The Charlaks are a common species in Xyphon, as they are employed as an expandable “servant race” by most warring factions of this universe. They are reputed for their total lack of scruples in any matter, making them both unsympathetic and useful. Their homeworld is Arcandoil , where they lived as primitive savages until their discovery by an unknown party a few centuries ago. They were forcefully recruited as cannon fodder for their cruel inventiveness, and their success as soldiers and field engineers led to their use spreading to the whole universe.
Charlaks are deer-sized quadrupeds covered in grey scales and scutes. They have a powerful and flexible neck allowing them to turn their large head on 360 degrees; they rest by folding their neck in an “S” shape to support their head's weight with a fatty hump on their back. The head bears six long arms ending with a two-finger pincer, used to bring food into their jawless mouth and acting as prehensile limbs; a seventh facial limb is kept retracted into a special pouch, and host their ovipositor. The Charlaks have nine eyes: four forward-facing on their head, and five smaller disposed around their body: while they use their facial vision for actively looking at things, they can visually notice an enemy sneaking on them from any direction.
Charlaks don't have sex. They reproduce by injecting their eggs into the face of any other member of their kind (usually by gouging an eye out and using the emptied eye-socket as a nest); the eggs will then absorb the genes of the cells destroyed during the spawning, ensuring the genetic diversity of the children. Larvae secrete a powerful but localised anaesthetic to allow their host to continue acting normally even as they eat its flesh dangerously close to its brain. The minute worms quickly develop a nervous system, and they peek at the outside world with their own eyes even while their digestive system isn't formed yet: monitoring their host's actions allows them to learn about survival from the very beginning of their existence. They quickly retract into their flesh gallery at the first sign of danger, meaning their host have no safe way of removing them without risking them boring into its brain. When the host die from larvae activity or an unrelated cause, the larvae find the energy to finish up their metamorphosis into juvenile by feasting on the flesh of the hosts and one another's. Once the survivors emerge from the cadaver of the host, they disperse and survive on an omnivorous diet until they are ready themselves to plunge their ovipositor into someone's flesh.
Their intelligence seems to have evolved from an evolutionary arm race to be the one laying the egg rather than the one being used as host; before their discovery, they were territorial creatures using complex traps to incapacitate potential preys and protect themselves.
Charlaks are individualistic to the extreme and have no common culture whatsoever beside their instinctual drives: without their “uplifting”, they would never have been coordinated enough to reach space on their own. Instead, they clumsily imitate the mannerisms of their employer, meaning their behaviors are very varied indeed. Communicating is unnatural to them, and they usually prefer to remain silent. When talking is needed, most try to fake a more reassuring psychology for the comfort of their interlocutor, but success is rare; their poor attempts at hiding their true nature can come off as darkly humorous or simply unnerving.
They act paranoiac compared to most species, being obsessed with understanding the secrets of their environment and one another's while trying to hide any information about their own whereabouts. They feel nervous in confuse situations (which include any social interaction), but are naturally unflappable.
They are unnervingly good at understanding technology, and can retro-engineer most devices as a matter of course, as long as they have some notion of the physical laws they exploit (of course, this exclude the marvels left behind by the Starbuilders); they also are barely affected by the sight of carnages, even on “their” side, and actually enjoy killing. As a result, they are very valuable for the armies of Xyphon, but are always kept in small numbers and under a very strict discipline to discourage desertion or worse.
Charlaks greatly enjoy infesting each other with larvae, but are indifferent to the larvae themselves, allowing their caretakers to easily control their numbers by surgically removing the larvae or letting nature take its course, depending on the needs of the armies.