Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Republic of SeaSerpents


The Republic of SeaSerpents is founded on the idea that mass makes right. Its citizens are all large predators, formerly warriors of the Floozy Empire, who grew sick of the Bastard war. They became tired of taking orders from the small life forms they were created to protect, and sized a chunk of the disintegrating empire for themselves.  This new Republic would be a realm where the true powers could rule over their lessers with strength and wisdom. In the millennium since the end of the Bastard war, this vision has become a reality. The Republic is a rich and powerful polity, with a strong space navy and a thriving trade network. They are somewhat insular, preferring to trade with themselves and select outsiders.

The Cycler Current is the network of trade routes that crisscross the Republic.  It is named for its oceanic cyclers, massive cargo ships that transport millions of tons of seawater from planet to planet, linking the planets of the Republic together into one vast biosphere. The cyclers also provide free transport for any citizen or ward that wishes to travel, as long as the smaller passengers don't mind potentially becoming snacks for the larger ones. There is also a sizable fleet of merchant ships that transport goods. They mostly carry vast amounts of fish, but they also deal in things like exotic elements and advanced technology. The Republic is home to some of the most lucrative mercantile opportunities in the galaxy. Outsiders are welcome to try their hand, though they should be wary. In the Republic there is no distinction between merchant and pirate, and the local firms will test any newcomers, looking for easy prey.

The Republic has three classes of sapient being; senators, citizens and wards. Wards are the vast majority in numbers, but are the lowest on the food chain. They have no rights or enfranchisement but are usually treated well enough to prevent uprisings. Their predation by the upper classes is seen as a necessary part of the social order, and is mostly a matter of capital punishment. Citizens are those Sapients that have proven their place in the ecosystem. All sea serpents are grandfathered into this class, while outsiders must earn it by spending a year in the oceans of Chamber. All citizens have the right to vote for the senator of their region, but have little legal power otherwise. Senators are the ruling class, and the biggest and nastiest of the citizen class. Republic elections are a hell of a thing, as candidates will clash and tear into each other. Most elections are settled long before any votes are cast.

Races and organzations

The titular "SeaSerpents" are not a race, rather they are a loosely related clade of bio-weapons. They all share a curious ability; they have conscious control of their gene expression and can alter their bodies at whim. Most cannot reproduce own their own, a safety feature leftover from their creators. The genes that allow for pathogenesis are controlled by the senate, only senators have the right to reproduce*. Most Sea Serpents are strictly aquatic, but some are amphibious, while a rare few have the genes to live in space.



The Jokers are a race of aquatic Sapients that live in the Republic of Sea Serpents. They get their name from their unserious disposition and cackling hunting calls. They have serpentine bodies with a hard carapace. They paint their bodies in a thousand different patterns and colors which have various cultural meanings that are mostly opaque to outsiders. They are very hard to kill, as they regenerate rapidly. Even if their body is destroyed their slug-like brain may still survive and regrow a new body. They bred at an alarming rate and place little value on individual survival. To date no Joker has earned citizenship on Chamber, but this hasn't stopped them from trying.

The Joker corporate clans handle most of the bulk commerce in the Republic. They're also the cause of most of the piracy, as rival clans will steal from each other without compunction. They will also kidnap enemy jokers by killing their bodies and abducting their brains. Joker culture holds that their personal ties die with the body, and they become loyal to whatever faction puts their brain into a convalesce pool. Their society is basically a violent but non-fatal civil war as the various clans rob and pillage each other.  They have a hard time understanding that outsiders don't live in perpetual warfare, and na├»ve Jokers will sometimes open up outsiders, looking for their slug.

The WhisperingWorms are symbiotic Sapients that are virtually helpless when they're outside their host. They are long thin vermiform creatures that make their homes in the G.I tracts of other creatures. A being with a whispering worm requires more food than average, but is otherwise unharmed. In return, a WhisperingWorm will moderate its host's metabolism, filtering out toxins and promoting healthy growth and development. They also regulate neurotransmitters, making their hosts smarter and healthier. A WhisperingWorm has access to the full sensorium of their host but can't communicate directly. Instead they appear in dreams and in transitory and alien mood swings. As the host becomes more familiar with their passenger, these messages become easier to decipher. Most SeaSerpents  have half a dozen whispering worm symbiotes, and they're also common among humans and Jokers. They form a scholarly class and have their own government branch, the Internal bureaucracy. They can also live inside non-sapient hosts, creating what is called a sleepwalker; a creature that acts with an odd intelligence. There are entire cities of sleepwalkers in the Republic, strange crude buildings in habited by mute beasts. Occasionally WhisperingWorms will pilot sleepwalkers to citizenship In Chamber, but Chamber is a dangerous place and even the natives don't last long. 

