Chuara, Akiir, and the Choeroeds
Choeroeds are sentient saurians with acute senses, high intelligence, and incredible agility.
Choeroeds average about 1.5 meters tall and only 60 pounds. They walk on their clawed, three-toed feet, maintaining an effortless balance with constant adjustments by their foot-long, flexible tails. They have tiny chests, slightly protrusive stomachs, and long, thin arms. Their dexterous hands have three digits, one of which is opposable. Their claws are relatively sharp and grow continually throughout the choeroed's life. Their necks are thin and S-shaped, upon which their thick-jawed heads rest. Their beak-like mouths are filled with tiny teeth. A long crest adorns the back of their head, while narrow ridges protect their large, bulging eyes.
Choeroed skin is composed of miniscule scales, except the feet and hands, which are made of larger scales for increased traction. Their frames are light and lithe, especially their heads, which, at normal density, would probably be too heavy for their narrow bodies to support.
While certainly intelligent and capable of rational thought, choeroeds have a more intimate connection with their baser instincts than other species, which often overrides more thoughtful behavior. Their brains are small and reptilian with sizable regions devoted to senses of sight and hearing. The lobes for rational thought and memory are small in comparison, yet noticeably more neurologically dense than homologous structures in other sentient species.
Choeroed nerves are of a notable design. Instead of a series of long nerve cells as in many other creatures, choeroed nerves are simply an extensively branched single cell. Not only does this feature allow them the ability to survive neck and back injuries that would permanently paralyze other creatures, but their unusual nerve structure, when coupled with their swift brains, allows them to make decisions and take action at blinding speed. Choeroed reflexes are amazingly quick, but their biological bias towards making decisions within split-second intervals makes them prone to not thinking their actions through and ignoring potential consequences. This anatomical feature is believed to have contributed greatly to choeroed personality and culture.
Choeroed cardiovascular and respiratory systems are particularly advanced, granting them excellent stamina. Choeroeds have two lungs that wrap around each other. The forward lung is the larger of the two and is primarily concerned with oxygen collection. While also capable of oxygen collection, the smaller lung is specialized for releasing waste products from the blood and keeping the bloodstream adequately full of scritos. Scritos is a gas found on Choeroea that is modified and dissolved into the choeroed bloodstream, where it greatly assists in oxygen binding. A choeroed can produce its own scritos through special invaginations in the dorsal lung, but this can take time and usually weakens the choeroed significantly. Scritos is placed into the bloodstream, where it joins with oxygen-carrying cells and greatly increases their oxygen capacity. When the cell dies, however, the scritos is lost as well, and thus a steady trickle of the gas is required for optimum operation as blood cells are regenerated.
Choeroed hearts are centered, right in front of their forward lungs. They are elongated and run from just below the choeroed's collar to just below the lowest extreme of the lungs. While powerful on their own, leg and waist muscles connect to the heart and diaphragm, pumping them with greater velocity. While running, this feature ensures a swift and steady stream of oxygen-rich blood to the legs. In fact, for this reason, choeroeds find it easier to run than to walk, again, affording them incredible endurance.
Choeroeds have high metabolisms and are endothermic, and thus require a fairly significant amount of food each day. Despite their small size, they generally eat as much as twasseccs. However, their stomachs are small and, while they work quickly, simply cannot hold much food at once. Thus, choeroeds tend to eat five or more meals every day, keeping their stomachs working at all times to feed their resource-demanding muscles and brain. Choeroed teeth are small and conical, though fairly hard. They are adapted for shearing apart soft flesh, like that of clams, fish, and fruit.
Choeroeds are particularly resistant to poisons and toxins of all kinds. Their immune systems are equipped with powerful phagocytes that inject some sort of fatal chemical into foreign agents with needle-like appendage and are fully capable of recognizing and destroying cancerous cells and cells infected by viruses. Modified versions of these cells exist in nearly every choeroed body fluid, including lymph, ocular fluid, saliva, urine, bile, and, of course, blood. This quality has brought rise to a peculiar choeroed treatment. While certainly painful, a choeroed bite to an infected area will often stave off or even defeat the infection. This treatment, while crude, has saved many twassecc lives.
Along with their formidable phagocytes, choeroeds have small glands on either side of their spinal cord that release the equivalent of antibodies. These organs are not only ingrained with an extensive list of possible maladies, and thus capable of immediately responding to most common threats, but also 'learn' from their experiences, stocking up on cells that have adapted to new threats. This self-educated immune system is actually passed on through generations from mother to offspring, as cells from the mother's immunity glands will be produced and placed within the developing eggs. Thus, the entire choeroed population has an amazing resistance to biological threats that adapts and upgrades as time goes on. Finally, Neurotoxins and other agents that target the nervous system are often inherently incapable of affecting choeroeds, what with their lack of actual synapses.
