Urallee Ballabae, the leader of the first Bale contact mission to Sol. Typical of an academion who has reached the upper levels of Academy society she has shaved her head, academions have more important things to think about than hairstyles!
History and Society
Around the star that humans called Tau Ceti 11.9 light years from Sol there lies one of the greatest suppress in human history. The Blee, a remarkably humanoid race call this system home which to add to confusion is also called Blee (or as the humans refer to it Blee-Sol.)
The two species developed from a prehistorical hunter gather society to the very brink of interstellar travel without knowing of each other’s existence. The Blee’s story is for the most part typical of a humanoid species, thousands of years of technological and cultural development, wars, disasters, civilisations rising and falling great social upheavals as new ideas and technologies are born etc.
By 1800AD the Blee had reached a level of technology comparable to the Late Industrial Era that would follow later on Earth. By that time the dominant institution throughout much of the world were the Academies. Governments came and went, nations were born then dissolved even religions came in vogue and then fell out of favour but for the last 750 Blee-years or so the institutions of knowledge throughout the globe had by risen to be the dominant influence on the lives of the Blee.
Kings, Queens, Emperors, Senators, Presidents and cultural icons would all come to the Academies for guidance on how to conduct their lives. The academies wisely kept neutral for the most part (notable exceptions include the Academy of Robult Conspiracy and the violent conflict between the Academy of New Evolution and the Academy of Spontaneous Birth), giving their advice to all who asked for it.
Those who rose to prominence within the competitive world of the Academy were destined to be remembered by history no matter whether their opinions and theories where correct or not. Indeed an academion’s reputation was more important than actually being right and many tragedies arose because one respected academion would not climb down from their position for example the famine that struck the nation of Grouba Harti.
Despite their failures though by the Industrial Age the Academies had consolidated their position for better or worse. An outsider who dared question current thinking by a particular institution would find himself or herself laughed at and ignored by society. What does a "Jabra" (a vaguely insulting term for the non-academions) know about anything people would jeer!
There was not an aspect of Blee life that the academies did not have a respected opinion one from the nature of the universe to how a woman should ask a man to a dance (female emancipation happened a lot earlier in Blee history than other humanoid races.) The academies grew arrogant about their position in Blee society and to quote the motto of one of the more enlightened Academies of the time "arrogance tempts a fall."
With the advent ofgenetic engineering many of the most respected Academies had the bright idea of creating a virus that would attack all of the most troublesome bacteria of the time, eradicating such blights as Flegee (Pink Eye Flu) and Squage (a sexual disease that caused great embarrassment for even the sexual liberated Bale!) In 1845AD they planned to disperse the wonder virus amongst the general population and let nature (albeit nudged in the right direction) take its course.
Proposals were made to governments around the planet and because the Academies opinion was so respected few raised an eyebrow or dared question their methods (notable exception being the island continent of Dalee whose elected president had harboured a grudge against the Academies since they turned her down in her youth!)
The dispersal of the virus was heralded with great celebration and joy of the Blee’s mastery over nature. Reports of groups of people having a deadly reaction to the virus were suppressed by the media, after all the Academies couldn’t be wrong could they and who would risk their job saying otherwise?
Unbeknownst to the Blee the wonder virus that promised so much and mutated into a deadly strain that was fatal to 60% of the general population. The mutated strain spread out from the eastern cities on the continent of Yurigaveny on the monorails and jet planes of the Bale transport network to infect most of the world, except of course the country of Dalee who quickly closed their borders and threatened to destroy any boat or plane that tried to enter the country without going through the proper decontamination channels.
Blee society was decimated, the cities became ghost towns as those who were either immune or as yet uninfected hid in their homes, hoarding supplies and keeping a close eye of their neighbours. One of the most harrowing sights of the era where the mass graves dug to dispose of those who died, a meme which still holds resonance to this day in Blee culture. People lived in fear of the dreaded V-men who would arrive at a house in their biohazard suits and take infected individuals to the massive temporary hospitals that sprang up to help the doomed sufferers.
