AN INTRODUCTION TO CHAKATS

Chakat (x taurofelis adamo)

By Bernard Doove
Version 4.92
Revised 27/3/2014
© 2005


Physiology
    Outward Appearance and Characteristics
    Internal Body Structure
    Sexuality
Sociology
    General
    Mating Relationships
    Sexually Oriented Roles in Society
Historical Background
    Original Development
    Chakona - A Chakat Homeworld
    Present Day
Political and Social Structure of Chakona
Illustrations
Examples of Chakat Personalities
Credits

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Chakats. This article is intended to give a general overview of their physiology and mental outlook. Although it goes into detail in various areas, it is not quite a comprehensive essay. Many aspects of this species are still being revealed.

Like many other morphs, the Chakats are a genetically engineered species. However, unlike most others, they were not created from just one type of creature, but are a hybrid of the most ideal characteristics of many species. They were designed to be an ideal blend of physical and mental abilities intended to produce a superior being in an attractive form, with the dominant criteria for selection being survival characteristics. Anything that increased their ability to survive and prosper under adverse conditions was used to enhance their genetic structure. Intended to be explorers and colonisers, they were given as many built-in survival mechanisms as the technology of the time would permit.

The name of the species is derived from the husband and wife partners who led the team who developed their species: Charles & Katherine Turner. They were nick-named as Chas & Kat's babies, a term which rapidly was shortened to Chakats and stuck because it suited such a feline-looking species.

 

Physiology

Outward Appearance and Characteristics

Chakats are a predominantly feline centauroid-like species. The basic body structure comprises two main torsos joined at right angles at a common 'waist', with the head appearing on top of the upright upper torso in the same manner as upright bipeds. While technically quadrupeds, Chakats in fact have six limbs in total - the four walking limbs are attached to the lower torso, while the remaining two limbs function as arms and are attached to the top of the upper torso.

The height of a fully grown adult Chakat is about 1.5 to 1.7 metres (5 to 5' 8" approx.), and an adult Chakat weighs between 160 to 200kg (350 to 440lb approx.). Life expectancy is approximately 150 years.

The head is usually densely covered with hair which, left uncut, can grow to resemble a mane which extends partly down the spine. (There are the occasional exceptions where a Chakat does not have head hair, such as the Cheetah Chakat variant, or hybrids.) The rest of the body is covered with dense fur which, in winter phase, is resistant to the worst of cold and windy weather. This includes the breasts where the nipples are often only seen as bumps under the fur, except when they are swollen temporarily due to sexual arousal, or for extended periods due to lactation (i.e. when nursing cubs). However, Chakats do not like extremely hot conditions although they can tolerate them for a while, especially if they have their summer phase fur which is shorter and thinner than the winter phase. They are most comfortable at temperatures between five and twenty two degrees Celsius. The fur is sometimes groomed in the feline manner of tongue-washing. This not only cleans the fur, but because their saliva has antiseptic qualities, it can help heal cuts and abrasions that they have incurred. However, Chakats will usually leave the bulk of the fur cleaning to a bath or shower.

Due to an oversight during their original creation, fur color was never locked in. As a result of their mixed heritage and a quirk of the genetic engineering process, they are in the unique situation where colour and pattern is nearly totally random. Chakats can be tiger-striped, leopard-spotted or plain-coated, light or dark. Non-feline patterns also occur. No two coat markings are completely alike, which is a good thing as they tend to look very similar otherwise. It is rarely possible to tell family members by fur pattern as frequently they look nothing alike.

The upper torso is very human-like but is unusually supple. They are able to twist around and reach any part of their body with little effort. The junction of the upper and lower spines occurs in a specially modified forward hip arrangement that protects the spinal cord through the ninety degree bend. The upper torso is fairly short so the center of gravity is kept down to improve their balance. They have a lot of strength in proportion to their large mass and lower-body capabilities and are therefore much stronger than the average human. Their hands are very human with the exception of the nails, which are more clawlike, and tougher skin.

The ears are fairly large and highly mobile and expressive. They can hear much higher and lower frequencies than humans, typically from 15 Hz to 75000 Hz, and at amplitudes of only -20 dB, rivalling the best in the animal world.

Their eyes can perceive the full range of visible light (approximately 380nm to 700nm), and is very sharp at both close and far distances. They can also see into the Near Ultraviolet (NUV) a.k.a Black Light (200nm to 380nm), and partially into the infrared (700nm to 1550nm). This enables them to see colours that most animals cannot. For example, there are flower colours only visible in the UV range which bees can see. They are also able to see the infrared lasers used in optical fibres. They cannot see into the longer IR wavelengths such as heat waves. Night vision is truly excellent. They can perceive color at lower light levels than humans and, in what we would consider pitch darkness, they can still see very clearly although only in black & white. Eye color is most often green, but many variations exist, such as a bright crystal blue.

The muzzle is not particularly prominent but is fairly broad, being typically feline in shape. Their nose is able to smell scents almost as good as the best tracker dogs because their nasal cavities have almost as much scent-detecting surface area as the most sensitive of animals that hunt by smell. Being omnivores, they have both grinding molars and canine teeth which are quite conspicuous. A Chakat grin can be a bit unnerving to those people unfamiliar with them. Although their faces are very similar to their wild counterparts, they possess complex facial muscles which, like humans, enable them to express all the emotional nuances that their wild relatives cannot.

The breasts are highly modified, there being less fatty tissue and more of a fibrous sponge-like material, plus support ligaments. Chakat breasts have been adapted to store fluid when not lactating, and this gives them the ability to go a longer time without drinking if necessary (But don't call them camels if you don't wish to be swatted!). This fluid is actually a modified form of their normal milk, but it is low in solids and fats and has a higher concentration of sugars and vitamins, etcetera. It is a natural "power drink" that allows a chakat to go without eating for a while when under heavy exertion. It also considered to be a healthy tonic for persons who are ill; a sort of natural alternative to the classic chicken soup! This fluid reserve, which they call milkwater, is available to others by the obvious method in case of need: e.g. a thirsty cub who can't store as much as an adult. These adaptations have the side-effect of making the breasts quite firm and "outstanding", but does not mean that they grow excessively large. This is true also for young chakats who are significantly developed from an early age, and is not indicative of sexual maturity. The modifications also mean that Chakats virtually have a built-in sports bra that supports the breasts and greatly reduces undesirable bouncing.

