|This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably.|
|Height:||5'10" to 6'2"|
|Weight:||75lbs to 180lbs|
The Skrell are a species of amphibious humanoids hailing from the world of Qerrbalak, a hot, humid planet with plenty of swamps and jungles. More technologically advanced than humanity, their ancient society is now stagnant and threatened by the fast growth of their new allies.
As a loose ensemble of city-states, describing the Skrell's history since they took to the stars is difficult. It is nonetheless worthwhile to note that, despite a lack of central government to keep them in check, the city-states have rarely entered in open conflict between themselves, disputes and tensions being generally settled through negotiation and debate or, in the more extreme cases, covert operations by the skrellian military.
Even though the skrellian leaders try to curtail it through various measures, the Skrell's fast population growth has forced them to to vastly expand their territories across the years. While the exact number of colonies is unknown, their overall territory is, to this day, still larger than what the humans achieved to colonise in the past centuries. That expansion is nowadays a problem for the Skrell, as they are progressively boxed-in by the various civilisations that neighbour them, forcing them to consider new ways of securing territories for their population.
Despite their technological superiority, skrellian technological progress is slow, with no major breakthrough having been made in the past centuries. This is mostly due to the skrellian scientific process, heavily burdened by extensive testing and safety concerns, but also because new technological finds have difficulty spreading across an empire without a central power to oversee it.
There are, however, major events in skrellian history that are worth noticing. The dates have been adapted to the human calendar for more clarity.
- 800 BCE - The skrellian industrial age begins with the invention of the first assembly line.
- 700 BCE - The first aeroplane is invented.
- 500 BCE - Skrellkind look to the stars as work on the first space shuttle takes off.
- 482 BCE - Skrellkind rejoice as the first successful launch of a space shuttle lands astronaut Q'ikkori Xallic on Qerrbalak's second moon, Qerr'Malic.
- 100 BCE - The first skrellian colony is formed on a Qerr'Malic.
- 1000 CE - Skrell begin exploring outside of their immediate area, establishing colonies and research bases along the way.
- 2038 CE - Skrell travel to the Epsilon Ursae Minoris and while there, flagged the area for further review due to strange readings.
- 2132 CE - Skrellian mining fleets discover Dionaea Gestalts in previously mentioned Epsilon Ursae Minoris, it is considered a great discovery among all the castes.
- 2406 CE - While on a scouting mission, skrellian exploration vessels come across a human station badly damaged and entering a meteor belt. The skrellian vessel moves in to assist, shielding the station from harm by way of their shields. First contact with humanity is made.
- 2411 CE - Trade and Research agreements among Skrell and Humanity are formed, a lasting bond is formed.
Skrell are humanoids with a height ranging from 5'10" to 6'2", females being generally taller than males. Amphibians coming from the warm, humid swamps of Qerr'balak, their ectothermic bodies still carry several characteristic of water-dwelling species: their feet and hands are webbed, to various extents from one person to another, and their respiratory system is a complex combination of vestigial cutaneous breathing, lungs, and gills placed at the back of the neck and protected by a set of three limp appendages commonly called headtails. Their bones are lighter and more flexible than human ones, making them less likely to break under shock, but also reducing the Skrell's strength. Their blood contains hemocyanin instead of hemoglobin, giving it a dark blue colour when exposed to oxygen. A Skrell's life expectancy ranges from 100 to 120 years, depending on various factors.
The skrellian life cycle starts as a tadpole, hatching from eggs a male Skrell fertilises with internal reproductive organs. During the next six to nine months, said tadpole will grow and develop its adult limbs, along with its gills and headtails during the later stages of development. During this phase, the Skrell is forced to live under water, and very vulnerable: illness, environmental changes, and even the most minor wound will brutally disturb the tadpole's growth, and out of the fifty spawns generally birthed at the same time, it is rare that more than five of them survive their infancy. The transition to their next stage of growth is progressive. The Skrell is around 30 centimetre-long at that point and doubles in size over the next month. Under water, the gills start functioning to compensate for a now inefficient cutaneous respiration, and the developed lungs allow it to take its first steps on solid ground. Once past the tadpole stage, the Skrell's growth is far slower, reaching proper adulthood after twenty years, with no further radical change to their physiology.
A Skrell's skin can have a large variety of colours, ranging from dark blue to vivid red, with shades of various shapes across the body. It is slightly translucid in areas, mostly on the headtails, and exudes a thin layer of slime making the Skrell appear somewhat gelatinous at first sight. Despite being insufficient to fully supply the Skrell in oxygen, their skin still retains its respiration capabilities: should one of the lungs fail, the Skrell can normally function, albeit with some difficulty. While they are used to heavy pressures like on their homeworld, the fragile organ that is their skin makes them extremely vulnerable to lower ones; in tolerable amounts, it will only lead to large hematomas while lower pressures will inevitably lead to external and internal haemorrhages and air embolism, causing far more damage and faster than a human would suffer. It also allows chemicals to travel easily through the skin, making Skrell somewhat vulnerable to cutaneous contact with chemicals; many drugs developed in skrellian culture are used that way. The Skrell's sense of touch is overall more sensible than human's, but also more crude, lacking in detail.
