 minutes, with an average of 11 minutes.
• Compression; Living primarily in the water before migrating onto dry land in recent times, the Stenellis are profoundly capable divers and have shown an incredible ability to slow down their heart rates to inhibit the amount of oxygen that bubbles in their veins. At their deepest dives and longest breath holds, their heart rate has been shown to drop to two beats per minute. So far, no member has ever shown a sign of suffering ‘the bends’.
• Extra Cartilage; Stenellis spines are more supple with smaller vertebrae and larger disks with thicker cartilage and protective musculature around joints. These subtle physiological changes have rendered the species highly agile under water and flexible above. However, it has also left them more susceptible to spinal injury when not suspended and cushioned by the aquatic environment.
• Cold-Heat Tolerance; With their home planet being of a primarily tropical climate, the species is ill-equipped to handle cold weather situations. Temperatures beneath 60 Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius) are typically too cold for them to thrive without thermal protection. As such, the species is highly susceptible to hypothermia and exposure. On the flip side, the species requires a moderate amount of humidity in order to be at their best as they dehydrate easily. Desert climates would not be suitable to the longevity of the race, though the planet does sport several deserts that are inhabited, however those desert regions are close to the sea.
• Unspoken Language; Stenellis are very primitive in many ways, and evolved in others. They have a complex spoken language that they utilize above water, but below they resort to cetacean-like song. In addition to echolocation, the species uses a number of calls that can be heard a fair distance away and they use these calls to coordinate with one another in the water. Young and grievously injured Stenellis often resort to using distress calls while on dry land even though these calls are self-limiting with their sound waves not fairing nearly as well over air as they do in water.
Stenellis in Society
Tierney Rinehart is half human, half Stenellis and was the first of her lineage to serve Starfleet, spending several tours of duty aboard the USS Crazy Horse as a Security officer and later the USS Enterprise as their Chief Intelligence Officer. Rumor and speculation now have it that she has joined the Vanguard.
Psy'Daio Nox - Past Empress of the Stenellian Ascendancy, killed by Maec Tr'Verelan who would later become Emperor beside Xue'Daio Nox.
Xue'Daio Nox - Current Empress of the Stenellian Ascendancy, toured with the Federation as an Ambassador and was posted aboard the USS Enterprise while the Ascendancy considered the option of joining the Federation. Only known living albino specimen of the species.
Qi Sha'qab - A trusted and brilliant Stenellian healer assigned by Xue'Daio Nox to the Federation as part of the Stenellian officer exchange program. He is assigned to the USS Vindicator as it's Chief Medical Officer.
Lina Ai'xen - Scientist with an avid fascination with Xeno-Biology hand picked by Empress Xue'Daio Nox as part of the Stenellian officer exchange program. Lina presently serves as the Chief Science Officer aboard USS Enterprise.
- NOTE: Consult with species creator before choosing this species as a character***