Species: B'kanna

Name: b'kanna [bb-KAN-uh]

Homeworld: Huss'u

Height/Length/Weight: As quadrupeds, b'kanna stand between 3.5-4.5' at the shoulder. They are three to four times their height in length from nose to tailtip (11-18'), and their tails are generally as long as their bodies from nose to rump (6-9'). Dense animals, b'kanna weigh between 500-900 lbs.

Physical Description: Amphibious, b'kanna are long-bodied, low-slung, quadrupedal canines. They have long snouts of a level with the tops of their skulls and slanted, slitted nostrils at the upper end of their muzzles that can be completely closed while underwater. Their eyes are large and completely dark, double-lidded with an inner lid that is transparent and protects against grit in the water and an outer lid that is opaque; their eyes are positioned near the tops of their skulls. They have long ears that will seal when folded back along the head; despite this adaptation, their hearing out of water is below par for a predator. Their teeth are crocodilian, sharp and jagged and widely-spaced in their jaws, which are immensely strong. B'kanna skin is thick and tough, somewhat smooth and seemingly soft to the touch, but wrinkled around the joints and roughened into bumps and ridges along the spine. B'kanna have long, thick necks, torsos, and tails with a serpentine flexibility from skull to tailtip. They have a keel-like wattle that runs from behind their jaws to their genitals, which is supported by small spines; in males, the spines can fold against the body, effectively flattening the wattle. For rudders, they have vertical fins running along top and bottom of their tails, the tip of which branches out into folding vanes similar to a mammalian wing. B'kanna have muscular, proportionally shorter legs with wide, webbed, clawed talons with four digits in the front and three in the back; their paws are soft-padded but very strong in grasping and ripping. B'kanna are not sexually dimorphic; the only visual distinction between males and females is the barely-noticeable bulge that is the penile sheath on males.

Senses/Capabilities: B'kanna are largely nocturnal and water-dwelling, and their senses reflect this. Their eyes are adapted for darkness; color-blind but for red, their vision dips towards the infrared range, and they have very poor sight in daylight. In shadow or darkness, their sight is motion-based, obscure on static details, excellent with depth perception, and mid-range. They rely heavily on their senses of smell, which is very keen and distinguishing in the air; they have a secondary olfactory system in the back of their throats, linked to taste, that can 'smell' key molecules in water. Because of this smell, their sense of taste with liquids is very good, but dry food does not transmit half as much taste. Their hearing is fair, designed to work primarily underwater and so less keen and more attuned to deep, loud sounds in the air. While b'kanna do not make good runners, they can charge short distances with surprising swiftness, temporarily reaching speeds up to 40 mph for less than a sixth of a mile. Their endurance is excellent - they have slow metabolisms and strong bodies - and they can go some days without eating with no problems. (B'kanna cannot live long without drinking water, though this time can be extended if they're swimming in undrinkable water.) B'kanna are not very agile or deft creatures, but they are very flexible. They swim exceedingly well, often drifting along with limbs lax and close to the body, swimming with body and tail alone; in-water lunges make use of their limbs for additional propulsion.

Coloration/Clothing: B'kanna wear no clothing. Most b'kanna are dark in colouration and mottled, usually lighter along the tops of their bodies (head, neck, spine, shoulders, haunches, top of tail) and darker on the undersides and limbs. B'kanna do not have a wide range of hues: most are a greyish version of dark brown, dark swamp green, dark dull blue, or dark violet. Rare b'kanna are simply dark grey or black. Some have darker striping along their flanks and limbs. In clear water, b'kanna will have a brighter and purer hue, even up to a mild seagreen color or soft grey-blue. Their eyes are black with distinct points (flecks) of white, or occasionally gold, in the iris; these points reflect any light and are often compared to stars in the sky. Their claws are dark grey or black.

Races/Breeds: B'kanna have a handful of ethnicities that vary by coloration and build, but not by culture or language. Most b'kanna do not consider these differences to be different races so much as different adaptations to different areas; those in clearer water can be lighter and more pure in color, while those in salt water occasionally take on a pinkish tinge in the paler portions of their hides, due to the fish they eat. Swamp b'kanna are most populous; they are dark, mottled, and heavy in build, while b'kanna in rivers or deltas tend to be more slender, and b'kanna in salt water are often larger and longer-bodied.

Language: B'kanna speak kannic, a language comprised more of vocal inflections and intonations than disparate syllables. Designed to be heard clearly in both water and air, kannic is a series of croons, whistles, whines, quasi-howls, huffs, coughs, barks, and moans, usually in the bass register but for the whines, which are sharper and higher. Kannic can only truly be spoken by b'kanna, so custom is it to their throat and vocal structure, but other races with similar jaws can try to approximate it and usually be understood. B'kanna have a difficult time speaking any of the common languages other than Lo'ken.

Technology: B'kanna don't use technology.

