|Leeder Ecological Network|
Setting: Galactic Crucibles
The complexity of Life shall endure and ever grow
|• Size||1 system|
|• Estimate||2 million|
Leeders are the gargantuan meta-species who are notable for their ecological stances and sway in the Second Galactic Senate, despite being considered a 'low-level civilisation' by many due to their technologically 'backwards' ways.
The majority of Leeders live on the planet of Alduor, which orbits a star in the Outer Core zone of the Crucible Galaxy. Alduor itself is their homeworld, with a surface coverage of 80% landmasses and 20% water (Although much of the continental landmass is made of swamps and flood plains. If looked upon from space, Alduor might only seem like a natural planet without any civilisations, however if brought down to the surface an individual could start to understand the creatures that live on this world.
There are two features of a Leeder that come as a shock to the residents of the galactic community - their size, and their organs. The former is due to their ridiculous heights and lengths, at times being mistaken for enormous buildings or sculptures, meanwhilst the latter is because their organs are themselves full mobile macro-species. Leeders often use pheromones in order to get the organ-creatures to do their bidding.
The evolutionary history of the Leeder is presumed to be that of an extremely symbiotic web of relationships in the animal kingdom that only became closer and closer as the ages went by. By the modern day these creatures are all developed within special organs inside the bellies of these huge beasts, meanwhile the Leeders themselves are considered little more than a vessel with a brain for the hundreds of creatures and nests that swarm over their bodies. These organ-creatures come in many shapes and sizes, and with enough specialised roles that some consider the Leeders to not have 'biology' but their own entire ecosystems within themselves.
The Leeders are split between four major households: The Members Conduit, the Members Nursehold, the Members Ambassador, and the Members Nomad. None of these households are considered to be above the others, but all are necessary for Leeder society to thrive.
It should be noted, however, that Leeders generally live in an extremely lawless society. The typical attitude of a Leeder coming close to the phrase 'Live and let live'. The only true crimes that a Leeder could commit would be either the isolation of a member of their own species, or environmental destruction.
When a Leeder is young they are taught the ways of each of the households, and as they age they are given the choice of adopting particular organ-creatures which change a Leeders' physiology in order to become more compatible with the chosen segment of society.
Each household is held in place by the Chieftain, who is most often the eldest of the house. At seasonal events counsels are held in which Elders begin to teach Younglings of their ways.
Almost immobile, the individuals of this segment of culture are often found physically attached to the fungal thought-farms - a semi-parasitic fungus which preserves the brain after death. The Conduit are responsible for maintaining the thought-farms, and in turn for keeping track of the history of the Leeders, whilst also being responsible for ethics, agreements, and inquiry of the Leeder population.
The individuals within the Nursehold are often found in swamp-like basins that function as hospitals for those at either end of life. They train continuously by learning remedies and experimenting on their own organ-creatures.
Often found in bioships that encase a group of Leeders, or attempting to integrate themselves into alien cultures, the ambassadors are sent to every possible distinct political entity in an attempt to map out a web of complexity that can be turned towards the forwarding of ecological progress. At times their diplomatic missions have been mistaken as invasions or terraforming. Meanwhile they hold the responsibility of xeno-archivists whilst also expanding the reach of the Leeder ecological heirarchy.
The fourth caste often gets called 'the miscellaneous caste' due to the wide range of activities and skills which are covered by the Nomad peoples, but in the mindset of a Leeder all of these things are linked. The Nomads are migratory builders and preservers of Leeder culture on their homeworld. They are the ones who create and prosper forth for Leeder kind, and the first who would be willing to defend their values.
Compared with other polities, the Leeders have an incredible lack of infrastructural support. However, upon closer inspection this is seen as such because the Leeders are already well adapted to the ecosystem they find themselves in. Shelter, food, water are either unneccessary or in a heavy enough supply that the polity has not developed much despite being an incredible old civilisation.
The closest thing to a 'city' that the Leeders have are the often-travelled footpaths between points of interests, which often swell into small rivers. These points of interest may be the thought-farms of the Members Conduit, or perhaps the musical obelisks built by the Nomads. Aside from these, there are no Leeder constructions that are regular.