A pregnant chakat will start developing proper mother's milk a few days before giving birth. During this time, a hormone called chakafertizine (CKF) is also released into the milk. Any sexually mature chakat that drinks this milk will have hir own production of mother's milk started. This is how the mate of the pregnant chakat can share nursing duties with hir. It is usually done after the cub has had hir first feed from the mother and is one of the reasons that the sire of the cub is always present at the birth unless extraordinary circumstances prevent hir from doing so. The mother gives the cub hir first feed immediately after birth, then drains hir mate's breasts to replenish the fluids and nutrients lost during the birthing and feeding. Hir mate then drinks a mouthful of the remaining mother's milk whereupon the CKF-laced fluid stimulates the sire's now-empty breasts to produce mother's milk for their cub. Chakat cubs are fed on this almost exclusively for the first year of their lives, and are only finally completely weaned around halfway into their second year. CKF is the primary control hormone for all sexually related matters, enabling balance between male and female modes, and stabilisation of the other hormone production (thereby preventing morning sickness for one thing). It is the greatly increased level of CKF that a Chakat produces upon fertilisation that shi can sense, thereby knowing shi is pregnant.

The lower torso is quite solidly built and is very strong. Without a load, they can move very fast and leap a couple of meters high effortlessly. With an appropriate harness, they can carry the load of a pack horse. All four paws have retractable claws and the front paws have elongated toes with the dewclaw modified into a semi-thumb. This does not interfere with walking or running, but it does enable them to grasp objects. When in a sitting position, they have the use of an extra pair of hands, the grip being crude but very strong. Along with the ability to rotate their forelegs freely, this enables them to climb extremely well. (Illustration done by Cirrel.)

The tail is quite long, about 1.5 metres by age 20, and slightly bushy. It is very strong, very thickly muscled and prehensile. It can hold moderately sized objects, anchor or brace the body and helps counterbalance the upper torso. It can be a very effective surprise weapon in combat. The only drawback is that it is fully furred and lacks any gripping surface, therefore the grasp can slide on slippery objects. It has enough strength to support the entire body weight for a short time and act as an anchor for an extended period. It is also a highly expressive part of their anatomy; able to convey a lot of body language. A sure sign of intimacy for chakats is when they entwine their tail around another's, irrespective of species. The tail continues to grow slowly throughout their adult life, reaching over 2 metres at death and senior chakats are often respectfully called Longtails.

Internal Body Structure

Chakats have a dual stomach system which enables them to digest just about anything. They have a high tolerance for poisonous substances (including alcohol). This enables them to live off the land, whether on Earth or some alien world. The first stomach is in the upper torso, the secondary in the lower. The dual stomachs give an extra amount of time to process foods, and special enzymes in the second stomach break down a lot of materials that don't break down in the first, which isn't too different from a human stomach. After the second stomach, intestinal fauna may attack what remains undigested. However, the amount of "tough" foods that a chakat can eat depends on a degree of acclimatisation. For example, if a chakat was stranded somewhere, whether it was a jungle on Earth or a strange planet, shi could start eating just about any growing thing immediately, but the amount of nutrition that shi could get out of it, while still a lot more than a human, would nevertheless start relatively low until hir system adjusts to the new diet and, if necessary, for the intestinal bacteria to multiply to an efficient level. A lot of a chakat's body mechanisms (not just the digestive) are in a stand-by mode until called upon to be used.

They also have a dual lung system. The upper pair are smaller than those in the lower torso and are called the "speaking lungs" as the air supply necessary for speech is controlled from there, whereas the large main lungs in the lower torso are almost purely an air exchange system and lack the fine voluntary control needed for clear speech. However, it does enable them to give a very loud shout or roar, and because they have a crude set of vocal cords in the lower air passage, they can also have two voices. Chakats can also purr.

The first generation of Chakats had only one heart, large enough to cope with the needs of a centauroid body, positioned in the upper torso. This reduced the size of the upper lungs slightly, but as the development team had yet to solve the problems of synchronising two hearts, they decided to leave that until later. By the time that the first generation had reached their teens though, the first of the second generation Chakats were born. They had two hearts, one in the upper torso specialising in supplying blood to the brain and essential organs, while the lower did the hard work of supplying oxygen rich blood to hard-working muscles throughout the body. Both systems are linked through a clever series of valves which, in times of emergency (e.g. trauma to one heart), allows one heart take up the work of the other. In this condition though, shi cannot exert hirself excessively as the capacity of the single heart would be exceeded. However, it does enable them to survive otherwise fatal injuries until such time as the other heart can be healed. The second generation was given a genetic dominance factor which meant that any subsequent children would have two hearts, and the single-hearted Chakats started disappearing from the population as they crossbred with the dual-hearted ones.

The waist is nearly solid muscle so as to cope with the strains imposed by the juncture of the vertical upper torso and the horizontal lower torso. This also helps enable them to lift heavy objects.

Apart from the organs associated with the first stomach, the rest of the organs are located in the lower torso. They are efficient and are all paired so as to give back-up in case one fails due to injury or illness. Because there are no organs located in the waist area, this enhances their ability to bend and twist without imposing strains internally. They have a slightly greater resistance to disease due to the benefits of hybrid vigor and have a limited ability to regenerate injuries and limbs. A lost finger can be replaced in a matter of weeks. A whole arm might strain that ability, but in conjunction with modern healing tools, perhaps combined with cloning, that too can be regenerated. Their constantly growing tail is evidence of this ability slowly operating in the background. The brain was developed from the most smartest and most even-tempered animals and humans, and all Chakats are quite intelligent. True geniuses though occur only a little more frequently than the general population. It wasn't the intention of their creators to make others inferior by comparison, but maximising the chakats' potential.

