Romulans

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Rihannsu (Standard: Romulan)

ch’Rihan (Standard: Romulus)

Species Physiology

Vulcanoid – Due to shared ancestry with Vulcans, Romulans have similar (though not identical) physiology, includng superior strength to humans, pointed ears, eyebrows that are arched and up-swept, varied skin color, and copper-based blood that appears green. Some Romulans have brow ridges forming a V-shape on the forehead, while other Romulans lack them and appear outwardly indistinguishable from Vulcans.  Such ridges were a trait associated with ‘Northerners’.

Culture

Once asked what makes a Romulan romulan, Tellus replied with the four virtues:

        Imahhoi’edh: Devotion, loyalty to your family, your species, and your nation.

        Anaesu: Discipline, complete self-control and self-confidence.

        Talla: Duty, meeting all of your obligations and responsibilities.

        Fveirrelh: Perseverance, never wavering from your objective.

However the greatest virtue and key to understanding the Romulan sociocultural mindset is mnhei’sahe, a complex concept that is usually translated as honor but also includes respect, duty, and strength.  Its primary focus, however, is courtesy.  Preserving the prestige of those around you and through it improving your own.  Failing to preserve their prestige not only damages yours but also calls for amends to be made.  Depending on the severity redress may require nothing more than an apology.  Or it may demand injury, a duel, execution, maybe even suicide.  Romulans are well-known for fearing disgrace over death.

Though Romulans lacked the rigorous mental disciplines developed by the followers of Surak, they also gave up unrestrained violence as a way of life, but unlike Vulcans, they replaced it with rigorous military and social discipline. Reluctance to rely on overt hostility generally led the Romulans to play a waiting game with their opponents, attempting to manipulate an adversary into breaking – or appearing to break – an agreement so as to give them a solid justification for striking. Because of this the Romulans were generally thought of as duplicitous, a reputation reinforced by the actions of their government over time.  

The totalitarian nature of Romulan society under the Romulan Star Empire (RSE), in which dissent was often a crime and Romulan security officers masqueraded as citizens, led to the point where paranoia became a way of life for may Romulans. A primary reason for this was RSE Intelligence Service, the Tal’Shiar.

Tal’Shiar

The Tal’Shiar were the secret police and elite intelligence arm of the Romulan Star Empire, and now the Romulan Free State and several other remnants of the RSE. They are ruthless in their policies and keep the people in a constant state of fear. Agents have broad discretionary powers and can overrule military commanders in the field without fear of reprisal. Aboard Fleet (Galae) starships, great and small, Tal’Shiar operatives serve as “political officers” ensuring the captain follows his orders, and the crew remains loyal to the state; it is not unheard of for Romulan captains to face arrest for failing their mission. In addition, though the Tal’Shiar maintains their own fleet, they have the authority to commandeer vessels for covert missions. Meanwhile, rumors of agents hidden among them, reporting on their trustworthiness, keep Romulan crews in line. Their methods are often brutal – those citizens who express dissatisfaction disappear in the night. Alien operatives are quickly picked up for interrogation, and much worse. Lastly, Tal’Shiar agents spread throughout the known galaxy, supplying rebels with weapons, and destabilizing governments. On at least one occasion, a Vulcan ambassador to the Federation Council turned out to be a Tal’Shiar sleeper agent.

The Tal’Shiar acts under the authority of the highest levels of government, unanswerable even to the Romulan Senate. Their operatives outrank all but the most senior members of the military and a seat on Continuing Committee is reserved for the Director of the Tal’Shiar. 

The recent emergence of a breakaway independent Republic, as well as a number of  fragmented minor states vying for a piece of the former Empire, has altered the long held image of Romulan society as united and absolutely loyal to the Empire.  However the truth is that there have always been divisions, factions and fault lines – often deadly ones – within Romulan society.  That they have largely remained hidden to outsiders is due in part to the police state environment created by the Tal’Shiar, but to a greater degree to the hierarchy of loyalties at the base of Romulan culture.  This last might be best described by old earth Bedouin proverb:

I, against my brothers. I and my brothers against my cousins. I and my brothers and my cousins against the world.

