by Max Barry

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The Herpetological Empire of
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

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1

A Few Basic Factoids About Sakkra

The People

The beings that make up the Herpetological Empire of Sakkra are reptilian in origin, in essence non-human. They stand an average full-grown height of 7'6", with the tail being another 1/3rd of the body length. Two rows of serrated teeth line their powerful jaws. On each hand are two thumbs and two fingers. Scalation can range from a bright green to pitch black. Nearly any color can be found on their hides. Females tend to have an extendable flap of skin under their chin, called a dewlap. Males tend to have a spiny crest on the rear of their heads. These denote base emotions.

There was at a time when several different species of the Sakkran geno-type existed. These sub-genus were the Burrowers, the Deep Ones and the Grass-Walkers. Recently, since the Awakening on Titan, these sub-genus have resurfaced.

Sakkran Sub-Genus

The Burrowers were a mountain-dwelling people, who lived in subterranean caverns dug into mountains. They are substantially shorter than the average Sakkran, at a height of about 5 feet at full growth. They have sticky pads on their hands and feet allowing them to traverse their caverns with amazing speed, and allowing them to climb sheer vertical surfaces. Their skill with smelting and forging is legendary, and it is rumored the weapons and armor made by them are imbued with mystic properties.

The Deep Ones are an ocean and sea dwelling people. They stand at an average height of 9-10 feet at full growth. Their skin is covered in heavy, spikey natural armor, their hands have two fingers accompanied by massive lobster-like claws, and their mouths are covered in mobile plates. Their size and strength are tremendous and it is rumoured a Deep One on a rampage could eradicate a modern tank group.

The Grass-Walkers are thin and svelte beings, who live in the grasslands of Sakkra. They stand at a height of 6-7 feet high. They are incapable of normal speech, but could communicate via the mind. Their willpower is so great, they have managed to harness the art of the summoning of The Spirits, the Sakkran deific Pantheon. Their artisanship is also quite great, capable of crafting the finest detailed items of such magnificence it's almost unearthly. Their skin usually takes on irisdescent metallic tones, and their eyes tend to look multi-faceted.

The Young

The young of Sakkra are often reffered to as hatchlings. These are born in the Birth Pits of the Black Swamp. Since there is no discernable parent of any one hatchling, any adult can represent a hatchling, should it come to that. They are cared for by Tenders, who teach them the basics for survival, and watch over them until they become Neonates at the age of 20. They never leave the Black Swamp before this time.

The only exception to this is the Private Birth Pits of the Imperial Lineage. They have a separate area away from the common hatchlings, since the Imperial Lineage is known to have strong genes.

The Mating

Mating rituals in Sakkra occur every twenty years. When in this time is solely up to the parties involved. It begins with an exchange of representations of Ancestors Past who have some personal import for the individual. Usually someone who lived their life in an exemplary fashion, and influenced a modern Sakkran's way of life by example. Should the other party accept this representation, then a Dance is prepared.

This is a fairly social occasion, as couples vying for the attentions of their targets need to be compared to each other. It takes the form of a slow waltz at first with displays being made by the females. Head bobbing and inflating of dewlaps are the norm, as well as serpentine movements made accentuating desirable traits. Firmness of neck and tail, polish of claws and flexibility are desired the most.

The males stand to the sides as the females 'compete' against each other. Females can have any number of mates, while males are limited to one female. After a time, the females select their dance partner, and the males join them. The waltz continues, but with the dancers twisting and writhing along each other in a serpentine fashion.

Should a female decide a male is suitable for her, they adjourn to private chambers. What happens in there remains in there.

Fighting and Combat

The Sakkran Warrior will always prefer fighting up close, where one can smell their opponent. Even in these times of Sakkrans in powered armor, they prefer the jaw-plates capable of opening that they may use their teeth in battle.

There is a specific code the Sakkran uses in battle. Should an enemy, when fallen, have proven him or herself in battle, and fought with honor, they are invariably spared, and allowed to live. They are even given medical treatment and returned to their comrades.

Should an enemy prove cowardly and dishonorable, however, then they are eaten on the battlefield, alive or otherwise. This is so they may re-incarnate as a creature of honor, perhaps. Another attempt to live a life of dignity. It also serves to lessen the need for the Sakkran Warrior to carry a burden of food on themselves.

When a Sakkran is ready for battle, they give off a heady cinnamon scent, and a nictitating membrane often slides over their eyes. This is to protect their eyes from dust and debris. Their neck crest raises to its full height (or their dewlap inflates to show red in the case of females), and their eyes widen.