Sexuality

This is the interesting part about Chakats: sex. Chakats are hermaphrodites. As a truly bisexual species, they are equipped with a complete set of both male and female organs. However, they are not androgynous. An outsider might say they were all female, but closer observation shows that their characteristics fluctuate.

When it was first considered to make them a hermaphrodite species, it was asked whether they were getting the best of both worlds, or the worst. They were able to resolve the physical problems such as production of both ova and sperm, mood swings with hormonal changes, possible plumbing conflicts, etcetera. It was taken into account that a dual-sex species is capable of producing offspring from all its members, therefore satisfying the survival characteristics criteria. Most importantly though, they were able to create beings with stable, balanced personalities that harmoniously blended their male and female sides. The end result is that the Chakat species is the most psychologically stable of all the sentient races.

A Chakat's ovulation cycle is 24 days during which shi can be fertilized for only about 2 days. At this point, hir femaleness is at a maximum, and hir feminine traits and attitudes are to the fore. Twelve days later, hir maleness is at the maximum, hir sexual potency is greatest, and hir masculine traits are in evidence. The correct terms for these are 'female phase' and 'male phase', but the peaks of these phases are more frequently known by the slang terms 'heat' and 'rut'. Unlike the heat when the desire to have female sex is very powerful, the rut is not the male equivalent. What it does is override the normal sexual preferences and puts chakats in the mood for male sex. In other words, even those chakats who prefer female sex most of the time will desire to mate mostly in the male fashion during their rutting phase. Those who already prefer their male side will only experience a mild increase in the urge to have sex, and an increased number of unwanted erections. It's not a compulsion though. For example, it's not like deer bucks who are only interested in mating and fighting to defend their mates to the exclusion of all else including eating.

These phases make for interesting relationships between individuals and families. Couples who choose to mate monogamously will try to choose a partner as out of phase with them as possible. However, while a Chakat can only get pregnant for a limited time at estrus, shi is capable of impregnating another Chakat at any time. Spermatozoa are produced at all times except during hir heat, peaking in the middle of hir male phase. Due to the ability to store semen, shi can impregnate someone during hir heat, but must conserve hir semen as it is only a limited supply until production resumes after the heat. The likelihood of a successful fertilization is lower during this period. Extended families have members in various phases which gives them a greater degree of choice. Chakats are very sensual and promiscuous, but this does not mean that there is a constant baby boom as they are highly aware of their state of fertility and they have the intelligence to take advantage of that knowledge. Unwanted or unplanned cubs are unheard of.

Chakats do not have a hymen. Instead a type of sphincter acts to close off the vaginal passage. This is actually a modification of the existing vaginal muscles rather than a ring of muscle which couldn't expand sufficiently during labour to allow passage of the cub. This natural valve remains closed until the Chakat sexually matures, and then it comes under hir conscious control. Its normal state is closed and thus remains so when asleep or unconscious. A deliberate act of will must occur to relax the valve to allow sexual penetration, thus a Chakat can never be successfully vaginally raped (even if you could pin an angry felitaur!). This arrangement means also that there is no painful and damaging tearing of a hymen when the Chakat gives away hir virginity.

The penis is sheathed and is slightly further forward than normal so as not to interfere with the vaginal area. It lacks any feline traits such as barbs to stimulate ovulation or any so-called "cock-knot" as these are adaptations designed to enhance conception amongst animals in the wild and are completely unnecessary in an intelligent species. Aside from the fact that it is designed to rest in a sheath, the chakat penis is rather human-like, although it is slightly longer at about 21 - 26cm (8.3" - 10.2") clear of the sheath, and about 50% thicker (about 5 - 6cm or 2 - 2.4") than human average, in proportion to their body size. Size comparisons should not be made to big cats like tigers for example, because chakats are hybrids and not true felines, and their sexual equipment was designed to be compatible with humans and their perceptions of what would be desirable. There are no external genitalia as this particular male vulnerability has been dealt with by eliminating the need for the testes to be kept at a slightly lower temperature in order to produce fertile sperm, therefore allowing them to be safely tucked inside. Chakats must extrude their penis in order to urinate in the male manner.

They do not menstruate, instead unfertilized ova and uterine linings are re-absorbed into the body. Pregnancy lasts for 312 days (thirteen complete sexual cycles), about 1-1/2 months longer than a human due to their larger and more complex bodies. Due to the research that balanced their male and female hormones, the side-effect of this was the stabilizing of their systems during pregnancy. Thus they do not suffer from morning sickness, although they might have some other mild reaction, chief amongst which is an enhanced libido. Generally though, they just get that warm, happy glow that many ascribe to carrying a child. Single child births are normal. Twins are rare and triplets have never occurred. Chakats can produce just enough milk to feed twins adequately.

Chakats are not interfertile with bipedal species, but can breed successfully with many taurform species such as the feline, vulpine and lupine types, due to the Chakat's genetic structure having been developed from the original research used to produce these 'taurs. Another notable exception is the Skunktaur, sometimes known as Chakat-kin. This species is not only the most interfertile with chakats, but they are the only mates whose offspring are not guaranteed to be chakats also. Due to the dominant nature of chakat genes, normally the cubs are full chakats, but with fur colouring and pattern strongly influenced by the non-chakat. However, the adaptive nature of the skunktaur genetics allows them to overcome this and the cubs can be chakats, skunktaurs or, quite often, hybrids. (See the article on Skunktaurs by Bob Reijns for more details.) The majority of the time, the cub will come out predominantly the species of the mother.

