Short Fiction: Nirala – Family Units

Every family is weird in its own way, but Niralan families are weird even to other species. Here’s an excerpt from Niralans: An Overview.

Nirala: Family Units

Because Niralans reproduce asexually, the “nuclear family” unit consists of the parent and child or children. Since several parent-child generations of Niralans may live simultaneously, however, it is more accurate to describe the family unit as consisting of an entire genetic line, identified by last name and kiiste pattern.

Niralan parents exert near-total control over the purpose and trajectory of their children’s lives, beginning with the practices used for naming Niralan children (see “Names and Naming”). Most Niralan parents have each child with a specific purpose or goal in mind; since the process of conception is so complex (see “Reproduction”), Niralan infants are, as a rule, never conceived or born by accident. The first and only “accidental” Niralan conception on record occurred on Earth, north of the Arctic Circle, the result of a 2163 crash of an experimental aircraft; the Niralan pilot was not rescued unril after the parthenogenetic coma had set in. Until the child becomes a parent, she is treated wholly as an extension of the parent, subject to the parent’s direction and control.

The parent-child bond is the only Niralan pair bond that does not require regular physical contact to sustain. Rather, parents and children maintain a close sense of one another’s emotions and memories, even when separated by great distances or periods of many years. It is hypothesized that the endurance of the parent-child pair bond results from the near-identical genetic makeup of the parent’s and child’s respective limbic systems, which may cause emotions and memory not only to be passed from parent to child at birth and during the child’s upbringing, but may also cause new emotions and memories to be encoded in similar ways. Niralan parents and children typically enjoy a close bond with one another, unless social or environmental pressures intervene to create dissonance (see “Names and Naming”).

During the Second Viidan Empire and the rise of the New Order, Niralan parents were expected to limit their offspring to a single child in order to reduce the pressures of a growing population on available planetary resources. Later-born children, known as Deneve or “Seconds,” were punished socially by marginalization and ostracism, as were their families. The brunt of the marginalization fell on the Deneve themselves, who were relegated to the status of second-class citizens: denied basic civil rights, barred from most forms of work, ostracized from all but their own family circles, and recruited for the most menial and dangerous forms of labor.

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