by James Maliszewski
Part of the Untaken Treks
Chelarians hail from Rigel III, which they call Chelar. Rigel III is a warm, lush world dotted with small seas. Thick jungles and swamps cover the planet's continents, providing habitats for diverse species of plants and animals. Like the star system of which it is a part, Rigel III is an exobiologist’s dream.
Chelarian mythology tells that the race was placed on Rigel III eons ago by the gods to serve as their emissaries. Modern Chelarians no longer believe these legends, but Federation exobiologists once thought they recorded the seeding of Rigel III by some ancient race. However, Chelarians exhibit genetic affinity with lower forms on their homeworld, casting doubt on this theory.
Nevertheless, early Chelarian civilizations took their role as divine emissaries seriously. The Chelarians quickly established a system of communications between their communities. This system encouraged trade and prevented war. In time, the Chelarians boasted a sophisticated network of interdependent communities, creating large states without developing the imperialistic mindset common to most other cultures.
Consequently, Rigel III was ripe for the picking by the various Orion empires that arose in the Rigel system millennia ago. Despite their broadmindedness, the Chelarians proved unruly subjects, launching several rebellions against Orion rule. Eventually, the Orions abandoned Rigel III (historians still debate why) and left the planet to the Chelarians.
The Federation first visited the Rigel system in 2189 and the Chelarians, unlike the Orions, welcomed it to their homeworld. Their pacific and cosmopolitan culture greatly impressed the Starfleet contact team, which recommended Federation membership to Rigel III in 2203. Admitted in 2206 over the objections of the Orions, the Chelarians have been staunch, if low-key, members of the Federation ever since.
The experience of the Awakening (described below) profoundly influences Chelarian culture. Most outsiders cannot understand why Chelarians regard their non-sentient young as little more than animals. This attitude contrasts with the loving concern shown to those young who survive to awaken. Chelarians regard sentience as a great reward and, like all rewards, one that requires effort to achieve. To take it for granted is to devalue it.
Awakening is more than traumatic for some Chelarians. For a small number of them, it unlocks a mild form of empathic ability - and insanity. The brain structures that impart psionic abilities also stimulate phobias and obsessions. Empathic Chelarians are nevertheless the objects of great admiration. This admiration stems from an ancient belief that equated madness with the “touch of the gods.” Although few Chelarians hold to the old beliefs, superstitions such as this on continue to exert an influence on them.
Empathic Chelarians are trained to harness their abilities for the good of the community. Chelarians encourage those with psionics to choose the vocations of diplomat or mediator, believing them the best uses of their unique talents. Chelarians who achieve a high degree of psionic mastery are granted the right to wear ceremonial armor made from polished black levneh metal. The armor has no martial value any longer, but signifies the Chelarian as a “warrior for peace.”
Non-Chelarians sometimes mistake the respect accorded to the empaths as evidence of a caste system on Rigel III. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Chelarians’ subjugation by the Orions has made them extraordinarily egalitarian. Everything from their planetary government to their family structures is fluid and open. Indeed, Chelarians recoil from arbitrary discipline and hierarchies, making them seem insubordinate, even surly, to officious Starfleet personnel.
At the same time, Chelarians are devoted to logical behavior and the common good. These twin culrural principles prevent the loose structure of Rigel III’s government from becoming a true anarchy - even if it already seems so to offworlders!
Physiology and Psychology
Chelarians are tall green humanoids with binocular vision and a large beak-like mouth. They are amphibians that spend the first three years of their lives as entirely aquatic lifeforms. Because the oxygen dissolved in water is insufficient to support higher brain functions, Chelarian young are not accorded sentient status until their lungs are strong enough to breathe air. From the time Chelarians first breathe air, their brains develop at a rapid rate, a process resulting in the “Awakening.” The Awakening is a traumatic event, as the young Chelarian for the first time looks on his surroundings in a coherent, logical manner and recognizes himself as distinct from them.
Although logical and dedicated to the common good, Chelarians do not appear as cold and calculating as species like the Vulcans. In fact, Chelarians can be quite charming, if one can overlook their fierce appearance. Their almost innate open-mindedness and ability to see differing perspectives puts others at ease. It also helps to smooth ruffled feathers when their equally innate egalitarianism causes them to question the orders of a superior.
Not surprisingly, the Chelarians are renowned as a thoughtful, deliberative people. Their skills in diplomacy and mediation are exceptional, making them important members of the Diplomatic Service. Chelarians excel at other forms of negotiation as well. More than a few corporations and businesses employ Chelarians as trade delegates when opening relations with a new world or colony.
Yoom Veethos, an ambassador to the Federation Council, recently completed a difficult mission to Elis V, where he successfully negotiated a peace treaty between warring religious factions. For his efforts, Veethos has been awarded the Federation Medal of Honor.
Captain Oox Haaden recently took charge of the U.S.S. Bondar to become the first Chelarian to command a vessel in Starfleet. His record of success in a number of first contact missions overcame his reputation for rebelliousness. Haaden is currently on assignment in the unexplored Vedria sector.