First encountered by our industrious protagonists on their very first ground assignment in the war against the Yel, the Kyaar were a faceless horde of killer aliens in the initial drafts of the story. During my initial creation of the world I had pledged myself to follow a hard stance on alien design & plausibility – that means, I didn’t intend on a different species evolving on a world with a comparable atmosphere to Earth, planning to keep Darnika and Earth the only worlds capable of human habitation (without much aid, that is).
However, as the facets and details of the greater story started to emerge from my ideas and notes, I began to ponder whether the commando action of the Blue Lions didn’t present a golden opportunity. Most of the engagements I planned up until that point were primarily space battles, and while boarding actions may be viable, I found that the ground encounter there, especially with the evacuation at the end, presented the perfect place for an alien being to enter the picture. And not just any alien being – an intelligent alien being, which on top of that was neither a Kessari nor a Yel [even though aligned with the Yel bloc]. This allowed me to introduce me the viewpoint of the opposing side. And this gives me quite a bit of opportunities for future development, believe me that 😉 I didn’t forget about the Commando. He just faded in the background when more pressing concerns arose…
In the Universe
Kyaar are bipedal omnivores stemming from the planet Enyion orbiting the star 259-Capricorni. Descended from carnivorous pack hunters, they’ve developed space flight in around 1.500 CE and were soon found by the Yel, quickly being incorporated into the bloc. On the first glance they resemble various bipedal dinosaurs to varying degrees, but beyond the general build, they have little in common with their lookalikes from Earth.
The average adult Kyaar is about 3,5 meters in length from snout to tail, with a shoulder height of around 1,75m. It features a long, slender neck. Though Kyaar prefer to lay rather low – and thus keeps their head and tail level, rarely exceeding its shoulder height, if on the lookout or trying to intimidate the head can be raised to up to 2.4, in rare cases 2.6m above ground level.
Kyaar possess four arms at the base of the neck – two longer primary arms used for heavy lifting, two shorter ones above them mainly used when fine motor skills are called for. Both pairs end in three-fingered hands with opposable thumbs tipped with short talons.
Their skin colour is typically a rusty red to a dark brown, though shows in few places (mainly the feet and hands, the rest of the body being covered in short tan feathers). Longer feathers, clustered in tufts, are located on top of the head, along the spine of the neck and the shoulders at the base of the neck. Those specific feathers are part of Kyaar communication and can change colour at will as well as involuntarily depending on a specific Kyaars’ mood.
Kyaar possess four eyes – two sideways, two forward. The sideways eyes have less acuity than the front, but both pairs combined give a Kyaar a near 300° range of vision while stationary. Both pairs are relatively large, and have a somewhat broader range of reception than a human eye. The average Kyaar can see some of the near infrared spectrum as well as ultraviolet light. The large mouth in the elongated snout contains 76 teeth, 16 of which in the front serve as incisors and fangs, the rest being evenly distributed in the center of the mouth, serving as molars.
The rest of the head is occupied by a complex cavity system connected to a single air hole on the top front snout. This secondary airway aids in respiration, but its primary purpose is one of communication.
The brain of a Kyaar is not located in the head as one would suspect right away. It is instead located in the body, near the base of the neck, protected by an interlocking set of bones. To combat the problem of signal latency from the eyes and ears to the brain – the main reason why the main sensory organs in humans are located so close to the brain – the Kyaar have evolved a natural fiber-optic system which relays the signals from the head to the brain. This gives them quicker visual and auditory responses than other comparable species.
The location of the brain makes a Kyaar highly resilient to concussions and incapacitating blows, and a beheaded Kyaar may live indefinitely, if blind, mute and deaf. The ‘fiber-optic’ nerves between eyes and brain however make it susceptible to series of rapid flashes. Bright environments tend to be uncomfortable for a Kyaar as well.
Kyaar are crepuscular and nocturnal beings, preferring to stay dormant during the heat of day and only becoming active once the temperature drops in the evening and night – both to prevent heat collapse as well as to produce enough warmth during the cold nights.
Kyaar blood is based on Hemocyanin and as such has a pronounced blue tint.
Enyion is a large terrestrial world, the fifth from the K-class star 259 Capricorni, possessing a Nitrogen-Oxygen-Argon atmosphere. This is however where the similarities with Earth end. The planet is significantly more massive than Earth, and even with its increased radius the surface gravity still exceeds 1,3G. It is orbited by four small moons, the largest of which is barely over 600km in size.
Only 46% of the surface is covered in water, largely concentrated in one major ocean with several major mudflats at the edges. The ocean divides the planet in two major landmasses, whose interiors are largely arid to deserted. The majority of biological activity is located within the ocean or along the coasts and rivers, with the specific area waxing and waning with the seasonal monsoons caused by the warm oceans.
Global average temperatures are comparable to Earth, however due to the significantly lower amount of water and the extensive desert areas leading to a high albedo and a lack of capacity for retaining heat, the daytime variation is significantly more extreme than on Earth. Many areas face night-time temperatures near the freezing point only to jump to nearly 40°C shortly after midday of its 19 hour rotation period.
The plant life has adapted to these harsh conditions, and often features leathery bark to minimize water loss and significant water storage within plant tissue. Few plants exceed 3 meters in height, and the dominant plant is a grass-like growth that reaches 2 meters in height and forms large savannahs’ in coastal areas. Marine biodiversity is extremely high, however there are relatively few hardy land species left, survivors of extensive overhunting by the Kyaar in the past.
Visitors to Enyion are advised to not ingest any of the plant matter unprepared, as many of the plant species native to this planet produce natural compounds to prevent frost damage.
