We are all a sum of memories and experience
shaping who we are. Sure genetics play a part and if you’re so inclined, perhaps something
greater, but we are each a product of our own lives. So what happens when you cram another
7 or 8 lifetimes worth into your mind form entirely different set of people? That’s
where you get the Trill. Hello I’m Ric and today the index is looking into the Star Trek
race with a unique adaptation. The most fascinating feature of the Trill
has to be their efficiency at maintaining public transport, their fastidious devotion
to a structure-… I’m joking of course. You can’t talk of the Trill without mentioning
their symbiotic relation with their homeworld’s other intelligent life. This relationship
has shaped many facets of their culture from millennia.
Trill, or Trillius Prime, is home to 650 million Trill and 11 million Symbionts. The plant
is similar to Earth in terms of environment but has an expansive cave network that houses
a number of underground rivers and interconnected lakes. This vast cave system lends itself
to easy access to mining leading to no shortage of materials. The capital of Trill is Leran
Manev, where the Symbiosis Commission and Senate offices reside more on them later.
The Trill themselves are a humanoid species that are remarkably similar to humans in many
ways, at least the humans of the 24th century. Their cultural development in the galactic
scene was incredibly rapid when compared to other species with a Trill being Federation
president only a few years after their admittance. The earliest contact with extra-terrestrial
life they had was with the discovery of subspace communications of a limited fashion and their
interception of other cultures background noise. By this time, the Trill had already
developed a unified planetary government based on a senate of representatives of different
institutions. Spurred on by this discovery, they eventually
developed their own warp program and were contacted by the Vulcans as per Vulcan first
contact protocols. From then on, the Trill continued to develop their technology until
the United Federation of Planets offered them membership. Interestingly enough, the Trill
took a very long time to decide whether or not to join and only accepted membership once
they had verified the claims of the Federation to be in line with their own morals and principles
of cooperation and development. Their government tends to try to remain neutral in many external
affairs, not wanting to draw too much attention, which earned them a reputation as mediators
and ambassadors. After joining in 2285 they proved to be a
model partner species whose technological developments contributed extensively, especially
in matters of propulsion and continue to pioneer techniques such as the generation of artificial
wormholes. Though for the longest time, they continued to remain impartial in the face
of many Federation affairs. As may be clear by now, Trill society is one
of intellectual pursuits and the Science Ministry is a respected intuition throughout the Federation.
The direction of their development was, in no small way, influenced by the Symbionts,
the other native intelligence on their planet. It is unknown how the Symbionts were first
discovered, whether it was a joint evolution, or a parasitic relation turned beneficial,
or even two separate species that discovered symbiosis by chance. But it has always been
the way for a Till host to join with a Symbiont to create a shared existence. The near-foot
long slug-like creature has a life cycle all of its own. To begin with, they hatch from
eggs in the pools of Mak’Ala where they grow to their initial size. They are little
more than brains attached to a swimming tail, are genderless and absorb nutrition through
their skin. They communicate by electrical discharge and despite their appearance they
are sentient, and have a name, Sef, Odan, Dax, Kahn for example. Once implanted into
a Trill’s abdomen, over a 93 hour period, they bind their tail to the host’s nervous
system and the two minds begin to function as one through a neurotransmitter called Isobormene.
The host’s last name is then replaced with the name of the Symbiont, symbolically it
shows the importance of the joining and the changes the host will now undergo.
The Symbiotic exchange is that the Symbiont gets to experience everything the host does
and the host has access to the experience and memories of the Symbiont. This is because
the little swimmers retain the memories, personality and if you like, the essence of every host
that it has bonded with. This means that each symbiont’s personality is therefore a mixture
of these traits, loves, fears, joys and neuroses. The host will integrate these experiences
into his or her own until, to them at least, it seems there is no difference between lives.
Though the current host’s personality remains dominant, they will refer to the experiences
of past lives as their own with even mannerisms, skills and habits carrying over. The “Right
of Emergence” allows a former host’s personality to take a more dominant role over that of
the current host, and the rite of Closure, Zian’Tara allows for a joined Trill to “meet”
the former hosts and learn from them as their personality is overlaid temporarily on another
person. A Symbiont can be joined many times with no
ill effect, but once bonded; neither can survive without the other. In a way, once joined,
a Trill will live on in some form, with their life preserved in the Symbiont.
