The Cheuk – An exercise in speculative exobiology

Have I mentioned I am a fan of speculative history and speculative evolution? No? Well, I am! This is the sort of thing I read for fun. Today I’m going to stretch my imagination a bit and come up with background information on an original alien species, the Cheuk. I even created an alien character on Star Trek Online, Z’mi Zahl, as a representative of the Cheuk.

1422477064456The Cheuk originates from the Chintaedi system, on the coreward side of the Alpha Quadrant, just beyond the edge of Federation space. The Chintaedi star is an A-Type main-sequence star, with a total of five planets orbiting it. Of these, three planets are aligned in unusually close proximity orbits; how they manage to maintain such close proximity is still being studied.

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One of these three planets is the homeworld of the Cheuk, who call it “Ch’tau”. It is a relatively small planet, approximately 75% of Earth’s mass with a small -sulfur-iron core and thin surface crust. It has an oxygen rich atmosphere (about 30% higher than Earth’s) along with Nitrogen; CO2 levels are comparatively low as a significant amount is consumed by photosynthesis of Ch’tine, a unique floating algae that comprises the largest biomass on the planet. The skies over Ch’tau are deep blue (to human eyes, daylight on Ch’tau appear as twilight on Earth). Gravity is approximately 0.8g. The defining feature of Ch’tau is that a planetary ocean covers 92% of the surface, with only 8% permanent dry land in the form of island chains, with fairly frequent rain showers. Uniquely, due to a lack of tectonic activities that prevent the formation of prominent mountains and valleys, most of the planetary ocean is a shallow sea – so shallow that about 40% of the sea can be considered wetlands or marshes; in many areas one can literally walk for miles in water without fear of drowning. There are pockets of deep oceans, gouged out by occasional venting of the planet’s sulfuric core; the water in these pockets tend to be very acidic and most native life avoid them. The planetary poles present some weather and temperature extremes; though they are not entirely devoid of life, the poles are uninhabitable by the dominant animal groups of the planet.

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The Cheuk, like most Star Trek alien species, are humanoid, with slender, elongated builds. They are descended from amphibian stock, since amphibians are ideally suited to the abundance of water on Ch’tau as well as the rich oxygen in the atmosphere. Being amphibians means the Cheuk are agile in the water, but slightly awkward on dry land; they have large eyes to enable them to see clearly under Ch’tau’s low light conditions, and their skin have bioluminescent spots that are used for communications. They also possess a form of sonar that gives them an innate sense of direction, making them excellent natural navigators. Due to the lower gravity of their homeworld, they are weaker in physical strength than humans, and their long fingers, while very dextrous, have relatively weak grasps. The biggest off-world challenge that the Cheuk face is that their thin amphibian skins have a tendency to dry out, necessitating them to wear special suits that maintain their body moisture.

The Cheuk tend to be peaceful and laid-back, and due to their amphibian physiology they are prone to regular periods of dormancy which can seem odd to humans. They have been culturally stagnant for thousands of years, living in national units known as “pods” that are governed by councils of Elders; inter-pod rivalry has always existed, but violence between pods is extremely rare. The lack of cultural progress is in no small part due to limitations of their aquatic environment — inability to work metals led to a painfully slow progress in materials science. This results in a lack of concept of ownership and material wealth in Cheuk society, and their aquatic nature translates to an emphasis on personal freedom.

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Ultimately the Cheuk developed biotechnology, not unlike that of the Undine’s: they learned to “grow” structures and ships using a variety of bioengineered life, and although comparatively crude, eventually allowed the Cheuk to reach for the stars. First Contact was made with the Ferengi a century ago, who promptly abandoned the Cheuk after they discovered the species have no sense of commerce, and few valuable resources to trade. The Federation made contact just over 30 years ago; in that time the Cheuk have managed to form a sort of super-government led by a coalition of Pods, and today Ch’tau is in negotiations to formally join the Federation.

Z’mi Zahl represents the new generation of non-traditional Cheuk, who is looking eagerly towards the stars for knowledge and adventure. A member of the progressive and scientifically-minded Zahl pod, who welcomes peaceful extraterrestrial contacts — Z’mi is one of the pod’s brightest scientists and has been one of the foremost Cheuk liaison personnel with the Federation. As part of the program to join the Federation, Z’mi has been selected in an officer exchange program and is now rotating through various Federation postings, including a current stint on a Starfleet vessel. The intent is for the Federation and the Cheuk to cement their relationship, and it is an exciting and stimulating task that Z’mi takes on with great relish.


I don’t expect to be playing Z’mi Zahl actively — the main reason I created her is to use her as a banking toon. At Level 11 she has unlocked DOff slots so she can be used to store and grind DOffs to feed my main toons, but I figure I might as well have some fun with creative writing while I have the character!

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