Magic: B'kanna are naturally talented with magic, most especially nature and dark magic. Few races have a natural predisposition towards black magic, but b'kanna are one of those few. While b'kanna are physically powerful and make excellent warriors, they also have a knack with dark magic, and many are - in human terms - warlocks, witch doctors, banshees, and shamans. Banshees (warlock-warriors) are particularly effective and dangerous. While b'kanna as a race don't lean towards demonology, those b'kanna who do become warlocks with a focus on demonology are generally extremely skilled. B'kanna usually don't use spoken words as part of magic, but many will use tones (or wordless singing); few use gestures that require fingers, but many will use full-body movement. B'kanna have no less capacity for magical prowess and power than humans and aneans, but they are not considered as important a race in the fields of magic because of their obscure homeworld and the race's lack of participation in intersun trade, politics, and economy.

Values: B'kanna value independence and self-sufficiency very strongly, but they don't strive for perfection. Most b'kanna do as well in what they choose to do as is necessary, perhaps slightly beyond that to gain an edge, and then they stop until forced to improve again. They are not lazy; they conserve their energy for the task of surviving. Their metabolisms are slow and, despite their unlengthy lifespans, they are in no rush when it comes to daily activities. The only time b'kanna are truly frantic are when protecting a clutch of eggs or pups who are not yet adolescents.

Social Groups/Society: B'kanna are independent and only loosely social. Traditionally, b'kanna kept their own vaguely-marked territories, the edges of which would overlap with other b'kanna territories and serve as a safe shared-ground for one-on-one socialization. B'kanna who were mates combined their territories for the duration of the mating and child-rearing process, separating out again shortly thereafter. However, with the increasing frequency of visitors to Huss'u - and the usual skill-level of what are often cultists doing the visiting - some b'kanna have formed rough-and-tumble pseudo-packs, acting in anarchy with general consensus as a blind guide. Thus far, b'kanna packs have proven to be extremely dangerous and unpredictable to unwelcome visitors, but their attitudes towards solitary or mate-paired b'kanna and their territories has not altered from the same neutral coexistence between single b'kanna. B'kanna have no natural hierarchy or dominance structure, and they rarely adapt to enforced structures, even in multiracial groups.

Reproduction/Aging: B'kanna lay mature eggs that hatch shortly after the mother has clutched. B'kanna come together when a female is fertile (there is no regular heat cycle; it is determined by abundance of food, mild weather, and lack of stress) and mate until she chases the male off. After conceiving and while pregnant, the female is extremely irritable, and will hunt in the center of the overlap between her and her mate's territory, while the male guards the outlying area and feeds himself. After a pregnancy of four to five months, two to four eggs will be laid and viciously protected by both parents for one to two weeks before hatching. There is a high infant mortality rate, and it's rare that more than one pup will survive past childhood to enter adolescence at two years. B'kanna pups grow as swiftly as possible, and as a result are largely nonsentient until adolescence, which takes a full two years for maturation of body and mind. B'kanna are done growing at four years and are sexually mature at five; most b'kanna don't live beyond forty years on Huss'u, though their deaths are normally caused by failed hunts or combat, rather than old age. (It's theorized that b'kanna in peaceful environments could live upwards of 60 years.) A b'kanna male is always virile and ready to mate, due to the unpredictable opportunities provided by whatever female(s) he chooses; females will come into heat as often as once a year or as rarely as once a decade, depending on the circumstances. B'kanna do not mate for life but also do not casually breed; they commit to their partner for the duration of the pregnancy and offspring's cubhood; females generally return to their own territories after the pup(s) enter adolescence, leaving the rest of the raising to the males. While males can take new mates while raising adolescents, they usually do not overlap adolescent offspring from different mothers.

Habitat/Settlements: B'kanna do not construct any form of settlement; they rarely even nest or den except when protecting a newly-laid clutch or newly-hatched pups. B'kanna thrive in wet environments, being amphibious, and cannot live away from a source of water for long periods. (Those who travel frequently have artificial ponds on the lowest deck of their intersun ships.) B'kanna can live equally well in clear or murky water, in fresh or salt water, in still or moving water. They can move on land without much trouble, but they are especially sure-footed on muddy or marshy ground, and they transition between wet land and water (be it river, sea, lake, or swamp) easily. They cannot handle cold weather, despite being warm-blooded, and live in temperate to tropical climates. Though rarely done, b'kanna can survive in an environment that rains enough to replace the need for a body of water.

Religion/Beliefs: There are various mini-religions and religious cults (unrelated to black magic cults) scattered over Huss'u. Many traveling b'kanna take their beliefs with them to different suns; they make no attempts to hide their religion and no attempts to convert others. To b'kanna, religion is an intensely personal, private affair between an individual and the gods/spirits/ancestors/what have you. Most b'kanna religions are pagan and deistic; very few lack specific entities. B'kanna gods can be embodiments of elements, mythological or heroic figures, people from the past (historic or ancestral), or bodiless entities who have no apparent origin. B'kanna acknowledge the existence of the Light but do not worship it; no b'kanna are known Lightworkers.

Interaction w/ Other Species: B'kanna class all non-b'kanna as Others and treat them the same - cautiously, slightly disdainfully, and alertly. While a considerable number of b'kanna are in cults and work closely with other races, notably humans, they do not take Others in as peers or kindred. Some b'kanna are resentful of Others on-world; other b'kanna exult in the alien diversity and take the first opportunity to go between the suns. Most b'kanna are not extremists, either in loving or hating Others.

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