The following article was written by Michaela Koh as an entry to the Alien August competition.
The Claegulfo come from the planet Achernar Delta, known by the natives as Cheb. They are a technologically advanced species who possess the technology required for interstellar travel.
The Claegulfo are amphibian-like creatures that resemble what you might get if you crossed a salamander and a human, but they have six arms, two legs, and a short, thin tail. They are slightly bigger than an average human adult. Their eyesight is at the level of a human’s, and they have two eyes. They have wide mouths and long ears and noses. They also have spines on their faces, although these are not sharp. Their hearing is usually excellent.
Their skin is coarse, thick and surprisingly strong, and is covered with a transparent secretion. They are usually black and either orange or dark yellow, or both. On rare occasions, however, a Claegulfo will turn up with no black pigment whatsoever. These Claegulfo are considered extra-special, for they are said to be their religion’s equivalent of angels. Males have more vibrant oranges and yellows than females.
The Claegulfo are carnivores by nature. There are vast farms on Cheb for the major food animals, and every major city has many butcher shops. Meat is cooked in any of a variety of ways, like on Earth. They eat only one meal a day, and it is a large meal by human standards. When a Claegulfo eats, its food goes into a very large stomach which, if the Claegulfo is an adult male, can hold seven pounds of meat at one time. (The stomach of an adult female can hold six pounds.)
The Claegulfo have two genders, male and female. Males are usually bulkier than females, and they have a tentacle-like reproductive organ that is located where the human reproductive organs would be. After mating, the female lays up to seven eggs. In former times, these were laid in ponds by the houses. Today, the Claegulfo manufacture special egg pools connected to something resembling a computer monitor, so the parents will know when they hatch. It is the father’s responsibility to keep track of the eggs and to make sure temperature conditions are favorable. He also protects the eggs from harm. However, when they hatch, both parents take care of the young, just as humans do, except there is no milk-like substance to feed them. Upon hatching, the young climb out of the egg pool after only one Earth minute.
The entire planet of Cheb is a hendecarchy, and eleven females rule the Claegulfo. These eleven are equal partners, and they are elected by popular vote. If one dies, there is a special election for her successor. Although by law the eleven leaders can be either gender, there has never been a male candidate for the hendecarchy. The reason for this is that females tend to be more self-reliant than males.
At about the age of 2, a young Claegulfo will start school. All that is taught in the introductory level (that’s kindergarten to Earthlings) is imaginative play, music, art, and dance. Reading, writing, and math start in the first grade. Elementary school lasts from introductory level to fifth grade. Middle school is sixth through ninth grade. At the end of ninth grade, a Claegulfo must decide what sort of high school he or she wants to attend. One kind of high school will prepare them to be employed right after graduation, at the end of thirteenth grade. Another kind of high school will prepare them to attend a three-year college. A third, which requires an SAT-like test just to enter, will prepare them for the five-year universities. The three-year colleges are often attended by those who want to be bankers, accountants, sales representatives for technical products (including computer software, money machines – the Claegulfo equivalent of ATM’s – and other such), teachers at the introductory level (the most common occupation for male Claegulfo), and law enforcement officers. Also, the current hendecarchy has unanimously voted that anyone who works in a factory that makes time machines – even if it’s just assembly line work – must have at least a three-year college pass (degree). Several such factories exist on Cheb.
The Claegulfo believe in a single goddess named Tisasis, who is known as the Goddess of Life. She is said to have laid the egg out of which the planet of Cheb hatched. Tisasis is usually portrayed as having orange and yellow skin with no black pigment whatsoever, and the Claegulfo believe that she does not “play dice.” Her priestesses (and they must be priestesses, not priests) are required to marry and at least attempt to lay fertilized eggs. If one is found to be infertile, she is permitted to remain a priestess, but she may not become a Tunara (which means bishop in their language). There are a total of eighty Tunara, each of whom ordains all the priestesses in her domain. When a Tunara dies, the other seventy-nine meet to choose, from the priestesses in the deceased Tunara’s region, her successor.
The Claegulfo believe that when they die, the virtuous (and any Tunara) go to the Empyrean Heaven. Here they are welcomed with a big party and given eternal youth and vitality. If female, they are presented with land (eternally green), unlimited food animals, and farmhands to take care of them, as well as a big house. If male, they get to live in their female loved one’s house. By living a good life, it is possible to earn your way into the Empyrean Heaven. However, anyone who commits one of the thirty-six main sins, such as murder or telling a lie that led to murder, stealing a large amount, or even being a quack doctor, must go to Pusix (which means punishment in their language). Pusix is divided into twelve separate punishment grounds, with three of the thirty-six main sins in each of them. The punishments given in any given punishment ground are the same for all sent there, but they vary between punishment grounds.
Recreation is very important to the Claegulfo. Most females and many males in second grade or over participate in some form of competitive sport or game. The most popular sport among females is a sport known by a name that means “stick and ball.” This game is similar to a cross between baseball and lacrosse. The sticks and balls for this sport are manufactured in six large factories, each of which is on a different one of the six continents on Cheb. Stick and ball tournaments with enormous purses are held all over Cheb every year. The same thing is true of the intellectual game known as Creathize, which is popular among both genders. In Creathize, there are twelve different types of pieces, each with its own rules of movement (but unlike Earth’s chess, the object is to capture all the enemy pieces).
Written by Michaela Koh.