Skrell come from the world of Qerr'Balak, a planet in the Qerr'Valis system – Qerr'Balak has a humid atmosphere, featuring numerous swamps and jungles. The world is filled with Skrellian cities which often sit on stilts and take the form of gigantic arcologies.
Qerr'Balak's landmass can be separated in three distinct entities: Two continents, separated by the Qo'rria Sea, make up for most of the habitable soil, while a large archipelago of isles spreads on Qerr'xia, the single ocean of the planet. Qorr'gloa is a small, swampy continent on which the Skrellian civilization first rose. While many Skrellian cities have been built on its coasts, the inner lands are mostly occupied by the aggressive and very territorial Ka'merr. The largest continent, Xi'Krri'oal, has been colonised by the Skrell early in their history, and makes up for most of the Qerrbalak population today. While it is still very humid, its size allowed for more various climates than on Qorr'gloa, ranging from the constantly snowy territories at its extreme south to more temperate, earth-like areas in the inner lands.
Among the hundreds of City-States across the planets surface, a few of them can be described as being more important than the others:
Mythically considered the first State-City ever built by Skrellkind, Qarr'kloa attracts thousands of tourists and archaeologists every year thanks to the ancestral structures, built thousands of years ago by the Skrell, scattered in its vicinity.
Built on the northern coast of Qorr'gloa, Mo'glar was, at the time of Xi'Krri'oal's colonization, a major port of trade between the two continents of the planet. It has kept that role to this day, although it never truly adapted to inter-planetary trade, leaving the task of exporting Qerrbalak's goods to other planets to other cities, mainly on Xi'Krri'oal.
This city, built on the small patch of islands north of Xi'Krri'oal, owes most of its current status to the infamous Qerr-Skria Glo'morr Krrixi who, in the 23rd century BCE, built a large empire spanning from the Qo'rria Sea to the current city of Qal'krrea, mostly through military conquests. As the center of his empire, Mi'qoxi became a large center of population and industry and while the fall of the empire at Krrixi's death did put a halt to the city's growth, it is still today one of the biggest cities of the planet.
A relatively recent city compared to the other major cities of the planet, Kal'lo quickly rose in status by fathering some of the most important figures of modern Skrellian society. It is notably the birthplace of Xikrra Kol'goa, who wrote the Lo'glo'mog'rri in 46 BCE, the constitutional code that is still used by most of the Skrellian states in the galaxy.
While Gli'morr is not as heavily-populated than its continental counterparts, its touristic potential made it rich enough to finance the biggest research centre on the planet, covering dozens of scientific fields. Its Academy is just as renowned, and even the lowest Qrri-Mog (although most of its students prefer to continue their studies until they become Qerr-Mog) coming out of its classrooms are considered part of the elite.
The first traces of Skrellian civilisation date back to around 20,000 BCE in the southern part of Qorr'gloa. findings and artefacts from this time indicate the first Skrell were organised in sedentary tribes of gatherers, living off the rich vegetation of the swamps they settled on. The founding of Qarr'kloa, considered by many to be the first Skrellian city, is estimated to have occurred around 14,000 BCE, gradually attracting the surrounding tribes who preferred its safe walls to the dangers of the regions fauna.
The first traces of writing appear around the same period, which provided insight into the organisation and history of the city at the time; the first rulers of the city were the elders of the various tribes composing its population, and all decisions were taken as a consensus of a council. During the next 2,000 years, Skrell spread across the southwestern area of Qorr'gloa. Several expeditions with the goal of colonising the inner lands were carried out, all met with heavy resistance by the local tribes of Ka'merr, who destroyed many Skrellian settlements and, in some cases, kidnapped Skrell, leading to the fledgling civilisation abandoning most attempts to colonise the inner section of the continent. While the Skrellian civilisation spread across the coastline and outer areas, the government remained centralised in Qarr'kloa, which soon created tensions in the other cities, as their own development, well-being and management was stifled by poor handling and priorities by Qarr'kloa.
