Mortemondeans resemble Humans in appearance, in fact they are essentially indistinguishable save for unique genetic markers and odd discolourations on internal organs. They tend to be of average to slim builds with heights ranging from 5' 8" on down. Few reach 6' or higher. The majority are allergic to retinax, and without ingestion of certain nutritional/elemental compounds of their world, are highly prone to developing Degenerative Xenosis. Through long term exposure, they have developed an immunity to necrotoxins such as adipocre, and do have a strong but varied resistance to ingesting spoiled food.
Those who are/were of a leadership/ruling segment do have the learned ability to 'dual throat', essentially able to manipulate their false vocal chords to a degree of skill that comes across as a second voice. While this used to be a segment specific ability, over the years since, it has been taught around as wanted.
Much of Mortemondean history is still in a compilation stage headed by Researcher Galen i-Nn'Verih of the Romulan Science Academy due to the long term turmoil the peoples have gone through coupled with what little records remain along with the natural passing on of those eldest to still remember. Hindering has been the linguistic tendency of Mortemondean speech to have it's own convoluted colloquialisms that don't carry the same Federation Standard definition. Also impacting is the Mortemondean concept of 'Our Truth'. Simply stated, it's the presumption that they know what the actuality is and while accepting of another's viewpoint as existing, they're not paying full acceptance of the viewpoint.
The best information gathered currently is that originally the Mortemondeans were at a development level similar to Terra of the mid to late 21st century. Nations possessed individual governments with a basic groundwork in progress for global government, with a solid internet substructure for flow of knowledge.
Lesser wars did happen from time to time, but nothing of a global scale. Nuclear weapons had been developed but were regulated with heavy sanctions and bioweapons outlawed.
The Great Panic/The War/Aftermath Edit
It's generally conceded that events began with what possibly was a pandemic that eventually spread globally. Due to misinformation and hysteria regarding the pandemic, the assorted infrastructures collapsed into chaos as the worst of humanoid nature came to the fore. Best estimate figures postulate that the original planetary populace of nearly 7 billion was reduced to a few million during these years. Survivors grouped into small bands as either scavengers, raiders or were essentially slave labour to the few remaining enclaves of the old order. Time keeping records other than the seasons which had grown harsher due to environmental shifts of a growing technological society collapsing are non-existent.
Somewhere in this time rose the first 'Lords'. It is universally conceded that the first ones were psychotic due to the traumas they'd gone through, and their brutal reign was ended by the rise of the 'second Lords'.
The second wave of Lords were characterized as having been in their mid/late teens to early/mid 20s when the Great Panic happened so they still had memories of the world that was, yet had mental flexibility to adapt to how the world was now, and were the primary organizers of the fledgling stability of a new order. While not hesitating when bloodshed was needed, this wave of leaders focused more on long term survival, diplomacy, and recovering as much lost knowledge as possible.
After many years of progress and down to only needing to deal with the last few remaining rogue Lords to finally reestablish steady traffic globally, during what is recorded as The Battle of Skies Fire, the Mortemondeans encountered the Klingon Empire and the Federation.
The Rebuilding Edit
It has since been concluded that had it not been for the basic Klingon propensity for aggression and the proximity of Romulus and it's resulting aid, that it is likely the Mortemondeans would never have joined the Federation.
Best theory postulated is that the Klingons as well as the Romulan assistance were unaware of the Mortemondeans being a First Contact situation. The Klingons assumed they were Federation and attacked only to be retaliated to in kind while the Romulan aid rendered assistance to the Mortemondeans thinking they were Terrans.
Once the smoke cleared so to speak, the truth became evident. In light of First Contact protocols being blown out of the water and the time rate of communications with the Federation Council, the Romulans continued to render assistance when the Mortemondeans asked for help in whatever ways possible.
Initial aid came in the forms of medical care and providing examples of stable infrastructure that the Mortemondeans adapted slightly for themselves as they took stock of where things stood for them now.
Federation Protectorate/Admission Edit
Due to the chaos the populace had endured, Mortemondean adaptability adjusted rather well to advanced technology. And with now not needing to scrabble to survive day to day, overall they began to flourish eagerly. Population is still dramatically low compared to pre-war figures, but is currently viable for regrowth, particularly with the strong intermarriage with many of the Romulan people who originally came to render aid and now call Mortemonde home.
