Melians are the dominant, and only sentient, species of the planet Mel . There is currently only one documented case of a Melian leaving the planet and its star system. Prehistory and Evolution Melian prehistory follows the standard evolutionary patterns and there is little worthy of mention. Several phases of mass extinctions and ice ages succeeded themselves, much like on Earth. One item of note is that all eukaryotic multicellular species are monotremes with the exception of the arachnidae - there are no six-legged insects. Mel has no equivalent of fish or reptiles. However, there are a great number of aquatic and aerial species, just as on Earth.
Melians are humanoid monotremes (egg-laying mammals). While the female resembles that of many other mammalian humanoids, with similar morphology, internal organ distribution, and secondary sexual characteristics, the male by contrast is non-sentient, having the approximate intelligence of an Earth Canis lupus familiaris (dog).
The Melian female ranges in height from about 162cm to 182cm (average of 172cm +/- 1 Standard Deviation), with body mass distribution between 40kg and 60kg.
The Melian male is smaller than the female (120cm to 147cm, massing between 27kg and 35kg).
The particular situation of the Melian male is unique; other indigenous species' males do not die during reproduction. It still puzzles Melian biologists how such an obviously counter-productive evolutionary trait could have remained in the gene pool for so long; current theories tend towards the emergence of sentience in the female being the key: with sentience came the ability to manage what would otherwise have been an evolutionarily disastrous state of affairs.
The comparative scarcity of available males means that reproduction is a very considered affair in Melian society. Thus, Melians must undergo genetic testing and a full medical check-up (at their own expense) before being granted the right to mate. Even then, acquiring one (or indeed several) males - necessarily outside one's own Clan - presents a challenge. Clans carefully hoard their males, since they represent considerable influence and trading power. Clans will frequently negotiate for years before agreeing on an exchange or a sale. Once a Clan has acquired some males, assignment within the Clan varies according to the Clan's own traditions. Melian law is silent on that point, and a female denied a male by her Clan has no recourse, save to strive for improved standing until she is deemed fit.
As mentioned above, Melians are monotremes. A sexually mature female will lay clutches of between 1 and 12 eggs, with the likelihood of multi-egg clutches increasing with age until menopause.
Most Melian offspring are female, with only approximately 5% of viable eggs producing males. Furthermore, the Melian male will suffer neural damage at the point of ejaculation and die. Males are thus considered extremely precious, and this situation has led to the wide-spread adoption of eugenics as a means of ensuring that males are not wasted on evolutionarily unsound pathways. There is also a social/status aspect to male distribution and trade (see below).
The life expectancy of a female Melian is approximately 180 standard years, with menarche at around 15 standard years, and menopause setting in at around 110. Thus, high-ranking females can, in some cases, have over a hundred offspring.
The life expectancy of a (unmated) male Melian is approximately 200 years, with puberty at around 16 standard years, and andropause setting in at around 190. This allows for males to be kept until a suitable mate is identified.
Melians have a higher metabolic rate than Humans, and burn calories at an accelerated rate. Thus, overweight Melians are exceedingly rare; the few cases that exist suffer from a genetic defect (and are therefore barred from reproduction). Like Humans, they are omnivores, though they have a cultural bias towards meat products. Most of the fauna on Mel is herbivorous, and the Melians are one of the few (and also the ultimate) predators on the planet. Because of their high metabolism, Melians cannot survive long without caloric intake and they can starve to death in a matter of 48-72 hours. Hunger strikes are thus very uncommon on Mel.
Melians are not generally prone to diseases; allergies and other auto-immune conditions are unknown on Mel. Melian cell walls integrate much more active cilia than those found in, for instance, Homo sapiens. This enables any infected or damaged cells to shed themselves from the body autonomously. Cell integrity is monitored through the use of special "check-sum" RNA strands, giving Melian exceptional fault tolerance; mutations therefore spread through the gene pool at a much slower rate than in most other species. This has lent extra weight to the cultural propensity to eugenics.
Melians do not have particularly close ties to their immediate family as understood in Human terms; rather, they owe their allegiance to their Clan, and the Clans to the Council (see below), with the larger Clans having more seats on the Council and thus more political power and influence. The three largest Clans (as of this writing) are: d'el Melias, en Farh, and d'en Garrus. The three most influential on the Council are: d'el Melias, d'en Garus, and vie Khazel, closely followed by en Farh.
