Intelligent Species
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ID: 6074


November 21, 2010, 6:31 am

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Cheka Man

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The Usholal


''In a world dominated by savagery and barbarism, we alone represent civilization. Is it any wonder then that we are forced to keep the horrors of the outside world at bay?''


-an anonymous Usholal

Physical Appearance

They resemble octopi and often measure from five to eight feet long. Possessing eight tentacles, both males and females are of equal size and posses a squid-like beak which they used to chomp down on fish and other prey which they consume.  Lacking the visual apparatus of octopi, they possess ten different visual organs  which are mounted on prehensile tentacle like appendages which protrude from the middle of their bodies. These are bulging orbs which are a milky white.   The Usholal due to having lived in the dark depths of the ocean for millennia, are effectively blind although sensitive receptors along their body can detect the minute electrical discharges emitted by the movement of even the smallest fish. Their hides are a drab, dreary brown and are extremely wrinkled.  Thus, this is not an aesthetically pleasing species.
The shores of submerged Tarrod are dominated by a chain of vast saltwater lagoons and estuaries. Most of them are populated by the Eshal or The Brave People,with their original inhabitants, the merfolk,taken long ago at the end of the ferocious Eshal-merfolk wars,in chains further inland.  Hence, the Eshal settlers who moved in to colonize these places naturally belief themselves the sole residents of these vast bodies of water that extend for thousands of miles.    
 They couldn't be more wrong. Thousands of miles below the clear blue waters inhabited by the Brave People,there lie the absolute darkness of the depths. The Eshal seldom venture there,telling horrible tales of the gruesome leviathans that are said to inhabit those black  waters,horrendous  massive beasts and monsters that would devour any foolish enough to descend into those depths.    
 It is there,in that eerie alien landscape inhabited by monstrosities such as eyeless fish and bony, spiked eels, the one place in all Tarrod that can never be assailed by the scourge who call themselves the Brave People,that the strange and arrogant race of the Usholal live, free from all prying eyes. Possessing interesting physiology strongly reminiscent of a large octopus,these strange  folk are a study in uniqueness,even by the downright freakish standards of Tarrod. Living in their hidden dwellings of pink coral,they posses a level of sophistication and even more surprisingly,a philosophy of non-confrontation, unknown elsewhere in the violent  world of Tarrod.    
 Their society is a very odd one indeed. Fearful and paranoid of any danger,real or imagined,this is a race that has effectively barricaded itself behind closed doors,determined not to put themselves in harm's way. And thus have been the seeds sown for a civilization where everyone  lives in nigh complete isolation,yet with the generous aid of ingenious contraptions and their collective ethos,manage to carry out their collective responsibility to keep the civilization of the Usholal running smoothly.    Every Ushoal since infancy is warned about the dangers lurk outside their safe realm. While caution is indeed advisable in a world as dangerous as that of Tarrod, the Usholal have taken  it to an extreme by banning any external contact with the outside world.  While the reasons for its may seem fairly obvious, the Usholal have seen it as the only means by which they can avoid the path of violence that has consumed other civilizations. This conviction has been ingrained  within them by their  exploration and study of the ancient ruins left behind by  long vanished aquatic civilizations which embarked on a path of violent confrontation, only to meet with eventual annihilation. Thus fears of following the example of  militaristic and ultimately self-destructive ancient civilizations have convinced the Usholal that their best hope avoiding the path of violence and dominance is to shun the outside world all together. To this end, they have largely profited by living at depths which would be lethal for other sentient species.  However, over centuries, this tendency to shun the external realm has developed into a powerful paranoia which pervades the minds of this race. Convinced that all non Usholal life forms are either inherently dangerous or inferior, the Usholal see no reason to to leave their habitations and instead rely on powerful mechanical constructs to attend to more mundane tasks like the harvesting of fish, crabs and other  types of sustenance that the Usholal require. These sometimes venture to the surface to harvest fish, clams and other dietary staples, even occasionally attacking Eshal fishing parties in order to seize the food stores of the latter. The Brave People  regard these monstrous terrors as fearful demons and for that very reason, are loath to fish in waters inhabited by the Usholal. Some of these constructs have been used to harvest much prized minerals from quarries on dry land further adding to the menace of the Usholal, further adding to the menace pervading the realm of the Usholal .
The Lagarshuu