Skrellian heads are comparatively simpler than human ones. In place of a nose are simple slits, lips are almost inexistent, and while it has as many facial muscles, most of them are located in the lower area, significantly decreasing the Skrell's ability for facial expressions. Skrellian ears also lack an auricle, its function being taken over by a complex inner canal. Their eyes are far larger than human's, generally occupying half their face and entirely black when observed from the outside. Their size and their position, being further apart than on human faces, gives the Skrell a broader field of view. They also allow the Skrell to see better underwater and in the dark, although they are very sensitive to bright lights and fast changes in luminosity. Skrell see colours more vividly, with blue being a predominant one and ultraviolets being partially visible. In addition to the eyelids, the eyes are also protected by a nictitating membrane, most often seen when the Skrell is underwater. Skrellian hearing is, in most regards, far superior to human's. Their hearing range is close to a dog's, and while they have more difficulties to identify the location of a sound, they do not suffer from a decrease in ability under water. While their sense of taste is very delicate, allowing them to detect potential dangerous substances in their food, their sense of smell is underdeveloped, both lacking in sensitivity and flexibility. Their vocal cords, accompanied by internal vocal sacs, give them a very large range of pitch, high enough to be partially inaudible to humans.
The aforementionned headtails vary in size, being longer on females. A thinner skin allows the veins to be seen, much like hands. Their initial purpose is to protect the gills from external aggressions such as dust and microbes when outside of water. The sterile, dark and humid area quickly led female Skrell to store their fertilised eggs between the neck and the headtails, the slime preventing them from falling off except in case of violent movements. Later in their history, Skrell started decorating their headtails with jewellery and various decorations, although it can sometimes lead to infections near the gills.
The Skrell's physical appearance leads to the more xenophobic elements in human societies calling them frogs, salamanders, squidheads, and other less pleasing names, although the Skrell pay little attention to these remarks born of ignorance and false assumptions.
The Skrell are vegetarian, as indicated by their large, molar-like teeth. Not only are they unable to absorb animal protein, but doing so is likely to get them sick and nauseous, with food poisoning being possible if meat is ingested in too large quantities. Skrellian traditional foods are heavily based on the fungi-like organisms found on Qerr'balak, with prepared food being the average meal for the common populace.
Despite an extremely low resistance to alcohol, Skrell have otherwise developed a high tolerance to a large amount of chemical substances, a result of their homeworld's flora being generally poisonous as a defence mechanism. Consequently, skrellian food is generally too harmful for human consumption.
The Skrell language — commonly known as skrellian — can be best described as a series of hums, warbles, or croaks; while it would not make sense to other species, the Skrell's intricacies of communication can display a wide variety of emotion and meaning that Galactic Common cannot.
With other languages such as Sol Common, Skrell take on the accent of the person who taught them the language.
Skrell have trouble expressing emotion through simple words and body language when speaking in Sol Common or Galactic Common to a lesser extent, but are capable of expressing emotion better then a human would if they were to sing or play an instrument due to their use of tone when speaking their native language. However, how different emotions are expressed between different species often differ.
Skrellian written language is, similarly to the spoken language, hard to understand for a non-Skrell. Based on logograms, it contains thousands of different signs, leading to vocal homonyms only differentiated by small variations in the tone and the pitch of the speaker.
In practice, however, someone wishing to have a non-specialized, common conversation in skrellian can reduce this number to around three hundreds words, the rest of them being related to precise parts of skrellian society, sometimes to a caste, sometimes to more restrained groups (the psychiatric vocabulary, for example, contains itself four hundreds different words, which would bear no utility in unrelated conversations).
Should the non-Skrell learner overcome these first difficulties, they would be confronted to a much deeper problem, which is the influence of feelings in skrellian written language. Indeed, no clear punctuation can be observed in a skrellian text : the rhythm, intent and sometimes, the sense itself of a word is conditioned by the way it is written. The last word of a sentence might be indicated by a sharp logogram, whose extremities are prematurely ended, in the case of a formal text or an argumentative one, while in a more sentimental context, or perhaps to express doubt, the same character would be elongated, slowly fading on the same extremities. Skrell experiencing a far more range of feelings that most species, some texts might even become impossible to translate to someone unable to understand those feelings.
This particular method of writing made skrellian literature extremely different from its human equivalent. More than a text to be read, it is also a delight to the eye, should the reader know where to look. It is not unheard of experimental writers who completely abandon the semantic aspect of literature to completely focus on the visual aspect, trying to tell their stories only through feelings rather than using traditional narrative methods.
Because of the need to facilitate easy naming and communication with other species, and the difficulty of the Skrell language, Skrell adopt different naming conventions for use in non-Skrell space. While a normal Skrell name may be Uwooziivriziichinovrix this is considered difficult, lengthy and unwieldy for non-Skrell, resulting in broken up, shortened, rough translations such as Uwoozii Vri'Vrix being adopted for inter-species communication. In some cases, Skrell choose to forgo such a name style and instead take either a nonsense name or one of a specific alien culture for convenience. As such, names like Bartholomew Aramaud and Tria Marsa are also found in use by Skrell in human space.
