Bilachai (Bill-a-kai)

The bilachai are a sentient species indigenous to Silusia Alpha. They are a marine amphibious species, who live primarily on land but retain strong connections with the ocean, where they bring up their young. The bilachi do not possess faster than light technology and are confined to their home world.

Basic Information


The average upright bilachai is somewhat smaller than the average standing human. They look rather like a cross between a seal and a talking otter, two species in Earthly fauna which although they became extinct in the early stages of the Dislocations, left lingering stories in human culture. They have a thick tail which they use for balance and when swimming. Whilst not fully prehensile it is capable of fine motor control.   Bilachai skin is a sleek rubbery black, although close up, fine lizard like scales form a pattern of protection across the back of the neck and down the hind legs. A layer of fur of varying colours covers the torso, the upper parts of the limbs and the face. Their faces are angular with needle point teeth and their eyes are bright green with lamp wide lenses. They are mostly bipedal, but their forelimbs are long and sturdy and useful for locomotion, and they prefer to run on all fours close to the ground when speed is necessary. Conversely their ‘feet’ are also adapted for manipulation, capable of grasping objects and lifting them with their ‘toes’. They are near enough to being ambidextrous across the dimension of the fore and back limbs, making human physiognomy look specialised and clumsy by comparison.   Gills built into the chest provide a mechanism for breathing underwater which is mostly hidden under clothing when they walk on dry land.   In the image below, a trader in spices and tropical fruit is seen crossing the financial district of the city of Rillyon on his way to the harbour.  

Biological Traits

The most interesting features of bilachai biology derive from their uniquely sophisticated amphibious body plan, capable of complex functions underwater and when breathing air. The ability to suppress and activate radically different and autonomous systems for oxygenating the blood is considered remarkable even by the standards of the Society Of Contemporary Races.   On land, their sleep cycle matches the planetry roation of Silusia Alpha and is conventionally diurnal. When operating underwater they sleep more regularly for shorter periods of around an hour, usually concealed in weed forests where their ancestors would have been safe from ocean predators. These short sleeps are often characterised by period of intense unconscious brain activity which they call "the sea dreaming".

Growth Rate & Stages

Bilachi pair bond for life. They are oviparous and lay their eggs in the ocean. Females will normally lay one or two eggs but larger clutches are sometimes seen. The eggs are guarded by the parents and hatch within two or three days of laying, after which the young are looked after by both parents, being fed milk from the mother and predigested regurgitated sea food from the father until such time as their jaws and teeth develop sufficiently to allow independent eating, a process which is generally complete in about twenty days.   Some biologists think that the trend of bilachi evolution may be leading towards live birth, since the functions of the egg state have apparently become less important in recent times as a result of hypothesised changes in social structure.   The undersea nursery sites where bilachi are hatched and spend their first weeks of life, vary from humble to grand affairs. They may be ornamented or plain but all are open structures built with great care and reverence to allow the ocean currents to circulate. The rights to use these sites are passed down from generation to generation.   One such site is shown here.     It is considered a special honour, reserved for family and close friends to visit the parents at their nursery site during the early days when their children are growing into life in the ocean.

Ecology and Habitats

The vast majority of adult bilachi are equally at home on land or in the oceans, and their society spans both domains with underwater settlements on the continental shelves extending down to depths of forty metres and towns and villages built above the water on the slopes of mountains and considerable distances inland. Nevertheless, their preference is to dwell on the coastlands where they can easily transition from water to air or visa versa. Individuals may have a preference for primarily dry or wet living which they label as "deep" and "bright" tendencies.   The current incarnation of their civilization favours bright bilachi, with the main centres of power being the land based cities.

Biological Cycle

All bilachai are hatched underwater. The taking of their first breath of air is an important rite of passage for every bilachi and is somewhat dangerous for the infants who usually attempt the transition to air breathing, guided by their parents, between about ninety and a hundred and twenty days after hatching. Roughly one in ten suffer from systemic failures in the mechanisms that allow them to switch between water and air breathing and they die at this point.   Rarely, some bilachai may leave the oceans much later in life or even never. It is considered a profound disability to be confined to the ocean and those few bilachai that never breath air are known as the "lost deep ones".

Civilization and Culture

Average Technological Level

Bilachi technology cannot easily be mapped onto a single pattern matching that of any other species, since it has advanced at different rates in different fields, driven always by the amphibious experience. An aproximate base line estimate might be to the period of the early industrial revolution on Earth. There is a basic understanding and exploitation of electricity, steam, wind and tidal power but fossil fuels have not been widely adopted.

Culture and Cultural Heritage

Bilachi organise their societies in much the same manner as humans, grouping together in city states and in commerical enterprises with a variety of goals. One special structure is sometimes translated as the birth clan. Members of a birth clan all have a share in an underwater nursery site for hatching and looking after the new born. Whenever any of the members of the clan are giving birth they can all use the sites of that clan and that right passes down from generation to generation, through the mother. When the clan is too large it may split and a new nursery will then be built. Members of a birth clan need not be genetically or socially related in any other way and the clan does not function as an extended family in later life. Bilachai who have access to no nursery must find birthing sites in the open ocean. It is thought, if not exactly shameful, definitely a mark of poverty to be born outside of a birth clan.


The bilachi have a long history of attaining the benefits of civilization and then losing them in a succession of unfortunate cycles. Sometimes this has been due to natural disasters and sometimes for internal reasons, but they have never been able to attain a level of technology which would support emergence. When thinderin exiles first arrived on Silusia Alpha there was an advanced bilachi culture. It was only following the collapse of this society many years later, after wars and famine that the Light Guards assumed control of the Temple of Chromatic Enlightenment.   The current hybrid bilachi and thinderin civilization is developing an increasing confidence and technological sophistication and many have hopes that it can break the trend of previous setbacks and the bilachi will one day join the wider galactic community as an equal.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

The bilachi in the region of the rain cities league have a long tradition of interacting with the thinderin at the Temple of Chromatic Enlightenment and in other smaller groves. Thinderin are often seen in the city of Rillyon. Other species are occasional visitors to the temple, most recently humanity. The bilachi tend to be outgoing, curious and open to cultural exchanges of various kinds including some limited trading. Aliens find them generally friendly and easy going but are under an injunction not to share too much technology. There is an uneasy sense amongst the Society of Contemporary Races that their presence may be damaging the developmement of bilachi civilisation, although there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case.
Geographic Distribution

Cover image: Silusia Alpha : Bilachai Nursery by DMFW


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