|Canon Article: This information is considered to be official and authoritative in the Chakat Universe.|
|Average Height||150 cm (4 FT., 11.5 IN.) to 170 cm (5 FT., 7 & 1/4 IN.)|
|Average Mass||160 kg (352.7 Lbs.) to 200 kg (440.9 Lbs.)|
|Eye color||Green to yellow, blue|
- See also: List of Chakats
In the Chakat Universe, they were created shortly after the end of the Gene Wars by geneticists Charles and Kathrine Turner, as a new, peaceful application of the same genetic engineering technology used to such devastating effect during the war. Chakats were created to combine the best known aspects of every species into a single race, which had the effect of giving them many superior abilities and attributes. The first chakat, Zigzag, was born from a tiger surrogate mother in Australia on May 17, 2129.
Over the next couple of centuries, chakats secured for themselves a reputation as being a highly social, loving, very intelligent, and highly-successful race of hermaphrodites, and are valuable members of Federation civilization: so valuable, they have been given their own semi-autonomous colony planet as an adoptive homeworld, which they named Chakona.
Because of their herm gender, chakats use special pronouns — 'shi' instead of he/she (pronounced like 'shay', as in the word shape), and 'hir' instead of him/her (pronounced like the German 'herr' honorific). The formal 'shir' is equivalent to mister/sir/ma'am, but not commonly used. Chakats will forgive ignorant people who use female pronouns, because they do appear feminine... and they use words like 'daughter' and 'sister' for each other (for lack of a herm alternative). They will be very offended by anyone using the 'it' pronoun, because that implies a lack of gender.
Chakats have two torsos: the upper one is humanoid, with a feline head and human-like arms... and the lower torso is very similar to the body of a large cat (approximately the same size as a leopard or cougar), with slightly longer legs. The two torsos are joined by a highly-flexible and muscular length of spine where the upper torso's 'waist' connects to where the lower torso's 'neck' would normally be.
Chakats differ from other felitaurs by having modified front paws, which have elongated fingers and a semi-opposable dewclaw 'pseudo-thumb': these 'handpaws' work normally for walking, but can be used as a second pair of hands, and are roughly as dexterous as a human wearing thick gloves. The handpaws are exceptionally strong, however — the entire lower torso is as powerful as a tiger, and the upper torso is proportionally just as strong, meaning chakats are deceptively strong (approximately triple the strength of a human, by muscle mass).
Other differences are the large breasts every chakat has (which are spongy and self-supporting, rather than fatty and floppy like humans), which begin to develop around the age of 10 to 13. Chakat breasts normally make and store a 'milkwater' that is a sort of natural 'power drink', full of nutrients and sugars to give anyone that drinks it a jolt of energy; if they are lactating, a small mouthful has enough of the CKF hormone (necessary for cub health) to trigger lactation in another chakat (which is how the sire joins the duty of cub-feeding).
Chakats also have a long (1.5 to 2.0 meters) and thickly-muscled prehensile tail, which continues to slowly grow throughout life (elders are known as 'longtails'). The tail is strong enough to support the entire adult body weight (about 200 kilos) for brief times, and can act as a firm anchor when climbing. Cubs can support their entire body weight with their tails; picking one up by the tail is embarrassing, but harmless. Tails are good for feline body language, too.
One unusual feature is that a chakat's fur coloration is not closely tied with their genetics, so it is entirely possible for a child's pelt to barely resemble that of hir parents, if at all.
Chakats have, by far, the best senses of all Terran-derived species. Their sense of smell is on par with wolftaurs (who can match bloodhounds). Their hearing is many times more sensitive than humans, ranging from 15 to 75,000 Hertz (humans = 20 to 20,000 Hertz), with independent mobile ears that can pinpoint the source of a sound to within 6 inches at 30 feet (the ears are quite expressive, too). As felines, they have functional whiskers for touch, which are also quite expressive.
