The Vauvusar are four-armed, bipedal aliens with a tail. Their eyes are set on either side of their enormous head, much like a ham-merhead shark. Because they evolved from amphibious creatures used to grazing on surface-floating creatures, their "head" is largely mouth - their brains sit in the upper part of their chests. A Vauvusar's arms are not particularly strong, but they are capable of quick movement - so quick, in fact, that no wise human plays in a card game with a Vauvusar dealer.
These ambassadors and envoys from the Magellanic Republic, while they have not been in contact with Mankind for long, have played a pivotal role in Human history. They arrived, or at least made themselves known, in 4996. They witnessed the destruction of mankind by the Snow Plague, and then assisted his rise from slavery. Always friendly and courteous, the Vauvusar are incredibly "modest" in discussing themselves and their background. There is much more to these aliens than meets the eye.
The Vauvusar are tall, large-skulled creatures who have the willowy build one would expect in a creature that evolved in an aquatic environment. Their eyes are set on either side of their bulbous head, yet provided overlapping fields of sight to give them depth perception. Bipedal, their whiplike tail is a reminder of their early development as an aquatic predator, it still can propel them through water or deliver a nasty swat in a fight. It is not prehensile.
The Vauvusar's physical development has provided them with some physiological anomalies that are important to note. The large head is little but mouth, nostrils, eyes and ears. Each of these connects to sensory inputs which lead through the back of the skull to the brain, which occupies a place inside the Vauvusar ribcage just above and on either side of the Vauvusar's six-chambered heart.
The Vauvusar started as omnivorous creatures, eating floating plants and animals, though many are now simply vegetarians. Their flat head presented little profile to alert prospective meals. When a Vauvusar finally floated into position, it dropped its massive lower jaw and created an incredible suction that literally pulled the waiting meal into its maw. By squeezing its powerful cheek muscles, it expelled the water in a stream and crushed the meal before it slid down its gullet.
This stream of water also became a useful defensive tool for use against winged creatures. Any avian stooping on a Vauvusar could at best threaten an eye, while the Vauvusar could knock it out of the air with a directed stream of water. Because Vauvusar still have that ability, it is wise not to anger one or make him laugh too hard when he has a mouthful of any liquid.
The Vauvusar have four arms and two legs. Their arms are not suited to heavy lifting. Even so, these arms are capable of quick movement in water, which makes them quicker yet in air. Their legs are much stronger than their arms, but still unremarkable. Each limb ends in a triple-digit appendage - the hands having small but opposable thumbs.
The Vauvusar have two sexes, more or less. No one is quite certain when they reach sexual maturity, but females remain infertile until they are chosen to become brood mothers. An older brood mother takes a female in who, after an amount of time that the Vauvusar leave unspecified, becomes a brood mother herself. Xenobiologists suggest this transformation occurs because pheromones from the brood mother trigger the changes in the infertile female, and they suspect the transformation could be chemically induced. The Vauvusar offer no comment on this and clearly view the associational time spent between infertile female and brood mother as a period of discovery. If the female is a good mother (her duties include caring for the brood mother's last batch of children), the change is allowed to occur. If not, she is discharged and another is taken in.
Partners for mating are chosen by the prospective brood mother and choices are apparently made on a highly subjective basis. The brood mother produces up to 100 eggs at a time and they are fertilized in a breeding pond by one or more males. Survival rate is approximately 50%. Fully 80% of the offspring will be of one sex, 20% of the other, depending upon the ambient temperature of the breeding pond. Selection for sex is strictly forbidden, though it happens from time to time, especially when more male warriors are needed. Siblings are those from same birthing pond, regardless of actual parentage, and sibling bonds are not nearly as important to the Vauvusar as they are to other species.
Curiously, the Vauvusar disassociate breeding from love. As breeding does not require physical contact between partners, it has become almost a pragmatic matter. The brood mother, it is expected, will choose the best father(s) for her children she can find. Being in love with one individual and fertilizing the eggs of another is not considered infidelity, but rather survival of the fittest. In fact, fidelity is not a word the Vauvusar have in their vocabulary.
No one is certain of the Vauvusar life span, but it seems to be roughly double that of a normal Human, about 200 years.
The Vauvusar have been very private about their history. They occasionally confirm or deny specific theories, but this only happens within the scientific community. For example, the Vauvusar were pleased to exchange information on evolution with Humans, but they have politely ignored requests for formal histories of the Vauvusar people.
We do know that the Vauvusar overcame another nearly sentient creature in their distant history. The Vauvusar have a dislike of the KessRith that closely approximates the Human revulsion for spiders and snakes. The few facts and rumors that have surfaced suggest that a centaur-like race either arose on DurVau - their homeworld - or attempted to conquer it from space. The Vauvusar successfully defeated the centaurs, but at a cost still apparent today.
