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Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far Future
Intelligent major race, evolved from a branch of humaniti which was deposited on Vland ( Vland / Vland 1717) by the Ancients in approximately -300,000. Physically they are identical to Solomani, Zhodani, and many other branches of humaniti. Vland itself has a hospitable environment, but an alien biology; humans cannot use local plant and animal life for food unless it is processed.
Vilani history begins with accounts of the wars of the gods, terrible destruction, and of the occasional intervention in human affairs by the gods. Tales are also told of explorers who found great living stone-metal gods possessed of immense magical powers. Modern archeologists now believe these "gods" were actually giant robot warriors and juggernauts used by the Ancients in their Final War. Apparently, the last of these finally ran down in -20,000.
Early Vilani society was dominated by three groups. The first were known as the millers (shugilii); people who could transform Vland's alien biology into edible food. The second were the aristocrats; the natural leaders of society. The third group were the merchants, who controlled trade. Vilani society went through an industrial revolution in -11,000, and each group gained power rather than losing it. The ultimate breakthrough came in -9235, when a research team working in the fringes of the Vland system created the first prototype jump drive.
The jump drive ensured Vilani ascendancy for the next 6000 years. The Vilani found intelligent lifeforms on other worlds within 60 parsecs of Vland. None of the other races had progressed enough to possess interstellar travel, and the Vilani found it easy to dominate them. They imposed Vilani culture and law on these other races, but the conquering was not militaristic; rather, it was through economic subjugation.
As their sphere of influence expanded, the Vilani found it difficult to maintain control across such great distances with only jump-1. At the same time, each of the three power classes of society found itself threatened by the forces aroung it. Three bureaux were established, each independent of the other two, and each responsible for governing a particular territory. The three were effectively identical, but followed different philosophies based on their origins.
Sharushid , originating with the merchant class, emphasised interstellar trade. Makhidkarun, originating with the aristocracy, emphasised 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 organisation which emphasised energy, transport, and luxury goods.
In -5430, the Vilani finally discovered jump-2. No other race had jump-2, and the Vilani maintained a sole monopoly on it by jealously guarding its secrets from all subject races. Beginning in -5400, a series of wars to subjugate the resisting fringe cultures was waged. This period of consolidation lasted until -4045, when the ruling Vilani council, the Igsiirdi, declared the Grand Empire of the Stars, or Ziru Sirka.
At first, the Empire had no emperor. Within 10 years, the chairman of the Igsiirdi, who was elected for life by the council, was declared to be the Shadow Emperor (Ishimkarun). In -3610, the Shadow Emperor became the Emperor of the Stars - the absolute monarch of the Empire. Successors were elected by the Igsiirdi upon the death of the old emperor.
For nearly 1200 years the Empire kept the Pax Vilanica. However, the empire fostered cultural rigidity. Old Vilani culture had been based on the three groupings of society; these groupings were further developed into a rigid caste system, based on the idea that each citizen had a specific and set place in the universe, and it was each citizen's duty to remain in that place.
Society could not afford to let individuals do as they pleased. However, not all of the subject races of the Empire were able to be completely absorbed into this culture (the Vegans, for instance) and those societies did not do well under the Vilani.
Vilani culture was maintained by the bureaux structure, and it hampered drive and innovation. Exploration wound down and was stopped by -4000. Scientific research was controlled, and then stopped altogether by -3800. The real beginning of the end of Vilani domination, however, was signalled by the contact with the Terrans in -2422. By -2408 the Terrans and the Vilani were at war; by -2219 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.
Vilani and Solomani stock were intermingled during the Rule of Man, and cannot be told apart without blood typing (85% accurate) or DNA genotyping (100% accurate). This has meant that Vilani has come to indicate a cultural rather than a racial or national labelling. It is applied those within the Imperium who retain some of the old ways of the Vilani. 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.
Ref: ADV-12, 1107; MT-ENCYC, 1120,