The situation kept deteriorating until, in 10,156 BCE, a coalition of cities declared their independence from Qarr'kloa, thus starting the first war in recorded Skrellian history. The conflict lasted for nearly 70 years, deeply changing the political landscape as cities started forming coalitions on their own, sometimes even switching sides between the Loyalists and Separatists. Among the atrocities committed during the war, the first traces of slavery are documented, as some factions started coercing the previously feared Ka'merr into fighting for them. By the end of the war, most of the city of Qarr'kloa lies in ruins, and the Separatists force the elder council to sign a treaty guaranteeing their independence. Most of the cities form their own, independent governments, but some of them preserve the coalitions they formed during the war, generally forming small groups of five or six cities working under a single government. This is also the time where the first Skrellian kings appear, even though most of the cities, Qarr'kloa included, are still ruled under the oligarchy style elder councils. All new cities founded after the conclusion of the war were entirely autonomous from hereafter.
The damage caused by the war deeply scarred Skrellian society. Thousands of Skrell died in the war and the reconstruction of their cities proved to be a gargantuan task, taking approximately five decades.
The next millennium was a mostly peaceful one for Skrellkind, though also marked their first, and only, foray into colonialism. The taming of some the Ka'merr tribes in the inner lands, and their subsequent enslavement by some cities, allowed the Skrell to spread on the northern coasts of the continent and inner areas. By 9,000 BCE, most of the cities of the continent adopted the monarchy system that first appeared during the independence war, and the coalitions born from the same conflict had collapsed. While this millennium is still considered as a time of great advancement for the Skrell, it is still controversial to many modern Skrell because of the common practice of slavery (whose definitive abolition would only occur in 1000 BCE) and the aggressive expansion of civilisation into the Ka'merr's territories, and their subsequent oppression.
The colonisation of Xi'krri'oal began in the early 7th millennium BCE, first starting along western coastline. Until then, most of cities existed in a relative autonomy from one other, but the discovery of new resources and an increase in commercial industry suddenly pushed the Skrell to compete and collaborate in a fierce race to obtain monopolies on these newly found materials and ores. The overcrowded cities of the old continent experienced a sharp population decline,with many Skrell heading to the new continent in the hopes of fortune and a better life. To the surprise of all, tribes of Skrell were found in the southern areas of Xi'krri'oal and, while their technology was grossly inferior to that of the majority of skrellkind, the tribes experienced a relatively peaceful and rapid integration into modern Skrellian society.
The cultural divide
While the Skrell were relatively united culturally until then, the Skrell from Xi'krri'oal started behaving quite differently from their siblings. So far, on Qorr'gloa, the growing lack of space and resources, along with the various dangers inherent to their environment, made the Skrell a very ascetic society, more interested in efficiency and frugality than on a high quality of life and excesses. On the other side, the vast, resourceful and peaceful lands of Xi'krri'oal caused the colonists to live in a far more relaxed, wasteful and indulgent society which resulted, in only a few generations, a large cultural gap between the two continents, with the Skrell of the new continent considering their brethren as too moralistic and careful, while they themselves turned to a hedonistic lifestyle.
The active trade of the early days of colonisation between the continents soon came to halt, and both societies grew independently from each other. While the Skrell from Xi'krri'oal had access to a large range of resources, they neglected and ignored many opportunities to advance, and technological progress slowed down in most areas. On Qorr'gloa, however, the lack of ready access to much of Xi'krri'oal's resources pushed the Skrell to act in even greater cohesion and focus on the sciences in order to improve their technology, in order to compensate for their lack of abundance. Similarly, while the Skrell of the old continent knew the dangers of war and the need for cohesion, the Skrellian colonists regularly engaged in small conflicts with each other.
By the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE, the two continents displayed completely different civilizations. On Qorr'gloa, the Skrell had become highly advanced, starting to develop tools in line with their soon to come industrial revolution and having adopted the now pervasive caste system in order to better organise themselves. On Xi'krri'oal, however, the situation was dire: while the population expanded greatly, no effort was made to advance, either technologically or culturally, with hedonism and indulgences being all too common. The small conflicts that used to be the norm turned to large scale wars for the control of territory. While most of their technology was still akin to the human 12th century, their weapon technology advanced to greater levels, with them making heavy use of gunpowder and chemical products such as the Krra'mo'gal, which could be compared to the greek fire seen in the human Middle Ages.
