10 August 2008

Venusian Parrotfolk, Pt. 2

Der Pappegaivolk von Venus
[The Parrotmen of Venus]
By Doctor Fritz Hammacher and Professor Heinrich Schlemmer
das Deutsche Kaiserliche Institut fur AuBerirdische Gelehrten
[Imperial German Institute for Extra-Terrestrial Study]

Society

Parrotman society is divided into castes. Each of these castes defines the Parrotman’s role in society. Castes do not interbreed, but a juvenile’s caste is not decided at hatching, and their parents have little direct say in the caste selection for the offspring. In fact, the shamans of the tribe assign caste to the juveniles in a ritual held at the beginning of the adolescent period. While a child is usually assigned the same caste as its parents, this is more due to an inherited suitability (by way of selective breeding) for that caste rather than as a result of a political or dynastic inheritance.

The highest (and smallest) caste is der Magier [shaman] caste. The shamans supervise all the rituals of Parrotman society. One of their most important duties is to pronounce caste for each of the tribe’s young. Shamans are very rarely seen by those not a part of a particular tribe. They are the most protected of all the tribe, as if all a tribe’s shamans are lost through war, famine, or disease, the tribe falls apart.

The next most prominent caste is der Blutbefleckt [bloodstained] caste, the warriors and hunters of the tribe, those who spill blood. Much more numerous than the shamans, the warrior caste includes both males and females – as, indeed, all the castes do. The members of this caste are trained in the use of weapons, including the unique firearm of the Pappegaivolk, the Venus Rifle. Warriors and hunters are the most commonly encountered caste of Parrotmen, as they are the most likely to travel any distance from the arboreal villages. Males dominate the warrior aspect of the caste, females tend toward the hunter or butcher roles, although there are apparently unprejudiced exceptions to this general guideline.

Der Herstelleren [maker] caste comprises the craftsmen and artisans of the tribe. It is the second-smallest of all the castes. All of the metalworkers, potters, tanners, weavers, and builders of the tribe are members of this caste. These craftsmen make the tools and equipment for all the other castes, and have the secret of the Venus Rifle’s manufacture.

The lowest caste is die Hausmeisterin [caretakers]. It is the largest caste, and is roughly analogous to European peasantry. These Parrotmen raise the crops, prepare the meals, care for the young, ad clean the nests for all the castes. While they rank low in their society, that society would cease to function without their presence.

Culture

Parrotmen enjoy a variety of cultural pursuits. Functionality dominates the design of their tools and weapons, yet these same objects often have decorative engraving or are adorned with feathers and ribbons of bright colors. Tattooing is considered a high art form. Pottery is often brightly colored, as are woven fabrics and tanned leathers.

The mimicry of Parrotmen lends itself strongly to a musical tradition. One of the reasons Pappegaivolk get along well with the Venusstadt colonial government involves the gift of a phonograph player and selection of phonographs of classical music to the first tribal elders met by the original German expedition’s leader. The complexity of the melodies appealed to the Parrotmen, and at times you can hear a rendition of Mozart’s Ein Kleine Nachtmusik filter through the trees of the great forests. Efforts to record the native music of the Parrotmen has been hampered by the destructive nature of the extreme heat and humidity of the Venusstadt colony. What few recordings have been made command excellent prices in Berlin, creating a potential secondary source of much-needed export income for the colony.

Unlike the lizardmen, Pappegaivolk do not build rude huts upon the surface of the planet unless there is a specific reason for the placement at ground level. Parrotmen build their homes in the trees, connected by rope bridges suspended dozens of feet above the jungle floor to create their villages. Some buildings, such as the tanneries, animal pens, and tool sheds are located at the base of the trees. The tree houses of Venus swing gently in the boughs of the massive gulunga trees. At the center of each village lies a gunga galunga tree. The shamans of the tribe maintain and protect the tribal shrine in this tree. Were it to be destroyed, the village would be abandoned, and the tribe disintegrated. Naturally, a strong taboo prevents anyone but the shaman caste and certain invited others from approaching the gunga galunga. To do so without permission would be cause for immediate execution.

Politics

The political situation of the Parrotmen is quite simple, really. They hate the lizardmen, the lizardmen hate them, and they will do their best to exterminate one another at any opportunity. The preferred fletching for a lizardman’s arrows is the feathers of a young Pappegaivolk. In return, Parrotmen enjoy eating the tadpole-like young found in the spawning temples of the lizardfolk. This enmity predates the evolution of writing on Earth, and is unlikely to be changed with the coming of a new dominant sentient species to the planet.

Several tribes of Parrotmen have taken advantage of the nearby highland location of Venusstadt and their ability to speak a human tongue to ally themselves with the Fatherland. This has aided our Kolonie by increasing the foodstuffs available for our stalwart colonists and the fine German soldiers that protect them from the dinosaurs and lizardmen. The Parrotmen also occasionally will agree to send Blutbefleckt as guides and warriors for our forces on Venus. The governor has provided several gifts to the nearby tribal elders, including the immense Venus Rifle[1], designed specifically for the use of the Pappegaivolk by Herr Doktor Gunther Krupp.

To this date, it is suspected that the British imperialist enclave operating without the sanction of His Imperial Majesty in the Kaiser Wilhelm mountain range are attempting to negotiate with at least one tribe of Pappegaivolk. No evidence of a successful alliance exists at this time, but we must caution the Kaiser’s governor to watch the situation closely. The British have always claimed territorial rights on Venus that include Venusstadt itself. With a large alliance of Pappegaivolk, they could press that claim successfully. It is the considered opinion of the authors of this paper that failure to maintain the friendship of the Parrotmen would be very costly to the Empire.

[1] The Venus Rifle is a large weapon that is designed for the hands of the Parrotmen. It fires a heavy 18mm bullet and uses an unusual propellant that is resistant to the humidity of Venus. The weapon itself is very robust and is often fitted with blades for close combat.

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