|Other distinctions||Three-part mandibles, single ear.|
Erect bipeds with a humanesque gait at an average adult height of 1.5 meters, Zeth physiology reflects their being a 'halfway house' between an arboreal and terrestrial creature. Their torso is upright but they have a neck which is angled around forty-five degrees forwards and a tail.
The legs themselves are comprised of a femur and a single lower-leg bone, which ends in a digitigrade, clawed foot. Their toes, while previously highly dextrous, have atrophied to become rigid. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, though the legs are naturally held under the body by their musculature. Zeth cannot do the splits.
Their arms are long and well-muscled, with both an ulna and a radius connected to the humerus. They are capable of pronation (rotation of the forearm where it connects the the humerus), but have no wrist joint. The fingers bear stubby, blunted claws, and have only two phalanges per finger (humans have four). Two fingers are set in opposition to a 'thumb' to provide an opposable hand.
The head of a Zeth is composed of a skull containing the brain and then three seperate mandibles attached to the front, which are capable of independently moving. Each mandible bears plates upon its interior, with tooth-like bony projections inside which constantly grow (the Zeth must gnaw on hard foodstuffs to prevent this from causing harm). Additionally, they have a bulbous tongue attached above the entrance to the oesophagus. There are two eyes set on the head, facing forwards, with rectangular pupils and irises which take up the entire visible eye. These are tetrachromatic- they can see all visible colours and some way into the near-infrared. However, their blue cones are far rarer than the other types, and so they are not adept at distinguishing between shades of blue, indigo, and violet.
Without an olfactory bulb, they have no sense of smell. Instead of having conventional ears, a large fatty bulb is present at the front of the skull which focusses sound onto an internal ear attached to the front of the skull. They have difficulty finding the location of a sound's source but are more sensitive to detected sounds. This also makes them more vulnerable to particularly loud sounds.
Three nations exist on the Zeth homeworld, Aiston, with different governmental types. They have independent cultures, religious perspectives, militaries, and economies.The largest and last remaining is the Republic of Xelass, with a population of three billion. It is a representative democracy, having abolished its monarchy three decades ago. The parliament consists of two bodies, both democratically elected by region- the First House, with one hundred members, which is responsible for passing laws and acts, and the Second House with fifty members which can incorporate acts into the Xelass Consitution and is also responsible for the courts (though judges are employed independently).
Its main challenger was the Coalition of People's Republics (CPR), which was supposedly ruled by a High Council. However, following an earlier war with the Kassic Empire, the chairman was given emergency powers and did not ever surrendered them, leaving him for all intents and purposes as the head of state. The CPR had two billion citizens though a larger land area than the Republic of Xelass. The majority of this area is now radioactive wasteland.
Until recently, there was the Kassic Empire. A long campaign of unification, ending in 2119, unified the various Southern states under an emperor. This emperor rules through local representatives, enforcing his power through his armed forces. It has a population of five hundred million. At the beginning of the Xelass/CPR war, the Empire was annexed by the CPR. Following the destruction of the CPR, the Xelassians occupied the Kassic Empire.
Though each nation has its own language (and some dialects so different to the state language that they may be languages in their own right), all Zeth nations are united in having some members with the ability to speak Aisish. Aisish is an artificial language, having been invented rather than evolved, and specifically designed to prevent misunderstanding and double meaning.
Zeth ancient history is largely unknown. The first finds indicating artificial fire have been dated to 1.2 million years ago, and the first stone tools to 900,000 years ago. They do not appear to have ever had a copper or bronze age, instead going straight from stone to iron around 3000 years ago. The first group to have invented iron then attempted to conquer the world, establishing an empire (referred to as the Sorum Empire) which covered 40% of the land area of Aiston, and who left monumental relics all around the surface of the planet. They appear to have reached a stage where they used steam power before beginning to stagnate and eventually collapsing after various incursions and revolts around 1200 years ago. Following this there was a dark age, during which many old Sorum relics were desecrated and their buildings reduced to rubble.
After around four hundred years, steam power was rediscovered and the small state of Itiron began to build railways and trade with less developed cultures nearby, eagerly sharing their discoveries at first. However, they were resisted by the inhabitants of the land now under the control of the CPR, who they then fought a long war with, which resulted in two alliances forming in opposition to each other. One became the Republic of Xelass and the other became the CPR. The remaining states were unified afterwards by the Kassic Empire.
Shortly afterwards, nuclear power was developed by the CPR. The Republic of Xelass managed to get hold of the designs for fission power plants and primitive atomic bombs, and a 'Cold War' began. This is ongoing, and has also included a space race, which has been going on for ninety years. Armed spacecraft patrol in space, and each nation has laid claim to one of the moons, and constructed a base there. The Republic was both first to get a Zeth into space and first to land on a moon.
Each race also mines an asteroid belt- the CPR mines the system's inner, resource-poor asteroid belt, and the Republic mines the outer, resource- and ice-rich belt. The Republic got a Zeth on the planet Retaan- a primordial world occupied by cyanobacteria just within the habitable zone- in 2110, and the CPR never achieved this. The two individuals to have stood on Retaan were Captain Serus Imin and Commander Vina Gieru.
Following the destruction of a CPR frigate/the unprovoked attack by a CPR frigate on a Xelassian frigate, the Republic and the CPR are at war. The Kassic Empire was annexed by the CPR. The Republic began by destroying all CPR spacecraft and their moonbase.
All attempts at nuclear attack were countered. The Republic destroyed all CPR launch sites and docks, while heavily guarding the borders of Xelass and not heading into the land itself. They were under instructions to prevent the escape of any CPR soldiers of civilians before 'Project Gentle Saviour' was completed. A nuclear salt water rocket was accelerated into the centre of the CPR at 1765 km/s, devastating the area for hundreds of kilometres and killing billions. Radioactive fallout was also released and spread through that country.