Education

After the age of 20, the hatchlings then come to be known as Neonates. They are then escorted out of the Black Swamp, and taken in by a small grouping of adults in a city, town or village. In this time, the adults in that grouping are responsible for teaching the neonates about the culture, history and customs of the land. Literature, the sciences and mathematics are also covered in a basic form.

There they are raised until the age of 50, when they become young adults. It is then that the Universities open up to them to complete their education. During this time, service in the Defense Forces is mandatory as a way to earn their stay in the sponsoring University. Whether the young adult opts to stay in the Defense Forces afterwards is their choice.

The pace of the education is stepped up dramatically, with advanced sciences, athletics, advanced survival tactics and engineering applied. This is because this is the time when the Sakkran mind is at optimal absorption of knowledge. They can soak up the most trivial details like a sponge, and carry them throughout the remainder of their life. All educational facilities are sponsored by the Imperial Treasury, so that all Sakkrans get the benefit of a free education.

Architecture

The architectural design of Sakkrans is one of co-habitation with the elements natural around them. If it is a rocky hillside they live on, then a network of tunnels and cavern-based dwellings are what is called for. Should the area be a dank swamp or forest, then the homes will be built in the trees. And should it be a level surface, such as grasslands, then the homes are built as insectoid hives.

The material used to construct homes is called Resin, a natural and durable material gained from the Resin Beetles. These beetles are also used to aid in excavation of caves and tunnels. Their diet is silicon based, meaning they can eat stones and the like. The material gained from the end-result of their digestion process is the resin. It is a gooey paste that hardens quickly into a material that is non-porous, durable as concrete and light as aluminum.

With this resin, Architects shape individual houses and buildings, and also form support beams, pillars and vaulted archways. Then they wait for it to dry before they continue on to the next step.

An average Sakkran home would be a low dome-shaped structure that looks to be one level high. Inside the home, however, are access ramps to subterranean passageways. The home also extends into these depths. Here are the true living quarters found. Restrooms, bed chambers and common areas are the standard. Heat chambers are also located in each home to allow the Sakkran to work up to the correct level of body heat to perform at peak for many hours. Humidifiers in each heat chamber keep their mucous membranes moist, which is important to their breathing comfort. Multiple storage areas are located in the home, as well as spare rooms for guests.

Sport

Sports common in Sakkra to the rest of the world are usually the ancient America Rules Football, and Rugby. A sport native to Sakkra is called Jugg. There are in-region matches, regional matches and then the national match, which is declared a national holiday and lasts for a week.

Rules for Jugg

Teams:
Each team has 5 individuals. Three with staffs, one with a chain, and one with no weapon. The leading being with a staff is called the Slash. The being without a weapon is known as the Qwik.
How:

The playing field is 20 yards by 40 yards. In the middle is a circle with a 10-foot diameter. In the center is a Newt Skull that serves as the ball. At each end of the field is a stake planted in the ground. The objective is to get the skull planted on the stake on the enemy side of the field. Only the Qwik can touch the skull.

Timing:
The game is timed with “Stones”. A stone is equal to the amount of time it would take to bend down, pick up a stone, and throw it against a gong. For our purposes, we call this 3 seconds beaten on a drum. So a stone is 3 seconds. Each game is 600 stones long. Three rounds are 200 stones each with breaks in-between.

Winning:
The game ends when the skull hits a stake. Or when the time runs out, in which case the game is a tie. If the Qwik is incapable of playing, and there is no replacement, the game is called a tie.

Hits:
All hits count. Becoming lightly wounded allows one to sit for six stones off the field of play. Getting heavily wounded allows a nine stone time out. Getting seriously wounded, or suffering a heavy head blow allows a 12 stone break until the wounded comes to their senses. If one is incapacitated and unable to continue, a replacement may be brought in for them.

Pins:
If someone is down, you can place your weapon on them and “Pin” them. They can’t get up as long as your weapon is touching them. Once it is off, they sit for 2 more stones and can fight again.

Weapons:
Staffs can be wood, plastic or metal and are required to have at least one layer of padding on both ends. The recommended amount is at least 18 inches on each end. They shouldn’t be too much over 8 feet long. The chain is made of pretty much anything, and has a layer of soft rubber on it. The chain is not allowed to be over 9 feet. The Qwik has no weapon so he uses wrestling moves, disarms people, whatever it takes to stay alive.

Other:
Staff users must keep their hands on their weapons at all times. BOTH hands.

