Intelligent minor race native to Prt'aow ( ????? / Spica ????), evolved from once-domesticated carnivore/pouncers. They are bipedal, but can move on all fours at greater speed. Averaging about 1 m in height and 25 to 30 kg in weight, their most distinguishing feature is a slight external resemblance to the Felidae (cats) of Terra ( Sol / Solomani Rim 1827), causing one observer to characterise them as "overgrown tomcats".

The main difference between the Prt' and their wild forebears are a greater overall body size, an enlarged cranium, and the development of the forepaw into a stubby-fingered hand, allowing the manufacture and use of tools. The greatest overall difference is, of course, their sapience.

The Prt' (pronounced "pert" with a rolled "r" and emphasis on the "t") were created by a race they call the Hasst'kor (lit. "those who came before"). Known only through legend, the Hasst'kor seem to have bio-engineered simple carnivore/pouncers for use as a servitor race. About -10,000 Imperial, the Hasst'kor were destroyed in an interplanetary war with their neighbours. The Prt' were left as the only intelligent life on the planet, their population drastically reduced by chemical assaults and the bio-plagues which eradicated their former masters. Taking to the wilds to avoid these hazards, the Prt' lived a brutish and primitive existence for millenia, slowly creating their own clan culture. Eventually, some clans ventured back into the ruins, and discovered some stockpiles of Hasst'kor technology. These "civilised" clans prospered, rising to TL 1 while the rest remained at TL 0.

About -2400 Imperial, a Hiver expedition discovered the planet. Contacting a few reckless clans, they decided to uplift the Prt' to a civilised level. Soon, the Prt' were accompanying the Hivers on scouting expeditions through the stars. To this day, despite somewhat violent ways, the Prt' remain very active on both Hiver exploration services.

Archaeological study of the Hasst'kor has revealed little. It is clear that the third and fourth planets were occupied by sentient races. Those of the third were the Hasst'kor, a race of roughly Solomani size and shape. More is not known; none of their likenesses have been found. Their technology was about TL 9, but without jump; however, their bio-tech was about TL 16. Of their mentality, the only demonstration is that of the fourth planet, stripped of life and pock-marked with craters. It is hypothesised that crude anti-matter ordnance was used to wipe out the race that lived there.

Prt' society is dominated by the clan system, similar to, but not as restrictive as Aslan clan hierarchy. Government is by a council of clan elders, who hold frequent meetings to decide policy for a population - a sporadic form of government. These elders also decide policy for their own clans, male elders making most of the decisions, with final approval coming from the females. Every Prt' of 60+ is automatically an elder; some are honoured with this status as young as 40 (usually for some great service). One small, specialised clan handles all the bureaucracy, including contact with off-worlders.

The planetary armed forces are also maintained by the clans, primarily being volunteer militia. Since the Hive Federation handles the defence of space, their primary function seems to be competition to determine which unit is the most impressive. These wargames also serve as the Prt' equivalent of organised sports.

One other event of interest is the Kha'i (rite of passage), a ritual combat that marks the entry of a male Prt' into adulthood. Held bi-annually between clans, adolescent males compete against one another to prove their strength and suitability as mates - a traditional function which still has influence on the females attending. Males not selected often leave their clans for a while to further prove their suitability by questing in unknown territory. This often translates into starfaring.

Prt'aow (lit. "Home") is a member of the Hive Federation, and Hiver influence is pervasive (for example, written Prt' uses Hiver idiographs). The Prt' can boast of their service to the Hiver Exploration Service . Their closest neighbours, the Solomani, retain friendly but patronising relations with them. On the whole, the Solomani are not favourites of the Prt', due to the Solomani view of them as large housecats. The Prt' are familiar with the Imperium, and many have gained Imperial citizenship through service with the IISS, a favourite career of questing Prt'.

Two entire clans have moved to the Aslan Hierate, serving as assistants to Aslan corporations and clans, usually as interpreters in human-Aslan meetings. The Aslan appreciate the Prt' ability to tolerate human insults and gaffes without becoming mortally insulted (they are still "touchy" from a human standpoint, however). Occasionally, Prt' have served as mediatiors between Aslan clans, being recognised as neutral parties.

(CHALLENGE-26, 1112)

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