Galactic Encyclopedia of Lifeforms: the Umbral

The Umbral:

One of the more recent races to be enslaved by the Kthid, Umbrals are winged sentients native to the night side of their world. Orbiting a red dwarf star, their home planet, whose name translates roughly to “half shadow” or Penumbra, is a tidally locked “eyeball planet”, with one side permanently facing the star and the other remaining dark. Umbrals evolved on the dark side, and it is believed that their ancestors were predators that hunted in a manner similar to Terran owls, swooping down out of the sky to attack prey. Following the pattern observed in all species the HEF has encountered so far, Umbrals are humanoid with mammalian physical traits, though they are notably hexapedal, with large, membranous wings allowing powered flight. Evolution in the darkness has produced other stark physical differences from humans, including a lack of skin pigmentation and eyes that are both highly sensitive to light on the orange-red end of the visible spectrum, and can perceive near and thermal infrared frequencies, allowing them to track prey in the darkness by its body heat.

Umbrals also display a prominent level of sexual dimorphism. Females range from 6 to over 6.5 feet tall and are powerfully muscled, while males averaged just three quarters of that height and were far more gracile. Presumably because of this dimorphism, Umbral gender roles featured females as hunters, warriors and leaders, and males tending toward intellectual or artistic pursuits. Female Umbrals were also extremely, even violently, protective of males, a trait which resulted in intense racial trauma during the Kthid harvest.

While significantly behind Falirans and humans, Umbrals nonetheless boasted a technologically advanced civilization, with efficient nuclear power, electromagnetic and particle weapons, and spaceflight. While they had not achieved interstellar flight when the Kthid arrived, they had built a number of toroidal space habitats in orbit around Penumbra.

In spite of how technologically outmatched the Umbrals were, they managed an impressive final stand against the harvest fleet. While the Kthid’s initial orbital strikes were devastating, the fact that many Umbral cities were subterranean forced the invaders to move in on foot, where the Umbrals were able to use large-scale traps, blade combat and specialized weapons to inflict heavy casualties. Ultimately, however, nearly all viable female Umbrals were harvested in approximately a year, and while casualties were higher than anticipated, they were acceptable when measured against the size of the harvest fleet.

Stereotypes: Having evolved from stealth predators, Umbrals have an instinctive tendency to move quietly, and can be prone to “accidental stealth”, unintentionally startling others. This, combined with their size and appearance, can lead to them being perceived as sinister, though in truth they’re no more aggressive than humans.

Derogatory Terms: Nightcrawlers, Palewings, Vampires