“A Friend, Light-Years From Earth,” The Hustler, 2285
September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Even on other planets far, far away, it should be reasonable that natural selection drives evolution much like on Earth. However, evolution does not move toward a single “superior” type of species, since it is simply based on adaptation to the current environment. Nevertheless, for any species to become sapient, such concepts as reason, logic, and other higher order thought processes would not elude them. Thus, all the different species known in the galaxy today has many similarities and differences, physically and mentally.”
Introduction to Xeonbiology, Chapter 1, 6th Edition, Vanderbilt University, 2284.
An individual read this paragraph, but with much difficulty. Not for a lack of intelligence or understanding, for this particular individual graduated the top of class (of 2000 people) from her junior academy, 3-hundred light years away. The name of the individual is Rei’Illa, and she is a member of Velietian race (incidentally, Velietians has male-female gender differences). At the moment, Rei’Illa is a second-year foreign exchange student enrolled in Vanderbilt University.
Although she is a 3-meter-tall bipedal with opposable thumbs, no one will mistaken Rei’Illa for a human. She has a somewhat insectoid look: two large eyes, lack of hair, and major parts of her skin covered by natural plates. In fact, Velietians did begin as winged insects in her lush homeworld, Velieti (this is the most accurate English pronunciation anyways), with towering rock formations and carnivorous flora. Being a super-earth with rich resources, Velieti has been a hot bed of evolution, with all species regardless of size and kind competing with each other. This process of contention and speedy adaptation continued for the Velietians for millions of years and finally stabilized when they developed higher cognitive functions. In the end, muscles and skin replaced most of the chitin-like armor, the membranous wings withered to small stubs, and even their compound eyes fused into a single lens. However, these changes have not diminished their natural physical capabilities. Within the Vanderbilt, Rei’Illa is famous for excelling almost all sports invented by mankind, with the notable exception of swimming*.
Physical differences aside, Rei’Illa is most often noted for her mental and emotional differences from her human peers. Velietians are born to be solitary hunters, since a large group has often meant danger, death, and misery on Velieti, where predators** has successfully targeted large congregations. As such, physical social contact have developed special meanings for the Velietians, which results in Velietians leading a solitary lifestyle for most of their lifespan. A side-effect to this lonely instinct is that Rei’Illa and other Velietians often misinterpret human social customs like friendly handshakes as marriage proposals***. Furthermore, Velietians have also emphasized simplicity in communication, to reduce the time individuals spend in groups. When it comes to languages, quicker and simpler is better for them. Therefore, Velietians like Rei’Illa often find humans’ figurative and decorative language not only cumbersome, but also difficult to understand.
Due to the dangers of being out in the open on Velieti, Rei’Illa has often preferred “the darkest corners with the best views [sic],” even in social gatherings, since darkness most often means safety on Velieti. Historically, Velietians have high values for darkness, even in their art. For the same pieces of Velietian art that humans describe as “depressing,” “frightening,” or “black on black on black [sic],” Velietians view them as “relaxing,” “peaceful,” and “beautiful.” Vice versa, Velietians have often decribed humans as “loving brightness, almost to obsession****.”
Despite differences between the thought processes of the two species, Rei’Illa has become an important member of the University. Aside from studying for “classes with heavy words,” Rei’Illa is active in several university clubs such as Velietian Cultural Outreach and the Vanderbilt Women’s Golf Team. Also, many human students have come to value her friendship, finding her to be an honest and caring individual despite her rather dark outlook and lonely social pattern. Rei’Illa has also adapted to human customs very well; more and more frequently can one find her towering outline among a group of humans, all laughing and enjoying themselves. And yes, even her forcibly-married husband.
*Velietians despise large bodies of water out of instinct, due to their insectoid origin. It has traditionally been the very brave, the slightly-insane, and the criminal elements within Velietian society to handle water-related issues such as irrigation and fishing.
**”predators” on Velieti include both plant- and animal-analogues, making large groups easier to target and harder to manage.
***this misunderstanding has caused her marital status to be marked as “married” to a fellow (human) classmate, as dictated by Velietian law
****Rei’Illa’s Commentary: “Humans wants light, stops bogeyman, for thousands years. Velietians are bogeymen, for million years.”
Further reading on Velietian society and social custom: a Brief History of Velieti, Vol 3 by Andus Lehrer.