The outsiders think of us as a single race, unified and with single purpose. Perhaps it was so in the time of the Creators, but after their fall and our own ascendance, we have always been riven by loyalties of clan, family and politics.
For each of our goddesses, the founding mothers of the Lazloi race, there is a clan to whom we ultimately owe our allegiance. Twelve goddesses means there are twelve such clans, each with a Clan Mother, the oldest and wisest of our people. They form the ruling council that makes the decisions that control our worlds.
Since our loyalties lie with a clan mother, it is only natural that clan sisters work together, forming companies, crews and friendships.
You would think that an external threat would unify us, but instead it has reinforced the struggle between two great factions in the ruling council. The first are the non-interventionists who seek to distance us from the outside. They turn inward and mourn the glories of the past, accepting our decline with resignation. They are known as the Aeryloi, the Songbirds, and are led by the Clan Mother Kyraenia.
The new and growing faction looks outwards, unwilling to hide amongst the dark nebulae that separate us from the rest of the galaxy. They are restless and seek to confront the universe once more. They are driven by our great achievements and see our power as a tool to be wielded. They are known as the Rafnloi, the Ravens. The Clan Mother Zylyra leads them.
There is one more grouping amongst the Lazloi, but this group transcends boundaries of clan, family or politics. It is the Elkyndloi na Mor, 'the girl children alone', those Lazloi born in the last thirty two standard years, born after the last successful birth of a male child. Since then, no male child has survived to term.
My sisters and I, mere infants by the standards of our race, are the oldest of the Elkyndloi na Mor.
In earlier times, my friend Sylenia, daughter of Kleneptra hept Zilaerion might have spurned me, for Aeryloi and Rafnloi rarely mix. Now we live in strange and uncertain times, and the old traditions are breaking down.
We look upwards in awe as the first of our great warships moves into the sky, the first time that they have done so for many years. News has reached us that one of our ships has been attacked by the Autocracy, an affront that the Aeryloi would have raged at, a crime that has ignited the white hot fury of the Rafnloi.
Meanwhile, our scientists have detected a strange disturbance in a distant rift known by some as the Tiesian Gap, the first sign that the enemy is on the move.
We are the last of our kind. In a few years, there will be no male Lazloi and our race will be finished. I see these fearsome engines of war filling the sky and wonder if this is merely our dying gasp, or the prelude to our finest hour, a chance of salvation.
-- Arborella ny Klarena ny Petra hept Yyglarien
Source images rendered in Poser 6 and then composited in Photoshop and Illustrator CS2.