The name Ur-Quan is used to refer to three distinct but strongly related groups:
- the original brown Ur-Quan, as a single race
- the green Ur-Quan Kzer-Za and black Ur-Quan Kohr-Ah races collectively
- just the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za race (as they were known in this part of the galaxy before the arrival of the Kohr-Ah)
This article is about the original, unified, brown Ur-Quan.
Physiology and Homeworld
The original Ur-Quan were brown in color, and like their two subspecies, resemble huge 10-meter long caterpillars with strong tentacles and multiple eyes.
The Ur-Quan evolved on a world far distant from the region of space depicted in The Ur-Quan Masters. Their world was harsh and violent, and they evolved the capacity to dominate that world. The Ur-Quan have a biological imperative to dominate their territory. This, along with their physical might, made them the top predators of their world. However their territoriality made developing a culture a difficult, slow and lethal process. Eventually, they found a way to cooperate with one another, and they formed the rudiments of a civilized, space-faring society.
The Sentient Milieu
With a civilized culture driving them, they set out to explore known space. Their forays bore fruit quickly, as they met a race known as the Taalo. The Taalo, being effectively rocks, did not evoke the Ur-Quan's predatory nature and territorial instincts. The Ur-Quan could mingle amongst the Taalo without having to fight their biological instincts to kill and dominate. The Taalo belonged to an organization of species known as the Sentient Milieu. Eventually, the Ur-Quan joined the Sentient Milieu, and became a member race in that venerable organization.
Though they were members of the Sentient Milieu, they still had difficulty integrating with other non-Taalo species. As such, they performed the duty to which they were best suited: solitary exploration missions. The Ur-Quan excelled at this task. But, it was in doing so that they brought doom upon not only the Ur-Quan species, but all of the Sentient Milieu as well.
On one expedition to a planet, an Ur-Quan scout discovered the presence of a sentient species known as the Dnyarri. This species had the ability to control the minds of vast numbers of sentient beings. The Ur-Quan mind is especially vulnerable to such control. The Dnyarri controlled the Ur-Quan homeworld within hours and the Sentient Milieu within months, using the Ur-quan as their grunts to ferry them throughout known space. Only the Taalo were immune to the Dnyarri's compulsions. This could not be tolerated, so the Ur-Quan were forced to exterminate the one species they had ever called friend.
The Dnyarri forced the Ur-Quan to destroy a few other members of the Sentient Milieu over the centuries that they served under their compulsion. The Dnyarri visited other forms of pain upon the Ur-Quan, by tampering with them at a genetic level. The Ur-Quan were the easiest for the Dnyarri to control, so they wanted to maximize the use of this species. They tinkered with the race's genetic structure, fracturing the Ur-Quan species into two races: the green, and the black. The green Ur-Quan would be the thinkers: the scientists and bureacrats. The black Ur-Quan were the workers: the warriors and laborers.
The Slave Revolt
After many thousands of years, an Ur-Quan scientist named Kzer-Za discovered the means by which the Ur-Quan could free themselves from the Dnyarri. When a compelled Ur-Quan was suffering intense pain, the Dnyarri would abandon it's mind, freeing it of their compulsion. The Ur-Quan started their war of liberation by using acidic poisons, broken glass and other objects to inflict horrible, near-lethal pain upon themselves. Later on they invented the Excruciator — A worn device that infilicted intense but non-lethal pain straight into the mind of the wearer. Though it took several years, the Ur-Quan races led the Dnyarri Slave Revolt and subjugatted their hated masters.
Then, the two Ur-Quan races met to determine two things: the means by which to punish the Dnyarri and the way to prevent the Ur-Quan from ever suffering under the dominion of another race again. The Dnyarri question was answered quickly: the Ur-Quan stripped them of their sentience at a genetic level, reducing them to mere translation units to allow the Ur-Quan to not have to degrade themselves, as they saw it, by discoursing directly with other sentient species. The second question caused a schism between the Ur-Quan species.
It was obvious that the Ur-Quan must never be enslaved again. The pain and trauma were too much. The green Ur-Quan, who had dubbed themselves Ur-Quan Kzer-Za in honor of the one who had discovered the way to fight the Dnyarri compulsion, suggested what they called the Path of Now and Forever. This would require the Ur-Quan species to subjugate every other species in existance and present them with two options: join them as part of their Hierarchy and retain some autonomy, or become a fallow species trapped on their homeworld beneath an impenetrable slave shield.
Among the black Ur-Quan arose Kohr-Ah, whose followers named themselves the Ur-Quan Kohr-Ah, and proposed the Eternal Doctrine. It called for a war-without-end with a single goal — complete genocide of any and all non-Ur-Quan sentient life.
Each Ur-Quan race moved to execute their doctrine. The Kzer-Za erected a slave shield around the Faz homeworld, while the Kohr-Ah incinerated the homeworld of the Yuptar. The Kohr-Ah fleet was the first to reach the homeworld of the Mael-Num, the last of the major species that were part of the Sentient Milieu. As the Kohr-Ah began preperations to sanitize the world, a request came from the Mael-Num, asking why they were proceeding on this path. The Kohr-Ah were struck by these words and began to explain. This gave the Kzer-Za fleet enough time to arrive.
The ensuing battle started the first Doctrinal War. A war that the Kohr-Ah almost won. Only the chance discovery by the Kzer-Za of a Precursor Battleship allowed the Kzer-Za to claim victory. But, in victory, the Kzer-Za were magnanimous. The sent the Kohr-Ah out into unknown space against the spin of the galaxy and allowed them act as they wished according to their Doctrine. The Kzer-Za then moved in the opposite direction to enact their Doctrine. When the two species would meet again, they would begin the Doctrinal War anew, with the Precursor Battleship, the Sa-Matra as the prize to the victor.
While the Ur-Quan doctrines seem extreme in their execution and the Ur-Quan themselves seem evil by extension, an understanding of their history makes their actions understandable. The pain and torment that they have been subject to over the millennia combined with their strong dominating instincts have driven them mad.