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Skrell society has always placed a special significance on the bonds between an individual and the people they interact with. The shift from regional dialects to Nral’Malic saw a change in the words used to describe these ties, but the feelings they convey have remained the same for much of history. The concept of partnerships whether fraternal, platonic, or appreciative carry with them a weight that has only grown over the recent centuries.
The Nral’Malic language begins each name for a partnership with the same root word, Qu. This word signifies a partnership or a shared bond with another person, with correlations to gravitational orbits. Qu often means Star, and when followed by qualifiers can mean many things in orbit. These qualifiers specify the nature of the partnership which the phrase is describing. The following are a few of the more commonly used utilizations of Qu, however you are free to create any to fit a relationship if these don't work.
On the other hand, Skrell also hold relationships with a negative bond, each name beginning with the root word Lu. This often means Void, Vacuum, or Abyss signalling a near-complete lack of light in the partnership.
Qu'Poxii - Starlover, Starlight
The Skrell term for a person who is a chosen partner, friend, and mate. The romantic love Skrell feel can be rather unpredictable, comparable to the tides of the sea. Typically, the formation of Qu'Poxii heavily depends on the feelings of the Skrell in question. Some Skrell can spot their Qu'Poxii within a week of meeting someone, others may take several decades to fully probe every aspect of the person before calling themselves ready. Likewise, these bonds can have members temporarily or even permanently bow out depending on the 'tides of the heart' as well, this carrying no shame at all. Those who choose to become Qu'Poxii are not restricted to only two Skrell, a group of Qu'Poxii being known as a romantic union, or Quya. Polyamory is commonplace with those who have had strong connections with each other for years, often best friend groups will eventually elevate their relationship to this level simply out of necessity to reproduce and how close they have come to each other. Quya often involve deciding to create children with the others involved, where those in the relationship will raise the child until they leave for school.
Lu'Poxii - Abysslover, Voidlight
Lu'Poxii is a term for a person who is a rival, and potent arch-nemesis. This is not just any hatred, it's a special non-platonic form. A Lu'Poxii thrives on rivalry, and the purpose of this relationship, when healthy, is to grow, as well as one-up each other. Admiration of the others' positive aspects and abilities is required, not only annoyance at their negative qualities. Lu'Poxii often fail when one partner is frequently better than the other and gets no challenge out of it. Tormenting, taunting, and terrorizing ones' Lu'Poxii is fully acceptable in this dance of antagonism, but doing irreversible harm to them is unwanted, least of which because one would be much less happy without a rival to challenge them. Oddly enough to other races, Lu'Poxii are just as capable of living under one roof as a Qu'Poxii, the same affectionate gestures often being used. It is somewhat complicated for multiple Lu'Poxii to come together in a relationship like this, but it is not unheard of.
Qu'Kaax - Stardancer, Satellite
The term most commonly used to refer to a valued or treasured coworker. In sharing common goals, proximity, and interests, many Skrell come to feel a special connection with the people they work with closely.
Lu'Kaax - Abyssdancer, Vacuum
This is a term for workplace rivalries, often more of a pact than a one-sided dislike. A Lu'Kaax would be a coworker you care nothing for, only for outdoing, surpassing, or jockeying for their position. Sabotage, only if it happens to be discovered, is highly taboo.
Qu'Nioh - Moon
This word is used most in junction with the Human word “friend” but denotes a very specific form of friendship. Oftentimes, a person who is referred to as one’s “Qu’Nioh” is someone who the speaker did not expect to form a bond with but has come to value highly. This can be for a number of reasons ranging from an initial mutual disdain to a simple perceived lack of convenience or statistical unlikelihood. This expression was especially prevalent shortly after first contact as Skrell referred to their new acquaintances of the previously unknown Human race. Among the most common literal translations: “A dear friend who was earned” and “An unexpected friend.”
Lu'Nioh - Stardust
This sort of relationship is an unexpected dislike. Oftentimes, a Lu'Nioh is someone one expected to be fond of, perhaps even a budding Qu'Nioh, but something about their life has proven abhorrent/reprehensible/disgusting enough to where reconciliation or a deeper relationship is impossible. This does not typically feature any hatred or opposition but does not have an ounce of support.