Despite their current division, it would be wise to bear this in mind when formulating policy, responses, or alliances with any Romulan governing entity.

Romulans tend to be xenophobic, engaging in extended periods of isolationism, and could be perceived as arrogant or even outright racist to other species, believing themselves to be superior. At least some Romulans believe in the Way of D’era which dictates that they are destined to rule the galaxy as caretakers, and is perhaps the source of their arrogant views as well as their belief in their own superiority.  A “Garden of Eden”-like place known as Vorta Vor was part of Romulan creation myths, similar to the Vulcan Sha Ka Ree.  Another common belief, though more in the sense of superstition/folk wisdom that faith, are the four spirit Elements and each have various associations:

    Jaeih:  Air, the color yellow, name, flag, any flying bird, starship, wind, weather, the mind, freedom, unpredictability.

    Avilh:  Earth, the color green, grass, soil, stone, tree, mountain, valley, building, blood, the physical body, the family, endurance, renewal.

    Okhala:  Fire, the color red, Star, nova, plasma fire, light, lightning, explosion, volcano, singularity, the soul, passion, strength.

    Ihhuein:  Water, the color blue, Wine, Blood, any drink, flowing water, birth, death, tears, purity, eternity.

These Element influences were often taken into account when choosing names. Romulans have typically have a given name (considered the main name), a locative name, and a last name. Romulan names are very personal, and are rarely used in their entirety in the company of outsiders. Thus it is perfectly good edicate to address a superior or a comrade by their main name. The two names following designate origin and House or family affiliation, and are usually only used in extremely formal situations, where whoever is being addressing is so important, that their full name must be used. The last name is the House name and is preceded by t’ (for females) or tr’ (for males). This name is only used when identifying someone or when addressing someone of great importance.  Many Romulans also have a self-chosen “fourth name” that they keep a secret all their lives, rarely revealed to any but those they trust and love most.

Lastly, Romulan have their own concept of a mythical creature that would die in fire and be reborn, much as the Phoenix of Earth myths. Known in the Romulan language as the Alth’Indor, this previously somewhat obscure piece of mythology has become an important symbol post-Hobus, and one claimed by both the Romulan Free State and Romulan Republic, as well as any number of ex-pat refugees scattered throughout the galaxy. 

History

Brief Canon History

Romulan history extends back to The Sundering, the exodus of a segment of Vulcan society in response to the reforms of Surak.  When Surak’s reforms of embracing logical principles and rejecting emotions spread rapidly across Vulcan in the 4th century, a minority rejected Surak’s ideals. They were described as “those who march beneath the Raptor’s wings”, a symbol later to be used in the Romulan Star Empire, and eventually departed Vulcan after losing a nuclear war called the Time of Awakening. At some point, they settled on twin planets that became known as Romulus and Remus, thereby laying the foundation of the Romulan Star Empire. 

Their history is long and the many events, leaders, and political factions that shaped it through the millenia prior to the present day are beyond the scope of this report, which is intended to deal primarily with the status and development of the RSE in recent decades.  (The reader looking for a more in-depth treatment of Romulan history and social development is referred to The Romulan Way by Terise Haleakala-LoBrutto, a compilation and expansion of her series of studies published in Journal of the Federation Institute for the Study of Xenosociology, Vol. LXII, No. 88-109, which include the translated works of the Romulan historian, Lai i-Ramnau tr’Ehhelih).

Focusing on the 24th century, a long period of cold war culminated in the Tomed Incident of 2311, when thousands of lives were lost. The incident led to the Treaty of Algeron, which forbade the Federation from developing cloaking technology and reaffirmed the existence of the Romulan Neutral Zone between the two powers. Subsequent to this the Romulans cut off all contact with the Federation. Although the Starship USS Enterprise-C engaged several Romulan vessels attacking the Narendra III outpost in 2344 and there were other unofficial contacts, in general the Romulans maintained their isolation until 2364. At this point a Romulan warbird entered Federation space to investigate the loss of several of their border outposts. Although it later emerged that the Borg were responsible for the destruction, the Romulans announced at this time that they would again take a more active role in interstellar relations. They acted in opposition to the Federation for some years, until the emergence of the Dominion threat in 2370. The Romulans responded by allowing the Federation to use one of their cloaking devices on the USS Defiant in order to allow it to operate in the Gamma Quadrant.

