Major Alien Species

The Khedai Hegemony includes about 200 high-technology civilizations. Of these, the majority are reclusive and quiet, restricted to one or a few worlds, their citizens never seen out in the rest of the Hegemony. Only a few are “active,” seen almost everywhere, including on and around Earth. Aside from the khedai themselves, all of these species are among the youngest, none of them much more than a million years old as a star-faring culture.

Khedai

Khedai are big bipedal creatures, standing about 2.0 meters tall and averaging about 100 kilograms in mass. They somewhat resemble small bears, although their heads have a distinctive shape and (in males) are topped by heavy spiraling horns like those of mouflon sheep. They are covered with dense, dark-colored fur. Their faces are dominated by a cluster of four large eyes and a heavy jaw full of strong teeth. Their voices tend to be very deep and rumbling.

The khedai home world has a surface gravity of about 0.9 G and a standard oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere at about 1.2 atmospheres pressure. They are accustomed to cold climates, but with technological help they can live almost anywhere that a human is comfortable. In their natural environment, they prefer shade and dark places, and they are not fond of direct sunlight or bright lights in general.

Male Khedai Template (70 points)

ST+2 [20]; IQ+2 [40]. HP+1 [2].

Advantages: Damage Resistance 2 [10]; Extended Lifespan 4 [8]; Night Vision 6 [6]; Racial Status 4 [20]; Striker (Horns, crushing damage) (Limited Arc, -40%) [3].

Perks: Deep Sleeper [1].

Disadvantages: Bad Temper (Only during mating season, -40%) [-6]; Hard of Hearing [-10]; Hidebound [-5]; Incurious [-5]; Lecherousness (Only during mating season, -40%) [-9].

Quirks: Attentive; Chauvinistic; Dislikes bright light or direct sunlight; Humble; Serious [-5].

Features: Early Maturation 5 [0].

Female Khedai Template (-70 points)

ST+1 [40]; IQ-4 [-80].

Advantages: Acute Taste and Smell 1 [2]; Damage Resistance 2 [10]; Extended Lifespan 4 [8]; Night Vision 6 [6].

Perks: Deep Sleeper [1].

Disadvantages: Bad Temper (Only during mating season, -40%) [-6]; Hard of Hearing [-10]; Lecherousness (Only during mating season, -40%) [-9]; Wild Animal [-30].

Quirks: Attentive; Dislikes bright light or direct sunlight [-2].

Features: Early Maturation 5 [0].

Names

Female khedai do not have names or spoken language. Male khedai carry two names, an “association name” which identifies their clan, and a “face name” which identifies the individual. Most name-words are two or three syllables in length. Thus, the Intendant (provincial governor) Rámetai Khatta is the one named Khatta from the Rámetai association.

Origins, Psychology, and Culture

The khedai evolved into tool-using intelligence about nine million years ago, on a planet circling a cool K5V class star rather like 61 Cygni A. Their home world was slightly smaller than Earth. Lacking any large natural satellite to stabilize its rotational axis, the planet exhibited large shifts in axial orientation, causing occasional drastic changes in planetary climate.

The khedai natural environment was a cold boreal forest, which covered over half the land surface of their home world. The proto-khedai were hunter-browser omnivores, who developed intelligence to survive periods of rapid climatic change.

The khedai rise to high-technology civilization was somewhat smoother than most. They never got into the habit of fighting massively destructive wars among themselves, and they did relatively little damage to their home world’s ecology. After “uplift,” their patrons found them to be very promising subjects, intelligent and well-disciplined. About a million years later, when their patrons chose to retire from active life, the khedai took over a segment of their interstellar empire with minimal upheaval.

Today the khedai remain in command of a large empire, the Khedai Hegemony. They are careful and competent rulers, although after millions of years they have become quite hidebound. It has been a very long time since khedai civilization went through a significant period of artistic or technical innovation. Some of their subjects quietly speculate that they may be long overdue for their own “retirement.”

