Copyright © 2003 Chris Gonnerman
Distributed under the Open Content License version 1.0

Genesis of the Al'har

Those Martians who survived the Deathcurse of the Cthonians did so in underground bunkers, which they expanded into cities. As they were few in number and unable to readily move around the barren surface, each city's inhabitants developed a different culture. Some turned to bioengineering to enhance their ability to survive.

One group, living in a bunker-city near the south pole of Mars, developed the belief that they were the "master race" of Mars, and as such their genetic purity was sacred. Any Martians who engaged in bioengineering were therefore sacrilegious and must be purged. This group, calling themselves the "Original Blood," declared a holy war against all other groups who did not measure up to their standards.

The war quickly came to a draw, as their numerous enemies were able to defend against them. The Original Blood were confined to a small region around their city, and no other Martians would trade with them.

That was a billion years ago. The present-day Original Blood claim to be unchanged from their ancestral form, and consider all evolved, mutated, and engineered forms of Martian to be a lower order.

Customs

All members of the Original Blood (the Al'har, as they presently are called) wear no clothing or jewelry, and the only allowed form of adornment is painted markings, which must be worn on the right side for half the year, and the left side the other half. These restrictions make it impossible for a "defective" Al'har to hide from discovery. (Mutated or deficient Al'har are destroyed immediately when discovered, usually at birth.)

Appearance

The Al'har are shaped generally like a cockroach, or perhaps a flattened cigar. They are elliptical in cross-section in width, length, and thickness, and have their six appendages attached to two complex joints on either side of the body at the center of gravity. Each appendage ends in a "hand" with two fingers and a thumb. The front appendages have the "knee" or "elbow" joints pointed forward, the middle pair point out, and the back pair point backward. Al'har typically walk on the middle and back pair, and use the front pair for hands, but occasionally they use the middle pair as hands, with their weight on their posteriors and back legs.

Human Servants

At several times in the past, the Al'har have gone to Earth on scientific missions. Each time since the dawn of Man they have returned with human captives, who have been bred as servants. Eventually the servants revolt, and some escape the city of the Al'har into the surrounding desert.

Human servants of the Al'har are required to wear robes which cover the entire body, leaving only the hands and eyes exposed. The Al'har do not like to look at human flesh, but are dependent on their servants to do much of the dirty work in Al'har'ya.

Nearby Human Tribes

Presently there are three tribes of humans who live outside Al'har'ya (the city of the Original Blood). A fourth tribe was recently exterminated by the Al'har after a tribesman attacked an Al'har outside the city. As well, there are presently humans working as the servants of the Al'har, for the most part willingly.

The Rock People

The first human servants of the Al'har were the Rock People, an entire tribe of Neanderthals. When the next mission brought back more advanced humans, the Rock People were simply cast out of Al'har'ya. They wear ragged robes cast off from the other tribes, and are at peace with the other two tribes. They avoid all contact with the Al'har and their servants. The Rock People use stone-tipped spears and axes for weapons. They are of low to average intelligence, and average to high strength.

The Mongols

The second group of human servants were Mongol barbarians. They adapted readily to the service of the Al'har, but it was not long before they revolted. The Mongols use metal swords made of microcrystalline metal alloys which last for generations. Presently, the Mongols are at peace with the Al'har, and trade with them. Mongols wear robes just as the Al'har servants do.

The Red People

The third group of human servants were Japanese, who served the Al'har well for many years. They maintained many traditions, however, and were able to pass down and even enhance their martial arts. When they revolted the Al'har actively sought to exterminate them, and few survived.

The fourth group was Arab in origin, and they served so poorly (i.e. unwillingly) that the Al'har simply turned them out after a generation. The Arab contingent joined with the survivors of the Japanese and interbred, in the process developing a strange culture.

The Red People, as they call themselves, go almost naked, wearing only a loincloth and leather harness (females as well as males). Their skin is coppery tan, and all have black hair. Every able-bodied adult learns martial arts, and the chief is the finest warrior of them all.

The Red People consider themselves at war with the Al'har, but have taken no real action in generations.

The Iroquois

The fifth group of human servants were a tribe of Iroquois Indians. They revolted in just a generation, and many died in the desert before they learned the skills to survive there. Recently an Iroquois warrior attacked an Al'har who had been in a flyer accident, and in retribution the Al'har used the Death Bolt, a gamma-ray laser device, to destroy their camp. Only a few Iroquois survived.

The Servants of the Al'har

The current group of human servants are Caucasians, bred from genetic material and born on Mars. They have no traditions or customs other than those of the Al'har and thus have not revolted in the many generations they have been serving.

Al'har'ya (The City of the Original Blood)

There are 100,000 Al'har and 250,000 human servants living in Al'har'ya, but the city has only about 25,000 buildings, with just one higher than 5 stories. This is because, beneath the city, there are 6 stories of human barracks, 5 stories of automated industrial facilities and power plants, and a 90 story "taproot" which contains the records of the Al'har. They claim to have a complete recorded history for their entire billion-year existence; though most of it is genealogical records, there is obviously much other information there.

The one building taller than 5 stories is, in fact, 90 stories high, reaching high above the hundred-foot deep atmosphere. At the top of this building, which is the Al'har Hall of Science and Administration (Sha'na'ol'yo), is the cluster of transmitters, antennas, and telescopes which permit the Al'har to monitor and interfere with the activities of the people of Earth.

The Sha'na'ol'yo is octagonal in shape, tapering in five steps from 100' to 50' across. It has a central elevator platform as the only means of ascending for Al'har (who don't fit in the maintenance tunnels).