“There is never a truly compelling reason not to be friends.” – Hrotata Maxim
The Hrotata are bipedal mammalians, covered with a sleek fur and featuring large, expressive eyes and mouths. They stand at roughly 1.75M, although there is great variety in their height and general size due to a large genetic base and variety of worlds of origin. Their fur often has tiger-stripe patterns, and naturally tends towards blonde, red, brown, black, and grey, although they take great delight in coloring it all manner of unnatural hues. They have small, black, sensitive noses, swiveling ears, and a slightly pronounced muzzle. Humans have described them as having bodies resembling those of earthly seals or otters, with faces reminiscent of lemurs or raccoons.
The Hrotata race developed as a species of small mammalian scavengers on Hrotata Prime, often following in the wake of the Ththraathumm, the precursors of the Taratumm. They would feed off of the remains of those fallen to predators, and occasionally steal the eggs of the common reptilian species of the planet. They claim that their sapience was developed due to the need to use strategy in the face of physically superior predators and egg-layers.
The Hrotata have always benefited from the other races on their world. They learned sea travel and navigation from the Taratumm and chemistry and metallurgy from the Vislin. Ever since they have been sapient, they have served as a bridge between the two other sapient races of their world, working first as spies and then as merchants and diplomats.
The Vislin and Taratumm needed diplomats badly. Ancient aggression had merely been exacerbating by advances in technology and increase in population. While occasionally the Hrotata were themselves subject to violence, it was usually instances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When it seemed like near-annihilation of the Taratumm was imminent, the Hrotata stepped firmly between the quarreling brothers, and revealed to them what they had learned through recently discovered advances in communications technology: that there was a whole galaxy of other races beyond their planet. This fact was used to cement the importance of tolerance and even cooperation between all of the races of Hrotata Prime. The Pact of the Great Family was forged, a short but succinct constitution for their new state of interspecies peace. Resistance was rare and quickly quashed, sometimes violently.
As the Matriarchs of the Great Family, the Hrotata quickly propelled their coalition forwards into space flight and colonization and terraforming of nearby worlds. Early interactions with the Tesetsi proved beneficial to both parties. The Tesetsi valued the genetic variety and unusual solutions and workarounds that the biology of Hrotata Prime provided. The Hrotata and the rest of the Great Family benefited from advice and application on terraforming and exobiology.
Hrotata space was not far from Mauraug space, however. The Mauraug Covenant took notice of the expansion of the Great Family’s territories and began to attempt to impose tribute from those that they claimed were using their space. This would have been a small side note in a massive Zig and Mauraug war had the Hrotata not made contact and peaceful overtures to the normally isolationist Zig leaders, and initiated diplomacy between the Zig, the Tesetsi, and others who had been subject to Mauraug aggression, creating the first incarnation of the body that is the modern-day Collective.
The Hrotata were livid at the treatment of mankind at the hands of the Mauraug Covenant, their own allies. Many of them realized that they would have been subjected to such treatment had the Collective failed, and saw mankind as an infant race to be fostered and protected from savage aggressors. Mauraug relations with the Hrotata have always been cool, as the Mauraug see them as interfering upstarts and the Hrotata and Great Family see the Mauraug Covenant as a crumbling edifice of totalitarian dogmatism.
Although much of the credit for the development of the Great Family’s energy technology goes to the Vislin, there are many among the populous Hrotata who have chosen life paths of scientific research. The Hrotata have been known to be very capable non-linear thinkers, which helped immensely with developing unusual solutions to problems of physics. The Vislin may have developed the base of the Energy Tech, but the Hrotata creativity gave it much of its edge.
The Hrotata are a carbon-based, DNA-based mammalian life form. Like the mammals of earth, they are warm-blooded, have fur, produce milk and bear live young. They are primarily nocturnal, and as a result have large, sensitive eyes and ears, as well as dark, mottled fur that helped to protect their ancestors against detection in the darkness. Their olfactory senses are quite refined as well.
They have a robust immune system, due to their ancestors’ carrion feeding habits, and seldom take ill. They are also fairly resistant to toxins, as these are a common defense mechanism in the rich biology of their world. Indeed, the Hrotata produce and extremely mild poison in their saliva that produces a very mild euphoria in most compatible life forms.
