The Tarkas

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Erinys
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The Tarkas

Post by Erinys » Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:11 am

Species Information: Tarkas

General Description: The Tarkas are a reptilian species, sharing many outward physical characteristics with terrestrial lizards. Although their internal structures and highly evolved brains are very different from anything seen in the reptile species of Earth, their appearance has nonetheless earned them a variety of derogatory nicknames among human spacers, who commonly refer to them as “Lizards” or “Crocs”.

Not much is known about the origins of the Tarka, but scientists have speculated that their species must have evolved in a dense arboreal environment, because they have retained many features we still associate with tree-dwelling species. They can live in a variety of gravities and temperature zones, but they seem to prefer warmer worlds for their large colonies.

Their culture is very ancient and has been remarkably stable in the long term, allowing for hundreds of thousands of years of recorded history and over five hundred years as a space-faring race.

Technology:

Tarka ship schematics and weapon systems fall within standard parameters. The Tarkasian Warp Drive, however, is a unique technological achievement; no other species has mastered this technique of faster-than-light travel, and the secrets of the Tarkasian warp engine are jealously guarded.

The basic principle at work in the Tarkasian faster-than-light system appears to be the generation of a warp “field”—an envelope of force which surrounds the body of a Tarkasian ship. While within this envelope, the ship is essentially a non-event in space-time, having very limited interaction with the standard four dimensions of the Continuum. Once the warp engine of a Tarkasian ship is fired, the normal physical laws governing mass, energy and acceleration no long apply to that ship. Accordingly, a Tarkasian vessel can achieve superluminal speeds and travel at these speeds for any distance, its range limited only by the available fuel for thrust and by the available power for the generation of the warp envelope.

Physical and Social Characteristics:

The external characteristics of the Tarka race point toward an origin among the reptiles, but they are as far removed from their lizard-like ancestors as humans are from the tree shrews from which they evolved. Tarkas have a coat of scales over their bodies, the patterns and thickness of which vary with the individual--although males traditionally have thicker and tougher scales than females, especially as they grow older. Tarkas also have three sets of eyelids and claw-like nails on both fingers and feet, which can become quite thick and sharp if they are allowed to grow.

Tarkas have five digits and an opposable thumb on their hands, and their feet are also prehensile. Their tails are muscular, shorter in the male than the female, and capable of manipulating objects and striking with significant force. It is standard practice for a Tarkasian martial artist to use his or her tail in combat.

Internally, Tarkas bear little resemblance to terrestrial reptiles. They have a very large and complex brain, warm blood and an advanced circulatory system. A Tarka’s heart has five chambers: four are engaged in standard respiration, and one is activated by the Tarka’s adrenal system. This auxiliary chamber rapidly flutters when a Tarka’s fight-or-flight reflexes are engaged, pumping a complex stew of chemicals and stimulants into the bloodstream. These act on all aspects of Tarka physiology, doubling or trebling the speed at which nervous impulses are transmitted, greatly dampening the feedback associated with pain or injury, profoundly affecting brain function, and flooding the body with blood and hormones. The resulting battle fury is legendary, and renders an adult Tarka extremely dangerous when “the little drum is beating”.

Tarkas are omnivorous, able to consume and digest a wide variety of plant and animal foodstuffs. They enjoy a natural lifespan of about 100 years, barring injury or disease. Tarkas have two genders and a standard mode of sexual reproduction; an adult female Tarka produces an unfertilized proto-egg within her body at standard intervals, and if this egg is not fertilized by a male, it passes from her body and she disposes of it (see Sidebar: A Lady’s Favor). Fertilization of Tarka eggs occurs in utero, and once fertilized the egg will remain within its mother’s body for several weeks, forming an extremely dense mass of compressed nutrients and a tough, thick leathery outer skin. Thereafter, the egg passes from the female’s body and begins an independent cycle of growth. If tended properly, the infant will hatch from its egg in approximately 18-24 months.

Tarka females average 120-180 centimeters in height and weigh from 60-100 kilograms. They reach their full adult size within 20 years of hatching and maintain roughly the same dimensions throughout their lives. Tarka males, by contrast, can go through two distinct phases of growth and development: the standard development from egg to adult which their female counterparts undergo, and a second stage of maturity which begins later, triggered by a special dietary regime. Tarkas refer to this secondary growth cycle as “the Change”.