Subsequently the Romulan Tal’Shiar launched a joint attack on the Dominion with the Cardassian Obsidian Order. The attack failed utterly, devastating the Romulan and Cardassian fleets. After this the Romulan government signed a non-aggression pact with the Dominion. The Romulans reneged on this treaty after a successful intelligence operation conducted by Captain Benjamin Sisko, joining forces with the Federation-Klingon alliance in the war against the Dominion.

Although the Romulans fought in the latter part of the Dominion War alongside the Federation and the Klingons, relations were anything but amicable. The Federation was the only thing that kept the Romulans and Klingons from fighting with each other and although the Romulans proved cooperative allies to the Federation both knew another battle for influence in the Alpha Quadrant would follow once the war ended. As a result, espionage and counter-intelligence were rampant, and at one point a crisis involving Bajor nearly shattered the alliance.

The three powers remained allies long enough to defeat the Dominion, but shortly thereafter, there was a major political upheaval on Romulus. Shinzon, a clone of Captain Picard created as part of a Romulan intelligence operation, had been exiled to Remus early in his life. He started to gain a considerable following, becoming a highly respected military leader during the Dominion War. In late 2379, the Praetor and most of the Romulan Senate were killed in an attempted coup d’état by Shinzon and the Remans (the Reman Revolution). They also plotted to destroy Earth but the attempt was foiled by Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise-E. 

Proposed Post-War History

Although the Federation offered aide and provided ships to help secure the border while RSE regrouped and reconstituted its government, many consider this the point that marked the beginning of the RSE’s slow decline, with the need to rely on an outside force keenly felt as a source of shame.  Nevertheless, under Praetor Donatra, the Empire began to rebuild, and in 2381 helped found the Typhon Pact, which featured the Romulan Empire, Breen Confederacy, Tzenkethi Coalition, Gorn Hegemony, Tholian Assembly and Holy order of the Kinshaya, and allowed all members to gain access to Cloaking technology.

However, a new and far more deadly challenge soon followed.  An instability was detected in the star, Hobus, which threatened to destroy not only the Romulan homeworld but most of the core worlds in the RSE.  Initially this information was largely suppressed or downplayed by the Romulan Senate, obstenibly to prevent panic, but also to maintain the strength and stability of the Empire while allowing the powerful to choose whom they deemed worthy to save. 

In the distant past, the Romulan Star Empire was headed by an emperor, but it had been many centuries since the last emperor, and in that time the RSE had been ruled by the Romulan Senate, overseen by the Praetor.  Unfortunately, some of its traditions – particularly the hereditary nature of Senate positions – contributed to instability after the loss of so many experienced candidates after Shinzon.  Hence, in some cases the propaganda worked a little too well, with even a number of senators becoming convinced that the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by the Federation to weaken the Empire.  As a result, despite the efforts of Admiral Picard to assist with evacuation, his rescue armada was able to relocate only a handful of outer worlds before the project was abandoned in the wake of the synth attack on Mars.

In 2387, the Hobus star went supernova, destroying Romulus and Remus and devastating a host of worlds in neighboring systems. The Klingons however took the Hobus Incident as an opportunity to begin invasion of Romulan territory. The Federation attempted to stop the Klingons but in retaliation, the Klingons put the Khitomer accords on hold. However, the Gorn in turn struck back at the Klingons. Though the disaster and Klingon incursions initially united the Romulans, despite the efforts of the Continuing Committee and senior Senators to set up and new center outside the zone fo destruction, the RSE soon collapsed into chaos.  With the threat of attack from outside powers abating, internal rifts in Romulan society came to the fore, which by 2389 grew into outright rebellion and civil war.  A number of factions broke away, forming their own states, but two powers emerged as the dominant remnants of the Empire: the Romulan Republic in the galactic north and the Romulan Free State (RFS), which owing partly to the backing of the Tal Shiar, became the largest and strongest successor to the Romulan Star Empire.

