Rykani Basics #001: An Introduction To The Ryka(ni)

by Markóu Szenovic

Dear Reader,
I would once again like to thank you for your interest in our galactic neighbors and good friends calling themselves the “Rykani”. As per Ascendancy directive No. 133 562, we here at the Interspecies Cultural Research Association (ICRA) busy ourselves every day with learning about this foreign species that inhabits millions of stars across the galaxy, uses technology seemingly millennia ahead of our own, and has been at the center point of human attention for well over 100 Standard Years now.

Certainly, the relationship between both of our kinds could be said to have had some rough times in recent memory. This rocky history between our races has, historically, turned many humans and ryka off from engaging with each other, but given the large and fundamental differences between our kinds, I would even go so far as to propose that this initial development of animosity might have been entirely unavoidable. Since we are now aware of the wide-ranging consequences any slight miscommunication between our species may have, the Ascendancy has ruled that acclimation to the ways of the Rykani is a necessity before making contact. Accordingly, the staff of the ICRA offers this shorthand guide to you, dear reader, giving you all the knowledge required before engaging in a social training conversation with a ryka for the first time.

Admittedly, having to read a guide before getting to talk to someone might feel strange and even restrictive to you, but be assured that by the end of this series you’ll probably thank its authors for saving you from many awkward conversations and unpleasant misunderstandings. And if that doesn’t help ease your frustration with having to read this guide, perhaps the knowledge that your rykani conversation partner will have to work through a similar but infinitely more extensive document might.

With that out of the way, I and the rest of the team from the ICRA would like to thank you once again for being a trailblazer on this new path of interspecies cooperation and friendship. It’s only thanks to brave souls such as yourself that past conflicts can be set aside and a bright future of respectful co-existence can shine down on all galactic beings from the heavens above.

From the staff of the ICRA, we wish you and your rykani partner a fun time learning with and about each other. Remember to keep your ears down!

-Markóu Szenovic, appointed head of the ICRA, 93 PA

An introduction to the Ryka(ni)
by Tim Lashkin

Hey there, the name’s Tim. As one of the more senior researchers here at the ICRA, I’ve been given the honor of introducing you to our fluffy space-friends calling themselves the “Ryka” … or is it “Rykani”? Wait, Markóu used both versions in the preface above, so which one is it?

If you’re asking yourself these questions and are afraid of possibly offending your ryka partner by using the wrong term, don’t worry, it really doesn’t matter. The ryka themselves use both words to describe their species fairly inconsistently, and with the huge differences between our respective languages, there’s no real scenario where you can choose the “wrong” form. In scientific papers, such as the ones written here at the ICRA, we try to imitate rykani usage of both words and therefore call the genus of their race “Ryka” while calling everything of and about the ryka “Rykani”. This isn’t entirely accurate, nor is the usage consistent even between my own colleagues, but again, things like that don’t matter to the ryka(ni).

And that was your first lesson about the ryka! Easy, right? Now, lesson number two is this: There’ll be many cases within these documents where you might encounter inconsistencies, such as the one between the usage of ryka and rykani. All things told, the ryka are rather loose and lax when it comes to many things, not just their language. In those cases, you’ll just have to move away from our human notion of “Everything needs to have one defined state of being that’s agreed upon by everyone”. That’s simply not how the ryka work. Shoot, if you’re confused by the ryka having two words to describe their own species, wait till you find out how many words they have to describe concepts that don’t translate to anything more than “cool” or “cute”. Trust me on this, there are A LOT of them.

But with that out of the way, let’s move on to something that’s a little bit easier to define: Biology and the question “WHAT are the Ryka?”. Now, my college Shzen will give you a proper run down on rykani biology in his own entry later on, but we’ll cover some of the basics here. Simply put, the ryka are a carbon-based, bipedal race originating from the planet of Tvi’ Rykaa. They share a good number of visual similarities with us humans, such as their aforementioned possession of two legs, together with their two feet, two arms, two hands, two eyes, single head and single mouth. Similarly to us, the ryka also possess two sets of ears, although theirs are significantly larger and can be quite precisely manipulated, which plays a huge role in their communication of emotion and intent.

The ryka reproduce sexually, just like us humans, but unlike our own species they lay things that can ostensibly be described as “eggs”. Their species comes in two unique flavors, the egg-laying “Kaeh”, generally treated as females in our own language, and the “Ko”, referred to as males.

Because of recurrent transgressions, at this point in the document the Ascendancy requires me to remind you that, for a long list of reasons which will be expanded upon later in this series, the ryka are about as far removed from “sexually compatible” with humans as things get. For the sake of both your health and the health of the ryka, please don’t try anything stupid unless you want to ingest lethal amounts of carcinogenic and neurotoxic compounds or suffer severe acid burns all over your body. 

One of the more interesting differences between ryka and humans is the rykani absence of any sort of nose, whose function is instead taken up by an array of passive “Sensory Pores” positioned along their ‘snout’. Additionally, the ryka possess a large and striking tail that offers precise enough control to sometimes be used for the manipulation of objects. Other noticeable differences are the rykas’ small, digitigrade posture with corresponding differences in the structure of their legs and feet, their lack of a fifth finger, as well as a huge number of sub-surface differences in chemical-, muscular-, skeletal- and organ-compositions.

Finally, and most notably, the ryka are covered by a soft, feather-like plume called the “Plocculli”. These plocculli not only play a huge role in rykani body temperature management, but also form a huge part of rykani sociology as a whole. You can glean a lot of knowledge about the personality of a ryka by just looking at his or her feathers, their colors, their state of grooming, how covered up they are and if someone is currently brushing or petting them.