Khedai have a reproductive life cycle which humans find rather unusual. All khedai are born female. They grow quickly, reaching physical maturity at the equivalent of 8-10 years of age. However, at this point they are still only bright animals, not capable of participating in a complex high-technology society. By tradition, young female khedai are sent out into the wilderness, to survive as best they can without tools or protection. Most female khedai die in the wilderness, their life cycle coming to a premature end.

A female khedai advances to the next stage of her life cycle when she encounters a male during the mating season. In their natural habitat, this usually occurs in the early to middle spring. A female khedai will become pregnant only once in her life, bearing a litter of four to six cubs. The hormonal changes that take place during and after her pregnancy cause her to grow and take on mass, and stimulate rapid growth and increased connectivity in her brain. After giving birth, she changes gender completely and becomes an adult, fully sentient male.

Khedai males organize themselves into clan-associations, which work a little like extended families among humans. Members of a clan-association are not expected to exercise nepotism toward one another – indeed, that would be a grave violation of khedai ethical standards. On the other hand, clan-associates do socialize on a regular basis, have their own private rituals and traditions, and support one another in appropriate ways.

Most clan-associations specialize in certain roles within khedai society. For example, the Rámetai association has overseen exploration in the Orion sector of the Hegemony for several thousand years. Many Rámetai came to Earth to serve as provincial or regional governors after the Conquest.

A newly male khedai has his closest personal relationship, not with his biological parents, but with the older male who mated with him and sired his cubs. He joins his once-mate’s clan-association as a junior member, and receives an education, social contacts, and employment from them. As an adult, he spends most of the year cool and rational, effectively asexual. Only during the mating season is he likely to display emotional turmoil, becoming bad-tempered and distracted. When a clan-association sees the need to replenish its numbers, it selects a few of its members to travel to the wilderness preserves and locate promising females for mating and later recruitment. This is regarded as a great honor for the chosen males, a reward for devoted service to the association and to the Hegemony.

Azuri

Azuri are bipedal creatures, somewhat smaller and slenderer than humans. They stand about 1.6 meters tall and have an average mass around 50 kilograms. Females tend to be slightly taller and more robust than males. They resemble chimpanzees or bonobos in many respects, although they have four arms rather than two. They are effectively naked, with little or no body hair, although males normally sport a strip of thick fur from the back of their heads down the full length of their spines. Skin colors range from ruddy brown, through dark brown, to deep black. Azuri faces are surprisingly human-like, although they have four eyes rather than two, usually a deep orange or reddish color. Their voices have extraordinary range and flexibility, stretching far into what humans would consider the subsonic range. Many humans call the azuri “spider-apes.”

The azuri home world has a surface gravity of about 1.2 G and a standard oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere at about 1.2 atmospheres pressure. They enjoy almost the same temperature range as humans.

Azuri Template (70 points)

ST+1 [10]; DX+1 [20].

Advantages: Acute Vision 2 [4]; Brachiator [5]; Extra Arms (Four arms) [20]; Perfect Balance [15]; Racial Status 1 [5].

Disadvantages: Curious [-5].

Quirks: Broad-Minded; Congenial; Playful; Responsive [-4].

Names

Azuri follow the same naming convention as many humans. The first name is a family name, inherited from the individual’s mother. This family name normally has two or three syllables. The second name is a given name, and almost invariably has only one syllable. Thus, Hûzati Ren is the son of Hûzati Marr.

Origins, Psychology, and Culture

The azuri are recent arrivals on the galactic stage, the last species to be brought into the Khedai Hegemony before the discovery of humanity. Their home world is an Earthlike planet, circling a yellow G8V class star rather like 82 Eridani. Twenty thousand years ago, they had just developed a global industrial civilization and begun exploring their home star system, when they were contacted and conquered by the Hegemony.

The conquest almost certainly saved the azuri species from extinction. The azuri natural environment is temperate forest, but while developing a high-technology society they destroyed most of their home world’s primeval woodlands. Damage to the ecology led to widespread climate change, desertification, famine, and outbreaks of disease, which in turn triggered a series of devastating wars over the remaining habitable territory.

