|Description:||The K'kree (once called "Centaurs" by humans) are among the most massive of the major races and are the only one of the major races to be descended from herbivores. An adult k'kree stands about 1.5 meters at the shoulder and between 2.0 and 2.4 meters tall when standing erect. Weight averages 550 kg. They are bilaterally symmetrical, hexapedal, and homeothermic. They bear some resemblance to the centaurs of ancient Terran myth, a trait noted by the earliest human explorers.|
The arrangement of the manipulative organ (or hand) on the front limb is one of their most interesting features. Complex or cartilaginous tubes permit the fingers of the k'kree hand to telescope up out of the way when the hand is used as a weapon. Fully extended, the fingers are mutually opposable to each other and to the "thumb" which is in reality an extension of the ulna. The k'kree hand is very flexible but somewhat weaker in grasping power than the human hand.
Both sexes of the k'kree are covered with short gray to black fur and have a dense black mane covering the head, neck, and upper back. Unlike Terran mammals, the young are fed partially digested, regurgitated food instead of milk. Males average 15 percent to 20 percent larger than females.
K'kree are extremely conservative in all aspects of their culture. Ceremonial military units (such as bodyguards) are armed with equipment which k'kree military technology outdated centuries ago, and (aside from modifications made necessary by the discovery of spaceflight) the k'kree government has not changed significantly in centuries.
Because of their origins as plains-dwelling herd animals, k'kree are claustrophobes; they cannot stand to be enclosed. K'kree cities are clumps of low, broad, buildings; the interior is never more than one story in height, which allows the sky to be visible. Internal building divisions are achieved with curtains or tapestries.
K'kree are extremely gregarious. They are never found alone, and will quickly sicken and die if removed from other k'kree for any length of time. Receiving a trade or diplomatic delegation from the k'kree means entertaining the entire family (one or more wives, servants, scribes, assistants, etc.) of the merchant or the ambassador. The k'kree word for "my" refers to a possession of an individual's herd, not to that of an individual. Privacy and individuality are exotic and little understood concepts for the k'kree.
Society: K'kree society is divided into castes. The system is a remnant of ancient times which no longer fits k'kree culture perfectly, but the k'kree stick with it because it is traditional. There are hundreds of castes, but the distinctions are too faint for non-k'kree to understand. For simplicity, castes can be divided into three general groupings: noble, merchant, and servant. It is possible for a family to rise in caste, but this is a rare occurrence.
The lowest caste, the servants, has come to include farmers, factory workers, and unskilled laborers as well as servants for all classes.
The next higher caste, the merchants, includes most skilled workers, scientists, engineers, technicians, scribes, and government administrators, as well as merchants and businessmen.
Nobles are the governmental officials (the Krurruna and others), the high military officers, diplomats, and heads of trade and manufacturing concerns. Nobles are usually garbed in a much more ornate fashion than the lower castes.
Every male k'kree must serve a term in the military upon coming of age. Warriors are drawn from all castes; rank in the military is determined by the caste of origin (nobles enter the service as general officer trainees, merchants as lower officers and noncommissioned officers, etc.). Upon completing the required term of service, a warrior returns to his original caste and position. Warriors are the only k'kree permitted to bear weapons, and they are further distinguished by their peculiar flared and horned helmets. They serve as soldiers, police, firefighters, and bodyguards for diplomatic and mercantile expeditions.
Female k'kree are casteless, and take on the caste of their father or husband. Females have no position in government or society other than the rearing of young.
Government: The basis of K'kree government is rooted in the traditional herd system. The basic unit of government is the herd, which consists of thousands of individuals of all sexes, castes, and ages led by krurruna (literally: bosses) under a single steppelord.
In recent times, most herds have been assigned specific geographic areas (several may be assigned to a city or a single herd may be assigned millions of hectares of farmland). A number of herds are governed by a single "lord of steppelords" (usually the ruler of a planet); and the k'kree race as a whole is ruled by a "Steppelord of the 2000 Worlds."
K'kree Calendar: The K'kree calendar is based on the period of Kirur (the k'kree homeworld) around Gzang, its star. The k'kree Pim!bigr (year) is 439.56 standard days in length.
See also Two Thousand Worlds.