Species: Kzeress

Name: kzeress(i) [kz-AIR-ehs(-see)] 'the people'

Homeworld: Mbaun

Height/Length/Weight: Kzeressi are startlingly tall creatures, though not bulky at all. They stand at 11-14' tall (measuring from the top of the head) and 6.5-10' tall at the medial shoulders in their usual stance - if they stretch their legs out straight, they can easily gain another 4-6' in height, but they can't walk like that. They are about as long as they are tall (measured from top of the head, not shoulders) in their usual stance, but if they stretch horizontally, they add another 2-3' of length - plus, of course, about 12' of tail. Despite their proportions, they are very light, weighing … I really don't know. 600ish lbs? They're thin as fk.

Physical Description: Kzeressi are bone-thin, tauroid, insectoid mammals. They have taut, thick hide the texture of hardened leather, softer and wrinkled around the joints; most of their skin is smooth and unmarred, giving them the appearance of having an exoskeleton. They have long, flat faces with large, dark eyes and a small, thin ridge where the bridge of a nose might be. Their jaws are long but downwards-pointing, slender and not terribly strong; their lower jaw curves downwards (akin to an elephant's lower jaw). They have ridges of bluntly serrated and ridged bone along the sides of their jaws that suffice as teeth; they also have a pair of pincers/mandibles that tuck away in the back of their jaw, being jointed and 'foldable'; these pincers are about a foot long when fully extended and quite dexterous, primarily used to hook into food and pull it into their mouths, then scrape it along their rows of quasi-teeth. Their upper jaw ends in a set of four thick, short tentacles that hang over their lower jaws; these tentacles are surprisingly strong, sensitive, and prehensile - they serve the same function as the mandibles in latching onto food and dragging it across their teeth to be shredded. They have twin nubs atop their skull, one to the left and one to the right, that are sensory organs similar to ears or antennae - firm but not keratinous and covered in what feels like velvet. (They also have tiny slits for internal ears just below those nubs.) Kzeressi have extremely thin bodies, lean and tautly-muscled and generally just skinny; they hold no extra body weight or layer(s) of fat. They have longish, flexible necks, a flattened upper torso and a narrow upper waist, and an angular and deep-chested lower torso which tapers into a slim lower waist. They have slender but powerful tails that are normally held in a low curve so that the tip hovers just above the ground and points towards their ankles; these tails are tipped in a scythe-shaped keratinous stinger which excretes a mild slowing/tranquilizing venom. Kzeressi themselves are immune to this venom, but it was primarily used to slow would-be predators so that they could escape to safety. As for their limbs; kzeressi are tauroid and possess two arms and four legs, all of which are stick-thin. Their arms are humanoid in range of movement but are typically held close to the upper chest so that their hands dangle downwards (think praying mantis in posture); they have three fingers and an extra-long thumb positioned at the base of their palms. Their fingers lack claws or fingernails and taper to a smooth, slightly rounded point; their fingertips and palms lack pads or any textural change for traction. Kzeressi forelegs are digitigrade and especially long, held so bent that their elbows are lifted above their backs, much higher than their shoulders, and their 'wrists' are a few feet off the ground. Similarly, their hind legs are so bent to raise the knee above the hip and back, their 'ankles' being slightly higher than their wrists. Each of their four feet has a heel-spur that is angled downwards and slightly backwards, providing most of the surface area (despite only being a nub) of their foot; they also have three toes (clawless still) on each foot in a normal front-facing array. Kzeressi have no visible genitalia whatsoever.

