The Sarran are an elegant but aloof race of winged aliens. They are considered the most human-like - at least physically - of the main sapient Native species, in spite of their numerous differences with Humans.
At first glance, the Sarran (SAHR-run, sometimes pluralized as "Sarrans") appear to be nothing other than tall, attractive Humans with large, bird-like wings. Most Sarran are at least six feet tall or more, and the females tend to be nearly the same height as the males. They all have very light, pale skin, most a pale pinkish shade, like a lighter-skinned Human's, but a few appearing bluish.
Sarran eyes are always clear and light-colored as well, but they range in color even more widely than Humans', including such hues as blue, green, turquoise, lavender, light pink, and an almost yellow shade of gold. A few actually have no color in their eyes at all, their iris being such a light shade of grey that it actually appears to be white. No one eye color seems to be genetically dominant.
Contrary to popular belief, the Sarran "hair" is not like human hair. The hair on a Sarran's head is light and feathery, never appearing elsewhere on their bodies (the males do not have facial hair). Their feathery hair usually matches the color of their wings, which also vary widely in hue. Unlike with eye color, there are some genetically dominant wing/hair colors, primarily brown and white, which are the most common, with grey coming in third. Quite the opposite of Humans in this regard, black is a rare, genetically recessive color in Sarran society. "Blackwings" are viewed as notorious by Humans after one particular "Blackwing" led a group of assassins against Victory during the Xenocide War. Besides these features, other differences between Sarran and Humans can been seen in facial structure. Sarran usually have very severe, sharply-chiseled features, with high-arching brows, a slight point to their ears, and long, large eyes.
Wings and StrengthEdit
Sarran wings sprout from their backs just like those in Human depictions of ancient deities or angels. In addition to these wings on their backs, they also have small winglets on their ankles, one on the right ankle facing right, and the other on the left ankle facing left. When in flight, the Sarran appear to use these small wings on their legs as a bird would use its tail, for steering. Also like a bird, the Sarran have exceptionally light bones and strong chest muscles. Indeed, all Sarran tend to be stronger than the average human, if only because of flying and carrying the weight of their wings when walking on the ground. Sarran have very high metabolism, requiring them to eat more frequently than Humans. Partially as a result, they have almost never been known to grow obese.
Cold Adaptation and LifespanEdit
The Sarran have smooth, hairless skin that is apparently immune to cold, save for the most extreme cold temperatures. This allows them to live comfortably on their frozen homeworld of Ecirron. It is also why they prefer to dwell on tall mountaintops on Terra Nova and other planets with a moderate climate. On average, Sarran live nearly twice as long as the average Human, but not as long as the average Mahlok, with the oldest making it to the mid-200's.
The most amazing power that a Sarran possesses is actually not flight, but telepathy. Exactly how Sarran psionic powers work still baffles Human scientists, who are never given the opportunity to study it as much as they no doubt would like. Some Sarran are able to transfer thoughts into a person's mind simply by initiating eye contact, though others require physical touch. They can also detect the minds of others that are in the vicinity, especially those who do not keep their emotions in check. The Sarran attribute this psychic ability to their religion (the universal spirit of Afaelya), claiming that it is based in the spirit, not the mind, and they seemingly refuse to even try to find a scientific answer. This infuriates Human scientists to no end, but they have yet to find a better explanation.
Sarran are the only Natives capable of interbreeding with another species: namely Humans. Biologists have so far been unable to explain how this came to be, but a union between Sarran and Human produces fertile offspring. These children, often called Sar-men or Sarmans, bear a mixture of Human and Sarran features and abilities, but always lack wings. They have a heightened sensitivity to psionics, but not to the extent of a full-blooded Sarran. While easily accepted into Human society, largely because they can blend in without much notice, they usually dwell on the outskirts of major Sarran settlements and have never been absorbed into high Sarran culture.
In person, the Sarran often come across as cold and emotionless, but this is largely a side-effect of their telepathic ability. Strong emotions can be easily read by a Sarran's psychic powers without the need for physical or verbal expression. Thus, they rarely communicate their feelings through voice or facial expression, and those emotions they feel are toned down to levels literally undetectable, in order to hide them from their own kind. To better explain this phenomenon, think of a creature whose hearing is extremely sensitive. In order to communicate, only the slightest sound need be emitted, which may be entirely inaudible to less-sensitive Human ears. Likewise, the Sarran are so sensitive to emotion that they only give the slightest indication of it... and that indication is entirely undetectable to Human senses. This has often been a detriment to their relations with other species, and it is probably why they find their closest friendship with the Achmer, who are also typically unemotional.
