So this came up, indirectly, on the Discord server: @kmoss was discussing how to pronounce something, and I noted that I was mentally pronouncing it like something from the alien culture I made up for a story when I was ten, including a specific Weird Pause despite it not having the marker for that. Then it turned into me talking about the aliens and the story setting in voicechat. The basic thing of it, in roughly the order that I intended to reveal it: It was set in a bad future. Earth was wrecked. Most people didn't even know what plants were, and humans were...basically extinct, not by numbers (there were still a few billion) but because the air and food were running out. Nations were going to war over the scraps, basically. The governments of the world were covering this up though, most people just thought that this was How The World Works. And then an alien arrived. An alien who looked human. But like, a weirdish human? I can't remember what was Odd about them except that the viewpoint character thought they were a bit odd-looking. The Weird Alien had a big spaceship which they'd just kind of landed partially on the road and partially on like, an abandoned carpark or something, taking up the entire road and generally being Extremely Noticeable. It turned out that the alien wasn't actually human as such-she was a werewolf, but at the very least her parents were from Earth. She had photos of Earth from before it was wrecked. Her spaceship had plants in it including a tree. I can't remember if she was descended from Earth werewolves, or if she'd left as a baby, but aliens had arrived and took her parents (and possibly her) along with some other people-humans and metahumans-with them when they left, not as an abduction thing but as like, emigration and also because the government was covering up the aliens too. She had a mixed-species crew. I can't remember most it, or any of the names, but I do remember there was an alien that definitely didn't have any Earth ancestry. They were a xhera'thi (the xh is kind of a drawn-out z sound, the ' is a Weird Pause), which is kinda like a squirrel-otter with a crest. They were small enough to ride on a human's shoulders like a furry talking scarf (I have seen cats do this). Their long tail was prehensile, and they were quadrupedal but with foothands on all their legs. Sometimes they'd lie on their back to work on things if 2 hands weren't good enough. I can't remember what colour they were but I do know that possible body colours were brown, greyscale, and kinda tan/yellowish brown, and maybe a red-squirrel-type Orange? I can't remember if they could have stripes or not on their fur. Their crest on the other hand-one xhera'thi character had like, silvery fur and a blue-and-black crest. Xhera'thi couldn't be entirely one colour for some reason, their crest had to be at least partially a different colour. Possible colours included but were not limited to red, blue, yellow, green, greyscale, orange, and I think I off-handedly mentioned a purple crest somewhere. The xhera'thi home planet was...interesting? Very little in the way of flat or dry areas, but also not much in the way of deep ocean. Like the oceans were shallower and there were so many islands but the lands weren't very flat at all. Lots of ponds and rivers and weird cliffs and stuff. Another thing with their planet was that there were alien mangrove things except more...everywhere. If there was a body of water there was probably a tree growing in it. And...there were so many bodies of water. This planet didn't have much in the way of desert! The proto-xhera'thi originally lived like Earth otters, mostly, but after a while they started climbing out into the trees-probably after they started using the 'shellfish'-cracking stones they, like Earth otters, used to crack nuts as well. As such they're omnivores with a requirement for lots of waterfood (literal translation of their term for 'fish', 'shellfish', 'crusteceans', etc) and fruit/nuts. I can't remember putting much thought into breathing systems. Their exoskeletoned invertebrates may mostly use book lungs, like our crabs, in which case they could get as big as crabs-imagine a snail the size of a coconut crab! It's also possible the xhera'thi use book lungs, in which case they'd be able to breath underwater and also require breathing-underwater time every week or so, but they at least inhale through their nose (and possibly also mouth, but i don't think they'd go for airway-crossing-foodway, they might have their vocal tract separate from their breathing tract and inhale through their mouth to speak but not to breathe), if they have book lungs this also means a one-way flowthrough system where they exhale out their sides. Again: can't remember if they were mentioned as having openings in their side to breath out of but I do know I considered it (well, technically "lungs and gills? weird lung-gill hybrids? or just lungs?" because i was ten and didn't know what a book lung was called) and i don't actually have any of the notes I wrote out. This is all from memory. It turned out that the xhera'thi were nutritionally at least semi-compatible with humans, they could digest each other's food (to an extent...I doubt xhera'thi can eat onions!) and they'd been doing An Experiment in mixing Earth ecology with xhera'thi home planet ecology (I can't remember the