The azuri remain clients of the Hegemony to this day, although the khedai have begun to hint that they may be released sometime in the next few thousand years. They are very good subjects, hard-working and loyal, although the khedai often find them too inquisitive and playful. On the other hand, they get along quite well with humans, who find them the most congenial of the Hegemony’s other subjects.

Like humans, azuri have two sexes and a very active sexual drive. They exhibit a range of sexual behaviors very like those of humans, including romantic attraction and frequent, casual sex. Females tend to be slightly dominant in azuri society, taking the initiative in romantic matters and tending to gravitate toward leadership roles. Azuri give live birth and care for their helpless young much as humans do. They remain in contact with their parents, their mothers in particular, well into adulthood.

The azuri have a limited amount of self-government on their own worlds. They tend toward a free-wheeling open democracy, remaining in strict obedience to the khedai Praxis, but settling discretionary matters through a web of “town meetings” and consensus-building exercises.

Qerrach

Qerrach are among the smallest sentient beings known to the Hegemony. They are about 1 meter in length, with an average mass around 20 kilograms. They are bipedal, but with a semi-upright posture that permits them to run on their knuckles and feet for extra speed. They have a short but strong tail ending in a large gripping claw like that of a sloth, which helps them maneuver on the ground and gives them extra agility when climbing. They are covered in short fur, which tends to be white to golden in color. Their eyes are very large and generally brightly colored.

Qerrach Template (20 points)

ST-4 [-40]; DX+2 [40]; HT-1 [-10]. Per+2 [10]. SM-2 [0].

Advantages: +2 to Climbing [4]; +1 to Jumping [2]; Artificer Talent 1 [10]; Enhanced Move 0.5 (Ground) [10]; Extra Legs (Three legs) [5]; Perfect Balance [15]; Racial Status 2 [10].

Disadvantages: Chummy [-5]; Incurious [-5]; Short Arms [-10]; Short Lifespan 1 [-10].

Quirks: Businesslike; Careful; Chauvinistic; Dislikes being on level or open ground; Dull; Humble [-6].

Features: Early Maturation 1 [0].

Notes: This template is for neuter individuals, who make up most the species. Actively sexual individuals replace the Humble quirk with Proud, for the same point cost.

Names

Qerrach have single names, which are usually no more than two syllables long. Their names have no meaning, and are chosen simply for their pleasant sound. If necessary, a qerrach will augment his given name with the name of his clan’s current leader.

Origins, Psychology, and Culture

The qerrach are unusual in that they no longer have a home world, and in fact it isn’t clear whether they originally evolved within the boundaries of the Khedai Hegemony at all. The khedai claim that the little creatures migrated into this region of the galaxy over a million years ago, and accepted citizenship in the Hegemony without going through the usual period of client-species indenture. They have adapted to life in space, and prefer living on board starships and space stations. They can deal with any environment in which humans are comfortable.

Qerrach are very gregarious creatures, preferring to live in enormous extended-family clans of at least forty or fifty individuals. Most of the members of a given clan are effectively neuter at any given time, anatomically male or female but uninterested in sex. Only the highest-status male in the clan, and three or four of the highest-status females, are actively sexual at any given time.

Qerrach are egg-laying, each female producing a clutch of five to seven eggs per mating cycle. In their natural environment, qerrach were low on the food chain, so they needed to produce very large numbers of offspring to survive. Civilized qerrach use various medical techniques to avoid unplanned reproduction. Clan leaders still engage in sexual activity on a regular basis – this behavior causes the release of social pheromones, which reduce tension and encourage solidarity among the rest of the clan.

Clans usually make decisions through a process of consensus-building, with every member given the opportunity to contribute. The leaders of the clan do receive deference, but their authority is constrained by law, long-standing traditions, and the preferences of the entire membership. If a clan finds itself amid an intractable dispute or without a clear leader, the males will go through a period of irritable status displays and social competition, during which one male will emerge as the new leader. He will then select several females to become his sexual partners and co-leaders of the clan. This process can be adapted to take over an existing clan, divide an existing clan after a serious dispute, or organize several unattached qerrach into a new clan.

