The Mind of the Dolphins
The Dark Years
The Dark Years of the Delphinidae
by Francis Halliday
Senior Archivist, Meridian Central Library
Reproduced with permission from the Journal of Intergalactic Studies, volume 7, issue 6, November 2052.
Since the fall of Morgoth and the release of Meridian from the time freeze eighteen years ago, a wealth of historical information has become available, shedding new light on the early days of our galactic civilisation and the Delphinidae Order that arose from first contact with the Dolphins of Bluehaven.
For many generations, the Delphinidae have been universally regarded as the embodiment of goodness and righteousness, holding the high moral ground in what has often been a turbulent and sordid galaxy. In recent times, the heroic actions of the Delphinidae leadership in the aftermath of the Farley massacre has reinforced this perception, and rightly so, for it is not the intention of the author to tarnish in any way the current administration under High Priestess Lorina or any of her recent predecessors.
However, such has not always been the case. In virtually every sizeable organisation, there are at times differences of opinion, struggles for power, factionalism and perhaps even bloodshed, and the Delphinidae is no exception. It is remarkable that, in the huge expanse of time since the martyr Loria, such disputes have been exceedingly rare and have been resolved quickly and amicably, so remarkable in fact that one must seriously question why that has been so.
Such considerations aside, though, the focus of this paper is on a period of time long before then, a time of uncertainty following the death of Lorna, founder of the Delphinidae, in a galaxy ruled by the warlords of Meridian. In the aftermath of the discovery of subspace, the outlying colonies were growing and beginning to flex their own military power, and it was a time of turmoil for both the galaxy and the Delphinidae themselves.
Since the dawn of sentient humanity on the grasslands of Meridian, people have strived to understand their place in the universe. Religions evolved amongst the various early tribes, creating and disposing of deities as the need arose, and many wars were fought over what should or should not be worshipped. Much to their credit, though, the early theologians achieved a consensus, unifying the divine into one omniscient God whose teachings could be found in the many facets of the natural world. A primary tenet of this creed was the insistence that the human mind, alone in the universe, was gifted with the ability to understand its surroundings and so receive the teachings of the Lord.
This cosy arrangement was thrown into disarray when the first interstellar explorers travelled to Elfstar and discovered the Dolphins of Bluehaven, sentient telepathic beings with an intellect far in advance of our own. The initial reaction was one of denial, however the ease with which anyone could communicate with the Dolphins quickly made such a response untenable. Next came anger - the Dolphins were satanic, they were a Test for the true believers, and so forth - but again such arguments were difficult to sustain once the teachings of the Dolphins were widely published. Fearing they were facing irrelevancy, the theologians eventually accepted the Dolphins as another of God's creations sent to aid in the revelation of His Great Purpose, and thus the Order of the Delphinidae was born.
It didn't take long for the early explorers of Bluehaven to notice something decidedly peculiar about that world. The Dolphins were without doubt mammalian, but nowhere on the planet were any land mammals to be found. The popular press quickly picked up the mumblings of discontent begun by the zoologists of Meridian, and numerous theories were proposed, ranging from allegations of fraud through to the most popular at the time, the belief that the Dolphins had come to Bluehaven from somewhere else in the galaxy. Some speculated that the Dolphins might even have been exiled human spirits, condemned to live out their lives as glorified fish, and this idea sat well with those still following the old human-centric creation doctrine.
A significant portion of the Delphinidae devotees were swayed by that argument and formed a loosely organised splinter group known, for reasons now obscure, as the Black Delphinidae. Their thesis was further supported when analysis of Dolphin DNA showed many elements common to humans and other animal species on Meridian, and the favoured theory was that the exiled spirits that became the Dolphins were from one of that world's ancient tribes. So the hunt began in earnest to find evidence of this lost people and the technology they must have had to create the Dolphins and transport them to Bluehaven.
The latter question was resolved with the Dolphin's revelation of the existence of Sheol and Damien's early explorations of that realm. The passageways of Sheol offered an easy way for the Dolphins to have moved between worlds, so all that remained was to find a common ancestry on Meridian and the riddle would be solved. Such a solution, though, proved elusive, and the Black Delphinidae remained on the fringes of what was now the established Delphinidae Order.