Aging

As mentioned previously, the average lifespan of a Chakat is about 150 years. Due to aging diseases having been either cured or eliminated from their genetic structure, Chakats enjoy a long and healthy middle age. Their bodies have fully matured and stop growing (except for the tail) when they're in their mid twenties. They remain sexually potent for about 120 years before undergoing the Chakat equivalent of menopause. At this time, it is the ovaries that first cease to function. The testes usually will continue to produce sperm for several years yet, although the quantity will start diminishing before it too ceases. This does not have much effect on Chakat sexuality though. The male/female cycle continues until death. The only things that change is that they no longer go into heat and do not have to worry about pregnancies any more. However, menopause is a signal for something that is happening throughout their body: everything is starting to wear out. Advanced medicine has seen the quality of life improved for all species, extending well over a century, but Chakats are one of the most vital. They can be fully active, bearing and raising children as energetically at 120 as at 20 years of age. After menopause, they have plenty of time to raise any children still in their care until they're old enough to take care of themselves. Only now do they start showing their age though. Fur starts greying faster and skin tone starts sagging. Vision loss starts to become noticeable, as does diminishing hearing and smelling capability. While their bodies can still repair themselves, healing is slower. Joints may not be subject to arthritis, but the efficiency of them gradually deteriorates and causes some stiffness. Muscles are one of the organs that constantly needing to replace themselves, but again, the effectiveness of this ability slowly reduces. This is the major cause of death amongst Chakats because the most important muscle in the body is the heart. Those few Chakats left who only have one heart will die immediately if the heart fails. Those with dual hearts can survive the failure of one with the possibility of reviving it while the other takes up the burden, however quite often it is a sure sign of impending failure of the other also. Still, even close to the end of their lives, elderly chakats are not subject to as many of the infirmities and indignities that humans and other species endure. They have time to prepare for their impending deaths and pass on their responsibilities, spending their last years in full retirement. The last few years of their life are spent passing on their wisdom to younger generations. As elders, or "Longtails", they are highly respected and it's an honour to have one as part of your immediate family.

Talents

The Talents referred to are of the extra-sensory (or psionic) kind. In the case of chakats, every member of this species has a strong Empathic ability. This enables to detect, share and project emotions. This means that they can easily tell what actions give the most pleasure or satisfaction to the person(s) whom they are interacting with. They make great mediators and very pleasant companions for this reason, and the more subtle aspects of their Talent are useful in fields such as psychiatry. (See the Guide To Talents for more details.)

Occasionally a chakat may be born with an additional Talent such as telepathy or telekinesis, but this happens only rarely, about as much as in other species (except skunktaurs).

 

Sociology

General

Because the titles Mr. or Ms, etc. would be inappropriate, Chakats are usually addressed by their species name followed by their personal name. They get a name some time after birth which reflects their characteristics, physical or personality, which may change anytime up until they reach adulthood. Then they may choose to keep their current name or choose a new adult name, but from then on, the name is permanent. They are very fond of descriptive names and rarely use human-type names. They almost always use just one personal name (not counting nicknames) and they regard themselves as one great family. Lineage is denoted as being the child of two others. For example, I would be formally addressed as: Chakat Goldfur, child of Longstripe and Desertsand. (Alternatively - daughter of - abbreviated to d/o for written purposes.) The mother is always named first, then the sire. The informal honorific is the word Shir which is pronounced like the French word cher, which means "dear". Thus you would address me as Shir Goldfur.

The proper pronoun for referring to Chakats is Shi (or Sie, both pronounced Shay), never He or It! Being referred to as an "it", implying a lack of gender or sexuality, is highly offensive to most Chakats. The possessive form of shi is Hir (usually pronounced like Hare, but also sometimes pronounced Heer). However, Chakats are frequently referred to in the feminine gender, which they don't particularly mind. It may only irk them when they are in male phase and trying to attract a female partner.

Chakats have no nudity taboo; they have no need for clothes except for protection in harsh environments, but they are well aware of the allure of well-designed decorative clothing, the most common of which are halter-tops a kind of vest which serve many functions, and smart jackets. They can be provocative, ornamental or functional. Often, the Chakat just wants some pockets! They are also sometimes a concession to some more prudish humans, although a Chakat can't be forced into wearing anything if shi doesn't feel like it, which can be quite often if shi isn't wearing a uniform required for hir work. A frequent piece of apparel though are belt pouches worn about the upper torso's waist. These give plenty of carrying capacity without restricting movement as garments might do so.

Chakats are not into the slightest form of self-mutilation and so you will never see tattoos, shaved fur or even an ear-ring (clip-ons excepted). They will also avoid surgery whenever possible but are not foolishly blind to the need.

Despite a rather fiercesome and capable physique, Chakats are in fact a gentle and loving people, with a tendency to not take seriously anything in which they are not interested. They are devoted to their families and like to have several cubs but do not have them unless they feel all circumstances are suitable. As mentioned previously, the chakat sire is always present at the birth unless extraordinary circumstances prevent it. This is demonstrative of their complete love and support of their mate. Also, the birth is considered a family affair, many members of the family and sometimes close friends are present for the delivery. They lend their moral support during labour and share the joy of the event with the parents. A birthing party is frequently arranged starting the day before the cub is due. They can be very reliably scheduled as chakat pregnancies are extremely predictable in length (312 days).

Chakats don't make any distinction between the sexes (aside from purely physical matters) and are completely bisexual in all things. Some have a personal preference for one side of their sexual nature, but nevertheless will always enjoy the other side. For example, a chakat who has mated with a male and enjoys taking the female role will always be happy to make love in the male mode with another person. A Chakat that didn't feel this way would be considered psychologically disturbed, although it must be pointed out that this has never occurred.

As mentioned earlier, Chakats are quite promiscuous and will happily engage in sex-play with any other compatible chakat, human or morph (of any gender) whom they have come to know and like. This is a common form of social interaction, and one essential to their psychological make-up. They try to avoid procreative incestuous relationships for practical reasons – although careful genetic selection has eliminated virtually all dangerous recessives and inherited diseases, etcetera, the rather small original gene-pool makes it advisable that they get as much diversity into the community as possible. They are also capable of self-fertilization, but only through artificial intervention as organ placement precludes natural self-insemination. However, this option is never practiced as they prefer to produce children as a result of a union with someone they love and not as an act of self-gratification.

Because they are a tactile species, they start teaching their children about sexual function and behavior as early as is practical. Therefore, when they mature and are ready for sex, they avoid hang-ups about sex-play and copulation, knowing what is appropriate and when, avoiding most of the difficulties that other adolescents experience. Chakats are always self-aware of their state of fertility and other chakats can also scent when another is in heat, so unplanned cubs can always be avoided.