Kreh’dhhokh Rihan [Romulan Republic]    

 The rebellion that resulted in the founding of the Romulan Republic is said to have its origins in the underground Unification movement, although it probably goes back much further to those who over the course of centuries fell out of favor or for various reasons fled the Tal’Shiar.  However, this loosely allied group of dissenters and renegades didn’t reach critical mass until the aftermath of the Reman Revolution.  In the midst of the chaos that followed, a number of Romulans, including elements of the military, used the disruption to break away and …disappear.  

Initially they set up hidden bases and eventually colonies. Some were completely off the RSE grid, while others ‘hid in plain sight’, appearing too poor or marginal for an Empire still rebuilding after Shinzon to pay much attention to.  But they continued to develop and grow, even if most of the Kilhra’eri [The Concealed] were united primarily in a desire to avoid the constraints of the Empire and threat of the Tal’Shiar.  There were many factions and fault lines in their alliance, but it held together, however loosely, out of simple mutual understanding that if any were uncovered, all would be hunted and condemned as traitors. Indeed in the early years, when some firebrand would start making noise about open rebellion, the noise was swiftly, and usually permanently, silenced; often by members of their own cohort, and in a few cases of their own families.

Still the forces desiring full separation continued to grow.   Some gave up on others joining them and left to become mercenaries or pirates.  Others simply bided their time, laying groundwork and building support.  It is unclear how the Hobus Incident affected those plans.  According to some sources,  the anger and backlash against a Senate that had stubbornly refused to act, or even acknowledge the danger, precipitated another wave of Romulans rejecting the old failed Imperial system.  According to others, plans for rebellion were nearly in place when the catastrophe hit, derailing it due to the need for unity, for pulling together, in the face of that devastation and subsequent Klingon attacks.   It is impossible to know which is the truth, though these reactions among various populations throughout the Romulan space likely interacted, so both may be true to varying degrees.  What is known is that two years after the Hobus supernova, once an entente diminished the immediate Klingon threat, discontent with the reconstituted Imperial Senate boiled over into open rebellion.

The government of the Republic is a parliamentary democratic republic with an independent judiciary and an executive council, the League Council composed of voting members plus the Chancellor (govt chief of staff) and Galae Fleet Admiral. The presiding member, called the First Consul, is elected by the Council with the consent of the D’ætheaa [The Assembly].  The position is slightly more than ‘first among equals’ as it includes powers as Commander in Chief during times of war, but is still subject to considerable checks and oversight from the rest of the Council. The current First Consul is Uterrh tr’Aekhiu, the second son of a middle-ranked family who nevertheless rose through the ranks to become a Commodore.  After witnessing the military losses during the Reman Rebellion and then experiencing personal loss from the Hobus supernova – both in his opinion the direct result of Senate arrogance and incompetence – he retired and joined the separatist movement.   The natural abilities that contributed to his rise in the Imperial Fleet also made him the hero of several early Republic victories and a respected figure throughout the separatist forces. 

D’Nneikha Lleis Rihan [Romulan Free State]

In the old RSE Senators came from noble ruling Houses, and although one may technically be elected from among other candidates within a House, in practice the office was hereditary, and almost always passed down along well-defined traditional lines. The Free State was initially promoted as escuing the old system of noble houses getting hereditary seats in the senate by opening Senate positions to all citizens.  However, while some lesser clans likely advanced to power under that system, in practice, the Senate soon became once again the domain of the wealthy and well-connected, only now with the veneer of allowing the occasional talented commoner to rise. 

The Continuing Committee was another powerful government body that continued from the Empire (after Hobus, when three Praetors rose and fell within the span of two years, the Continuing Committee became the essential body to ratify and legitimize the claim of any new Praetor, and hence became the actual governing power).  The RFS fleet, the Galae, fall under the direct control of the High Command and of the Continuing Committee, and while this has had a stabilizing influence on the RFS, it has lead to greater power for those interests represented on the Committee, especially the RFS intelligence services, the Tal’Shiar.

  • Notes
    1. Romulans originated on the Vulcan homeworld, but migrated to ch’Rihan (Romulus) thousands of years ago, making it their homeworld.  However, in 2387, Romulus was destroyed by the Hobus supernova