Qu'Pluux - Comet
This phrase refers to a bond one has formed due to situational circumstances. The word “Pluux” in this context conveys a temporary partnership, but this not always meant to be negative. This situation is seen as transitional, leading to longer-lasting bonds after sufficient time has passed. This could refer to a business partner one is currently working with, a former rival one is patching things up with, a relative stranger one is becoming acquainted with, or a valued friend one feels distanced from.
Lu'Pluux - Singularity
This bond is also born of situational circumstances, but this is a temporary hatred. Humans would consider this much like a grudge, though in a Lu'Pluux it is much deeper. While this relationship is just as temporary as its' positive counterpart, the long lifespans and keen memories of Skrell can mean a Lu'Pluux can last decades, if not hundreds of years. It is characterized by not angry outburst hatred, but a continuous stream of resentment. It can develop to the point of hating everything associated with them, even their lineage.
Qu'Draa - Starchild, Starblood
This is a bond by resemblance or familial love. “Draa” in this case refers to one’s family foundations, like mother, father, siblings, caretaker, etc. “Qu’Draa” is a broad catch-all term that applies to both near and distant relatives, as well as those like family.
Lu'Draa - Abysschild, Voidblood
Familial love is nearly the default for Skrell, especially in times where there's a shortage of children. However, there are cases of Lu'Draa, which is not a hatred, but simply a complete lack of empathy or positive feelings towards a family member. Some call this a 'brown dwarf', named after a stage stars undergo where the planets around them do not even rotate.
Instead of marrying like humans do, Skrell prefer to unite into romantic unions, or Quya as it is called in Nral'Malic. These unions may include anywhere from two to twelve or more Qu'Poxii, and can even be legally registered and named. Leaving, joining and re-joining such a union is a quick and easy process, and there is no shame in a union disbanding or members of it going in and out. The name of the union might be adorned as a name suffix (e.g. for Jorgan Lunux, making it Jorgan Lunux'Shana from a union named Shana'Fedas), but due to the inconsistent nature of Quya, this is only rarely done, usually after a J’ox’a has been performed.
Skrell dating is unique in the fact that skrell do not base their perception and preferences on sex or gender, being hermaphroditic. The proto-skrell would often choose their partner based on the height they could reach while presenting themselves, signifying both physical ability and mental bravery. Nowadays Skrell simply chooses based on their personal preference. However, due to the highly complicated and sophisticated way that Skrell engage with each other, a ritual developed in early skrell history. Titled the J'ox'a, or directly translated, “Duel”, this ritual is both very complex and very simple. After arranging a specific time and hour, two skrell meet and begin a simple exchange of words. To outsiders, it may seem like a game, but in reality, the two skrell are peeling back each other's mental layers. Through light nuances in headtail movements, psychic reverberation and voice intonations, the skrell truly establish their relationships.
The J’ox’a is not taken lightly, as there is no lying or misunderstanding in the J’ox’a. Once it has ended, the two skrell will know exactly where they stand with each other, or if one of them was misleading the other. And through the J’ox’a they also establish which of them will be the F'ex'Qa or Egg-Cogenitors and F'ex'Tra or Egg-Progenitors if their relationship is to progress into reproduction. These two designations are usually temporary for the duration of the reproduction and can change over time.
Romantically, physical affection is hugely important to Skrell. It is typical of Skrell families and friends to cuddle, hug, and otherwise be very affectionate without romantic intent. Coworkers will often work in extremely close proximity, which can make other species working with a large group of Skrell uncomfortable. As affection shifts from platonic to romantic, psionic affection bolsters physical affection. Intimate moments are very emotionally stimulating for the species, particularly with other psychics; it is known for individuals in a Quya to mutually, telepathically share the sensation of warmth, comfort and safety with each other to amplify the emotional feedback from physical bonding to often overwhelming levels.