With repeated nagging and the support of the Romulan Senate, Mortemonde was admitted into the Federation as a member in 2377.
Due to their ties with Romulus, it is more or less a foregone conclusion that should Romulus ever leave the Federation, the Mortemondeans will follow them.
Once stability was in place, the Lords met in a great council to debate what place did they have in the new society. Some still wished to lead, others wanted to just step down since they weren't in the same needed position as they once had been, and yet others wanted to just finally be able to put up their feet that they'd done enough and everything was well in hand.
When all was said and bickered over, many of the Lords did step down, leaving the current head, Lord Cappyjack as the essential ruling persona with a structure similar to what the Lords maintained individually of directly under the Lord were their Apprentices who managed much of the day to day smaller operations.
Religion and spirituality Edit
Very little if any remains of pre-war religion, even in records. Current Faiths are those that sprang up during the War or were badly remembered approximations from before the Great Panic. Having gone through the upheavals they have, any belief system in a benevolent higher deity influencing worldly events has been cast aside and has been replaced with deities that do not deal much with day to day interventions. Of the faiths on Mortemonde, both major and minor, they do tend to work together fairly well.
The Three major Faiths are:
Sweet Death who is regarded to shepherd the newly dead to the Gates of the Hereafter and ensure they meet up with their loved ones who preceded them as well as give comfort to those already gone while they wait for the living to join them.
Mr. Miracle who is considered a bit on the sadistic side in that he actively watches the activities of the living and if they amuse him, he allows them to survive in impossible circumstances, otherwise they die, usually in a particularly gruesome or ridiculous manner.
Temple of the Elements is a branching from the Romulan religion, having been brought over with the Romulan assitance. The Mortemondean Temple does consider itself a part of the main one on Romulus and adheres to it's tenets and mandates.
Culture and society Edit
Core focus for a Mortemondean is 'Nothing is Forever', which again, is understandable for what the majority of the populace has gone through. Most of the pre-war conventions and traditions have been cast aside, leaving a rather pragmatic albeit morbid cultural structure, and it's commonly said that the only things a Mortemondean truly takes serious is Food, Death and Sex as anything else is really just distraction.
For the most part, Mortemondeans have a strong predilection for working in groups to benefit the greater whole, and are rarely idle since as far as they're concerned, there's always something still to do.
In the case of the leadership, both current and past, cultivated a strong flair for the theatrical, to best make visible impressions as well as for intimidation much in the manner Terra's wrestling entertainments did during the late 20th/early 21st centuries. In the case of the Lords, they would dress more outlandishly as well as use facepaint in the design of a stylized skull unique to them while Apprentices favoured black/white geometric patterns. This previously had been a protection tactic as one could easily hide among the populace once the face was washed and a change of clothes affected.
This has had a side effect of the Lords being the focus of attention even in matters of publicly seen private life similar to Terra's entertainer culture of the 20th through 22nd centuries, as well as the concept of Legends much to the discomfort of those having the moniker thrust upon them.
The only change made since encountering the Federation was the creation of the Vagabonda classification. This 'grouping' was debated during the last great council of Lords as a recognition for 'stepping up and doing the best that they've earned their respite' to those Lords, Apprentices and Noted Personas that were well ready to retire.
A Vagabonda candidate must first state their intent and go through a sit down with a member of the current government to ensure the Choice is being made for the correct reasons. Once that criteria is met, the candidate stores away or destroys everything that is identifiable to the person they were or position they had and then has a small skull stud bolted into their face just between the eyes and at the start of the bridge of the nose.
Vagabonda are free to do whatever whim they wish and are not held responsible for contributing to Mortemondean society. Many end up joining Starfleet in either Services, Security or Marines or just traveling the galaxy to see what they can, those still staying on the homeworld still contribute even though they don't have to.