One of the main pillars of skrellian society, the caste system has been in place for millennia on Qerr’balak, its current form having stabilised around the 3rd millennium BCE. While the countless city-states of skrellkind display all kind of variations around the model, most still follow the main structure established by their ancestors. However, new social structures are being adopted by colonies on the outskirts of the skrellian territories, more particularly near the human border.
The caste model appeared as a solution to the growing skrellian need for efficiency within their society. By immersing the Skrell in various environments shaped to specific needs, goals and values, the castes were able to form generations of specialized Skrell, whose skills and activities grew in harmony along their values and traditions. As such, castes act as subcultures within the main skrellian culture, conditioning a Skrell’s life from birth to death and passing it along their children.
A common mistake to do when considering the castes is their relations with professions. While a caste most certainly drive Skrell towards specific sectors of activity, the borders between them are tenuous at best, and a same job can be undertaken by several castes, with different emphasis depending on the originating caste. A good example would be architecture: Kanin-Katish and Talum-Katish are both very fit for such an activity, the former with a strong focus on practicality and safety, while the latter would rather concentrate on aesthetics and cultural importance to the work. Management is also another example: While a specialty of the Qerr-Katish, it is not unheard of Skrell from other castes being promoted to them after years of work in a specific sector of work (a researcher might, for example, gradually rise in status until being given responsibility of a research team, followed by a research center). Further proof that the castes are more of a way of life rather than a predetermined path that every Skrell must follow without an inch of deviation.
- Qerr-Katish (High Caste) : Considered as the leaders of Skrellkind, the Qerr-Katish are the face and soul of skrellian society. Managers, diplomats, lawyers, they are notably the only caste allowed to fulfil the role of Qerr-Skria, and the only one forbidden from being appointed to the Xaq Moglar. As the representatives of the Skrell, the Qerr-Katish are highly social beings, sophisticated, cultured and very organized. As defenders of their society’s values, they tend to be rather conservative, although progressive ideas regularly grow within the caste, as a stagnant society is a dying society. Considering their role, they generally are the richest people of a City-State, although their money is generally invested in various endeavours both within and outside of skrellian society. Qerr-Katish families tend to be rather small, being generally limited to one, sometimes two bondings. They often dress in clothing made from softer, shinier materials, long and flowing and has often been compared to the clothing of ancient Chinese nobles by human scholars. They skin is generally bright green.
- Malish-Katish (Caste of the Mind) : If the Qerr-Katish are the face of Skrellkind, the Malish-Katish are its brain. Scientists of all sorts, researchers, scholars, they are the ones who allow skrellian society to grow, be it technologically or ideologically. Highly inquisitive, they are among the more progressive and individualists Skrell. They are, however, not very social, and their emphasis on rational thinking make them less capable of being under pressure and handling their feelings in public. Although they are less wealthy than the Qerr-Katish, their usefulness allows them much comfort and position in skrellian society. Their families are generally made up of two or three bondings, frequently from different partners. People within this caste often wear clothing made from the same materials as the Qerr-katish yet more simplified, white shirts and black pants with possible jewelry for decoration. Their skin is generally pale green, sky blue or pale yellow.
- Kanin-Katish (Caste of the Builder) : The main workforce of the Skrell. While their population has decreased over the millennia of technological progress, the Kanin-Katish are still a very respected caste of skrellian society. With activities ranging from goods production to countless services, they occupy the largest and most diversified sector of skrellian activity. The Kanin-Katish are a very tightly knit community, both within their families and with their co-workers, with a strong mental and physical resilience. Very traditional, they hold rather conservative views on the world, and their pack mentality dampens most individualistic thoughts. Their families are frequently large, three or four bondings, generally with a couple of partners, which does not leave them much in terms of money. The Kanin-Katish are among the less wealthy people of skrellkind, but they do not seem to mind, as their work is the life and blood of skrellian civilisation. Their clothing is made to last, the personality of the Skrell often being shown through arm bands or headtail decorations of any kind. Their skin is generally red, organge, pale yellow, dark orange or black.
- Talum-Katish (Caste of the Artist) : Considering the Skrell’s emphasis on functionality and practicality, one would be mistaken to think they do not consider arts much. This very important sector of skrellian society is handled by the Talum-Katish, artists, aesthetes and entertainers. They complete the Qerr-Katish’s role as representatives of skrellkind, although in a different way. As such, they are often mistaken for Qerr-Katish themselves, which might explain why this caste is generally seen as rarer and less celebrated than the others, while they are in fact frequently on the public scene. The Talum-Katish are the most individualistic members of skrellkind, although once again, they share the Qerr-Katish’s taste for a busy social life. Highly cultivated, they are the free-thinkers of skrellian society, often at odds with the more traditionalist and conservative castes. An heterogeneous lot, it is hard to estimate their global financial capacities, they however tend to reproduce a lot, multiplying their encounters with various partners, which might be a strain on their savings. Their clothing is often an odd mix of Qerr-Katish and Kalish-Katish, as they often wear clothing that are colourful shirts, adorned with embroidery and their headtails sparkling with gold. Their skin is generally purple, blue, pink, orange, red or white.