Armor:
As much or as little as you wish. Aside from some form of helmet, nothing is required, but is strongly suggested.

Social Courtesies

When greeting another for the first time in that meeting, it is customary to preceed their name with their title. IE Engineer Pwaar. It shows acknowledgment and appreciation of their efforts through their life. Afterwards, for the remainder of that meeting, addressing the other person takes a far more informal tone.

Although physical contact is not unheard of between beings not fully familiar with each other, there are some areas that should never, ever be handled except in very special circumstances.

One of these areas is the part of the tail where it meets the waist. This is the area where the reproductive organs are found. As such, grabbing this area is akin to requesting sexual favors then and there.

The next is the dewlap on the necks of females. This is an area of great sensitivity, and is guarded most ferociously by the females. It is not uncommon for juries to let a female walk away with murder if it was found that her dewlap was mis-handled by the slain being.

Hospitality

Hospitality is very important to the peoples of Sakkra. To have visitors is a big deal. Often all manner of beverage and food-stuffs are made available to guests that are not often found in the average household. The visitor's comfort and well-being are paramount issues.

Figures of Note in the Empire

Emperor Kraah
Once Emperor of all Sakkra. He has since retired, abdicated or whatever is the appropriate terminology. His appetites are legendary, being a sensualist of the highest order. Under his guidance, the Sakkran people have emerged from their subterranean dwellings and reached into the Void itself.

Empress Sszeera
The mate of Kraah and Empress. Under her guidance, the Arts and Culture of Sakkra has seen a new era of creative freedoms and inspiration.

CEO Kargaah
Head of Hreer Weapon Works, the CEO also moonlights as the official Trade Minister for all Sakkra. He has steered the people of Sakkra to new levels of financial success, and has brokered the research, development and construction of the newest series of civilian and military technology.

General Gaarm
Supreme commander of all Sakkra Defense Forces, the General has been organizing, training and improving Sakkran military craft and soldiers to previously unthought-of heights. He also serves occasionally as a diplomat when there is no other recourse than to be an intimidating presence. Dead serious at most times, and ever aware of his surroundings.

Advisor Gorrm
Kraah's oldest hatchling capable of assuming the throne, Gorrm is much more of a believer in moderation than his sire. Then again, anyone would be in comparison. He has been bringing about a resurgence in presence of the Order of Rragg, an ancient Sakkran religion based on ancestor reverence. He is currently diverting some Imperial funding towards cementing Sakkran culture and music in its people, lest they forget themselves amongst all the new stimuli in the world.

Director Seerak
The developing planet has become the Imperial Seat, and Kraah finds himself there more and more frequently. As a result, Seerak makes certain that the capitol city of Palaai is always clean and efficient. Sometimes he wonders why he even bothers with his job, but often that passes as the perks of Directorship become apparent. He has also been charged with keeping the Vubz System Coordination Base running smoothly and efficiently.

Chief Engineer Jouuha
Now freshly retired from Imperial Service, the Chief Engineer has entered into the forming of a private enterprise with Kargaah and H'zta. His research and design efforts have brought about great leaps in stellar technologies, computational and communication systems, and powered armor suits as well as many others. Not entirely comfortable in social settings, he finds himself working more than is healthy.

Sessra
Kargaah's youngest hatchling, currently in training for the Diplomatic Corps. Her bubble-headed demeanor is meant to disarm more wily opponents on the international stage, but she is methodical and ruthless when it comes down to business.

Admiral Shaar
Supreme commander of all Sakkran Imperial Stellar Navy forces. She is not one to trifle with one bit. Her temper is legendary, and her memory long. She is known to have an extreme sense of vengeance, but within limits so as not to be detrimental to her oaths to the service of the Emperor and the Empire. But as a mother she is loving and very protective.

Advisor Bosska
Current head of the Guaah Diplomatic Corps. He moves slowly and purposefully. His diplomatic tactics are much the same. He is known to wait in silence for long periods of time in meetings, waiting for someone to make their move. In the meantime, he is plotting every possibility, and preparing strategies to counter them. He may seem dull, but appearances can be deceiving.

Director Thress
Kraah's oldest female hatchling. She had shown her capabilities as a sneak and eavesdropper early on. She had decided not to seek the Throne, but instead serves her people as the Director of the Skeen Counter-Insurgency and Intelligence Services. Very little escapes her attention, and she is known to keep her cards very close to her chest. Skilled in the ways of espionage and assassination, Kraah will often call on her when a 'situation' needs to meet a 'discrete conclusion'.

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