Table of Contents -- hold CTRL+F for easy use
Jaw, Tongue and Teeth
Claws, Hands and Feet
Blood and Cells
Skin and Organs
Planet Irk, Irken Society and History of the Tallest
Irk's Ancient History
The Unification of Irk
Schooling and Training
Skeletal Structure: Irkens possess a skeleton that is composed of a great deal of cartilage; this allows them much greater flexibility than the more rigid skeletal structures found in humans, for example – however, in modern times, an Irken’s skeleton is also imbued with a large amount of malleable metal thanks to the altercations of the artificial PAK. An Irken's height can range from three to eleven or even twelve feet tall depending on their randomly mixed genetics, though the average height is between seven and ten; when smeets are born, they typically are about one foot tall before they undergo their first growth spurt. They also have a surprising amount of strength despite their scrawny appearance, with the standard for an individual having the capability to lift and carry six times their weight. The Irken skull is also quite large, resulting in it being the center of gravity for most of the individuals; only the taller Irkens are exempt from this as their skeletal structure balances out more evenly, instead placing the centre of gravity on their chests due to the weight of the PAK.
Jaw, Tongue and Teeth: Irkens only have incisors and molars, so a bite from them will hurt; however, the poison normally used in the claws can also be present in the mouth, as they will turn their saliva poisonous if they're fighting tooth and claw. The zipper-like arrangement of their teeth makes it hard for anything they've bitten onto to be pulled out. The tongue, being rather long and serpent-like, is used more for cleaning the teeth than tasting; due to how thin the muscle is in comparison with the wide jaw, the taste buds are located on the floor of the mouth in the same pattern as they would be on a human tongue.
Antennae: While antennae are good indicators of an Irken's present mood, pheromones are also exuded from these organs, though their meaning can only be deciphered by their fellow species. Additionally, they can be non-sexual, calming pleasure receptors if treated with care, but most soldiers are unaware of that simply because it has nothing to do with serving the Empire.
Irkens are also most vulnerable at their antennae since they can even sense something as miniscule as slight changes in air currents, making the organs vulnerable points for torture by their enemies; however, if the situation ever arose, the Irken in question would snap its own antennae at the base as soon as it has the chance. Without their antennae, they can't smell or keep their balance, but they are also number to pain and therefore much harder to torture effectively because they increase their threshold for injury. It is a little-known fact that rapidly and repeatedly knocking them off-balance can give them severe pain throughout their body because their antennae can't adjust properly to swift altitude and atmospheric changes. Typically, male Irkens will have antennae with a single kink to them, while females will have curled.
While these organs are used for picking up vibrations in the air, they have a second pair of structures designed to pick up sound on the sides of the head; similar to various kinds of reptiles and birds, there are two small, discreet holes in the skull where ears would be in a human. These are still covered by a thin layer of skin and are rendered pretty much invisible as a result, but the protective layer does little to impede the hearing capabilities of the Irken.
Eyes: Irkens possess large eyes which easily enable them to see extremely well in both light and dark environments. These can come in various shades of red, yellow, blue, purple, magenta, maroon, orange, or pink. An Irken's eyes differ in two main ways from a human's; their form of sight and the spectrum in which they see. The natural Irken eye can see light within the electromagnetic spectrum as well as our own field of sight, therefore giving everything they look at a light red, purple or blue sheen. Natural Irken eyes are known for being a bit luminous due to the huge amount of light that they can absorb and reflect; the artificial implants have carried this trait over for obvious reasons.
Having no pupils, Irkens are incapable of focusing on a particular object, but have a great panoramic view; the relative size of these organs only increases this field of sight to a total of 180 degrees on the horizontal plane. This is a large benefit to a warrior race such as the Irkens, allowing them not only a much greater field of view in battle, but also allowing them to see the heat signatures given off by the enemy thanks to genetic enhancements overtime. The eyes are also used to breathe; air is drawn into the small space between the lower area of the eyeball and the connecting skin, then into a stretch of tissue that is similar to the material a human's lung is created of. The eyelids also cover the entire eye starting from the top to the bottom when an Irken blinks; they don’t meet halfway on the surface like a human’s do.
Claws, Hands and Feet: Irken hands end in three sharply clawed digits, while their feet split into two taloned toes. An Irken's claws are about two inches long, the same width as the finger, and are non-retractable while having serrated undersides; unlike humans, each claw can also be moved independently of the finger. While they are composed of the usual keratin, there are also many of the same elements found in diamond, making the claws extremely hard and sharp. The interior of the claws also plays host to a deadly poison that has fatal consequences for claw-inflicted wounds on an Irken's enemies; it has been known to even eat away at metal. Fortunately, the species themselves is immune to this toxin; otherwise, the painful deaths related to it would be rampant. The muscles within the hands are surprisingly strong, and often need some kind of external force to loosen if they cause the talons themselves to clamp too tightly onto something. Due to pressure exertion, bare claws can be used to climb up a largely vertical surface – like a steel wall for example – but the climber has to do so quickly and carefully or the acid will erode away the footholds; the gloves that Irkens usually wear keeps the small amounts of poison that normally leak out of the claws from doing any damage.
Similar to the hands, there are two long, curved talons on the feet of an Irken. The underside of an Irken foot is heavily padded, which allows them to walk on rough surfaces that most others would find rather unpleasant. Similar to the fingers and claws, both the hooked talons and toes are capable of moving independently, giving them a very strong grip with their feet. Irkens are just as fast running barefoot as they are when wearing the proper footwear because their talons act like the ground spikes on various shoes and give them extra grip to propel themselves with.
Blood and Cells: Irk's distance from its sun, coupled with the planet's thick ozone layer has caused Irkens to have rather pale skin; therefore the reason for an Irken body's normal shade of green is due to the blood that runs through the veins below the surface. The colour of the blood itself is due to the fact that Irken blood is composed mostly of copper, which turns green when exposed to the oxygen needed to maintain the functions of the Irken organism; it also has particles of a natural anti-freeze chemical within, allowing them to survive the extreme cold of their planet. The blood can be various shades of green, though jade is the most common, followed by lighter tints of emerald.