- Raskinta-Katish (Caste of Warriors) : Rarely seen outside the skrellian society, the Raskinta-Katish are however recognised and respected by their entire species, for they are the ones who ensure the safety and stability of skrellian civilisation, both against internal and external threats. The military caste of the Skrell, most end up working for the various city-states, either in the police or as a career soldier, although some of them end up working for private security or as entertainment fighters. They are very conservative, almost reactionary, and deeply committed for their community, caring very little for self-development and personal satisfaction. Their martial training leaves very little time for more intellectual activities, although they are trained to be expert tacticians and are only beaten by the Qerr-Katish in terms of organisational skills. While they are wealthier than the Kanin-Katish overall, they are still among the poorer castes of skrellkind, and their large families of three or four bondings put a heavy strain on their earnings, only compensated by their strong social cohesion. These are often the hardest to spot among a crowd because they intentionally wear clothing other castes are known for while off duty, however they tend to stick to clothing that is easy to move in and are often dark blue. Their skin is generally green, blue, black, brown or yellow.
Skrellian society is built around a concept in some parts similar to human constitutional monarchies : In the Qerr-Katish caste can be found several royal families, whose power is transmitted to the progeny having passed the most successfully the Qerr-Uglo, a series of tests. A skrellian king, called a Qerr-Skria usually rules over a city, although there are traces of Kings having ruled over several, sometimes extending their realm to the size of a human country; Those Kings were called Emperors, or Qrri-Qerria in skrellian. Those are generally remembered negatively by the Skrell, for it is considered a King with too much territory cannot rule efficiently.
The King holds the executive and judiciary power. They are advised by the Qerr-Koal, members of each caste who have been considered wise enough to intervene more actively in politics. It is rare to see a Qerr-Koal under the age of 90, even if age does not come into account when deciding to celebrate a caste member as one. There is no limit to the number of Qerr-Koal, although a King must be at least accompanied by one of each caste. The success of a King is measured by their ability to listen to the Qerr-Koal around them.
The legislative power is held by the Xaq Moglar, a congregation of the members of the city’s Academy
For the Skrell, money is an ephemeral thing. Skrellian currencies are printed with a temporary filigree, made from the spores of a very specific luminescent mushroom on Qerr’balak. The luminescence fades completely after two years, after which a skrellian bill is no longer usable. Each filigree includes the date of the bill’s printing, allowing the verification of the bill’s authenticity by comparing the date and the expected luminosity of the spores.
This means Skrell cannot hoard money, and are instead incentivised to spend it, be it by buying goods and services, or investing it in various endeavours. If a Skrell wishes to preserve money for future projects, or simply for financial safety, their only recourse is to loan that money, without interest, to the City-State, for a set duration decided at the start of the loan. When the government gives back the money, the bills are freshly printed for a new 2-year long period of use.
That way, the skrellian City-States are consistently supplied with their citizens’ money, negating entirely the need for taxes or banks in their society. Since money is constantly printed and destroyed, inflation is a very minor phenomenon, and the gap of wealth between the various casts, while still existent, is far less consequential than in humans societies.
However, the human apparition on the galactic market has brought imbalance to the skrellian system. Humans have no use in the perishable money of the Skrell, forcing the Skrell to use human money for inter-species exchanges. Luckily, the skrellian technological advantage allowed them to sell a lot of goods to mankind, injecting a lot of foreign currencies in the skrellian market.
While human money is technically unusable in the skrellian territories, most City-States accept it in exchange of freshly printed skrellian bills, which the government then uses for exterior trade, and under strict conditions, to exchange with skrellian corporations wishing to trade with humans. Nonetheless, a noticeable proportion of Skrell have discovered another advantage of human currencies: non-perishability, which allows them to keep money for as long as they wish, only exchanging it against skrellian currency when the need arises.
This has caused several issues for the City-States, more particularly at the human frontier, as citizen loans are getting rarer and rarer. Despite the harm caused, the various governments cannot bring themselves to take any action against human money, as they still need it to trade with them. Despite the growing trend, though, hoarding human money still bears some stigma within skrellian society, as the damage it causes to the economy is seen as anti-patriotic, but also because criminal circles make heavy use of it, allowing them to further bypass the government in their activities.
Despite what one would expect from such a pragmatic society, the Skrell place great importance on their arts and entertainment. The existence of the Talum-Katish as a fully fledged caste is but one indication of it.
