Name and Significance
The term Ksreskézú is not actually the proper name of the species, but rather the cultural name of an ethnic group. Following in the footsteps of Oksresko the Great, a species called the oksete (also 'oksi' or 'oksoi'; singular 'okse' or 'okso') adopted the name Ksreskézo for their nation in his honour. Initially only a regional power with limited reach, the Ksreskézaian Empire soon encompassed the whole of the planet of Kossa, subjugating related tribes and species. Thanks in large part to the idealistic mission of the Khúsak to uplift the peoples of all worlds, the Ksreskézai obtained faster-than-light travel technology prematurely, and never fully industrialized.
Once spaceborne, the Ksreskézaian Empire spread rapidly. The Pzuubvaal, perhaps the first alien species brought under the yoke of the Empire, had a well-developed industrial base but isolationist aspirations, and were greatly affected by occupation, becoming known to history as the shipwrights of the Ksreskézai. With these diligent and obedient allies, the Ksreskézaian Empire conquered hundreds of civilizations, expanding until it came up against the impenetrable barriers of two rival empires—the Tletkettoyi and the Hogedep, both of whom exterminated the peoples they conquered—and the few worlds inhabited by the Khúsak themselves.
With the Khúsak acting as arbiters, treaties were attempted between the Hogedep and Ksreskézai, but these ultimately fell through, sabotaged by the Tletkettoyi, who were fearful of a united enemy and unleashed a disease upon the Khúsak that swiftly killed them to the last soul. The ensuing chaos known as the Grand War, fought between the three great empires of the Expanse, lasted for some 4600 lky, and ended only when the Hogedep deployed a similar trick, slaying all the millions of Tletkettoyi and Ksreskézai in a single night.
At adulthood, the typical okse is about nine feet long from head to hindquarters. They are quadrupedal creates with long tails, typically four feet tall at the shoulder, and heavily armoured. A third pair of vestigial midlimbs is located at either side of the abdomen. Anatomically, they resemble an ankylosaurus or armadillo, exhibiting strong symmetry across the sagittal plane, a fully-developed head featuring three eyes and a single mouth, which is used for verbal communication and eating. Breathing and olfactory sensation is accomplished via gills along the neck. The face is also adorned by several stubby horns.
Oksete do not produce solid waste and hence have no excretory anatomy; microbes in the hindgut fully digest any unusable or excess nutrients into gasses which are diffused through the gills. Because of the high metal content in the planet's biome, this often includes superheated vapours. Oksete can hence withstand the significant internal heat produced by these reactions. Accordingly, they are native to the volcanic and desert regions of their planet.
The success of the okse in civilization is largely dependent on their ability to stand upright and sit on their hind legs, and thereby use their forepaws as hands. These are less adept at manipulation than human hands, but adequate in their bearing of opposable thumbs. Most everyday containers and tools made by the okse include handles for transport by the mouth; often these will include hooks on the bottom so that more than one object can be carried at a time. It is known that at least some direct ancestors and contemporary siblings of the oksete were bipedal, and it is posited that they returned to a primarily quadrupedal stature in pursuit of a better stance for fighting.
Oksete reproduce sexually, and have two sexes closely analogous to the Terran male-female scheme; the male provides spermatozoan gametes which fertilize the female. These gametes are transferred by pressing together the genital regions located between the hindlegs. Males tend to be larger than females by about 15-20% on average, and were born twice as frequently as the less-armoured, protected females.
The cellular biology of Ksreskézaian life is radically different from most other sorts. Each cell has an approximate tetrahedral shape and grows into a rigid lattice of glycometallic polymer, with a density and rigidity similar to tree bark. Cells are tightly-packed in a quarter cubic honeycomb geometry, where the unclipped tetrahedral corners are preferentially incorporated into the ancestor cell. Intercellular transport is accomplished by the presence of tubules that connect through the middle of each cell, with diameter varying according to the cell's proximity to the surface; cells near the core of the body plan can be up to 70% venous by volume.
Because of the exceptional use of transition metals as a structural material, the oksete could only have evolved in the presence of a metal-rich nebula, and faced considerable dietary challenges when inhabiting colonized worlds. Preservation of autotrophs from Ksreskézo has presented special challenges to conservationists, as little is known about their native soil and water.
The Ksreskézaian Empire is the natural product of the oksian culture. Essentially a warrior society, the oksete evolved in a harsh climate, rife with competition from other species in their genus and tribes within their own species. This led to dimorphism and eventually the development of sexual reproduction, as the role of child-rearing became too demanding for the formerly asexual warriors to bear. Resources were at a premium due to a long period of global heating until the last thirty thousand years of their existence, during which civilization flourished.