The blood itself is composed of rectangular cells akin to plants, though they obviously don’t have the ability to create chlorophyll; it is also very thick, enough so to require both the organic heart and the PAK to pump through the body. Additionally, a large amount of sugar is present for obvious reasons, with the blood also being made of a basic compound which will cause irritation to non-Irken skin if the fluid is left on an injury for too long. Irkens also possess silicon based DNA structures; as such, they generally don't adapt well, which explains the need for the PAK.
Skin and Organs: Irkens have an abnormal exoskeleton which, while it resembles and feels like very smooth, discreet scales, has the durability of toughened leather. The topmost parts of the skin also secrete a substance that kills parasites, and renders everything but the lower layers completely fireproof; this also extends to the eyes and antennae, as they are constantly covered with the same fluid. However, this adaptation cannot prevent an Irken from baking due to being overheated by long periods of exposure to temperatures in the high extremes.
The species also has a small set of glands in each wrist that are used to “spin” webs, so to speak. While it doesn’t often have much purpose in current Irken society, their ancient ancestors often used these to create silky webbing that was used in a similar but more stable fashion to hammocks; these were called “evlt’oit” and were used as small, suspended sleeping spaces. This tradition is still kept up by modern Irkens if they ever feel the rare need to sleep.
Irkens have four main organs, one of which is inorganic; the PAK, which is their life support and acts as a second brain; the heart, which is used to pump blood; the brain, which is used in conjunction with the PAK to operate the body; and the squeedlyspooch. Both the natural PAK and the artificial PAK grow with the Irken, gradually increasing their size as the host gets taller.
Natural PAK - In ancient times, Irkens possessed natural PAKs made of bone, muscle, and exoskeletal plates; these plates grew out of the bones surrounding the vital organs within the structure, thus forming the shape of the PAK itself. These organic wonders gave their owners a similar appearance to that of spiders, and were not unlike their now-mechanical counterparts, though they had much less versatility due to their origins; the original PAKs possessed only the legs - though obviously made of bone, muscle and tough skin rather than metal - and a small space to use as storage. These were eventually replaced by the mechanical PAKs because metal is much easier to repair than the tough bones of the PAK if they became damaged. The spot-like plates upon these organic shells were usually the same colour as the individual's eyes. These same plates also had a bioluminescence to them which invoked a dim, soothing glow the same colour as the plates under the cover of darkness; these were eventually developed by the organic PAK because of the numerous underground tunnels that the species traversed during their early days.
Artificial PAK - The artificial PAK is a device attached to the spine shortly after an individual is born; it holds the Irken's memories and knowledge - it is considered a second brain by non-Irkens, although it essentially functions as the main one. If a PAK is detached from an Irken's spine, the host will slowly and painfully die within the time span of ten minutes. This device is used for many, many things; it also keeps track of their station in life, and is used by the Control Brains for encoding an Irken to a specific niche, or re-encoding them to a different one. PAKs can be detached from the host without causing harm as long as there is a life support system nearby to keep the Irken from dying; it is in this manner that PAKs can be upgraded for long periods of time. However, it should be noted that the PAK is only compatible with Irken biology. If attached to another creature, the PAK will destroy them in just as much time as it takes for an Irken to die without it, but not before the personality inside of the PAK overwhelms the host. These machines also house four mechanical spider-like legs that can be used as laser cutters and shield generators, an audio and video communicator, an ID and monetary transfer plug, an anti-gravity device, a jetpack, an atmospheric processor, personality, charging cell and an auto-reset that will reactivate them if the need arises. Before modern PAK technology was introduced, Irkens only lived approximately one-hundred and fifty Earth years if they were lucky; now, they have more than quadrupled this figure, as Irkens can live for several millennia. Like their predecessors, these cause their host to take a on an arachnid-like appearance when the PAK legs are used, and as a small tribute to ancient times, the sliding metal plates of these machines are usually coloured the same as the host Irken's eye colour, though it's not uncommon for mistakes to occur. This device also completely eliminates the need for an Irken to eat, but on the occasion that the host decides to ingest something, no waste is created; every molecule of food is put to use in powering the PAK.
Brain - The brain of the modern Irken is quite a bit different than that of most other species; whereas the artificial PAK contains all rational thought processes in addition to carrying out basic bodily functions and the like, the organic brain is merely home to pure instinctual thought. Defects of the more psychological variety often tend to think more with their brain than the PAK, although this can be changed with enough encouragement and will.
Squeedlyspooch - The squeedlyspooch, while classified as a single super-organ, is actually sectioned off into various compartments that perform the jobs separate organs are responsible for in humans and other animals. This means that the squeedlyspooch as a whole is responsible for respiration, digestion, hormone distribution and circulation, just to name a few of the basics. While they can eat just about anything thanks to how acidic the venom is if they choose to reroute it into the salivary glands, Irkens primarily eat various sorts of junk food; therefore, sugar and what's generally unhealthy for human bodies is needed to allow the Irken machine to function properly. The Irken body maintains such a high metabolic rate, that every bit of food taken into the body is entirely assimilated; there is not even any waste left over due to the matter in question being used as extra fuel for the artificial PAK.
Life Cycle: In ancient times, Irkens would mate and lay eggs on their own; said eggs would grow inside a female's natural PAK for approximately thirty days before being released from her body. Afterwards, the eggs would continue to incubate for a few days before they hatch; the young Irkens would cease to be known as smeets within the first few days of their lives - due to the fact that an extended lifespan was only introduced along with the artificial PAKs, Irkens were considered to be adults as soon as this phase came to an end. They were lucky to live to their full height at ten merkhs, and as such, it became custom to follow the teachings and authority of the tallest Irkens as village elders since they had obviously lived long enough to reach their full height.