For obvious reasons due to their biology, Skrell give a lot of importance to music: It is actually quite rare to meet a Talum-Katish who does not at least possess average singing skills. While it would be impossible to describe their entire musical history, a few major points can be mentioned; First and foremost, skrellian music has abandoned tonal considerations, both in harmony and melody, centuries ago. While the skrellian artists are still looking to produce enjoyable music, they prefer to avoid the restrictions of a codified system, allowing them more freedom in their creations, at the cost of more work to develop proper musical structures. Secondly, rhythm. While it is still very much existent in skrellian music, rhythm too went through a long phase of deconstruction in the musical process. In the last few centuries, the trend has been to subtly (sometimes not-so) shift the rhythm of their music over time, meaning a musical phrase that starts as slow can finish very fast. The process is, however, not random. At last, voice plays a very large role in their music. Because of the specifics of their written language, Skrell did not develop a printing system until very late in their development, meaning knowledge had to be spread either by handwritten books or orally; in the latter case, songs quickly became the norm to transmit that knowledge. Skrell do have a large array of musical instruments, most electronic, to serve as a support to the vocal lead, but generally, voice stays at the forefront of mainstream skrellian music.
Speaking of written language, skrellian literature has, too, seen its share of evolutions over time. With the rise of advanced means of communications during the first centuries AC, its use as a narrative medium has slowly faded and nowadays, most of the new books published are poetry. In the last few centuries, skrellian writers have taken a step further down the road, by slowly removing narration itself from their work, using the visual impact of their complex, intricate written language to convey their message.
In the domain of visual arts, the Skrell have a long, complex history of painting and sculpting. In their early days, they used to spray dye made from their local, diverse vegetation onto small ponds, using the water as their canvas. Such works were ephemeral at best, and while more stable supports have now been widely adopted, pond-painting is still a mainstay in skrellian art. However, the method did evolve over the millennia: the chaotic ponds were slowly replaced by artificial pools, complex colouring agents replaced natural dye… In the recent centuries, the art form evolved to a new stage, with molecular painting gaining popularity: three-dimensional paintings made in tanks of variable sizes have become more and more common in high society, hybrid of painting and sculpture whose fragility is only matched by its cost.
Sculpting itself has seen its share of changes. While ancient painters were busy with their ponds, early skrellian sculptors saw potential in the massive Kol’mo, mushrooms that can be found on most of Qerr’balak’s surface. An easy material to work with, the Kol’mo stayed popular until the end of the industrial revolution, with Skrell developing new tools and materials for their creations. However, the emblematic mushroom experienced a curious revival at the beginning of the second century AC, with the rise of genetic engineering in the scientific field; quickly, the Talum-Katish adapted to this new practice and, thanks to the very primitive genetic code of the Kol’mo, applied it to artistic expression, growing surrealistic mushrooms while completely bypassing the need for any physical sculpting. The practice still exists to this day, although the Skrell use many more plants for manipulation.
All Skrell practice sports to a certain extent, although the specifics are generally depending on the castes. While the Kanin-Katish and Raskinta-Katish practice sports that do not shy away from physical effort, the more intellectual castes practice exercises more fitted to their skills. Most skrellian sports are played in teams, and with the exception of the Raskinta-Katish’s activities, often lack an actual adversary, preferring to place the players in front of issues waiting to be solved.
As a warrior caste, it is not surprising that the Raskinta-Katish place a lot of focus on fighting sports. They are, however, often team-based, and with a strong emphasis on coordination and dexterity. The most emblematic of them is Ka’morr; taking place over a pond, two fighters, each accompanied by a carrier, are supposed to fight until one of them falls in the water. They are maintained over water by their carrier, who stays underwater and keeps them standing with two feet-sized platforms. The carriers are not allowed to fight, but it is otherwise allowed to trick the fighting opponent into stepping on one of your platform to make them fall. Pairings are not taken lightly: Carrier and fighter generally practice together for years before reaching an acceptable level of skill. Styles vary wildly, with teams focusing on studied, carefully executed movements, while others adopt more improvisational styles, only relying on the carrier’s ability to read the body of their partner and anticipate their moves.
The sports of the Kanin-Katish are much more based on endurance. Team-based too, they often confront the players against environmental challenges. Contrary to Raskinta-Katish sports, they tend to include mild intellectual components, requiring the players to think before they act. The sports evolved along technology; the rise of artificial gravity, notably, had a profound impact on the playing field. One of these sports, Qel’xi, has actually gained popularity in the last decades: Taking place in a specifically-built polyhedron (the actual number of faces depending on the team’s size and other factors such as difficulty), a group of Kanin-Katish must help their leader reach the center of the room and stay there for a predetermined duration. The difficulty lies in the artificial gravity of the room, each of the faces generating their own in a limited bubble, forcing the participants into struggling against their own, conflicting weights. The centre of the room being flooded with the overlapping gravity fields, it requires a lot of endurance from the team to maintain a proper chain for more than a few seconds.
As expected of them, Talum-Katish merge sports and arts through dance: with a large amount of them taking place in or under water, they also evolved along a lot along modern technologies, antigravity environments partially replacing the former dancing pools. Water-dancing stays nonetheless a mainstay for Talum-Katish, as water offers entirely different parameters to evolve in. Oddly, skrellian dance often looks very martial, with human sociologists quickly comparing them to the kata of Eastern Asia.