Choeroed senses are particularly acute, especially their eyes. Choeroed eyes are enormous, though are otherwise not particularly notable. A large, focusing iris fills up most of the eye, while their circular pupils take in even fairly weak sources of light. An abundance of cone cells of five different types gives choeroeds extremely vibrant color-vision and allows them to distinguish color outside of other species' visible spectrum. Along with their eyelid, choeroeds have a transparent, nictating lens that covers their eyes while underwater, protecting them from damage and heightening underwater vision. Choeroeds also possess acute senses of hearing and smell, both drawn in through tiny orifices in their faces.
Choeroeds have an abundance of chromatophores in their skin and irises, allowing for limited color change. These chromatophores, normally a pale green, can essentially shrink or expand a colored protrusion, squeezing fluid into it like a tube of paint. The combination of many of these cells changing alters the choeroed's color. Partly, this happens automatically. For instance, in the dark or when distressed, choeroeds will turn pale. In bright light, they often brighten, and when angry or cold they will turn almost black. For the most part, however, choeroeds have a limited control over their color changing and can, with practice, take on a certain color without any effort (though light conditions and sleep, for instance, will override their will). Choeroeds can only change color within a certain spectrum, generally being restricted to blues, greens, and yellows of varying brightness.
Choeroed anatomy is inherently geared towards speed. It is postulated that this is due to the presence of deadly predators on their planet, from whom they had to be able to swiftly escape before the advent of cities or guns. However, this factors into their personalities a great deal. Choeroeds are not skilled thinkers. While technically intelligent, they quickly lose sight of their objectives and frequently change directions. They are poor at predicting the conclusions of their actions and, thus, often gauge an action's value only by how much immediate gratification it brings them. By extension, they are far more interested in short-term goals like beautifying things around them rather than long-term expansion or advancement.
Though they generally lose sight of ideas and indulge their hyperactive minds by switching to something else, sometimes choeroeds will become so fixated on a single idea that they will develop a bizarre obsession with it, bordering on the fanatic. Choeroeds like this will, again, wantonly spend time and money on their obsession, not predicting or understanding the consequences. Usually this manner of obsession centers around a particular organization, like a choeroed's dueling guild or the army. For this reason, choeroeds have never needed a draft, as they usually had enough recruits who were more than happy to fight for the glory of some group or another.
Choeroeds are often viewed by offworlders as exceedingly arrogant. Males, especially, will make foolish boasts in order to elevate themselves above other males. Choeroeds often seek outlets to prove their superiority, chief among them contests between dueling guilds.
Choeroeds are omnivores, though their diet definitely favors meat. They delight in raw fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and echinoderm, as well as dishes prepared from these animals. Fruit from both terrestrial and aquatic plants is also eaten, as well as macroalgae and the occasional land animal.
Choeroeds, while certainly terrestrial, love the water. Only very rarely will choeroeds build cities away from the shores, despite the fact that they could live quite well without it. For the most part, this is because their preferred diet comes from shallow epicontinental seas, and it is believed that primitive choeroeds sought food in packs along beaches and rivers, diving to depths of up to a few hundred feet to collect food for their families.
Choeroeds are particularly social creatures that don't do well alone. Their minds are active and they depend on each other for entertainment and friendship. Their cities range in size from a few hundred individuals to a few million.
Choeroeds become sexually mature at approximate five twassecc years of age. Every year at about the same time the choeroed mating season arrives and many choeroeds are instinctually motivated to breed. Mateless males will flush bright colors and begin to compete with others for mating rights in the hopes of attracting females. Choeroeds are monogamous and almost always pair for life. Mated pairs will often several clutches of eggs in their lifetime, each one including 1-4 eggs. Mother choeroeds will remain holed up for the six-week incubation period, sitting on and tending her nest. During this time, males are depended on for food and protection. Choeroed hatchlings are fully capable of walking and seeing at birth, though they are only a few inches tall. Within a few days, they are capable of doing elaborate acrobatics and screeching with amazing volume, though they will stay with their parents for approximately four twassecc years before striking out on their own.
Choeroeds are capable of breeding throughout their twenty-five twassecc year lifespans, though they typically have all of their children before age fifteen.
Choeroeds are given first and last names on the whims of their parents. Traditionally, a choeroed's last name will indicate to which guild division or other organization their parents belong. In the rare case in which a choeroed child will grow up and join a rival organization to that which their parents joined, they will often legally change their name to reflect their new loyalties. Because last names usually demonstrate little but guild loyalty, they are rarely heard.
