- Chakamil -

An overview and history of the breed by John Plunkett.


The Chakamil (short for Chakat, Military Specification) is a breed of Chakat illegally created by the Federation Science Corps in anticipation of an invasion of New Mordor, the Sauron prison colony planet.

* Description *

The most visible difference between a Chakat and a Chakamil are in the tail and forepaws. The Chakamil sacrifices dexterity in the forepaw digits in return for a set of retractable claws. The "thumb" digit is still present and suffers no loss of dexterity; it's equipped with a small, non-retractable claw. Chakamil forepaws are still capable of grasping, after the fashion of a humanoid hand in heavy mittens.

Chakamil tails tend to be short. The designers chose genus lynx as a base, so purebred Chakamils resemble lynxes or bobcats. (It's said the choice was inspired by the old saying about licking one's weight in wildcats. There's no evidence to support that story, but none to refute it either.) There are also Chakats with lynx patterning, complete with short tails, so coat patterning is not by itself diagnostic.

More subtly, Chakamils tend to be leaner and more muscular than Chakats. Chakamils, on average, have smaller breasts and less body fat overall. In strength and dexterity, Chakamils are much the same as Chakats; Chakamils have (relatively) improved endurance and pain tolerance.

Chakamils can interbreed with Chakats. Genetically, Chakamils are more than just a race of Chakat but not quite a separate species. Hybrids may resemble either parent, or have blended features. Submerged characteristics may abruptly manifest in later generations. (For example, a Chakat cub may be born with clawed forepaws even though neither parent expressed that feature.)

* Personality *

Compared to Chakats, Chakamils are less social and more aggressive, though not so much as to exceed Terran norms. If Chakats can be said to have essentially feminine personalities, Chakamils are essentially masculine. Even in female phase, Chakamils tend to be rather "butch."

* Psionic Abilities *

The genetic factors which led to the Chakat empathic ability were not at the time well understood (and still aren't, even today). The project scientists did express concerns over how empathic sensitivity would affect the Chakamils' suitability as soldiers, but didn't know how to mitigate it. Given the time constraints under which the project operated, it was decided to address the issue in training.

As it turned out, Chakamils did not express Chakat style empathic sensitivity. Why this happened was never researched. It was speculated that Chakamils had psionic potential but it manifested differently. Certain individuals did express a "danger sense," where they seemed to know beforehand when a threat would strike. Others showed an uncanny ability to anticipate an enemy's actions. Still others developed stealth skills that bordered on the supernatural. Whether there is an actual, qualitative difference between Chakat and Chakamil psionic potentials was never researched and is not known. It may be that the Talents Chakamils did express came in response to their military training regimen.

Documents retrieved from the Psi Corps after the collapse of the Orwell Operation indicate that Chakamils have the same overall psionic potential as Chakats. The difference in expressed abilities, the documents say, stem in small part from genetic variance and to larger degree from training. One may infer that a Chakamil raised as a Chakat would develop an ability very similar to, but not quite the same as, Chakat empathy. These results have not been tested or reviewed by the scientific community, so their validity is uncertain. Also, the issue of hybridization (mixing Chakat and Chakamil genes) was not addressed. What abilities might emerge in an individual with mixed ancestry is not known.

* History *

The Chakamil came into existence as a direct result of the Sauron Insurrection (2215 to 2230, though the underlying problems had existed since the Gene Wars and persisted for a while afterward).

The Sauron are a special type of war-beast created near the end of the Gene Wars. They exactly resemble ordinary Terrans, with no special mods except for one: their bodies manufacture. Their purpose was to spread disease among enemy populations, moving invisibly among their victims until the outbreak took root. The disease itself wasn't unduly virulent, but each time two Sauron came into intimate contact, the genetic profile of each one's plague would change. (All that's needed is mucous membrane contact, so open-mouthed kissing can trigger a change.) The target population would be overwhelmed by successive waves of outbreak, since vaccines developed for previous iterations wouldn't work on later ones.