This is the Usholala term for  the powerful collective consciousness that is the very cornerstone of  their society. A vast virtual interface that links the individual  minds of the the various Usholal, the term Lagarshuu can be understood to mean ''all that there is or ever will be''.  While the various amphibious races of Tarrod possess a cohesiveness and degree of communal unity that is unparalleled among humans, the Usholal have been capable of attaining a great level of unity without sacrificing their  individualistic instincts. Unlike the Brave People who are geared by genetic impulses into adopting a highly hierarchical society,  the Usholal practice a system of egalitarianism which encourages every member of their species to participate completely in the intellectual and social life of the community. Hence, the Lagarshuu is a vast nexus into which any Usholal can unload its  thoughts. Immediately, these intellectual manifestations are transmitted to any other Usholal who are also linked to the Lagarshuu. Discussions range from ideas regarding the construction of new automata and other devices of a mundane nature that be able to enhance the wellbeing of Usholal, to more abstract notions  which deal with moral or intellectual lessons to be drawn from the ancient past. Unlike humans and other races, Usholal can have multiple conversations simultaneously, hence giving their ties with the Lagarhsuu a special significance in a culture where interpersonal relations between two individuals are virtually nonexistent. Due to their reluctance to leave their dwellings, Usholal rely on the Lagashuu as their primary means of communication   with each other. This being a medium where private space does not exist, the Usholal  naturally have never developed a concept of social ties that take place on a stage narrower than the community level.  Thus, individual Usholal do not possess names and are instead identified by the location of their dwellings.
The period predating the rise of the Lagarshuu was characterized by  various Usholal communities operating smaller prototypes of the Lagarshuu . However,they ultimately decided    to merge their various systems in the face of potential threats by the Eshal, believing quite correctly that there was greater strength in numbers .
The Lagarshuu is attuned to the intellectual patterns of the Usholal in such a manner that non -Usholal cannot link their thoughts with the system. Any attempt to do so results in the console set assuming a self- destruction mode since the Usholal are terrified of potential attempts by other species to invade their thoughts. Their terror of alien races has also added a militant edge to the Lagarshuu with various Usholal conducting simulated war games featuring invading armies of the   Brave People led by their opponents  who have also linked up with the Lagarshuu. Despite their serious nature however, these games also serve as a form of entertainment   with various Usholal pitting their generalship skills against each other. Such virtual battles allow them to enjoy an engaging pastime without having to venture out of their lairs. Other forms of virtual entertainment similarly feature the  Lagarshuu being used to give form to repressed Usholal fantasies of domination and exploration with many games involving Usholal parties going forth to colonize land inhabited  by primitive species. The more daring games even feature the worship of individual Usholal participants by fictional races. Such games are frowned upon by more conservative Usholal but are nevertheless retained   since they keep the players within the safety of the community.

The physical infrastructure of the Usholal consists of thousands of miles of shimmering cables and pylons that extend over the ocean depths of thousands of miles, covering a vast extent of the sea-bed. Even in the dark depths, they glow with a lustrous radiance that makes them highly visible in the absence of anything to conceal them. For this reason, the Usholal are careful to erect seemingly natural features such as reefs in order to hide the pylons and cables from view.  
Metaphysical Beliefs
 Almost all  Usholal belief that the Usholal are not truly of the surrounding environment on account of having developed a more elevated form of consciousness in relation to other surrounding life forms. Hence the intellectual exchanges that take place within the Lagarshuu are more palpable to them than the physical reality that  surrounds them. This emotional detachment from anything that operates outside the sphere of the Lagarshuu seems to be somewhat justified since the Usholal spend  every conscious moment immersed in the ether of the Lagarshuu. Nevertheless, this commitment to shunning the external world,  is challenged  by a small and reviled part of  their society which states that given the corporeal nature of their bodies, the Lagarshuu cannot be the ultimate reality. Such statements are often treated with contempt since the Usholal see their bodies as shells that imprison them. Hence when an Usholal finally succumbs to old age and perishes, its body is left to rot and decay within its dwelling. There are no mourning rituals held for  it  since the Usholal are in a certain sense,essentially immortal. Prior to expiring, an Usholal will upload all its  memories into the Lagarshuu  Hence, they continue to interact   with their members even after their deaths. Perhaps due to their ability to transcend a physical process that as of yet dominates the consciousness of all other races, the Usholal are entirely atheistic, only revering highly abstract concepts like  wisdom  or learning.
The Lagarshuu itself is the closest thing to a deity which one would encounter within their society since the Usholal pay it homage as the collective sum of every member of  their race. Actual gods and other types of spiritual entities are by contrast, viewed with scorn and contempt and serve as direct proof of the intellectual inferiority of other sentient species. More primitive cultures like the Eshal are often criticized for having allowed themselves to have worshipped aggressive but non-existent deities that fuel their aggressive expansionist ambitions.

