Alien Profile: Goesi

The following article was written by Johnson Borrero as an entry to the Alien August competition.

Name: Goesi (Lhoergei,Dzurrutk’, English)
Gowywog/Gowwywog (Slang term)
Govezhiiradzeoh Paaemboraenjyoh (“People who Survived”, Lhoiironj—largest goesi language)

Taxonomic Tree: Shuathic

Origin: Shuath

Height: 1-1.5 m

Length: 0.5-1 m, excluding tail, which can be an additional m or more

Mass: 23-40 kg

Description

“Two-legged, long-tailed frog” is a common comparison. Short, round and pudgy body, with a pair of long, arm-like legs with two toes and a prehensile thumb. A hidden fourth digit in the middle of the foot has been modified into a retractable venomous claw. Breathing spiracles near the base of the legs are for breathing and speech. The soft skin — green, brown, and gray when relaxed — can change color and texture, with the metamorphic tissue of the main body able to shape itself to the goesi’s will, including into temporary tentacle-like limbs of relatively limited strength and dexterity.

Biology

The goesi evolved from tree-dwelling fruit, nut, and insect-analogue-eaters in the jungles of Shuath. They were weak, small, and soft, and their predators were many. However, their intelligence, their color-changing skins, shape-changing tissues, and ability to mimic many sounds allowed them to escape predation. They used their color and shape-changing abilities to camouflage themselves, or they used their shape-changing and vocal mimicry to exploit the predators’ instincts and behavior. For instance, a member of a goesi troop might distract a predator with a mating call, overwhelm their senses with loud directed sound, or rapid changes of color and pattern. As a last resort, the cornered goesi can extend its venomous central claw and deal a sharp kick.

Goesi have two sexes, male and female. Sex organs are located in the mouth, under the tongue. They are egg-layers, able to lay eggs from multiiple fathers. The females “spit up” eggs and keep them in nests of moss-like plants. However, mating is also used as a means of entertainment and defusing tensions between individual goesi as much, if not more than, reproduction.

History

Over time, the goesi learned to use their vocal mimicry to domesticate insect-analogues by mimicking their calls, essentially herding them. They also used this ability to domesticate much larger animals, mainly for labor and protection. However, the technological complexity of goesi civilizations were limited by having only their feet and simple tentacles extruded from their shape-changing tissues for manipulators. However, the presence of ruined pyramidal stone platforms in some regions of Shuath makes this traditional narrative uncertain. By the time the kwo colonized Shuath they found goesi inhabiting forest regions where the trees were interconnected by bridges of intertwined branches and roots, home to cultures that made up their technological simplicity with great cultural complexity and intuitive knowledge of ecology, pharmacology, and animal behavior.

According to legend, the kwo discovered the goesi were sapient when the kwo governor Ilrag-Ro received a table squabbit as a gift. Eir pet goesi squawked and shrieked and shouted “Do not eat,” flung itself at the squabbit and killed it with its venom-claws, saving the governor when tests later found the animal had been deliberately contaminated with a weaponized microbe from the kwo homeworld. As a result, the kwo accepted the goesi into their society, teaching them their language, science, and religion, which the goesi took to eagerly.

Culture

The goesi have multiple cultures, but their cultures have common characteristics. A distaste for ownership runs through their traditional cultures. Many cultures have myths to the effect that the spirits gave them good, peaceful lives until someone tried to possess something or someone, whether a tree, a stream, or another goesi. The most common variant involves a goesi creating a mountain out of rocks and declaring it to be his and his alone.

They value cleverness over brute force, and diplomacy over violence.This extends to their taste in mates, with small and clever goesi able to mimic and change shape fluently being the most attractive. Disputes are likely to be settled by group mating parties, or, if the individuals involved absolutely will not calm down, by competitive poetry or music, the former often being a rough equivalent to contemporary rap battles or the medieval practice of flyting. Which often ended in mating parties for the winner to celebrate and the loser to be consoled.

Given common goesi sexual attitudes, and the practice of the community sharing care of the children, paternity is not valued beyond its use in medical information. In pre-contact times, goesi believed in partible paternity, in which all males who have mated with a female prior to the laying of a clutch of eggs were considered to be the father of the entire clutch. Even now with kwo-introduced genetics technology making paternity clear, non-genetic fathers are held to contribute spiritual essences to the child. Even those who do not believe in the old traditions typically find the idea of having a single mate too close to ownership.