A mated couple will often have a cub each within less than a year of each other. This way, the sisters can grow up together and they often form a strong bond of their own. These bonded pairs usually have an empathic link to each other and the depth of their caring for each other is only matched by their lifemates' devotion.

Chakats are extremely social. They hate living alone, and when there are several in a household, they tend to sleep together in a communal bedroom, although they do have individual rooms for their personal possessions and for times when they desire privacy, such as when making love to a mate. This strong social interaction is extended to their guests too. All guests are offered a choice of having a private bedroom or a bed companion to snuggle with. This is not an offer of sexual relationships, unless the guest is a person whom they are already intimate with.

When raising the first Chakats, the team avoided instilling many moral codes much more than "Do unto others...", teaching them to care for people of all kind, and giving them the facts necessary for fitting into a civilised society. They do not have any class distinctions amongst themselves, but they do have a certain pride in their particular talents and strive for recognition by excelling at their chosen vocation. They cannot have any sexual bias and they completely ignore it in humans and other single sex morphs.

Although Chakats are not atheists, they do not have any particular religious belief as this was another subject the development team did not wish to indoctrinate them with. But, being very intelligent, they find themselves in awe of the splendours of the universe and they sometimes... wonder?

Technologically, they share the highest level available to the general community (equivalent, for example, to Star Trek level) but being very intelligent, many are in the forefront of research programs whilst others let their curiosity lead them into exploration in starships. There they are regarded as a vital addition to any starship team as their combination of brains and brawn are a definite advantage in hazardous situations. In the general community however, humans being humans, some love them and some hate them. But mostly they are held in the same sort of fascination that humans regard the big cats like the tiger, lion or puma.

If all this seems to good to be true, remember that they were designed to be ideal beings. However, nobody's perfect. They weigh a lot more than a human, require more food and plenty of sleep. They hate confined spaces, although a very flexible spine partially compensates for this liability. As mentioned earlier, they cannot tolerate high temperatures for very long. They enjoy water and bathing but drying the fur can be a long and tedious job if they are not prepared to drip dry naturally. They must spend a lot of time grooming, although they tend to use this time for socialising with other Chakats.

Little things we take for granted make life difficult, such as revolving doors and turnstiles. Special furniture and facilities must be produced for their needs. A rug on the floor is fine for a lounge room but their bathroom facilities are more complex. Automobiles need to be specially modified both for access and driving. Their relatively small population means that there is a shortage of mass-produced goods suitable to their needs.

The social consequences of a species that is neither wholly male nor female is a bit more of a grey area. Giving them an overall feminine appearance has let people deal with them as if they are all females, a situation with which the Chakats are usually comfortable. They do not mind being referred to as girls or ladies because their ability to bear children makes this description appropriate. The rest has to be left up to the enlightened social values of the times.

Mating Relationships

Aside from the traditional Aussie friends or comrades, a mate is a partner in the equivalent of marriage or some other de facto relationship in the furry community. There are different levels of mateship and different species have slightly different views on these matters. However, here I will deal specifically with those particularly referring to the Chakats. These people believe in a three tier system, as follows:

A Companion can range from a very good friend to a lover. Frequently, young chakats will find themselves someone who shares their interests and provide companionship and physical comfort. This can include, but is not primarily for the purpose of, sexual relationships. Because chakats are very social and tactile people, this level of mateship fulfils their emotional and physical needs. As they grow older, chakats will still form Companionships, but these are more likely to grow into deeper relationships. While still young though, they are usually temporary and are dissolved on a mutually amicable basis as their goals or needs diverge. The emphasis on this level is a mutual pleasure without commitment. Quickpaw and Bronzecoat are an example of a Companionship that has been dissolved.

Denmates are Companions or lovers who formally mate into the family. They share in the joys and responsibilities of their family, and are mindful of the needs of their co-mates and any cubs already in that family. These relationships are sometimes born out of need, but always are based in love, as otherwise that person would just be a burden on that family. The Denmates usually, but not always, have a strong sexual relationship, often with the goal of having children. Cubs are not brought into the world unless it is within the security and loving environment of a family. The emphasis on this level is love of one's partner and hir family, and the relationship usually lasts at least until any offspring are grown and ready to fend for themselves. At this time, the partners may choose to renew or dissolve the mating. Lupu and Goldfur are examples of Denmates.

Lifemates are Denmates who have such a depth of love and need for each other that they can no longer conceive of living without each other. They share a soul-deep bond that transcends physical relationships, but an active sex-life is inevitably a part of it. This, however, is merely icing on the cake as Lifemates can be extremely happy just being in the company of their mate. A Lifemate's needs and wellbeing are always held as the highest priority, even above one's own. It is felt that if the Lifemate is content, then this happiness filters down to the rest of the family, bringing benefits to all. You cannot become a Lifemate until you have spent at least one full year as declared Denmates. It is considered that this is such a serious decision to make that much time is needed to consider all its aspects. Once a Lifemating is declared, it cannot be dissolved and lasts the lifetime of the partners. However, this does not exclude the forming of bonds with other people and as many as four may share in a Lifemateship. While not forbidden, any more than that makes relationships too complicated and two or three are the norm. Goldfur and Garrek are examples of Lifemates, as are Forestwalker, Kris and Trina.

There are other terms for relationships formed with Chakats, but they all fall within the three categories listed above. One example is Mate of the Heart and refers to a deeply loving but unconsummated bond. This falls within the Companion category. Forestwalker and Admiral Kline had such a relationship until the time they declared themselves Denmates. Obviously, non-consummation does not mean non-physical and there can be a high degree of physical intimacy between such partners.

Sexually Oriented Roles in Society

Chakats are very comfortable when it comes to the subject of sex. Being hermaphrodites, they understand equally what it is to be male and what it is to be female and they are at ease with both sides of their dual natures. Others in single sex races are not always as comfortable with the subject of sex or their own sexual natures.

For this reason, some chakats have taken it upon themselves to help those of other races in this area. Some chakats, who have taken a special course of study which includes psychology, biology and socialisation courses, become sex education teachers/counselors in schools. They help adolescents of all races, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, to understand the changes that are going on with their bodies, helping them through the turmoil of emotions brought about by the physical changes that are happening within them. Chakats are uniquely suited for this type of work, since they know what each of their students is going through and can gently help them along the way.

