The Cycle of Destruction
For a billion years the cycle of biological evolution in the galaxy would unfold thus: a single race would exist for thousands of years, exploring and settling the galaxy until they encountered another sentient race. Both races would be unable to cope with the concept of an alien sentience, and catastrophic wars would ensue. These wars usually ended with the destruction of both parties, as the weapons used could annihilate star clusters and wipe planets from existence in a heartbeat. Millions of years would pass until another sentient race evolved to begin the cycle anew.
The Manraloth were evolution's answer to this problem: a race of universal translators.
A Bridge Between Races
A Manraloth is born with the psionic/empathic ability to understand other beings, whether it be linguistic communication or otherwise. The ability also manifests itself in another way; they have an extremely potent power of suggestion. With these abilities they brought peace to the galaxy, ending the billion year old cycle of violence. This, coupled with the fact that there were a greater amount of habitable planets, allowing a greater number of sentient species the chance to develop into full maturity (without the threat of a more advanced race destroying or conquering them), led them to create the first known interstellar alliance.
The Manraloth built the first known interspecies coalition in the Milky Way Galaxy, six hundred million years before the founding of the United Federation of Planets. Together with their allies, the Manraloth were the architects of an unparalleled golden age. Peace reigned, though there was still the occasional act of terrorism or crime of passion. A galaxy-wide communications network was constructed, subspace itself was re-channeled into a series of "highways" that connected the entire Milky Way with the Greater and Lesser Magellanic Clouds, invasions from extragalactic and extra-dimensional races were easily rebuffed and what is perhaps the greatest achievement of this epoch of history was built; the black hole archives. By allowing information to "fall" into a quantum singularity, the energy is encoded on the event horizon, meaning that the information is essentially immune to the effects of time. The civilizations of the time put everything that their respective society had learned into the archives.
Over time, the Manraloth's companion races would grow disenchanted with their existence and decide to evolve onto a higher plane of existence. Following this example, some of the Manraloth themselves began to sublime. Though it was only a tiny percentage of the overall galactic population, the Manraloth were a highly sociable race and deeply missed those who had ascended. In time, the Manraloth became the oldest race in the galaxy simply by default.
In the desire to communicate with those who had gone on to the higher planes, the Manraloth undertook the great task that was to spell the end of their civilization.
A friendly contest of skill was begun between the various scientific teams on the myriad of planets spread across the great galactic coalition. The goal; to build a working interdimensional logopathic conduit that could be directly interfaced into the Manraloth brain. The Manraloth, the bridge between races, would build the bridge between dimensions.
Construction was completed by the various teams at almost the same time. It was decided that each device would be activated simultaneously in a great celebration across the galaxy. What was to follow was one of the defining moments of galactic history.
When the devices were activated, the power of the higher planes flooded into every brain connected to them. The planar energy searing into every Manraloth mind, every telepathic mind, was amplified in power. Spreading across the galaxy, the mental energy was no longer limited to telepathic races. Every mind which was complex enough or properly attuned enough to the energy responded to it and was forcibly transcended into an incorporeal state. A side-effect of this process was the irradiation of everything around the recipient brain. Those brains advanced enough to receive the energy but not advanced enough to sublime were incinerated. Most of the planets populated by the Manraloth and their allies (indeed, most of the class M planets in the galaxy) had their surfaces reduced to ashes due to the heat and radiation generated by the forced evolution or incineration of their inhabitants.
And so, approximately two hundred and fifty million years ago, a galaxy of over a quadrillion individuals was depopulated in a matter of minutes, which resulted in the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event, or the Great Dying, on Earth.
A handful of individuals from the more advanced races managed to survive, the Manraloth among them.
These survivors were research teams stationed on planets with hostile environments. Due to the specialized shielding around their outposts, the teams were partially protected. However, the energy unleashed by the interdimensional bridge was present in all dimensions, and the decision was made to encase themselves in fields of zero entropy, effectively removing anything inside the field from the timespace continuum.
On sabbatical from Starfleet following his court-martial for the Maxia Zeta incident, Picard began studying for his doctorate in archaeology at the University of Alpha Centauri. Spurred on by legends told to him by Guinan, Picard headed a university expedition, aboard the Cleopatra's Needle, in search of what had been termed by many ancient races as structures "outside of time" which were somehow connected with the Permian-Triassic extinction event, or the Great Dying, which occurred on Earth two hundred and fifty million years ago.
Over eight months of searching and over eight hundred light years across the galaxy, Picard found what he was looking for. The team found a zero entropy field inside of an ancient research base on an frozen planetoid they dubbed "Proserpina". Bringing in a Starfleet science team for assistance, a young Kathryn Janeway among them, an attempt was made to beam the denizens of the field out. This proved catastrophic as it destabilized the field and ultimately destroyed the base. Fortunately, one being was saved.
Under the ministrations aboard the Starfleet ship USS Mary Kingsley, but mostly due to her miraculous healing abilities, the mysterious female survivor woke up three days after the incident. She had no memory of who she was and Picard gave her the name "Ariel". She attempted to lead the Federation to locations where others of her kind might be found, but the crew of the USS Portia- which aided her in this endeavor- were unaware that she had regained her memory and intended to restore the Manraloth to their original role in the galaxy, believing that the younger races that had arisen in their absence were too violent and dangerous to be allowed to continue on their current path and potentially repeat their mistakes. To this end, 'Ariel' attempted to add a secret quantum virus to the Starfleet computers that would cause various flaws to develop in the newly-planned Galaxy-class starships, with the intention of discouraging future space exploration, but this plan backfired thanks to the presence of Data on the ship, Data's android nature not only rendering him immune to Ariel's machinations but also allowing him to expose her sabotage of the Galaxy-class. Despite this, the crew were unable to stop Ariel- now going by her original name of Giriaenn- from releasing twenty further Manraloth from their stasis prisons, but the Portia managed to escape after Picard launched various escape pods containing information about the Manraloth from the ship when they were under attack, forcing the Manraloth to let them go.
After spending some time operating in secret, Giriaenn and the other Manraloth attempted to 'save' the Federation by providing the Regnancy of the Carnelian Throne- an expanding organization that had engaged in ideological clashes with the Federation due to misinterpretation of their ideologies- with access to one of their old black hole storage networks, theoretically granting the Regency access to Manraloth knowledge and shifting the balance of power in the Alpha Quadrant. However, this plan backfired when it was revealed that the data systems had still been 'active' even after the Manraloth had fallen, with the result that any useful information was lost underneath a hundred and fifty million years of 'static'. Forced to accept that the Manraloth could not exist in this new world as they were too dependent on the past to guide them where the Federation looked to the future, lacking the infrastructure to make an impact, the remaining Manraloth accepted their past failure and ascended to a higher plane of existence, accepting the Federation as their spiritual successors.
The Manraloth as a species continued to evolve over the three hundred and fifty million years of their history.
They continued to hone their logopathic abilities to an even finer degree, manipulated their genome to give themselves a plethora of fantastic innate abilities, such as eidetic memory, infrared vision, prodigious learning power. Biologically, they were a remarkably robust and adaptive race, their internal organs having multiple redundancies. The species incorporated biological nanotechnology into themselves, effectively making them immortal and perhaps even more miraculously giving them the power to effect significant change in their own cellular structure.
More of a genus than a species, the baseline Manraloth was reptilian in appearance. Due their cell manipulating power, an individual could control their own evolution. The Manraloth observed by the Federation exhibited tails, multiple limbs, enlarged ears and even partial fur but all had the shared trait of multi-hued "butterfly" scales and intricate fractal stripe markings along the spine.
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