The Qrri-Qerria War
The deterioration of Skrellian society on Xi'krri'oal finally culminates with the coming of what the modern Skrell call the War of the Qrri-Qerria, lasting from 2400 BCE to 1800 BCE as the various City-States of the continent suddenly started to try to conquer each other, quickly forming and dissolving kingdoms. The most famous of them is the kingdom of Glo'morr Krrixi who, starting from the city of Mi'qoxi, conquered most of the northern section of the continent. The result is catastrophic: Over the centuries, tens of millions of Skrell die, either from the war itself or as a result of it; Famines are frequent and illnesses quickly spread as the archaic Skrell lack the medical technology and knowledge to cure them. Entire cities are burnt to the ground and, according to some of the most alarmist Skrell of Qorr'gloa of the time (the cities of the old continent did not choose to intervene in the war, for fear that it would spill over to their own city states), it was only a matter of decades before the entire continent would be deemed unfit for Skrellian life. In the southern part of the continent, a chemical fire started by one of the belligerents soon spread out of control, and is said to have burned for three whole years, wiping out half of the largest forest of the planet.
Eventually, by 1800 BCE, the state of perpetual war came to a halt as the kingdoms collapsed and the surviving population reconciled, seeing that their wars had crippled them completely, with much of the known and available resources having been wasted. Only then did the Skrell from Qorr'gloa decide to intervene. Indeed, the situation on the old continent was stable enough so that they would be able to provide Xi'krri'oal with food, materials and equipment to rebuild everything they had lost. The reconstruction took nearly 700 years, during which the surviving Skrell of the scorched continent slowly adopted their brothers culture, having acknowledged their folly.
From this point, the Skrell know a long period of relative stability. Most tension on the political stage is mostly due to ethical and methodological divergences in the scientific field, and are generally settled during long debates organised by a city states academy. Around the 1500 BCE, the Skrell see a sudden leap in their technology, as the Industrial revolution spreads rapidly across the City-States, and Xi'krri'oal is able to catch up on the technological advances of their brethren. While there is no centralised government on Qerr'Balak, most of the cities form a homogeneous entity on the political and cultural landscape, and the Skrell feel no need to impose a global political structure that could disturb the status quo, as it did thousands of years ago.
As the colonisation of space starts around 100 BCE, Qerrbalak reaches a Golden Age, as most of the production of goods is transferred to the colonies, while it itself becomes a centre of philosophy and ethical research. To this day, most Skrellian colonies still idolise in terms of social organisation and moral positions, even though the Skrell homeworld has been encountering new issues in the last few centuries of its existence.
Politics and Economics
Contrary to popular beliefs outside of Skrellian society, Qerrbalak is in no official capacity the capital of Skrellian civilisation. Most City-States, either on Qerrbalak or on a colony are, fundamentally, fully independent in political matters. The traditional Skrellian political system is still universally used on the planet with, in some cases, a few differences. For example, the Keri-Glo'i of Kal'lo, while still lacking the right to vote in the Xaq Moglar, are authorised and heavily encouraged to participate in the debates happening in the parliament.
With the slow regression in Qerr'Balak's production capacity, new problems arose during the last century of the planets existence. Qerr'Balak has traditionally been a very heavily controlled environment, both in terms of terms of resource exploitation and external influence. Pushed by the human productivity rates and their collapsing economy, the various Academies of Qerr'Balak have recently started to debate a loosening of the ancestral restrictions initially implemented to protect their environment. While most of the City-States have not taken any decisive action for now, a few of them already started to authorise new mining operations (with a number of environmental preservation measures in place) and relaxed immigration restrictions, notably in the southwestern area of Xi'krri'oal. On Qorr'gloa, the debate has reached a point where some academics started mentioning the possibility of relocating the Ka'merr of the inner lands to nature reserves, to clear new spaces for touristic exploitation.
Another rising issue among the Skrell of Qerr'Balak is the unstable grip the Skrellian homeworld has on its colonies. While most of them still follow the teachings of the homeworld, colonies on the human border of Skrellian territory have started to slowly adopt new social and political organisations, mainly influenced by the humans they cohabit with. For centuries, Skrellian society had worked as a tacitly homogeneous entity, and the sudden pluralism observed in said colonies is starting to worry the more traditional Skrell of the core. Two sides have already emerged, the first professing the need for homogeneity and control on the colonies, while the second defends the right to every City-State's independence and political autonomy. However, this problem is universally recognised as a serious threat to Skrellian civilisation, reminiscing of the cultural rift between the two continents of Qerr'Balak thousands of years ago and its catastrophic consequences.