There also has been, in Vauvusar history, a certain amount of racial strife. The Vauvusar come in two colors: dun with green striping and blue with yellow striping. While either Vauvusar race are cordial enough to aliens, there is some tension between the two groups. The duns appear to be deferential to the blues, but no good explanation has been offered for this behavior.
As noted above, the Vauvusar first came to Human attention in 4996. They introduced themselves on several worlds, noting they were ambassadors from the Magellenic Republic (over 150,000 light years away) to the Human Raj. They showed nothing but peaceful intent and seemed to take no umbrage at being quarantined or even tested before they were allowed contact with the general populace. When they were finally allowed to travel among the people, the Vauvusar were something of celebrities and got wide circulation.
It is often thought to be more than coincidence that the Snow Plague hit the worlds visited by the Vauvusar the hardest. The possibility that the trigger virus was of Vauvusar origin has not been discounted because, on its own, it is an innocuous virus. It is not catalogued among those isolated in the first visits by the Vauvusar, but it could have been brought in by subsequent ambassadors or, more importantly, could have been carried by ambassadors who had seen duty among the KessRith. It is believed envoys did visit the KessRith Clan Leader Z'tac Quoqa and studied his work in viral genetics, but it is unlikely they recognized what sort of threat his work posed to Humanity. (After all, how many diplomats have degrees in Applied or Theoretical Genetic science?)
What is known for certain about the Vauvusar and the Snow Plague was their tireless work in helping the sick. Because the virus could not affect them, many of the Vauvusar ambassadors worked within the quarantined hovels containing the sick. While some people merely thought them ghouls seeking to assuage their curiosity concerning Humanity and death, those who survived because of Vauvusar ministrations sang their praises. (This residual good feeling is one of the factors in the TOG tolerance of the Vauvusar.)
As the KessRith and Ssora arrived to take over the Human/Naram/Commonwealth holdings, the Vauvusar stepped in to fill the role of go-between. They negotiated the retreat of some military forces and occasionally used broad diplomatic powers to evacuate people the KessRith and Ssora were hunting. (They accepted these fugitives' "credentials" as ambassadors to the Magellenic Republic, though they never took any of them to the Republic itself.)
During the millennia of darkness and slavery, the Vauvusar managed to keep some of humanity's culture alive by archiving it and buying slaves to study and perform works for them. These Vauvusar slave plantations later became cultural and educational centers once the worlds were liberated. Aside from their incessant questions of why and how people did what they did, the Vauvusar evidenced no other reason for these acts of kindness.
Eventually the Vauvusar began to buy old, obsolete weapons from the Ssora. They hinted at a war back in the Magellenic Republic and said they were using the weapons to arm insurgents. The Ssora, amazingly guileless in this instance, sold them millions of seemingly useless Dicesium-Tellurium lasers. The Vauvusar smuggled them to Alexander Trajan and the rest is history. Trajan later used the Vauvusar as couriers to get material to various human outposts, and the Baufrin used Vauvusar as couriers when negotiating the Commonwealth/KessRith treaty.
Many have speculated as to the reasons behind the Vauvusar assistance to the Human resistance. TOG officials claim it was because the Vauvusar realized that Humanity is the only race with the vitality needed to develop the galaxy to its fullest. Some put it down to their hatred of the KessRith or their desire to atone for having been used to deliver the Snow Plague's trigger virus. Still others have suggested it was merely an experiment designed to answer a big "What if'?" question. And some have even asked if they armed Humanity because they feel Humans are the Milky Way species most vulnerable to conquest from the Magellenic Republic.
Since the development of TOG and the revolt of the Renegade Legions, the Vauvusar have been placed in a curious position. They have military units within the Commonwealth Armed Forces which engage TOG units on an infrequent basis. The Vauvusar claimed, at first, these were observer units who merely returned fire when fired upon, but that explanation grew old very quickly. The Vauvusar in TOG territory claim those units are renegades from the Magellanic Republic, though that is not what the Vauvusar assigned to the Commonwealth or its allied nations call them. TOG has lived with this explanation if for no other reason than the Vauvusar units are not worth worrying about when compared to KessRith Heavy Cavalry.
The Vauvusar trace descent maternally, as the identity of a father can seriously be questioned in almost any case. A family unit generally consists of a brood mother, her helper and the children. The lovers of either the brood mother or helper may also share living quarters, but they have no obligation to the children even if they are biologically related to them. Still, male or female partners of the "parents" do willingly contribute to the upkeep of the household and may, in fact, be their sole support. Other support comes from contributions by the juvenile and grown offspring of the brood mother.
