Kzer-Za • Kohr-Ah
Second Doctrinal War
|Kzer-Za • Kohr-Ah|
|Path of Now and Forever|
Ur-Quan Hierarchy • Battle Thrall • Fallow Slave • Oath of Fealty Doctrinal Conflict
|Dreadnought • Marauder • Sa-Matra|
|Excruciator • Slave Shield • Talking Pet|
- This page is about the Ur-Quan species as a whole. See Ur-Quan Kzer-Za and Ur-Quan Kohr-Ah for more specific information on the two modern subspecies.
The Ur-Quan are one of the oldest species known to the Alliance and are by far the greatest political and military power known to the galaxy for the past twenty millennia. Until their recent defeat by the New Alliance of Free Stars they were the dominant force in our galaxy, and countless sentient races' development have been halted by enslavement or genocide at their hands.
The Ur-Quan as we know them today are divided into two subspecies, the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za and the Ur-Quan Kohr-Ah, which form separate cultural and political units and are thus treated in separate articles. This article is about the Ur-Quan species as a whole, including their development before the formal creation of the Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah subraces. For details on the separate cultural paths taken by the Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah, see the relevant articles.
The Ur-Quan resembled externally a brown, 10-meters-long variation of the predatory caterpillars native to Earth's Hawaiian Islands.
They have long, multisegmented bodies with four legs protruding from the frontal segment; the legs on the posterior section of their bodies are used for clinging to the ceiling, while the anterior legs are longer and can function as grippers and manipulators.
The Ur-Quan's most anterior body segment, or its head, possesses a plethora of sensory organs, giving their face a wide variety of horrific expressions.
Unlike many sentient species, the Ur-Quan were not social animals; they were, instead, solitary hunters, with all of their very limited repertoire of social instincts relegated to the field of sex and reproduction. Ur-Quan individuals were instinctively fiercely territorial against each other and against most other species, which they either hunted as food or chased off as potential predators or rivals.
Evolution and civilization
The Ur-Quan evolved on a harsh, hostile world outside the region of space mapped by the Chenjesu, described by the Kohr-Ah as "a world where one species is the dominant killer, one's only threat is one's brother, one's sister, anyone of one's species", a world populated by a variety of species physically superior to the Ur-Quan, until the Ur-Quan developed tools to cope with them. They were solitary hunters who had to defeat their strong territorial nature, and the deep hatred between each other, to found a mighty technological culture.
The Ur-Quan eventually learned to harness nuclear energy, and used this technology to create vehicles capable of traveling through interplanetary space. Having begun to explore their solar system, they were contacted by the Taalo, who had just discovered them and considered them as potential members of the Sentient Milieu. The Ur-Quan at first reacted with panic and fear, initiating combat against the Taalo vessels as possible attackers or conquerors; the Taalo, however, understanding the Ur-Quan's genetic predisposition to xenophobia, remained patient. Upon finally opening negotiations with the Taalo, the Ur-Quan were shocked to discover that confronting the Taalo face-to-face did not trigger their instincts of territoriality as did all other animal species, thanks to the Taalo's unique physiology that caused them to appear as no more than simple rocks.
The shock of their newfound ability to communicate as equals with other sentients without being tormented with feelings of terror and hatred -- something the Ur-Quan still had to struggle with among themselves -- was enough to make the Ur-Quan amenable to the Taalo's proposal to join the Milieu. The Ur-Quan soon registered as Sentient Milieu members and, though their instincts still made them unable to interact peacefully with the other members of the Milieu, were eager to find a useful role within the Milieu cooperative. The Ur-Quan soon found that they made ideal Milieu scouts; individual Ur-Quan could not only tolerate but enjoyed the prospect of piloting tiny, single-occupant ships to uncharted regions of the galaxy to report their findings, and the many Ur-Quan scouts gathered huge amounts of data, exploring great chunks of uncharted space.
Dnyarri slave empire
Then as now, the primary mystery most sentient species sought to investigate was the disappearance of the Precursors. The Ur-Quan scouts were a new and invaluable asset in searching for Precursor artifacts.
One Ur-Quan scout discovered a planet, later known as Glilandy, that showed readings particularly reminiscent of Precursor artifacts. Unfortunately, those readings turned out to be generated by the emanations of an incredibly powerful race of psychic sentients known as the Dnyarri. Unfortunately, Ur-Quan minds are particularly susceptible to psychic manipulation, and at the very moment the Ur-Quan scout landed on the planet, his mind was seized by the Dnyarri and examined. Learning of the immense wealth of resources and labor to be had in the Sentient Milieu, the Dnyarri forced the Ur-Quan to return to the Milieu capital planet with hundreds of Dnyarri as cargo, and within a month the Dnyarri had seized control of all Milieu races and spread themselves throughout the Milieu, using the industry of a hundred worlds for their own vulgar amusements.
The Taalo were immune to Dnyarri control; thus, they had to resort to brute force for dealing with them. The Dnyarri compelled the other Milieu races to raze the Taalo homeworld. The Taalo did not fight back (though it is possible that they fled to *Pretty Space*). To this day, the Ur-Quan still feel guilty for this barbarous act.
The easily compelled Ur-Quan were the favoured slaves of the Dnyarri, and the agents of the extermination of several races deemed "worthless" due to their inefficiency and lack of speed, such as the Drall and the Yuli.
As time went on, the Dnyarri decided to use the Ur-Quan's own science to genetically engineer the Ur-Quan into physically distinct subspecies or castes to perform certain tasks. One group of Ur-Quan were optimized for intellectual tasks, performing scientific and engineering research to improve the Slave Empire's infrastructure and conducting administration and management on the Dnyarri's behalf. The other Ur-Quan, meant to serve as manual laborers and soldiers, were optimized for strength and diligence in performing manual tasks. The brown exterior of the Ur-Quan originally disappeared in these genetic alterations, leaving the administrative Ur-Quan with a green skin, and the workers with a black skin.