These concerns put aside, Qerr'Balak remains a heavily populated planet and, while its economy is slowly collapsing, it is still one of the richest planets in this sector of space. Some of the most known Skrellian corporations have their headquarters on the planet, including:
- Krri'gli: Originally building aeroplanes, Krri'gli became one of the most powerful Skrellian corporations when it expanded into space habitat and vessel construction and started building ships and stations for most of Qerr'Balak's City-States. Controlling the process from concept design to construction, they have a reputation of manufacturing the safest infrastructures Skrellkind can provide in terms of space colonisation.
- Qorr'moa: Founded in the aftermath of the War of the Qrri-Qerria, Qorr'moa quickly established itself as the biggest food manufacturer of the planet. While its manufacturing sector is still growing to this day, it has recently opened to new opportunities, most notably in the field of genetic engineering to widen its range of products.
- Gloa'Morr: Initially a branch of Qorr'moa specialized in pharmaceuticals, Gloa'Morr was made an independent entity by a royal decree of the city of Mo'glar two centuries ago. It now provides most of Qerr'Balak's health centres with medicine, along with several other colonies within the core of Skrell space.
The wildlife of Qerr'Balak is similar to what you would see in an earth jungle or swamp, the main difference being that instead of mammals making up the population of the larger animals, Qerrbalak has creatures that are essentially dinosaurs they are large reptilian creatures that make up a good portion of the population of medium to large animals, the other portion of the population is taken up by strange, amphibious creatures that thrive within the swamps of Qerr'Balak.
The Ka’merr of Qerr’balak are a species of sapient creatures akin to earth theropods. Standing between 6.4 ft. and 7.3 ft. at maturity, they live in the central swamps of Qorr’gloa, which they have cohabited with the Skrell since time immemorial. Their powerful jaws and their hands, featuring three clawed appendages, make them fearsome predators, at least for Qerr’balak’s fauna; speed being of minor importance in the planet’s swamps, the Ka’merr rely instead on camouflage to trap their prey before finishing it off with their claws.
Despite the popular belief among Skrell, the Ka’merr are not fully feathered, being only partially covered on the upper torso and the neck. This misconception is born from the Ka’merr’s religious beliefs, as they maintain a strong ancestor cult among their tribes: When a Ka’merr dies, their feathers are gathered by their children and applied on their bodies with profuse amounts of mud to allow the deceased’s soul to pass into their descendants. The body is then placed deep inside a swamp, as it is now an empty shell with neither emotional nor symbolical value to the Ka’merr.
With no written language, Ka’merr society is mostly dictated by oral tradition. Sadly, most of this knowledge is lost on the other species: the Ka’merr language, mainly composed of screeching and guttural growls, is still vastly misunderstood despite centuries of study by Skrellian scholars. The current laws regarding entering their territory do not help in that matter, as even research expeditions are heavily regulated. Despite the measures taken by Skrellian governments to protect the Ka’merr population, mercenary groups and pirates regularly break into Qorr’gloa’s reserves to enslave them. As a result, the already territorial Ka’merr can be particularly aggressive if approached too closely, which prevents most attempts to loosen regulations to ease travel to the inner swamplands.
These are large, bovine sized creatures that are similar in many ways to Komodo Dragons on Earth, They are fast, efficient hunters that kill through biting and clawing, if the overall physical damage they inflict on you doesn't kill you the toxins they release through their bites will. They often hunt smaller animals and their territory includes both swamp and jungle areas of Qerr'Balak. They seem to have religious significance to the Ka'merr, who appear to take great offence to the killing of one.
These creatures can be essentially described as an odd mix of Salamander, Frog and Monkey, they often travel about the swamps via the trees and they hunt the larger insects of the swamps as well as much of the native flora. While they are practically tame and meek in the presence of Skrell, they seem to fear humans greatly and flee if they see one.
A large, fish like creature which travels in the swamps of Qerrbalak, they are considered very dangerous and often attack any creature which is smaller then it (which includes most of the planets fauna, it is safest to travel in known Kerr'k territory in a large vehicle). The creature is in truth, not a true fish but an amphibian, which is shaped similarly to a snake. It often eats its prey whole and digests everything, including the bones.
These creatures are large reptiles that travel in packs, they are often used by the Skrell as cattle, carrying loads and providing fertilizer for crops. Although Skrell have never cooked one themselves due to their bodies being unable to digest meat, it is said that Th'oom steaks are a delicacy amongst wealthy humans with exotic tastes, although its trade is thoroughly controlled and regulated. They naturally come from the jungles of Qerr'Balak, but due to their usefulness they are seen across the entirety of Skrell space, having been imported to many colony worlds early in Skrell history.
The Flora of Qerr'Balak is vast and in human eyes, strange. The swamps themselves are coloured an odd, dark blue caused by moss that grows in the areas, whereas the trees of Qerr'Balak are more akin to extremely large bushes then actual trees, as they have no bark on them and the insides are green, some humans have mistakenly said that they are large vines. The jungle itself lends to that as parts of it are densely populated by large patches of thorny plants, that grow into each other giving the appearance of vines.
A parasitic mushroom, the Krro'a grows on most of the species of small bushes found on Qorr'gloa. Feeding on the host, it spreads as a thin, white web over its surface and stays on it until it dies, after which the flexible but tough tissue withers and disperses around the dead plant to find new hosts. While the Skrell use it in many culinary ways, it is highly toxic for humans.
What initially started as a mild mycosis on the Th'oom of Qerr'Balak ended up being the culinary event of the 18th century for Skrell. Growing between the scales of the oldest reptiles, the Skrell discovered that, while being neither harmful nor painful to the animals, the Th'oom'al was actually a very nutritious and tasteful mushroom the Kanin-Katish were quickly able to harvest in large quantities, leading the newly found organism to become a major ingredient in many Skrellian dishes. While having no tangible effect on Skrell, the various psychotropic substances inside the mushroom were found to be dangerous to other species.
One would be too quick in describing the Qokk'loa as simple moss. While it bears some resemblance to the earth species in its first stage of life, this blue plant solidifies after a few months, taking the aspect and texture of bark, forming large patches over the southern forests of Xi'Krri'oal. The Skrell quickly discovered that, during this second stage, the Qokk'loa contained large amounts of what could be compared to green sap. Once exposed to air, it is only a matter of hours before the sap solidifies into a smooth, fragile structure. The solidified sap is now consumed as a snack throughout the Skrellian territories. Lethal to humans, the Skrell still feel the mind numbing, relaxing effects of the sap for a few hours after consumption. Qokk'loa is often distilled and refined further to make what is known as Qokk'hrona, known to humanity as Skrellian wine, it is the Skrell equivalent of alcohol, with similar effects to Earth alcohol, though the effects only last for approximately six hours, depending on the amount consumed. Overdosing can result in a coma and, sometimes, death and is mainly enjoyed by Skrell at significant events, celebrations and funerals.
These slander red stalks reminiscent of Earth worms grow in the waters of Qorr'gloa's swamps. While having close to no nutritional value, their sweet taste makes them a common condiment in traditional Skrellian dishes. It is safe for consumption for non-Skrell.
Possibly among the most familiar-looking species for humans, the Go'moa is a small, orange mushroom growing in large fields on the plains of Xi'krri'oal. Not only one of the main ingredients of mainstream Skrellian food, it is also a curious spectacle for the newly arrived tourist, as the spores of the plant, slightly bio-luminescent, give an eerie glow to Qerr'Balak's fields at night.
The Kol'mo is among the largest species of mushrooms found on Qerr'Balak. Growing in random shapes, capable of growing up to three metres in height and six metres in width, it is a favourite among the Talum-Katish for it allows them to craft the beautiful (and edible) sculptures some of the most skillful Skrellian culinarians are famous for. It also varies wildly in colour and can range from a dark blue to an orange-red depending on its growing conditions.
A small bush native of Qorr'gla, the Mi'krrixi produces small, round purple fruit with a skin similar to lemons, used in Skrellian dishes since the time of tribes. It is advised to squeeze the fruit before consumption, as the amount of hallucinogenic substances it contains can be potentially dangerous, even for Skrell. Human consumption is not advised, though possible in small amounts, the consumption of which leaves a human on a psychoactive trip for days.
A mushroom that grows as a thin yellow layer over small ponds, the bitter taste of the O'krri has made it a reliable ingredient for Skrellian recipes for centuries. While not strictly dangerous for humans, it is known to make them dizzy, sometimes to the point of somnolence.