Usholal material culture
Each and every Usholal resides in a small enclave hewn out of a scenic little patch of coral heavily fringed by giant poisonous anemones and other potentially lethal obstructions that would conceal the round steel little hatches used as entrances into their homes. As further precaution,strange devices  in the form of little round copper discs have been liberally scattered around the entrance. Emitting  mysterious signals that scramble and wreck havoc with any probe sent to spy on them,they ensure that the Usholal are also shielded from attempts by other similarly advanced species to pry into their secrets.    
Such elaborate secrecy might seem nothing short of blatant overkill in the eyes of a human,but for an Usholal residence these are measures that are is amply mandated,given that an Usholal is loath to step out of its dwelling and confront the physical dangers lurking outside. Thus,all projects and initiatives have be run from an individual's home,making it a tiny base of operations by itself. The interior of a typical Usholal home consists of an oval chamber crafted entirely from a smooth,seamless strange metal that glows an eerie neon green. It also houses a  rectangular pool of a transparent, faintly quivering like substance that takes up the center of every Usholal dwelling. Possessing the texture and consistency of jelly,  they are a  basic feature which power the very civilization of the Usholal itself. Within their quivering forms, rest the essential ingredients that make the Usholal what they are.    
Protruding from the crystal clear depths of the jelly like mass, are two thin black cords of some material unknown to humans. Both end in narrow tapering points that are surmounted by a pointed  copper encasement. Between these two point, is fused an oddly shaped steel helmet that is large enough to accommodate the bulging cranium of the Usholal that owns owns it.    When an Usholal fastens on this helmet,he or she is able to reach out with their mind to access the Lagarshuu ,that immense medium of communication that interlinks all Usholal with  the various facets of their civilizations.  By mentally addressing the giant nexus powering the Lagarshuu ,they can reach any other Usholal from the safety of their homes,or command the vast  constructs that perform all the heavy work on behalf of their respective Usholal owners. For instance,an Usholal who's taken it upon itself  to ward the furthest boundaries of its community ,will call out to the mechanical construct that it has positioned along the fringes of Usholal civilization. Immediately,a sharp mental image of a huge metallic construct built to resemble a monstrous shark appears, in the mind of the Usholal  along with the designated section of ocean it has been dispatched to keep an eye on. Focusing on the image of the shark construct in  its mind ,the Usholal can silently give it an order to drive away any  Eshal party that strays into the hidden domain of its species.
Similarly,a male Usholal determined to pass on its genes, can contact a suitable female via the Lagarshuu and speak with her. With the image of her dwelling fixed firmly in its mind,it merely has to focus on  said image and ask her via the medium of the Lagarshuu , whether she would be willing to receive his genetic material. If she replies in the affirmative,he immediately sends a small, and swift construct carrying a glass vial containing his sperm to deliver it to her. Following a period of five months in the wake of the insemination of her eggs, the female spawns a  clutch of five hatchlings. When this occurs, she orders a hulking construct designed to look like a sword fish  to bore a hole into a suitable spot of coral with its revolving nose drill. Separate  Usholal dens will soon take form,and this is where the infant Usholal will be deposited,well supplied by constructs to attend to their every need,until they reach maturity and can thus design constructs of their own to meet their requirements. Prior to the actual mating process, the ale carefully seeks out a suitable female by assessing the nature of the thoughts uploaded by the various females into the system. The one who most impresses him with her ideas for the potential betterment of the community as well as her success at the various games, is approached by him
Due to their link with the Lagarshuu, constructs also enable the transmission of mental images to their   operators. This ability is especially useful in the case of probes that have been commissioned by the Largarshuu as a whole  to excavate  archeological sites.
Many of the constructs are truly massive, with the largest being the size of an Emperor Whale . These are manufactured by automated communal assembly lines . Miles of   metal that gleam like lustrous gold, they extend sinuously like sea snakes and are operated by individual Usholal  who tap into the Lagarshuu in order to commission the manufacture of  certain automaton.  However, although the individual constructs are owned by the one who designs and produces them, the assembly lines themselves are the collective property of the entire species and often called upon to construct automatons that the majority of Usholal require for the communal purposes of the  community.  These are typically the giant mining constructs that procure the submerged metal ores that the Usholal require for the production of their automatons. The assembly lines themselves are concealed within a massive cavern which has its entrance concealed by a thick mass of kelp. Acting as a further deterrent to potential spies is the presence of two massive constructs in the from of great white sharks.