Young qerrach grow up quickly, cared for and educated by the entire clan. Upon reaching adulthood, they usually spend several years as neuters in their original clan, developing useful technical skills and building a reputation. Adult qerrach are always free to join a new clan, and in fact clans often trade members to avoid inbreeding.

Qerrach are not terribly creative or imaginative, but they tend to have a clear talent for mechanics and engineering. Many starships and space stations within the Hegemony host one or more clans as part of their crew. Much of the Hegemony’s merchant shipping is also managed by qerrach clans.

Sarvasha

Sarvasha are bipedal, about the same height as humans, although they are much lighter in build. They stand about 1.75 meters tall and have an average mass around 55 kilograms. They are covered with very short fur, which becomes a ruff or mane around the shoulders and the back of the head. Fur colors tend to range from golden to orange to a dull crimson, with dark stripes and counter-shading. Many humans think sarvasha resemble big cats, although their cranial structure and faces are only vaguely feline.

The sarvasha home world has a surface gravity of about 1.0 G and an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere at about 1.3 atmospheres pressure. Sarvasha originated on warm plains, and still appreciate a temperature range somewhat higher than most humans prefer. Sarvasha are unusual in that they have a biochemical dependency on arsenic, in amounts that would be quite toxic to humans. Arsenic compounds play an important role in sarvasha metabolism and reproduction.

Sarvasha Template (0 points)

HP-1 [-2].

Advantages: +2 to Tactics [4]; Acute Vision 2 [4]; Claws (Sharp Claws) [5]; Fearlessness 2 [4]; Racial Status 2 [10]; Teeth (Sharp Teeth) [1]; Telescopic Vision [5].

Disadvantages: Colorblindness [-10]; Dependency (Arsenic compounds; very common, weekly) [-10]; Light Sleeper [-5].

Quirks: Attentive; Chauvinistic; Congenial; Dull; Humble; Staid [-6].

Features: Taboo Trait (Peripheral Vision).

Names

Sarvasha carry three names: a personal name, the personal name of their birth-parent prefixed by na-, and the name of the province where they were born prefixed by raj-. Names usually have between one and three syllables Thus, Ajeras na-Vatheer raj-Shestani is Ajeras, child of Vatheer, born in Shestani province. The given name takes precedence when addressing a sarvasha by its title.

Origins, Psychology, and Culture

Sarvasha have been part of the Khedai Hegemony for a little less than two million years. Their home environment was warm plains, like the grasslands of Earth. They evolved on the large habitable moon of a gas giant planet, circling an F6V class star resembling Pi-3 Orionis. In their natural environment, they were herder carnivores, living in loose packs and cooperating to prey on large herbivores. They became sentient as the result of an evolutionary “arms race,” developing empathy, language, and tool use to compete with other smart predators.

The ancestral sarvasha were aggressive and rather violent. They nearly ruined their home world’s ecosystem through over-predation, and then fought among themselves in a series of devastating wars. They remained under khedai supervision for an unusually long time, close to 40,000 years, before being released from their client-species status. During that time, they were thoroughly “tamed,” losing much of their aggression and replacing it with a strong sense of discipline.

Today the sarvasha are very good citizens of the Hegemony, thoroughly committed to the Praxis. They provide many soldiers, starship crew, military officers, and bureaucrats. They are rather chauvinistic, often looking down on humans as savage upstarts. Among themselves, sarvasha like to live in close-knit communities that share social, professional, and sexual bonds. Their worlds are normally governed by representative democracies, with officials advancing on merit according to the khedai model.

Sarvasha, like most higher animals on their home world, are hermaphroditic. All of them are capable of bearing or siring offspring, although the details of their reproductive mechanism mean that it is very difficult for a sarvasha to impregnate itself. Sarvasha tend to engage in short-term sexual partnerships, many of which involve more than two individuals. Offspring spend several months in their parent’s pouch after birth, after which they receive attention from the entire community.

© 2016 Jon F. Zeigler