Malish-Katish practice close to no physical sports. They instead focus on very intellectual activities, ranging from visual puzzles to logical riddles. Once again, these games are generally practiced in teams, although the players are often separated and cannot share intel with their team mates. Each player has thus the task to complete their own part while having no knowledge of the bigger picture.
At last, Qerr-Katish, just like Malish-Katish, do not practice a lot of physical activities. They are, however, extremely fond of numerous strategy games, where their intelligence and organisation are put to the challenge. Countless games exist, with even more variations depending on the planet or city where it is played. With the rise of virtual reality and advanced artificial intelligence, the concept was taking even further, with full simulations being developed, both as a training exercise and an entertainment.
The Skrell are non-monogamous, preferring a large panel of sexual partners for the purpose of reproduction. As such, the notion of human-like marriage is barely fit for them, although some skrellian colonies, closer to the human territories, are slowly adopting the idea of monogamy. However, the need for a family structure still exists, leading to another form of union, that the Skrell call Bonding. Instead of forming a constant familial structure to which offsprings will automatically be attached, Skrell make a punctual Bonding when a couple produces a litter to attach the children to this couple, making them, in effect, a family. This allows legal and social recognition of the progeny by both parents while letting them explore other reproductive opportunities.
The parents rarely staying together after the Bonding, one of them is designed as the Qarr-Maqa, the main parent, responsible for the children, while the other becomes the Qrri-Maqa, who has more of a support role, helping financially the Qarr-Maqa among various types of material help.
Relations between two litters who share one or both parents are quite distant : At best, they will see each other as something akin to cousins, but generally, they will tend to simply ignore each other, only to meet during large family meetings. On a legal point, however, they do not share any kind of link but the same parent(s).
A traditional skrellian family is composed of:
- The Qarr-Maqa, as explained earlier. The main parent figure, tutor and caretaker of the children.
- The Qrri-Maqa, secondary parent figure, financial and material support. On an emotional/relational standpoint, they might be compared to a human uncle/aunt.
- The Qarr-Baqa, brothers and sisters from a same Bonding. Skrell not having as many various familial members as humans, the Qarr-Baqa often share stronger bonds than human brothers and sisters.
- The Qrri-Baqa, children from another Bonding of one or both the parents. Generally having no or almost no contact with each other, their role in the family is non-existent.
- The Maqa’lak, Qarr-Baqa of one of the parents. While being free of any kind of responsibility toward the children, they fill the same emotional niche than the Qrri-Maqa. They do not need the prefix "Qarr-" before their names, for a "Qrri-Maqa’lak" would be so distant from the family that it doesn’t need to exist as a concept.
For the Skrell, gender has no significance outside of reproduction.
Skrellian education is the basis of skrellian society. Tadpoles are educated by their parents and interaction with the other Tadpoles of their Bonding. When a Skrell enters their “adult” shape, they first enter the first level of academic life, called by the Skrell the Mi-Gloa, the Early Enlightenment. At this point, they learn the basic logical process, elementary sciences such as mathematics and low-level physics, and have a brief teaching about skrellian history. All the Castes share the same lessons, except for the Qerr-Katish, who are taught apart from the rest of society.
At the age of 8, the Skrell leave the Mi-Gloa and enter the Qlor-Gloa, the Focused Enlightenment, where the different Castes are separated in different paths of teaching. Here again, the lessons are generalist and leave plenty of specialisation to be done later.
When they reach the age of 15, the Skrell chose the path that will determine their future work: They enter the Keri-Gloa, the Ongoing Enlightenment, for it is believed a Skrell never truly stops learning from that point. From there, a Skrell, called a Keri-Glo’i as long as they are in this system, can leave the Keri-Gloa at the age of 18, which means they will be a Qrri-Mog, a low-class worker, taught but not truly enlightened, or at the age of 25, making them a Qerr-Mog, a fully-fledged skrellian mind, expert in their area of work. Only the “Qerr-Mog” can hope to one day become Qerr-Koal, experts of their castes and counsellors to their King.
But, apart from the educational purpose, skrellian Academies also are the heart of skrellian politics: They bear the same purpose than human Parliaments, with a few differences in their exact nature. Members of the Academy are not elected : They follow a strict organisation based on the position of the Skrell in the educational part of the Academy.
The Keri-Glo’i, the students in the last part of their education, can attend to sessions of the Academy to observe the political process : This way, they can also learn how to properly act as citizens of their Kingdom later in life.
Teachers and Professors have the same purpose, having the ability to vote the laws and various projects of the Kingdom, with the difference in their weight: A teacher’s voice is worth one, while a Professor’s voice is worth two. A teacher is called a Qrri-Gloqal, while a Professor is a Qarr-Gloqal.
Directors and other leading figures of the Academies often being Qerr-Koal, they do not take part in the legislative part of the skrellian political life.
