Venria III orbits a warm yellow sun, on the inner border of the star’s life belt. Rich in water, it has become a cradle of life, bringing forth many interesting beasts, amongst them the Kiranti, who, one day, would venture to the stars.
Wealthy in metals, Venria’s native life is most often of vibrant colors, yet the planet as a whole is toxic to most visitors, requiring them to reside in domes with filtered water and air, and eat food grown on purified soils.
Both the sea and land are over-abundant in life, and can support numerous large and cunning predators - thus, it comes as a surprise that the diminutive Kiranti, reaching four to five feet in height and of no particular strength, have become the dominant species of the planet.
Omnivores dwelling in large family groups, the slender Kiranti walk upright on two legs with four prehensile toes, leaving four arms with six-fingered hands solely for manipulation. Having been more prey than predator during their evolution, their senses are highly acute, especially sight and hearing. Their large, luminescent eyes with striking colors are what outsiders notice first and foremost; their ears are mobile, large and pointed. To enhance this array of senses, nature has also gifted them with two antennae to feel motion and scent.
As metal is over-abundant in everything on Venria, Kiranti deposit it in their antennae, colored spots on their skin (especially on the back, above the sternum, on the neck and on the outer sides of limbs) and especially hair, gifting it with a wire-like quality and rainbow color. Nowadays, Kiranti wishing for a particular color will supplement their diet with appropriate metals (iron, gold, manganese or copper come to mind).
Still, the Kiranti do not owe their survival and success to their climbing ability, nor their metallic nails, or adaptability. Their major gift is an ability to share sensory input and emotion with others, limited empathy in fact.
A predator who caught one of them would find himself assaulted with pain after every blow he dealt, fleeing soon. More so, a cornered Kiranti would share her fear with the assailant when he came close, and as beasts do not question their feelings, it would flee.
Thus, they were able to leave the safety of the forest for the plains, and domesticate many a wild creature - generally, animals become accustomed, some would say addicted, to the fae touch very soon, and are very easy to reward or punish.
This gift has allowed the Kiranti to avoid the misery of war, as they are quite incapable to cause violence upon each other, or even see one of their number suffer. Missile weapons are a different matter, as they allow them to stay out of the reach of their foe’s pain, and a few of their wars have been fought using these - still, they prefer diplomacy or subterfuge when conflict in their midst arises, as they have learned this coping strategy long before they had any better missile weapon than a rock.
Those few individuals whose empathic perception and projection is defective are generally considered handicapped; from their ranks, those few sociopaths the Kiranthi society has brought forth come. Paradoxically, these pitiable individuals occupy posts in medical professions, as they can easily approach their suffering fellows.
Despite many efforts of their philosophers, gurus and scientists, the Kiranti were unable to extend their gift to transmit actual thought - only sensory perception in real time and emotions are possible. A few gifted individuals are able to visualize and replay their past experiences to others.
While they have no concept of marriage, instead living in loose extended partner groups, the Kiranti are very intimate and honest in these relationships; they have an easier time at this, as, unlike many other species, they receive excellent feedback from their partners.
Concerning reproduction, they are viviparous mammals with a tetraploid set of chromosomes that is subject to excessive methylation and complex regulation of expression. A would-be mother has to mate three times to conceive; both popular belief and science state that their first partner will have the most profound influence on the child’s physique, whereas the second partner influences the mental attributes. The third one seems to influence both the physique and the mind in subtle ways - popular belief defines the three matings as the conception of Body, Mind and Spirit. Kiranti are hermaphroditic - it is traditional to offer the conception of Body to someone who has gifted your child with the first set of chromosomes; in the case of Spirit, most often a Kiranti will offer herself to someone she admires greatly.
Truth be said, family ties are very complicated.
Kiranti love to live in trees. This has remained true even today; their need for large cities has given rise to huge genetically engineered tower-trees with naturally occurring hollows. Two things must not be missing in a cozy home - the first is pets, most often small carnivores, the second is running water.