Chakats can see a wider range of colors than humans: slightly into the UV and IR ranges, so the world appears a little more vibrant to them. Their vision is excellent, with no natural short/far-sightedness or other flaws many humans have to compensate for, so they do not normally need vision correction. Night vision is particularly superior, and a chakat can see by starlight, in color, as well as a human can on an overcast day.
If a chakat clears hir mind in a sort of trance, shi is capable of opening all hir senses up in a way that no other being can, sifting through the faintest motions, scents, and sounds to build an extraordinarily accurate image of hir surroundings in hir mind (Sherlock Holmes would be easily out-classed). A chakat can navigate through a room crowded with other sleeping people, in total darkness, and not step on anyone, using only hearing, scent, and empathy.
Designed for survivalEdit
Chakats are tough, and designed to survive in harsh conditions. Highly resistant to most poisons and drugs, they can eat almost anything (however, this backfires with medicines, which need very high doses and wear off quickly).
Chakats heal and recover from fatigue much more quickly than humans. Their bodies natively support limited regenerative abilities, and they can regrow lost fingers, toes, tail-tips, ears, teeth, and most internal organs (a whole hand can regrow, but it would be somewhat deformed).
They have two sets of lungs: the upper is usually used for speaking, the lower more for breathing, but both yield a very loud yell (or a cougar-like roar). While they can speak human languages with only a slight feline nasal tang, chakats can produce several sounds that are completely inhuman: these include purring, chuffing, the way their cubs mewl instead of cry, and several other sounds. A chakat's battle-scream of rage sounds very much like the angry attack roar of a North American cougar (and is easily as loud), and their scream of intense pain is sometimes so alien that it's difficult to imagine any sapient creature could produce such a noise.
Chakats have two hearts (one in each torso), and either heart can power the whole circulatory system without much trouble; if one heart is damaged, it will shut down to heal, and will restart by itself when ready.
Chakats have a heightened sense of their own bodies and health. If they feel sick or injured, they usually are. They are not hypochondriacs. They can even know a few days beforehand that they are about to die of old age — the average lifespan is about 150 years (cause of death is usually heart failure, as one wears out and then the other follows from the added strain).
Having twice the body mass and this improved metabolism comes at a cost, though: a chakat requires 150 to 200% more calories in their diet than a human does, and their meals are usually double human portions. They sweat only on their heads and paws, so their water efficiency is notably better than humans. They are accomplished runners: faster than foxtaurs over rough terrain, and capable of maintaining a steady jogging pace for days on end, with frequent stops for naps and snacks.
Sexuality and ReproductionEdit
Chakats are all simultaneous hermaphrodites, and do not have distinct males or females. Every chakat is simultaneously male and female, and both sets of sex organs are fully functional at all times. Their hormones swing back and forth like a pendulum over a 24-day period, from female-dominant 'heat' to male-dominant 'rut' every 12 days, and their mannerisms shift in tune with this. This fertility cycle will gradually shift to hit one of the two peaks at the same time as other chakats in a population (on average, half go into heat as the other half go into rut). Female heat is considerably harder to resist than the male rut, though chakats use a herbal tea to help reduce the urges to 'scratch that inner itch' if it's too strong.
A chakat can only get pregnant when in heat, but their male side is fertile all the time. Chakats can easily follow their own sexual cycle, and clearly know when they are fertile, so they don't have the human problem of uncertainty, and consequentially only need to use contraceptives when they can actually get pregnant. Unlike humans, they do not menstruate (the uterine lining is absorbed, as with most mammals). Chakats can sense the moment of conception (thanks to a hormone spike of CKF), so they have a built-in foolproof pregnancy test/alarm. Gestation is rigid as clockwork: 312 days until birth, and pregnancy really doesn't slow them down noticably. Most births are single, though twins can occur too; triplets have never happened. They do not have problems with giving birth the way humans do, and it is not particularly painful.