Some sources say that once the Symbiont has learned enough, usually this takes hundreds
of years, they become un-joinable on their own an seek to return to the pools from where
they were born. Returning to the water, they spend the remainder of their life in the depths,
growing in size and tending to the older Symbionts, called the Annuated, 20,000 year old Symbionts
who absorb the experiences of all the younger ones on their return. But the Trill’s protective
and secretive nature surrounding the Symbionts leaves these stories unverified.
If this is true, this may be the source for the ancient Trill religious beliefs in Mak’Relle
Dur, an afterlife of memories where all life ends up in a unified mind.
The Symbiosis Commission oversees the applications for joining initiates and screens them thoroughly,
medically and psychologically for 3 years. During this time, the initiates also undergo
training to prepare them for the day that they’re joined as the influx of memories
can prove overwhelming. At any time during the training, an initiate can be dropped and
most will. There are several thousand applicants and only 300-500 symbionts available per year.
Naturally this leads the Commission to become very selective in their criteria and even
circulation of the rumour that biologically only 1/1000 Trill could be joined, when in
fact it’s closer to half to populous. Alongside the Commission, there are the Guardians, unjoined
Trill who look after the Symbionts in their natural environments, maintaining their climate,
treating the ill or injured and so on. As the Symbionts themselves retain the personality
of all they’ve joined with, violent tendencies are often a case for dismissal as a candidate.
This means that they majority of joined Trills end up being level-headed, composed and moral
individuals. With the advantages of being a joined Trill, previous lifetimes of knowledge
and experience, these individuals often rise in rank and power to greater positions with
many in the Trill Senate being hosts. It’s no surprise then that their culture is one
of peace with very few civil wars ever recorded through fear of tainting the Symbionts. Literally
and morally. The longevity of a Symbiont and their scarcity
leads them to be far more important than the host so if it comes down to a choice of saving
the host or the Symbiont, they will often chose the latter, not even risking certain
procedures that may endanger the creature. The hosts are often described as merely another
link in the chain with the description of a Host-Symbiont relation described as the
Balance. The purpose of joining is to allow the Symbiont
to experience and grow as an individual, providing a richer life for the symbiont and through
transfer of memories, the host too. Therefore, joined individuals are encouraged to seek
out new experiences like vocation and destinations to learn. There are also rules that forbid
a joined Trill from acting on a previous lives’ responsibilities, such as debts, oaths and
even family. This can be especially hard for a joined Trill (one of the reasons for the
initiate’s extensive training I’m sure), and while not all are enforced by law, reassociation
with former loved ones is forbidden and punished by exile. This is seen as a necessary deterrent
otherwise the Symbiont may forever be beholden to their emotions or debts and never move
on. Plus, the emotional distress and strain produced from trying to re-assimilate a new
individual into a perceived family can be …problematic. When two joined Trill become
involved, they do so only for the duration of the host’s life and when the Symbiont
is passed on, that new individual often distances themselves from the previous attachments.
However, general friendships are permitted to be retained.
The Trill themselves would not be who they are without this symbiosis. Not all Trill
are joined, in fact the majority are not, but every Trill has been affected by the joining
of the two species. The very culture of the Trill owes its existence to their union, from
the drive for peace to their desire to cultivate this in others. The importance of the Symbionts
in their culture is likely the reason that their existence was for so long kept secret
from the general public, even after joining the Federation but one thing is for certain,
a Trill, joined or not is the product of a culture whose ideals line up with the federation’s
to a T. Well, from their point of view, the it’s the Federation that had to measure
up to their standards as a people, and you can’t say that about many races in Star
Trek. Thanks for listening and as usual the voting
for the next culture can be picked from the comments below with either the another peaceful
race, the Ood of Doctor Who, or the Lumbering monotone Elcor of Mass Effect.
Thanks again for watching and remember, the Trill have always had spots, I don’t know
what you’re talking about, ridges, I see no ridges, shhhh. It never happened. Goodbye.