The Teshari are feathered reptilian pack predators from the Skrell homeworld of Qerr'balak, known to the Teshari as Sirisai. While they evolved in tandem with the Skrell, their early interactions tended to be confused and violent, and until peaceful contact was made they largely remained in the planet's polar territories, in tundral terrain far too desolate and cold to be of interest to the primarily swamp-dwelling Skrell. In more recent times, the Teshari have become a minority culture on many Skrell worlds, both maintaining their own settlements and cultures and living alongside their sister race. However, the Teshari often find themselves at the mercy of their more technologically advanced neighbours when it comes to meeting and exploring the rest of the galaxy.
The Teshari are very small, rarely reaching more than 2-3ft (1m) in height, and weigh less than 30lbs (13kg). Their bodies are covered in thick, insulating feathers which evolved to protect against the extreme cold and winds of their native habitat. However, the remarkable ability of Teshari feathers to trap heat also puts them at high risk of overheating in warmer climates, and even the standard room temperatures of human, and especially Skrell facilities can feel uncomfortably hot. Typically around 20C becomes uncomfortable, while 30C and up may be potentially dangerous in the long term. Their bodies naturally regulate temperature by blood flow, concentrating blood in their featherless hands and feet in order to cool off.
They have rapid metabolisms and very efficient digestive systems, and thanks to the advantages offered by Skrellian medical technology, they tend to have robust and effective immune systems. While Teshari are omnivorous, most prefer to eat meat wherever possible and are capable of digesting raw meat and eggs, incorporating these into some of their traditional meals alongside fruits, vegetables and herbs and spices.
Teshari have two large ears, though these often blend into their head plummage. As a result their range of hearing is exceptional, and sensitive to the point that they can detect a person moving on the other side of a wall. However, this comes at the cost of being extremely vulnerable to sonic weaponry like flashbangs, which can cause long-term hearing damage in some circumstances. Due to a misprint in an early Skrellian textbook, many humans long believed the species to possesses four ears.
Though Teshari facial structure does not allow for the range of expression seen in other species like humans, they are nonetheless very expressive. Their range of expression is conveyed mainly through movement, and the adjustment of their feathers, especially those on their tail and head, as well as various chirps and warbles. For example an angry or scared Teshari might bare their teeth or claws and fluff up their feathers, giving the appearance of becoming larger, an interested or curious Teshari might tilt their head or shift their entire body, or an excited Teshari might extend their plummage.
Teshari body feathers are naturally muted colours, such as browns, greys and whites, with plummage coming in a wider natural range similar to many earth fowl. For modern Teshari, dyes are a popular choice for a wider range of self-expression.
NOTE: Due to their diminutive size, they should not realistically use large, two-handed weapons, such as (but not limited to) fireaxes, shotguns, machine guns, rifles, carbines, swords, or baseball bats. Smaller weapons such as knives, pistols, hatchets, machine pistols, energy guns, etc. may be used, but due to their heavy recoil automatic weapons should not be used in the "burst fire" setting.
Society & Culture
Teshari traditionally live in a highly communal, family-based pack, and names are formatted as Packname + Given Name, (e.g. 'Tasini Eria' would be Eria, from the Tasini Pack). If a large group splits from a pack and becomes its own unit, they may choose to take on a new pack name, though many retain the name of their 'parent' pack. Individuals moving into a different pack usually retain their original pack name.
Teshari culture is extremely social and open; privacy is not important to most Teshari other than the most Skrell-integrated groups, and communal activities like grooming, eating or watching entertainment are part and parcel of Teshari life. Those Teshari who are able to leave their home planet and experience the wider galaxy will generally be more aware of the social expectations of other cultures, especially if they have spent much time around Skrell in a social or living environment, than those who have spent their whole lives isolated to their pack.
Teshari tend to build low, open-roofed dwellings with plenty of room for leaping and gliding, although this is an increasingly rare architectural style on Skrellian colonial worlds where living space is at a premium. Due to their vertical focus, Teshari construction rarely accounts much for contiguous, uncluttered floor space, and non-Teshari often find them difficult to navigate, let alone spend much time in. Living spaces will be owned by entire packs rather than individuals or couples, although smaller, one or two-person dwellings may be found within a larger territory. Even at its most solitary, Teshari society has nothing that a human would call privacy. Sleeping areas are typically communal, with Teshari packs sometimes chosing to rest in a traditional, heat-preserving 'pile' which is seen as a highly social activity and sign of trust among pack members, though hammocks and more dispersed shared bedding areas are also a usual fixture. It is extremely rare for a Teshari dwelling to split sleeping areas between multiple rooms, and the idea of 'private' spaces is quite foreign.
There are around eight million Teshari on the Skrell homeworld, and though no other Skrell colony matches these numbers (Often due to more hostile climates), millions more live in wider Skrellian space. Some prefer to use the Skrellian term Ka'merr to describe themselves, believing that it shows that they are more loyal and deserving allies to the Skrell, in the hopes that it will increase their societal standing; this is often seen as sycophantic and something of a betrayal of their species, especially if it's done in a social context with non-Skrell.