Other chakats take on more advanced training to help those who have greater need in this area. Some members of other races, whether due to psychological trauma, physical problems or learned social attitudes, suffer from severe sexual dysfunction. In conjunction with a trained psychologist specialising in the field of sexual dysfunction, these chakats work in the medical field as sexual surrogates. Being dual sexed, they are uniquely equipped to help anyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. They can help a male who suffers from extreme premature ejaculation or a female who is so nervous about sex that her body will not permit the entry of a male or any other of a number of problems. They help their charges to heal with a combination of talk and physical intimacy, helping them overcome mental trauma or physical difficulties.

Chakats also make good teachers for the nervous young person who is just starting to become sexually active. Many a young male or female has given their virginity to a loving, kind and understanding chakat. They come to them as nervous and inexperienced youths and leave as confident and competent lovers.

 

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Historical Background

 

Original Development

The original creation of anthropomorphs during the 21st century was an often abused science. They were created as personal slaves, sex kittens, vicious fighters, etcetera. The collapse of the decadent and stagnant societies into decay and the inevitable widespread wars caused a backlash against the abuses of science and the death of many of these earliest creations, not to mention millions of humans. Out of this mess, however, came a new enlightened society which began to take responsibility for the enormous ramifications of a highly technological era. The genetic sciences were revived because of the need to rebuild everything, but this time with very strict guidelines in place. The morphs were to be treated with the same respect and rights due to any human being. If they were bred for a specific task, they nonetheless were given a complete education and the opportunity to choose another career if they wished. Anyone engaged in genetic research was subject to strict, constant scrutiny. This time the morphs got the best society had to offer instead of the worst.

In the 22nd century, morphs were an accepted and integral part of society (with the occasional malcontent or bigoted individuals excepted) and people were looking to the stars again. A working FTL (Faster Than Light) drive was created and interstellar exploration began. About the same time, the Institute of New Generation Genetics was formed to study and create ways of improving life in any way through genetic engineering. This included gene therapy for inherited diseases, stimulated regrowth of injuries including loss of limbs, curing birth defects and of course studying the possibilities inherent in anthropomorphic lifeforms. The concept for what was to become the Chakat species was a culmination of much of this research. By the time the first Chakats graduated, many star systems had been explored, several habitable worlds had been located and one alien species had been contacted: the fox-like people of the planet Voxxa. Now the new frontier was opened and new colonies were being started. The Chakats were proving to be very able and enthusiastic explorers and they helped open up many new worlds. They were amongst the first to open up relationships between Terra and the felinoid races of Cait and Raksha.

Chakona - A Chakat Homeworld

By the 23rd century, the Chakat population had grown considerably and they started thinking of starting up a colony of their own to establish a home world for all furry kind. Chakats being very sociable creatures, they never considered having a world strictly for their own species, but conceived an idea for bonding all morphs into a wonderfully diverse culture. The discovery of an ideal world for this purpose was all that was needed. In the latter part of the century, they found a planet with ideal conditions. The land masses were mostly in the cool to temperate zones which the Chakats preferred and natural resources were abundant. They intended to build their homes and factories in complete harmony with the environment. They wanted to retain as much of the original beauty of the planet as possible and they drew on the experiences of all the previous colonies and the harsh lessons learnt by the people of Earth. Although humans and alien species were always welcome, only morphs were actively encouraged to immigrate to this new mother land named Chakona. Star Registry certificate Their world does not have huge continents like the Earth's. Instead, it has lots of smaller land masses, the biggest of which is a bit smaller than Australia. Few of these island continents overlap the climate zones where deserts would naturally form like the belts of arid regions that encircle our planet. Most are covered with rainforests that vary from tropical to cool temperate in type. The planet is the fourth from a G3 yellow dwarf star named Chakastra (Chakat's Star). This star is visible from Terra's southern hemisphere and can be located at the old designation of AQUILA RA 19h49m7s D 8°46'. Although Chakona's sun is further away than Sol is from Earth, it is slightly hotter and the planet falls perfectly into an orbit that's an ideal distance for sustaining life. The world has two moons called Ka'turna and Cha'turna, named in honor of the creators of the Chakat race. Please see the article on Chakonan society for more details about this world.

Present Day

At the turn of the 24th century, about 250 habitable worlds had been found (although you would not want to live on many of them!) Seven intelligent species had been contacted, so far. Of these, only three were technologically advanced, the others being left alone to develop without interference or well-meant meddling. These three, along with Earth and Chakona, formed the cornerstones of the new interstellar federation. With its continued growth, more and more alien species are being contacted and invited into an alliance with the Stellar Federation. The original three alien species were the Caitians, the Voxxans and the Rakshans. They were later joined by the Merraki, Kalen-toth and Renzar races. (Go here for more details.)

The Chakats' strong, intelligent and caring ways greatly influences all the worlds. A chakat was the first to perfect matter/energy conversion which opened up the fields of energy production, matter replication and, of course, teleportation. The worlds have seen a golden age extending more than two centuries.

Where do they go from here? Ever forward and upward we hope, but history shows that what we hope and what we get are often two different things.

Please see the Timeline page for specific events, many of which have been described in the Forest Tales series, or other stories.

 

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Political and Social Structure of Chakona

Chakona is very much a planned world. Before it was discovered, the chakat clans of Earth had met and decided to find a suitable world on which to start a colony that best suited their needs. It was always recognised that the chakats alone did not have sufficient numbers to get the world up to the desired standard quickly enough, but the simplest and most agreeable solution was to invite members of the other morph species. Together, they sponsored a search for a suitable planet, and in the meantime they set about determining how they wanted the new world set up and run.