The Hrotata have a relatively quick metabolism and a high birth rate. Like humans, their race can breed at almost any time, and if their reproduction is not restricted their population expands rapidly. Their life spans are on the shorter end of the scale for galactic sentients. Their medical technology is advanced enough to protect them from many of the ravages of old age, but their quick metabolic rate causes tissue to wear down more quickly than in many other species.
Their bodies are compact and tend towards solid, flexible musculature. The Hrotata are very streamlined and have extremely efficient bipedal locomotion but often drop to all four for bursts of speed and improved balance.
Average Height: Five and a half feet
Average Mass: 75 kgs
Average/Maximum Life Span: 60/90 yrs
Masters of interaction and synthesis, the Hrotata integrate cultural practices of numerous species into their own, first those of the Great Family and then most of those of the other races that they have encountered and have worked with. Their culture is extremely diverse and widespread, as they enjoy sampling foreign practices and experimenting with alien mores.
Hrotata religion has been compared to the human religion Hinduism. It is a vast collection of traditions and philosophies with many branches tied by a few commonly held beliefs and ideals. There are many gods, although whether they are a manifestation of greater divine, individual beings, or embodied ideals varies upon the sect. Likewise, their interpretation of foreign gods differs, sects hold that they too exist and hold a similar place in the cosmos. Their faith involves offerings to the gods as an act of communion; the Hrotata make an offering and then partake of the offering themselves, sharing their chosen deity’s essence and growing closer to it by doing so.
Amongst themselves, Hrotata tend towards a matriarchal culture, with the breeding females being in charge of a given den and the females past breeding age functioning as administrators and chieftainesses. Although males become involved in their politics there is an obvious bias towards female leadership; culturally male Hrotata tend to be more interested in active roles in the military, scientific and medical fields although they also enjoy acting as cultural attaches and diplomatic liaisons. The males are far more likely to choose careers that put themselves in dangerous circumstances, hearkening back to the days when they were the food gatherers of their dens.
Dance is an essential form of Hrotata expression. Their lithe bodies, high energy, and almost genetic joi de vivre culminate in a rich tradition of acrobatic dance performance. Dance works itself into nearly every aspect of their life. One well-versed in Hrotata culture can pick up great nuance from their movement; body language is as important to the Hrotata as every other form of communication. There are ritualized dances preformed for religious reasons or to mark important events, but more importantly in some ways a Hrotata will often gyrate and twist to represent their emotional state. A Hrotata holding still is either unwell, deliberately trying to hide their emotions, or displaying strong displeasure (known as Stilling).
Their mimicry of other cultures sometimes troubles those with strongly held beliefs in propriety; as an example, the Hrotata who admire human Catholicism will often attempt to perform their own Masses and Transubstantiation without the aid of a priest and as a consequence may offend Catholic sensibilities by eating the Flesh and Blood of Christ for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This sort of behavior tends to cause great consternation in humans and the Mauraug, tolerant amusement in the Ningyo and Zig, awed reverence in the Awakeners, and grievous annoyance in the Tesetsi.
There are many followers of the Awakener philosophy among the Hrotata, blended seamlessly into their practices, and as a result telepathy has become vogue in their culture. Aside from its more obvious uses to a race of merchants, diplomats, and assassins, telepathy allows one to experience another’s perceptions; useful to a diplomat but quite addictive to a hedonist, and the Hrotata boast no shortage of hedonists among their kind. Hrotata telepaths are highly valued for their skill and intuitions into motive but often trusted less than telepaths of most other races due to fear of their skills at manipulation.
Their love of communication and interaction does have a dark side. Their skills at extraction and subversion have produced no shortage of swindlers, slavers, and cartel lords. Since the other members of the Great Family follow them on most endeavors, the actions of some few have brought shame on the many more times than they would like to remember.
The Hrotata are inquisitive and curious. A need to understand motive, probably developed in their role as scavengers as a defensive quality, defines much of their interactions with others. They feel a need to understand the reasons behind what they perceive in both social situations and intellectual ones, which contributes to their scientific creativity.