|Description:||Human major race (H. sapiens) which developed on Vland from human stock placed there by the Ancients.|
History: The world of Vland, while possessed of a hospitable environment, boasted an alien ecology based on its own independently evolved biology, a biology that produced proteins, sugars, and amino acids that were difficult for humans to digest and metabolize. The humans just could not use local plant and animal life for food.
One of the oldest occupations in Vilani society is that of shugilii (which translates roughly as "miller"). The shugilii was a person who could transform raw food into edible food through special aging and chemical treatment. The shugilii task was more akin to shaman or witch doctor than of that cook. Since virtually no food on Vland was edible without some treatment, shugiliis were powerful members of society.
The alienness of Vland was reciprocal: humans were unsuitable as food for predators, parasites died because humans provided no nutrition, bacteria could not infect the human system, and even viruses were unable to invade and take over human cells. Consequently, the primitive human society found no need for medically oriented shaman. Vilani medical understanding was very slow to develop because of this.
Vilani legends are full of accounts of the wars of the gods, terrible destruction, and occasional intervention in human affairs by the gods. Legends exist of early explorers who found lands with great living stone-metal gods possessed of immense magical powers. Modern archeologists now believe these "gods" were actually great robot warriors and juggernauts used by the Ancients in the final war. Apparently, the last of these machines finally ran down around -14,500.
Society: Early Vilani society was dominated by three groups: the shugiliis, the aristocrats, and the merchants. Aristocrats were the natural leaders of society, the shugiliis were the all important food processors, and the merchants controlled trade.
With the flowering of Vilani society (circa -5500) and its attendant industrial revolution, each of these three forces gained power rather than lost it; each participated in the creation of the industrialized wealth of Vland.
In -3766 the Vilani made their ultimate breakthrough - one that would assure their ascendancy for the next 6000 years. A research team working on the fringes of the Vland system created the first working prototype jump drive and demonstrated its effects.
The Vilani found intelligent lifeforms on other worlds within 60 parsecs of Vland. None of the races had progressed enough to have begun interstellar travel. The Vilani found it easy to dominate these less technically advanced races. The Vilani were able to impose Vilani culture and law on these other races among the stars. However, the Vilani *conquests *were not militaristic in nature, but rather were economic subjection.
As their sphere of influence was expanding, the Vilani found it difficult to maintain control across such great distances with jump-1 as their maximum rate of travel and communication. At the same time, each of the three power classes of Vilani society found itself threatened by the forces around it.
Three bureaux were established, each independent of the other two, and each assigned a territory among the stars for which it was responsible. Each of the three bureaux was effectively identical, but they initially espoused different philosophies, which were based on their origins. The bureaux maintained their own governments within their territories.
Sharurshid, originating with the merchant class, emphasized interstellar trade. Makhidkarun, originating with the aristocracy, emphasized interstellar government. Naasirka, originating with the shugiliis, floundered after it found that it could not control food supplies on most of the worlds it dealt with, but it ultimately became a broad-line organization which emphasized energy, transport, and luxury goods.
In -961, the Vilani finally discovered jump-2. No other race had jump-2, and the Vilani maintained a sole monopoly on jump-2 by jealously guarding its secrets from all subject races. Beginning in the year 69, a series of wars to subjugate the resisting fringe cultures was waged. This period of consolidation wars lasted until 1424.
Grand Empire of Stars: In 1425, the ruling Vilani council, the Igsiirdi, declared the Grand Empire of the Stars, or in the Vilani tongue, the Ziru Sirka.
At first, the Empire had no emperor. Within 10 years, the chairman of the Igsiirdi (elected for life by the council) was the Ishimkarun - the Shadow Emperor - ruled through published proclamations, but never appeared in public. In -1859, the Shadow Emperor became the Emperor of the Stars, who was the absolute monarch of the Empire. Successors were elected from the Igsiirdi upon the death of the old emperor.
For nearly 1,200 years the Grand Empire of the Stars kept the peace among its star-spanning population. However, the empire insisted on cultural rigidity. Exploration was stopped by 1500. Scientific research was controlled and then stopped altogether by 1700.
The beginning of the end of Vilani domination, however, was signalled by the contact with the Terrans in 3047. By 3061 the Terrans and the Vilani were at war; by 3250 the Terrans had surpassed the Vilani technologically and were marching through the cities of Vland as conquerors, and the Grand Empire of the Stars was at an end.
Currently, Vilani is a cultural rather than a racial or national labeling, and it is applied to those within the Imperium who retain some of the old ways. Dialects of the old High Vilani language survive in certain places, along with a few fragments of Vilani culture, such as musical forms and other fine arts. Certain of the old Vilani noble families have maintained more of the old culture, particularly the families who control the Vilani megacorporations.
See also First Imperium.