Irken smeets are now created beneath the surface of Irk, in large facilities known as Hatcheries; Control Brains regulate the DNA that is used to clone the young Irkens, ensuring that the mixes taken from various hosts are completely random so that each new smeet is different. Only a mere few seconds after being freed from the cloning tube, a smeet receives its PAK, which activates them thanks to a shock from a robotic arm - the young Irkens are able to speak and maneuver themselves about properly, showing that the species, before cloning became involved, did not need extra care from their parents. Approximately two minutes after a smeet's activation, they are guided to a room where the whole of Irken knowledge is downloaded into their PAKs by the Control Brains; this, of course, exempts military training and tactics, as they spend the next several orbits of their lives learning these assets in special facilities. Once they have been around for five Irken merkhs, smeets are referred to as adults and are transferred into more advanced classes; however, this doesn't mean one is finished growing, for it takes about five more merkhs for an Irken to reach their full height and complete their training.
Planet Irk, Irken Society and the History of the Tallest
The Irken homeworld is a very large planet; being several times the size of Jupiter, Irk is one of the bigger known planets in existence. The three main moons that circle around Irk's orbit are known as Ikchs, Soecl, and Niisir. The planet also has several more natural satellites due to its size, but none hold the importance of these three. Ikchs is a light crystalline blue in colour, and possesses the frozen form of the liquid within Irk’s underwater lakes on its surface; ammonia. Soecl is the red moon, and is known for the high concentration of rust-coloured minerals on its surface; this moon also has a much higher temperature than anywhere else close to Irk due to some volcanic activity, so it's not uncommon to see it become a destination for those who've grown tired of the cold winters upon the planet. Niisir is the violet rock that orbits the planet, and is perhaps one of the most beautiful sights of Irk due to the fact that it bathes part of the surface in several shades of amethyst-like light during the night hours. Niisir is also the oldest of Irk's satellites, having been the first to be created during the planet's formation.
Irk's Ancient History: Most of Irk's history is very well documented; Irkens are very arrogant by nature, so documenting their glorious pasts is and seems to always have been a must. Obviously the much older history of Irk is a grey area, as documentation was harder to do and, as with all civilisations, writing and language changed over time; the fact that Irk was a divided planet constantly at war with itself for a very long time before its unification didn't help, either. However, as the unification of Irk is, arguably, the most important event in its history, it was quite well-documented by all the Irken clans of old, and there are many sources to gather information from.
Originally, Irkens lived in groups with a similar social structure to that of a wolf pack, though all members were allowed to have offspring. Irkens did not hunt since they preferred sweeter food choices and were unable to digest meat thanks to their squeedlyspooch; they lived in large groups since it made foraging for vegetation much easier. As they evolved, the Irkens divided into three clans dependent on their natural habitat. Although most of them settled into various different permanent villages, they all categorised themselves into one of three clans:
Verma -- (Pn. Verr-mah)
The Verma clans were made up of the red-eyed Irkens who once lived wildly and then settled in the mountainous regions of Irk. The red eye - or pink in the case of most females - gene of the Verma clans is the most dominant as far as eye colours go. More often than not, if an Irken has Verma blood in their ancestral line, they would be born with red eyes. It is because of this that, of the original three colours, red is still the most commonly seen eye colour. The Verma people were the shortest of the three clans; their small size was an advantage in hiding and manoeuvring one's self among the cliffs and rocky landscapes of the mountains. Despite this, the Verma were also the most aggressive of the three clans - quick-tempered, wiry and tough, they were never the type to stand down in a fight no matter how much larger and stronger their opponents were. Although some people would call this foolish, the Verma revered themselves as being brave and courageous despite the odds, and seeing as the descendants of the Verma clan are still plentiful to this day despite a harsh environment, being outmatched by most and never backing down, it might very well be that they were right.
Lai -- (Pn. Lie)
The Lai clans were the yellow-eyed people of the plains. Very few Irkens lived in this habitat because it was the least hospitable of Irk's environments; however, despite this, the Lai made this large sprawling area their home. The harsh conditions made survival extremely hard, but the Lai clans managed relatively well through a certain method; they tended to be nomadic instead of creating permanent settlements, moving with the seasons in order to find edible vegetation as well as the places where the ammonia lakes were closest to the planet's surface, setting up wells in the process. The separate Lai groups were not as numerous as the Verma, though they made up for this in the sheer size of their factions. The yellow eye gene of the Lai is the most recessive of the eye colours. Because of this, pure yellow-eyed Irkens are currently the rarest of sights in modern day Irk. Those few who have yellow or close to yellow eyes often tend to revere themselves as descendants of the Lai clan and sometimes boast to be the last "pure-blooded clan" although there is no way to prove this as genetic testing on an Irken to trace their ancestry is forbidden since it may interfere with a Tallests' right to the throne. Orange-eyed Irkens are also a rarity because neither yellow nor red have the blending tendencies that the blue-eyed clan does. The Lai were not very confrontational - their lifestyle gave them enough issues so that just surviving was already a challenge; there was no need to go picking unnecessary fights as well. They were not cowards, but they preferred to lie low and be passive. However, if provoked, they believed in winning, and in a lightning-quick manner; so their offensive was always swift and brutal. "Picking a fight with a Lai" is an Irken expression meaning the same as one would respond to something as being "suicide".
Aerii -- (Pn. Air-ee)
The Aerii clan originated from the forests of Irk. Specifically, the warmest forests where there was a lot of food and ammonia was easy to find. Some preferred the cooler, more secluded forests further north; however, few chose to live in the frigid dark forests near the poles except the occasional odd antisocial. The blue eye gene of the Aerii is a bit of an oddity as it is neither recessive nor dominant, but instead tends to blend with whatever other genes there are for determining eye colour. That is to say if a red-eyed Verma and blue-eyed Aerii were to have a child, the smeet would have purple eyes. And if it were Aerii and Lai it'd be green. It is because of the Aerii clan that there is the wide variety of eye colours among Irkens in the present day. However, pure blue-eyed Irkens are not as rare as their pure yellow-eyed counterparts simply because although an Aerii and Lai smeet would most likely have yellow eyes, the recessive gene of the Lai clan may cause the smeet to have pure blue eyes instead. The Aerii clan were the tallest of the Irken races, and as such, possessed a slender build. The Aerii groups were small, usually made up of two or three families, but they were numerous and on good terms with each other. Because of the large amount of food and ammonia, the Aerii had little reason to be aggressive in order to survive; they were a rather laid-back and content people. However, when their closest neighbours, the Verma, started to raid the Aerii settlements on the outskirts of the forests, it was startlingly frightening how quickly they could go from "a scattered group of families" to "a staggeringly large army". In addition, they were light-footed, skilled at climbing trees and knew the unmarked routes and paths of the forest by instinct. The Aerii used a tactic known as guerrilla warfare, valuing stealth above nearly everything else. Normally, they were peaceful, and with how little energy they needed to spend on survival, they had more time to pursue other fancies - specifically, music and story-telling. Some of the oldest myths and legends of Old Irk came from the ancient records of the Aerii clans.