The beauty of subtlety figures largely in Ksreskézaian art. Not naturally subtle creatures themselves, interaction with other species and with their own environment taught the oksete to cherish finer forms.
Indeed, the extremeness of oksian emotions was one of the primary motivating factors behind their religion. They believed that all emotions were possessions by spirits. Later alchemist-philosophers even posited that these spirits were parasitic and sought to interfere with an intrinsic levelheaded rationality for their own satiation. (This scheme was borrowed by the Lilitai, but only for its literary utility.)
The Ksreskézaian calendar, Glotshakhto, started in 61973 lky and ended in 67891 lky with the fall of the empire. During that interval—a period of almost twenty-four millennia by the reckoning of the oksete—their world saw the rise and fall of many great smaller empires, kingdoms, and other nations. In the earliest of days they even competed with other sentient species for dominance of the resource-poor world, most of which were close relatives from the same genus.
Deferent to the warlike nature of the oksete, the date of 1 ksepo marked the first conquest and unification of the entire oksian population. By 500 ksepo the other species had been enslaved and eradicated, and for the next three thousand years the people of Ksreskézo subdivided and reconquered each other repeatedly with increasingly-sophisticated means.
Useful alchemy and a systematic (if deeply superstitious) understanding of magic had arisen by the end of the fourth century, giving them ample opportunity to invent and create everything from conveniences to weapons without a deep understanding of materials science or chemistry. Without a doubt, this premature discovery of such a powerful science is primarily responsible for the slow intellectual development of the oksete. Even though they had left their world by 4500 and conquered other planets, they remained deeply ignorant of the laws of nature and maintained many philosophical and religious notions that we would consider pre-Platonic.
The slokdtabasa (early Lilitai) enabled them to grow past this. Because the Rotomem had been a deeply analytical culture cognate with the Telai and Lyrisclensiae, the first of their kind introduced into Ksreskézaian society were adept at making distinctions and decisions that their masters could not. This difference in perspective was passed down through the generations of slokdtabasa, making them adept at managerial tasks—none of which they could officially be allowed to perform, lest the empire be embarrassed. Different political powers on Ksreskézo maintained different unwritten philosophies about how much the humans should be allowed to meddle; in general, the more, the better. The most prominent example of this is Moiléa Tévopía, who sat on the ruling council of the Ninth Empire for more than five thousand years, her existence unknown to the outside world.
Whenever a nation conquered all of Ksreskézo or was the dominant power, it tended to take up the self-styled title of being the Ksreskézaian Empire. This had been the moniker of the first empire in 1 ksepo, and much like the many successor states to the Roman Empire on Earth, these cultures were eager to recapture past glories.
The original capitol of the first empire was in Tévopío, which sat at the mouth of a great floodplain. These plains had been excellent for agricultural purposes, but the city proved indefensible, and so challenges came often from mountainous Wemno, on the other side of the planet. From the start of the calendar (and even before) until c. 13200, power shifted back and forth between these two places, finally settling on Tévopío.
|Second (Old Wemnian)||657||1360||Wemno|
|Seventh||5784||9012||Dashro Oasis (near Tévopío)|
|Interim||9306||13097||(various Wemnian monarchies)|
The Dashro Oasis Civilization requires a certain amount of separate discussion. Located in a desert near the highlands of Tévopío, it was ruled not by the oksete themselves but a related species, the secretive fneiksete, who controlled their Empire through intermediaries and rarely left the privacy of their compounds at the Oasis. Prior to the formation of the first Empire the planet had an abundance of sentient species in the genus Ksreskezo, but these were almost all driven to extinction by the conquests of Oksresko.
The final restoration of power to Tévopío was made permanent through shrewd trade agreements with the fractured states left behind by the disintegration of the eighth empire.
Other important dates in Ksreskézaian history include: capture of the Rotomem in 4922, war with the Hogedep in 4986 (following sabotaged 4980 peace talks), and war with the Tletkettoyi in 8102. Their sudden extinction at the hands of the Hogedep in 23949 marks the conclusion of their calendar.
From 3500 to 23949, the Ksreskézai flourished as an interstellar empire, although they were bounded on all sides by the smaller Tletkettoyic and Hogedep territories. At their height, they subjugated over a hundred planets and dozens of alien civilizations, including the Peseneyi and Lilitai.