Goesi typically practice a blend of their old animistic beliefs with a variant of the kwo Dho-Jaoran religion. They see the Great Cosmic Need as an impersonal force as typical Dho-Jaoranists do, but consider the Holy Exemplars as literal spirits of dead kwo saints, a higher level of spiritual being rather than embodiments of abstract aspects of the Great Cosmic Need as in orthodox Dho-Jaoran. Traditional animistic spirits are seen as a lower, but closer level of spiritual being. Goesi populations living in uwan-majority regions – such as Earth – often combine this with the uwan Shaada’ut religion, placing the solar goddess Shaa and her pantheon above the Holy Exemplars, but below the Great Cosmic Need. Despite their deviations from orthodoxy, even orthodox Dho-Jaoranists consult goesi Dho-Jaoran oracles.

Interaction With Humans

Goesi interactions with humans are, on the whole, friendly. Their non-threatening appearance and preference for cooperation over conflict help to ensure this. They are intrigued by music and art and avidly consume it and integrate it into their own in unexpected ways. Their consummate vocal mimicry and metamorphic tissue make them excellent entertainers. However, there are stereotypes of goesi as weak or untrustworthy, due to misunderstandings of their cultural attitudes.


This article was written by Johnson Borrero as an entry to the Alien August competition 2015. Johnson is a regular participant in the competition, and you can read his previous entries here.

Check out Johnson Borrero’s alien illustrations at ji-borrero.deviantart.com.

  • I really like these guys. A conquered people with their own distinct cultural identity, and yet they absorb themselves easily into other cultures.
    Adding the Kwo religion was a nice trick, I like that religion.

    • J.I. Borrero

      They were inspired by the episode of Resolute Writer with Veronica Sicoe talking about creating aliens. In particular, the idea of creating aliens that didn’t value size or brute strength, but something else. It gave me the mental image of something squishy that climbs trees and “changes shape” like a mimic octopus.

      Since I was also writing an entry for the kwo, I figured I’d put them together. Serendipitiously, they fit together in terms of opposites, the violent conquerors and the peaceful cooperators.

      As for the religion–as applies to Goesi– I’m a sucker for syncretism, both in fiction and real life.

      • Kirov

        Your writing definitely brought to mind the mimic octopus for me. I went and watched a few videos of it after reading the article.

        • J.I. Borrero

          I’m very glad I was able to convey that! I’m indebted to the mimic octopus, and cephalopods in general for that, just exaggerating their shape-changing a bit to the point of growing temporary pseudopod-like appendages. Even the bit about using their abilities to confuse predators was inspired by cuttlefish hypnotizing their prey (check it out on YouTube!), combined with the phenomenon of sensory overload.

  • You did a great job describing their dislike of the concept of ownership, and how that has influenced their personal relationships (or vice versa).

  • Paulo R. Mendes

    Honestly, the Geosi and the Kwo are awesome and both completely humiliated my Dishathi – but that is good, because now I know that I have to work harder so that one day my work is as good as yours, Mr. Borrero.

  • Here a sketch…in case you want an image to go with that text

    • Kirov

      I had assumed that that was a Geosi in the picture of the Kwo.

      • you are right I didn’t check the Kwo

      • J.I. Borrero

        Oh, actually it isn’t. It’s a table-squabbit, a variety of squid-rat (my creature entry from last year), either eir pet or lunch. One idea I have in my head is that of kwo deliberately eating their pets to remind themselves of the capriciousness of the cosmos or something. An edible memento mori.

        However, the goesi are similarly shortchanged in the appendage department.

    • J.I. Borrero

      I love the sketch, though it doesn’t quite fit. I’ll blame my writing. They’re more of a round, kind of frog-like body with two legs, no arms. Actually they could kind of look like they only have arms that are used as legs.

      I described them to my SO, who said “They’re Q*bert,” which, in terms of general shape, is relatively accurate. That is, round body with two legs. I’ll try to include a drawing in the near future, as I hadn’t had the time to draw it.

      • Which one …Q*Bert that is? The Star Trek Q Bert or the Atari one?

        • J.I. Borrero

          Atari. 😀

      • Could not resist…

      • I searched around for an appropriate image, but I couldn’t find one with only two limbs. Damn our bipedal bias.

    • J.I. Borrero

      After a lot of thrown-away almost-sketches and even more being busy with the rest of life, I managed to draw a goesi, with a temporary limb formed on one side.

  • “Sex organs are located in the mouth, under the tongue.” wow, and people thought MY entry was weird lol nice work 🙂

    • J.I. Borrero

      Thanks! Hey, as humans, we’ve got our bits crowded up at the other end, next to two waste-processing plants! That’s pretty weird.

      • Fair enough, it does give new meaning to the term oral sex though lol

        • J.I. Borrero

          Yes, it does! Actually, it makes it redundant for the goesi! It’d be like “oral eating” for us, what else do we eat with (assuming we aren’t taking in nutrients through an IV drip or something, I mean)