Chakat custom is to throw a special 'birthing party' on the due date, inviting the whole family to witness the cub being born (literally). Since pregnancy and giving birth is easier for taurs than it is for bipeds, and it's even easier for chakats, they give birth at home, and almost never have any need for a hospital visit.
Because they are all herms, any chakat can be both a mother and a sire (father)... and it is extremely common to meet a chakat who has siblings where the mother/father relationship is flipped, since both parents usually get each other pregnant when they want to start a family. The herm feature is actually a major survival trait: it ensures the population can quickly build to recover from a bottleneck event, and a smaller population can still ensure species survival.
Chakats have a genetic dominance factor that heavily biases their offspring toward their own species, despite being similar enough to other taurs that they can successfully interbreed with them (but not bipeds). This ensures that the child of a chakat and any other taur (except skunktaurs) will also be a chakat. The child often receives some fur coloration influenced by the other taur species, but remains genetically a chakat. The only known exception to this rule is the closely-related skunktaurs, which more often result in the cub being the species of the parent, instead of always a chakat.
Chakats all have a psychic Talent: empathy. It is a low-level version of telepathy, granting the ability to sense the emotional state of nearby people. Talent strength varies, with some chakats just barely aware of the emotions of others, and some chakats strong enough to read those emotions with great clarity. Most can detect the presence and basic emotions of other people around them, and provide small empathic 'pushes' of their own to influence others on a subconscious level — a common example would be to project sympathy and calm to counter someone who is hysterical, which will usually stabilize them more quickly. Some can send an 'empathic bomb' of pain and anger with enough force to surprise and confuse a human or morph. Physical touch increases the power of the empathy.
As a result of this Talent, chakats are natural lie detectors, so they get in the habit of being very honest people. They can form permanent empathic 'bonds' with their closest loved ones or most hated enemies, which seem to work like a very subtle FTL psychic link, ranging from kilometers to possibly galaxy-wide (possibly involving quantum entanglement, in some way that remains illusive to modern medical science) — these bonds can be used to home in on these particular individuals, and the only known way to break a bond is through the death of one of the people involved. Another consequence of the empathy frequently happens when a chakat is having sex: nearby bystanders tend to get aroused too. This works the other way as well: a chakat can pick up on the pleasure and lust of others, and is aroused in turn. Empathy plays a major role in love-making, as a chakat can experience the pleasure of hir partner, and gauge how best to please them... and the empathic feedback makes it better for the chakat too.
While most chakats are only empathic, some also display additional Talents, with a rate slightly higher than that of non-chakatkin species. Most common is telekinesis, followed by telepathy, astral projection, and rarely teleportation. Talents run in families, and cross-breeding with Talented skunktaurs often yields hybridized chakat cubs that inherit both parent's Talents, sometimes even at a stronger level, if the Talents reinforce each other.
Chakats are a sensual and extremely social species, preferring to use a friendly hug for their 'traditional' greeting (instead of a human handshake), and easily making friends with their joyful attitudes. They are promiscuous, but not immoral about it — for chakats, species and gender is irrelevant, and what matters is how much they like someone, and if both partners are interested (no matter how physically attractive they find someone, that person not being interested is a turn-off... and due to the empathy, they can easily tell if there's an interest). Chakats love food, sex, and big families. When they sleep, they seem to have an amusing magnetic ability to find each other and innocently bunch up in a pile of fur, even if they're total strangers. Families usually have a single big communal bed that everyone uses together, though they do sometimes seek privacy for intimate affairs... and of course the toilet. Chakats like to shower with loved ones (often leading to sex... though a good grooming is almost as pleasant).
They are naturally polyamorous, and it is actually considered unusual for a chakat to have only one lover... and downright anti-social for one to be entirely single; other chakats will quickly try to play matchmaker with anyone left alone. Chakats are physically incapable of jealousy and greed, and can only observe (with some confusion) how these emotions affect other races, and feel the emotions indirectly, through their empathy. Instead of jealousy, chakats experience compersion.
