This Religion, often also known as Unionism, bases itself on the worship of the union between a parasite called "the Gift" and a human host. The Parasite uses the human body and enhances its abilities and lifespan. Due to this, the union is considered a divine enlightenment of the Cosmos. This religion is where the name for the Nation of the Union comes from. The religion was born in the Lewis Galaxy and originated in Isso.
The Religion is practiced mostly in the Union, which is the predominant religion of that Nation (and the only one by law), but also outside of it, with notable large populations in the Intergalactic Federation. To a much lesser extend there are some small unionist populations in the Empire of Mankind and the United Alliance. In the later two, the Unionist religion is a minor one. Some even smaller communities exist in other places, like the Confederacy of Humanity, the Plutocracy of Gish, the Republic of Sion, and many more.
The Religion started when escaped colonist from the Great Slave Revolt of the Empire left this nation once these revolts were cooled down by Imperial authorities. They looked for a new home away from the Empire in which they could avoid repercussions as well as become free. They settled on planet Isso. This world however had a parasite, native to the planet that infested almost a third of the animal life.
Soon, the first Human cases started to appear. This made the colonist be afraid of marshes where the parasite dwellt. However, the humans who had it and lived with it showed strength, longer lifespans, no aging and other many advantages. It was concluded that the parasite was beneficial to humans. This made the population to calm down and soon, new infected cases started to appear. And naturally, as it had happen with the fauna, a third of the population was infested.
Many started to implant themselves voluntarily in order to acquire the benefits of it. Some saw the union as an enlightenment, as an open door with the divine, since they could see things they couldn't see before, and experience things that couldn't be felt before. No much time later almost two thirds of the Population was infected, and the Religion was then born.
The Implantation of the Parasite became then compulsory, when the Unionist religion became more and more important and influential, until it made it into the government. Those who refused to implant themselves where forcibly expelled from the planet. This people settled Mirdan and Nova, which will later become two of the founding planets of the Intergalactic Federation.
As soon as Unionist believers made all the Population of Isso, the country was set up as a Theocracy and took the name of the Union. With its expansion, they took the parasite and the religion to all the worlds they settled down.
Biology of the Parasite
Some parasites invade the body of their host, use it and consume it for their own benefit destroying the body they invade, but the Gift does the opposite. The Gift is a parasite that invades a body and improves it to enhance the chance of survival of its host in the wild and in turn secure their own survival. They also invade the reproductive system of their host and use it to their benefit, so the longer the host live, the longer the chances of procreation for the parasite, so it will repair its invaded body and cure most of syndromes or signs of illness of their invaded body in order for themselves to survive the longest time possible.
Parasites attach to the Spine of the Host, around their necks and ingrane themselves with the body to the point it can't be detached from the body anymore and in case of forced separation, most times, the human and parasite die in the process.
The union between humans and hosts enhanced and strengthen people's abilities and senses to the point they can feel more, see more and experience a higher degree of human existence and communication with the world around them. They see the Gift as an open minded or a path of connection with the divine or the highest forces that govern the universe giving them a better understanding of the human existence.
The Parasites do not have a gender, and adapt themselves to the body they infest and the condition of its host relationships and partners. However, it will change the attraction on the Human they inhabit, to make it more attracted towards other infested humans. This is because the only way for the parasite to reproduce is through the body of their host and needs to contact another parasite in another host to have a successful mating. While their host have sexual intercourse, the parasites on both hosts connect as well, and send their own biological reproduction items through the organs of their respective hosts. Then, one of the Humans would expulse a bag of eggs. Sometimes, they are expulse one by one through urination, defecation or vomiting. This eggs, have to be taken to the temple, where they are put on water and taken cared of by the priests. The eggs usually need to get to water in order to hack and develop.
Most of the religion is handle by Priest, this are rare people that were born with the parasite in them, instead of having it implanted later on. This is a complex process that appears when the parasite and human conceptions happen at the same time and one of the parasite's issue instead of leaving the body as it naturally would do, invades the fetus through the blood system that connects the infected mother with their child. This is something that occurs in 10% of all pregnancies on infested mothers having sexual intercourse with another infested human during childbearing.
Priests are at the core of the Union's society and are appointed rulers of communities and planets for the most part. They are also in charge of organizing the cults main ceremonies, breed and take care of parasites, and other tasks such as train people in the meditation Paths and guide them through their existential journey. The Rulers of the Union are all Priests, infested in the womb. While the Priest usually wear cloaks that covered them, their rank is shown by the color of their cloak. High priests, are the only ones that at common events dont wear cloaks but other garments.
