Kek'Tar and the Flispians
Flispians are warm-bodied mammals of great strength and intelligence.
Flispians range from 2-3 meters tall and weigh 600-1000 pounds, with females generally being larger. They balance themselves on two heavy legs, standing on their single, hoofed toe. Their torsos are wide and muscular, bearing four long, powerful arms. Each hand is heavily built with two fingers and an opposable thumb. Flispian necks and shoulders are hunchbacked and packed with muscle. Their thick, knobby heads have two narrow eyes on each side and a powerful black beak. Their ears are long and hang down from either side of their head. Flispians also have long, whip-like tails that are lifted slightly off of the ground while moving.
Flispian skin is dark and leathery and grows thicker with age. The oldest flispians will have such an excess of skin that it will fold, lending them a very fat appearance. Flispians are nearly hairless, except for sensory hairs on the feet and back.
Flispian brains are particularly tiny, but are enormously effective. They operate at a temperature of about three hundred degrees Fahrenheit, converting thermal energy into chemical energy at an amazingly rapid rate. A thick layer of insulating lipid membrane encases the brain, helping to protect it against thermal shock, which is particularly deadly to flispians. Outside of that, it is incased in a brutally thick, knobby skull, effectively protecting it from even very powerful physical blows. Three different brain stems extrude from the back of the braincase. Two are fully functioning spinal cords that branch out into the body, while the central brainstem is covered in a thick layer of flexible cartilage and runs, unbranching, all the way down to the tip of the flispian's long tail. Within this central stem is a highly conductive material that funnels available heat to the brain, ensuring that it always works at full capacity.
As aforementioned, flispians have two working spinal cords. Each of these is surrounded in its own column of vertebrae and can operate the entire flispian's body. In normal circumstances, each cord takes command over just half of the body at once, helping to decrease the flispian's response time. However, if one of the spinal cords is damaged, the other can either partially or fully take over the duties of the entire nervous system, albeit at a slower rate. The high temperature that flispian nerves operate at, combined with the dual spinal cords, gives healthy flispians rather excellent reflexes. Unfortunately, their bodies are heavy and thus, while their reaction time is swift, they cannot move at great speed. Their fast reflexes serve them well as pilots, however, where large movements are not necessary.
Flispians derive most of their energy from ambient temperatures, so, in some situations, breathing is not necessary. A sleeping flispian, for instance, can go without breathing indefinitely as long as he's kept at a steady high temperature. However, deriving energy from the surroundings is often slow and entirely inadequate for sudden energy requirements. Thus, flispians have a single lung which is little more than a convoluted portion of the tracheal wall that can provide the flispian's body with oxygen for use as supplementary energy. Breathing rate is generally quite slow, but increases as energy requirements increase. Flispian lungs are useful in other ways, however. Due to their bizarre physiology, flispians require certain minerals in comparatively large quantities and sometimes are incapable of getting them through eating. Thus, the lungs will also capture materials in the air for use in the flispian's body.
Because of the odd manner in which flispians get their energy, their digestive system, too, is merely supplementary. As long as the flispian keeps his body at a healthy 200 degrees Fahrenheit, most energy requirements are satisfied. However, for prolonged movement, especially sudden movement, additional energy reserves are necessary. Thus, flispians have a long, multi-chambered intestine where food is digested and drained of its nutrients for use in more commonplace energy production. Understandably, flispians generally eat far less than creatures of their size normally do, but when ambient temperatures fall, their food requirements skyrocket to keep the body warm enough to function. Flispians primarily use their digestive systems, however, to maintain adequate levels of certain minerals. They spend a great deal of their time scraping minerals off of igneous rocks with their sharp radulas.
Flispians have a bizarre circulatory system, again coupled with their unorthodox means of energy allocation. A convoluted, fatty membrane fills most of their body cavity, enveloping and cushioning all internal organs, the brain, and the spinal cords. This membrane not only acts as an insulator to protect against thermal shock, but also serves as a large central chamber from which to distribute materials. A nutrient-rich liquid fills the inside of the membrane, which expands and contracts with the level of fluid within it in order to maintain an even pressure. Nutrients will automatically diffuse from the intestine and lungs into the membrane and from the membrane into surrounding body tissues. Special drill cells of large size help to distribute needed materials into distant regions or against diffusion gradients. These ciliated cells actively collect necessary substances and exit the central membrane, working their way through the flispian's body to the required area. Their amorphous structure and the release of a hormone that forces nearby cells to contract allow the drill cells to slowly work their way to their target area, which is usually one of several smaller membranes that cater specifically to a specific region of musculature.
