Vaikan

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Vaikan
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Ahrganot Skizgo, a Vaikan
General information
Status Thriving
Homeworld Ucharpli
Type Monotreme mammal
Symmetry Bilateral
Diet Omnivore
Lifespan 150 years
Other distinctions Blue hair; tough, leathery skin

The Vaikan are an intelligent humanoid species from Ucharpli from the Twin Hearts Nebula in the Inner Far South Arm. Vaikan evolved from monotreme mammals, and thus lay eggs rather than giving live birth.

Appearance

Originally, the Vaikan were stout humanoids with dark blue hair as well as tough, leathery cyan skin, while the amount of hair varied from region to region.

Vaikan have binocular eyes in allowing for depth perception and stereoscopic vision; eye color often varies between blue, purple, orange and red. Both eyes are large and somewhat rectangular - 4 inches high and 2 inches wide. The inside of their mouth is lined with teeth designed to extract fluids from food. Vaikan have four fingers including an opposable thumb as well as three toes.

Vaikan also have pointed ears which vary in both length, thickness and orientation. Their acute sense of hearing compensates for their lack of trichromatic vision.

Vaikan skin varies between shades of dark blue and cyan. Combined with their thick skin, their blue colorings allow them to immunity to Szon's UV radiation. Ucharpli's thin ozone layer provides inadequate protection on its own, so most life including the Vaikan themselves evolved a resistance to it.

Regional variations

Vaikan highly vary in size and build. Variances among these features occur when one has prolonged exposure to a constant environment.

  • Feln - Medium height between five and a half and six and a half feet, short hair, very little facial hair if any. The most common variation.
  • Foth -Tall, about six feet, very long hair, oval-shaped heads. No facial hair.
  • Dorf - Short between four and half and five feet. Large builds and lots of facial hair.
  • Ain - Similar appearance as field Vaikan, but slightly shorter with longer hair. Facial hair is not uncommon.
  • Hob - Very short around four feet tall even as an adult. Smaller builds than Dorf Vaikan and with no facial hair.
  • Sav - They are slightly taller than a Hob, but tend to have hunched backs and red eyes. Their skin is gray, and their hair is white because they have been living underground. Savlins tend to keep to themselves and are not afraid to attack others who intrude in their territory.
  • Spacer - The spacer ethnicity appeared within the past thousand years when Vaikan became exposed to prolonged, sterilized environments. In general, they are taller and thinner being almost constantly exposed to gravity levels between 0.8 and 1.0 G, much unlike Ucharpli's standard gravity of 1.2 G.

Dimorphism

While males and females have identical body shapes as children, they begin to diverge upon hitting puberty. Females acquire more body fat while males develop more muscle mass.

At adulthood, a male has proportionally larger shoulders and narrower hips whereas females have proportionally larger hips and narrower waists.

Males tend to have broader shoulders to store muscle mass in their arms. Their jaws and bone tend to be very angular and sturdy. On average, males tend to be heavier, taller and more capable of greater strength while females tend to be shorter and more agile.

Females must be capable of laying eggs of substantial size. To prepare for the intense process of producing a shelled egg, mature females develop an expanded sternum area to allow for larger, more powerful hearts to cycle oxygen and nutrients through the body much faster. This region of the body is commonly mistaken for mammary glands by some species - Vaikan do not have them as they are oviparous. When not undergoing labor, females in general are far more energetic than males because of their larger hearts.

Females are generally able to distinguish more complex light patterns than males can as a leftover evolutionary trait from their time as hunter-gatherers. Females were able to spot brightly colored fruit from great distances. On the converse, not being impeded by such bright colors, male Vaikan are better at distinguishing camouflage and spotting prey in the dark.

Physiology

Energy requirements

Vaikan require fairly steep caloric intake per day to maintain their health. Males must consume 5000 calories per day and females must consume 4500 calories per day. Since the sterility plague which rendered the Vaikan unable to reproduce through natural means, the number on average has dropped to about 4000 for males and 3500 for females.

To cope with the large amounts of energy expenditure, an average Vaikan must sleep at least 7 hours per day, but must also hibernate for 2 weeks every 20 months. Modern technology has allowed some remedies to shorten the hibernation period, but rural communities that do not have access to such remedies must rotate between hibernation periods to ensure both productivity and security.

