The following article was written by Eric Southard as an entry to the Alien August competition.
The Surds are an intelligent species discovered by humans who had unknowingly colonized the same planet as they. They range in many sizes (with the largest as big as a city bus) and colors such as black, khaki, speckled, and light green.
They have 8, dome shaped, lidless, eyes (2 in front, 2 on each flank, and 2 on the rear) which are capable of perceiving a wider spectrum of colors, 6 legs, a double brained nervous system, and a large, wing-like fan on both of their arms that can change color and texture.
As the Surds are deaf and mute, using their fans to communicate with sign language, the true name of their people is unknown. The name “Surd” is a slang term for “Surdum Videntem” the scientific name given by humans meaning “deaf seer”.
The Surds come from a planet with constant windstorms so severe normal hearing is almost useless. This along with the few predators that possessed some kind of hearing led them to evolve their current sign language, although vestigial inner ears and vocal chords are still present.
The females lay clutches of 5-7 eggs; the first one to hatch is called the “bull” regardless of its gender and is showered with food and affection to encourage growth. Once large enough, the bull will guard its unhatched siblings while the parents hunt/forage for food. Because of this, bulls have historically been given higher social status and privilege although this has changed through social activism. The bulls also have limited use of their vestigial vocal chords which come with calcified growths which they use to make threatening noises not unlike a rattlesnake tail. Upon puberty, the chords atrophy and the growths are coughed out. The purpose of the growths eluded Surd scientists until first human contact.
The Surds developed a caste system based on size and birth order. For example, larger individuals specialized in physical labor and combat, smaller ones performed delicate tasks such as tool making, scholarship and trade, while the mid-size and first born held diplomatic and leadership roles.
Interaction with Humans
Human-Surd relations have been very touch and go. Most Surds view humans with contempt and suspicion mostly from the differences in communication. In Surd culture it’s considered rude, if not a threat, to open your mouth when not eating. This has caused them to derogatorily refer to humans as “chewers” because of the constant use of our mouths. Secondly they don’t understand the concepts of hearing or sound, so seeing a human reacting to an audible stimulus gives them an uncanny view of us. Lastly the only way the two peoples can communicate is with the simple sign language used by surd hatchlings that have yet to fully master their fans, however with its much limited vocabulary, this gives Surds the incorrect impression that humans are less intelligent even if they know better. Worst of all, numerous cases of sabotage and disappearances in both colonies has led to mutual feelings of hate and distrust. If not resolved soon, these sentiments could lead to conflict. This CANNOT be allowed to happen.
This article was written by Nathan Nichols as an entry to the Alien August competition 2015. Visit Eric’s Deviant Art page at ericthepilot.deviantart.com.