Adult Melians are members of one or several Classes. The Class a Melian joins is determined by a series of Trials shortly after menarche sets in. Classes themselves are highly structured, with the High Classes being Fighter, Scientist, Teacher, and Learner. There follow a number of lower strata, comprising Classes like Merchant, Crafter, Herder, Fixer, and so on. A full hierarchy of Classes lies outside the scope of this document, but the author will provide one upon request.
Politics and ReligionEdit
For many millennia, Melian society was polytheistic and deepy religious, with an ever-evolving pantheon of approximately ten thousand goddesses. Early Melian society was feudal, with various local High Priestesses ruling over their domain, and various ranks of religious orders occupying the positions of traditional nobility. Wars were frequent and lengthy until the beginning of the Melian Dark Ages (ca. 30'000 standard years ago), when the first coalitions of High Priestesses began to emerge. Within a few centuries, the Priesthood had consolidated, with a single High Priestess as supreme ruler.
This state of affairs continued until approximately 1'000 standard years ago, when the general population rebelled against the régime of a particularly vicious Priestess, Makerinessel Phiklandora Kaleddis Meranavis d'en Khazithen. The Melian population was riven between the supporters of the Priesthood (merchants, upper classes) and the revolutionaries (scientists, military, lower classes) and led to the War of the Veil (see "The Veil", below), a civil war that lasted nigh on 500 standard years. In the end, the revolutionaries prevailed, and the Priesthood was deposed, with many of the higher ranks for priestesses - and their Clanswomen - being summarily executed.
The end of the War of the Veil saw the formation of what is now the Council of Elders, an elected government functioning on semi-direct democracy, with the various tiers of the Council voting for the Members of the level above it, but the population at large retaining the Right of Referendum to bring any issue before the Council; and a new judicial system with trial by jury.
While the priesthood still exists - religious beliefs persist in certain strata of Melian society despite the advances of science - it bears no political influence at all. Members of the priesthood are ineligible for the Council, and do not possess the right to referendum or indeed the vote.
Approximately 20'000 standard years ago, advances in science led to an increased outlook on the Universe at large, and speculations about extramelian life, and the Priesthood saw this sort of speculation as endangering an increasingly shaky position. It was thus decided that Mel must be cut off from the Universe at all costs - costs which proved astronomical.
Cloaking technology had been discovered (fortuitously) before space travel (which the Priesthood kept an extremely tight rein on) and thus the idea of the Veil was born: a cloaking shield large enough to hide not only the planet, but the whole star system from outside view, incidentally blocking any view out from the inside.
The construction of the Veil took almost 200 years, and consumed the mass of three outlying planets and half the asteroid belt, as well as around a million lives. When it was complete, the night sky suddenly vanished, with the only lights in the firmament being the three remaining planets, and any satellites in orbit around Mel II.
Given the size of the Galaxy, it is not unreasonable to imagine that it would have been unlikely that Mel was discovered before the completion of the Veil, especially since there were considerably fewer space-faring species at the time. So the Melians could live secure in the knowledge that they were alone, and thus supreme, in the Universe.
All this changed 23 years ago, when the USS Intrepid Discoverer accidentally warped inside the shell of the Veil, appearing less than a light-minute away from Mel II. The event was bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye, happening as it did over the night side of the planet.
Any remaining influence the priesthood might still have had crumbled that day, when the crew of the Intrepid made planetfall, consisting as it did of not one, but many, extramelian species.
(Author's Note and Disclosure: I consider it a stroke of luck that it was a Federation vessel, and not a Klingon Empire or a Borg one, that made First Contact - but I am biased given my current position within the Fleet and the Institute.)
Political Ramifications of First ContactEdit
The Council of Elders spent the best part of twenty years deliberating, after the departure of the Intrepid. On the one hand, the Integrationists want Mel to join the Federation; on the other hand, the Separatists wish to keep us independent. The Council is well aware that the Federation's non-interference in this matter is very much up to the Federation's good will. Thus, some form of long-term interaction with the outside world seems inevitable, and the Integrationists are gaining ground on the Council. It was finally decided to send out one Envoy to the Federation (the author of this document), to learn as much as possible about all and sundry, and report it to the Council, so that they may eventually arrive at a consensus.