"It is our noble and sacred duty to guide the inferior races towards true wisdom. We Yull, in a spirit of the deepest kindness, will demonstrate the extent of our friendship to all weak and cowardly beings. We shall welcome the unrodent slaves to their new life in the Greater Galactic Happiness and Friendship Co-Operative – and then kill them all, kill them slow! Yes, yes, they will all scream, and scream good! Er... actually, can we wind the tape back a bit, please?'' - Ambassador Xeptic Throttl, BBC interview
The Yull, more commonly known as the lemming men, are a species of approximately man-sized bipedal rodents, of considerable intelligence and technological development. They are arguably the principal allies of the Ghast Empire, and are currently engaged in a war with both Earth and the M'Lak.
The average lemming man stands just over six feet tall. Its legs are proportionally shorter than those of a human being, and its upper body broader; an impression that is enhanced by a thick coating of fur. Lemming people have two genders and reproduce in much the same way as the rodents of Earth: sexually, and often. Litters tend to be of 5-10 infants. It takes about five years for a lemming man to grow to maturity. This is fortunate, since the fatality rate in lemming society is extremely high (see below). The Yull can live up to 70 years, but in practice, their lives are often much, much shorter than that.
The Yull have vestigial tails and long whiskers, which they often wax in the manner of moustaches. They possess large cheek pouches, in which they tend to store mixed nuts. This is especially useful on extended military operations. The Yull also have the ability to hibernate for fixed periods: they tend to use this skill in the same way that other species use landmines, sleeping until their enemies have passed them by, and then stabbing them in the back.
The lemming men live within an empire that they call the Greater Galactic Happiness and Friendship Collective. As the name implies, it is a place of slavery, oppression, murder, torture, savagery and evil on a monolithic scale.
Yullian society is, essentially, feudal. The great majority of the population are serfs, and eke a living from the land of their homeworld, Yullia. The Yullian nobility, especially the knight class, rule their minions from treehouses, generally by dropping things onto their heads. The Yull especially prize skill at arms and on the glockenspiel. Tradition dictates that every knight must always carry at least one battleaxe, in case he unexpectedly has to hack someone's head off. This tradition continues on the modern battlefield.
The highest caste in Yullian society is the Priesthood, who alone have the capacity to interpret messages from the Yullian war-god, Popacapinyo. The war-god of the lemming men has made it clear, through symbols and omens, that only one race is to rule the galaxy. To the surprise of nobody, that race is the lemming men. The priests spend much of their time trying to discern the will of Popacapinyo, usually by examining the hearts and entrails of passers-by. Most of the time, the will of Popacapinyo seems to be that the priests should pull more people's hearts and entrails out.
The objectives of the priesthood are enforced by the secret police, the much-feared assassins. They are alone among the Yull in being permitted to dye their fur black, and are noted - even by other lemming men - for their cruelty and deranged enthusiasm.
The Yull are advanced, and possess the knowledge and equipment to manufacture tanks, guns (they also buy in weapons from their allies, principally Aresian death rays) and spacecraft, provided that they haven't driven them into something yet.
Above all things, the lemming people value suicide. The core, arguably the entirety, of their society is based around following orders and jumping off cliffs. The willingness - in fact, the enthusiasm - to get killed is regarded as the greatest ambition to which any lemming could aspire. As the Yull themselves say, "The higher the cliff, the higher the virtue". Every lemming man dreams of leaping from the Cliffs of Destiny, preferably while one of the lesser races is at the bottom of the cliff. This makes recruiting spaceship pilots very easy. Keeping them is rather more difficult.
Having a culture based around suicide, the Yull regard self-preservation as a sign of weakness. They consider all other species and cultures to be cowardly, and treat all other sentient beings with vicious contempt. As a result, they have a long-running feud with the M'Lak, who despise the lemming men for having no honour and for smelling of sawdust and pee. This lack of decency became clear after the capture of the city of Newstadt, which the lemming men razed to the ground on the night that it fell into their paws. In short, the Yull hate everyone else, their allies included.
The Divine Migration
Inevitably, the Yull regard the Space Empire as puny and theirs for the taking. They have launched an all-out assault on Imperial Space, which they refer to as the Divine Migration, with the intention of capturing territory and slaves. The sheer ferocity of the Yull, coupled with the threat from the Ghast Empire, took the Space Empire by surprise, and initially the Yull rampaged through M'Lak and human space. However, at the Battle of the River Tam, the Yullian advance was delayed and then halted, partly due to the heroism of the M'Lak warrior Agshad Nine-Swords.
The front has now moved to the forest world of Andor. General Young, overseer of the victory at the River Tam, has been placed in charge of the Space Empire's forces. While the lemming have considerable superiority in numbers, the moral fibre of human and Imperial alien troops is hoped to be a match for them. Whatever happens, it will be close, and fierce.
Unlike Ghastish, Yullian is a fairly complex language with a variety of tenses, modes, voices and declensions. This has led to the belief among Yullian high command that it is simply impossible for the lesser brains of other races to comprehend, which means that they rarely bother to use encoded transmissions. To the codebreakers of the Space Empire, Yullian is fairly simple: as is anything to a person fluent in Ancient Greek.
To take the most familiar phrase in Yullian:
"Dar huphep, huphep Yullai!"
"For glory [noun], the glory [noun, explanatory voice] of the Yull [genitive case]", where "huphep" means "glory", "military prestige", "renown" or some similar word.
The Yull are served by large domesticated rodents known as squol. The name derives from the old Yullian for, literally, "storm-rodent". Squol can be divided into two main types. Squox are beasts of burden, used by the peasant class to till their land, and are noted for their strength and placid temperament. Fighting-squol, however, are large, fierce creatures resembling a cross between a mastiff and a rat. They are bred for strength and ferocity by the noble classes, frequently reared on a diet of peasant, and (like almost anything the Yull touch) as instruments of torture and war.