However, despite their differences, all Irkens had one thing in common; they were aggressive and territorial. The Verma clans' mountains bordered on both the plains on one side and the forests on the other; they were extremely jealous of the Aerii's bountiful forests, and although the Aerii were barely concerned if the Verma harvested the edible vegetation on the outskirts of the forests, the Verma were keen on having the richer parts of the forests for themselves and waged constant war with the Aerii clans. The Aerii always managed to drive the Verma back out of their forests or, when Verma captured some territory, were able to claim it back. Because of this constant warfare, the Verma and Aerii became more organised, dividing themselves into different large regions and having a single Chieftain rule over a large area of territory and all smaller groups therein. The Lai clans, because of their nomadic nature, were safe from being invaded by the Verma. But when the Verma were focusing their attention on the other side of the mountain ranges, the Lai took the opportunity and harvested the sweeter and easier to obtain vegetation that grew at the base of the mountains. When the Verma became aware of this, they claimed that the Lai were poaching on their territory and stealing the limited food supplies that were reserved for the Clans of Verma. In revenge, they would send raiders to raid the nearest Lai group for anything valuable, which in turn, caused the Lai to retaliate. The simple matter as to why Aerii and Lai did not form an alliance and together crush the Verma clans was because the plains rarely met the forests and were usually divided by large stretches of mountain ranges. However, at one point when the Aerii offered to join forces with the Lai in exchange for a small stretch of more hospitable land on the forest outskirts, the Lai refused, saying that they would fend off the Verma raiders during the time they were raided but would rather avoid declaring full-on war. The Aerii saw this as an insult considering they could not see how the Lai, who lived in the harshest and dryest areas on the planet, could pass up the opportunity to gain more favourable land. In turn, the Lai were wary of how they'd be treated if they allowed the Aerii to vanquish the Verma and become the dominant clan of the currently-unnamed planet. Eventually, the Lai and Aerii simply avoided one another; small secluded fights sometimes broke out where the plains met the forests, but full-out war was never declared between the two clans.
All in all, Irk was in a state of permanent chaos most of the time.
The Unification of Irk: This constant in-fighting went on for millennia, and probably would've gone on forever if not for the fact that Irk had caught the attention of a marauding species called the Shorraoa. The Shorraoa, having exhausted their own natural resources, had abandoned their planet in search of more hospitable lands elsewhere. However, the Shorraoa's militia was not as developed as most of the galaxy and they could not risk an invasion of a highly defended rich planet; so when they came across rich, lush Irk and its primitive chaotic people, they had really struck gold. Irk had not yet discovered space travel nor had it had any interplanetary interaction. This meant it was completely blind to everything beyond their planetary borders, completely unprepared for a superior race and too wrapped up in their own internal struggles to fend off an external force.
The arrival of the Shorraoa caused the already-turbulent Irk to dive headfirst into utter panic. The Shorraoa set up their base camps on the large and flat plains which made excellent locations to build large industrious barracks for their armies. Of course it would also mean cutting through the mountains at most points to get to the forests and the land, lumber and food they wanted. And, as cragged and high as some peaks were, the Shorraoa were confident that there must be routes and paths through the lower peaks; the problem was that these lower peaks were the homes of the Verma clans. So in effect, the Lai's flatlands were being burnt and claimed by the Shorraoa. The Lai themselves, despite trying to make themselves scarce, were being captured by the intruders; the men killed, the women raped, the smeets enslaved and all valuables and food raided. The Verma were trying to fight their continuous war with the Aerii on one side as well as try and fend off the much better equipped Shorraoa on the other, and the Aerii were finding their forests ravaged of food and the trees chopped down and dragged off in horrific numbers. Irk tried to hold its own, though, and refused to succumb to the Shorraoa; all three clans gathered their armies and continuously tried to fight back, but the Shorraoa outnumbered them and their weapons were much more sophisticated. At some point during the war, a brave group of Lai infiltrated a Shorraoa encampment and stole a large number of weapons; with their dexterous hands and skills at craftsmanship, it wasn't long before they adapted the futuristic technology. With the new weapons at their disposal, the Lai clans were able to hold some of their own and succeeded at driving back potential Shorraoa raiders. As time went by, their skill at using the new weapons as well as their tactical skills greatly improved to the point that the Shorraoa saw it in their best interests just to leave the nomadic tribes be. The Lai saw this as a hollow victory, however, as they still did not have the power to drive the Shorraoa from their plains completely.
The war against the Shorraoa was becoming more like a genocide with every passing day and it seemed only a matter of time before Irk would fall.