Religion on Choeroea has declined in the many years since choeroed alliance with the twasseccs. While originally most choeroeds revered the Ko Nebula, which engulfs their entire system and is easily visible at night, as some sort of sentient God, many choeroeds now join with the twasseccs in their atheism. Koists, as the nebula worshipping choeroeds were called, believe in bravery, morality, and making the most out of life. Also, because of the position of their planet, they believe that any sort of departure from it would injure their beloved God, so despite great advances in other technological regions, choeroeds never developed space travel on their own. Koists traditionally believed that the reward for living a moral life was immortality in the form of a star in the Ko Nebula, a thought that appealed immensely to the dramatic and arrogant choeroeds. Though overt religious zealotry took a severe dive in favor of the more exciting military zealotry that came with the Twassecc Wars, many choeroeds still quietly believe in a starry afterlife.
Choeroed government is a pseudo democracy. A council of leaders votes on issues of planetary concern thirteen times per year and any other time the need arises. The Planetary Council is made up of city, guild, and military leaders from all over Choeroea. Each member has an equal vote, except when there is a tie, in which the Choeroed Admiral's vote carries more weight. The Planetary Council votes on all manner of concerns, including whether or not to admit the leaders of new guilds or cities.
Each of the members of the Planetary Council is, in turn, the leader of a smaller council. Each guild, city, and navy carries its own council, who vote to make decisions that pertain only to their jurisdiction. Each organization holds its own democratic election to decide the members of these councils and the representative for the Planetary Council.
Choeroeds have a rather looser attachment to rules than do their twassecc allies, yet they do employ an extensive police force to reign in the occasional ne'er do well. Vandalism, stealing, and murder are all punishable under choeroed law. They do, however, tolerate disruption and fraternization, despite the admonitions of the twasseccs. Generally, choeroeds will be tried using evidence from witnesses as well as genetic proof. Choeroed medical computers have a database of the genome of every inhabitant on their planet, and can generally use this information to obtain proof of guilt. Punishments are usually determined by the appropriate council. For lighter infractions, usually a stay in the Brig is selected for a duration according to the severity of the infraction. This underground jail keeps each prisoner in solitary confinement for most of the day, only allowing them to socialize briefly during meals. Due to choeroeds' hyperactive minds, this is a particularly severe punishment, and often wards them off of crime for good. Greater infractions generally result in a stay in the Deep Brig, a smaller prison set so far beneath the ocean that nothing can be seen. Prisoners stay in their cells until released. In very rare situations, usually when a non-choeroed is punished by choeroed law, the death penalty is afforded, but more often such cases are turned over to the appropriate ally for punishment.
Most choeroeds belong to one guild or another. These organizations often span a particular region or target a particular occupation. Guilds generally contain from one hundred to one million members, who engage in all sorts of competition with other guilds. Most guilds have a dueling division, in which members will challenge choeroeds from other guilds to mock combat duels, the winner of which gets the privilege to bring glory and victory to their own. Notable guilds include Scyll, Scaman, Echie, and Eseiko. Each large guild tends to build an elaborate guild sanctum on Chethaltha Peak, in which it can hold meetings, house members, or simply leave as a testament to their greatness as they choose.
Choeroeds are in general very artistic. Each choeroed city boasts its own unique artistic culture, which often includes vocal, musical, and visual art. Though all manner of art is appreciated on Choeroea, the choeroed favorite is definitely architecture. Choeroed cities follow an elegant style of building and often hold competitions with one another comparing their respective beauties. Chethaltha almost unfailingly wins these competitions, despite the large twassecc population and its static, boring buildings, largely because of the presence of the guild sanctums and naval halls on Chethaltha Peak.
Choeroeds enjoy close relations with many species. Their closest allies are, without question, the twasseccs, whose engineering and organizational knowledge has vastly advanced choeroed society since their alliance. Choeroeds also get along with the twasseccs' other allies, especially the hurks, who share the choeroed love of fun. Choeroeds also enjoy being in the company of norkids, presumably because on then are they not the shortest beings present. Much to the chagrin of the twasseccs, the choeroeds maintain friendly relations with one of the twasseccs' enemies, the flispians. While they have agreed to prohibit wartime trading with the flispians, the choeroed government refuses to fully cut communications with the fiery mammals.
Choeroea is an ocean planet that rests within the Alkon system. The Alkon system consists of two actual planetary class celestial bodies along with thousands upon thousands of smaller asteroids that resulted from an unknown cataclysm. The Alkon system lies on the edge of the Ko Nebula, an inactive cloud of hydrogen that boasts a pleasing blue-green hue.
Choeroea has, at any one time, at least two moons; Mincreat and Charol, both of which were asteroids that were pulled into a stable orbit. Usually, however, Choeroea has several temporary moons, also asteroids pulled in by its gravity but those that are doomed to strike the planet in the near future.