Not all Tarka males will undergo the Change; in fact, it is estimated that only one in a thousand Tarka males ever reaches this phase of development. When the Change occurs, however, a male Tarka undergoes a profound physical and psychological transformation, which effects every aspect of his life.

The production of sex hormones in his body increases, which causes him to develop a broad spectrum of sexual traits. Firstly, he becomes fertile: although he has been able to perform as a sexual being from early adolescence, it is not until the Change that he begins producing viable sperm and becomes capable of fertilizing an egg. Along with this primary change in his reproductive capacity, he also develops a host of secondary sexual characteristics, which signal his availability to females and enable him to compete vigorously for mates.

His physical size increases enormously; he may grow up to 50 additional centimeters in height and his mass is likely to double—some senior males may weigh in at 200 kilograms or more. His vocal chords thicken and his voice becomes louder, deeper and more resonant. The coloring, arrangement and thickness of his scales will change radically, often forming entirely new marking patterns. His personality is substantially altered as well; in general he becomes much more aggressive, extroverted, ambitious, and prone to intense emotional outbursts and moodswings.

The pheromones that a mature male exudes have a variety of psychological effects on other Tarkas. Younger males, who have not undergone the Change, seem to find their senior counterparts extremely magnetic; they are docile and cooperative toward seniors, and easily influenced by their charismatic leadership. By contrast, other senior males become immediately hostile and competitive toward a male of their own stature, reacting automatically to every signal of maturity with anger. The rival’s voice, coloring, bearing and attitudes will be found offensive at an almost cellular level, and if the two are brought within range of one another’s pheromonal signatures, this effect increases many fold. Put two senior males into one room and a physical altercation is almost sure to result.

Females Tarkas, by contrast, have a less intense emotional reaction toward senior males. Although they find seniors personally, professionally and sexually attractive, they do not mirror the docility of their young male counterparts. Culturally speaking, female Tarkas tend to view all male Tarkas, both young and old, with a certain amount of prejudice, regarding them as emotionally unstable and prone to poor judgment. However, the ability of a senior male Tarka to command and control his juniors is often very useful in politics, in the military and in business affairs; most female Tarkas are inclined to harness and direct this power rather than suppress it.

Tarka society is extremely stratified, with many castes and many tiers of hierarchy in every walk of life. Reproductive viability for Tarka males is a privilege with a high premium, and a prize which every junior male desires. Unfortunately, achieving the Change is often difficult for Tarka males who have not been into a family with great wealth and power; reproductive viability carries a high premium, and many females must cooperate in order to raise one male to full maturity. Accordingly, males who cannot buy their way into this favored state must earn it, and are highly motivated to do so through success in their careers.

Male Tarkas are discriminated against in the majority of educated professions, and are unlikely to rise high in any field which does not involve a great deal of creative passion, personal risk, or violence. Although they are not forbidden to become diplomats, scientists, technicians or academics, they are subjected to a great deal of sexual prejudice and it is difficult for them to be taken seriously by their entrenched female counterparts. By contrast, a sizable majority of Tarkas in high-risk physical pursuits are male—common soldiers, firefighters, pilots, spacers, miners, etc.—and the same is true of many creative and artistic fields, where the stereotype of the impassioned male Tarka is not considered a drawback.

Sidebar: A Lady’s Favor

The rarity of senior males among the Tarka population was a subject of some interest to human biologists, who for many years could not understand the process by which an average Tarka male could become a senior. For years after first contact, these questions remained unanswered: why did so few Tarka males ever achieve the Change? And of those who did, why did some undergo the Change so early in life, while others waited literally decades longer to go through the same physical process? If the Change was a random event, visited on only a tiny percentage of the male population, then why was it so common in members of the highest castes, and less often achieved by lower caste Tarkas? Was the caste system based on a genetic tendency to produce more viable males? And if this was so, why were male Tarkas from humbler origins able to achieve the Change so readily after they had made some noteworthy contribution to society? Was there some correlation between the social recognition these Tarkas achieved and the production of male sex hormones?

