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
Height: 1-1.5 m
Length: 0.5-1 m, excluding tail, which can be an additional m or more
Mass: 23-40 kg
“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.
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.
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.
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.