Why anyone would create such a thing is open to debate; records from that period are lost. It's generally accepted that the Sauron were a vengeance weapon, intended to cause as much harm as possible at a point when the creator's survival no longer mattered. If so, the Sauron succeeded amazingly; over the course of the Gene Wars, 95% of the global population died.

[Footnote: today, much is made of the "20G," referring to the fact that 20 billion people died over the course of the Gene Wars. Despite what supporters of Earth for Humanity say, the number is largely conjectural, based on estimations of Terra's global population in the middle to late 21st century. It's also worth noting that they didn't all die at once; global population declined precipitously over a span of roughly 50 years; most of the deaths resulted from social and economic breakdown rather than direct military action. Most notably, the total population figure doesn't distinguish between Homo Sapiens and genetically engineered species. Though it is indisputably true that Homo Sapiens suffered the brunt of it: at the height of the Gene Wars recombinants represented a statistically insignificant percentage of the total population, but by the time Reconstruction began, they comprised roughly 18% of the total.]

Controlling the outbreaks devolved to a matter of simple survival: if it couldn't be done, humanity might easily become extinct. This prompted draconian and inhumane measures, up to and including the infamous General Order 418 which stripped Sauron of all rights and legal protections. Humanity did survive but at a fearful cost: millions of Sauron were rounded up and slaughtered like diseased animals, along with a great many others who were never tested to see whether they were or not. Mostly, anyone accused of being Sauron was killed out of hand and no attempt was ever made to validate the charges.

As the United Nations of Terra World Government established authority over the globe, Sauron killings were stopped. The detrimental effects on law and order ultimately outweighed the advantages in controlling disease. Sauron were instead kept in remote internment facilities. (Although General Order 418 was never formally rescinded, a fact which led to trouble later on.) The ongoing cost of the facilities troubled UNTWG, which sought other solutions. The Sauron disease-making mechanism could be disabled, but at the cost of making the individual sickly and sterile. The Sauron saw this as slow-acting genocide, prompting rebellions and breakouts. Eventually, in 2173, UNTWG took the internment policy to its logical conclusion by transferring the Sauron to a colony world reserved just for them. The Sauron were provided with standard supplies and allowed to establish the colony as they saw fit, with no external interference, but with one proviso: no contact with any other planet was permitted. The Sauron were confined in perpetuity to this one world, which came to be called New Mordor. As more Sauron were identified or came forward, they were also sent to New Mordor.

Though far more humane than previous solutions, the New Mordor colony was seen by many Sauron as an attempt by UNTWG to concentrate all the Sauron so they could be exterminated in one fell swoop. This belief led to the "spider highway," a program of smuggling Sauron off New Mordor and planting them in hidden colonies all over the Terran Colonial Expansion Zone. These colonies generally supported themselves through piracy, and if a legitimate colony set up nearby, the settlers would succumb to plagues. Star Fleet pursued an escalating series of operations against these activities, culminating with the blockade of New Mordor in 2215.

The blockade resulted from a realization by Star Fleet that the spider highway could only be effectively cut off at its source. Merely interdicting the colony didn't help, however; pirate colonies already established elsewhere ran the blockade and kept smuggling people off-planet. That left Star Fleet facing the very eventuality they'd hoped to avoid: having to place an occupation force on the ground.

Medical science had improved considerably by then; it was at least possible for an invasion force to operate within the highly contaminated environment of the colony without all the soldiers dying of disease. Still, the cost would be exorbitant, both medically and in lives, without even considering the normal costs of fighting what would inevitably degenerate into a protracted guerrilla war.

The easy, obvious solution would be to field a force of non-Terrans, who wouldn't be affected by the plagues. UNTWG approached the Federation but was rebuffed; the other Federation members (Voxxa in particular) had expended enormous capital and labor on Terra's reconstruction and declined to invest any more, particularly in what they saw as a needless and cruel solution. They offered to mediate between UNTWG and the Sauron, and were in turn rebuffed.

