The Salkeyri (this is the collective form of the name; see "language") are a race of amphibious mammalian shape-shifters hailing from the planet Irrson.
Most Salkeyra are--in native form--about a meter and a half long, resembling real-life otters but without tails. Many have a short stubby tail, however. They range from a bright red to maroon in color. However, it is possible for a Salkeyr to live as long as necessary, sometimes years, sometimes an entire lifetime, in another form. Redd Bretan, for example, lived as a human for much of his life.
- As mentioned before, it is possible for a Salkeyr to choose a form and adopt it for any length of time. It is also possible, however, to shift selectively, only changing one part of the body. For instance, a Salkeyr might change just his eyes in order to see a different wavelength of light. This is not as simple as simply changing entirely, however.
- Another aspect of Salkeyrn shifting is that it allows a Salkeyr to temporarily generate a psuedopod-like limb that can be used to some extent until a replacement can be grown and grafted.
The Saleyri were Force-blind--while unlike the Yuuzhan they could be physically and directly affected by the Force, there is not record of any Salkeyr ever being Force-sensitive. They could, however, study the Force and mimic certain manifestations of it (such as telepathy and sensory enhancement, as well as many other powers that affected the mind and senses only) using implanted bioelectronics.
The Salkeyri have a long and sad history that has contributed greatly to a sort of collective "survivor's guilt." This shows in many aspects of their culture.
There are two forms of the Salkeyrn language, used in separate situations and contexts.
This is the "high" language. It is not used in common conversation or even in formal setings; rather it is reserved for art. Singing is done in Nilkeyrn, as is writing in the various forms of poetry and artistic prose common to the Salkeyri. Nilkeyrn is a much more flowing tongue than Heilkeyrn, with none of the harsh sounds found in its "common" cousin.
This is the tongue used in conversation, and in nearly every setting save for the artistic. It is interesting to note that while many races with "high" and "low" forms of their language use the "high" form in government proceedings and official documents, the Salkeyri use "Heilkeyrn" even in formal business.
- Noun Forms
- The common tongue, or Nilkeyrn, contains a number of different noun forms, which explains the variation in the race's name between one use and the next.
- Singular form. This is the basic or "root" noun, generally ending with a consonant but with no special ending of its own. Example: Salkeyr, referring to a single member of the Salkeyrn race.
- Plural form. This is used to refer to a group of subjects that does not represent the entirety of the overall category to which the subjects belong. It is used both with and without specified quantities, and places an a at the end of the word. Example: Salkeyra, referring to a group of individuals of the Salkeyrn race, or any number of them that does not represent the Salkeyri as a whole. Also harkhanda, which represents two or more members of the Salkeyrn warrior class but is not applied to the warrior class in its totality.
- Collective form. This is used when referring to the entirety of a group or category of being in existence, and is used only in reference to sentient beings (generally a race; a culture or heritage; or a particular subset of a race or culture). It ends the noun with an i. Examples include "Salkeyri"--the name referring to the Salkeyr race as a whole--and harkhandi, which refers to the warrior class of the Salkeyrn culture.
- Possessive Adjective form. While not truly a noun form, it follows a similar pattern as the plural and collective noun forms. It is used as an adjective to ascribe possession or origin to some noun. Because the ending letter is a consonant--the letter n--in many words it is preceded by a vowel, usually e. Two examples are Salkeyrn, referring to that which is rooted in or belongs to the Salkeyrn heritage or people; and harkhanden, used for what originates from or is characteristic of the Salkeyrn warrior class.
- A full Salkeyrn name contains four components:
- A gender-based prefix, either ar' or il'. The prefix ar' is masculine, and in this context denotes no more than that the bearer of the prefix is male. However, in other contexts it can carry a deeper meaning, as in the command-form name. Likewise, the prefix il' in this context simply indicates that the bearer is female, but can mean more in other contexts.
- A birth name, chosen by the parents and often combining elements of the parents' own birth names. It follows the prefix without any gap.
- A bridging element. This is a single syllable, usually with consonant sounds at both the beginning and the end of it. It is chosen for its sound, and ties the birth name to the chosen name. The bridging element is selected by the individual Salkeyr at the same time as the chosen name.