Although, it should be noted that after contact with the Senate that a space port was agreed to be built in the large deserts of Alduor, and so there is an urban centre on the planet, however it does not directly belond to the Leeders themselves. The Leeders enjoy the connection to the wider universe, and are often attempting to convince alien races to stop by in their specialised hotels in order to understand more about Leeder values.
Due to the nature of their mindset, and low population, Leeder industry is almost unheard of. At occasional points in time groups of Nomads may work on technologies together, but as they are only self-motivated beings the interest can easily wane. Industrious action is rarely seen among these peoples, despite often strong convictions.
As part of their ecological mission, Leeders often seek to improve the biospheres of all available spaces. Whilst other polities may attempt to carry themselves to other planets, this is a much more difficult path for Leeders to take due to their immensity. Instead, Leeders are often found sending out seed ships and attempting to raise the complexity of far-flung ecosystems, even if they aren't directly present at those sites.
Though in modern times they have been working on integrated bio-ships which will hopefully take them from planet to planet, and star to star.
The large focus on nature is often the stereotypical depiction of a Leeder, and although this is a deep cultural vein, there are more nuances to their behaviours.
Music is often found playing throughout the vast jungles of Alduor, although it may sound strange to alien races. Rather than any specific skills of rhythm or tone the Leeders simply prefer the level of surrounding noise to be louder - as a result of natural impulses driving them towards where the most creatures are present. In part of this are musical obelisks which direct howling winds, and giant drums built into the ground for marching over. The noise can often be heard halfway to the horizon.
As for sport, while Leeders themselves are not physically active in the same sense as others, they do often train their organ-creatures to play games between each other. Though whether the organ-creatures count as athletes in multi-polity championships across the galaxy is a source of great debate.
When it comes to the specific clans of Leeders there are easily preferences that are shown split down cultural ties: The Members Conduit prefer massages and reliving old memories and stories at the thought-farms, the Nursehold enjoy experimenting on and studying smaller creatures, the Ambassadors are fascinated by any kind of foreign export, and the Nomads attempt to cater for any niche arts and crafts - especially those which seem to be waning in popularity.
Beliefs and Values
Whilst Leeders do not have any metaphysical beliefs, they are keen to show off their harmony with nature, and the wonderful complexities that arise within it.
In the far flung future, Leeders hope that their homeworld will be but one of the origin points for a galactic-wide ecosystem of super-species that live across all kinds of environments. As a part of this, they often view the bio-ship project as their immediate successors.
On the other hand, their fears come in the form of isolationist and artificial tendencies found in polities which are overtly technologically reliant. Though they are not specifically against the use of AI and robotics, they prefer these technologies to be used to boost a connection with life rather than to be separated from it, or the local biospheres. As such, any introverted Leeders are often treated similarly to those with debilitating illnesses of other polities.
Life and Death
The Leeder's concept of life and death has been said to be expressed as a form of non-mystical reincarnation. The Leeders fully support the role of death in the advancement of nature, viewing themselves as merely stepping stones for the next beings to come along. Often swapping organ-creatures between close-relations, the Leeders have professed that they feel a kind of existential death every time one of their organ-creatures is swapped out, though it is unsure if this is exactly comparable to death as most species conceive of it.
When it comes to large scale extinctions Leeders have two reactions - depending mainly on whether the extinction was caused by the ecosystem or an outside event. In either case they are saddened by the loss, however if the extinction came about due to an outside event then they will still attempt to revive or de-extinct the local flora and fauna that were involved.
The Leeders are very patriotic about their role in the Second Senate of the Crucible Galaxy. They have strong and happy ties with most of their peers, though they become suspicious of those who live in more artificial environments.
On the reverse of this, they are often viewed by the rest of the galaxy as an interesting yet unimportant species, politically. Their imposing stature often makes them easily heard, but as their stances on anything besides ecosystems are often neutral this causes some confusion and concern. Though this probably stems from the lack of any formal system of law existing in Leeder society.
In particular, the Leeders are very wary of the Estin species - whose isolationist and technological reliance has made them the stuff of nightmares - while becoming enamoured with the concept of the Zambarau - who they have yet to meet, but consider a step further in ecological complexity than themselves.