Defectors And Overseers

In this document, we explore the Overseers and Defectors. We will explore their physiology and psychology, as well as their separate cultures and history.

Since Overseers and Defectors are the same species, when discussing a trait that they both share, the neutral term ‘Seer’ will be used to mean both.

Seer Physiology

Seers are bipedal, tall, thin sapients, whose roots stem from the planet ‘Firsthome’ in the Skysoul system. Limbwise, they possess four arms and two legs. The average adult Seer has a height ranging between 1.8 and 2.4 metres, with females standing slightly shorter and stockier than males. They appear ‘avian’ to human eyes, possessing a soft down on most of their body, whilst their head, back and arms are feathered. They possess brilliantly-coloured trains of crest-like feathers that flow off their backs, starting at the back of the neck. This ‘plumage’ changes colour and pattern constantly, reflecting emotion, meaning and a dozen other subtle things.

Seers possess long necks, and their faces can be wide or high depending on the individual. They possess a beak and four eyes, two large and two small; the top two eyes are narrower in focus toward the front of the head, whilst the lower two eyes have a wider arc. Despite this their vision is not remarkable, being about even to that of a human being with one pair of eyes. They possess teeth and a tongue, as well as a series of diaphanous ‘curtains’ of flesh within their mouths, which they can control with acute care; manipulating these curtains allows them to produce an incredible variety of sound. Their ears are internal.

Seers are thin and spindly on average. Their bones are not hollow as one might expect from a bird. As noted, they have four arms, which tend to be long, and end in long fingers, of which they have three and a thumb; a talon ends each finger, although the talon itself can be stubby or elongated depending.

Seer legs are extremely long and make up more than half their height on average. They possess talons on their feet but unlike their hands, these talons are uniformly sharp and long. Seer legs are stronger and more powerful than their arms, and whilst they do not possess a remarkable running speed, their legs allow them to achieve a great sense of balance. Seers can fight effectively with their feet, performing a vicious ‘dance’ on prone targets in which they rip and rend flesh with their powerful talons.

Internally, Seers possess organs that more or less match up to the functions that humans do, if not in the same places. They have lungs, hearts and stomachs, which are expansive. They also possess an organ in their body that translates physical energy into AT Field energy. To power this requires huge intake of energy, and so Seers must eat massive amounts of food each day if they wish to use their AT Fields, averaging about 4,600 to 5,400 calories every day.

Seer senses, outside of touch, are generally less sharp and sensitive than human standard.

Seer Life Cycle

Conception

Seer reproduction is best described as ‘aplacental viviparous’; that is, fertilisation is internal within the mother’s body, and the foetuses stay within the mother’s body until birth, at which point they are born alive. However, the mother does not have a placental connection with their foetuses; instead each forms within a sac within the mother’s body, which contains all the nutrients needed for growth. This section explores the process a little further.

Firstly, Seer conception is sexual, and takes intermittently over several weeks to months. During this time, the mother engages in sex with each of her partners, usually multiple times per partner. This act does not fertilise the mother’s eggs immediately, however; the female Seer can store the males’ sperm for up to around eighty days (or eject it at will) with no ill effects, waiting for the best time, at which point fertilisation occurs. During this time, the male gametes fuse with each other repetitively; out of this melange emerges a handful of new gametes, which go on to fuse with the ovum and form zygotes. These gametes make it impossible to tie a Seer child to a specific father, as they possess genetic material from each of their fathers. This process, however, becomes slower and more difficult if the fathers are not close relatives of each other.

This complicated process also sees the mother consume vast amounts of food, more than is usual for a Seer. This is because the mother holds the foetuses within her body, but each has its own ‘egg’, or sac, filled with nutrient yolk. Thus the food is converted into raw materials for these yolks. The Seer foetuses grow slowly over a period of sixty to sixty-five weeks. The mother’s body changes quickly shortly after conception- becoming distended and expansive in the stomach-, but remains unchanged until after birth, at which point it returns to normal. The extra weight may cause physical stress to the mother, however.