In some areas fear turned to anger as the Jabra’s attacked the Academies that had brought this horrific tragedy on the world. One incident of anger in particular, the destruction of the Academy of Yurigaveny Genetics, is remembered not only for the scenes of ultraviolence on hapless academions and the burning towers of the campus but also for the destruction of a promising vaccine for the wonder virus by an angry mob.
At the peak of the Great Plague almost 2 billion out of a population of 5 billion Blee died as a result of the virus or from secondary infection inflicted on a weakened immune system. Whole communities were wiped out, the economy and infrasructure collapsed and civilisation was on the verge of a dark age. Thankfully the co-operation of the now humbled Academies with their knowledge of the virus and theories of preventative measures and the more practical knowledge of the population at large kept the wheels of civilisation turning.
A scout flies over the abandoned fields of the country of Selawee during the great plague
The Recovery was long and hard, science and progress took a back seat for perhaps the first time in centuries as Bale readjusted to the new world order , still heavily influenced by the Academies who toiled hard to get back in the public’s favour but now the Jabra’s had more confinece in their own opinions and started to assert themselves on the cultural scene.
By 1950AD Blee civilisation was getting back on track and a small radio telescope in the central deserts of Dalee was listening out for intelligent signals coming from beyond the Blee system. Seti programmes had been started since just before the Great Plague as Academies became feuled by the intellectual promise of communication with another intelligent race. Even signals were sent out to promising nearby systems notably Sol but at the time nobody on Earth had invented a radio reciever so the messages passed by.
Hallee Orieb and his team pointed their receivers towards a quite well known nearby Blee like star in the constellation of Baljit ( a mytical giant beetle like creature whose shell when licked was said to send a person into a state of lotus eating euphoria for months and as the story went was responsible for destroying a civilisation!)
The revered site of Hallee Orieb’s SETI programme in the Dalee desert.
To his delight he received some grainy and garbled sounds of Earth in the 1940s. A complex language could clearly be heard along with music and sounds of everyday life on the far off world ( which apparently involved a lot of engine noise, explosions and gunfire!) This discovery raced around the planet and everyone tuned in their radio sets hoping to translate the alien’s language. Much to the Blee’s surprise there appeared to be many distinct languages emanating form the star which to a world-wide culture that had agreed on a universal tongue some 200 years previously seemed strange and very inefficient.
The best linguists and code breakers on the planet set about translating the radio messages while the average Blee tuned in to listen just for the sheer wonder of it all. After 10 years of study were the Academies had busily been translating and at the same time improving their image with the public who lapped up each new relavation television signals from Earth began to arrive. The Humans appearance was a shock to the Blee , all their theories had postulated that life on another world would develop in all sorts of ways totally alien to them.
Analysis of the images also showed Earth to be both a beautiful and terrible world. Blee would watch with delight images of the music performers of the time (little did Elvis know how far his fan club reached!) but were horrified to see pictures of the WWII, nuclear weapons, death camps and poverty, but it did explain a lot of the early radio messages.
Answering back to Humans was not an option the Academies decided. Who knows what might happen if the Humans knew of their existence. At first the communication (with a 11.9 year lag of course) might bring great benefits as the two species swapped ideas, concepts art and music. But what if the humans decided to invade and enslave the Blee as studies of their nature suggested they might (even if that actual day was many centuries off!)
A planet-wide initiative to silence any stray radio signal that might leak out towards Sol was pronounced and the majority of people went along with the decision. So as Human society progressed from the industrial to the information age the Blee were silently watching and as Earth started sending out first probes and then manned vessels to its neighbours in space so the Blee went about doing the same, sometimes getting ideas of technology from transmissions from Earth!
By 2030AD public opinion and continued study of the humans showed that it was time to announce themselves to their neighbours. The Academies thought that maybe the humans showed great promise or it was probably better to get on their good side before they developed interstellar craft and arrived at what they called Tau Ceti.
A repeated laser signal was sent from a massive (for the time) space station orbiting the homeworld’s primary, a super-terrestrial planet of 3 terran masses called Rabtor (or Great Sky Father.) A Luna SETI observatory received the signal in 2042AD and the rest is history.