Due to the social taboos surrounding the open discussion of the Change and its triggering mechanism, it took years to find the answers to these questions. The key to understanding was finally discovered not in the laboratory, but in the library; the answer was revealed when our linguists were finally able to translate the Tarka gutter dialects. A great wealth of pornographic literature had been written in these lower-caste languages over thousands of years, and a sizable majority of the fantasy scenarios in Tarka pornography are directly concerned with the Change—and its aftermath, of course.

The mechanism by which Tarka males achieve the Change is simple: they must eat the unfertilized eggs of Tarka females. Because these eggs are her personal and highly sacred property, and because all Tarka females are aware of the prize that their eggs represent, no female will relinquish an egg to a male without reason. If she does not have a worthy male available at the end of her egg cycle, a female Tarka will simply eat the egg herself. The act of giving an egg to a male as a reward for his achievements, or for services rendered, is sometimes referred to in more civilized circles, but always obliquely. The act carries a delicately euphemistic name: “Shal mek Tot”, or “the Lady’s Favor”.

No data is available on how many eggs a male Tarka must consume in order to trigger the Change; there is some evidence that the onset of the Change may vary with the individual. However, it is obvious that a single egg, or even several, is not sufficient to trigger the transformation; it seems far more likely that the Change is brought on by a fairly steady diet of eggs over a significant period of time. It is also apparent that when a male Tarka consumes even a single unfertilized egg, the broth of fertility chemicals consumed has an immediate, powerful effect on his body and mind. All authors willing to discuss the subject describe the consumption of the egg as an ecstatic, almost psychedelic experience—imminently desirable even if it does not lead immediately to the onset of maturity.

Once the mechanism of the Change was revealed, the behavior of lower-caste and less affluent Tarka males was far more easily understood. Their lives can be seen as a never-ending quest for reproductive viability, and all the privileges that go with it; their willingness to accept great personal risk is balanced by what they perceive as the possibility of great personal gain. Achieving the Change is an important goal for any male Tarka, but only one in a thousand is ever able to become a father; under the circumstances, male Tarkas who are not born into wealth and power are extremely motivated to prove their worth to the females that surround them, and to achieve as much wealth and status as possible.

Sidebar: Primary Education Among the Tarkas

Tarkas remain in the egg phase of development for a long time; the infant Tarka gestates within a protective shell for a period of almost two years between fertilization and hatching. During a substantial portion of this gestation period, the Tarka infant within the egg is self-aware and alert to its environment, responsive to stimuli and communicative with the outside world.

Because the Tarka infant is sensitive and aware during this prolonged period of confinement, the care and stimulation of egg-bound Tarka is considered very important. Accordingly, “incubation academies” and ovatariums are a long-standing tradition in Tarka society. Most fertilized eggs are handed over to an ovatarium within a few weeks of laying.

The regimen provided by any given ovatarium will vary according to the professional and caste affiliations of the parents, as well as their financial and social positions. Certain prestigious “incubation academies” are reserved for the eggs of the highest-ranking and wealthiest Tarkas, while others are considered very desirable for those with military service, academic excellence or artistic achievement in their futures. There are often long waiting lists for the most exclusive ovatariums, and many secondary education programs will not accept candidates who have not been gestated in an ovatarium of the appropriate standing.

In any ovatarium, trained professionals attend to the physical needs of the egg, turning it often and maintaining the proper course of heat and light. The developing hatchling is also provided with a great deal of intellectual and social stimulation, however; Tarka hatchlings are able to perceive light and movement through the shell casing, which becomes increasingly translucent as they grow, and they can also hear a full range of sounds. Primary education during the egg phase includes a wide variety of interactive games, songs, stories, conversations and exercises, with developing eggs in contact both with their adult caregivers and with other infants in nearby eggs. Occasional visits by the parents are usually encouraged, and the parents return to claim their offspring during the Hatching Ceremony, a ritualized “graduation” event which marks the Tarka’s emergence into the world and his or her exit from the safety and security of the egg.