The dating of other species is notoriously difficult for a Skrell to deal with. While they have no inbuilt qualms about dating outside of their species, it is comparable to singing opera to a man deaf in one ear. It is difficult for Skrell, with their highly keen emotions and psionic communication, to connect meaningfully to other races in a romantic capacity. Likewise, it is impossible for a non-skrell to engage in a J’ox’a. As well, being aware of current medical technology, they would outlive three or more humans in one Skrell lifespan. However, this has not stopped many Skrell from trying to make the best of it anyway. Skrell typically do not place much importance on physical appearance, or other such biological aspects, mostly caring about emotions and personality when selecting a partner. However, it has been somewhat difficult for Listeners to find romance with Receivers, being seen as somewhat shifty.
Children are still rare in Skrell societies due to the Genophage, and the birth of one is often regarded as an extremely joyous occasion for a lot of people even outside the union itself. Skrell are very enthusiastic to take care of them, and often treat children as a personal project and creation in which every member of the newly-born family is very deeply involved. Parents constantly over watch over their child, steering, guiding and being protective of them every single step of the way. To humans, it may appear as a horrible authoritarian grip. For Skrell, however, this is completely healthy and normal - the few children that the Federation gets should not be wasted, but instead be carefully grown into model citizens occupying desirable and needed roles in society. Children themselves understand this as well, and only occasionally try to resist, instead choosing to trust the ones who watch over them.
This, however, is only an ideal of a Skrell family that is not always attained. The fewer members there are in the union, the less opportunities there are to watch over a child, and because of it, they can be occasionally left to their own devices, developing independently. This is viewed as undesirable, and unions that want to reproduce often want to get as many members as possible.
Children tend to live with their big families for a very long time, only leaving after they reach full adulthood at 30-50 years, after graduating two colleges.
Qrri'Myaq - Mentor
The Qrri'Myaq are the Skrell designated as the primary caretaker of a particular tadpole, whether or not if they are biologically related to said tadpole. They are tasked with teaching and facilitating the integration of a tadpole into skrellian society, essentially tutoring them in order to sprout characteristics deemed necessary for a model citizen. In old skrellian, it directly translates to "Guru" or "Teacher". This relationship is considered sacred, and a right for all Skrell to have.
Qraa'Myaq - Caretaker
The Qraa'Myaq are the secondary caretakers of a particular tadpole, again, whether or not they are biologically related to said tadpole. They offer both financial and material support, and oftentimes emotional support during the later stages of the skrellian juvenile period. In old skrellian, it directly translates to "Guardian" or "Caretaker" and is essential for any family unit to function efficiently.
Qrra'Myaqq - Kin/Siblings
Qrra'Myaqq are the siblings of a tadpole, which whilst common before the X'oa are far more rare nowadays. The stripping of skrellian fertility has proven for many Quya to actually be without Qrr'Myaqq, resulting in tadpoles really only bonding with their Qrri'Myaq. Those that do have Qrra'Myaqq find themselves much closer to one another than human siblings, due to the bilateral familial structure of a Quya. In ancient skrellian, it directly translates to "Tidebonded" or "Bloodbonded" in reference to sharing the same parents, or lineage.
Qrra'Myaqi - Elder Kin/Siblings
The Qrra'Myaqi are the siblings of a Skrell's caretaker, be it Qrri'Myaq or Qraa'Myaq. They are essentially the "Uncles and Aunts" of skrellian society. They do not have the same duties as a Qraa'Myaq or Qrri'Myaq, and are largely considered to simply be a way of identifying "clutches" or family units in skrellian society. In ancient skrellian, it directly translated to "Firebonded" or "Clutchbonded" in reference to sharing the same blood or hearth of an abode.
Myaq'Lak - Elder Caretaker
The Myaq'Lak are the caretakers of a Skrell's caretakers, be it either Qrri'Myaq or Qraa'Myaq. They are the "Grandparents" of skrellian society and share many of the same duties of a Skrell's actually caretakers. The role of Myaq'Lak is highly sacred and honourable, and those able to garner such a role, especially after X'oa, are revered within their familiar clutches. They are tasked with passing down the knowledge from their ancestors to their descendants, usually in the form of song or poetry. In ancient skrellian, it directly translates to "Lorekeeper" or "Wise One" in reference to passing down knowledge from ancient times.