The Internal Bureaucracy is the administrative heart of the Republic. The Senate has the mass, but the Bureaucracy has the intel. The most important bureaucrats are the WhisperingWorms that make permanent hosts inside the senators. After every Senate meeting, The Senators barf up their symbiotes and they have their own meeting, the Convocation of Worms. Afterwards they return to their hosts (sometimes swapping around a bit). This is how the Republic is coordinated. The Bureaucracy gains its intelligence from the Current of Eyes, a loose cabal of peregrine worms who travel from host to host gathering rumors and information.

Planets

The Chamber is a gargantuan planet out in the depths of space. Its surface is a sheet of ice several miles thick. Below that there is a vast ocean full of sea monsters, a nightmarish ecosystem fueled by the planet's molten core. It is here that the Senate has its chamber, a beautiful city lit from above by an array of mirrors and lens that reflect and concentrate starlight through tunnels in the ice. This is where the citizen test is administered; any organic being who survives a year here are granted citizenship. This is rather difficult; the animals here hunt with a psychic sense that lets them hone in on sapient minds from far away. The best strategy is to be big and scary, but even then there are some huge leviathans here in the deeps.

The planet Rikkel is a terrestrial Dentata** class world in the Republic. Here, the ecosystem is organized in a strict caste system. Herbivore peasants are preyed upon by knights, which in turn are preyed upon by barons, and are themselves hunted by the kings. For obscure cultural reasons, SeaSerpents love to eat kings of all sort, and this planet is a naturally occurring source of royalty. Exports from the Kingfishery are some of the most lucrative in the Republic.

Osgren is one of the many Dentata class planets in the Republic. It has seen sporadic habitation by various SeaSerpents over the centuries but it has never been prime real estate. This is because it has an infestation of humans. They are megafauna specialists, making their living in hidden conclaves, only emerging to hunt and gather. The problem with the Osgrenites is that they will hunt anything, even SeaSerpents. And they're good at too; generations living on a death world has made them into cunning and fierce hunters;  able to surprise and overpower even the most fearsome SeaSerpents. What's worse, they have learned how to hitchhike on the Cycler Current, and have set up conclaves on several Republic planets.
The Senate was debating different methods of control or extermination when a curious development happened. A human in a cobbled together pressure suit presented himself before the Senate and announced he had completed the citizenship trial. He would not have been believed, if Senator Glarshar hadn't remembered trying to eat him in a cycler a year previously. His spear was still embed in her gums***. This man, whose name is Dav Freehold, was quickly elected Senator of Osgren and since then several other humans have passed the citizenship test.

Persona

Senator Glarshar is one of the Osgrenite's only allies in the senate. Most SeaSerpents think humans are dangerous pests and find the idea of them having political power absurd. This is almost exactly what Senator Glarshar thinks but she finds it amusing absurd instead of insulting absurd. She treats all humans as de-facto citizens, and only eats the most annoying. She is also found of granting gifts and favors to humans. (The elite of the Republic run off a gift economy, so it is wise to pay her back as soon as possible, or else she might consider your body an impromptu gift.) She appears more turtle shaped than serpentine, with a heavily armored head and a thick scaled shell. She is very interested in claiming other human colonized worlds for the Republic, an ambition her human allies find somewhat disconcerting.

While Senator Freehold is Osgren's representative in the Senate, the planet is ruled by Chairman Grantof, an ancient and wiry androgyne. Osgrenite culture revolves around hunting and cooking food; Grantof is the most respected hunter and chef on the planet. From a hollowed out volcano they oversee the Kitchen trials, a planet wide culinary competition where Osgrenites from all over compete to show off their skills.

President Skullspliter is the head of Kingfishery corporate clan; a Joker lead commercial interest that controls the monarch trade on the planet Rikkel. If you want a fresh King or Queen for your dinner table, you'll need to deal with him or outplay him. He is the host to a couple of important WhisperingWorms who are the true business savvy behind the Kingfishery; Skullsplitter himself being little more than a deranged thug. Their relationship is turning toxic, leading Skullsplitter to become even more unstable as his symbiotes play passive aggressive games with his blood chemistry.

Persona who are also places

Senator Okrine is a void adapted SeaSerpent who serves as the Republic's flagship. She is the size of a small planetoid and is bristling with cybernetic weapons. She is escorted by her smaller children and a fleet of scavenged space ships. This is the heart of the Republic's power; if an enemy fleet survives her escort and her weapons, she will simply eat them. The WhisperingWorms inside her inhabit humanoid clones called nulls with simple minds they can easily pilot.  Her insides are a massive scrapyard/recycling center as swarms of nulls take apart everything she swallows. This is how her escort fleet is maintained and expanded.

*For this reason, there is a convention to refer to Senators as female even if they are not SeaSerpents. In recent years this has been resisted by the lone human Senator.
** There is some debate about where this designation comes from. Scholars say it is because of the jaws and teeth of the planets' numerous predators. Human spacers say it's because these planets will bite your dick off
***Senator Glarshar has since gifted the spear back to Senator Freehold, where it holds a place of honor in his office

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