A Seer mother knows when she is to deliver her offspring once she senses their first telepathic thoughts, which usually occurs by week sixty at the earliest; if the mother does not sense any thoughts by the sixty-fourth week, then something has gone wrong. Once she has established a telepathic bond with her offspring, the eggs themselves will slowly struggle to move. At this point the mother births the sacs, an uncomfortable but ultimately safe process usually lasting about 15 minutes to an hour per egg. The eggs then hatch within one to twenty hours.

In this process, a mother gives birth to a full group of children, not just a single child; this is known as a ‘pod’. A pod on average numbers between 3 and 5 children, with 2 or 6 being uncommon but not rare. Rarely, a pod can number up to 10 children, whilst sometimes only a single child is birthed; the latter situation is known as an ‘Awkward Dancer’ birth.

Hatchlings (0-4 years old)

A newborn Seer is known as a Hatchling, and is referred to as such until they manifest an AT Field, which is usually after four or five years old. Hatchlings have only the soft down, not the long feathers of a mature Seer, nor do they have the plumage. During this period, hatchlings are taught the simple basics of Seer language, although they cannot speak it ‘properly’ yet themselves. They also form bonds with all of their parents (of whom the mother’s pod-sisters are considered to be parents too; no special distinction is made). Hatchlings learn to walk after a year, and are fitted with their first Masks at two years. Hatchlings eat very little food by Seer standards.

By the fourth year, hatchlings are usually expected to be able to count to 16 and have basic conversations. Around this time, a hatchling will start to experience growing pains and their appetite will expand enormously, approaching that of a regular Seer. Cognitively, the hatchling transitions into a curious phase and grasps very basic logic. Unlike human children, Seer children grow out of egocentric models of perception (ie. Believing that their viewpoint is universally shared) extremely quickly, usually by the age of two or three.

Childhood (4-11 years old)

By the fourth of fifth year, a Seer will manifest their AT Field for the first time. This marks the beginning of post-hatchling childhood, which is marked by major growth in the limbs and bones. Cognitive development is reflected in immense curiosity and the development of logic and a basic moral understanding. Reasoning begins to develop in this stage, quicker than in humans. By the age of six, Seer children move into a concrete cognitive phase whereby their logical approaches become more adult-like. By the age of ten, they are capable of metacognitions and abstract thinking, equivalent to an average human of the age of 14-15.

Childhood is deemed to end at the start of puberty, which is usually around 11-12 years old.

At this stage, a child will start being taught specialised skills by their parents in an attempt to gauge their talents.

Preadolescence (11-16 years old)

Preadolescence begins with the start of puberty. In Seers, puberty is a long, segmented process that doesn’t truly end until about the age of 24. Their bodies grow stronger and larger, and their appetite grows. Their cognitive development continues apace, and they prove pliable to ideas. If left to their own devices, a Seer struggles to develop proper mental inhibitions and sound decision-making faculties (checks on bad behaviour, internal voice, calculated risk-reward conclusions etc) until their early twenties, but this behaviour can be successfully taught from as young as twelve. At this stage, a Seer grows feathers and plumage, allowing for more sophisticated communication. At this stage, females grow slightly quicker than males, especially in terms of muscle growth; an average preadolescent Seer female will be reliably stronger than an average male peer until about the age of 18.

Sexual development, however, does not yet begin. During this stage, children begin to learn many skills at the basic level, and will often come to agreements about how to integrate their own abilities into the abilities of their pod. At this stage, the Seer becomes even more highly social, and forms emotional bonds quickly, especially with those who are not masked. This helps form an even stronger bond between pod-kin, but also helps form friendship with sibling-pods. This stage also sees the emergence of the children growing out of their parents’ telepathic shadows, allowing them to see things from their own point of view. This manifests almost inevitably in the Seer custom of arguing about just about anything. A pod engaging in a truly tempestuous argument with their parents or older pods is considered a point of pride and maturity in Seer parents.

Preadolescence ends with the start of sexual maturity, which begins at the age of 16.