The whole question of the origin of the Dolphins was thrown wide open again when researchers on Bluehaven discovered fossil records of mammalian land animals. With geological studies showing that, in much earlier times, the sea levels on that world had been substantially lower and that many of what were now smaller islands were really the mountain peaks of great submerged continents, the theory quickly developed of planetary warming caused by the slow expansion of its aging sun, Elfstar. The rising seas reduced the land area below that required for the mammal populations to remain viable, and the Dolphins, aquatic descendents of those ancient land mammals, remained the only survivors.
There the matter should have rested, but for one unexplained fact; the threads of common DNA. The Black Delphinidae seized on that, proposing a new theory that all life, including humans, had originated on Bluehaven, but that those ancient people, realising their world was overheating, fled in a great interstellar Ark to the nearby Meridian star system. The establishment rejected the idea, though, claiming the fossil records on Meridian predated those on Bluehaven, and the disagreement grew more and more heated as evidence purporting to support each side was produced and challenged.
To confound the issue, a postgraduate student leading an archaeological exploration of Huntress published a paper claiming to have found fossilised remains of dolphins and humans on that world. Within hours the university had removed the paper from the ultranet and published an official denial, but many Black Delphinidae devotees flocked to that world, only to be turned away by the authorities supposedly protecting the security of the Huntress prison colony.
A standoff ensued, with conflicting reports of Black Delphinidae members being arrested and of others managing to break the blockade and reach the surface. Of the latter, the author could find no evidence of any discoveries they may have made, or of their fate for that matter, although to this day rumours persist of isolated settlers dwelling beyond the main colony in its protective crater on Huntress.
Eventually the blockade succeeded and the Black Delphinidae were turned away, but leaders of the movement organised rallies across the galaxy, promoting their beliefs and drawing in large numbers of new recruits. Black Delphinidae candidates began appearing in local government elections, with some success at the ballot box, while the popular media constantly had the mainstream Delphinidae on the defensive. The inevitable had to happen, and it did.
In a coordinated series of raids across the galaxy, police arrested the leaders of the Black Delphinidae and scoured their homes and offices, seizing all the documents and computer files they could lay their hands on. All ultranet sites making reference to the Black Delphinidae were closed down, their contents sifted in pursuit of names and addresses as the roundup spread.
In the Bluehaven Supreme Court, prosecution lawyers, representing the mainstream Delphinidae, produced witness after witness claiming to have participated in the ritualistic slaughter of Dolphins and the consumption of their flesh. In spite of their protestations of innocence and strong evidence of official corruption, the Black Delphinidae leadership was convicted en masse of delphinicide and summarily executed, their bodies cremated and cast into the sea. The government declared the Black Delphinidae illegal and made possession of their books and materials a crime punishable by lengthy incarceration in the Huntress prison colony. Perhaps it's ironic that those who'd once sought to reach Huntress finally ended up there, but the high mortality rate from that planet's toxic atmosphere brought a swift end to this enigmatic creed.
At around the same time, the Delphinidae hierarchy had the Dolphin Deification Act passed into law, an Act which to this day remains on the statutes of every world in the galaxy. Under the Act, only the Delphinidae clergy are permitted contact with the Dolphins and anyone interfering with or harming a Dolphin faces capital punishment. All Dolphin remains, including fossils, are by law the property of the Delphinidae, while any analysis of Dolphin DNA is prohibited without the express approval of the High Priestess.
Thus the question of the origin of the Dolphins and the DNA they share with the mammals and people of Meridian has never been satisfactorily resolved; indeed records of the common DNA threads have only come to light since the release of Meridian from the time freeze. The present Delphinidae administration has yet to decide whether to allow further research in this area, and any such work would require the explicit approval of the Dolphins themselves. Given the Dolphins' historical reluctance to discuss their origins, such approval would appear unlikely.
I am indebted to Professor Harry Tibbits from the School of Delphinidae History at Washpool University on Cornipus, who has allowed me free access to the archival material at his disposal while actively encouraging and guiding my research. I also thank Damon Enderling, Brother of the Delphinidae, and High Priestess Lorina for facilitating my access to the Delphinidae archives.