Usually, the Kiranthi hide the heavy industry and public transportation below ground. Given their social nature, they rarely use individual transports - in fact, there is a certain redundancy in most of their doings, as they generally dislike going anywhere alone.
Used to the warmth of their home, Kiranthi prefer to wear loose garments, most often made of bio-plastic, or living symbiotic tissue, often blooming plants; sometimes furred.
In their colonization, they also prefer warmer worlds.
A democratic government runs the Kiranti worlds. While to an outsider the meetings of the governing bodies resemble nothing more than a load of ladies chatting at a coffee house, the social dynamics within and beneath are quite complex.
Luckily, the Kiranti place more importance on common wealth than personal gain, and dishonesty is easier found out due to their gift; thus, corruption is rarer and easier to weed out.
Somewhat reluctantly leaving the cozy cradle that is their homeworld for the stars, the Kiranti have encountered several species amongst the stars, some reasonable, some less so.
While they generally attempt to mediate in disputes, and solve them without bloodshed, establishing extensive embassies amongst their neighbors, as well as neutral space stations and planetary centers to hold meetings, they know well enough that an unarmed empire would be too welcome a treat.
Their fleet features highly mobile ships equipped with mechanisms of misdirection and stealth, as well as surgically precise weaponry. What they fail miserably at are boarding actions, which they avoid like the plague. Kiranti ships thus feature extensive defensive weaponry in corridors and trained, bionically modified predators aboard.
Likewise, they have little taste for conquest, and even less for planetary invasions. Still, like the warlike Vaturae, who swore not to rest until every Kiranti was slain learned, this does not prevent them from razing a world to a ball of rock.
Seeing that space can be, and most often is, a dangerous place, the Kiranti weave an elaborate net of alliances, preferring to leave the heavy fighting to others.
Additional Ideas (2)
Kiranti Garments On their homeworld, clothing serves a decorative more than a protective function - still, Kiranti are quite vain, and most often go clothed as to emphasize their appearance, or hide flaws. For example, if one of them dos not like the pattern of her spots, she will wear clothes that cover the disliked part. Those with fewer spots might paint patterns on their bodies using iridescent metal pigments. Preferred fabrics are of natural materials - historically, wool and plant fiber, nowadays genetically engineered living tissue. Work clothing and environmental protection suits are made of heavy duty bioplastic that has some reparative capacity, using body waste to sustain itself - it can be fed using nutrient inlays or baths. Bioplastic clothing is able to warm the user by uncoupling the citric acid cycle from oxidative phosphorylation, much like brown fat of human infants can. Casual clothing is very loose and soft, and usually supplemented by jewelry. As their planet is rich in metals, the Kiranti do not attribute too much value to gold, silver or plating, yet they are well aware of their decorative capabilities. Jewelry is a very common gift. Living plants are included in the clothes, fed from small nutrient flasks, or storing energy within the living cloth. Work suits and even military uniforms are still highly decorative. Instead of medals and signs of rank, uniforms feature resilient flowers, much to the amusement of several macho militaries throughout the galaxy. Color, number and type of flowers denote rank and achievements. As much attention is paid to maintaining the flowers as the human military paid to polishing boots. Uniforms feature contractile filaments that allow them to shift from a loose, casual mode to a more tightly fitting form without wildly flapping decorative elements that might interfere with, say, a space suit.
Luckily for them, the Kiranti homeworld is rich in ores, as is their moon and asteroid belts, easing the effort of constructing ships greatly.
Knowing that space is inhabited by unpleasant species who delight in shooting up unwary strangers, Kiranthi vessels, whether trade, civilian or military, feature high output fusion drives capable of an economic mode and a battle mode with far greater output (but also fuel consumption) and additional maneuvering drives both as backup and to execute tricky combat maneuvers.
Most ships also hold an escape charge, basically a fission bomb that accelerates the ship greatly, at the cost of extreme discomfort of the crew.
Military capital vessels hold most of their personnel in the center of the ship, which is a smaller spacecraft in itself, capable of escaping a doomed ship and carrying the crew to safety.