It was at this time that Ircka arrived on the scene. Ircka was a young male from the Aerii clan. He was from the southern forests which had not gained the full attention of the Shorraoa yet; they were victim to small raids and had only started featuring in the deforestation program. Despite this, Ircka seemed to have had enough of the Shorraoa, but unlike the rest of the planet, his ideas of defeating them were unconventional. Ircka was still young in Irken years but he had gained popularity among his village group as well as its neighbours for leading several successful offensive maneuvers against raiding parties' camps in the area. Part of this was because despite being young, Ircka was tall even by Aerii standards. Records of the time - which are, unfortunately, more folk-songs than anything else - claimed he was the tallest Irken on the entire planet, but there is no evidence to support this, nor any to suggest that an official measuring took place at any point in Ircka's life. Another unique aspect about Ircka is that he was known as a "dual-eye". A dual-eyed Irken is an individual who is descended from two different clans but with a freak gene causing the eyes to take on two colours reminiscent of the involved clans instead of just one solid tint; Ircka's eyes were mostly deep cobalt blue, but their centres showed a tint of bright royal purple in them. There is almost no record of Ircka's parents at all, but chances are his mother was an Aeriian who had an affair with a Verman. Ircka used this to his advantage when he left the Aeriian forests and made his way to meet with the nearest Verma chieftain. The Verma chief of the area was impressed with Ircka's defiant presence, tactical savvy and proud stature despite the fact that Ircka was a member of the Aerii clan and he agreed to let Ircka devise and lead some offensive strategies against the Shorraoa who they had been trying to hold back simply because they had, so far, tried everything else. With some clever planning and resourcefulness, Ircka managed to give the Verma clan their first real victory. Word spread quickly along the mountains of the Verma's success in driving the Shorraoa out of their mountain pass and the news of an Aerii leading the battle spread through the forests. It was not long before the head chieftains of both the Aerii and Verma clans wanted an audience with the young man, eager to have him as their figure head. However, Ircka had other ideas. He told the clans he had no plans to join either of them and instead suggested that the Aerii and Verma clans put aside their differences and unite themselves against the Shorraoa or very soon there was not going to be any forest to fight over. No Irken may be un-arrogant, but they were also intelligent and both clans had to admit, grudgingly, that Ircka had a point. They agreed and formed an alliance.
With the alliance in place, the Verma and Aerii morale was highly boosted, especially when Ircka was made warlord over both clans' armies. Some were angry at this and claimed Ircka was only taking advantage of the confusion to boost his personal gain; however, the complaints and slander became quieter and quieter as Ircka continued to prove himself from the battlefield to his tactical plans even when he himself did not make a personal appearance. After many skirmishes, the Shorraoa were driven out of the forests and mountains until only their strongest outposts on the Irken plains remained. This presented a problem. The Aerii and Verma knew their native forests and mountains, but the vast open plains with no specific landmarks were hard to navigate and even harder to map. It was clear the clans needed help if they were to drive out the Shorraoa completely. An audience was held with the head chieftain of all Lai clans - as Lai were nomadic, they were not divided into regions but instead appointed a single person to represent them all; since their groups were few but large this worked out fine for them. Ircka proposed the Lai join the now-united Verma and Aerii clans; however, the Lai chieftain refused. Despite Ircka's persistence, the Lai Chieftain insisted that the Lai clan would fight their own battles rather than be used and then thrown aside by the rash Verma and aloof Aerii.
The audience came to an end, but it seemed luck was on Ircka's side, as, upon returning to his personal nomadic group, the Lai chieftain found it had fallen victim to a vicious raid which had claimed his own young daughter. Enraged, he changed his mind and joined forces with the Verma and the Aerii. With the Lai clan's allegiance came their powerful and far superior weapons which they openly shared with their now-allies against the invaders. With Ircka leading the armies of the united planet, Irk was able to bring the Shorraoa barracks to ruins. The final battle between the Shorraoa and the inhabitants of Irk took place on what is today called "Grackta-hir moor", or "the field of burning steel".
However, with this great and glorious victory came a rather large problem. With no threat to the planet and only each other to deal with, the three clans now had to decide where to go from here. For so long they had been fighting the Shorraoa, and before that each other, that they were at a loss of what to do now that they were free and united. Tension between the clans escalated to fevered levels; to prevent civil war from breaking out, the clans agreed that in order for this victory to be shared amongst all of them and to prevent a single clan claiming glory they had to have a single figure-head over all Irkens. And the only person for the job was Ircka who was crowned Ircka Septii, "Septii" being the words for "almighty" as well as "emperor". In modern Irk, the term could be translated as "Tallest". Since then, every Tallest has received the highly esteemed title Septii in addition to their own name.
The new united people called themselves "Irckans"; later, the planet itself took the name "Irck" which became "Irk" several dozen generations later. The triumph over the Shorraoa presented Irk with a great advantage; having the ruins of the Shorraoa's technology enabled the Irkens to skip forward in their own technological advancement by leaps and bounds.
The Reformation: Under the rule of Ircka, Irk flourished. However, the young emperor was unsatisfied with simply sitting back and reaping his glory, and so was devoted to bringing Irk out of its dark past and creating a new civilization for all Irkens. It was under him that the first major city of Irk, Aleanndar, was built. "Aleannder" in Irken means "Pearl-Tower". Pearls were – and still are, due to how industrialized the planet has become – the rarest gemstones on the whole of the planet, almost to the point of being mythical because of Irken waters being so deep and treacherous. With the combined strengths of all the clans, it was meant to be a symbol of Irk's new unification. Using the Verma's knowledge of stone and caverns, the Lai's skill at intricacy and ornamental designs and the Aerii's taste for culture and sophistication, it was and still is the most magnificent city Irk has ever known. Ircka was seen as almost a "Super Irken"; constantly achieving the impossible and creating marvels from dust.
Later in his life, he mated to a beautiful Lai female. She herself was on the taller side, if not as tall as the male Aeriians; but she was at least a head and a half shorter than Ircka. It is in their unification that the term "Tallest" was coined for the rulers of Irk officially. The match was approved of especially by the members of the royal court as it was a physical symbol of the planet's unification as Ircka, who had both Verma and Aerii blood in him, would produce an heir from all three clans. This was not Ircka's plan, but it all worked out to everyone's benefit in the end.
When Ircka died, his son, Quazm, was put on the throne. However, Quazm's rule was not very important individually, as he mainly just continued his father's work. One event that he did initiate that is worth mentioning, though, was to immortalize Ircka in a star constellation that became known as "The Father".