The Sarran are normally very gentle people who prefer peace over war and knowledge over strength. They seem to be quite religious, but the tenets of their religion remain largely a mystery. They have been known to shout phrases such as "For the One!" while in battle, and they apparently believe in a great unifying spirit called Afaelya (Ah-FAIL-Ya), or the One Spirit (though some researchers suggest it actually refers to a "spirit world" more than a deity). They believe that all things are connected through Afaelya, a sort of spiritual force, and that when they use their telepathic powers, they are actually communicating through Afaelya. Connection with the One Spirit is shown through intelligence, wisdom, the ability to command others, and sheer resolve, or belief that one is right (though if one believes himself to be right and turns out to be wrong, this shows spiritual weakness). Those judged to have the greatest connections to Afaelya become part of the priest class of Sarran society, referred to as the Afay (Ah-FAY).
Sarran society is female-dominant. Afay are nearly always female, as the females are usually judged as having greater wisdom and judgment, and a stronger spirit. To strike a female at all, even in self-defense, is considered foul, low, filthy, and degrading. Even those who keep the law in Sarran societies may only restrain and capture female criminals, never strike or wound them. Only when a female engages in openly violent activity against other Sarran, such as fighting in a war against her own people, is she allowed to be put down (for she has, after all, shown herself to not be wise in spirit), and it is another female who must make this decision. Females nearly always occupy higher political and religious positions than males. Males get more respect in the military, making up the bulk of the armed forces and often making it to the highest officer ranks. Females who join the military are still shown preference, however, and are nearly always high-ranking officers commanding large armies of mostly male soldiers. Sarrans usually mate for life and bear a very strong psychological and spiritual connection. Surprisingly, this seems to enable them to be freer with their relationships than Humans, since there is less suspicion between mates, who trust each other completely, as they can each share the other's thoughts and emotions.
Another important factor in Sarran culture is their ability to fly. The Sarran live in homes that Humans call aeries: high towers and houses built into mountainsides. They prefer any place that is unreachable by a creature that cannot fly. However, Sarran who have lost their ability to fly from a battle wound, accident, or some other cause, are not shunned from Sarran life. The Sarran build special communities for these individuals, and they have invented highly-advanced flight suits that allow the flight-impaired to travel between aeries. To touch the ground at sea level, except when absolutely necessary, is considered degrading. This is an ancient tradition that has long been part of their religion, and though it is now considered somewhat taboo, it still lingers in the background of Sarran thought.
Perhaps the hardest thing for Humans to understand about Sarran culture is that freedom is considered the underlying quality of all life. All beings should be free to fly, to move, to act as they please, to believe what they will, and to say whatever they like. Their actions are only limited if they cause harm to others in society. A Sarran state that creates too many laws will soon find itself all but abandoned by its citizens, and if citizens are not allowed to leave if they please, this state may find itself out of favor with the High Council of Harmony. Some Sarran wars have begun this way. This freedom has resulted in what some Humans consider the tragic flaws of this otherwise idyllic society, since it creates classes of rich and poor, with no obligation for the rich to aid those beneath them, no government intervention to destroy monopolies, and so on. Regardless, the system seems to work well for them, and few Sarran are resistant to it.
Sarran language is divided into two groups, which Humans who have studied the Sarran ways call "war-talk" and "peace-talk." War-talk is the language used by the Sarran military. It is terse, quick, and to the point. Normal, peacetime Sarran language simply contains too many long, showy words that would take too long to say in battle. However, war-talk is frowned upon by intellectual Sarran and is never used except in war. Outside of war, it is considered vulgar slang. Each Sarran word is carefully constructed to mean precisely what it signifies, and shortening them to war-talk causes them to lose some of their meaning. For example, "star" in peace-talk is "eravalios," meaning literally "orb of burning gas." In war talk, it is shortened to "erval," which is like saying "burn-orb." Clearly, some of the meaning is lost. For a word to lose its meaning, its link to the most fundamental concepts of shape, substance, and time, lessens it in the sight of the Sarran. This is why the Sarran frown upon most Human languages. Perhaps because of their psychic abilities aiding the translation and learning of languages, all Sarran speak the same tongue, which is also used by the Achmer for their out-of-water speech.