Although they cannot respond verbally to their care-givers during gestation, most Tarka hatchlings respond to stimuli by knocking on the shell from within. Ovatarium workers throughout history have taught infant Tarkas to use this form of communication, and over many thousands of years this Morse-like “Egg Knock” code has become a language in and of itself. The Egg Knock Code is, in fact, the only language which is universal to all Tarkas, who otherwise speak a wide variety of planetary, regional and caste dialects as adults. Accordingly, the EKC is commonly used in the faster-than-light communications throughout the Tarkasian empire, as it contains a vocabulary of approximately 4,000 words and can be roughly understood and translated by every member of the species.

Sidebar: Life in the Tarka Fleet

The Tarka military hierarchy is unusual in Tarka society, in that the vast majority of soldiers, pilots and fleet officers are male Tarkas, while the majority of commissioned officers and graduates from the elite military academies are female. Within the operating fleet, this leads to a dynamic whereby almost 90% of all commissioned officers are females. A single female or a small, tightly-knit cadre of females is often in charge of an entire crew of “immature” Tarka males, who are highly motivated both personally and professionally to distinguish themselves in combat.

As an example, the typical crew manifest of a Tarkasian destroyer would include a female officer carrying a rank of captain, a pair of immature males at the helm and navigation/communication posts, a female technical officer in the engine room, and four to six male gunners. On a larger vessel, the technical officer would have several younger males under her command, and possibly a junior female engineer; the command staff on the bridge would include the female commander and a small cadre of junior officers who were either less experienced females or male NCO’s who had risen in rank due to distinguished service. By contrast, authority positions outside of the command deck or the drive room are far more likely to be occupied by experienced male officers than by female; it is rare for a female Tarka to acquire the experience necessary to become a gunnery sergeant, for example.

This hierarchy of Tarkas in sex-based positions of authority produces highly effective combat units, so long as the officers are always present to keep their men under control and working together. The officers aboard any ship are highly prized for this reason; the command module of any Tarkasian vessel will be more heavily armored than any other part of the ship. Protecting their command staff is not only desirable for personal and social reasons, to the junior male crew; it also helps to avoid the inevitable chaos which results when a typical Tarkasian crew complement is left to its own devices. Junior males without leadership are rarely able to establish a clear chain of command.

This system of organization would have a tendency to break down if senior males were not available in the higher ranks of fleet command, of course. Senior males are accordingly promoted for distinguished service, and serve a necessary function when it’s necessary to group larger numbers of ships and personnel. Ergo, while the vast majority of commissioned officers below a rank of colonel are females, the highest-ranking officer on the line in any given battle group will almost always be a senior male. In combat, a senior commands quick and absolute obedience: his image and the sound of his voice are sufficient to keep several ships organized and acting on his orders.
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Captain's Log

Post by Erinys » Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:17 am

Today I have assumed command of the Imperial starship Massa Lac, and according to tradition I have begun a commander’s log to record my thoughts and impressions.

The ship: I have spent the day pouring over it. I have read the schematics, and traveled its length and breadth many times--memorizing every switch and weld, inside and out. It is a fine vessel. Small, perhaps, but as good a place to begin my career as an Imperial officer as any. A mere destroyer may not look like much, but it is spaceworthy and swift as our shipwrights can make it. When they can build better, I will simply have to see to it that I am ready for promotion.

The crew: I reviewed them immediately and gave them my first address and orders this morning. An eager pack of bright-scaled, stiff-tailed killers--young, anxious to please and to prove themselves, hungry for my favor. I must admit, I like them already. All of them have a taste for victory. I know it will be difficult to find the proper balance, as their commander—to spur ambition without sacrificing obedience, to enourage them to strive for excellence without turning on one another. This is why I chose to remind them, upon our first meeting, that we will face real hazards in the days ahead. They had best learn to fight together--or they will each die alone.

The mission: We are shipping out into open space, seeking the nearest habitable planet. In days of old, there were maps of these regions, and colonies which made our people wealthy, wise, strong. Thanks the gods that the new Supreme Commander is a man of vision! Our people are returning to the stars for the first time in years, after decades of useless tail-biting on the homeworld. And I am delighted to be a part of this push to reclaim the power and the glory of old. I am delighted to feel, for the first time in my life, like a true Tarka—born, like my grandmother and the generations before her, to cleave the stars.