The Blee Today
Interaction between the Humans and the Blee has since First Contact been very fruitful and rewarding. The two cultures despite their differences have managed to get along like a house on fire perhaps due to their similarity in appearance and also it is joked the sexual compatibility between the two species. Since the very first manned envoys to both Earth and Blee their have been tales spoken in social situations in both cultures of the talents of the other!
With the advent of interstellar colonies the Bale have been welcome to share systems suchas Epsilon Eridani and Trashellee/107Piscium with their Human cousins. A Human/Blee hybrid culture has even developed out in the Eridanus/Cetus/Orion direction. Despite not being in as great numbers as say Humans, Ti'Thals or Old Space races in the Community the Blee a quite a vocal minority in most inhabited systems at times blending in with the local culture or choosing to preserve their own. Traditional Blee society being the way it is most Blee can be found in academic or scientific occupations rather than say financial or entertainment sectors. That’s not to say the Blee are a people of aloof academics and questioning intellectuals, no species attributes can be so specific. The Blee are one of the strongest supporters of the Community as a whole, being one of its founders and all. They see it as a great way for cultures to mix and grow as well as providing support for the Academies as they moved out into deep space, with a whole universe to study these institutions have spread throughout Community space.
The Blee System and its inhabitants
The Blee homeworld is the smaller component of a double planet system, Rabtor being the larger super-terrestrial world a little over 3 times as massive. The two worlds take 28 hours to orbit each other and are tidally locked so one side of the homeworld permanently faces Rabtor. In fact before contact was made with civilisations on the Rabtor facing side of the planet nations on the other had no idea such a thing existed and for a while some didn't believe the travellers tales!
Life evolved on Blee in a similar manner as in natural A class worlds. There is no sign of terraforming on the planet in it past such as the worlds of nearby Epsilon Eridani. Until 50,000 years ago perhaps the most intelligent form on the planet was the Vorbule a furry raptor-like creature with weak but prehensile fore limbs that foraged in the equatorial savannahs for any scraps it found to its liking. Vorbules have since the 22nd century benefited fromuplifting and now have quite a flourishing culture whose base is in the Chi Orionis system.
Around 50,000 years ago however a new species sprang out of nowhere. With nothing to predate them in the fossil record the humanoid Blee arrived sharing only a few genetic traits with other mammalian-type species they share the planet with. With the Blee as the top dogs the Vorbules were domesticated, used as steeds for travel as well as kept as affectionate pets or companions. With theVorbule's quite apparent intelligence and empathy for their masters the Blee treated the Vorbules as they would a retarded child always keen to their beloved pet's needs. Treated a Vorbule badly or working them into the ground is seen as very bad form and perhaps a sign of a disturbed mind.
Uplifted Vorbules still retain a great empathy for their former masters though in some quarters of Neo-Vorbule society there is resentment towards their subservient place in Blee history. Also few uplifted Vorbules like to be ridden in the style of their dumber cousins sometimes for a cruel prank jumping on the back of a Blee and ridding them!
As to why the Blee arrived on the planet with nothing to predate them in the fossil record a number of theories have been proposed throughout the centuries and with all ideas on a species origin and evolution are very controversial. Before the industrial age on the Blee it was assumed that the Blee were made in the image of God (a common belief amongst most pre-industrial sapients) and were given the planet and all its ready made lifeforms as a gift for being so great.
The Academies though had a problem with this as it relied on the existence of something for which there was no rational evidence, i.e. God. So many tried to tie in the Blee with the rest of the planet, proposing theories such as being distantly related to Vorbules and the result of freak mutation to spontaneously evolving from a number of different species.
Contact with the Humans further confused the issue. Here was a species to similar to be co-incidence especially so close to home. Were the Blee an old human space colony from a forgotten age (Humans fond of the Atlantis meme jumped on the idea!) Did evolution run out of ideas ? Or was somebody or something directly responsible for the existence of humanoids in the universe. With further exploration on the subject and more humanoid cultures with a similar mystery to their origins appearing theTheory of Origin came into being. A concept that is controversial to this day and the cause of a great many fights!