A Commission for [link]
The authors' description:
"Illiaks, as the race depicted here are known, are a bizarre race for multiple reasons the first being their otherworldly body structure. Their extremely muscular arms do not end in hands but instead feet with two pincer like toes that clamp onto branches directly above. Their legs on the other hand, although below the arms like one would expect for a biped, are spindly and easily tucked away. At the end of them rather than feet are hands with two thumbs and five long spindly fingers which can hold and manipulate objects directly in front of the Illiaks highly evolved eyes, which are capable of seeing colours few other species could even imagine. Their legs can easily reach up to their faces due to being longer than one would expect a trait the species has easily evolved as they don’t actually support themselves on their legs for balance.
The reason for this odd body shape is because for Illiaks the branches above them are the same as the ground below is to humans. Due to living in a world infested with hyper lethal predators that have evolved to become extremely efficient hunters as a result of planet Sors shorter day and night span, some species such as Illiaks have not even bothered trying to live life in the predator infested skies or below on the ground crawling with monstrous ambush predators. Instead they live up in the middle section of the huge trees safe from anything on the ground and shielded from the air by the thick canopy that they never venture above. Although they can walk on all fours on the ground they are clumsy and venerable like this.
A highly intelligent race that are experts with tool manipulation, Illiaks also posses facial tentacles and even clamps on their tail to help them manipulate technology in a way that along with their seven fingered hands is far more dexterous than humans could ever achieve. Or Triphons for that matter. Due to their extreme organizational skills and talent at transforming piles of useless scrap into sophisticated machinery and weaponry, Illiaks’ live and work directly alongside Triphons. Whereas Triphons do the majority of manual work such as fighting and clearing the forest so they can sweep through it, the Illiaks’ provide them with specialised equipment, organize the camp via the means of long boring lists and dreary paper work and pilot the more sophisticated hunting vehicles.
Despite being frailer and less aggressive than Triphons Illiaks are on equal terms with them, with each species acknowledging that they would be lost without the other yet secretly believing themselves to be the great contributors in the relationship. Illiaks’ no longer live in the forest as their ancestors once did and have become semi-industrialized like Triphons, but for their ease of transport where they work and across the camp numerous bar rigs are set up to allow them to comfortably hang above the ground freeing up their leg hands.
Illiaks culture is centred around knowledge and story telling. They absorb information at a shockingly fast level and if they had access to even half the resources we on earth do it seems likely that they would have achieved space flight centuries ago. For an Illiak’ the greatest gift it can receive is more knowledge whether fictional or non fictional (though it must be specified from the giver which it is otherwise it would be taken as an extreme insult). In their spare time they love creating comic strip style “magazines” either of short stories or recent scientific findings. These articles are traded, sold and given at an alarming rate with those created by the more senior science officers being the most highly prized. Hanging from the same bars the Illiaks work from themselves, many of the comics are created in less than a day despite being beautifully illustrated thanks to their advanced dexterity, and after use most of the less valuable ones litter the floor due to Illiaks’ never forgetting what they’ve learnt and getting through so many articles a day they only keep hold of treasured comics they want to re-read simply to blissfully remember the day they first learnt the information within or because they want to be exclusive possessors of that knowledge.
Illiak females possess a highly integrated social mentality, being maternal creatures with a strong sense of group bonding. Males are very different beings, however, and display the strong sexual dimorphism of this species: Attached to each female's back is a leech-like creature that is actually the highly modified male, reduced to little more than a sex organ. For cultural reasons this male is always respectfully concealed by the female's garments in observance of a cultural taboo. During a short larval stage females and males connect with the female then developing further whilst the male does the opposite. The devolved male regularly releases hormones into the female hosts’ body causing her to act aggressively and dominant for short periods of time on a weekly cycle. Although other races cannot be sure how spiritual or not this is, Illiaks claim that they maintain the consciousness of both male and female “parts” equally, with the male sex organ apparently continuing to evolve intellect along with the female well after the larval stage.
Asides never feeling lonely, this gives a major advantage to Illiaks’ because each individual is able to create offspring alone that will not be clones nor will be related to each other so that one individual can create an entirely new colony without limiting the gene pool. Illiak’ “pairs” as each female calls herself, can still mate with each other by secreting a slime like chemical through their mouth which when mixed with the same substance from other individuals develops into eggs outside the body. This means offspring can be created that have many parents. As a result the gene pool within Illiaks is vast, totally devoid of genetic diseases and they seem to evolve at a faster rate than other races changing drastically in just several thousand years.
Despite their different nature, the Illiak race does enjoy mingling with Triphons taking keen interest in the blood sports Triphons love to participate in – though Illiaks are nearly always just fascinated spectators, and some of them even go as far to experiment with the numerous hallucinogenic drugs off-duty Triphon soldiers favour. Being a curious race who are great lovers of mystery and science many of them admire the forest and bear no deliberate bad intentions towards it. However they never let this get in the way of wiping out entire local tribes and obliterating the forest to fuel their own existence, which they along with Triphons feel is under threat from a distant but extreme threat the planet has never faced before.
Here a small work team of technicians stares in horror at the carnage caused to a small buggy. Out of the large Triphon and Illiak’ force of attack vehicles sent into the forest only this insignificant vehicle has returned with just one terrified Illiak’ pilot, the blue bloody hand streaks along the side giving some indication of the gunners fate. Relations with the forests local native race – the dragon like Drakar’, living in the forest have escalated as always when the two sides clash, and now the two forces are at total war with each other once more. What is so surprising to the Illiak’ work team here, as well as extremely unnerving is that the large assault force which was so easily wiped out was part of a fail-proof ambush plan to attack and hopefully capture more Drakar’ but according to the soul survivors frantic report, the Drakar’ somehow knew about this plan and instead they ambushed the Triphons and Illiaks, brutally massacring the entire force.
The Drakar’ tribes were angry after Triphons aggressively invaded their territory without permission and after a badly misunderstood negotiation that unfortunately neither race took seriously enough, the Triphons killed several Drakar’ young. Sadly neither force will now stop until the other has been wiped out to the last individual.
The Shades of Red saga is in the second stage of editing, after three years of being written, and a website with more information will be up soon. All elements of the Shades of Red world, including the Triphons are copyright by Alex Hatton. For additional information as well as to see the rest of the sketches for the saga contact firstname.lastname@example.org