main cities: Sanai, Santor, Sankash, Santork
dominant species: Morbacks
All About Morbacks
Morbacks are bipedal carnivorous mammals with fur-covered bodies, stunted muzzles and large, tall ears. They have no tails. Their feet have five toes with small, stunted claws and their hands are tridactyl ending in long talons.
Two fangs protrude out of the mouth, but vary in length between individuals. Mouths are full of sharp tearing and cutting teeth - no grinders. A Morback skull has a very wide mouth with a lower jaw set back from the canines to allow for better a better killing bite.
The eyes of Morbacks appear to be all iris, but in fact it is only that the sclera and pupil share the same colouration as the iris itself. Morback eyes are typically one of five colours: Green, blue, red, yellow or black.
Morback fur is short and downy, providing protection from Sanrash's sun but little warmth. During colder months Morbacks will shed and grow a thicker coat of fur, with hairs approximately 2cm in length. Morback fur is typically brown, grey, black or white with visually striking markings. These markings vary between individuals but follow several distinct patterns. The marking patterns are extremely important to Morback cultural identity.
There is little physical difference between males and females, though females are often slightly more curvaceous. Females only develop visible mammaries when they are pregnant or nursing.
The long claws of the Morbacks as well as their fangs enable them to make quick eviscerating kills on their hunts. The fangs assist in piercing the jugular vein of prey while the claws serve to disembowel. Their long ears and keen eyes make them extremely skilled night-time hunters.
The hide of a Morback is quite thick, able to resist most cuts or pierces. When injured, the Morback body will slow blood flow around the wounded area until a period of rest - this helps prevent further injury via blood loss.
Because of their intense history as trackers and hunters, Morbacks are extremely perceptive towards those around themselves. Their ears hear even the most soft whispers and their nostrils detect minute changes in the scents of nearby beings. This combination has often lead to them being incorrectly labeled as a 'psychic' species.
-reproduction & offspring
Like most mammals, Morbacks have very little sexual dimorphism until the actual time of reproduction. There is good reason for this. Morback courtship has been referred to as a "blood sport" among xenobiologists. After an extensive period of fierce fighting ending in a particularly brutal bite to the neck, the Morback couple will seem to freeze in place. This, among other things, has lead to their reputation as "vampires" although no blood is actually consumed.
The couple then moves on to grooming one another's wounds before the actual act of copulation. At this point, internalized genitalia will move outward since there is no longer a great threat to personal safety. The actual act of copulation is very similar to that of a human, though periodic fits of vicious clawing and biting are more than enough to dissuade most other hominids from seeking Morback partners. To the Morbacks, however, this bloody partnership is a natural testament to your respect of your partner's power.
A pregnant Morback female carries her young for aproximately 8.5 months (Earth time) before giving birth to a single kit. The kit's fur colour is typically that of the mother, though other recessive genetic strains of fur colouration and marking can occur. This is important to the kit's clan identity (see below).
Kits are cared for by their parents for approximately a year before they begin to accompany them on hunts. It is not uncommon for parents to carry their kits during a hunt before the kit can walk. Kits begin to hunt unaided by adults at about seven Earth years of age and hunt in solitude by their teens.
Morbacks are pure carnivores and cannot digest plant or vegetable matter. In the event a Morback is ingesting roughage, it is for medicinal purposes and not nutritional. They prefer their meat raw and feel that cooking spoils the flavour. The more 'juices' (blood and other fluids) on their food, the more they like it. This, too, has aided to their reputation as "vampires."
When travelling in space, Morbacks must be very careful to attend to a strict regiment of vitamins and bloodwork monitoring. Synthetic meat or alien meat can easily cause illness and attention to health is key. Perhaps because of this, many Morbacks found off of Sanrash appear to have an affinity for medical work and study.
Morback hunting is most often done alone, groups forming only to hunt down larger prey or teach family members how to hunt for themselves. Kits often form bands of four or more to practice hunting, but gradually grow out of this co-dependance. Kills are brought back to the clan's camp and, depending on the size, distributed between friends and family or the entire clan.