Flispians are highly resistant to the majority of known bacterial and viral maladies, simply because of their high body temperature. The diseases that affect their allies and enemies simply aren't capable of surviving within flispians. Also, the few common bacteria that can function at a flispian's high temperature can rarely effectively damage the flispian due to its lack of orthodox blood. Despite these advantages, bacteria originating on Flisp are capable of killing flispians (but again, due to the temperature difference, are incapable of affecting other species). The most notable flispian disease is CMR (central membrane rot), in which the central membrane starts to deteriorate, leaking fluids into other parts of the body and often resulting in temperature-related illnesses. Most of a flispian's active immune system is in the form of aggressive phagocytic cells that reside within the soup of the central membrane.
Flispian senses are not known for any particular greatness. Their vision is their best sense, by far. With two eyes on each side of their head, flispians have an enormous visual range while maintaining stereoscopic vision. However, they have a slight blind spot directly in front of their beak which often limits their capacity for physical combat. Flispian ears are large and fairly acute. Flispians have a very limited sense of feeling, because their exteriors are sometimes exposed to extreme temperatures at which nervous endings cannot survive. Their primary means of feeling are their whisker like sensory hairs on their feet, which can gauge temperature and soil content of the ground beneath them.
Flispians have a series of glands nestled amongst their skin folds all over their bodies. These glands can, at will, release a flammable sweat-like secretion that, with a great enough spark, will burst into flame until it is consumed. This slick, oily substance allows for the amazing fiery demonstrations that the flispians use in their mating rituals. However, the glands only carry so much of this fuel and take several days to regenerate it. The flammable sweat can be produced at will by the flispian, but will also automatically secrete when the flispian's temperature gets too low, providing a possible means to increase it.
Flispians require an ambient temperature of about 200 degrees Fahrenheit to live comfortably. Various body functions like heat-producing metabolic reactions and sweat secretion serve to increase heat when body temperature starts to drop. With an increase in respiration and digestion rate, a flispian can last for some time with a body temperature of as low as 180 degrees. Below that, however, the flispian's energy starts to drop as available heat is funneled away from the muscles to ensure that the brain and internal organs continue to operate. If temperature continues to drop, the flispian will enter a comatose state as the brain slows body temperature. Any further and the flispian will experience massive organ failure and death.
Flispians are, inherently, very intelligent. Though not as mathematically capable as ees or twasseccs, they possess amazing ingenuity and creativity, as well as the ability to rapidly find solutions to new problems. Flispians are generally contemplative and cautious and place a great deal of emphasis in the beauty of the world. They respect nature, despite the fact that their planet bears very little macroscopic life. They also revere excellence in art and construction, spending great lengths of time inventing and perfecting machines.
Though generally flispians do not eat much more than choice minerals off of certain rocks, their food diet includes what few hunted animals are available as well as the various hardy lava-born plants native to their planet. They often enjoy foreign food a great deal, consuming many tons of imported fish, fruit, and meat every year. However, they view these foods as merely a luxury item.
Flispians are violently loyal to their families, yet they generally feel uncomfortable around crowds. Thus, flispians tend to live in extended family groups of less than 50 individuals.
Flispians are a harem species, with each female having a group of five to ten mates. Every three twassecc years, the flispian mating season begins and the females become reproductively receptive. Hormones released by the females will essentially activate available males, which will each mate with the female and all work together protecting her during her short pregnancy. During gestation, the female will eat a tremendous deal of food and prefer even hotter temperatures than normal to compensate for a massive increase in energy requirements. After a few weeks, she will give birth to one offspring per mate. The males instinctively know which of the litter belongs to them and will take their new children and be in charge of instructing, caring for, and protecting them. Males with children will become sterile as long as they continue to care for their young, only becoming receptive again once their young have matured. The female will take an active role in caring for her mates and offspring, often acting as a repository of knowledge for the entire family. For obvious reasons, only one in five flispians is female. Twins from a single mate are rare, though they are born occasionally. Female twins are considered a monumental occurrence, and always are considered the signal of a powerful and honorable father.