When a lush planet was found, an initial research team was sent to determine its land masses, suitability for farming, living or commerce, and many other pre-determined factors. Armed with this knowledge, the chakats and their allies laid out the framework for the new society. Thus today you will find that the land is divided into manageable "provinces" which answer only to the planetary government. In turn, the provinces are managed on a local basis by district councils. The "capital" of each province is actually little more than an administrative building located centrally. It doesn't belong to any of the districts, but is supported by them all. Each province has been laid out to maximise its resources without unfairly eclipsing the others. The idea is to provide the highest degree of standard of living with the minimum impact on the environment. Council members are not only the decision makers, but the ones who have the responsibility of seeing that the natural order of things is not unduly disturbed. Each council sends a representative to its "capital" where policy is set for its province, in line with planetary government guidelines. The planetary government's purpose is naturally to deal with affairs that impact on the whole world. It controls immigration, taxation (can't get away from that!), customs (they're extremely strict on contraband material and organisms) and other such things that you can presently associated with countries. They're also the watchdogs to make sure that the provinces don't start deviating from the original plans for their society without thorough debate from all representatives.

The elected leader of Chakona is the Prime Minister and has always been a chakat. Not that another species couldn't be, but due to the high percentage of that species on the world, and the fact that chakats really care for their world, it has always resulted in one of them being chosen. All other species have an equal voice in the government, but have to conform to the rules laid down by the chakats from the first days. No one is allowed to settle on Chakona unless they fully understand these conditions and agree with them. The chakat clans were determined that their world would remain virtually free of the divisiveness and petty bickering of Earth's nations. They have managed to retain a much looser style of controlling things upon Chakona without slipping into anarchy. Their unofficial motto is " Less Governing And More Doing!"

Politicking is not much done on this world. The members of the local councils are chosen at council gathers. If you're an ordinary citizen, you have the right to be heard at the council. If you choose not to attend, then you are regarded as having abstained from that right and have no cause for complaint if something does not go the way that you would have wished. The Councillors in turn choose a Representative for the Provincial council, and of course, the Representatives choose the Prime Minister and other posts. There are no parties as such, although many will ally with others in a cause. Formal parties are not part of the system because they want to avoid political circuses that waste time and resources.

At all times, it's the will of the people that is most important; not what a political party thinks the people should do. However, the planetary council has the authority to plan new projects and formulate new policies, but these need to be passed down and approved by the lower levels before being ratified. Justices are also appointed at the local level, but skip the intermediate level and go straight to the planetary government level for higher authority. The global council chooses a Chief Justice from those that have shown exceptional capability. As you can tell, the main idea is to minimise the amount of bureaucracy, but don't get the idea that they are lax. Once a policy has been implemented, it is rigidly adhered to. Chakona has the strictest quarantine and immigration controls in the Federation. They have no intention of repeating past mistakes. On the other hand, a casual visitor merely on holiday will have no difficulty obtaining a visa. Chakona is not a closed world, just strongly protected from foreign diseases, pests, drugs and other undesirables.

Chakona is a full equal member of the Stellar Federation. The same meticulous preparation that enabled their world to be quickly established also enabled them to rapidly put Chakona on the map in terms of resources and technology. The Stellar Federation is similar to that of the Star Trek Universe and may be regarded as its counterpart in the Chakat Universe. You need a passport to travel between any planet, but visas are only required by some. Chakona requires a visa, but that's to control illegal imports more than people themselves.

On Chakona, Chakats do not have a statutory limit for most things. On the other hand, they have strong compulsory educational programs to properly educate children on sex, relationships and social issues. Each species has the right to determine when their young are old enough to decide for themselves when to have sex or when to mate or marry. Generally speaking though, this is somewhere in the mid teens.

Although driving is a lot safer in these times, no one can drive until they pass very stringent tests. However, there is no age limit for taking these tests, but there are usually practical physical limitations that prevent those who are too young from getting a licence.

As for voting, anyone old enough to speak up clearly and cogently at a council meeting may be considered to have a vote, despite the fact that they don't have formal elections.

Alcohol is available to anyone over fifteen, but in limited quantities. Alcoholism is very treatable in this time, but efforts are made so that its likelihood of developing is reduced. Alcoholic beverages are regarded separately from other drugs. Like many other poisons, alcohol barely affects chakats except in very large quantities (amounts that would kill most other people). They tend to have a little bit of a blind spot in this regard because even they like the taste of wine with a meal, or a celebratory drink on some occasion. The main reason that there's no statutory age for drinking alcohol is that, in that diverse community, alcohol affects some a lot more than others. There's literally a couple of decades between the extremes of appropriate ages, so the majority of regulation is left up to the families themselves but with compulsory education as to its affects. This is regarded as one of the other compulsory subjects learnt in social education, along with sex, drugs, prejudice, etcetera. The fifteen year age limit is not a strictly enforced law, but more a guideline with the power of social pressure behind it. By this age, Chakonan youth are expected to be able to make sound judgements. It's not easy making laws for such a species and culturally diverse world!

Recreational drugs are one of the Chakats' sore spots. As previously mentioned they have a fair resistance to many poisons, including narcotics, but even they can be overdosed or affected by some exotic drugs, and they detest the thought. It's a species-wide foible that makes them come down hard on ALL recreational drugs, no matter how mild. Pharmaceutical drugs are also strongly controlled. Drug traffickers are pursued relentlessly. Visitors are also advised that "It's just for my personal use" is not an acceptable excuse. Within their own society, they have been pretty successful at eliminating drugs, and those few exceptions are dealt with firmly. For non-Chakonans, heavy fines are the very least they can expect. True drug traffickers can expect life imprisonment at worst.

Because Chakona was a planned world from day one, population numbers have always been strongly controlled. The founders went to extreme lengths to learn from history all the problems involved in colonisation and the creation of a new society. Policies were firmly in place long before Chakona was discovered and implemented from the day the first colonist set foot on the world. The planet was developed in stages. First stage was establishing the colony and making sure that it could survive by itself. Stage 2 was to start exploiting resources and expand their infrastructure while disturbing the ecology as little as possible. Stage 3 was to develop the cities and industries to the point where they could start enjoying the full benefits of a highly technological society. They are now in stage 4 where they are a major source of commodities and materials and need more population to sustain growth.

