|Age of spaceflight||TBAL|
|Number scheme||Rlaan base 256 system|
Fast, beautiful and deadly, while they serve the Rlaan, they do so because of the technological and economic benefits gained from the association rather than out of gratitude. Whereas the Rlaan succeeded in making both the Lmpl and Nuhln useful and docile, the Saahasayaay are indeed useful, but far from docile.
While the Saahasayaay are a single species in the technical sense, their array of different metamorphic forms, each clearly of distinct origins, is somewhat unique, and, as only certain of the forms are possessed of any particular intelligence, and only one of accepted sapience, in common reference "Saahasayaay" may often refer only to the portion of the population in dominant sentient morphology.
The Saahasayaay have the strangest, and, on several levels, most disturbing life cycle of any of the known extant sentients. Foremost among its disturbing points is that the life cycle is clearly of artificial origin external to the Saahasayaay homeworld. The non-squeamish often find this more disturbing than the fact that metamorphosis usually begins with the death of much of the body, and proceeds via the semi-autonomous archival organ consuming what would otherwise be the uneaten remnants of its own corpse to fuel its generation of a new body. The archival organ, itself effectively inedible, and encased in a protective shell, is not a native feature. The organ features an absurd amount of unexpressed genetic code - indeed, it contains genes describing thousands of species, almost none of which are actually present on the Saahasayaay homeworld. Indeed, the Saahasayaay appear to be the result of some ancient (although not believed Ancient) xenoforming gone awry. Many of the gene sequences present in the archival organ appear to be irrevocably damaged or woefully incomplete, despite the presence of significant error correcting facilities.
Only the lowest level of the metamorphic chain for the Saahasayaay can actually breed. All other forms have been rendered sterile. This lowest level is a fast growing photo-synthetic invader species that has infiltrated or replaced competitors in most of the native ecosystems of the Saahasayaay planet. It cannot be correctly termed a plant, animal, or fungus, although it shares some features with all of these more familiar categories. While likely originally designed to be the prime xenoforming agent for the planet, destroying native ecosystems and replacing them with those of its creators, the archive creeper has wandered from its original mission, producing a warped hybrid ecosystem that almost certainly bears little resemblance to either the original or intended replacement. The origins of the Saahasayaay are clear in both their metamorphic paths, their traditional food chains, and the sterility and monosexual nature of all of the extant forms save for the archival creeper. Local "herbivores", for lack of a better word, came to eat the creepers, but were in turn recorded and replaced, themselves devoured and recreated by the archival organs they attempted to consume. This effect then proceeded to trickle up the food-chains of all of the ecosystems invaded by the creepers. A limitation of this process, was, of course, that organisms smaller than the archival organ were not readily assimilated. Thus, the detritus feeders competing for flesh on the fallen corpse of an assimilated species were more likely eaten by the archival organ than the other way around.
The archival organ is an incredibly complex, advanced, and subtly broken biological machine, but it is not itself remotely intelligent. Likewise, it is not quite sufficiently autonomous to generate widespread agreement as to it being referred to as a symbiotic organism, especially as the genetic definitions are skewed, given that it contains all of the genetic code for all of the "host" bodies. All tissues in the archival organ feature cellular immortality, and the archival organ is itself amortal (not aging, nor dying from old age) although the bodies it produces do not share these properties. The organ is well protected and possesses some independent subsystems, so surviving the death of the rest of the body is common (depending on the manner of host-death) - which is necessary, given that such is the only means for morphological change and the preservation of more interesting forms of species. The archival organ plays key hormonal regulatory roles in all of the assimilated forms.