- The chosen name, selected at coming of age by the individual Salkeyr, by his or her peers, and by the Salkeyrn leadership to reflect the role they believe he or she is destined to play in the grand design of Vara. Chosen names are often similar to one another, but are never exactly identical; a registry is maintained of such names, and a chosen name becomes available again on the bearer's death unless the bearer has distinguished him or herself in a manner that drastically affects the Salkeyrn race. It is not at all unusual for a composer or poet's chosen name to be preserved rather than returned to circulation; a relatively few chosen names of warriors have been equally treated, and the name of any major Salkeyrn leader is thus preserved also.
- The Superior Form of address uses only the prefix and chosen name of a Salkeyr, discarding the birth name and bridging element. This form is used when addressing someone who has achieved far greater honor than oneself. For example, ar'Edabrel mar Tanel was often addressed using the superior form ar'Tanel.
- The Peer Form of address consists of the bridging element and the chosen name. The use of the addressee's rank or title with it is optional depending on the situation; if it is a professional matter, a title will be used, whereas in any other context it will not.
- Close friends and family will generally use an endearment form, consisting merely of the birth name or a variant thereof.
- Lovers and spouses will sometimes use the same type of endearment form as friends and family, but more often will call the other by his or her chosen name only, without even the bridging element--something that is considered highly disrespectful when anyone else uses it, as the common or peer form of address uses both the chosen name and the bridging element in conjunction. For instance, a colleague or peer would say mar Tanel, while a lover might simply say Tanel.
The Salkeyri are a highly introspective race. They take in every detail around them but rarely speak casually. For the most part, they are pacifistic, but recognize that those who do not live by the sword can still die by it. Thus, they do have a small but elite group of warriors known as the Harkhandi or "Swordwielders."
The Salkeyri tend toward inconcrete forms of art, such as literary works and especially music. However, many do have an eye for aesthetic appeal, and it is not uncommon for Salkeyrn to be excellent visual artists as well, though most visual works are devoid of color. Music tends toward the melancholy to outright depressing; however, a note of hope runs through most works. Single instruments and small groups of players are common, and it is in fact extremely rare to find a fully orchestrated piece among Salkyrie music.
The Salkeyri believe that all events are predestined to a great extent, but that there is some flexibility for the actions of individuals. However, they also believe that events are best kept in line with the course that is plotted. Above all, their religion centers around Vara, Fate, regarded as a living and eternal being. Vara is referred to as "She."
- It is important to not that Vara should not be confused with the Force. The Salkeyri acknowledge the Force and can study aspects of it, but regard it as a tool of Vara.
The Salkeyri have an affinity for technology, electronics, and design.
The Salkeyri are expert in the field of implanted bioelectronics, and it is not unusual for a Salkeyr to have hardware implanted around the eyes, ears, or elsewhere in the body to enhance the senses or help regulate body functions. They do not however use prosthetics or cybernetic limb replacements.
The Salkeyri are masters of artificial intelligence, and often may be linked mentally with an AI. This is referred to as "Impression." Each Salkeyrn AI has its own distinct personality and is in fact a sentient being in its own right.
Salkeyrn ships all contain AIs. When a Salkeyr shows an affinity for a particular class of craft, he or she is "chosen" to Impress a vessel of that class. Usually it is the ship that chooses the pilot. For instance, Redd "Herring" Bretan piloted a shuttle whose AI was named Sira. These "Impressed" plots were literally partners with their craft, and the vessel would only respond to his/her partner unless specifically told by the partner to allow a particular other being to pilot it. However, someone who was not the ship's partner could not pilot the ship as effectively as the partner could as the Impression link between ship and pilot allowed for unrivaled efficiency.
The Salkeyri have few weapons that are their own. However, the harkhandi had two trademark weapons:
- The harkhand katar was about three-quarters of a meter long, and sturdy. Given a good enough position and sufficient strength behind the blow, such katars could punch through several inches of durasteel without harm to the blade. Each harkhand carried two of these, which could have mailed gauntlets fastened to the hilts in for protection.
- Perhaps more distinctive was the polyscythe. These were carved kelp-root handles from which four curved blades of varying length sprang, locking into position to fight. Before a fight, the blades could be exchanged for blades of a length more useful for the coming battle; these blades ranged anywhere from a third of a meter, to a meter and a quarter. A polyscythe was usually carried by strapping it to the wielder's forearm, leaving the blades free to spring out when needed; the wielder often fought without ever removing the handle from its straps, leaving the hands free and the forearm with the appearance of having blades springing from it. However, the polyscythe could be wielded in the hand, usually gripped between the lock points for two of the blades.
- Many harkhandi also have personal weapons that are designed by them.