The Skavik (/'skɑ:.vɪk/, singular "Skav") were an insectoid race of non-humanoids from Kizav. The natural prey of the Veracht, they were enslaved by the Reawakened and used as foot soldiers during the Nightmare War. After the destruction of their homeworld and the fall of their Dark Jedi masters, the surviving Skavik surrendered to Rin Sakaros and became somewhat peripheral members of the Golden Empire.
Biology and appearance
Skavik ranged greatly in size, although males were universally smaller than females. The smallest castes, laborers and farmers, were between 1.45 and 1.52 meters (4'9" to 5'0"), while the largest soldier drones could reach 2.13 meters (7'0"). They were slightly longer than they were tall. Skav bodies were divided into a large abdomen, a smaller thorax, and a noticeably smaller head; their abdomens were parallel to the ground, while their thoraces curved up to vertical positions. Their six legs (three on each side) were attached to the front halves of their abdomens. They had four additional limbs on their thoraces, two pincers low and two arms high.
Skav pincers were strong enough to crush the bones of Humans and similar beings, and although none of their other limbs had remotely similar strength, their legs could drive them to speeds greater than those most Humans could achieve. Their exoskeletons made them resistant to blunt force trauma, although if the exoskeletons were pierced, it often caused a number of problems, as Skavik lacked internal skeletons. A wide enough wound could cause instability throughout the entire body, apart from the more immediate problems of losing internal fluids and even organs.
Skavik had compound eyes with a roughly 280-degree field of vision. Their tympanal organs were located at the back of their thoraces and could distinguish sounds by interpreting vibrations in the air. Skavik communicated with a combination of sounds produced by clicking their mandibles, vocalizations generated by internal vocal chords, and twitches of their antennae.
Skavik possessed a limited form of intraspecies telepathy. Ruling queens and some of their brood could control Skavik drones and implant directives in their minds. Skavik so commanded would obey unquestioningly, even at their own peril. In the absence of a single clear ruler, however, Skavik had a greater measure of free will. Between two competing telepathic influences, some Skavik possessed the strength of will to choose which to follow, while others succumbed to whichever was stronger for them personally; only those of the royal brood, however, could disobey completely. Between Skavik drones, telepathy was much more subtle; such Skavik could sometimes interpret one anothers' emotional states, but they could not relay messages or commands.
Though Rajj-Yo, who ate pieces of Skavik in several battles of the Nightmare War, enjoyed the taste of the fibrous muscular tissue inside their exoskeletons, many Veracht were of the opinion that Skavik were a species that "tasted like everything".
Skavik reproduced sexually, reaching sexual maturity at three standard years of life. They could lay up to a dozen eggs at a time, which took only a few months to hatch. Most Skavik lived less than two standard decades, although royal brood Skavik sometimes lived longer. Males were born much more frequently than females, with a roughly 17:1 ratio.
Society and culture
Before 149 ABY, Skavik existed in a quasi-centralized society. At the pinnacle of their civilization was the Queen, who could exert telepathic control over the species. The Queen governed all other Skavik, though some Queens demanded more of their subjects than others. Female children of Queens, all of whom had the potential to become Queen themselves, often held governmental positions near their mother or over important colonies. In the royal family, competition was fierce for prestige and position, and ambitious females often killed one another to remove rivals. Following an achieved succession, a new Queen often killed all her sisters to prevent any competition with her telepathic influence—descendants of a Queen often had comparable levels of such power with each other, but could never equal their mother.
Outside the royal family, Skavik had a somewhat fluid caste system. All Skavik were judged for fitness upon completion of their adolescence around three standards years of age. The largest and strongest males were trained as soldier drones, while smaller males became farmers, artisans, and merchants. Females could exist in any caste; those in the lower castes often labored alongside their mates, while the mates of soldier drones lived more privileged lives. Some females were also favored with government positions, and were free to take male mates from lower castes; these males usually existed to serve their mates, but had no other duties or obligations.
