|Languages||Unknown Native Language, Aekhu (language)|
|Psionic potential||Standard Assumed (No specific evidence available)|
|Homeworld location||Dhaen (Provence 0718)|
|Primary Star||F8 IV|
Natives of Dhaen (Provence 0718), these Sophonts are 55kg natives of a planet that is cold at the equator and frozen at the poles. They are uncomfortable at temperatures over 15oC but able to survive well in temperatures as cold as -50oC. The Vargr who control this world debate whether these are Sophonts or clever animals. The IISS has classed them as Sophonts and the ownership of them is thus, legally, slavery on Imperial worlds. Despite this, thousands are exported as household servants/pets each year by the Vargr.
Dhaen stand 1.2m tall (Some unusual castes are as tall as 1.5m), are bilaterally symmetrical with two legs and two arms. They generally stand on their toes for additional height and speed. They have a white pelt over black skin - the skin being exposed around the eyes and face and on the hands and feet. They have a complex heat-exchange system that allows the exposed skin to cool to ambient temperatures, and adaption that allows the Dhaen to operate with damp extremities even in the coldest of conditions. It is postulated that the Dhaen evolved in a seashore context.
Their legs comprise 25% of their height; their body 50%; their neck 13% and their heads just 12%.
The Dhaen are genetically predisposed to specific roles in their society, and perform within those roles well. The statistics given are indicative of an average across the species, but particular castes may differ noticeably from these norms.
Dhaen are unusual in that they can significantly alter their metabolism. They can operate to conserve energy, when they are particularly slow (-2 Initiative, half fatigue, all tasks timed as if cautious for no benefit, no Minor Action.) but utilize lower levels of life-support; in a general mode or frenetically when they are much faster (+2 Initiative, double fatigue, all tasks timed as hasty for no penalty, extra Minor Action) but require twice the life support to normal. To change between modes takes an extended period of a sleep-like state but the change may be consciously triggered by the caste-community. (Individuals away from a community may trigger the change independently, but it takes longer.) Their fur is hollow and highly insulating and they emit less radiation that their size and core temperature would suggest.
Dhaen are not as intelligent as many sophonts, but make up for this by a level of determination that is higher than average.
Dhaen have sight that is at the bluer end of the spectrum, and hearing that extends well into the ultra-sonic ranges. They speak at tones above those audible to most Humans, although their lower ranges are clearly audible to the Vargr. They have a poor sense of smell, but their sense of taste is about human-equivalent and, at warmer temperatures, a fine sense of touch (this degrades below -20 degrees celcius).
Because of the location of the Dhaen homeworld, the IISS has not been able to undertake a full study of this race. Despite of, or because of their lack of intelligence, the Dhaen are found in small numbers throughout the Provence, Tuglikki and occasionally Corridor Sectors – particularly those of the various servile or worker castes.
The population has about 10,000 functional family-clans. Each of these has its own dialect modified by the dialect of adjacent clans where they intermingle for trade and exchange of members. Major geographical features (e.g. mountains, glacial chasms and ice-sheets) divide these into about 500 different language groups - all potentially traceable back to each other but no Vargr scientist has yet done so.
Each caste is inter-fertile and will produce offspring within that caste. Cross-Breeding between castes produces random traits which may be far less suited to a particular specialism than either parent, but may have traits useful in other (unexpected) directions. In times of uncertainty, the number of cross-bred offspring increases - in settled times the specialists prevail. Gestation lasts between 5 and 6 months depending upon the caste. Childhood only lasts a brief 4 years and Adolescence just another 4. At age 8, the Dhaen are fully functional members of society. Typically they will not produce the next generation until they are around 20, but can do so from age 12. The younger the decision to breed is made, the more likely will be the decision to produce cross-caste offspring. This is particularly galling to the Vargr who want to breed specific types for sale!
There is much about the evolution of the Dhaen and their planet that is unanswered. The star was too cold to support life on Dhaen until about 3 million years ago. Since then, not enough time has passed for the evolution of life to have reached the current complexity. It is suspected that the planet was some form of experiment by the Ancients, but there is no evidence of any Ancients habitation here either.
There is a single prevalent creation myth on Dhaen of the earliest Dhaen having been placed on the planet by a scheming "Devil" who did so to test if they were strong enough to survive - and of a strong Dhaen community that struggled hard but did so making various new discoveries to do so (e.g. Fire, Stone Weapons, etc.).
The continuity of the Dhaen from Proto-Dhaen in the archaeological record has, however, suggested that this is just a common myth, not a race memory of Ancient intervention. Also, the timing would be wrong as Dhaen intelligence seems to have appeared about 200,000 years after the Ancients destroyed themselves.
Prior to contact by the Vargr the Dhaen had a complex interweaving of craft skills based on Leather/Fur/Bone/Clay/Stone/Sinew - As a planet that varies between +15 and -50 regularly it had plants as a seasonal (summer) thing growing fast in the one season or growing slowly and hibernating over winter.
Arts included fur-dying, tanning, painting, sculpture, scrimshaw. Those on warmer worlds will often sculpt their fur with short-cropped patterns - partly to prevent overheating, but partly for artistic reasons.
They are Sophonts (despite the Vargr prejudice), and they had construction. Little or no timber meant stone arches and lintels, hide doors on frames of the bones of giant animals. Some summer "Grain" in clay-sealed pots; summer meats stored overwinter in ice-cave deep-freezes.
The Dhaen hunters are relatively small and cannot afford to lose prey (some much larger than them) in the ice. Consequently they used a number of highly effective neuro-toxins in their hunting expeditions.
The Dhaen, as a backward race on an out of the way world on the edge of the Windhorn Rift stayed undiscovered - or at least unexploited until the late 200s. Two things changed. Firstly, the Imperium was no longer providing the rich pickings that had been available before the Vargr Campaigns and secondly, the Dhaen started wearing a new, yellow, non-tarnishing metal in their clothing. The gold-rush of 284 saw many rich Vargr and many, many dead Dhaen. Fortunately, the deposit was mined out and the initial destructive frenzy passed.
The homeworld of this race is: