Planet: Altair, lower gravity than Earth
Altairians are superb movers in low gravity, very graceful and swift, but need to wear a back brace in Earth-normal gravity. They are tall and slender, a little taller than the average for humans. Instead of hair on their heads, they have cranial spines, like a coxcomb, which rise and move when they are excited or agitated. Their skin is very pink in the oxygen-rich atmosphere on board Kestrel – the oxygen level is lower on Altair.
They don't sing, but make a kind of hum which can be soothing or irritating. Their voices are melodious and their manner mild, which can be deceiving, as they have no problem with violence for the right reasons.
Altairians appear to live in family-type groups, but relationships are never explained, they just introduce others by name without saying what their relationship is. Their mating practices are not known – they refuse to talk about them.
They can seem rather silly, but it is mostly their mannerisms. They are excitable, and may be incautious, but they are actually very intelligent. They live three times as long as humans.
The Kestrel has an Altairian crewman, Shom Reuel, who is very soft-hearted. He shares a cabin with the only other non-human on board – Balitoth the Zoan. They have become friends, and make an odd pair. Reuel is always trying to understand humans better, and is particularly fascinated by idioms and strange sayings, which he struggles to understand.