The most common military forces seen in the skrellian territories are the local reserves of each City-State. In charge of the city’s defense, they also fill the role of law enforcement for the government. However, their small numbers coupled with the political independence of every City-State limits their capacity in time of war and general offensives against their enemies.
To compensate this issue, the Skrell formed what they call the skrellian Defence Task Forces. SDTFs are independent entities formed by several City-States who agree to pool an agreed quantity of resources and manpower for their common safety. Once such a group is formed, they gain full independence from their creators, although they are still informally bound to them as they need the City-States to procure them new workers and resources. Private corporations also have a part to play with the SDTFs, as they often pass contracts with them to sell equipment and ships at preferential prices. For the corporations, it is mostly a way to advertise themselves : The prestige of a partnership with a SDTF, along with the fact that such groups only acquire the best equipment, generally means a major boost in sales for them.
Unsurprisingly, SDTFs are not ruled by Qerr-Katish, but by a Raskinta-Katish commander. They have, however, their own equivalent of a Qerr-Koal council, in the form of the high officers in charge of the various subsections of the organisation.
As for the recruitment, City-States provide the SDTFs with voluntaries from their respective City-States after which the military organisation evaluates them under various criteria to decide how many of them will actually join the group. There is rarely a lack of volunteers for this task, though, as being a SDTF member entails a lot of advantages over a regular inhabitant of a city: Higher wages than with an equivalent ‘civilian’ job, priority when it comes to healthcare and education for their close family… Members of a SDTF also enjoy multi-citizenship across the various founding cities of the organisation, a perk rarely enjoyed in civilian life and good enough to motivate most of the potential recruits.
Contrary to what one might expect, the Raskinta-Katish only represent half to three quarters of a SDTF’s manpower. Kanin-Katish generally hold a strong presence in the task forces, but a smaller amount of Malish-Katish can be found working along their more physical brethren. A few Qerr-Katish work as diplomats and managers for the groups, while Talum-Katish are a very exceptional caste to be seen working in them, only for for rare, punctual tasks related to the SDTF’s public image.
As for the castes, they take a more complicated shape within the skrellian military; while the main structure remains, they are subsequently divided into subcastes, themselves separated into smaller partitions to ensure every Skrell is performing their duty as a specialised, competent component of a greater machine. The subcastes are divided into the following components:
- Me’kerr-Ketish: Soldiers specialised in boarding operations and fighting in 0G, they are formed to perform lighting strikes, at their best in closed environments.
- Me’xoal-Ketish: The ground forces of a SDTF. Contrary to the Me’kerr-Ketish, they are formed for long range combat, patient and thorough in their actions.
- Qi’kerr-Ketish: The skrellian space and air forces. Heavily trained into hit and run operations, mostly as a support and diversion for the infantry.
- Qi’xoal-Ketish: The ground vehicles of a SDTF, their role is further divided into long range support to the infantry and as a lighting strike force for critical targets.
- Keloa-Ketish: Mostly fleet-based, this subcaste is in charge of the Research & Development projects of the SDTF, generally working closely with the group’s partners to improve and adapt their technology to the needs of the defence forces.
- Toglo’i-Ketish: Technical support for the Raskinta-Katish, these Malish-Katish often accompany them during operations to provide technical and medical support. As such, they often tend to adopt some traits of their military brothers.
- Megloa-Ketish: Work in collaboration with the Keloa-Ketish in Research & Development. Their close contact with their intellectual kin tends to make them more inquisitive and individual-minded than the other Kanin-Katish.
- Xiqarr-Ketish: Fleet-based, they are in charge of maintaining the SDTF’s fleet and assets.
- Goxo’i-Ketish: Similarly to the Toglo’i-Katish, they handle technical support for the Raskinta-Katish, generally accompanying the Qi’xoal-Ketish for vehicle maintenance on the field, but also engaged into demolitions and communications operations along the Qi’xoal-Ketish. The similar mindsets of Kanin-Katish and Raskinta-Katish consequently improve their capacity for cooperation.
The Qerr-Katish and Talum-Katish, too few in numbers, do not need and therefore do not have subcastes within the SDTFs. As for the subsequent divisions within the subcastes, they tend to differ from task force to task force, although some global patterns exist (separation of space and air forces within the Qi’kerr-Ketish, artillery and frontline vehicles within the Qi’xoal-Ketish…)
Here are a few famous SDTFs found across history:
- Qerr’voal: A famous name within the Raskinta-Katish community, the Qerr’voal is the SDTF in charge of defending the Qerr’Vallis system, a task the military group has fulfilled with duty for the last 600 years. Despite the safety and stability of the system, many young Skrell of Qerr’balak and the surrounding colonies try to enter the prestigious organisation in hopes to prove themselves worthy to their brethren.
- Qala’oa: Relatively recent, this particular group was funded shortly after the first contact between Skrell and humans. Patrolling several worlds at the border between the two species, this SDTF has, like the colonies it protects, started to slowly adopt human customs and views, for better and for worse. Still growing today, some expect it to become the largest SDTF of the skrellian territories within the next thirty years.