Adolescence (16-24 years old)

Sexual development begins in a Seer around the age of 16, and develops slowly. By this stage, the changes are primarily hormonal and internal. Seer sex drives mature and develop, and sexual activity typically begins, although this activity cannot result in children until about the age of 20. Seers on average become more concerned for their physical appearance and, typically, begin learning frivolous AT Field abilities at this stage. Seer cognitive development has not yet finalised into a mature state, leading to bouts of recklessness and neurosis.

At this age, Seers also begin ‘Dancing’, a term that accompanies a broad variety of behaviours that have the same outcome: to demonstrate to all how skilled, impressive and strong the Seer is. These acts are almost invariably conducted with the pod as a whole, and can be impromptu, highly choreographed, or anything in between. Apart from being entertaining to peers and elders, Dancing serves to advertise the skills and abilities of the pod, which allows others to gauge their compatibility with their own pod, as well as attract mentors. Pods can also use Dance as a form of juvenile aggression, resulting in ‘Dance Duels’ by which two pods seek to overwhelm the other in increasingly dazzling, showy or risky behaviour. If, however, a Seer strikes another, then it is called a ‘fight’, because it inevitably becomes a brawl between up to a dozen AT Field enabled juveniles whose blood is up. Dancing between Pods, however, is also a common social behaviour that is often a sign of friendship, camaraderie, emotional support or sexual interest. Although identified as a juvenile behaviour, Seers Dance for their entire lives, although the frequency drops as they mature and become more logical and less hot-headed.

Around the age of 20, sexual maturity finally starts to result in fertility (ie the possibility of sex resulting in children), as the female Seer’s eggs start to mature. However, this can be a subtle and complex process. Seer reproduction is essentially cyclical; a female Seer will realise she is fertile due to mild abdominal discomfort (the result of internal swelling) and a temporary change in colour to the flesh around her genitalia, which lasts for roughly a month. Outside of this window, a Seer female is infertile, and will not experience a fertile period for between one to ten years. Although the infertility period varies from Seer to Seer, it is consistent to each Seer (ie. If a Seer has three years between her first and second fertile period, she will have three years between her second and third period). Seers are almost never fertile at the same time as their sisters, and the infertility period can vary wildly within a single pod. If a Seer doesn’t fertilise her egg during this period, the egg is returned to a state of hibernation until the next period. Seers experience a behavioural shift during a fertile period, which is telepathically passed onto all within a pod as well as their mates; essentially a signal to those who need to know. This behavioural shift is typically marked in increased sex drive, but other behaviours are observed as well.

Regardless of cycle or any other factors, it is rare for a single Seer to conceive more than twice in her lifetime, simply because the number of eggs she carries is limited.

Early Adulthood (24-40 years old)

More a social construct than a definitive biological state. In this period, a Seer’s cognitive development concludes, as does their physical development for those who developed late. Socially, a Seer is considered to reach ‘proper’ adulthood at the traditional age of 32.

This period is considered to be the most active in terms of long-term courtship. Seers are far more naturally prone to marrying for life than humans, due to innate as well as cultural pressures- divorces are rare (but not unheard-of). Finding good partners is a mix of Dancing, professional matchmaking and broad, casual socialisation; whilst socially it’s expected to find partners who complement your pod’s skills, personality, ‘chemistry’ and pure emotional attachment are also considered important and healthy.

At this stage, a pod will usually leave their parents’ household.

Adulthood (40-400 years old)

A fully mature Seer can expect to live to about 400 to 500 years old. During this time, they live their lives, having (usually) married and had children. A Seer household can expect to have at least one pod per woman in its lifetime, although it’s perfectly common and uncontroversial for one woman to have two pods whilst her sister has none- the number is more a rule of thumb than a hard expectation.

Past the 380-year-old mark, Seer biology starts to slow down. Reproduction becomes unviable past this point, and the body’s faculties start to decay. This decay can be rapid or prolonged based on variables such as personal health and fitness, environment, diet, etc.

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