Sexuality among the Vauvusar is decidedly confused from a Human standpoint. Reproduction is utterly separated from love. What is left, in terms of lovemaking, is what the Vauvusar call "Oulouku" or "shared joy." As such it is an activity the Vauvusar greatly value and engage in whenever the opportunity presents itself. Having disengaged love from reproduction, it would seem that the Vauvusar have no place for love, but this is not true. Love, for the Vauvusar, involves an emotional bonding between two individuals who vow to share their innermost thoughts and wishes with each other. It becomes, for the Vauvusar, a spiritual bonding and is sundered only in the case of insanity or death. Even then, the surviving partner might refrain from bonding with another out of respect for the first bond.
Love, in the Vauvusar, has such a strong intellectual element that it breaks down into many different classes. While a Vauvusar will have only one Soullove, there can be many individuals who are loved and return love on a less intense level. In human terms they might be classified by the following progression: enemy, acquaintance, buddy, friend, teammate, good friend, best friend and lover. Enemy is included here because the Vauvusar see it as the utter absence of love between two individuals, and that forms a very tragic bond in Vauvusar literature and culture.
Again, fidelity does not apply because, to the Vauvusar, to betray someone they love - to any extent - is to betray part of themselves. This is insanity, and insanity is a state which breaks all bonds anyway. The Vauvusar can no more think of fidelity or infidelity than we can think of poisoning half (but just half) of our body. (Self-diagnosis of insanity is the leading cause of Vauvusar suicide.)
As noted above, enemies for a strong tragic theme in Vauvusar culture. Most of the tales revolve around two individuals who, because they hate each other, fail to reach what was a common goal. Most common is the "Key and Chair" story in which two children want to get food from a locked cabinet located high on a wall. They hate each other, so the one who is strong enough to push a chair beneath the cabinet refuses to do so. The other one refuses to give up the key. Both of them realize, too late, that they have starved and are now too weak to work together, even if they wanted to. They die, each blaming the other for his own death.
The most extreme trait of the Vauvusar is their insatiable curiosity. "Curiosity killed the Vauvusar" is a saying heard often in the Commonwealth. Methods of inquiry vary among the Vauvusar, but they generally remain quiet, staring intensely at whatever is happening or who is doing it, until they are invited to question something. At that point a veritable torrent of questions spills forth. While this sort of badgering can be annoying, police forces have found Vauvusar very effective as interrogation specialists.
As nearly as can be determined, the only ones allowed to vote within the Magellenic Republic are brood mothers. They are the family's source of wisdom, and are assumed to have the best interests of their family at heart. Brood mothers form Councils from the local level through, presumably, the Republic level. The First Mother is the nominal ruler of all, but she appears to chair a galactic council of Mothers.
The Vauvusar have, from a humanocentric point of view, a very confused philosophy. The uncoupling of love and reproduction has made them much freer and hedonistic than other sentient races. Their intense curiosity makes them voracious consumers of information, but they never seem to stop long enough to digest and consider what they have learned, or what its possible effect on them might be. Even the times they join combat against TOG seems by whim rather than design. They tend to operate as if life is an experiment and they are solely observers.
It is virtually impossible to make a Vauvusor angry. Because of their curiosity, they often miss the intent of insults and slurs while they study the language and gestures used to put them down. Once they finally realize what is happening, they classify the brutalizer as an enemy. and may even rank him as insane. From either there is no real return, though the Vauvusar are pragmatic enough to form alliances of convenience to get out of a jam.
However, jams occur rarely: the Vauvusar seem to have a sixth sense about trouble. Their ability to avoid ambushes and traps is legendary among other species. It is sometimes assumed to be a psychic ability, but most rational individuals attribute it to subconscious triggers based on the Vauvusar's many experiences. It is, in short, as if their brain has an autopilot that steers them clear of trouble. Only when entering a totally new situation will a Vauvusar find trouble if he's not specifically looking for it.
The most troublesome thing about these very quiet and friendly aliens is that no one has any better idea of why they have been sent to visit the galaxy than we did when they first showed up. That they have been helpful and friendly to mankind cannot be denied. That they seem peaceful and benign is not in question. What they want is still, however, unknown, and that makes some people uneasy.
That not withstanding, the Vauvusar are very good allies to cultivate. They study and learn everything and they can recall virtually all of what they learn. Friendly and diplomatic, they can also smooth over "personality conflicts" when needed. Because they are on friendly terms with everyone, the presence of a Vauvusar means most folks will ask questions (or answer them) before shooting, and that makes things much healthier for everyone.