As a millennia-old empire spanning across thousands of star systems, it would be foolish to think the skrellian territories manage to stay free of criminals and illicit organisations. But no group embodies the spirit of skrellian criminality as the Qerr-Glia do. It is difficult to pinpoint a precise date or location for their origins, but most historians agree that this criminal movement started during the War of the Qrri-Qerria on Qerr’balak, he constant power struggles leading many Qerr-Katish families to exile, stripped of their status and power. Some of these families settled in other city-states to rebuild a legitimate life, while the rest turned to whatever activity, legal or illegal, could finance their fight to reclaim their former position.
Forming intricate criminal networks across Qerr’balak, the Qerr-Glia gained a consequent advantage when skrellkind started exploring the stars, always settling further from the authorities’ reach, always broadening their criminal horizons. Today, their activities range from money laundering to slave trade, including equally repulsive activities such as drug trade and blackmail. While some families still try to reclaim their lost heritage, most have forgotten about it and have fully embraced the comfort and lifestyle their illicit activities entail.
While the Qerr-Glia have at their disposition a very large network of relations and maintain several fragile alliances between various families, their only loyalty resides in their own family. They will temporarily hire anyone competent enough to fulfil their goals, wilfully or forcefully, but only the members of the Qerr-Skria family are permanent members of a Qerr-Glia cell. Reciprocally, leaving a Qerr-Glia family is considered a high treason by its members, and any Skrell abandoning their siblings for any reason would find themselves fiercely hunted down by their former brothers and sisters.
The Qerr-Glia, however, never forgot their Qerr-Katish heritage and as such, embody the same values and ideals, although in a twisted way; skilled liars and manipulators, they rarely lower themselves to brutal operations, preferring to plan subtle schemes executed with cold efficiency. Some families are even said to manipulate the politics of entire sectors to their benefit, placing them in positions of power far higher than the ones they once fought for.
While the skrellian authorities still struggle to contain them, the Qerr-Glia struggle to find new ways of taking profit of the skrellian territories. As such, the encounter of new species, humans in particular, gave them an whole new playing field in which a lot of criminal families threw themselves in. It is not unheard of Qerr-Glia members temporarily joining other criminal organisations as a gesture of goodwill from the family, while already planning on the repayment of the debt tenfold.
As a civilisation with a long history and a large and diverse population, it would be surprising if the Skrell did not develop, at some point, some form of religious thought. Science being such a tenet of skrellian society, however, skrellian religions are generally focused on the metaphysical study of the universe rather than the mythological aspect of religion. As a result, most religious Skrell hold a monist view of the universe, with their beliefs often being akin to one form or another of pantheism.
However, these religions often lacking a creation myth, other forms of beliefs have taken root in skrellian society. Nowadays, these creation myths most often take the form of a "ancient astronauts" theory, the idea that Skrell are the result of alien intervention of Qerr'balak. This theory is commonly described as pseudoscientific, as two millennia of space exploration has brought no conclusive proof to validate it.
Relations With Other Species
The Skrell generally have an ambiguous position when it comes to other species. Centuries of cultural homogeneity and political hegemony has made them very self-confident, yet they are very tolerant of other cultures and civilisations, in part because of their curiosity for what they don't know or understand. However, they still hold very paternalistic, ethnocentric views of the universe, very interested in influencing other societies, but leery about outside interference within their own.
Of all the known species, the Dionaea are the closest allies, even friends of the Skrell. A civilisation they see as unthreatening, Dionaea are often welcomed in skrellian territories, with many agreements and treaties being signed between city-states and gestalts. In particular, the Dionaea's unique biology has garnered a large interest from the skrellian scientific community, with many companies and organisations trying to understand and replicate their allies' strange properties.
Humans are still to this day a contentious topic for the Skrell. While allies in practice, many Skrell see that partnership as potentially dangerous, as human culture is in many ways anathema to the Skrell's. Many alarmist thinkers think that this outer influence might, in the long run, harm the cohesion of their society, possibly causing the decline of their civilisation. Nonetheless, most Skrell agree that cooperation with the humans is better than rivalry or worse, open conflict, so both species enjoy a cordial yet cautious relationship.
The Skrell's relations with IPCs are even more distant. As they never developed sapient artificial intelligence because of the potential ramifications, the Skrell prefer to observe the IPCs with caution, yet are still curious to see how a nation of synthetic beings could evolve to become. They have however recognised the synthetics' sapience and their government's independence, something that created some amount of good will between the two societies.
Both Unathi and Tajara are seen as primitive by the Skrell, and their relative distance from the skrellian systems have made them overall unworthy of notice for the skrellian governments. The few contacts generally established by the species are attempts from the Skrell to enlighten their lesser brethren, with little success nor appreciation from the other side.
Vox are seen with mistrust in skrellian societies. Most SDTFs have orders to not let Vox ships wander in skrellian territories and, despite interest in their mysterious past, most Skrell would prefer to avoid having to acknowledge their existence as much as possible.
As a relatively small-scale experiment by human corporations, Giant Armoured Serpentids are known, but otherwise ignored by most skrellian powers.