Terminal form Saahasayaay are physically impressive beings, if not, because of mode of movement, as bulky as some of the other sapients, and fossil records indicate this to be a quality preserved from pre-assimilation times. They are beautiful, if possessed of features that, if designed, would speak of a certain viciousness to the crafting hand. The terminal Saahasayaay are the only extant sophonts known to be able to fly, albeit they are, in practice, more often gliders than active flyers through their thick and caustic chlorine-nitrogen atmosphere. Their bodies are long, almost serpentine, though the strong muscular development for the wings and arms belies that image. They are bilaterally symmetric, with 4 wings rising above, and 8 arms hanging below the largest and middlemost segment of the body, set between a long tail at rear and longish neck and fierce head at front. The front and rear sets of arms have hand-like endings, gripping appendages of a gaunt leather-and-bone appearance, that are dexterous, if clearly meant to hold fast to live and struggling prey while the curved blade-like endings of the middle four arms carved and scooped the meal into edible submission. Skin on the middle-body is mostly hidden behind large, thin, overlapping scale-like protrusions of smooth, hardened flesh, iridescent, ranging through colors from green to red to gold. The tail, in cross section, could be thought of as a square whose sides have been bent in, or whose corners were pulled out, to produce a four-sided concave shape. The tail is heavily segmented, as is the neck, which has a similar shape, although much larger, and it lacks the short spines protruding from the corners of each tail segment that serve to let the tail be used to grip surfaces or objects it has been wrapped around. The tail narrows somewhat as it progresses rearwards, but was always fairly thin in comparison with the body. Towards the rear of the tail, the spines end, and four specialized spines are present that act as fins that can be raised or lowered to act as flight control surfaces. The scale-like protrusions are much larger on the tail and neck than on the body, corresponding heavily to the structure of the segments themselves leaning somewhat towards a more chitinous-plates appearance than scale-like appearance, for those portions, although in truth it is only a matter of size and flexibility required for each segment that has lead to the differing appearance, and not a fundamental change in material. The head is slightly larger in girth than the neck, excepting the mouth itself which is forward of the rest of the head. The terminal form Saahasayaay have no teeth in their mouth. Grinding, separating and pulverizing is instead done by stone-hard protrusions that line their equivalent of the esophagus. The mouth instead consists of a set of flexible, segmented spines, connected to each other by membranes, that can be focused to a point, as when sucking in fluids or flying, or opened to engulf a portion of a prey animal. This semi-engulfing is necessary, as the chunks of flesh freed from the target by the multiple bone-bladed tongues that slash out violently from within the mouth might otherwise fall out. There are four eyes, two at the corners of the top of the head and two, more centered, below. There are ears and nasal openings that lie on the side of the head. The brain itself is primarily on the top of the head, although there is significant neural matter at the bottom of the head that does optical processing for the lower eyes.
All of the native species integrated by the archival organ are now extinct. Thus, entire food-chains now consist of nominally Saahasayaay organisms. It is presumed, given that all of the non-creeper morphologies are sterile, that the intended process involved a kill-off of all of the food-chains via a wave of progressive morphology changes up the food-chain, thereby progressively starving each link in the chain. Alternate theories presume an external agent being introduced that would kill off all of the hybridized life forms, while leaving the invaders intact, but the non-native codes are sufficiently mangled that it has been difficult to test if such differentiation would have been readily achievable. Given the large number of codes stored, it is presumed that total kill-off was not an intended goal. Clearly, however, none of these have happened, especially those models requiring external intervention. Instead, the regulatory mechanisms presumably in place to delay any native depopulation until there has been sufficient infiltration of the native populations have instead functioned merely to regulate the frequency with which the next body of a dead Saahasayaay differs from the previous. Also noteworthy is the terminal nature of the Saahasayaay metamorphic process. Fossil records point to the ancestor of whatever native species preceded the sapient Saahasayaay population as having been wide-ranging, and wherever present, atop the food chain. Thus, the Saahasayaay sophonts are currently the "terminal" metamorphic form - an archival organ that survives a Saahasayaay sapient's death will normally build another Saahasayaay sapient. Note that none of the previous individual's memory or mentality is preserved, and inefficiencies in conversion and the genetic imperatives of brain development in the original source species, even in the presence of a nearly full corpse, result in the production of a juvenile individual.
The most successful of the Rlaan client species, the Saahasayaay are not, unlike the Nuhln and Lmpl, true uplifts, having already achieved some minimal level of societal advancement at the point of discovery.
The Rlaan have taken to using Saahasayaay troops to reinforce their border with the Aera, are, however, somewhat hesitant to let this concentration of troops return home.
As most of the Saahasayaay forms are not capable of complex thought, they don't much consider either the nature of their life cycle, nor that they often are eating what is technically a member of their own species. This is not the case for terminal form, whose culture has been deeply shaped by the role that death plays in the Saahasayaay life-cycle, and the semi-reincarnations that are the daily occurrences of Saahasayaay life. The terminal form Saahasayaay are, in fact, quite bright, and learn voraciously, but a cultural disinterest in knowledge unrelated to superior killing ability and an exceptionally low life-expectancy rate due to unending war, murder, and ritual killings has historically hampered internal sources of advancement. It is not too difficult to see where their obsession with death has come from, albeit only they, perhaps, can truly comprehend the directions it has taken them in. It is fortunate for all other sapient species in the region that the Saahasayaay were found in the stone-age by space-faring sapients, and not the other way around, as the Saahasayaay have no compunction when it comes to killing, whether it be other sentients, each other, or lower Saahasayaay forms. Death is the natural order for them, it is the source of progress, and their right and duty to disperse. Their obedience to the Rlaan and restraint in aggression against both the Rlaan and other species is predicated on the Rlaan's greater ability to bring death upon them than they upon the Rlaan, as well as the opportunity for greater empowerment that the Rlaan bring to the Saahasayaay. Death is the ultimate blessing the Saahasayaay believe they can bestow, and the frequent regeneration of their fallen into newborns has utterly deprived them of the fear of their own demise present in all other known organized species of measurable intelligence.