Among the Skrell, Teshari are widely considered 'second class citizens', falling under the same 'casteless' blanket as other aliens, and 'mixed' skrell, often barely regarded more highly than visiting outsiders. As such, much of Skrellian society does not make allowances for Teshari-specific needs and cultural differences. Teshari are for the mostpart expected to thoroughly adhere to the Skrell's more structured societal expectations while existing within spaces designed for and by the Skrell, such as tighter quarters, higher temperatures, higher-placed machinery and facilities, intense standards of privacy, and so on.
Some Skrell cities, generally those bordering Teshari territory, may have sections of the city inhabited by Teshari exclusively; this is largely because standard Skrell construction and buildings are utterly unsuitable for Teshari habitation. While each district tends to differ in societal nature, these quarters tend to be open-aired and heavily decorated, and due to the communal nature of the Teshari, are often treated as a single large dwelling.
Generally speaking, modern Teshari living in urban areas will find work easily as hospitality staff, clerks, technicians, or any number of tasks that require little heavy lifting. Many of them also work as personal assistants and house staff for Skrell individuals or businesses, although amongst the Teshari this is seen as rather demeaning. Generally, even in the modern era and despite their more than sufficient capabiltiies, Skrell tend to overlook Teshari applicants for more intellectual positions, even in cases where Teshari have obtained the more structured education and qualifications Skrell often cite as their reason for denial. This situation is being actively addressed by sponsorship programs to get more Teshari into scientific and industrial fields. More rural or 'undeveloped' areas tend to offer Teshari work as guides, foragers and such, but these areas also tend to be occupied by the more territorial elements of the Teshari, whose preference for independence from Skrellian influence leads to a poor reputation amongst the Skrellian locals who often consider them to be 'aggressive' and 'unreasonable'.
Separation from the pack is distressing to most Teshari, especially if they cannot be certain when or if they will be able to return, and homesickness is a frequent cause of depression among the species. Many alleviate this by forming a kind of 'proxy pack' of friends, pets, and even drones, among those around them in order to fill the 'social void' of leaving their large families.
Until quite recently, Teshari were rarely if ever found outside of Skrell worlds due to their dependance on their pack and the fact that the vast majority of Skrell vessels were, and often still are not designed for their tiny, fragile physiques. This has changed recently with a number of investments into some of the larger Teshari-occupied areas as well as local Skrell government programmes to allow Teshari to obtain postings and apprenticeships on Skrellian and participating human stations and vessels further afield. This has led to a greater number of Teshari being found in the wider galaxy in the past century than ever before, with some even establishing their own communities truly independent of the Skrell for the first time in history.
A breeding pair of Teshari, typically supported by their wider social grouping/pack, will lay a single brown, speckled egg. All of the pack's eggs are tended to as a clutch communally. Traditionally this is done by members of the pack, though increasingly modern Teshari prefer to use incubators. An egg takes 12 weeks to hatch. The exact colouration of the egg can vary with diet, and modern artifical food dyes have led to some strange results.
The parenthood of the resulting children is generally considered irrelevant; the entire pack is their family and protectors, all sharing in the role of parenthood, though an individual's blood parents may occasionally have a status similar to that of an favourite uncle or aunt in human culture.
Depending on the culture of their pack or society, as well as how closely tied to the Skrell they are, Teshari children may enter the workforce as soon as they are old enough to perform needed tasks, be placed in education, or take up a vocation. In many packs this takes the form of young Teshari undergoing an apprenticeship-like education, learning skillls from more experienced pack members as needed, and choosing a speciality when they reach adulthood around aged 11. Structured education is rare, though usually mandatory for Teshari living among the Skrell.
Teshari religion varies widely pack-by-pack, but most have a similar common spiritual basis. Pack religions are usually a form of animism; the belief that every thing - living or otherwise - has a spirit, and should be treated appropriately. The specific needs, desires and powers of these spirits varies greatly, but keeping them satisfied is the primary intent of most Teshari religious rituals. These belief systems are typically referred to as [packname] spirituality, due to their wide variety.
Many of these religions believe that both good and bad things happen as a result of the whims of these spirits, particularly those 'world spirits' who represent large areas such as a pack's territory, a city, a star, or a mountain. Though some packs also believe everything down to a snack food or hand tool also posseses a lesser spirit of its own and should be treated with respect. Methods of appeasement can include sacrifices (Items, actions, or living things), prayer, altered mind states, crafts and performance, including festivals.
Some packs believe that modern practices such as artificial lifeforms, the use of prosthetics, and especially cloning, can upset or confuse the spirits and either refuse to make use of them, or insist on rituals to comfort the spirits. A new artificial or bioprinted limb may possess its own spirit and require prayer or sacrifice in order to be accepted into the user's own, for example. For those who refuse cloning, the most common belief is that a cloned individual cannot 'inherit' the original person's spirit, and is merely an empty imitation whose very presense causes harm to the world spirits. Others believe the deceased's spirit must be ritually transferred before the 'new' individual can be considered the same as who they previously were.
