Unusual for a sapient technological civilization, the Raahssa are non-humanoid and non-bipedal. Vaguely feliform in appearance, their bodies are built like that of big cats, except they are a bit larger: 2.2 meters long from nose to rump, plus a 2-meter tail... roughly the size of a big Terran lion. They have six legs, with two powerful legs attached to the hips, and four arm-like legs loosely attached to the ribcage. They can use any of their four Caitian-like hands to manipulate things, usually standing on four legs while using the front-most pair to work with or carry things. They are incapable of walking on just their hind legs for more than a few unsteady steps.
Common fur colors are shades of white, black, and silver, in varying patterns. They, like all animal life on their planet, are monochromats (their retinas have only the equivalent of rod cells; no color vision ever evolved on their homeworld). They mostly tell each other apart by scent and voice.
Like Caitians, their math is base-8.
They are placental mammals, reproducing the same way big cats do on Earth... and feeding their small litters of cubs the same way: via multiple teats running down their bellies, producing milk — both sexes feed the young this way. They mature in only about 12 Terran years.
First Contact and future fateEdit
|Red Alert! Now entering a spoiler field!|
| Raahssa had developed technologically to the early information age — roughly equivalent to Earth in the late 20th century — when their planet was struck, without warning, by a cataclysmic rogue asteroid, devastating much of their world and wiping out a huge portion of their population in a matter of hours. Their forests and cities burned spontaneously from the heat of the ejecta cloud, but some survived the heat wave until it cooled enough to emerge from cover. Volcanoes globally began to destabilize and erupt, adding to the disaster and dooming their planet to an extinction-level event as bad at the KT event that killed the dinosaurs on Earth.
Facing complete extinction, they poured all their efforts into surviving and broadcasting a planetary distress signal, hoping for a miracle.
Decades later, the Legacy detected the faint radio signal 22 light-years away, and raced to assist, finding a nearly-dead world. Tracing the signal to satellites being controlled from a subterranean military complex, they found 47 survivors.
The Raahssa survivors emigrated to the Legacy, and pleaded with the captain to evacuate as many of their people as possible from the planet. After searching for a month, they found a total of only 382 survivors in nine underground complexes... some of them starving and very badly malnourished.
Unfortunately, it was discovered that the Raahssa world is a flipped-chirality one: they have dextro-amino acids and levo-sugars. As a result, standard Federation food is of zero nutritional value at best, and can cause severe (potentially fatal if not immediately treated) allergic reactions at worst. Most medication is also useless, and can make the allergic reaction worse (as one finds out, requiring she be placed on a mechanical ventilator to continue breathing, while dialysis flushes her system of the alien proteins; she recovers, slowly). Luckily, once provided with samples to record, Federation replicators are capable of recreating the small variety of rations the Raahssa were living on, with the correct chirality. They are fed well and given quarters.
In time, most of the problems associated with this chirality issue are resolved, as new synthetic medications are invented to quickly suppress an allergic reaction, and individuals learn what they are each allergic to (it's pretty random, actually). Physical intimacy even becomes possible, and a few interspecies relationships pop up. A large crop of Raahssa cubs is born, as the species gets started trying to rebuild from coming so close to extinction.
There are some benefits to being dextro-amino on a starship populated and built by levo-amino beings: disease is non-existent for the Raahssa, as the viruses and bacteria for levo-amino beings cannot survive in a dextro-amino system. This also means wounds cannot become infected with native germs, and lifetimes lengthen (as long as they are cautious about allergies). The allergies turn out to be fairly rare anyway, allowing both sides to eat the others' food as 'diet food', because they can't metabolize it. Living with each other becomes a simple fact of life.
It takes another forty-one months (3 years, 5 months) before Legacy finally finds a suitably habitable dextro-amino world that lacks a sapient species. Now quite fond of the Legacy's crew, and regarding the ship as home, many are reluctant to join the new colony being formed on the planet. Ultimately, 72 Raahssa elect to remain on Legacy as part of the crew. The cooks experiment for a while, and create a wide variety of dextro-amino meals reminiscent of what their homeworld once had, with which to program the Legacy's food replicators. A biology lab is also stripped out and converted to produce dextro-amino fruits and herbs (leafy greens are an emetic for Raahssa, so they are hypercarnivores: their diet is about 70 to 90% meat). Although still dependent on the replicators, those who remain aboard the ship will henceforth enjoy a much more diverse and fulfilling menu.
Citing eternal gratitude for their salvation from certain extinction, the Raahssa draft a formal application for Federation membership, ignoring the fact that their new home is over 26,000 light-years away. They retain a copy of the Federation library database, and promise to be ready when the next Federation vessel returns to check up on them.