The following article was written by Johnson Borrero as an entry to the Alien August competition.
Name: Kwo (Lhoergei, Dzurrutk’, English)
Hellhound (slang, pejorative)
Taxonomic Tree: Hwauroenic
Height: 1m from head to shoulder, 2m from front footpad to top of head, excluding ears.
Length: 2m, excluding tail which can be up to an additional 1m.
Note: Spivak pronouns (e/em/eir/eirs/emself) are used for the kwo as they are not, strictly speaking, male or female.
Four-legged, covered with brown or tawny spotted or striped fur all over the body except for the forelegs, the feet, part of the scaly tail, the central arm, and the head and neck. The forelegs are folded when walking, and unfolded when the kwo is sitting or standing and wishes to use the two-clawed paws for manipulation and catching prey. A central arm between the two front legs has a hand with four equally-spaced claws for manipulation and catching prey. The neck and skull-like, long-eared head are covered with wrinkled, blue-gray skin, with yellow eyes.
The kwo are pack-hunting obligate carnivores that evolved in the grasslands of the planet Hwauroen, hunting when they needed to, scavenging otherwise—hence the bare heads and necks.
The kwo, like many Hwauroenic vertebrate-analogues, are hermaphrodites. Kwo start mating by fighting each other, the loser of the fight being the one who gets pregnant. In practice, some kwo pairs alternate, with the previous winner letting eir mate win, while others always take the same role. This is a variation based on personal preference and cultural custom. When the kwo gives birth, e feeds the young a mixture of nutritive secretions from the throat and pre-digested food.
They have poor color vision.
Hunting eventually led to domestication of meat animals, and farming led to civilization, industrialization, and space travel.
While no history of any civilization-bearing species can be said to be nonviolent, the history of the kwo may be said to be especially marked by conflict, in large measure due to the demands on natural resources made by an exclusively carnivorous diet. A unit of land that could support a certain number of omnivores like humans or uwan, or fruit/insect-eaters like goesi would support far fewer kwo. This history of conflict eventually reached its end, with one coalition of related kwo nations wiping out the others and renaming itself “The Ilgra Hegemony”. The Hegemony colonized their home solar system, building enclosed habitats until they invented faster-than-light travel. They were the only spacefarers in their region, with the only sapient species in their vicinity being the non-spacefaring goesi of the planet Shuath, which became their first habitable colony world. This stretch of relative calm would not continue, as they would come into contact with the Seventh Empire of the uwan in the Chrysadamantine Band, a region of space whose worlds were high in hard-to-produce and extremely useful artificial elements left behind by previous civilizations. Uwan took kwo worlds, and kwo took uwan worlds, leading to enclaves of each in the regions of the other. This would be the beginning of a proverbial rivalry between the uwan and the kwo, one that would only truly begin to end with the rise of the Inbis an infectious fungus-like parasitic life-form that threatened kwo and uwan alike.
As a result of one kwo cultural grouping having eliminated all of the others, kwo culture is relatively uniform, but even that has changed with time. The kwo speak a number of dialects of the Lhoergei language, only some of which are mutually intelligible.
The kwo religion is Dho-Jaoran, founded by a warrior-philosopher named Jaoran, which teaches that the cosmos is the work (loosely put) of the Haurang-Ahlai, The Great Cosmic Need, an impersonal force that makes everything go. The Haurang-Ahlai cannot be prayed to. The Dho-Jaoranist’s goal is to align eirself with the Haurang-Ahlai. To aid in this, they can contemplate legendary and historical figures called Holy Exemplars, which are the rough equivalent of saints. Each Holy Exemplar is held to be an embodiment of a given aspect of the Haurang-Ahlai. Through contemplation, which includes the study of writings and stories about the Exemplars as well as the practice of rituals, an individual can focus oneself on the Holy Exemplar, and through that figure, onto the aspect of the Haurang-Ahlai necessary at a given time. Ultimately the Dho-Jaoranists are said to strive to manifest the full blooming of the Haurang-Ahlai, which includes the propagation of Dho-Jaoran.
Interaction With Humans
The kwo are a minority aboard the Auzulith Radiant, so relatively few interact with humans. The few that do tend to be squabbit-farmers, meat-sellers, squid-rat hunters, or Dho-Jaoran missionaries.
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.