Speaking of petting, here’s another quick lesson: Yes, during the exchanges with your ryka partner, you’ll definitely get to pet them at one point or another, and most of them do enjoy that. That said, we’re talking about highly intelligent, sentient and conscious beings here, so just walking up to them and fondling them like they’re some kind of pet is not OK. Seriously, some people have taken severe injuries over that. I’d encourage you to please try and keep some etiquette.

Oh, talking about getting hurt, here’s the next topic: Guns. If you’re anything like me back in the day, you might be more than a little weirded out by the fact that seemingly every ryka openly carries around a gun or three. You’re perfectly in your right to be a little freaked-out by the weapons of mass-destruction they casually lob around their back, but once you read up the chapters on rykani sociology and history, those feelings will most likely be replaced with ones of fascination and only minor concern.

Despite their heavy armament, most ryka are perfectly peaceful, kind and forthcoming to others, and those that aren’t have been barred from entering our facilities (that’s a joke, don’t worry). That said, a gun is a gun, so standard rules of safety apply:

  1. Do not stand in front of the barrel of any given gun.
  2. Do not play with the gun.
  3. Do not allow the ryka to play with his or her gun.
  4. Do not insult the gun of your ryka partner, they don’t like that.
  5. Do not try and debate gun politics. Our moral principles have proven themselves wholly disparate to those of a species from the other side of the galaxy, and the ensuing conversations have so far only led to upset and frustration on both sides.
  6. Most importantly: Do not, under any circumstances, get bright ideas about grabbing a ryka’s gun. Grabbing the gun, or making the ryka think you’ll grab its gun, are about the only reliable way of getting shot by what could have otherwise been a new friend of yours.

If you feel nervous after reading the section above, I’d like to remind you that so far, no human under our care has ever gotten shot while following the rules above. Also, thanks to some advanced rykani technology that we’ll get to in a second, you won’t have to worry about “accidental discharges” or any other sort of weapon-related accident. The ryka are able to control guns with their brains (sounds cool, right?) and therefore only shoot when they really feel the need to shoot. Again, that’s why rule 6 is the most crucial one.

Since we’re on the topic of technology, let’s talk some tech. You’ll find more information about rykani technology in the later chapters of this guide, so I’ll just scratch the surface here. Rykani science and technology is a major topic of Ascendancy research and has been for the last few centuries. Truth be told, we barely understand any of it, and the few things that we figured out in the time since first contact have advanced our own society by leaps and bounds.

One of the first signs of rykani technological prowess will become obvious to you immediately when first talking to your partner. As it happens, you’ll find that you can perfectly understand your partner and that they’ll perfectly understand you, despite neither of you having learned the language of the other. “How’s that possible?” you ask? Science! Well, either that or black magic, we’re still not sure which of the two it truly is. If it does turn out to be science – and our ryka assistants assure us that it is – then that means their species has gained the ability to extensively manipulate their surroundings at will. That includes, but is not limited to, the manipulation of particles, waves, entire physical fields and even some physical forces. And as mind-boggling as that may sound, that’s just the beginning of it. I’m telling you all of this so that if, at some point during talks with your ryka partner, something happens that violates your principle understanding of physical reality as you know it, you’ll hopefully have an easier time keeping your composure. The ryka don’t like loud noises or screeching.

And talking about likes and dislikes (damn, I’m good at this), I’d like to go into the basics of rykani sociology as a final topic for today. The most important thing for you to know is that the ryka usually don’t come solo, nor do they come in pairs or trios. Instead, the ryka like to bunch up into what they call a “Shatil” of six to twenty individuals. Up until recently, the term shatil was almost always translated into our language as “pack”, and while this term isn’t completely inadequate – it even describes the fundamental function of a shatil quite well – no pack of earth-wolves has ever cooperated with other wolfpacks to build some of the biggest space-bound superstructures in the galaxy. For this reason, I and many others from the ICRA have led a push to introduce the word “shatil” into our language, although the usage of “pack” is still dominant for now.

But my linguistic nitpicks aside, the way you should think about a shatil is as something like an intimate, family-esque work-unit. Just imagine that you and ten of your closest co-workers were now stuck together doing the same job for the next 200 SY, and that your boss forces you into endless team building exercises until each one of you knows everything about everyone else in your new “pack”. That would be a decent approximation of the shatil experience.

For the ryka, their shatil is everything. In most cases, the social bonds within a shatil are valued even higher than those between blood-related family members or romantic partners, although the remarkable complexity of rykani relationships can effect exceptions to this rule. Either way, your partner will most likely talk your ear off about their packmates once the two of you finally get to meet, and since the concept of a shatil holds such high value in the life of a ryka, you should also refrain from making fun of or insulting your partner’s shatilmembers. That’s one surefire way of never being allowed to pet his or her soft feathers ever again.

And that should just about do it for an entry-level introduction. I know this was probably a lot for your first day, but I hope my writing style and amazing drawings have kept you at least somewhat entertained throughout. If I’ve managed to pique your interest into the race of the ryka, that’s just great, because there’s lots and lots still left for you to learn. From fashion to biology to sociology to history to legends to religion to technology to weaponry to language to relationships to reproduction to psychology and so on and so forth, there’ll be lots to keep your mind satiated in its quest for more knowledge about the ryka.

For now, though, I recommend that you take a load off for the rest of the day and get to work on some of the optional exercises provided with this document that’ll help you make the best impression possible once you finally get to meet your ryka partner. After that, you can read the next chapter of this series that will teach you all about the complex world of rykani social relationships.






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