(Voxxa was at the time courting the Damocles Hegemony, which strenuously opposed UNTWG's policy in dealing with the Sauron issue. Also, the Voxxan people were having some difficulty adapting to the Federation, which at the time hadn't existed for very long. Many Voxxans felt that Voxxa had surrendered its preeminent position in favor of coddling backward foreigners. Sending a Voxxan occupation force to New Mordor would have been political suicide for any leader who proposed it.)

Among UNTWG's own population the only reasonable candidates were former war-beasts or Chakats. Of those, Chakats were the best suited physically; only they had been specifically designed to resist Sauron plagues. Reaction in the Chakat community to the prospect of an all-Chakat invasion force was overwhelmingly negative. The community disapproved of UNTWG's Sauron policy; like the Voxxans they felt negotiation to be the best course. The community disliked the prospect of "militarizing" Chakats; even if only a portion of the Chakat population ever served it would attach a "war-beast" stigma to the entire population which Chakats as a whole had strove mightily to avoid (not to mention running directly against the wishes of the Turners). Finally, allowing people to be selected for military service based on racial characteristics - particularly when those characteristics had been genetically installed at some previous point - would do serious, possibly irreparable, harm to the rights of genetically engineered people.

The idea didn't fare any better among the war-beasts. Over the years they'd suffered greatly from prejudice, hatred, and violence; it was felt that letting UNTWG use them in this way would wipe out all their gains. Also, in many cases Chakat organizers got to them first and stirred up opposition. UNTWG did obtain some volunteers but not nearly enough.

All this left UNTWG in a most unenviable position. The cost of maintaining New Mordor, including the blockade, was exorbitant. The cost to the Terran Dominion in lost colonial development, and the cost to UNTWG in lost credibility, were incalculable. Even the Federation cracked under the strain; the High Council had become bitterly divided. Motions were floated to impose sanctions on UNTWG or even expel Terra from the Federation entirely.

Terra itself had also become bitterly divided. The Chakat community's refusal to participate in a military solution to the "Sauron question" was seen in certain areas as proof that Chakats secretly planned to let "true" Terrans die out so that Chakats (and other genetically engineered species) could take over. On the other side, it was felt that UNTWG's actions showed it had never really intended to follow through on its promises of peace and equality between "natural Terrans" and "engineered Terrans."

(This is where the modern Earth for Humanity movement began. Proponents trace the group's origins back to the Gene Wars, and some even further - to organizations such as the Klu Klux Klan - but before the Sauron Insurrection, Earth for Humanity was a collection of scattered and largely isolated protestors, nothing at all like the unified, organized, and motivated political force it subsequently became.)

All these things help to explain why UNTWG thought it worthwhile to try creating a new type of war-beast, particularly one based on Chakats. The gruesome publicity that would inevitably result even from the best possible outcome was seen as the lesser evil.

So it came to pass that, in 2220, Project GRAPPLE began. Science Corps personnel and resources were used, but in such a way as to keep the project secret even from the rest of the Corps. The use of Chakats as the base pattern was never questioned; creating a new race from scratch would take too long and of the extant types, Chakats were clearly the best suited. Moreover, all the original research notes from the Chakat Genome Project still existed, giving the GRAPPLE researchers an excellent guide for how to make the necessary modifications. (Such information was almost never available for other earlier species.)

Baseline genetic samples were secretly collected from hundreds of Chakats, generally under the guise of routine medical testing. These samples were blended so the resulting pattern couldn't be traced to any particular individual or family. The forepaw modifications were done so that Chakamils could walk farther and carry heavier loads; the claws themselves were not seen as militarily significant. The Chakamils' slender, wiry build emerged from hormonal adjustments designed to increase endurance and pain tolerance. Creating a more "military" mind-set was accomplished by adjusting the brain development optimizations originally done by the Turners to create the Chakat personality. The personality alterations did have some unplanned side effects (SEE Psionic Abilities, above).