There are indications that Enyion was once a much more humid world, though it seems to have undergone some cataclysmic event in the geologic recent past that caused it to lose significant amounts of water to space.
Kyaar have developed both a verbal and a visual language. The verbal language is generated by blowing air through a set of hollow canals in their skulls, which results in a series of whistles, clicks and full blown ‘songs’, some of which goes beyond the human hearing range, and is used to communicate complex ideas.
Almost as important is their body language, especially in connection with their colour-changing feathers. These colours indicate the general mood a Kyaar is in, and although it can be faked to a degree, a Kyaar taken by surprise will more often than not communicate this surprise by a change of colour – much like a human, for instance, would involuntarily blush.
Kyaar soldiers usually pluck out their communication feathers. Though the meaning is lost on humans, to another Kyaar a soldier approaching without any sort of body language – due to the lack of feathers – is inherently terrifying, especially given how much reliance an individual Kyaar has on body language. The idea of “taking someones’ word for it” is scary if one is used to seeing the mood the other side is in – and suddenly being confronted by a being that doesn’t give a hint to what its intentions are.
A group of Kyaar is appropriately called a ‘chorus’.
Kyaar hatch from eggs, laid by matriarchs in large clutches of up to 50. The nests are located outside the permanent settlements and only nominally guarded by one or two adults. Kyaar young are immediately independent after hatching and form small swarms for protection. Kyaar hatch exclusively male. Mortality is high within the first six years, with as many as 85% of hatched Kyaar not surviving the harsh early years. Injury and predation are the prime causes of death, closely followed by starvation and cannibalism.
Kyaar grow relatively slowly until they reach the age of six. Until that point they are largely creatures of instinct, surviving at all costs. Once the first growth spurt sets in, the swarms of Kyaar split up in smaller groups of three to four individuals. Language and social interaction starts to emerge here, and an adult supervises two to three such bands to ensure proper language development. This phase sees a massive growth spurt – the average Kyaar grows from around 50 centimetres in length with a camouflage feather pattern to the more familiar tan one with communication feathers and a size of 1.8 to 2 meters in length by age 9.
At age 9, sometimes slightly earlier, Kyaar become solitary, and they remove themselves from their band of the past three years. Another growth spurt sets in, as well as rapid neurological change as the adolescent Kyaar enters a phase of rapid learning. Kyaar of that age are paired off with experienced adults – one primary caretaker whose profession it would learn, and several supplementary ones for an all-round education. It is a phase that lasts until 12 or 13 years of age, and in these few years a Kyaar would learn about as much as a human typically would from elementary school to a post-secondary education.
Biologically a Kyaar stops growing at sixteen, and is considered an adult by then. The speed of learning drastically lowers by then, and most stay in their assigned profession from then on, even though changes later in life are not unheard of.
Modern Kyaar would spend the next thirty or forty years in their given professions before their final transformation sets in: The matriarchal stage.
The exact onset of this transformation varies, and is determined by the amount of females in a given area. During this time Kyaar grow once more, increasing in size in general until they have around 30% more body mass and a 15% higher length than the average male. The cavities in the head grow more intricate and allow for a greater range of tones.
Matriarchs don’t require males to reproduce, but it is preferred. Unfertilized eggs will hatch only a genetic clone of the mother.
Kyaar society is highly familial. On the largest scales, Kyaar are divided into Swarms, an organizational unit that usually encompasses tens of thousands of individuals. Smaller swarms may be as few as six thousand Kyaar.
The Kyaar within the Swarm are not necessarily related by blood, but by birth location (as ‘foreign’ matriarchs regularly visit secondary nests outside their own home).
Within the individual swarms, the next step down is the family. A ‘family’ may encompass up to a few dozen, or possibly hundreds, of individuals, headed by one to five younger matriarchs. The common theme of Kyaar families is their occupation. The division of labour happens on this level – one family responsible for food supplies, another for metalworks, et cetera. Naturally, with the advent of technology, these families tend to grow smaller and smaller as the society specializes more and more.
The final unit of division is the nest. This is a group of up to a dozen individuals, diverse in age and capability. The idea behind this is, that each nest would be able to survive independently, and still keep going as before, with no knowledge lost in the event other nests do not survive. Originally these nests also formed as physical protection against predators, and would often fight together if threatened – part of the successful rise of the Kyaar to the dominant species of Enyion.
Besides reproductive issues, Matriarchs form the administrative elite of Kyaar society. Around age 45 to 55 [varying a bit by the number of males in the vicinity and whether hormone suppressants are used] most Kyaar start to transform into a female. They significantly increase their body mass and physical size during this transformation; the air ducts in the head form more intricate patterns and new pathways, enabling far more varied tones to communicate. The communication feathers grow significantly more numerous as well.
Most matriarchs are found on Enyion, with a far smaller number holding command or administrative positions on outposts, space stations and at the heart of their space fleets.
In official capacities, matriarchs often augment their already impressive display of feathers with elaborate headdresses, masks and decoration, both to announce status as well as their swarm or origin. Matriarchs traveling or fulfilling diplomatic functions are often accompanied by four bodyguards, called ‘Zenel’ – loosely translated as ‘burnt maidens’. These Zenel are Kyaar in the earliest stages of transformation into a matriarch. They accompany the traveling matriarch both as protection for her, as well as to gain insights in daily governance and similar issues.
Zenel are distinctive – they surround the matriarch they are assigned to, two on each side; the half of their bodies facing away from their charge is painted a deep black, sometimes with elaborate patterns resembling rising flames, evoking images of charred flesh of Kyaar that stand between the fire and the one they have dedicated their protection to. Zenel are armed with electroshock pikes roughly three meters in length, as well as with a small sidearm.