Several generations later, all with a descendent of Ircka on the throne, there was born Tallest Mali Septii. Mali was raised on the stories of his ancestor, Ircka, and became obsessed with the hero's glory and his almost unearthly (so to speak) accomplishments. Mali decreed that these amazing acts of heroism could not have been accomplished by any mortal and had to be the act of divine interference. He claimed that Ircka must've been an immortal being; an offspring of the gods, or perhaps even a god himself. When he was crowned Tallest, Mali went about going through the official procedures with the court as well as the religious sects and the Irken Priestesses to have Ircka proclaimed a "Living God". After some years of negotiations, it was agreed to give Ircka this title.
With Ircka's title as a god sealed, Mali went one step further claiming that, as a descendent of Ircka, that made the current Tallest himself, Mali, a demi-god. He claimed that the right to rule an entire planet should never fall into mortal hands and claimed that, being a demi-god, only he and his descendants had the right to the Irken throne. This didn't seem such a big deal, really; after all up until now it actually had only been Ircka's descendants who had occupied the throne. All that Mali's decree did was make it official. But this wasn't enough for Mali. After a year or so he had gotten restless, afraid that the Irken populace did not appreciate the power of Ircka (or, more accurately, appreciate how important he, as Ircka's descendent, was). He became paranoid about his people's loyalty to the great Ircka and feared that one day his children's right to rule might be brought into question, or that a new hero would arise during some time of need and that he would be named the true ruler of Irk and other such thoughts. Mali needed a way to ensure that his bloodline's right to rule was never questioned, or rather, for there to be no physical way that his descendants would ever be taken off the throne. One day, although no one knows how he dreamed up such an idea, Mali decreed that only his blood-line had a right to be continued without any room for questionable heritage that might jeopardize Ircka's descendants' right to the throne.
In short, this meant that only the Royal Family had the right to reproduce and have children.
The current smeets and expecting mothers had nothing to fear, but all Irkens had to be encoded to ensure that once the last generation had been born that his subjects would not go against his law and try to have children. Thus, the artificial PAK was brought into being. Each citizen on Irk was to be implanted with a personal computer and monitoring device which connected them with a central computer system which was put into place to monitor Irk's people and keep order; these new high-tech machines were dubbed "Control Brains". However, the many benefits to the new PAKs were also going to become quite numerous as the technology continued to develop and advance; therefore, it became within the best interests of the planet's population to obtain them.
An outside species might ask how the people of Irk could let their right to have children and families be taken away, but it must be understood that the Irken people had been bred to know Ircka as the hero of Irk and how the planet and the Irken species had gotten so dangerously close to extinction. They were afraid of what might happen should they resist a direct descendent of Ircka; after all, if Ircka could destroy his enemies so easily despite the odds that had been against him at the time, what could those of his blood-line be capable of? And if one of Ircka's blood stepped down from the throne because of their resistance, there would undoubtedly be a disaster that followed, from which no one would be able to protect them or guide them out of.
Mali claimed that another reason for this drastic reformation of the Irken civilization was also a way to ensure that loyalty to the Tallest was never put at risk. He argued that the Irken people's first devotion should be towards their emperor and that the Irken parental instincts were too strong to overcome, so the only way to prevent this was to stop these parental instincts at the beginning and prevent them from taking root at all.
So, the new system was introduced within a short period of time; the first artificial PAKs were unstable and caused some serious damage to their users including permanent paralysis, dementia and sometimes death. However after a very quick period of time, they were reformed and redesigned up to a point where they were able to be used with minimal risk. The possibility of simply removing one's PAK was extremely unlikely to happen thanks to the technology being so similar to the natural ones, and the fact that they were needed to allow an Irken to function. Some resistance groups formed to try and reject the PAK but they were branded as traitors to the throne and executed for high treason. And so, through fear of both losing the Tallest's protection as well as being executed as a turncoat, the PAK system took a firm hold.
An issue that arose from the new PAKs, however, was that of increasing the Irken population; the newly-replaced natural PAKs held the required organs for creating the eggs from which the smeets would later hatch. But, Mali had an answer. He'd secretly been planning and building, for years, a new facility called a "growing field"; it was a place that worked almost exactly the way it sounded it would - new Irkens would be grown rather than bred. He claimed his reasons for having prepared such a large operation was initially in case a calamity were to fall upon the Irken nation and vast numbers were needed to stabilize the population. Although it was an obvious smoke-screen, there was no way of proving what Mali's intentions were when he started the Growing Fields project and so no-one was able to challenge it as heresy or lunacy in the shadow of the Tallest's claim that it was a project formed with the good of the planet in mind.
The manner in which the facilities that would later come to be known as The Hatcheries function is as follows: DNA is taken from every living Irken on the planet during a massive census; these data streams are entered into a mammoth-proportioned, highly advanced computer system which is a branch of the Control Brains that oversee and nurture the future of Planet Irk. A DNA lottery is held in which a random group of genetics are chosen to create an individual Irken smeet who is then hereditarily perfected in a large glass tube. The genetic code used to create the smeet is then recorded into the Control Brains' databanks so that specific individual's code can never be used again. Direct interference by any Irken, including the Royal court, is prohibited as it is thought that such a delicate operation that literally means the future of the Irken civilization could not be trusted to mortal hands who have ideas and morals that might damage the careful system setup.
This technique worked surprisingly well; the first generation born of the growing fields were all healthy save for about one-hundred out of several million, total. And so, with opposition silenced either by this success or by force, Irk moved forward under this new order.
Mali did little else worth mentioning in his continued rule. He took a mate from the royal court (thereby giving her the right to have children with him as Tallest) and went on to die of what can only loosely be translated as "old age".
Tumultuous Unrest: Surprisingly enough, the decree passed by Mali was, if not accepted, then well-tolerated at the very least for quite some time after his death; likely because while Irkens could still have sexual intercourse despite the fact that the smeet-bearing organs had been removed. But, another heir by the name of Meige soon stepped up to the throne of Tallest, with Mali's blood running strongly in his veins.
He took his ancestor's decree one step further and said that no Irken except the royal bloodline had the right to the act of sexual intercourse; the argument was that child-birth and the mere intimate act that could lead to it was treason to the emperor. An Irken's full loyalties should be to the empire and nothing and no-one else. A secret police (which later became the military sector known as Locators) was set up to hunt down those who broke this rule and gave into their desires.