That Chakamils are genetically compatible with Chakats was entirely intentional. It would (it was hoped) ease integration of Chakamils into the civilian population when they rotated out of the service. It would also deflect accusations of violating Federation law by creating new war-beasts. Chakamils, the argument went, were simply optimized Chakats, and not a new species at all.

The actual manufacture of Chakamils took place in a series of 18 underground creches hidden away in the wilds of Tasmania. (They were numbered #1 to #20; for various reasons #15 and #19 were never built.) In order to reduce the chances of accidental detection, the creches had self-contained power and life support; UNTWG considered it vitally important that the project not be discovered early. (The PR fallout would be bad enough already without adding to it.)

Everything proceeded apace until 2223, when the Three Firms Scandal erupted. The enormous outcry - particularly on the part of the Chakat community - convinced UNTWG that the backlash against Project GRAPPLE would be vastly worse than expected. There ensued a hasty effort to close the project and destroy all the evidence... including the Chakamils themselves. Each creche had been rigged with a self-destruct feature that would sterilize it in case of biological outbreak; these mechanisms were triggered with the Chakamils (and some project staff) still locked inside.

That should have been the end, but it wasn't. An unknown number of Chakamils escaped while Project GRAPPLE was still in operation; the training included above-ground exercises and some individuals just walked off and never returned. A few were recovered and others let go. Project leaders feared that pursuing escapees too vigorously risked drawing attention to the project.

Additionally, because of a clerical error, Creche #20 was never sterilized. The occupants knew they were in trouble and remained hidden; in fact the community survived for 80 odd years until it was accidentally discovered by Keith Walker and Chakat Dawnfire. The Chakamils were going to kill them; they managed to escape but in the process inadvertently triggered the self-destruct mechanism. That brought a sad close to a sad chapter in history, but even that wasn't the end of it. Over the years numerous individuals had trickled out Creche #20 and many of them integrated with the general population. So the Chakamil survived and flourished, despite many efforts to the contrary.

* Specific Chakamils *

Penta, the father of Chakat Darkstar, was a first generation Chakamil who escaped from Project GRAPPLE before its conclusion. Shi was found by a Chakat extended family vacationing in Tasmania and adopted by the community. Later on, when an opportunity arose to invest in the Chakona colony, Penta blackmailed the Science Corps into buying hir a large stake.

Darkstar, Penta's eldest daughter, is a Chakamil hybrid (half Chakamil, half Chakat). Nevertheless shi is classic Chakamil in appearance; in fact shi is practically a carbon copy of hir father.

Despite appearances, Darkstar does indeed have a fairly strong Talent. It manifests as a preternatural ability to anticipate an enemy's actions in combat and occasionally to foresee the unexpected. The ability only seems to work well in combat situations. Only occasionally does shi feel empathic connections with other Chakats, and dimly at that. This is why she generally avoids other Chakats, preferring solitude or the company of non-Chakats.

Schwartzchild and Corona, Darkstar's sisters, both looked like regular Chakats (except that Corona had forepaw claws) and most strongly resembled Longstride, their mother.

Darkstar's daughter Marla was one quarter Chakamil, hir mother being a true Chakat. Marla's appearance was entirely typical for a Chakat, with no external Chakamil qualities whatsoever. Nonetheless shi expressed a pure Chakamil personality, which hir family proved ultimately unable to handle and led to hir eventually running away from home.

Marla's daughter Aurora is technically 3/8 Chakamil (hir father was half Chakamil, like Darkstar). Aurora has a wiry build, more slender than a typical Chakat but not so lean as hir grandmother Darkstar. Aurora has forepaw claws; otherwise hir appearance is entirely Chakat, including a long tail. Hir personality is roughly 50% to 75% Chakamil.

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