name of their home planet, I just remember "xhera'thi" because I remember teaching my teacher how to pronounce it) on a world they'd made. When I first came up with it I'd had the world be a planet, one a lot bigger than Earth but with the same gravity etc somehow that had been made from asteroids, but in hindsight a bunch of really big rotating tori in space makes more sense due to having more surface area for the same mass. They'd been collecting samples for it for at least four centuries, because they had a population of dodos. I also gave them dinosaurs but that was due to a Jurassic Park type thing+Magic. The xhera'thi weren't around 65 million years ago. They did abduct a few humans and metahumans but only on accident, and they put them all back except a few which asked to stay. (Like, they went to get a tree or something, and Surprise A Human Is In It.) It had worked really well and the ecologies had meshed near-perfectly, and they'd gone to tell the people of Earth, but the governments were like Go Away and were also at war and also the Earth was rapidly dying, so they started just trying to rescue refugees. Governments hushed up the xhera'thi arriving and also the vanishing people. This had been ongoing for at least a generation, and the xhera'thi couldn't just move in their whole fleet without being shot at-iirc only a certain number of ships could warp out of or into the same location within a few minutes without their FTL drives interfering with each other, so it was small groups only. The people of Earth couldn't fight that because fighting an enemy with FTL when you don't have FTL is dumb because they can just Leave. Unless they have too many ships there in which case only some can just Leave and the others have to wait a few minutes before they leave too. These refugees were resettled on the Constructed World which had a really long and dumb name which I think was something to do with the dinosaurs. (If you work with this setting, some small theropod semi-avian dinosaurs, genetically modified descendants of normal birds, could be added.) There may also have been mammoths and moa and stuff, cloned from fossilized samples, but those samples are only a few thousand years old so it makes sense. The werewolf, it turns out, was resettling refugees like the xhera'thi who had rescued her parents (and maybe her too). I can't remember if there were other human/metahuman-captained ships resettling refugees, they'd only been off of of Earth for like maybe two generations so not many had a chance to own starships yet. Most starships were heirlooms-they got upgrades, sure, but they were built to last and so they were passed down through the generations. You'd get a new, say, FTL drive installed if your old one needed replacing or if there was a Big improvement. The peoples of the constructed world included humans, werewolves, and werepanthers, but I can't remember what else was there. One of the werepanther characters was based off of a friend of mine and also her shadow was a character too. The laws of physics were slightly different in a few places, and possibly the flow of time-I couldn't spell 'physics' so I just wrote "where the rules are different" when talking about the creation of a material the xhera'thi use a lot, which involved factories orbiting black holes in one of those regions. It could be made in those places, and then iirc it took on its most useful properties (much greater mechanical strength-it was used in like, space elevators) after being taken from that environment into one of the normal areas. There were other aliens too, who were not compatible with Earth or xhera'thi biochemistries-this was a reason for them to not be in the ships. I think it was something about mutually toxic+dandruff exists+the xhera'thi shed, but since I'm writing this up now I'm going to say that at least some of them come from a world where early life split the salt in the seas as well as water molecules and the result was a chlorine/oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere which obvious is not compatible with life from an oxynitro atmosphere. Others were from hotter or colder worlds and were like, silicon-based or used ammonia as a solvent or whatever. Others just had the dandruff/fur problem. Xhera'thi didn't wear much in the way of clothes-the most common xhera'thi garment is basically a harness/toolbelt thing (with 'pockets'/attached bags). Basically so they could have Pockets without much in the way of clothes to drag them down in the water. Formalwear in some xhera'thi cultures was wearing like, a shirt. In others, it was going without the Pockets Harness and instead styling your fur, and sometimes wearing jewelry or other accessories. Anything that impedes the crest's range of motion is equivalent to a human wearing something that covers the mouth-xhera'thi facial expressions include a lot of crest movement. ...Suddenly realization: xhera'thi dance thing where everyone goes wearing a Hat, like a mask party thing Shoes are very uncommon, and if worn at all are kinda like gloves-either the toes are left uncovered or the toes each have their own covering. Unless it's like a mitten in which case the opposable toe is in its own covering and all the rest are sharing a covering. The only other thing I can remember is that xhera'thi farming started in the water-like, shellfish farming.