S'hmmhnn (Sss'hmmmmmhnnnnn), known by Cradians as the Smem (smEM), are an intellegent race from the planet Strok (known to Smem as Wmm'oenhmm). The very existence of the species is considered remarkable in most scientific circles, given the very difficult conditions that life would have to develop through.
Smem are species of two genders, with one major portion of the population being male and a very small number of females. In their tribal state the average life expectancy of a male would be around 30 Cradian years, while a female may live well into 80 years.
Given their introduction into many an advanced culture, males, given the right conditions, can live to a remarkable 200 (Cradian) years of age. Smem may appear too cumbersome and impractical to suit any sort of workplace application, but this could not be further from the truth. Smem are renowned for their reaction times and speed, many a starship bridge is home to incredibly capable Smem navigators.
Given the seemingly lifeless nature of Strok and the intensely rich mineral composition it had, the planet seemed perfect for intensive mining operations. A number of Galactic Independents (GIs) had been vying to set up their own depots, and after tense negotiation the six separate crews would work together to get the initial mining effort up and running. After developing the site a little, and harvesting a sample of the raw material, the GIs would be able to sell the planet and station to potential mining companies for an inflated price and split the earnings between each crew. However, these plans crumbled instantly upon the discovery of complicated life, the Smem.
Seeing potential in what was thought to be a cattle like species, they soon began rounding up the creatures. An attempt to make them carry and push weighty ore deposits into cargo boxes soon proved less than effective. The creatures would only frantically move around and try to remove themselves from their leashes. Eventually one Smem figured out how to unlock the holding pens which held at least 2000 of his kind. Soon, a stampede trampled a large portion of the crew who had been instructed to "find out what all that noise is about."
After a good 6 hours or so, when they were certain that the coast was clear, the GIs came streaming out of the depot to calculate damages. They soon heard an impossibly awful sound echoing across rocky crag and vibrating through the earth itself. The Smem were no longer visibly distressed as they were before, but the remaining crew had decided it best not to take any chances and quickly barricaded themselves in the depot. Their fortifications soon crumbled and the depot descended into disarray. Despite all this the Smem did not intentionally kill all of their would-be oppressors. Rather, the Smem had accidentally trampled much of the crew and captured the rest.
According to Smem accounts of the situation they had been trying to get back to the females of their species. Females who required considerable attention from the males in order for their survival. Given the length of time the males had been captured, by the time they had returned to their dens most had perished. Their kind had never experienced loss on such a scale, and while individual dens remained separate most of the time, they were unified in their Óuhmm (See: Emotion). They stormed the mining depot looking for answers. Questioning the strange creatures resulted in even more confusion; however, the Cradians specifically were very responsive to the direction Smem limbs went and what they pointed at. Soon the Smem developed a rudimentary language of pointing at things and touching the lifeform they wanted to communicate with. Given the huge number of males now without a home or a female to serve, the depot was soon adopted as a makeshift den. During this time death rates were quite high, 704 of the 2000 original captives died through their 'Ohnn Ohnn Ohnn Óh' or 'Wife shame' as it has come to be known in Cradian concepts.
To preserve the dwindling numbers they had left, the S'hmmhnn traveled further than ever before to find incredibly remote dens and request of them the birth of more females. During the time it took for these new females to develop and grow (14 months to sexually mature), conflict between the offworlders and the Smem subsided and the remaining crew were allowed to maintain the station. By watching them, the Smem eventually learned how to maintain and use the station themselves and did so with remarkable efficiency. Enjoying the storm proof architecture of the station, Smem communicated (poorly) to the remaining crew that they would quite like more of these 'buildings'. A deal was settled and eventually Strok developed into a powerful mining industry. Smem birthrates were higher which meant more went and sought fortune to bring back to their female by working in the mines. Some Smem even helped the GIs as new crew members to bring back resources to the planet.
BiologyEditS'hmmhnn are a seemingly bizarre construct given their homeworld of origin. The majority of their population is male, commonly known as husbands. A husband is sturdy, durable and towers over the average Cradian. They have four thick legs with concave hooves which they can use as suction cups. Their 'head' region is considerably flatter and more hollow than their solid because of the windy nature of their world. When a powerful gust blew past a creature unadapted for life on Strok, the creature would more than likely fall over. A Smem would simply turn so that less surface area made contact with the full on blast of wind. Their heavy lower torso contains a large heart and brain, and grants a low center of gravity, which helps maintain a stable posture.
The mouth, unlike that of a Cradian's has a different purpose. Rather than having a lower mandible for mastication, the upper and lower 'jaws' are more effectively lids for the inner tendrils, which are integral to the survival of a Husband. The upper jaw is the only part of the mouth which has any real muscular power behind it, the two lower jaws are essentially flaps of skin that fold back to allow the tendrils to reach their full distance.
There are five tendrils within the mouth cavern of a Smem. The singular and longest limb is known as the Tenophallica, and acts as the main 'hand' and is generally the first used when hunting. Husbands also use this limb to reproduce. If selected by the Wife, a Husband must scoop the digesting tissue from within himself and place it in a nourishment chamber within the Wife. The tendril naturally secretes a liquid that will then fertilise an egg within the chamber. The second kind of limb comes in a pair, these work for grappling with prey and lifting them into the central cavity. The final pair are an oddity compared to the rest of the tendrils. The presence of almost digit like appendages means that they are capable of tearing and breaking up tissue. They are generally not seen outside of the mouth as they are too short for hunting or lifting.
Smem are in possession of 6 eyes, why this is so is not fully understood. In theory the way the mouth can cover up the first eyes, may have lead somehow to the evolution of eyes that grew further out. Instead of simply developing further out eyes, a mutation led to them retaining eyes in their original places, effectively tripling the vision of the Smem species.
The heart and brain are highly interconnected and actually the same organ, resulting in easier communication between throughout the body via capillaries. S'hmmhnn expressions of emotion are as a result dependent on the flow of blood throughout the 'face' region.
Given the intensely alien nature of the Smem, many species are usually at odds when trying to communicate with them. It is very unproductive for a Husband to attempt learning the language of another species as they don't possess vocal chords, but rather a vibrating diaphragm known as a vibrophragm. Smem language is based on the connection, layering and order of humming sounds that the S'hmmhnn vibrophragm can produce. As conversations between contemporary Husbands may span several hours and most species find the language incredibly difficult to grasp, a device known as the Smem Suit was designed to make Smem lives easier.