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Vrudok

Physical
The Vrudok are a relatively young species that somewhat resemble birds, though technically they have evolved into their own species, sharing characteristics of both birds and mammals. They typically stand 3.5 5 feet tall, with long necks angled slightly forward and small round heads. They have short, curved beaks that have a sharp cutting edge and contain rows of blunt grinding teeth. They are covered in a layer of tiny feathers that subconsciously shift to regulate their body temperature and exposure to UV radiation. The feathers become larger around their head and neck, forming colourful crests that puff out when aroused. They have long arms capped with three long finger-claws and an opposable thumb and have short, thin legs covered in a thick leathery skin. Their feet are large and splay into three thick toes.

The Vrudok have exceptional hearing and sight. They also sense magnetic fields and have exceptional directional sense while on-planet. They can sense other beings moving through natural magnetic fields near them. Their first times on starships are generally disastrous, as they suffer from enormous electro-magnetic disorientation which is akin to severe sea sickness.

They have extremely high metabolisms and eat almost constantly. Evolved from flying birds, they have a strong, rapidly beating heart and strong circulatory system. Their stout constitution makes them resistant to disease. The typical lifespan of a Vrudok is 50 70 years. Vrudoks live almost exclusively within the Vrudok Empire, which is isolated at the edge of the Twilight sector.

Evolution
Their homeworld of Vrudok had a slightly erratic and elongated orbit and rapid spin that lead to a fast day-night cycle, violent storms, and rapidly changing temperatures. Originally flying predators, the planet's harsh changing weather drove them steadily to ground, where they developed wing-claws for climbing trees, grasping insects, nuts, thick-shelled eggs, and hard-skinned fruit. They evolved gradually into a species that survived as carrion-scavengers, ambushers, and all-around survivors. They have a strong sense of play, experimentation, and competition. They evolved down and feathers as a method of temperature regulation and grew strong boney beaks to crack the hard shells of Vrudok's large insect population. The severe conditions and large temperature swings on Vrudok resulted in a highly adaptable species tailored to rapid response to stimulus.

Personality
Their racial personality is harsh, survivalist, and at odds with the universe. Life is competition within a framework.

Aptitudes
The universe is there to be exploited. The needs of the race are best served by joining a strong group and maximizing one's own potential to make that group stronger. There is no shame in failure, there is only shame in not competing. There is shame in solitude and ostracization.

Culture/Political
The Vrudok manipulate. They manipulate each other and the environments they encounter. They band together, expand, exploit, split apart, and betray each other regularly. Power, leadership, and alliances change frequently and violently and individuals and groups scrabble to get more. Socially, they have developed strong structure and serious social rules to prevent their competition from tearing the race apart.

They prefer building outposts more than actually inhabiting worlds. Worlds are for exploiting. Worlds, when used to their full potential, tend to die but a well constructed artificial construct can be kept functioning forever. The political and administrative capital of their empire is the Clutch, a massive artificial outpost whose construction began in early Antiquity. The outpost can be slowly moved with its gravity drives, is well defended, and is capable of survival in deep space. The construction is under the direct supervision of the Central Administration and whatever Klekken runs the Vrudok Empire at any given time, so it has changed in design and construction methodology several times. It is now eclectic and haphazard with partially completed sections and off-hangs and features a variety of internal and external aesthetic changes throughout.

The Vrudok organize into Klekkens, social units that combine the strongest features of family, clan, and corporation. Klekkens are legal entities registered with the Vrudok's largely powerless Central Administration. They work together and against each other, the most powerful Klekken or group of Klekkens essentially setting the general laws and trends for the Empire. The Central Administration basically remains outside it all but steps in militarily if their central set of laws governing fair competition is broken.

Individuals live for their Klekken in order to live for themselves. They have little compunction about changing sides when the time is right and this is seen as acceptable and admirable as a way to get ahead, provided it is done with class and dignity and without disturbing the Central Administrative powers-that-be.

Breeding
Breeding is a routine task done to perpetuate the species, provide new competition, and expand the empire. There is no concept of genealogical family or ancestral belonging. Vrudokin females lay eggs in their Klekken's mass hatchery and abandon them. The hatcheries maintain no sense of family or family structure. The Klekken selects excellent specimens of egg or young to raise as their own, sell to other Clutches, or enter into a societal recruitment system where Klekkens can earn a pick of eggs. Young not integrated into specific Klekkens are left to band together in the hatcheries and survive as they can.

Language
The Vrudok have a strange and complicated language characterized by the use of both tongue and beaks. Their tongues are used to generate flaps, clicks, trills, and whistles while their beaks click and grind.