Having established Chakona as the place to be to make your fortune, naturally many people do want to go to this world. However, while they do have an open-door policy at this time, the actual numbers admitted depends entirely on pre-development of the basics. Think of it like a housing estate. All the appropriate land is developed close to some industry that the Chakonans wish to start or expand. All environmental concerns are addressed *before* they move in a single immigrant. Slums are thereby avoided and the land is developed in a way that has the least amount of impact on the ecology. Then they move in a selected group of people from the immigration queue and move onto the next project. But this must cost a lot of money, you say. Of course it does, but just like the housing estates where they outlay large sums of money for roads, power, sewering, etc, etc, before anyone moves in, the costs are factored in and the immigrants pay for it. TANSTAAFL, if you know what that means. However, picking the right immigrants for the location ensures full employment, high job satisfaction, high production and good profits, therefore there is a large degree of affluence and the initial loans are soon paid off. By this time, if there is a need to expand, they have the money and resources to do it properly. They remain bound by the policies of the World Council whose major function is to ensure that the original plans and policies of the founders are abided by. At no point is the population intake allowed to outstrip the need for workers, thereby eliminating the major causes of most problems. It might be thought that this would cause a long waiting list for immigration, but several areas are developed simultaneously in many different fields, thereby keeping turnover time pretty short. Stage 5 will come when the World Council determines that the optimum sustainable economy has been reached and a cap will be put on immigration thereafter. While Chakona's economy might still be able to grow, its off-world markets might not, so it will be controlled in such a way that natural population growth will sustain its needs.

Which brings us to the other part of the questions: Internal population control. In the previous section on Chakonan social issues, one of the major ones is compulsory sex education from an early age. Far from trying to restrict the sexual activities of their youth (which never works for any culture), they teach the consequences of their actions and the means of safely and easily avoiding unwanted pregnancies. At this time, truly safe and reliable means of contraception are available and their usage is encouraged. That pretty easily takes care of the unplanned children, but what of those that they deliberately have? For the moment, as I said before, there is still a strong need for manpower in almost every field, so they are not a problem so far. However, the inbred love of child-bearing by chakats could eventually be a problem. The World Council recognises this and does have a policy that will be implemented if (or more likely, when) the time comes to curb natural population growth. This will quite likely to be the hardest policy to implement and abide by because it goes against their instincts, but they pride themselves on also being the best possible parents and they would not want to exacerbate a problem that would lower the standard of living, possibly cause harm to the environment and indirectly harm their family. Time will tell if they can successfully achieve this.

The only other factor in population control thus far not addressed is the actual ratio of chakats to other species, including humans. While the Chakats were always happy to share their world with other morph species, it was always intended to be not only a homeworld, but a safe refuge for their kind. To maintain a controlling interest in Chakona, the ratio of Chakats in the population to that of all the others combined has always been greater than 50%, usually hovering between 55 to 60%. So far, natural population growth from births plus a constant intake from other worlds has seen this ratio maintained without having to restrict non-Chakat immigrants, but if this situation was to change, the World Council has policies ready to implement to control the situation. On top of this, immigrants are required to undergo courses familiarising them with the laws and social requirements of Chakona, and are expected to comply with them. Those who still want to assert any cultural or social values from their old homeland which conflict with Chakonan policies, are asked why they bothered to move away from there in the first place if they prefer them. If the answers are unsatisfactory, they are usually rejected as being unsuitable immigrants. Citizenship of Chakona is a privilege, not a right.

There are no formal limits to who may mate, when or how, although there may be practical limits. Chakats have few formal rituals, and those they do have tend to be brief and to the point, but they are also very strongly binding and heartfelt. Chakats sometimes mate monogamously, but this is not common. Three or four tends to be the normal number in the family, especially if any of the mates are not chakats. As for "shacking up", most do precisely this until they feel the time is right to form a more permanent relationship with someone (or more!) for whom they really care. The important thing to remember about any chakat relationship that has anything to do with sex is that they do not have any illogical so-called morals cluttering up their thinking. Any rules are always from a strictly practical reason, such as not procreating with a sister because of the need for genetic diversity, NOT because it is a sin or some such rubbish. Partners outside the group are always a good way to introduce fresh genes into the pool, so there's no stupid morals against this either.

 

General facts about Chakona

 
Click the maps for full-size versions.

More specific information on Chakona and the Chakastran system can be seen at the Lonely Stellar page - A Visitor's Guide to Chakona. A new addition to the page is a fly-through of the Chakastra system.

A more intimate look at life on Chakona with bountiful illustrations by Seth Triggs can be found on the Building Chakona page.

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Illustrations

The following images are illustrations from the original (much smaller) hardcopy version and have some added text also:

 

Intro-pic1 Intro-pic2 Intro-pic3

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Infrequently Asked Questions

Once in a while someone will come up with a question about something that hasn't been addressed above, and so exists my IAQ. That section also answers questions on non-chakat matters though, but if you have a query, try there first to see if someone else hasn't already beaten you to it.

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Examples of Chakat Personalities

To give an indication of what some chakats are like, here's a description of some of my creations:

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Credits:

The Chakats were inspired by some ideas brought forward by other people for their own characters, most notably: Mike Higgs' Kendarii, Roy Pounds' Garetta, Mary Lynn Skirvin's snow cats and other similar characters. Some of these ideas are a logical necessity and could not be ignored. Others are highly desirable characteristics and would be developed naturally by any serious research team. However I have greatly expanded on those and added my own ideas to create a unique species. The planet Voxxa and its inhabitants are copyright Silverfox Publications and are used with permission. The name of the planet Chakona was suggested by Jason Gaffney. Some valuable contributions, including providing the first map, naming the moons and providing inspiration, came from Terry Knight. Please read the multi-part story by him named Lost. Thanks go to Boyce Kline for various suggestions and inspiration. The article, "Sexually Oriented Roles in Society", was written by him. The Skunktaurs were created by Bob Reijns and more can be found out about them on the Skunktaur pages. Anyone who wishes to comment upon, or suggest additions to this essay is welcome to contact the author. You may create Chakat characters of your own as long as you stick to the guidelines in this Introduction, and examples seen in my stories. I just don't want to see my creations misused.

 


 

 

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