(Note: This article concerns the Skiltaire alien species as it exists in the Furscape universe. While we do have some Skiltaire characters on the MUCK, requests for new Skiltaire characters are not being approved at this time. - Hagalaz)
The basic Skiltaire is a quadruped resembling a Pine Marten (Martes Martes), Stone Marten (Mustela Folna), or Sable (Mustela Sibellina) of Earth, but much larger – averaging about a meter and a half in length, of which a little over a third is tail, and massing about 40 to 50kg. (Males are about 10% larger than females.) The skull is slightly domed, with a proportionally-larger brain and “cute” facial proportions; two long antennae sprout from the forehead above the eyes, and the “forepaws” form actual hands with three short dextrous fingers and an opposable thumb. (Skiltaire can “periscope” up into a sitting position to use their hands; in such a posture, they are about the same height as a human sitting on the same surface.) Females have four small nipples on the lower torso; males have an animal-like sheathed penis and a prominent scrotum (faired-in like a mink or otter, not hanging down) below the base of the tail.
Belly fur is usually off-white; main fur color varies, though one or two contrasting lengthwise stripes run down the back from nose or forehead to tail-tip much like a Terry skunk; ears and paw “gloves” match the stripe color. Skiltaire fur is fine and silky, much like that of a mink or otter. All skiltaire have a characteristic musky odor, described as “like a spiced ferret.” Unlike true mustelids, they are monogamous, with long-term mated pairs bearing small litters every couple of years, depending on the local seasons; “skil-kits” grow to adulthood in 5-7 years, depending on local conditions, and live about 40-50 years under civilized conditions.
Arboreal: Land/tree dwelling, in the manner of a marten. Arboreal skiltaire have a bushy marten/skunk tail, larger ears, curlier antennae, and generally “warm” fur colors – earth- or vegetation-tones.
Aquatic: Water/shore dwelling, in the manner of a river otter. Aquatic skiltaire have an otter-like swimming tail, smaller ears, longer/straighter antennae, and generally “cool” coloration of greys and blues.
Electrogenerative: Skiltaire are able to generate and sense electricity; under their skin is a layer of electrogenative tissue, able to create a powerful pulsed DC current. This current can be channeled through exposed skin as an electroshock weapon to stun or kill prey or deliver a defensive shock to any predator which penetrates the skin. In addition, reciprocal shocking through interlinked antennae serves as a sexual stimulant during mating, leading to the term “zapping”; the antennae have a rough, sandpaper-like surface of micro-barbels to catch and hold the other's antennae.
Aquatic skiltaire make maximum use of this ability while swimming, projecting an electrical field through the water and sensing anomalies with their antennae; the surrounding water also transmits electric shock out ot a range of several meters, allowing maximum effectiveness as a offensive or defensive weapon. For this reason, aquatics are believed to be the ancestral form, and arboreals a later offshoot.
(Note: This concerns the history of the Skiltaire as related to Furscape MUCK. Anything happening outside of the context of the MUCK is considered non-canon for historical purposes. - Hagalaz.)
In 2203, a colony ship of unknown configuration arrived in Sol System. Tensions ran high at first, but peaceful contact was eventually established.
None of the Skiltaire crew could explain where they or their ship had originated, only that they had been travelling “for a very long, long time”. Attempts to examine the ship itself revealed technology that was equivalent to but incompatible with existing recom technology, and offered no clear advantages or disadvantages compared to existing tech (an SDF engineer was quoted as saying, “It's just different!”).
After a period of negotation between the Skiltaire and various planetary governments, an agreemment was struck allowing the Skiltaire to establish a colony on the largely-undeveloped Planet Amazon. While the Skiltaire were generally pleased with having their own place to explore and live, the combination of predatory animals and hostile vegetation proved to be a challenge even for them, and some Skiltaire opted to emigrate to more civilized places.
After struggling to create a viable colony on Amazon, in 2209 the Skiltaire decided to pack everything up and move on. They stripped all items of value and departed into deep space, searching for a planet that they considered more suitable. However, some Skiltaire stayed behind, choosing to integrate into recom society.
'Urban Skiltaire': These are Skiltaire who have integrated into recom society. Skiltaire have no specific culture of their own; instead, they adopt the culture they are raised in, with some exceptions and unique schticks.
'Wild Skiltaire': These were the Skiltaire who attempted to colonize Planet Amazon. They were formed into loose communities for self-defense and sharing of resources. As of this date, no wild Skiltaire are believed to remain in Known Space, the last of them either having departed on their colony ship or having assimilated into recom society.
The Skiltaire species is © Sy of Furscape (Mark Merlino). It was introduced in Furscape by Firepaws and others with the original artist's permission, then recently Sy joined Furscape himself.