Furthermore, Mortemondeans have a rather rich mythology of superstition such as the Shadow People, H'llowe'en Sam who maintains the traditions of the Festiva de los Muertos and punishes violators in a gory fashion or The Slender Man, a being that appears as a tall man in a formal suit with arms almost resembling tentacles that steals children only to leave their evicerated corpses skewered on the tops of trees with their organs sealed within clear bags. These myths are treated more as tales shared during storytelling rather than treated as actual fact, though some still reserve a little 'y'never know' as a just in case.
Names are up to the individual. Many are of the ones they had pre-war or were relayed down to them, while others chose different appellations during the War consisting of a first and surname. Lords and Apprentices chose a flashy public persona name while keeping their actual name private. Currently there is a large influx of Romulan names coming to vogue as is an adapting of the Romulan naming convention of t-/tr- denoting affiliation to a noble house though Mortemondeans use it to denote long service to one of the Lords current or past. One who'd rode alongside Lord Baroness Samedi for years would have the addition of t'Samedi or tr'Samedi.
In the case of the 'ferals', those now rehabilitated that had been orphaned young and left to their own devices during the years of war, they have a penchant for taking on any names they like the flow on to create a long stringed name.
Marriage and Reproduction Edit
Pre-war there were established marriage ceremonies and customs that were either faith or legal based, since then there really hasn't been anything new established or old re-established. Mostly marital unions are decided among the consenting participants for as long as they choose to remain together.
Reproduction has a very high priority due to the overall low population figures, and every female is encouraged to have at least one child. Should a woman decide not to raise a child, there is no stigma attached and the child is given over to a new family to raise.
Equally, there is no stigma attached to one night stands, and it's common for single females to be 'very friendly' with visitors in the hopes of pregnancy. Legal precepts consider any child of a Mortemondean lineage to be as a full Mortemondean, so there is no real follow up towards any further citizenship elsewhere as it's not considered important.
Many of the current young generation are genetically Romulan/Mortemondean or Terran/Mortemondean hybrids, though some Trill hybrids are known. These latter hybrids are unsuitable for symbiote placement due to the genetic admixture. Any hybrid infant does manifest a temporary condition known as 'dead eyes' upon birth where the eyes are a milky hue with a hint of pupil. This condition fades to the child's proper eye colour after approximately a month and has no impact on vision development.
Further mixing things up is the Mortemondean Adoption system, protocols allow for theoretically any infant of any citizenship to be brought in and placed with a Mortemondean family and treated as a full blooded native.
Funerary customs Edit
As fitting as Death is one of the 'serious business' matters, Mortemondeans have a very rich series of physical customs regarding it, yet barely any ceremonies. Bodies are either buried or immolated until bones which are then worked into the Cathedral, a memorial to all those who have died from the Great Panic on and is constructed completely of the bones of the dead. Funerary photographs and death masks, along with mementos of hair or dried skin are extremely commonplace as are hand drawn 'icons' that are usually displayed in small memorial shrines as well as the grounds around Cathedral.
Ceremonies at most tend to be the close friends and family of the deceased who drink excessively while recalling fond memories of the departed until they pass out.
Mortemonde exports a sizable amount of foodstuffs, art, clothing and jewelry to the Federation at large, usually through Romulan contacts. Mortemondean entertainments of music, holovids and literature have been the next wave of 'export' as of 2375. They are also considered of strategic importance due to thier position in the overlapping 'triangle' of Federation, former Romulan Empire and Klingon space.
Unphaseable is the most common description as due to the life events the average Mortemondean has gone through, for sanity's sake they have to take everything in stride and dark humour is very commonplace. Equally a person's actions carry far more weight than their words. The theatrical tendencies of the leadership has trickled down throughout society so there is a penchant for being the focus of attention when appropriate. They make friends and acquaintances easy, though deeper relationships are difficult and known under the concept of 'Let the Right One In'.
Having seen so much death and suffering in this generation, letting someone in deeply and losing them is a particularly difficult blow which in some cases has had the surviving partner give up and essentially will themselves to death, though for the most part the surviving partner is always considered 'ain't quite right' or 'tetched' afterwards.
Those vagabonda in Starfleet do tend to group together on postings a little more fervently than other species, sometimes even following a structure reminiscent to the Lord/Apprentice leadership in matters of culture and off-duty pursuits.