Morback society is highly communal and nomadic. Clans travel a general path throughout the planetary year from summer hunting grounds to wintering grounds, setting up a new camp approximately once per season. Because the clans follow the same path each year, their seasonal resting places have gradually grown into cities which spend large portions of time as ghost towns only to be cleaned and dwelt in for a few months at a time. The clan must go where their food supply goes, and hunting is far more important than the simple act of eating. Ergo a single year-round city seems unnatural to them.
During one point in the year, all clans converge on the city of Santork. This clan meet-up can sometimes be quite tense, but generally works out well for all clans as the kits who must change the clan they live with can move from group to group and trading can occur. Also during this time, it is common for families to work on arranged partnerships for their offspring with other clans for upcoming years.
Morback clans are separated by marking fur colour, and often named accordingly. A clan with reddish blotches across their heads and shoulders would be referred to as the Red-Shoulder or Bloodback clan. A clan with very light spotted markings would be referred to as the Snow-Hide or FrostFall clan. Although individuals obviously do not conform perfectly to the clan ideal at all times, kits who are born with clear markings of one clan will be given over to that clan as soon as they can hunt on their own.
Each clan has a different route and hunting territory that they follow. Several hundred years ago, clans would periodically war over the boundaries of hunting territories. At the current time, there is a unified clan treaty in place and no more warring has occurred. Conflicts are now mediated by a meeting of clan elders.
Clans can and do share the cities of their nomadic routes. Four different clans may use the same city at four different points throughout the year.
-clans and mating
The male will join the clan of the female on their hunting and travels during the period of time that the couple remains together. The clan treats the adopted male as their own, but any cultural identity of his own clan remains very much his.
If the couple split up, the male will return to his real clan.
There is no clan for markless Morbacks, as they are exceptionally rare. Morbacks with no markings are sometimes born, but this is not a cause for alarm or concern. It can often take several years for markings to develop visually, and so it is often not until the teen years that a Morback's clan becomes clear. Until this time, they are raised by their parents' clan.
In the exceptionally rare cases where no markings appear, the child remains with the family clan for the rest of its life. They are treated as any other Morback would be treated, although they are considered less desirable mates and find themselves lacking a true social identity many times. They are often loners as adults.
-reception to space
Morbacks saw space as the next best place to hunt, and developed their technology accordingly. This originally caused strife for them as a species (and further contributed to their reputation as a dangerous people) but they soon learned to discern between that which you can and can not aggres towards. Naturally, many Morbacks became bounty hunters. Many also became scientists and medical technicians, their instinct to track driving them to never give up on a particular goal until they had seen it through to the end.
Today, Morbacks are generally regarded as a good species to be friends with - and a very bad species to be enemies of. Cross-breeding with Morbacks is extremely rare due to their violent courtship rituals...but it does occasionally happen. If Morbacks settle on a planet away from Sanrash, they must have an outlet for their strong hunting instinct or they will eventually break down and begin to hunt within their society - a very large problem on planets populated by prey species (like Contura). Awareness of this has lead many planets to opening game parks specifically for carnivores like Morbacks.
-policy on clothing
Morbacks dislike clothing and find it restrictive. Males on Sanresh may occasionally wear a loincloth, but it is rare. Off Sanresh clothing is usually only worn at the request of others or to avoid standing out in a crowd. Pants are the most common form of clothing adopted if it cannot be avoided.
Morbacks worship the hunt and have no true religion.
Morback art & music
Like much else, Morback art and music exists for one primary purpose: To glorify and commemorate hunting. Ballads and poetry often tell of great hunts past, or great hunts to come. Paintings and art tend to be abstract by most other species' understanding, but seek to capture the feeling of both the predator and prey at the moment a kill is made.
Another species (Rakwulvs) have similar hunt-glorifying music and poetry, and the Morbacks have adapted many of these tales into their own language to tell.
The Morbackian language is a series of low breathy syllables that are either growled or purred. When written, the letters primarily consist of groups of three lines - symbolizing the three claws of a Morback striking a surface to leave a message. It is not difficult to learn to speak Morbackian, though Morbacks find most aliens attempting to do so sound like they are "shouting" words.