It wasn't very long before revolution broke out, and the revolutionaries eventually stormed the palace and captured Meige, dragging him into the streets and executing him. More specific events that occurred during this time period are hazy, unfortunately, due to the uprising that destroyed many cities, and therefore many of the records.
After Meige's downfall and execution, the planet found they had a problem; there were no other Irkens able to take the throne. By some ironic twist of fate, Mali and Meige's dreams had come to pass; at some point before and during the time of the revolution, Meige had altered the PAK programming of the entire population, erasing their desire for most intimate actions, before he had been killed.
Irk's most recent emperors had been less than satisfactory (possibly due to inbreeding) but Irk still believed in an Imperial form of government; and to have an empire you needed an emperor. A council was temporarily formed to try and keep the planet under control until a plan could be formed. They agreed that even though one or two of the past emperors had been bad rulers, no other Irken except one descended of Ircka himself had the right to rule an entire planet. But, Meige and his wife/sister were dead, having been killed in the revolution and they had no children; therefore, there were no naturally-born Irkens that remained. But, it wasn't long before a solution was found.
The last of Ircka's bloodline was extracted from the recent deceased Tallests and inserted into the growing field's genetic lottery system, and it was soon lost from all tracking and monitoring. With no emperor in power quite yet, the council continued their temporary rule. However, since they knew full well that many civilizations had fallen due to a megalomaniacal member of court, three main Control Brains were set up to monitor them in turn to make sure no plots were formed to seize the currently vacant throne; these later became known as the Triumvirate.
Keeping close track of the time that had passed since the injection of Meige's DNA into the growing fields, several groups of generations of smeets whose ages were most likely were closely monitored. Some of the smeets in these groups were selected as possible continuations of Ircka's blood-line. This was done based solely on their height, because Ircka's own was such an important factor of his legendary make-up it was thought that this would be the best way to distinguish his descendants since genetic searches were illegal. After all, all his biological descendants so far had been Irkens of impressive height. Of this group, one smoot was soon identified as the tallest of the generations and was crowned Emperor as soon as his age allowed. His name was Guid, and with him he brought Irk and its people purpose again.
A deep space exploration program was announced, as the new Tallest thought it to be in his planet’s best interest to gain more knowledge of the universe they lived in. However, despite the fact that the Irken Empire was surprisingly benevolent during this time period, that didn’t stop other races from being overly suspicious to the point of aggression since most empires that existed within the galaxies were cruel, harsh, and craved more and more power as they expanded. Another war broke out as races from different planets decided to rid themselves of the Irken domain before it became a problem; records of this era are rather scarce due to the circumstances of the second war to envelop Irk, but as evidenced to this day, the inhabitants of the planet survived – because of the actions of other species, the Irkens became more aggressive themselves, and Tallest Guid took the expected action.
He declared war on a neighbouring planet and conquered it in the name of Irk. This was Irk's first victory and expansion to another planet, beginning the race's future plans for galactic conquest. When Guid died, another smeet was chosen regarding her height and her promise as empress; it was also during this time that the academies for training the potential Tallests came into being. Shortly afterwards, the PAK technology became refined enough to avoid causing the body to produce any waste at all, and the respective organs once needed to dispose of it were removed from the next generation's genetic makeup; this is the last major genetic alteration since ancient times, and as such, the race has barely changed in outer appearance since.
...And so, the term "Tallest" was spawned as a synonym for all things Ircka himself had embodied; power, heroism, strength immortal and almighty. All Tallests that have been crowned and ruled since that mythical time period are a continuation of Ircka's magnificent name and lineage, but none of them have ever equalled it.
Modern Times: Over ninety percent of present-day Irk is industrialized, consisting of military training facilities, food services, key cities, hatcheries, factories, weapons' manufacturers, and many more buildings aside. As a result, only a very small percentage of the planet has retained its original wilderness; these patches of land are often rewarded to soldiers that have survived their military career if they have contributed something of extreme value to the Empire. Fortunately, the highly advanced technology on Irk has allowed the planet to remain relatively pollutant-free, meaning that what little natural life is left isn't corrupted.
The rough country is fertile enough to farm upon and live off of rather easily, though most Irkens prefer to retain their normal methods of sustenance even after their work is done. There are only a few that will actively take advantage of what has been given to them. Only a small percentage of the wilds that remain give a clue as to what the vast cold jungles, plains and mountains that covered the planet in the distant past would have been like. The remnants of these large ecosystems serve as a preserve, only to be seen by those who have earned the privilege by surviving the unsympathetic martial training and living a long life.
Irk is a good distance from its sun, and that, coupled with the atmosphere and the slightly ovular orbit it takes around its sun, makes the planet's surface during winter unbearably sub-zero for nearly all non-native life forms (-1184.44 degrees Fahrenheit, or -675.8 Celsius). Irken winters are known to be extremely brutal; fortunately, their hot core body temperatures (124.29 Fahrenheit, 51.27 Celsius) combined with a natural antifreeze component in their bloodstream easily allows them to survive. While one half of the planet endures this cruel frozen spell, the side that faces its sun undergoes a rather mild summertime that is still much more chilling than the coldest places on more sensitive planets such as Earth (-712.48 Fahrenheit, -413.6 Celsius). However, temperatures rarely have an effect on military training and other such activities due to the high resistances Irken architecture has been built to have against the cold.
Control Brains: Due to the circumstances under which Ircka's bloodline can be distinguished, the tallest Irkens continued to be followed to this day, rendering those who are greatest in height to be known as the Tallest, and leaders of the entire Irken Empire. However, since ruling an entire Empire can be exhausting and extremely hard to accomplish, they are aided in this endeavor by the manipulative Control Brains. There are at least five Control Brains on every Irken-inhabited planet; these consist of the downloaded memories of every Irken that has existed since mechanical PAKs came onto the scene. The heads of these mechanical wonders are known as the Triumvirate Control Brains which are the collective consciousnesses of every previous Tallest of the Irken Empire; The Triumvirate are not on Irk itself, but on the planet now known as Judgementia.