Senses/Capabilities: Kzeressi have eyes that do best in shade or low light; they have good range and excellent detail in their vision, but it's greyscale. They have a poor sense of smell (no better than a human's nose and probably a little worse) and their hearing is decent but nothing special. Their lip-tentacles are extremely sensitive to airflow and temperature, serving as whiskers of a sort in utter darkness. The nubs atop their heads are considered sensory organs that track the flow and concentration of magical energy. As for capabilities - kzeressi are not terribly strong, given their stick-thin builds, but they are shockingly flexible and agile. Despite having very long limbs that look quite fragile, they are difficult to break. Most kzeressi have excellent reflexes, having existed as a popular food item for many of the predators of Mbaun for some time. They are quite fast in a sprint, reaching ~45 mph in short bursts but able to sustain a decent gallop of 35 mph for several minutes; their endurance is poor, but they are extremely good at clambering up seemingly unscalable rocks and cliffs to secure shelter.

Coloration/Clothing: Clothing is a relatively new trend in kzeressi culture. They keep it extremely loose; the fabric is thin, light, and smooth. Most commonly, scarf-like stretches of cloth are wrapped loosely around the body (neck, upper torso, lower torso); they often have intricate patterns, and some have been dyed different colors (for different light/dark hues in kzeressi greyscale vision). However, kzeressi don't live in any climate that would require clothes and so clothing is, so far, a passing fancy with no practical bearing. As for coloration, kzeressi have a fairly wide variety of colors. They are typically one color that darkens (sometimes almost to black) on their hands, feet, tailtip and top of skull; their eyes are black, and their lip-tentacles and stinger tend to be a lighter shade of their primary color. Kzeressi can range from black to medium grey, and from extremely dark brown to medium spice-brown, often tinged with red. Less common colors include a dark bronze, a coppery medium brown, a dark slate blue (heavily greyed), and medium-to-dark dull greens (more like a swamp than grass). Shades of brown are by far the most common, given Mbaun's primary rocky terrain. Kzeressi are colored in accordance to their surroundings, which is why one's origin is easily distinguishable.

Races/Breeds: Kzeressi have so many ethnicities that they're nearly uncountable. The bloodlines don't mix often or widely, so each nook and cranny of civilization is typically host to its own physical race and ethnic culture to some degree. While neighboring areas only vary slightly between races, it becomes an impressive gradient when viewed as part of a larger picture. Ethnicities are not given names or used to distinguish/discriminate between individuals.

Language: Kzeressi speak zeri, a language filled with hisses and clacks and clicks and chattering/clattering noises. They lack vocal chords to make the range of noises that most mammals can manage, so they exhale strongly and shape the air with their mandibles and lip-tentacles to form sibilant pseudo-syllables, which are heavily supplemented by more percussive noises. Strangely enough, they can manage to mimic vocan well enough to be understood (as the humans found out once they started establishing communication), but it sounds like a mere whisper. Since the humans' departure quite some time ago, kzeressi have passed knowledge of vocan around as a curiosity and intellectual exercise. Zeri itself has an extremely intricate structure and extensive vocabulary, and it differs widely with each region that speaks it; it is varied enough to be considered to be broken into sub-languages in many places.

Technology: Although the kzeressi do not group together to pool knowledge and resources for the purpose of furthering their civilization and technology, as a race they are still extraordinarily gifted with machinery and have simply taken a longer time to build up the impressive array of machines, devices, inventions, and tools that they currently have. Kzeressi carved thin, winding roads between settlements and made motorized, wheeled, open-top carts to speed up travel, but they made no attempt to make flying transportation, let alone ships to go between worlds or suns. They're also one of the only technological races to have spent almost no attention on designing weaponry; this and their lack of flying transport makes them a unique case among the inventors of the universe. Nearly all of their most sophisticated designs involve tools for metallurgy and the design of robotics.

Magic: Kzeressi are innately gifted with magic, and the vast majority of them use it in some way or another. Though they have little interest in elemental (including shadow and Light) energies, they're quite good with arcane or pure magic; they use magic to enhance and fuel most of their machines and robotics. Magic and technology is so paired that kzeressi engineers are trained to be mages as a part of the academic program. They cannot do offensive spells (well, they don't study such things, at least), but they're quite good at defense and warding spells, as well as the obvious storage-of-energy and enchanting-of-objects.

