Psycho-Anthropological Profile of the Kilrathi
>tcn.victory.intell Compiled by 2nd Lt. Christopher Douglas, 2652.102
Last revision: 2668.312
The following information is a compilation of facts offered by Ralgha nar Hhallas and gathered by Terran Intelligence and various Covert Ops.
In this war of cultures, it is critical to understand the thinking behind the enemy's actions. We must analyze their thought processes if we ever hope to anticipate their reactions and prepare for their tactical moves.
Evolution of the Kilrathi
Kilrathi civilization arose from the sprawling savannahs of Kilrah, where the species' predatory forefathers first learned to hunt. Later, they used their forepaws and emerging intelligence to fashion crude shelters from the scalding acidic ash that frequently followed massive volcanic eruptions in their tectonically unstable world. With this tool-making ability came the capacity to construct traps for their more evasive prey (particularly a small, intelligent, chimp-like creature which remains to this day a Kilrathi delicacy) and ultimately, weapons.
With the advent of intelligence, territorial conflicts among hunters were inevitable. The Kilrathi learned early in their social development the art of killing other Kilrathi. In fact, the whole of Kilrathi history is an extended chronicle of civil wars so brutal that they make those in human history pale by comparison.
This unrestrained carnage continued until two centuries ago, when a devastating war erupted between the two most powerful Kilrathi Empires. This resulted in the utter destruction of one and established the uncontested supremacy of the other. The current ruling family came into power at the cost of millions of warriors and several sterilized worlds. United under one rule, it was only natural that the Kilrathi's territorial ambitions should turn outward to other life-bearing worlds. Now, they aggressively claim what they find and take by force what does not bow to their claim.
Bred as warriors and raised for battle, the Kilrathi hold little regard for pleasantries. Their entire culture is based on war and aggression, elevated to religious levels. Both Kilrathi aesthetic and technological design reflect the species' fanatical focus on death, conquest and domination.
Kilrathi history never experienced cultures paralleling those of Earth's ancient Egypt, China, Greece, Renaissance Europe or the Utopian Underground of 2200 – cultures that knew prolonged peace, reflection and artistic development. Because of this, Kilrathi aesthetics remain (by human standards) primitive, more like those of aboriginal cultures on Earth.
Kilrathi warriors bear some similarity to the old Imperial Army of Japan, never giving up honor even at the cost of their lives. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for disgraced crew members to commit Zu'kara (ritual throat-slashing suicide) for something as simple as unintentionally insulting their superiors.
A Kilrathi's future, both as a warrior and a citizen, is determined by his or her social status from birth. The entire population of Kilrah swears allegiance to one of eight noble clans, each with a unique social status. Every clan swears loyalty to its current leader, and even the Imperial bloodlines themselves are subdivided into clans of sorts. The Emperor holds absolute power, and can casually order executions and banishments. Coups and assassinations are commonplace political maneuvers.
All clans in Kilrah and its surrounding moons take the phrase "born leader" quite seriously, passing royal bloodlines down from one generation to another. Kiranka is the noblest clan of Kilrah, with clan members holding chief positions in the loyalist troops and in government.
Not much is known about the remaining Kilrathi social structure, except that Kilrathi women are in charge of religion, especially the priestesses of the war-god Sivar. Females control all religious factions on Kilrah and direct all offerings and religious festivities, such as those that occurred during the Sivar ritual on Firekka.
The Kilrathi writing system was first seen in the cockpit of a captured Dralthi fighter. The language is written in sets of four vertical lines. Each vertical line comprises a full line, a split line or a shorter line with a dot above or below it. This set of four lines creates a single syntactic element. Vertical sets of the four-line pictograph equivalents are sentences.
some examples of Kilrathi terminology
Arakh leaves. A popular intoxicant, often used to make tea.
Ek'rah skabak erg Thrak'Kilrah maks Rag'nith. For the glory of Kilrah, the Emperor and the Empire.
Hrai. Kilrathi clan. Includes all blood relatives as well as anyone oathsworn to the clan leader and his descendants.
Kalkrath. Interrogation or torture, not used on high-ranking Kilrathi except by order of the Emperor.
Kabaka. Heroic death.
Khantar. Commanding officer of a Kilrathi ship.
Kilra'hra. A common, lowborn Kilrathi. In appearance, he or she is characterized by coarse fur of mingled colors, a blunt muzzle, a flat head and blunted teeth.
Lerkrath. Interrogation by drugs, not used on high-ranking Kilrathi except by order of the Emperor.
Nak'tara. The planet Earth.
Nar. Part of every Kilrathi's name. It precedes the name of the planet on which the Kilrathi's hrai (clan) originated. (Ralgha nar Hhallas's hrai, for example, was from Hhallas.)
Paki. Pawns for power.
Sa'guk. One who is already dead to his hrai, even though he lives. It refers to disgracing one's family name, usually when one appears weak or is captured.
Skabak Will to die for glory to Kilrah.
Takhars. Brothers of equal rank.
Tagugar. Honorable suicide (similar to a kamikaze action).
Thrak'hra. Noble lord, head of a hrai. Highborn Kilrathi are characterized by sleek, brightly-colored pelts marked with the distinctive patterns of their clan.
Tuka. Person who displays hesitation or weakness.
Zu'kara. Ritual suicide in atonement for an act of shame to one's family.
Kilrathi designers never developed an appreciation for order and symmetry, and therefore their designs are frequently asymmetric and discordant by our standards. The imagery is iconic and bold, oriented almost entirely towards glorifying previous battles and intimidating foes. The standard warrior's attire is unrefined, a peculiar mix of functionality and ornament, high-tech and primitive.
As the Kilrathi remain strongly clan-oriented, uniforms are prominently decorated with symbols and insignia identifying the warrior's clan and family. Favorite colors include reds, blacks and maroons. Metallic textures lean toward gold and blood-red. The natural, coppery color of Kilrathi plastisteel (of which their spacecraft are also constructed) is frequently found in personal armor.
Kilrathi starships are designed around both lethal functionality and psychological warfare. Almost always asymmetrical, most Kilrathi vessels incorporate fang or claw-like curves and points to accentuate their formidable look. Engines and weaponry are always placed on conspicuous display. Each ship's external markings indicate the clan responsible for the ship's construction.
Kilrathi ships often resemble ornate cutting weapons. It is not uncommon for inexperienced human pilots flying markedly superior ships to become intimidated at the first sight of a gun-bristling Kilrathi fighter.
Kilrathi architecture is driven by many of the same barbaric principles found in other aspects of their culture. The Kilrathi's roots as rock-dwelling creatures are evident in their dwellings – mesa-like pillars and protrusions are often found rising from unlikely locations. Exposed machinery is common, and ceilings are rarely enclosed, leaving cables and ductwork exposed.
Lighting is usually dark and murky, and the high temperatures and zero humidity favored by the species often results in decidedly dusty atmospheric effects. And, as with clothing, trophies of war play a prominent role in interior decoration – skulls of victims or blasted hull fragments of conquered starships are often placed on garish display.
Behind the Screens
The bulk of this article was first printed in Victory Streak. The Kilrathi phrases of the Language sections were added when the article was reprinted in the Kilrathi Saga manual.