View of Other RacesEdit
The Sarran are a proud people, preferring their own kind over all others. They tend to live secluded from other races, avoiding involvement in the affairs of Humans whenever possible. They hold much hatred for the Mahlok, who have been their bitter enemies for as long as any Sarran can remember. They think of the Slashrim as little more than beasts, and the Wrognoth are only marginally better. They treat others with respect and civility only if they are treated equally so in return. Sarrans enjoy "open-minded" discussions quite literally: they prefer to read a person's mind using their telepathic powers before they trust them. This leads to quite a bit of hostility between them and Humans, since Humans are typically averse to having their mind scanned through like a book (especially if they are hiding some secret feelings about the Sarran). Before serious discussions and important meetings, the Sarran like to "exchange thoughts" using telepathy, opening their minds so that they each understand one another's viewpoints. And as we all know, Humans are not always open-minded.
The Sarran discovered the gas that powers Starlight engines long before Humans ever did. They have been using starlight-powered starships to travel between planets for over a thousand years, according to many estimates. Sarran starships tend to have very large, spacious cockpits to accommodate the pilot's wings (and also since most Sarran are more than a bit claustrophobic). They also like to decorate their vehicles in ornamentation, such as gold and silver, and they typically fly their flags (of their government, family, or even their personal flag) and banners from the backs of their starships. All Sarran vehicles either fly or hover, and if they walk, they also have the ability to fly. No Sarran vehicles are exclusively limited to travel on the land or sea. The Sarran also developed hover technology long before Humans, and rumor has it that some Sarran on their home planet have even built flying cities that float high above the ground with highly-advanced hover technology. Such technology would be far beyond anything Humans have yet developed, but it not known if it truly exists. The Sarran seldom speak of their homeworld to Humans, and some places are off-limits to anyone outside the High Council of Harmony.
The flight packs the Sarran developed for their flight-impaired citizens have also been expanded for weapons of war. Using the technology developed by Humans for walker legs and combining it with their own advanced flight systems, the Sarran have developed advanced flying battle suits, or exo-suits. These flying walkers are not as large or heavily armed as human-made, land-based walkers, but they are very effective in large numbers, since the have the land agility of a walker and almost as much flight agility as an aircraft. In order to do both of these, the suits have a flight mode and walking mode, making them semi-transformers. Humans usually refer to them as Aerowalkers.
As far as weapons go, the traditional Sarran weapon is the crossbow (or the double-crossbow, known as the X-bow). They have been known to use energy weapons in their wars against Humans, but these are thought to have been developed specifically for the Xenocide War. The use of bows and crossbows is a consequence of the constant battle against the Mahlok, who are legendary for being nearly bulletproof and for absorbing all energy blasts. The Sarran have developed several very advanced crossbows, including very long-range arbalests with scopes, rapid fire crossbows with bandoliers of ammunition, and gas-powered crossbows that require no bow or string (thus they are not truly crossbows, but since they fire arrows they are still sometimes referred to as such). The Sarran never invented gunpowder weapons, but have now begun using HPG caseless ballistic firearms with some frequency. Whether on parade or on the battlefield, all Sarran carry blades at their side. These swords are unique to each Sarran individual, though certain designs are used as templates in certain families to distinguish them from other families. The Sarran often wear these blades outside of war as well, such as during political meetings, as a sign of status. Lower-class Sarran unable to afford the luxury of unique swords for each family member are thus sometimes called the "bladeless."
One might think that a Sarran's wings would be a great impediment to them in battle, but they have found ways to protect these appendages. Armoring them usually proves to be limiting to their flight capability, so they have found other methods. The earliest was a gel that helped protect the feathers from fire, such as that created by the Mahlok. Modern versions of this gel now contain nanomachines that aid in heat-dissipation and even hardening against ballistic impacts. Finally, the wings can be covered by suspended energy shields that do not seem to impede flight ability.