The Control Brains keep constant watch over the citizens of Irk, whether they're on the planet's surface or at the furthest reaches of the galaxy; the only way to escape their sight is to illegally alter one's PAK in order to cut off the information feed that links to these important machines. They handle issues such as the encoding of PAKs and informational imprinting of smeets - in the rare court cases that will sometimes appear, they are also the judges and jury.
Laws: The laws of Irk are very different to those of Earth. Irken morality is quite different to that of a Human and so some things that would be considered evil and morally wrong in human society are merely frowned upon in Irken society or simply not even considered that big of an issue, and therefore ignored. Note that the following only applies to Irken Citizens; while it's uncommon, if a member of a species can prove itself, the Control Brains will accept the individual as a member of Irken society.
Murder – The only way Irkens are really murdered is if one manages to anger another to the point of wanting revenge through bloodshed; if this happens, it’s generally disregarded and ignored by the ruling Tallest(s) and Triumvirate seeing as the victim more than likely deserves it. Irken society functions like a well-oiled machine, and anyone not doing exactly what they are supposed to precisely when they are supposed to (unless they have clearance from a Tallest) is immediately investigated and possibly terminated, depending on the evidence gathered by the Control Brains.
However, as far as the Tallest Academy goes, murder between the possible future Tallests is not only goes unpunished, it is, in fact, encouraged with the exception of the student who is measured as being the tallest within the academy during that tenure. Essentially, if one of the smeets attending the Tallest Academy has a rivalry with another student who is not currently the tallest in the academy, murdering the rival does not receive any punishment, but rather, praise and possible rewards because they know who is the most and least important in Irken society.
Theft – Thievery is generally unheard of in the Irken populace, as everyone is given everything they need in their respective niche in order to work to their full potential. However, it’s impossible to get away with the action to begin with due to the PAKs and Control Brains; therefore, the action is not tolerated among the abysmally few who do so (non-Irkens included), and they are executed on the spot.
Treason – Treachery and disloyalty are the absolute highest crimes in the Irken Empire. Delinquencies against the Empire, the Tallest, or the Control Brains are investigated thoroughly and when the individual is discovered, often the strictest and highest punishments are issued. Said punishment is usually death, but may also include torture to an extreme level depending on the crime, or the flat-out revoking of treaties if members of a single or many species were to blame. Some examples of acts of treason include the demise of a Tallest, any form of harm done to a Tallest, attacking a Control Brain with intention to destroy or manipulate it, and manipulating the information implanting of smeets in a Smeetery as well as tampering with the genetic lottery of a Smeetery.
Unfortunately for other alien races, this rule also applies to anyone in alliance with the Irkens, whether the possible death of a Tallest is intentional or not, which explains why the Empire turned against the Vortians after the death of Tallest Miyuki. They expect each and every ally to take the safety precautions required to keep the rulers from harm, regardless of the consequences since they fulfill their end of the bargain by doing the same.
Schooling and Training: As soon as a smeet is released from its gestation tube and given a PAK in addition to a vital, life-activating shock, it is sent to a download chamber where it receives the whole of Irken knowledge into its PAK, which gives them the mindset that will last the rest of their lives. Upon turning two minutes of age, the smeet is told to choose a name before having that encoded as well; they are then assigned to Militia Facilities, Scientific Education and Inventors' Schooling, the Tallest Academy, or straight to their jobs in society depending on what their projected height, talents and job recommendations are. It is usually always those whom are destined to be some type of service drones who are forced to do the latter.
The length of an individual's term in any of these training establishments translates to approximately one-hundred Earth years. Since Irkens are no longer considered as smeets by the age of five Irken merkhs, or fifty Earth years, this means they spend their entire smeethood and a large majority of their “teenage” years in the institutions gaining the skills needed to become a functioning member of Irken society, though it's not so much of a psychological change as it is a physical one, seeing as their personalities don't naturally modify themselves.
Drone Services – These tasks are taken on and completed by the shortest Irkens whether they like it or not; they don’t require much training, and the jobs vary from janitorial duties, to food preparation and delivery, to the servants of the Tallers and even the Tallests themselves. It’s best that you get as good at your job as quickly as you can. For your own safety, of course. Irkens enlisted as food-service, janitorial, or equipment-managing drones (among many others) are typically below average height, with the cut-off being 5’10’’ and shorter; diminutive Irkens can only go into works not related to drone duties if their skills hold excellent promise.
Militia Training – The Military is one of the most important parts of the Irken Empire. Niches in the Empire's military include Imperial Troopers, Engineers, Pilots, Snipers, Elites, Invaders, Observers, Locators, Guards, Wardens, and Slave Drivers; most of Irk's history has shown that the planet has depended on the Irken military since the Great Unification bolstered by Ircka. Those in this subdivision of the Irken domain tend to range from average to tall on the height spectrum (5’11’’ to 7’11’), as this and the scientific wing of the Empire are among the best places to work at.
Scientists and Inventors – Like the military, those encoded as scientists also are an imperative part of Irken society. The Irken race's advanced technology, new weapons and various devices come courtesy of those working in this sector; this also counts genetic experimentations which are performed on lesser life forms whose planets the Empire has already conquered. However, for non-Irkens and non-Vortians, this field of work is extremely hard to get into due to its high-tech nature. Those in this sector tend to range from average to very tall on the height spectrum (5’11’’ to 11’12’’), as this and the martial annex of the Empire are among the best places to work at.
Tallest Academy – Educating the future Tallests is surprisingly easier in concept than it sounds, seeing as the Triumvirate and other Control Brains are the true rulers of the Irken Empire; instead, the smeets here are taught to keep up a convincing front in being more than simple figureheads. However, while the classes are typically easy, this is still the most difficult of the niches to train for as the social hierarchy is brutal, to the point where murder of potential rival Tallests is encouraged in order to slim down the numbers and prove who is the most worthy and intelligent. Smeets sent to this institute must have among the greatest projected heights for obvious reasons (12’ +).