In this highly automated manner  does the massive apparatus of Usholal civilization operate. Physical interaction is nigh non-existent,with all business conducted via the Lagarshuu. This fact is not lost on the Usholal  and they do their utmost to protect themselves from the Black Ones,those vile horrors able to slip into the mind of a sentient being and bow the poor creature's will to their malevolent bidding. In a society as connected as that of the Usholal,all it would take is a single possessed individual for a Black One to wreck enormous havoc and misery. Fearful of this chilling possibility,the Usholal have erected an elaborate system of metal towers that give off a powerful force field  capable of destroying the physical make up of anything that draws close,be it solid,liquid or vapor. It has worked extremely well so far,and the Usholal have yet to be plagued by the grim torments the Black Ones take such sadistic pleasure in devising.    
The Despised
But perhaps the most interesting thing about the Usholal,is the existence of a radical group of outcastes foolhardy enough,some would say even suicidal,to break free of the oppressive paranoia that grip their people. Determined to leave behind the comfort and safety of home and answer the call of the spirit of adventure that suffuses their souls,they are regarded as lunatics for their manic courage and recklessness. Indeed,many of them display symptoms typical of metal disorders which modern psychologists would recognize as schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder. But it is also this same madness that drives them to achieve feats of exploration and heroism which would earn them the status of great heroes among other races. The Usholal however regard them as mentally defective abominations and have hence severed their connections with the Lagarshuu . Those among these outcastes who do not voluntarily surrender their links to the Lagarshuu are often compelled to do so by  a giant construct operating on behalf of the entire community. This severance of all links with the very essence of Usholal civilization is regarded as symbolic death which is further signified  by the forced expulsion of the proscribed individual. Convinced that mental illnesses can be inherited genetically, the despised are banished in order to remove them from the potential gene pool.

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Comments ( 5 )
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Voted Cheka Man
June 19, 2010, 12:47
A very secretive race that most likely never sees the sun or rises to the surface.
Voted Forganthus
June 30, 2010, 17:22
I love bottom-of-the-ocean things. I really like the idea that they literally never have to leave their homes, thus allowing them to be the ultimate xenophobes. They wouldn't even open the door if their sibling was outside asking for help. The internet and wireless golems are another masterful touch.

What were they doing before they constructed the Langarshuu? Could other species use the Langarshuu? I’m assuming they have some form of population control (unless they are dying out), so how do they pick their mates? There must be some way to tell the more desirable Usholal from the less.

The biggest problem though, I think, is how to integrate the Usholal into a game that is already centered on the Brave People and the Cauda.

Would they ever invade the surface world? I can imagine them setting up a terrestrial mining camp entirely built and staffed by automata. It would cause great alarm and confusion to see what appears to be intelligent golems constructing each other.

People who are paranoid about the outside world usually strive to be informed about it, just so they can condemn it for being wicked/dangerous. Shouldn’t they have a source of news about the outside world? Either something factual like CNN or something ignorant like the National Enquirer? I imagine them being either very well informed or sadly delusional. Only one of these involves sypbots.

What do they do for fun? There are entire industries in America that only work to entertain us. And the Usholal seem like they have more free time than we do. Philosophy? Beat Poetry? Lagarshuu Starcraft ? Automata sports? Battlebots comes to mind. So does “I bet my automaton can steal more fish from the Brave People than yours can.”

How far does the Lagarshuu extend? Miles? The planet? The universe? If the network has to be supported by pylons or relay stations along its length, parts of it might need to go near or across land, something that could bring them into conflict with other races.

Also, most fish are found on the surface, near land. I can imagine the Emperor Whale-size automata going on week-long fishing cruises and returning with a bellyful of fish. That could also bring them into contact with the surface folk.

Keep posting more from this aquatic Tarrod setting, Maggot. It gets me wet.
June 30, 2010, 17:23
Wow. Turns out I though way too much about this while eating lunch.
July 11, 2010, 4:03
forganthus, you raise some excellent questions. I'll update my sub to reflect the answers to them. As for my Tarrod sub, I promise you the Lurrdi.I think you'll find those Piranhna-men to be as interesting as the Usholal.
July 13, 2010, 0:29
Update: Sub has been edited to reflect the excellent questions and suggestion of forganthus.My thanks to him for helping to make this a better submission.


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