Lots of funding and effort are being put into cloaking devices - a Kiranti vessel with powered-down shields and drive is almost impossible to spot, unless one knows what he is looking for; at longer ranges, even a powered-up one can and most often does escape detection.
Scout vessels feature optical camouflage as well, masquerading as asteroids in space, and rocks on planets.
To further elude confrontation when possible, Kiranti build larger ship-to-ship missiles than most alien navies, fitting them with extended electronic counter-measures and masking devices, as well as extra fuel for longer range - striking from concealment and vanishing again.
Small unmanned ships or missiles usually approach enemies, unleashing fake targets and fooling furthermore with sensors using deliberately dirty drives and shields set to generate interferences and static. Also, a favorite tactic is to detonate nuclear warheads near foes to bathe their sensors in hard radiation.
Fighter craft are quite popular in the Kiranti navy as well, as the small ships can evade detection easily, require minimum crew and can attack without exposing capital ships. Usually, they carry high-yield energy weapons, around which the attack craft is constructed; multi-purpose fighters are equipped with lighter weaponry instead, four wings allowing for atmospheric maneuvers, and extensive electronic warfare equipment meant to shield heavier ships advancing behind them, fool missiles and make targeting the small craft more difficult.
For close confrontation, Kiranti rely on heavy duty shields, precise energy weapons, ion cannons and particle projectors.
The shields dissipate and shed energy rapidly, flaring in patterns unique for every ship due to small construction differences - some engineers actually deliberately construct ships for a certain battle flare pattern. A side effect is that the shields can sear small vessels at short range when they discharge; a risky maneuver is to overload the shields deliberately to scorch enemy fighter craft.
Energy weapons are primarily aimed at an enemy's weaponry, drives, and exposed command posts; ion cannons and particle projectors fry systems en masse.
Generally, Kiranti vessels do not fare too well at close range, as they often sacrifice brute firepower for range and precision. Likewise, the armor of their ships is not as heavy as it could be, but something had to be sacrificed for speed.
An important factor in battles is their empathic link - while it eases coordination of the crew greatly, once their morale starts to falter, especially rookie crews tend to panic, fear spreading like wildfire. Green crews frequently break formation under heavy fire, and few Kiranti can stand the fear of being boarded.
The design of ships features smooth curves of gleaming metal, spiral motifs and long sleek winged shapes. Their drives flare a distinct sharp blue.
Inside, the corridors are likewise slightly curved, as are most walls. Kiranti are no great fans of corners and edges. Living plants decorate even warships, thriving in the artificial lighting well enough.
All ships are home to various pets; warships house several warhounds, dangerous and cunning critters enhanced with cyberware that are released into the corridors when boarding has started and the crew is withdrawing. After being excessively petted and snuggled by the crew, the risk that they would attack any of their own is low indeed. On peaceful voyages, they most often serve as playmates, or large cushions for the crew visitors are often horrified by the apparent carelessness with which the crew handle some of the worst predators of their planet.
Due to their social nature, crew quarters feature common beds, and generally, mated groups are recruited for crew if possible. Sometimes, even the captains post will be held by not one, but two Kiranti whose bond is so close that they can discuss matters and come to a conclusion almost as fast as a single person could, but with less potential for error.
Generally, Kiranti vessels are pleasant to reside in, equipped even for long operations in the field not only with energy and foodstuffs, but recreational facilities to keep crew morale and sanity high (this is of course impossible in smaller vessels).
The only problem for visitors may be that the ship is meant for four to five feet tall beings.
Note: to the ugly surprise of enemies, Kiranti vessels sometimes display weaponry and tactics vastly different from the norm - this is due to the fact that their industrial capacity allows the Kranti to export ships, most often selling them to close allies at acceptable prices; these are custom-built according to the ally's specifications, yet outwardly bear all marks of Kiranti design. An attacker has approximately a one-in-twenty chance that a discovered Kiranti ship bears something else than fragile fae on board.