When a Teshari dies, they are given the funeral rites appropriate to their pack's culture. Most commonly this involves eating their dead ritually in order to return their spirit to that of the pack, or conducting sky burials which allow a Teshari's spirit to join with the world.
Teshari packs and communities maintain a local council of elders and influential figures who are considered to speak for the Teshari population of that settlement in regards to wider government relations with the local Skrell Kingdoms. This does not extend to their isolationist cousins in the barren tundral polar regions; the most independent and insular groups within Teshari culture never leave these regions and refuse to make use of most Skrellian technology, insisting that the Teshari as a whole will not develop properly if they continue to rely on the 'generosity' of their neighbors at the expense of developing their own ideas and technology created with Teshari in mind. The most fanatical of these groups believe that the Skrell have stolen the planet and the potential future of the species, and incite for race wars and call for the ejection of the Skrell; however these groups are mostly tiny and nearly universally reviled.
Many Skrell societies offer Teshari the opportunity to apply for citizenship. Complications tend to exist in the caste placing for the Teshari in these societies, as the definition of their caste is not easy to determine when they are coming in. There are local governments that have decided to place the Teshari in their own caste, though most simply consider the entire species 'casteless' and therefore 'beneath' polite Skrell society. While not often included in political debates, there are those Qerr-Katish that push for more inclusion of the newer members of their society, and the full integration of the species into the traditional Skrell castes. Historically, most Teshari involved in the political scene have been unfairly viewed as representatives for their culture as a whole rather than individuals with unique perspectives, but more recently the different political standings that exist in different packs have been recognised.
However, Teshari are barred from participation in Skrellian politics outside of a regional representative level, and even then are only permitted if they are speaking on behalf of a large Teshari population, and usually only those existing within a Skrell city.
The Teshari have limited interaction with other species on a diplomatic scale, but tend to have general perceptions of and by the major species of the galaxy. These should not be taken as universal, as every species is made up of individuals with individual opinions. For the mostpart, the usually friendly nature of the Teshari puts them in people's good graces, though their reputation and treatment among the Skrell may influence that one way or another.
Among Caste Skrell, Teshari are widely seen as either 'inferior', or worthy of pity or charity. Some of the most extreme of the species even harbour a desire to simply terraform the Teshari's homelands and 'be done with them'. While isolationist groups exist, most Teshari either accept their position in Skrell society, or feel that they have to 'play nice' in order to be afforded the rights they deserve, and be offered opportunities like jobs and travel. The most extreme form of this is the Ka'Merr, who believe more effort to integrate will result in more being granted to them. (More detail in other sections.)
Teshari are a relatively recent arrival to Human space (alongside the Skrell) and tend to be more welcomed than in Skrellian society. However, due to their relative rarity it is still extremely rare for human facilities to make any allowances for Teshari visitors or employees, and equipment such as protective gear often needs to be ordered in as-needed. There is also an unfortunate perception among humans of Teshari being 'cute', a reputation that frustrates many Teshari who wish to be taken seriously - though others embrace the moniker for the advantages it offers them. Though not as restrictive as Skrell society, many Teshari find humanity to be quite alien. As a heavily communal race, the human propensity for intense competition, secrecy and privacy is a shock to some Teshari, especially those who were raised exclusively in a pack environment.
The Unathi have little regard for the Teshari, considering them to be inconsequential puppets of the Skrell with little value of themselves, though some individuals respect individual Teshari's tenacity in the face of the Skrell. Broadly speaking, the massive Unathi are terrifying to the fragile Teshari.
While Tajaran views can differ on a cultural and individual basis, overall interactions are usually friendly, and a small minority population of Teshari has begun to appear within Pearlshield-controlled space in the last decade in part thanks to their shared affinity for colder climates.
Prometheans, Positronics, Casteless & Zaddat
Though Zaddat opinions are often heavily influenced by the Unathi, as a fellow client race of a much more powerful species, some Teshari and Zaddat feel a certain kinship between their plights. Many of the more independent minded or mercurial Positronics and Prometheans regard their implied close relationship with humanity similarly, and together these species that many consider to be 'lesser' - as well as some minority groups within humanity, certain Tajara, and the Casteless Skrell - share a certain solidarity which many in power would prefer be downplayed or even discouraged.
Dionaea and Minor Species
Other species have little direct contact with Teshari, and so broad stereotypes about their opinions for one another cannot be made, though many are also client races of the Skrell or Unathi.
Teshari are directly equivalent to the Skrell in most of the formal sciences, having easy access to information and theory on topics such as physics and mathematics. However, they lag behind in fields of applied science such as engineering and medicine, as most of the research conducted by the Skrell specifically caters to Skrellian physiology and needs alone.
Due to the Teshari lacking any form of centralized government or infrastructure, their inability to effectively pool resources between packs greatly limits industry, fabrication, and manufacturing capacity. As such, most of the advanced technology they use was created by Skrellian hands or imported from offworld, and until recently attempts by the Teshari at adapting this technology for tasks such as spaceflight were hampered by the relative fragility of Teshari bones and other similar problems. Some packs have dedicated themselves to the specialist construction of technology designed for Teshari needs, such as the Cenilimi Cybernetics company.