The Temples are in charge of breeding parasites for new infestations. It is common that uninfested Children at age ten have the ceremony called "The Conversion" or "The Ascendance", in which they get the parasite. This is the most important event in a Unionist citizen. The day of their ten's birthday, the Child approaches the temple dress on a white cloak. The priest shows the Pool to the kid. Immediately, one of the parasites on the pool would show interest on the Kid, approaching it. This is called, "The Choosing". A special bond between the parasite and the human is created, since its the parasite who chooses you, since it will live on you for very long, until both died. Then, the parasite is taken by the priest. The Human lies on the bed, and the parasite is implanted. Otherwise, the Parasite would have jumped from the pool to the Child to infest it. Priests don't have this ceremony since they are born with the parasite since birth. Due to this, they have some enhancements other humans don't have.
Rejection of the parasite ends with death, but is extremely uncommon, with less than forty documented cases in all the Union's history, all of which died in the process.
People can connect deeper through intense meditation with the Parasite in their bodies, to the point of somehow, have an internal communication that allows them a deeper understanding of their existence, their own body and the universe. This is made by a minority of the population through deep and intense meditation. Those that follow meditation are set to start "The Awakening Way". People can stay in this stage of meditation indefinitely but many who star with it soon focus themselves on one of the many Paths.
Is one of the main paths, that results in a perfect control of physical abilities, enhanced strength, enhanced senses and agility, making them one of the finest and most elite warriors in the Lewis Galaxy and beyond. Usually they are called "Fighters" or "High Warriors". The training also consist on ascetic live and hardship, training the person on supporting pain, hunger and control their own instincts to be a mortal Warrior and Survivor.
This are the most frightening forces of the Union and can be hired as mercenaries by the wealthy, or by foreign nations to fight.
The people who follow this path enhance their intellectual capabilities. They are known as "Wisers". It's the second hardest path, and it requires the parasite to stimulate the brain of its host directly to potence the logical, analytical and creative capabilities as well as the senses and curiosity of the host.
This people are capable of giving genius solutions, memorize huge amounts of info being similar to living archives and think coldly putting aside visceral emotions and meditate about philosophical questions. They also come as amazing artist, painters, writers and sculptors, due to the creative potential they achieve as well. But most dedicate themselves to scientific studies. Others though to transcendental meditation and contemplation. This path is the most respected path by society, since it requires a livelong training in order to achieve it and maintain it.
Those that follow this path are known as "Sensors" or "Sentients", and this path enhances their sensorial capabilities, and their senses. They can see further, hear further and seeing further beyond. This makes them perfects rastreators, persecuting runaways and criminals, bringing them back to justice. Most form part of the police forces of the Union.
They are capable to influence people, infringe torture and pain into others and feel them better than anyone, what makes them perfect to conduct interrogations. They can dig down into their minds and collect info. On the other hand they are also able to stop pain and suffering for those that do suffer from it, either mental or physical suffering. This made them dedicate themselves as well to Sanitary care, and help to the wounded in times of war.
Some dedicate themselves to ascetic live and help of the least favour by society, the poor and the afflicted, since those who follow this path are more conscious and empathic with the others, serving the lowest stages of society, dedicating themselves to Charity. The parasite enhances social abilities and group cohesion abilities. Thus, being part of a group is essential for host and parasite alike. This has made the ones following this path having amazing social skills, what makes them good ambassadors and diplomats and some even good at entertainment and other social activities.
This way enhances the coordination capabilities of the person, what is essential to create agile and coordinated people into levels beyond human understanding. They are referred as "Dexters" or colloquially as "Dancers". The people who follow this path, achieve extreme coordination movements, that makes them able to play musical instruments and dance incredibly well. That's why these people are excellent dances and musicians. The best among humanity. But those who follow this path are also extremely well at spying and murdering, acting as silent assassins and spies, specially in times of War.
They can also be hired as mercenaries or private assassins. Some dedicated themselves to security forces of the Union, tracking and prosecuting runaways. They are excellent as well in fight, but less strong and capable that those following the Path of the Warrior.
This is the least common and the hardest of all the paths. Their total number is small. They are refer as "Seers". This Path enhances capabilities that go beyond human comprehension. It enhances their physical powers, similar to those of other races, that make this humans able to go beyond of time and space, entering a trance that allows them to connect themselves to the net of the universe, seeing the future or the past. Due to the constant change of the Future, they can only give predictions of possible futures, but never exact or unchangeable predictions. Due to to the same factor, they can see the Past but can't intervene in it, due to its static nature. What has passed has already happened and cannot be change but can be reviewed.
They can also interact with space, opening gates that allows them to teleport themselves or a small amount of people around them. Although this ability is only able to the most expert in this Path. When several Seers connect they can open bigger gates that teleports small armies, but the energy consumed is risky for the Seers live. So it's rarely done. It's one of the most mysterious and secretive Paths. Those that take this Paths for themselves, dedicate their entire lives to meditation in the Path and in the Awakening Way. Achieving the objectives of this Path is a constant work and dedication. Those that join it have to be made of a special material, and have to gather special features and tough requisites even before being able to join.