"When our bioscanners picked up signs of life on Hosmiyr, we thought there would just be bacteria. To say that we were shocked to find an entire civilization there would be an understatement."
— Anonymous Commune Federation diplomat
The Elmaren (el-mah-ren) are a sapient humanoid species from the rogue planet of Hosmiyr, located in the Verpletter region of Via Aylathiya. They greatly resemble bats and primarily live in low-light environments. Despite their skittish nature, they have greatly proven themselves as members of the Commune Federation.
Elmaren are a sapient humanoid species with features akin to that of bats. They have two large eyes, which are often twice the size of the average Human's. In place of arms, they possess a pair of large, leathery wings that allow them to fly through the air. They also possess three-digit claws at the ends of these wings, allowing them to grip onto many different surfaces. They have digitigrade legs and possess four-digit feet. They also possess large ears that jut out upwards from the sides of the head. They have a mouth full of sharp teeth and are covered in short, thick fur. They are also noticeably shorter than most other humanoids.
Elmaren possibly have the best vision out of any species in Verpletter, being able to see clearly in even the darkest environments. This is due to the millennia spent evolving in a near-lightless environment. They are also able to pick out even the most minute details with their eyes. However, because the Elmaren have spent so long living on a near-lightless world, they must wear protective goggles whenever they leave Hosmiyr in order to keep themselves from going blind.
Thanks to their large ears and super sensitive hearing, Elmaren are capable of utilizing echolocation as a means to navigate the world around them. They evolved this ability in order to better search for food when their world was torn from its home system. They also have bioluminescent patches located along their wings, which can be flashed at will.
Elmaren are omnivores, although they do show a preference for meat. They prefer the meat of insects and other arthropods above all others, which has led to some notable incidents between them and the Ik'Ik'Vikira.
Elmaren are naturally skittish compared to most other species, often shying away from others due to their small size. They are most comfortable around others of their own kind. This is largely due to most other creatures on Hosmiyr being larger than the Elmaren and often preying on them. This also gave the Elmaren a natural compulsion to form groups, as it gave them a better chance at surviving the constant dangers of the Hosmiyrian caverns.
Despite these factors, Elmaren are regarded as being quite loyal to those who gain their trust. They tend to pair exceptionally with larger individuals in a sort of symbotic relationship.
Society and Culture
Elmaren usually live in close-knit communities centered around a group known as a "great family". This great family directs the affairs of the entire community, with each member of the great family specializing in a certain field such as architecture or agriculture. Elmaren typically build their settlements into the sides of cliffs or the walls of caves, both to protect themselves from the dangerous predators on their homeworld and to take advantage of their flying abilites.
Unlike most other species, Elmaren do not have a concept of borders. This is largely due to them having to unite early in their history in order to protect themselves from the constant threats on Hosmiyr. Because of this, it is not uncommon for Elmaren to be seen trespassing into another group's territory, which has led to more than a few notable border disputes between the Commune Federation and other nations.
A Light Long Lost
Long ago, the planet of Hosmiyr was cast out of its home system when a red dwarf star passed too close to it. Hosmiyr was temporarily caught in the intruder's gravity and knocked out of orbit, sending it into interstellar space. As their world's light slowly faded, the primitive ancestors of the Elmaren knew that they couldn't stay on the surface. As such, they moved as far underground as they could, avoiding the coming chill that enveloped their homeworld.
As they went deeper, they began to adapt to life underground. Their arms developed into large, leathery wings bedecked with glowing patches gained from their years of eating the bioluminescent bugs that lived in the caverns. Their eyes doubled in size, letting them see much more clearly in their new environment. Their ears also greatly increased in size, granting them the power of echolocation.
Life in the Darkness
As time went on, the Elmaren constructed villages built into the walls of their new home. These were centered around magma flows, which kept the Elmaren warm, allowed them to cook food, and let them forge tools. They lived relatively simple lives, cultivating fields of lichen and hunting large arthropods and cave fish for meat. However, as they expanded their settlements away from the magma flows, they found that those living on the outskirts couldn't withstand the cold temperatures or ended up being snatched away by predatory creatures. As their towns became overcrowded, the Elmaren knew that something drastic had to be done if they were to survive.
Scouting parties were sent out into the deepest tunnels, desperate to find suitable areas for development. When they came up empty handed, it seemed like all hope would be lost for the Elmaren. However, a group of explorers presented a seemingly impossible idea: if they could not find any magma flows, they would create them. During their travels, one of the scouting parties had come across a strange creature that violently exploded whenever it was sufficiently threatened. The group's plan was to use the explosive properties of the creature in order to cause new magma flows to erupt, allowing for more towns to be built.
Despite protests from various groups stating that the idea was insane, the Elmaren were running out of options, choosing to proceed with the plan. They captured as many of these exploding creatures as they could, harvesting the volatile enzymes from their bodies and using them to create a powerful explosive device. A hole was then dug into a wall believed to have magma behind it, with the device placed into the hole and detonated. The resulting shockwave was felt for miles throughout the caverns, with many nearby settlements in danger of collapsing.
A New Age
When the dust settled, it seemed like the plan was a failure. However, sometime after the blast, the area around the test site began to grow warmer. To everyone's shock, the plan had actually worked and a new magma flow was created. This technique would soon be replicated in other areas, allowing the Elmaren to expand like never before. A technological boom soon followed, with advancements never seen before popping up in settlements all over the planet. Soon these villages would turn into grand cities, allowing the Elmaren to unite under one banner.
However, while the Elmaren were finally able to unite their people, they were still trapped underground under miles of ice. Initially, they tried to use the same strategy they used when creating new magma flows, but the ice was so thick that even their most powerful bombs could hardly dent it. After many more attempts at breaking through the ice failed, the Elmaren gave up and resigned themselves to staying confined to their caverns.
Life Above the Ice
In 2584 VC, a Commune Federation ship searching for new worlds to colonize stumbled upon Hosmiyr during an expedition. The ship's bioscanners had detected large amounts of life on the world, far more than what should have been possible for a rogue planet. In response to this, a probe was dispatched in order to drill through the ice with a specialized plasma bore. When the probe finally broke through the ice, it fell into a cavern, right next to an Elmaren city.
The Elmaren were terrified at the sudden appearance of this strange device, initially seeking to avoid whatever it was. It wasn't until the probe began to transmit a message did the Elmaren approach it. The message stated that the probe was from the Commune Federation and they did not wish to bring them harm, but rather to bring them into their society. The Federation then sent a diplomatic mission down to the planet in order to facilitate peaceful relations with the natives.
When the landing party reached the caverns, most of the Elmaren hid from these strange newcomers, awestruck at their large size and advanced technology. The few who were brave enough to approach were given the opportunity to tour the Federation ship that came to their homeworld. Despite numerous protests from their peers, the volunteers agreed and were brought up to the ship. After a few days, the volunteers returned and brought news of a universe far beyond even the Elmaren's wildest dreams, and they were given a chance to explore it.
The Elmaren called together a council of all the great families on Hosmiyr and debated on whether to leave or not. While many of the more prominent familes voted to stay, accusing the Commune Federation of tainting the Elmaren way of life, most of the great families voted on leaving because they believed they could turn Hosmiyr into a hub of innovation. Soon, enormous holes would be drilled into Hosmiyr's surface, allowing starships full of Elmaren to set out and explore the universe.