Values: Contrary to all appearances, kzeressi value personal relationships above all else. Intelligence is also a prized asset, but kzeressi have a deep-rooted need to feel safe around their fellow kzeressi. (Running theory is that this stems from the fact of 'safety in numbers' that kept them alive when they were still non-tech-using herding animals. Being alone spells death, once a predator finds you.) However, due to a severe shortage of sustenance in the past, kzeressi had to become an every-man-for-himself group in order to have enough food to survive. Despite the necessity of this action, which kept the entire species from dying out (although the population was halved or worse), kzeress psyche suffered a nearly crippling blow. They no longer trust one another and cannot feel safe in each other's company, even though that's what they long for the very most. In theory, this need-plus-mistrust is what has driven them to take such a vested interest in robotics and mechanical lifeforms.

Social Groups/Society: Neuroticism has taken a heavy toll on what was once a clannish social structure. Though kzeressi still group together in certain hospitable areas, they keep most of the population at arm's length, only becoming 'friends' with a few select others and even then heavily mistrusting them. There is no form of hierarchy among the kzeressi any longer, though in earlier ages wisdom and practical knowledge/skill were respected and revered. Now, practical knowledge and education exists in written form, and each kzeress writes down everything it knows to pass along to those few 'friends'; they copy the book and then pass the original along to others, and the slow spread of knowledge remains intact. Skills, inventions, and discoveries are not considered proprietary and are freely shared, despite kzeressan mistrust of others.

Reproduction/Aging: Interestingly, kzeressi do not employ the male-female binary for reproductive purposes; they have a singular gender. Each kzeress produces both sperm and eggs within its own body. While they were never meant to be asexual, some kzeress have employed technological means to assist in introducing their own sperm to their own eggs, essentially recreating slightly variable versions of itself as children. In a more natural setting, any given kzeress could be a mother or a father; they mate in pairs, simultaneously, so that either may conceive. Once a kzeress conceives, it carries 3-6 eggs for about three months before laying the clutch and letting them develop for another two months. Kzeressi young are hatched fairly immature, much like many mammals are born with eyes closed and whatnot; they consume only liquids for the first few months of their lives, while their bodies finish developing into a functional child. The sperm donor has nothing to do with the children and doesn't count as a parent; only the kzeress who laid the eggs is a parent. Kzeressi are grown very quickly, hitting adolescence at two years and sexual maturity at three; they're fully developed as adults at four years and then begin their self-studying of all the academia that floats around kzeressi pseudo-communities. Kzeressi are fairly short-lived, only lasting about fifty years before age begins to cripple them; they rarely live past sixty.

Habitat/Settlements: Kzeressi cannot survive in cold weather, due to their high surface-to-mass ratio; they do great in hot weather, able to shed heat quickly, but they cannot keep their body temperatures high enough to survive cold weather. They stay in temperate or outright hot areas (helpful, given that most of Mbaun is temperate-to-hot). Terrain poses little obstacle to them, though most prefer rocky areas to flat. (They can climb much better than their would-be predators.) As for settlements, kzeressi do not build downs. Each kzeress has its own home, typically dug out within the earth or built up within a natural cave or tunnel. Many homes are quite extensive, containing a laboratory and often a small forge. (Kzeressi still tend to work together for the process of mining-refining-smelting metal, trading it with a select few individuals who contribute their time and work to processing the metal to be workable.)

Religion/Beliefs: They don't particularly have any. They don't acknowledge any spirits or deities, nor do they concern themselves with an afterlife or a moral obligation towards good behavior. They do what they need to do in order to survive.

Interaction w/ Other Species: Kzeressi are somewhat paradoxical in their regard for other species. They both long for contact and interaction, but also suspect others (even other kzeressi) of questionable intentions and untrustworthy moral character, so they shun them. Kzeressi do not like humans, since it was humans that first discovered Mbaun and attempted to set up trading relations; kzeressi emphatically refused and humans have not returned since. Kzeressi are quite neurotic in most of their interactions, though this tendency is somewhat diluted when they interact with kzerlanessi.

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