The following article was written by Ben Ladner as an entry to the Alien August competition.
Species Name: Khhu-Sh-Ck
The Khhu-Sh-Ck (meaning “people” in their language) are an advanced race of tall, thin humanoids. They have large, hairless heads, long arms and legs, and blue-grey skin. The eye of a Khhu-Sh-Ck possesses four types of photoreceptor cells (equivalent in function, but not form, to human cone cells). This allows Khhu-Sh-Ck to see more colors than humans can, and see into the infrared. Khhu-Sh-Ck can also hear and smell better than humans. The Khhu-Sh-Ck are omnivores by nature, though they typically eat more plants and fungus than meat. There is only one gender of Khhu-Sh-Ck, but mating between two individuals is required to produce children.
Their homeworld, Sl-Kt, is a warm, wet planet slightly smaller than earth. It orbits a G-type star slightly hotter than our sun. It has a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, with just enough methane to tint its sky slightly green. The planet’s five continents and numerous islands are almost completely covered in dense jungle. The plant life is very similar to that on Earth, green and using chlorophyll for photosynthesis. Unlike most Earth flora, the plants are interconnected to each other via shared root systems and branches. Many of the trees also exist in a symbiotic relationship with fungus-like creatures. The fungus grows throughout the tree, turning much of its bark and leaves a blue-grey color.
The Khhu-Sh-Ck are highly adapted as a tree-dwelling species. Their blue-grey skin blends in with the fungus-infused foliage of their natural habitat. They can also run and jump with more speed and agility than humans can, and microfiber gripper pads on their fingers and toes augment their climbing skills. They have the ability to change the color and texture of their skin at will, serving as a natural active camouflage. The downside is that wearing clothes, which modern Khhu-Sh-Ck do, ruins the effect. The skin of a Khhu-Sh-Ck reverts to blue-grey when it is not consciously using its camouflage. They use pulsating changes in skin color to communicate as well as a spoken language. The language consists of clicks, hisses, and hums and is impossible for humans to pronounce correctly due to differences in vocal structure between the two species.
For example, the syllable translated as ‘Khhu’ is best pronounced by humans by whispering “coo” at a low pitch while growling in the throat, but even that is an imperfect rendition of their language.
The Khhu-Sh-Ck began experimenting with space travel about 2800 years ago. Over the next 300 years, they explored and colonized their star system. By this time, their scientific capabilities were rapidly advancing, and they began equipping their ships with prototypical FTL drive.
The advancement in technology by the primitive Khhu-Sh-Ck was noticed by the more advanced species in the galaxy. The Skri’xil, an FTL-capable, insectoid species that controlled the area of space around Sl-Kt, saw the upstart Khhu-Sh-Ck as a threat to their dominion. They decided to launch an attack against the Khhu-Sh-Ck.
First contact for the Khhu-Sh-Ck was the unprovoked invasion of the Sl-Kt system by a fleet of more advanced Skri’xil warships. However, the Skri’xil underestimated their opponent, and sent only a small force to destroy the Khhu-Sh-Ck. Though more advanced, the Skri’xil fleet was outnumbered by the forces the Khhu-Sh-Ck gathered to defend their home. The Khhu-Sh-Ck destroyed all of the Skri’xil ships before they could destroy Sl-Kt, but at the cost of many of their ships, most of their space colonies, and over 20% of their population.
Realizing another attack was imminent, the Khhu-Sh-Ck prepared for total war. They scavenged working FTL drive and other advanced technology from the wrecked Skri’xil ships, and used it to build a fleet of powerful warships. The ensuing Khhu-Sh-Ck – Skri’xil War has raged for centuries and is still ongoing. Both species have advanced in technological and military prowess since the war started, but the Khhu-Sh-Ck have won most of the battles. They have pushed the Skri’xil back to the fringes of the Milky Way, and established themselves as one of the major powers in the galaxy. They now inhabit hundreds of worlds, most of which they took from the Skri’xil. Even after losing much of their territory, the Skri’xil refuse to surrender or negotiate, instead continuing their violent attacks.
The Khhu-Sh-Ck have not officially contacted Earth, because they have deemed humans too primitive to contact other species.
Khhu-Sh-Ck society is based largely on the concept of individual freedom. Khhu-Sh-Ck regard the freedom to make your own personal, monetary, and moral choices instead of having them dictated by others as an undeniable right. This moral foundation applies to the functions of their government, which they keep to a minimum to make sure the government does not make personal choices for the citizens. Within the bounds of the law, Khhu-Sh-Ck can do whatever they want, the only restriction being actions such as murder, theft, or slavery that directly harm another sentient being. With this freedom, Khhu-Sh-Ck are expected to be responsible enough to make good personal decisions and not blame others for their bad choices. This system has worked well and Khhu-Sh-Ck society is prosperous. They have ensured abundant food and energy supplies despite the war and eradicated almost every dangerous disease.
The Khhu-Sh-Ck government is a federal democracy. Each planet sends elected representatives, proportioned by population, to a unicameral legislature called the Assembly (the “Pl-T-Shl” in their language). They elect the Speaker for the Assembly, the head of state, once every 5 years in a direct election. Every Khhu-Sh-Ck over the age of seven is eligible to vote, though voting is not required at any age.
The prevalence of independence and individuality extends to how Khhu-Sh-Ck raise and educate their children. They are raised almost exclusively by their parents, as state-run childcare is nonexistent. Children are raised to be independent from a very young age and free ranging away from their parents for days or weeks at a time is encouraged. The Khhu-Sh-Ck do not have a widespread public school system, instead children are educated by their parents, as well as a combination of voluntary private school, self-paced online learning, and real-world experience. Khhu-Sh-Ck children are also expected to formulate and defend their own opinions about political and societal issues before reaching voting age at seven.
This article was written by Ben Ladner as an entry to the Alien August competition 2015.