The following article was written by Christian Liberman as an entry to the Alien August competition.
Species: Appa’Corr (translated as the ‘beings from/of Corr’)
Homeworld: Corr (oceanic)
Size: 1.5m – 1.8m (average 1.65m) (when on land)
For the most part, technology on Corr is organic in nature, formed from coral laced with neural pathways. This gives the material a vaguely sentient disposition, able to move and grow seemingly at will, though every action it takes is predetermined. The Appa’Corr are able to link in with this network, enabling communication over long distances by simply putting some portion of their body in contact with an opening in the coral.
The cities of Corr are built into what are referred to as Coral Mounds, vast cone-shaped structures which cruise through the ocean along predetermined paths. The majority of the coral berg is hidden beneath the surface, the tip often coming very close to grazing the seabed. Atop the circular plane of coral which remains above the water – usually several kilometres in diameter – is the main cityscape, with towering spires of coral encrusted with gems and colourful minerals. These are contained in the centre of the plane. The outer edge is often filled with such things as spa-like pools and temples to the Creators.
Though they are a space-faring race, they do not have a vast armada of vessels. Those ships they do have are not heavily equipped with weaponry, what with the Appa’Corr being a generally peaceful race. They are however acutely supportive of other races fighting in The War, many Appa’Corr even volunteering to serve aboard ships of other races, as well as aboard The Mace – the hub of local government – working as technicians or envoys.
Appa’Corr bear resemblance to cephalopods in water and gastropods when out of water. Their rubbery, blue-grey skin is porous, capable of completely saturating with moisture, leaving their body practically amorphous when in water: a head with a cluster of contorting limbs with little to no structure below. When out of water, they are able to expel the water from their body and close their pores to avoid any moisture in the often humid air to be absorbed. Their body then takes on a more rigid, humanoid/creatoroid shape. Two arms and two legs in the form of flippers. Vaguely translucent abdomens and scalps. Bulbous heads with large black eyes. A trio of moist, fleshy valleys with ridges separating them, leading from halfway up the face, down and inwards along their neck, ending a short way down their chest. It is through these exposed valleys that they breathe, speak, and take in nutrition.
At a particular time of year, couples wishing to reproduce are given leave to venture down to the nearest spawning ground. There their bodies will coil up into a double-helix shape, and once the eggs are fertilised, they are deposited in and around the reefs on the seabed, up to around 50 per female.
Once hatched, the infants spend a year in the spawning ground, naively bobbing about, absorbing the nutrients they require from the water. The grounds are protected from predators by fully grown Appa’Corr guards. At this point they are little more than a head and two appendages. After a year, the deepest section of a Coral Mound will pass through the area. The infants latch on. If they do not, chances are they will die, either through starvation or from attack by predators (since the guards are relieved of duty once the Mound has passed).
They spend the next few years gradually ascending the interior of the mound. They burrow inside and occupy the caverns inside, with their vibrant lagoons and slimy shores. Their diet evolves from the microscopic to the macroscopic, to various crustaceans, molluscs, insect larvae which are cultivated by adults for the sole purpose of feeding the younglings. The extra nutrition spurs their growth. In the meantime, they are educated in the ways of their people and in the ways of other races. Particular attention is paid to the history and nature of the Creators.
By the time they arrive at the pinnacle of the mound, they are fully grown. Although it is rare, it can be at this point in their lives that they encounter their parents (Pat’Lassa or Mat’Lassa, ‘father/mother from/of the sea’). Most see procreation as a necessity, and care little for their resulting offspring. Some feel they have an attachment, and consequently a duty, to seek out their children and do right by them.
Many Appa’Corr worship the Creators. While it is not strictly a religion since belief is not required (the Creators are known to be real), they do have faith that the Creators are omnipotent and omniscient.
Spread across the world are sites of religious significance, marked by a ring of 6 statues, depicting the 6 allied Creators (they do not count the 7th enemy Creator). These can be found below the sea, or atop immobile mounds of coral. Many of these have become popular tourist spots; the magnificent idols of the Creators tended to by the Appa’Corr having become rather famous in the local sector of space.
There is however a lone site whose location is known only to a few. Varycel is the most holy of places on Corr. The statues deep below the waves are hewn from Kaos, one of the rarest naturally-occurring ores in the galaxy, and reflect back to the eyes of an observer all manner of colours from every minute sliver of the visual spectrum.
There are some Appa’Corr (referred to as Ret’Morgos, ‘servant of the Creators’) who devote themselves entirely to the Creators, joining the esoteric Varycel Order. They forsake the indulgences of life, taking an oath of celibacy for example. They must keep the location of the site secret. They dive down to Varycel via hidden chutes in the temples on their Coral Mounds when it floats across the ocean surface above. They are enclosed in a coral bathysphere which plummets down to the depths, splitting open from the pressure when the correct depth is reached.
Article by Christian Liberman. Check out Christian’s new blog at scifileftywriter.wordpress.com, where he discusses science fiction and its left-wing, liberal connotations.
Artwork by Alex Thümler.