Skavik existed in cities and city-states called hives, each independent of others but subject to the rule of the Queen and any of her deputy rulers. Hives ranged in size from hundreds to tens of millions; the Royal Hive, where the Queen and her ministers lived, was estimated at two hundred million at its height. Skavik communities were supported by enormous farms and fungus growth centers. Because the Skavik had not evolved out their capacity to produce numerous descendants with each mating, overpopulation was a perennial problem. Queens addressed the issue in numerous ways, from starting new hives through Kizav to simply ordering the extermination of the least fit males.
The Skavik were highly religious, believing that all living things (sentient, nonsentient, and even plant) had spirits of their own. Rituals and incantations accompanied waking, sleeping, daily activities, mating, and childbirth. Skavik shamans and priests occupied a unique position in the caste system, selecting their own members from any caste for their own reasons. Queens generally kept a staff of their own priests and priestesses.
By modern times, the Skavik had by and large come to consider the Veracht a myth, although outlying colonies often knew them to be real. The deaths and disappearances of Skavik—and sometimes entire hives—caused by the Veracht were attributed to a number of other causes, from accidents to disease to natural disasters. It was not clear to historians and xenobiologists whether the Queen actually knew about the Veracht and was suppressing the knowledge to prevent panic, or whether she was as oblivious as most of her subjects.
In the absence of any major natural predators besides the Veracht, and given the abundance of resources on Kizav, the Skavik evolved close to their final large size before even evolving sentience. Early Skavik were aware of the existence of the Veracht and took steps to avoid their predation. Over time, however, the Veracht became the stuff of myths and legend. Skavik still preferred to build their hives in plains or mountains rather than Kizav's swamps, however; though they rationalized this desire with references to the firmer terrain, Royal sentientologists suspected it was a subconscious avoidance of the preferred habitat of the Veracht.
Queens existed throughout the history of the Skavik, and life at court was often one of intrigue, deception, political dealing, blackmail, and occasionally murder. By 148 ABY, thousands of large hives and millions of smaller ones were spread all over Kizav's surface. Only in recent centuries had the Skavik at last reproduced to such numbers that they were outweighing the natural resources of their own planet. Several generations of Queens had grappled with this problem by the time the Reawakened arrived.
Sacco Vyrak and Karshi Saan approached the Skavik Queen and convinced her to ally her people with their campaign of slaughter. The Skavik became slaves to the Dark Jedi, building ships and weapons on Awpierh and serving as an army against the Golden Empire. Skavik were present in large numbers for every battle of the Nightmare War, and were the foot soldiers of the Dark Jedi army compared to the fewer and more elite Veracht and Vyrak Legions.
Millions of Skavik had already died in the war by the time Rin Sakaros brought the Prime Fleet to the Kizav system and tore apart the system's primary. The resulting energy wave vaporized Kizav, Desha Marad, billions of Skavik, and the entire Royal Hive. Suddenly and jarringly freed from the telepathic injunction of their Queen to serve the Dark Jedi, the Skavik began to question their situation until Ador Hentral forcibly brought them under his telepathic domination. When he was killed at the Battle of Dolomir, the surviving Skavik were freed in earnest.
Although horrified by the destruction of their homeworld, their Queen, and much of their culture, many Skavik were deeply penitent for their involuntary role in the Nightmare War. Rin ordered them all taken as prisoners of war and directed them to assist in the rebuilding of Dolomir, Klee`shlyoo`hshee, and other worlds they had helped to destroy. However, Rin also formally protected them against reprisals by local governments, and sent Royal Army detachments and Centurions to oversee reconstruction efforts. At the 150 ABY Consular Assembly, the ultimate fate of the Skavik was a hotly debated issue, with opinions running the gamut from those who thought the use of prisoners of war for work after the war itself was over was equivalent to slavery all the way to those who wanted every living Skavik put to death for crimes against sentients.