Body shape

Vaikan are most adept to cold or dry environments, and generally tall and muscular, though lean body shapes have become common in the spacefaring era. In times without food, the body can also acquire additional nutrients via a chloroplast layer underneath their skin, which evolved as a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic protists.

Epidermis

Their blue, tough skin is physically resistant to the elements and is designed to heal tissue rapidly upon damage. It is composed of microscopic, fluorescent materials which reflect harmful UV radiation, resulting in the blue color. As a result, a Vaikan can endure many kinds of injuries though the neck is considered a weak point.

Complete resistance to Szon's UV radiation comes with a major drawback. As Vaikan are naturally adept to dry environments, their primary means of perspiration is panting. Exposure to hot, humid environments for prolonged periods of time can be fatal. Modern technology lead to the creation of nanobot heatsinks and moisture collectors to allow a Vaikan to survive in said hostile environments without an envirosuit.

Vision and hearing

The Vaikan needed to adapt to the large amounts of ultraviolet radiation leaking through the atmosphere. Their eyes are covered in a thin, protective film which protect from most UV radiation. Vaikan eyes see into the ultraviolet range instead of the visible light spectrum. Thus, rather than shades of different colors, their eyes instead see objects glowing with different patterns and brightness.

Vaikan ears are pointed in shape, and their acute hearing allows them to detect even a pin drop from many meters away. Vaikan ears vary in size, shape and orientation - larger ears occurring in those native to warmer climates and smaller ears for those native to cooler climates.

Cognitive

Vaikan are naturally very self-conscious and highly intelligent. Most Vaikan prefer to think cautiously and plan their actions. When subjected to dangerous levels of hyperstress, they will enter a frenzy. Body processes multiply several times and the brain goes into an overdrive mode. Temporarily, they become extremely destructive, firing electrical volts upon anything that stands in there way. The drawback is that they become incapable of rational thought.

This frenzy may last as long as twenty minutes, and upon its end, the Vaikan who experienced it crashes and falls into a coma. Frenzies are an evolutionary leftover from hunter-gatherer times when a Vaikan was faced with danger and was unable to consciously deal with the situation.

Vaikan can also release electricity when exposed to intense emotional experience. It is believed to be a leftover of early evolutionary communication. The link between emotions and electrical output has played a part in Vaikan cultures.

Instinctual behavior

Vaikan have the instincts of pack animals. In hunter-gatherer times, females were often assigned as chieftains or other leadership positions, while males would often hunt. The rise of diverse civilizations allowed greater expanded roles.

Digestion

Vaikan, although are analogous to hominids, are actually liquivores. As Vaikan live in a very arid climate, water is difficult to find. The inside of their mouth is lined with rows of long teeth designed to drain fluids, and they have a forked tongue to detect if their prey is edible. They consume food via a mouth, which is then chewed up with a set of teeth. The ground up food is then swallowed down an esophagus.

Like the vast majority of life forms on Ucharpli, Vaikan have no stomachs, a strange evolutionary quirk in the planet's life forms. Their esophagus connects straight to their small intestine which is then processed throughout the rest of the digestive system.

A Vaikan's sense of taste perceives the richness and texture of the nutrients upon its passing into the system. The richer in nutrients the substance it is, the greater feeling of euphoria that gets triggered. Vaikan cuisine mostly consists of potato analogues or large herbivores.

In times of famine, they can use their chloroplast layer, hidden under their skin, to gather emergency nutrients. It is believed to have appeared due to a symbiotic evolution. While not essentially to their survival, this allows them to gather an emergency source of energy. Effectively, a Vaikan can simply warm up by standing out in the sun for a few minutes. Even when the sun is not out, their scales still retain heat which allows them to survive in subzero climates. This has allowed them to thrive even in ice deserts.

Common to terrestrial egg-laying animals, Vaikan excrete uric acid. This assists in eliminating toxins and conserving water.

Respiration

For breathing, Vaikan have triangular shaped noses which contain an olfactory bulb. They also have a trachea, that connects their mouth to their lungs. As a result, their mouth doubles as both a method of breaking down food as well as breathing.

