Spotlight on an Original Nonsentient Alien Species – Elekai
The thought of a planetary system much like Australia, where there are all sorts of exotic and beautiful plants and animals, but any one of them can kill you, was an irresistible one. That’s the Lafa System.
Couple that with the idea of present-day terror birds, and elekai were born.
Elekai are pretty much what you’d expect. They’re huge, mean and dangerous. But they also make good eating. In Together, it’s established that the upper half – which is more than enough to feed seven adults and one child – tastes like chicken whereas the lower half, including the legs, tastes more like duck. In Local Flavor, elekai are described as being fattier down below, possibly a bit gamier. A few serving suggestions are offered in that story, too. Because all Calafan names are meaningful, Elekai means air bird, so it’s suggested that, unlike real terror birds, elekai can fly.
In Together, Doug reveals that it’s a lot of work to bring down an elekai. For the one being eaten in that story, he admits that a total of nine men (eight Calafans and himself) were needed to bring down the big beast. Therefore, in Temper, when it’s only Melissa and him on a hunting trip, they don’t go after elekai, and instead hunt for linfep and perrazin.
In Fortune, and in Equinox, Doug’s death is shown or alluded to. It occurrs during an elekai hunt, but the birds have nothing to do with it. Instead, he suffers a heart attack during running in the forests of the southern hemisphere of Lafa II.
A lot of animals are extinct in the mirror (in Temper, it’s established that giraffes are one species that has gone extinct), but elekai are not, possibly because they’re so big and mean. As a means of getting Joss, Tommy, DR, and Marie Patrice off the Defiant, and making it so that Lili and Doug can also get off the ship and go to the surface, an elekai hunt is offered up as a pretext, with an accompanying picnic lunch for the Empress Hoshi Sato and her children. For someone like Jun, it’s a chance to really seal the deal in his quest to show that he can be a leader.
Elekai aren’t meant to be smart (although they are considerably more intelligent than procul/prako). They are definitely meant to be more aggressive than linfep. Plus they’re good for Thanksgiving dinner, if you’re quite literally feeding an army. But watch out, as they’re a lot more hazardous than turkeys.