Some of the other Saahasayaay forms possess some level of intelligence, though none as pronounced as the terminal form Saahasayaay. Some of these forms have been "domesticated" and the most intelligent of these, generally considered comparable to some of the Terran primates, are sometimes used in a servitor role. The most valued of the servitors are granted a chance at "ascension" by being taken to an isolated area, free of terminal Saahasayaay, and killed swiftly, leaving the entire corpse intact. The lack of terminal Saahasayaay in the area improves the likelihood that the next metamorphic form will be a terminal Saahasayaay, rather than another servitor, as the choice of next form is heavily influenced by the presence of other forms detected by the archival organ, a manifestation of its original, more overarching regulatory role. Punishment in terminal Saahasayaay society rarely involves killing of the archival organ, an act considered disgraceful unless the individual in question has been deemed to be heretical to the advancement of the Death God's agenda, but it almost universally involves killing. Punishments range from the minor, a swift and clean death followed by adoption for what most other species would consider misdemeanors, to use as hunt bait and eventual consumption by lower forms, to the most serious crimes being punished by the removal of the archival organ, the starvation thereof for a period of time, to increase the chance of form reversion, smearing the archival organ in the mixed remains of lower forms to further increase the odds that the next form will not be a terminal Saahasayaay, and then letting the starving archival organ eat the victim (still conscious, but wracked with crippling chemical imbalances) alive.
It is generally considered fortunate that only a small percentage of the world known to be reachable via the jump network feature a chlorine based ecology. The Saahasayaay, from the creeper on up, feature a profoundly rapid metabolism, and they have quickly overrun and populated other chlorine-worlds that they have been introduced to. Indeed, it has long perplexed researchers as to why exactly the concentration of chlorine-life friendly worlds is significantly higher in the region of space containing the Saahasayaay homeworld, and then marginal elsewhere. What many believe to be the likely originating planet of the archive creeper is in very nearby space, just one jump link removed from the Saahasayaay system, but it is difficult to ascertain this connection with any certainty. The system shows signs of previous habitation by a technological entity, but, outside of semi-preserved ruins on various moons and other uninhabitable locations, there is precious little left of the inhabitants. In particular, what is believed to have been their homeworld would seem to have fallen victim to both some sort of limited grey-goo event and a widespread use of fusion, antimatter, and kinetic weapons that, combined with the already reactive nature of the atmosphere, served to make it exceptionally difficult to discern much about the previous inhabitants. Levels of nano-plague are also exceptionally high in the system, leading several researchers to advance theories that the inhabitants made what proved to be a fatal mistake of attempting to counter the nano-plague in an aggressively military fashion.
The Saahasayaay navigate 3D space with great agility, and, despite the distinctly different dynamics of planetary and vacuum flight, make excellent pilots in either medium. The Saahasayaay have not significantly industrialized on their own, although their technological usage has greatly advanced since absorption into the Rlaan Assembly. All Saahasayaay ships are specially manufactured for them by the Rlaan out-system, and Saahasayaay pilots shipped out to military bases from one of the Saahasayaay worlds. The Rlaan are somewhat reticent when it comes to providing the Saahasayaay with a means to make their own starships. They are, however, more than willing to freely give them technologies which increase their sustainable populations so that they can draw upon more Saahasayaay troops. The Saahasayaay, for their part, hunger for more control over their own destiny, but are currently kept sated with the opportunity to bestow much bigger deaths with the starships the Rlaan build for them (the Saahasayaay consulting on certain aspects of the design). Saahasayaay operating in Rlaan space must wear atmosphere/temperature suits at all times, precluding flight abilities. Their suits are therefore augmented with thrusters so as to make them more comfortable - an uncomfortable Saahasayaay is not a safe Saahasayaay, though there is of course, no such thing to begin with. Saahasayaay work only with defenders and hybrids in Rlaan society. They have no respect for the Rlaan workers, who cannot be killers in any meaningful way, and the Saahasayaay are considered an unnecessary threat in interacting with Rlaan workers.
The dominant belief structure of the Saahasayaay revolves around each of them being an instrument of the great death god who sits in judgment over the universe. The Saahasayaay believe themselves to be the chosen people who alone are privy to the sentences being passed down upon the mortals of this realm. Saahasayaay prophet halls are built to express the joy of the hunt, the glory of the kill, and subservience to the great death god. The prophet halls are built in keeping with the 3-dimensional nature of Saahasayaay travel, with perches on many levels, and rank denoted by attainment of a higher perch.
The Saahasayaay used to use a unary system with groupings done in sets of 8 (flat, without a notion of base), but have been converted to use of the Rlaan base 256 system.
- Source: ./history/species/saahasayaay/saahasayaay.txt
- Source: Religion by JackS in this post
- Source: Number Scheme by JackS in this post