And myself? I am Sara of the clan Ja’dur, and this is the happiest day of my life. For hours my heart has been pounding, blood singing through my veins. At the close of day I went to my own chamber for my meditations, but I could not be still; I performed the sword kata instead, whirling until my body and blades became a blur. It took nearly an hour to exhaust the outpouring of my little heart. Now I can only curl upon the floor, radiating the heat and aching with a passion I have never felt before, a yearning I can barely understand.

It is as if I am hungry, with the hunger of centuries. As if I want a man, right now, this minute; as if I could exhaust a dozen men. As if I am enraged, with my enemy’s throat between my teeth and her heart’s blood throbbing against my tongue.

I am drunk. I am delirious. I am ridiculous. Traveling at engines full, knowing there could be nothing in our path, I nonetheless spent the day praying that we would meet with some obstacle—be it so humble as a drifting chunk of rock—so that I could open up the batteries of this vessel and smash it to atoms. Just to hear my own voice give the order…and see the power that has been placed in my hands.

Yes, I know I should delete this entry, and replace it instead with some sober and dignified mumbling about honor, duty, tradition. I should compose some stale blather about the joy of meritorious service in the name of the Nine, praise the Supreme, mention my ancestors. I should compose a stilted sonnet to be read by gray-scaled bureaucrats who have forgotten what battle fury feels like—if they ever knew.

But I won’t change a word. This is a new age. There are new rules. There will be a new empire! And I, Sara Ja’dur, will help to win it.

Onward to glory. Thank the gods I was born a Tarka!
Last edited by Erinys on Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dirt Gunfrey
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Post by Dirt Gunfrey » Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:10 am

*beats his chest* RAAAARRR!

MAN am I jazzed about this game.
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Post by Erinys » Tue Jul 25, 2006 4:02 pm

You and Sara both! :twisted:

--Arinn
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Post by Tssha » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:08 pm

Point to Prove by Theory of a Deadman makes a good accompaniment to this story.

Also, I can hear you deliver the words Arinn. You sound good. :)
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Post by Ined » Sat Aug 05, 2006 7:05 pm

There is a question that has been boyhering me about the Tarkas. Changed males seem to be pretty rare and a valued 'commodity' in Tarka society. Also, the Change is a pretty rare thing (lady's gift and all that) so the number of Changed males is pretty small. If this is the case, than what is stopping a poor lower caste female from giving her own eggs to her favorite son/nephew/whatever to 'Change' him therefore pushing her family up on the social ladder?

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Post by Mecron » Sat Aug 05, 2006 8:22 pm

Becuase the realm of a changed male is a dangerous one. Just becuase a weak family puts out a silverback, doesn't mean he will survive contact with a better set one...and the hormones and dominance systems means the average changed, especially new and poorly counciled ones...leap far sooner than they look.

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Post by The Writer2 » Sat Aug 05, 2006 10:02 pm

Don't forget life expectancy too. Changed males often lose a couple decades because of the increased stress on their bodies. Some unChanged males may look upon it and say, "Well, I can't make babies, but I'll live longer..."
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Post by Agent » Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:36 am

All right Kaan'ish, lets do this! Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaarraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa *breath* Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’dur!

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Post by Psymon » Sun Aug 13, 2006 4:05 pm

Tarka females scare me.
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Post by PrinzMegaherz » Fri Aug 25, 2006 6:51 pm

The nice thing about those races is that you actually can relate to them - they are what humans would be if we had those circumstances for living

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Post by Galacticus » Mon Aug 28, 2006 4:50 am

I just love how they call me Var Kona. It makes me feel in charge. they also sound GREAT. I expected them to sound different, but I love the tone, it really surprised me. Good job Arin

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Post by Erinys » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:34 pm

Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying being Mr. Big. :)

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Post by LordN » Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:54 am

Galacticus wrote:I just love how they call me Var Kona. It makes me feel in charge. they also sound GREAT. I expected them to sound different, but I love the tone, it really surprised me. Good job Arin


agreed, I like the sound of it aswell.
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Post by Les » Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:26 pm

Given that 'A Lady's Favor' has such sensual overtones as to be featured in Tarkan pornography, wouldn't a mother attmpting to enhance her son's status by inducing 'the change' with her own eggs be rather.... incestuous?

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