Chakats are famous for their ability to unconditionally and equally love many people at once. It is quite normal for chakats to have multiple mates, and for those to have multiple mates, and the mates to share each other as co-mates... like a giant web of intimate relationships. Chakats have a saying that sums it up concisely: "Love doesn't divide; it multiplies." Chakats organize their mates by a tier system: Companion (casual lover), Denmate (live together & may have cubs), and Lifemate (totally dedicated, and will never separate). A mate's mate, called a 'co-mate', is also regarded as a denmate. When choosing to be a mate to a chakat, you also become mated to all hir current mates as well... and that includes intimacy and possibly having children with them as well as the chakat you chose — it's a package deal. The system works very well for chakats.
Chakats have no nudity taboo, and aren't at all prudish: they may wear tops for social or practical reasons, but usually strip to only their fur in casual settings and with family. The laws of Chakona permit casual nudity in nearly all public spaces; a fact that quite a few chakats take advantage of... though many like to wear some sort of decorative top, too. All taurs are completely exempt from having to wear anything on their lower torso (to cover the genitals), mostly because the only species that would complain is humans, who luckily have a natural blind spot for animal-like rear ends.
Chakats lack the incest taboo humans have, and it's not uncommon for siblings to have sex for social-bonding reasons; however, incest to make a child is taboo (but since their sexual cycle is so predictable, birth control is extremely simple). Unlike humans, chakats don't hide their sexuality from their children, and adolescent cubs often learn about sex by watching their parents making love.
Chakats are social creatures to a fault: there is a rule that no starship may have only a single chakat aboard — there must always be two or more. This is partly because of the chakat sexual cycle (the best treatment is natural), but mostly because of the physiological need for empathic feedback (if they don't spend time with other chakats, they get ill and depressed). An unhappy chakat can inadvertently 'leak' their feelings (like a bad aura) and negatively affect the entire crew... conversely, a happy chakat radiates happiness and improves overall crew moral.
Chakats are highly intelligent and curious, which can get them into trouble... and many chakats are hilariously/embarrassingly susceptible to "it sounded like a good idea at the time" situations. Chakats are very mentally stable, and not prone to wild extremes of dangerous emotions (unlike humans) — while they can get extremely frightened, they never mindlessly panic. No chakat will ever take unnecessary risks or intentionally put hir life in jeopardy: they don't do things "for a thrill" the way humans do, and they don't get addicted to games of chance (unlike humans, with their gambling). Chakats are cooperative in an individualist manner: they happily work together, so long as their leader makes reasonable demands that are in line with the followers' own self-interests. A selfish leader will immediately lose the following of all chakats.
Violent Feral "Flaw"Edit
Chakats are normally extremely gentle and friendly, but they have a few dangerously-touchy berserk buttons. While they were created to be the ideal species, they do have one notable 'Achilles heel', of sorts...
The social bonds of love they form for their mates and especially their children are almost too strong. If a close mate or cub is threatened, a chakat's primitive instincts can take over, and they can 'go feral' and lose their higher reasoning skills. At this point, the cuddly sweet kitty turns into a bloodthirsty raging locomotive of fur, fangs and claws, and shi'll plow through anything to rescue the one shi loves. The consequences can be fatal for anyone that tries to stop hir, and it can take a while for hir to calm down and get back to normal. A single chakat in such an enraged state, in hand-to-hand combat, is certainly more than a match for at least a dozen poorly-armed or unarmed humans... and chakats have built-in weapons and their superhuman strength, so they can be shockingly deadly when they have to be. You can't extort a chakat by kidnapping their cub, because that will only provoke an enraged mama-bear on the rampage. Chakats never forgive a cub-killer (be it person or beast), and the mother will never stop until the killer is also slain, no matter how many years it takes for hir vengeance: they are implacable.