The lirrax are vicious humanoid predators hailing from the jungle planet Zarr. Though they were mired in tribal in-fighting for centuries, they attempted to launch an invasion of asari space in 2184 CE, attacking the asari world Tamaris before being repelled by the private security company NairidaCorp.
The word lirrax is a portmanteau of lirr (queen) and rax (king), and is derived from a proverb from the ancestors of the lirrax - a'mun tak lir, a'kan tak rax, which translates very roughly as, "any woman can be a queen, [and] any man can be a king". It was a phrase that alluded to a central tenet of classical lirrax philosophy - that all lirrax have worth, though men and women are meant to occupy different roles in society.
According to their own legends, the lirrax were once a more equitable and technologically-advanced people where social structures made the men and the women interdependent upon each other. The men were responsible for military and heavy labor, while women worked in the service sector or in the government. Though there was little room for deviations from these roles, and although the response to deviations was extremely harsh, the asari historian Iora reported that the lirrax homeworld and colonies were incredibly organized and prosperous. Eventually, they achieved FTL travel and made contact with the asari, who were at the time just beginning their own exploration of the galaxy. The two civilizations quickly and enthusiastically formed an alliance, and together turned Zarr into a hub of galactic commerce.
Then, around the year 540 BCE, a being that the lirrax call the Dark One appeared in the sky and let out an "evil" tone. Initially, this event was dismissed as a mere quirk, no more significant than a lunar eclipse or sunspot activity.
For hundreds of years, the lirrax fought each other, until 1756 CE, when the Dark One returned and transformed the women, giving both their weaponry and their biology an upgrade that enabled them to make enormous dents in the male population. Within a few years, the female-to-male ratio transformed from 1:5 to 50:5, and the women managed to strong-arm the men into unconditional surrender.
Since then, the lirrax civilization has been unstable, constantly breaking down into tribal wars that last anywhere from a few months to several years, and regaining stability only with the bloody rise of a new queen. The Citadel races were content to avoid lirrax space, maintaining only an asari outpost on one of the outer lirrax colonies.
This changed abruptly in 2184 CE, when the longstanding feud between then-High Queen Drala and her latest challenger, Vatra, finally reached the point of open combat.
Lirrax culture is shaped by one of the few old sayings that has survived into the present: "Any woman may be a queen, and any man may be a king." While the lirrax respect strength, ambition, and ruthlessness, they look down upon leaders who abuse their power or who seek to forcibly prevent others from possibly becoming leaders. To this end, all lirrax citizens - even outcasts, slaves, or non-lirrax - have the right to seek redress through battle if someone on an equal or higher social status has wronged them, and if they win the battle, they are entitled to their opponent's status. This simple rule has led to much chaos - the former High Queen Vatra, for example, first rose to power from slavery after her mistress broke one of her legs, but later lost everything when a human soldier accused her of killing a prisoner, effectively denying the prisoner's victims their right to redress - but it has also effectively protected the rights of even the lowest in lirrax society.
What little government remains in lirrax space is matriarchal, semi-republican, and very bloody. Every significant gathering of female lirrax, be it a tribe, a village, or a city, is represented by a queen, who can only rise to power after beating and humiliating her rivals in combat (if a queen ascends unchallenged, then the worst criminal in the region is coerced into challenging her; if there are no criminals readily available, then the challenger is picked via a lottery.) From there, all of the queens gather in the capital city to battle for the title of high-queen. The victor of these battles takes the surname "Alirr", and all the surviving contenders are offered a choice of either pledging their allegience or being offered up as a slave to the male tribes.
Lirrax politics are notoriously cutthroat. Queens seldom keep more than two or three bodyguards, as having a large security detail is seen as a sign that a queen lacks confidence in her ability to command loyalty, and thus all queens are expected to stay vigilant against assassins and spies. The various queens seldom get along, and since most queens are smart enough to know that killing one of their fellows - or killing the high-queen - threatens the stability of the government, they often work out their aggression towards one another though campaigns of humiliation and extortion. For instance, if the queen from one city has a problem with the queen from another city, she might arrange for the other queen to be kidnapped and tortured for a few days, then threaten to release vids to the public unless the other queen agrees to comply with her wishes. This has often prevented wars from breaking out between the different tribes and cities, though the tactics can get very ugly; lirrax culture prizes strength and hates weakness, and with the exception of murder, almost nothing is considered too underhanded if it exposes a queen's weakness.
Lirrax are humanoid in appearance, though their facial features are feline, and they are covered in light fur, which can range in color from simple black to bright red.
Though mostly human in appearance, the lirrax have several traits in common with the terrestrial hyena. Their digestive system is capable of processing almost every part of their prey, the exception being hair and (when applicable) hooves.
Rumor holds that the lirrax queens actually possess an ability to influence the minds of others using pheremones, but this has not yet been conclusively proven. However, they have created a powerful narcotic drug that can drive users into a feral rage.