Due to Choeroea's proximity to so many asteroids, meteorological impacts are relatively common. While usually falling asteroids burn up in Choeroea's thick atmosphere during their burning descents, the occasional meteorite will strike the surface of the planet, usually within the great depths of the Scaman ocean. These meteorological impacts often result in enormous waves that the choeroeds take great desire in surfing them for many miles.
Choeroea has occasional violent hurricanes of immense size. Usually they form due to climactic shifts or meteorological impacts, but their precise origins are unknown. Nevertheless, choeroed cities that rest immediately by the shore often require extensive precautions to defend against their onslaught.
Choeroea's surface sports two main landmasses connected by a narrow isthmus. The northern continent, Charyb, is rockier and taller than the southern continent, Seiko. Charyb's oceans are deep and full of deep-sea fish. These fish, along with minerals from Charyb's formidable cliffs, serve as the regions primary exports. Seiko is far flatter and is ringed by warm epicontinental seas and reefs. The majority of choeroed food comes from Seiko, whether from terrestrial forms, aquatic macroalgae farms, or mass fisheries in the warm, shallow waters. Temperature varies all over the seasonless planet, ranging from about 50 degrees Fahrenheit at the poles to 120 degrees at the equator.
Choeroea's population is approximately 95 choeroeds, of which there are four billion. Twasseccs form up most of the remaining population, though there are small groups of hurks, norkids, and sigwar in some cities.
Choeroea primarily exports food and medical technology to other planets and primarily imports high technology, especially spacecraft.
Early recorded choeroed history includes a series of violent wars between provinces. Many separate choeroed kingdoms initially dominated Choeroea, each ruling over a particular area. War would occasionally erupt, primarily over territorial disputes, but in general, the kingdoms ignored each other. Then, for a reason lost to history, an immense dispute arose between one of the northern provinces and one of the southern provinces. A massive war, larger and bloodier than any other war ever fought on Choeroea, erupted, pulling many other provinces into it. The northern provinces (Charyb) allied against the southern provinces (Seiko), with only the neutral isthmus province of Cheth in between them. Soldiers drafted into these conflicts, retrospectively dubbed The Hemisphere Wars, would often defect in the middle of war torn Cheth, which had to be traveled through by both armies. These defectors would band together and try to eek out a living in an increasingly hostile land. Thousands and thousands of choeroeds defected and joined these rebels, until eventually they gained so much strength that they blockaded the isthmus, preventing land forces from crossing. After much negotiation, the defectors in Cheth managed to force a peace treaty between the northern and eastern continents and establish a planetary government in their newly formed city, Chethaltha. Immediately upon gaining control, the Chethalthian government stripped the other provinces of their militaries and united all of the industries under one banner. Many of the wartime provinces, however, continued as guilds, including Chelnaga and Scyll. Artisans from both continents flocked to Chethaltha, quickly making it not only the biggest city on the planet but also the most beautiful, standing atop the mighty Chethaltha Peak, its glittering spires representing the unity and peace the choeroeds now enjoyed.
For many years, Chethaltha was the largest city on Choeroea but, unfortunately, its proximity next to the most violent portions of the Scaman Ocean limited its maximum size. At this point the city only covered the top half of the cliff, as buildings placed any lower would be washed away and destroyed by intense storms. Eventually, however, the twasseccs discovered and allied with the choeroeds, immediately afterwards arriving in large numbers to colonize the planet themselves. Thousands of twasseccs moved into Chethaltha, bringing with them amazing technologies far beyond those of normal choeroed scope. Using some of these new concepts, the twasseccs helped build Chethalta's famous Wavebreakers, gigantic laser batteries that would mitigate storm damage. With their completion, Chethaltha was suddenly much safer from the weather that so limited it. Its population quickly boomed as it grew to cover the entire peak, though sturdy twassecc buildings dominated the lower portions for aesthetic and practical reasons.
Chethaltha is built upon Chethaltha Peak, an ocean cliff of about 7000 feet in height, rising up to a mesa like apex. The capital spires and many other important and ancient buildings grace the very top of the cliff, while the rest of the city spills out for miles in every direction, covering the gentle slope behind the cliff as well as some of the flat beachside areas to either side of it. Five enormous roads run from the plaza atop the peak all the way down to the base of the cliff, spaced at even intervals. Five more parallel roads were spaced between each of the six major sections, essentially dividing Chethaltha into 36 equal portions. These 36 streets are dubbed the 1st-36th radial if counted in a counterclockwise fashion from above. Of course, the choeroeds affix them with much more colorful names, though even they use the twassecc naming system to help navigate through the enormous city.When not being battered by enormous storms, Chethaltha dominates miles and miles of idyllic beaches. Most choeroed families will spend several afternoons every week on one of the many beaches, where they will swim, surf, and fish for hours with glee. These beaches also cater to a reasonable flow of tourism, as they are often boasted the most beautiful shoreline regions in the galaxy.