Male flispian calves are named on the whim of their fathers, while females receive their names from their mothers. Flispians always have two names, which are spelled as a single word with an apostrophe separating their 'first' and 'last' names. Flispian names generally intend to reflect some nature of the individual's character, and thus are sometimes not granted for some time, giving the applicable parent enough time to learn about the calf's behaviors.
Flispians are an inherently pessimistic species, which stems from their peculiar religion. In the flispian tongue, Flisp essentially means "the deepest hell". Nearly all flispians believe that their life is really a sort of preliminary exam. They believe that if they manage to survive their exceedingly painful existences while still remaining honorable, they will, upon death, enter their equivalent of heaven. If, however, they die without honor, they will be reincarnated on Flisp to live again. As flispians seem to intensely dislike their homeplanet, yet are incapable of living anywhere else without the aid of machines, this religion gives them great motivation to act in a manner that they believe is morally right so that they don't have to return to their hell. (The fact that the ure force them into war is deeply depressing to many flispians, who generally do not believe in war for the wrong causes). Despite their belief that they are already in hell, flispians consider despair to be dishonorable, and thus try to make the best of their lives.
Flispians generally live in herds, matriarchal family groups. A flispian herd will consist of a matriarch, the oldest and most successful of the females, along with all of her offspring and their mates. Generally, younger females will spend most or all of their lives under the protection of a more experienced matriarch, as only a select few get to rise to that honor. However, flispian females jealously guard their own mates, and thus they often further divide the herd, each female leading her mates and offspring. Young males will traditionally move to housing in one of the many flispian cities not controlled by a particular herd until they find a mate of their own. Females will never leave their herd unless it is either necessary to start a new one or the previous matriarch dies. Each herd generally resides within a small palace and the lands surrounding it.
Flispians have no centralized government. Instead, each herd of flispian rests under matriarchal control, where the oldest, wisest female gets to define the rules and appropriate punishments for that particular herd. Stricter and more controlling jurisdiction is not necessary, as flispians almost unfailingly act with morality. Flispian matriarchs sometimes need to meet to settle disputes between herds, but in most cases the younger of the two will defer.
Flispians are an artistic race, though not in the traditional sense. They believe that machines bear a certain kind of art that transcends mere function. Thus, flispians find a well constructed and aesthetically pleasing spacecraft to be the pinnacle of artistic sense.
Flispians are probably the least willing participants in the twassecc conflicts of any race. Their non-violent nature conflicts with all of their allies. They bear great chagrin to the treacherous ure who have forced them into the war against their will. They do not understand the thelsic love of battle, the vimp love of slaughter, or the snodeck love of money. Even their closest neighbors, the greadeans, offer them no camaraderie, being as mindless as any beast. Their closest friends, in fact, are technically labeled their enemies. Flispians and choeroeds have formed a friendship since their introduction, what with their similar likes and dislikes. Both races refuse the admonitions of their allies to cut off communication with the other, and each blatantly refuses to fight one another.
Flisp II lies within the system of the same name along with several other planets, most notable among them Greadea (Flisp IV). Flisp's day and year are both comparatively short. Flisp has no natural satellites.
Flisp is a very geologically active planet with only a partially cooled crust. Several large continents jostle and float atop the molten soup that makes up the bulk of the planet. These tectonic plates move particularly quickly, leaving great rifts of lava in their wake and creating massive earthquakes and volcanic activity where they grind together. Land is constantly being rearranged on Flisp as new sheets of lava cool and old rock is pulled back into the planet to melt, so Flispian cities and establishments often float above the ground, using the planet's ambient heat to power gravitic drives. What dry land surface there is on Flisp is mountainous and hostile, often covered in vents and acidic pools. Flisp's surface temperature ranges from about 150 degrees Fahrenheit (atop the tallest mountains) to upwards of 2000 degrees on the lava shores.
Weather on Flisp is notoriously bad, as well. Dark clouds encircle the entire planet almost unceasingly, while frequent thunderstorms rain sulfur and ash down on the surface. Pyroclastic explosions keep the atmosphere dense and smoky, and the dark blanket of clouds captures enough heat to complement the planet's already blazingly hot exterior.
Flisp bears a permanent population of about 2 billion flispians. No other species is known to take up extended residence on the planet, due to the intense discomfort and death that normally results from doing so.
Flisp does very little in the sense of voluntary trade, but they do sell millions of tons of advanced spacecraft to their allies and import a fairly large quantity of exotic foods.