Shivats evolved on a fairly cold ammonia rich but water poor planet with a high atmospheric pressure named Shiva by humanity (the Shivat’s name for it being untranslatable). Originally many different species, the Shivats castes evolved together into a symbiotic super organism over the course of billions of years. Until one day they transformed into a space faring empire.
Shiva borne life’s biochemistry is radically different from earth biochemistry; being amonia based, breathing carbon dioxide and storing energy in organic-nitrate compounds rather than sugars. As such Shivats are not only incompatible with earth-biochemisty but require environmental suits to exist within its biosphere without harm.
Shivats vary vastly between the many different castes but certain elements are common to all. Shivats somewhat resemble earth insects, technically being beetles as they possess a hardened pair of wing on their back as well as two other pairs underneath.
All Shivats are brightly colored with green, red and yellow being the most common colors. They also and inhibit some level of bio-luminescence. Shivats have six limbs which vary in form and function across castes. Although Shivats have a carapace, they also possess a cartilaginous inner skeleton.
Shivats possess two systems of communication; auditory through mandible clickings and chirps and olfactory with special glands and antennae creating and interpreting messages for others to understand. Auditory communication is typically simplistic and is only used when olfactory is impossible either due to injury, the environment or distance. Shivats who make antennae contact can communicate massive amounts of complex information in very short periods of time.
Shivats of all castes are divided between three genders; Males, Queens and Workers.
Males are haploids and born from unfertilized eggs laid by queens. They are smaller than queens and workers of their caste and live only for a few years. Their only purpose being reproduction, male Shivats are weak and fairly unintelligent by Shivat standards.
Workers are the result of a fertilized egg which gives birth to a normal Shivats. Although both queens and workers begin their lives as identical larvae, workers do not receive the hormonal cocktail that would cause them to develop genitalia.
Queens are the result of worker larvae being feed hormonal cocktails which causes them to undergo sexual metamorphosis; gaining reproductive organs to store sperm as well as to create and lay eggs.
Although incorrectly called castes by earth scientists, the different types of Shivats are in reality different species of closely related beings which cannot reproduce together. The castes however all see themselves as being equally Shivats.
Warriors compose the bulk of Shivats encountered by humanity when the Shivat scout ship crash landed to earth in 2013 after being struct down by a superhero who panicked.
Warriors are large tall and bipedal. Although they technically have six limbs like all Shivats, warrior have had their middle limb deteriorate into vestigial ones. Warrior handle all manners of security and law within Shivat territories and fight enemies either using their natural strength or large weapons. Warriors cannot fly due to their bulk.
Laborers are large quadrupeds which are used for physical labors, such as digging and hauling. They are essentially living machines and have very little in term of intelligence.
A smaller caste, Artisans are quadrupeds the size of a German Shepard. They have fine dexterous limbs and are rather intelligent. Artisans handle fine work; such as the creation of goods and perform maintenance and construction.
Smartest of the Shivats, these small quadrupeds are the leaders of the Shivats in a sense as they handle planning, research and resource management. They however possess no true authority and must convince the other caste to cooperate with their plans for the good of the hive.
Smallest of the Shivats, Groomers are also the most numerous. They are hexaped and the size of a guinea pig. Groomers serve a purely social roles, handling the hygiene of the hive (taking care of filth and parasites, something most Shivats cannot do due to overspecialization) and also serving as personal companions. Virtually all Shivats have their own groomers whom they hold as the most important and sacred relationship they have. Groomer and other caste relationship are akin to chaste romantic relationship.
Honeypots are large hexapeds which were bred in ancient times for the purpose of storing nutrient for future use by fermenting and storing food in their crop. Although modern preservation methods have rendered them obsolete, the fermented product created by honeypots is considered a delicacy among Shivats.
Responsible for taking care of Larvae, Nurses are closely related to the artisan caste and share a similar appearance. Unlike artisans, they possess special glands capable of producing hormonal cocktails used aid larva develop which also serves to create queens.
One of the rarest caste, Coursers are small raccoon sized Shivats which can fly quickly and dexterously. In ancient times, Coursers served as scouts, messengers and sometimes aerial combatants but they have become less common in the Shivat space age, although they commonly are used by Groomers as taxis or to relay antenna-to-antenna messages.
Another rare caste; Spitters are hexapedal creatures capable of producing a natural acid within a secondary stomach which they violently project at attackers. With the advent of advanced ballistics, Spitters have become less common through the hives.
Shivat Life Cycle & Reproduction
Shivats begin their lives as eggs of various sizes which are incubated before hatching into larvae which are cared for by nurses until they have grown and gone through enough instar to enter metamorphosis. While undergoing metamorphosis, the pupa are carried to special chambers where they will remain for a period ranging to several earth months to several years depending on their caste. Once they have emerged from their metamorphosis, the newly mature Shivat is typically herded off to train for whatever duty it was breed for.
Most Shivats are fairly simple minded and generally focus on concrete events and ideas rather than ideals or abstract ideas. Shivats have also evolved to be workaholics, their brain secreting anti-stress hormones while working. Shivats are not naturally violent and typically only come into conflict over resources which have become a non-issue in the space age. Due to their extreme specialization and interdependence Shivats of all castes recognize each other as equals and in a way as siblings. The Shivats’ fanatical prioritization of the Hive’s need over the individual has had them interpreted as being some sort of communal hive mind but this is actually untrue. Shivats are all unique individuals.
Shivats have little in the way of individual dwellings, most simply having a chamber only large enough to hold them for the duration of their rest period as well as to keep their groomer safe and comfortable.
Shivat lives are dominated by work, due to their brain chemistry making them natural workaholics, Shivats typically spend little time on leisurely activities unless incapable of working. Most of a Shivat’s down time is occupied by rest and eating.
As Shivats have no sense of taste, Shivat food is purely practical. Mostly a mix of energy-filled organo-nitrates and proteins. However some Shivat enjoy the use of psychoactive substances, especially groomers, their assigned Shivats growing or acquiring the plants for them.
The Shivat auditory language has become notorious for its simplicity and limited vocabulary as well as its inability to convey complex concepts. The language relies heavily on prefix and typically lacks negatives, with the ‘un-‘ prefix affixed to words.
The Shivat language also lacks pronouns with individuals being referred with epithet, shivat-self, Shivat-unself or Shivat-untype.
Shivats are typically given long complex names representing their genealogy, brood number and birth number. These names are however rarely used between Shivats who refer to each other by caste or if more than one of a caste is present by birth number (should two Shivats of the same number be about, the brood number is added)
Humanity and Shivats have had very limited contacts with each other, the sole close contact originating when a Shivat scout ship entered earth orbit in 2013 only to be damaged by an anonymous superhero.
Most Shivats survived the crash and became temporary castaways for several months as Humanity sheltered them and aided in their ship’s reconstruction. The species of earth and the Shivats exchanged gifts such as plants, decorations and cultural bits before the Shivats were returned to the stars. All parahuman acquired information suggest that the Shivats have peaceful intentions and hold no grudge for the incident that lead them to earth.
Humanity gave the name of Shivats to the alien as it was an approximation of the clicks and chirps used to describe themselves