Tesskil ("FillaTresstanWhey" in Fillipod)
2.1 m tall, 240kg
Color & Markings
The Tesskan body is very imposing, with a thick, keratin-infused hide over an amazingly strong musculature. They have much higher bone mass than other creatures of comparable size, and lack a corresponding amount of speed and grace. The upper torso of a Tesskan is particularly strong, and can deliver blows that can break a Tiff Deer's back with minimal effort. Tesskans are noted for their three natural weapons: A razor-sharp, cresting pair of horns, retractable claws, and two massive tusks. An oft-remarked visual characteristic is the sizable "Tesskan belly": Tesskans will commonly eat an entire Tiff Deer in one sitting, then slowly digest it over three months.
Reproduction & Development
Tesskans and Fillipods are the only known sentient species to have developed on the same planet: Tesskans alomg the warm grasslands of the southern continent, and Fillipods in the mountainous peaks of the northern continent. (See "Social Structure" below.) Traditionally, Tesskans live and travel in nomadic packs of 300-400, moving camp constantly to follow herds of Tiff Deer. In their reproductive season, Tesskan males undergo a series of violent, weeks-long fights to establish pack-hierarchy. Death is common, and leaves the survivng 50-70 males in the pack with exclusive breeding rights. Tesskan cubs are born blind, and are left to fend for themselves on the grassland by their mothers. Survivors eventually find and rejoin the pack, earning their place by challenging and killing the oldest pack member en masse.
Carnivores. And, on rare occassions, cannibalistic.
90-120 years, naturally. Average lifespan is 44.
On their own, Tesskans developed a guttural-sounding language with no writing system. Its verb tenses are almost entirely structured around the issuing of threats, responding to threats, or envisioning future threats. Tesskans have also learned "Fillipod-Basic": A simpler version of the flowery, poetic speech and hand-script of the Fillipods. Fillipod-Basic is mainly used on Tesskil for business and legal dealings between the two species. Since their assimilation into the Empire, Tesskans and Fillipods have both adopted the "Imperial Standard English-Spanish Hybrid".
It is almost impossible to imagine two more different species living symbiotically than the Tesskans and Fillipods. With each society unaware of the other for thousands of years, the culture-clash between the two upon "discovery" was world changing, and almost ruinous for the Fillipods. The violent Tesskans moved instantly to eradicate the smaller, passive Fillipods. On the Tesskan side, this action is largely credited with creating a new sense of "nation-hood" among Tesskans. It was a first-ever attempt at inter-pack cooperation that led to language refinement, quasi-political systems and a newfound sense of the "public sphere" that had not previously existed. On the Fillipod side, it was quickly surmised that their only hope was to prove their worth to Tesskans, as a subjugated "thinker" class. They offered to keep the burgeoning society of Tesskil operating, but would run no institutions themselves. This workable détente flourished, with the intelligent Fillipods in complete subjugation to their violent Tesskan compatriots.
Extensively tested. In the low Echo/Foxtrot range.
Interaction with Humans
Tesskans were shocked at the incursion of the first human ships into their planetary system, 110 years ago. Their territorial reaction was immediate: Destorying a human corvette and capturing a shuttle. (And, more critically, the coordinates to Earth within that shuttle's computers: A painful lesson that the Empire vows never to repeat.) Realizing that their in-system engines could not give them the territorial retribution they sought, Tesskans forced the Fillipods to quickly develop a sub-light propulsion system that could bring them to Earth.The ensuing three-year war was a brutal affair, and resulted in New York, Beijing and Berlin being destroyed from orbit. And, in what is now universally accepted as the critical error in the war, the Tesskans also flash-bombed an entire Veetan planet -- resulting in the first-ever mobilization of the Veetan Defense Forces.
Tesskil was conquered a week later.