After twenty five centuries, the Dnyarri grew lax in their dominance, and loosened the mental chains connecting them with their slaves, at times even allowing temporary moments of self-control. A Green Ur-Quan scientist named Kzer-Za, during such a moment, realized that the Dnyarri masters disconnected from dying slaves in order to avoid a being dragged down into death also. Once Kzer-Za was assured of this fact, he seized an opportune moment to inject himself with a lethal dose of acidic poison. His extreme pain and impending death forcing the Dnyarri to release his mind, Kzer-Za broadcast an extremely powerful transmission across the whole planet and into space, making public his discoveries.
Upon hearing Kzer-Za's message, Ur-Quan everywhere began a mass movement, seizing any moment of weakness on the part of the Dnyarri to injure themselves in any way possible, inflicting whatever pain and physical trauma was necessary to distract the local Dnyarri controller enough to track it down and kill it. The Ur-Quan gained longer and longer periods of self-control, during which they developed a variety of torture devices such as the Excruciator, a device that could be implanted in an Ur-Quan brain and provided gruesome levels of agony that left the Ur-Quan physically functional yet continuously protected against psychic domination.
The Ur-Quan finally succeeded in purging the Slave Empire of the Dnyarri. Only a few scattered, terrified Dnyarri remained, on the planet Glilandy, for which the Ur-Quan decided that death was not fitting enough a punishment. Instead, the Ur-Quan used their genetic engineering skills to transform the Dnyarri into nonsentient biological tools, the Talking Pets, to perform the most demeaning task of translating to and from the languages of alien races, whom the Ur-Quan now deemed grossly inferior.
All of the surviving Ur-Quan rebels had only survived by subjecting themselves to intense, continuous pain for years. Driven by a deep, core conviction that their enslavement was an aberration that must never happen again, and that had been allowed to happen by the Ur-Quan's weakness in allowing other species to exist freely, they established two radical, different paths to ensure their eternal freedom. However, while the two resulting paths appear overtly crazy to other sentients, the enslavement by the Dnyarri and the induced pain necessary for revolt significantly traumatized the Ur-Quan race as a whole such that they see the paths as internally reasonable and acceptable behavior.1
The Green Ur-Quan, as natural administrators, came up with a sophisticated blueprint for future cultural development known as the Path of Now and Forever. They named their new civilization the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za after the martyred scientist-hero, and were able to construct a unique form of force field called a slave shield, with which they hoped to eventually contain all species that would not actively submit to Ur-Quan dominance. Facing one of the remaining Milieu members, the Faz, with this choice, the Faz chose to be slave-shielded.
At this time, however, the Black Ur-Quan rebelled against the idea of being controlled by Green Ur-Quan theory. They viewed the Green as having become effete and weakened by their position as administrators for the Dnyarri, and viewed themselves, who had done most of the actual labor in maintaining the Empire, as more worthy. One of the Black leaders, a fleet commander and military hero of the Slave Revolt named Kohr-Ah, came forward with his own Eternal Doctrine, challenging the Path of Now and Forever's complexity and claiming true safety could only be assured by the simple destruction of all other species. The Black Ur-Quan enthusiastically responded to Kohr-Ah's proposal and formed their own civilization based on his principles and named after him, starting with the genocide of the Yuptar.
The newly named Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah races confronted each other over the homeworld of the last remaining Milieu race, the Mael-Num, thus allowing them to escape. Neither side willing to submit, they began the great Doctrinal War, and, their forces evenly matched, would have destroyed each other had the Kzer-Za not found by chance a great, powerful Precursor Battleship which they called the Sa-Matra, with which they sliced through the Kohr-Ah fleets in days. Unwilling to destroy their brothers or be too confident in the rightness of their doctrine, however, the Kzer-Za came to an agreement with the Kohr-Ah that they and their doctrines would coexist and would periodically ritually re-fight the Doctrinal War to determine which of the two cultures would dominate the other. They thus traveled in opposite directions around the galaxy, the Kzer-Za leaving behind a trail of enslaved civilizations, and the Kohr-Ah leaving a trail of dead worlds. Many thousands of civilizations have tried and failed to resist the Ur-Quan, who have leveraged their immensely developed technological achievements into an ability to efficiently organize a Hierarchy of conquests in the Kzer-Za case or efficiently and precisely destroy civilizations outright in the Kohr-Ah case.
No developing civilization was able to survive the assault of the technologically superior and strongly motivated Ur-Quan subspecies until they met again and fought their second Doctrinal War when, during the events of Star Control II, the species of the New Alliance of Free Stars were able to use the distraction afforded by their war with each other to find a way to destroy the Sa-Matra and defeat both Ur-Quan subspecies. The defeat of the Ur-Quan marks the first chance in twenty thousand years for new civilizations to develop without the looming threat of being cut short by an Ur-Quan fleet.
Reports vary on the fate of the Ur-Quan race after the destruction of the Sa-Matra. One report states that the remnants Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah fleets fled towards the Magellanic clouds. While another claims that the Ur-Quan fleets fell into disarray and were defeated by Chmmr and New Alliance forces. In either of these outcomes, it is uncertain how or even if either Ur-Quan subspecies will adapt their doctrine to deal with the new galactic society.
Notes and references
- 1Paul Reiche III, describing the Ur-Quan, stated, "My own take on [them] came from my relationships with people who had experienced significant childhood abuse and how those traumas produced distinctly odd behaviors in adults. [Their] doctrines were the overtly crazy but internally reasonable responses to their treatment by the Dynarri, and the pain they had to endure to win their freedom from slavery." (The Escapist, "The 1980s and Beyond")