To adapt to the lower oxygen levels, Vaikan actually have two hearts to be able to cycle oxygen throughout the body very quickly, and they also have large lungs. The openings in their arteries are considerably wide, and on instinct, they can move around to redirect blood flow.

Speech

Vaikan also have large vocal cords. Their mouths can form many different shapes to form distinct sounds, and their voice as a flanging effect, with the second voice sounding like a series of croaks and vibrations. This croaking effect is actually a vestigial structure that stems from a time before Vaikan had begun to speak. A non-croaking effect is recessive to croaking, and it can be controlled through genetic altering.

The flanging effect is thought to have disappeared when the Eghos nearly caused the extinction of the Vaikan, but a very small percentage of the population still naturally carries the gene. A Vaikan today can choose to have the croaking effect in their voice through genetic modification.

Skeleton

The Vaikan skeleton has a high concentration of metals, much like the bones of other Ucharpli-native animals. When a Vaikan draws nutrients from an animal, they also draw microscopic particles of metal into their system which get sent throughout their body. Their bones, interconnected and wiry, serve as conduits from which the Saskana's area of the brain can send signals and regulate life functions.

Brain structure

A Vaikan brain is divided into three general regional sectors which are responsible for processing different sets of information. The three areas are roughly equal in size.

Rather than chemical signals, Vaikan rely on electrical signals generated by Saskana's area to carry out life functions. These signals stimulate the growth of muscles and act as transistors when carrying out processes.

  • Krayhan's area - The right sector, Krayhan's area, is responsible for processing logic, language and reasoning.
  • Morduin's area - The left sector, known as Morduin's area, is responsible for expressing emotions, recognizing faces and creativity.
  • Saskana's area - The back sector, Saskana's area is responsible for the management of life functions, and is the conduit for generating bioelectricity.

When a Vaikan is in a frenzy, both Morduin's area and Krayhan's area go dormant, allocating power mainly to Saskana's area. This explains why Vaikan are "not themselves" when under such effects.

Among the Vaikan's hardened skin and metallic skeleton, the back of the head is considered a weak point due to the sensitivity of the area. A significant blunt force to the area will render a Vaikan unconscious.

Maj

Maj is the old Yallvus Talk word for magic, although this does not actually refer to magic itself. Instead, it refers to a Vaikan's ability to discharge electricity from their fingertips. Running down from their brain to their arms is a series of electrical cells. Upon activation via a brain signal, a reversal of charges occurs in the air. This shock can send enough volts upon the target to stun them for a few moments.

This stunning mechanism was an evolutionary leftover from their more primitive ancestors who used electric shocks to ward off their enemies. When Vaikan evolved to become predatory creatures, they learned how to use their electrical abilities in conjunction with weapons such as copper spears.

Having this mechanism also generates electromagnetic energy. Transforming into a magnet, a Vaikan can use this ability to scale walls with metallic surfaces, one of the evolutionary leftovers from their rock climbing ancestors.

It is believed that having this ability along with the native cold climate is the reason why Vaikan require an unusually high amount of calories and hours of sleep per day as Maj is very taxing when it comes to energy. Modern day physicians have created implants called Maj amplifiers which allow for more efficient management of Maj.

Diet

The basics of a Vaikan's diet consists of bones and bone marrow, the former which provides minerals and the latter which provides nutrients. Even today, Vaikan will eat bones in meals, opposed to other sapient species which only eat the meat. The minerals are crucial for maintaining electrical signals while the bone marrow provides energy.

Reproduction

Vaikan are oviparous and lay eggs. Viviparous animals have largely become extinct on Ucharpli. In order to produce young who are physically capable at birth, eggs laid by a Vaikan contain vast amounts of nutrients and a hard, outer shell which contains the embryo. Thus, large meals customarily precede mating.

After mating, it takes at least two weeks for the egg to form. After the egg is laid, it takes eleven months for it to develop and hatch.

One of the common signs of fertility among females is the presence of large hips which extend well beyond the shoulder width. This became a necessary survival trait for producing healthy eggs and thus is considered an attractive Vaikan standard.

Eight hundred years before the Battle with Infra, the Vaikan were afflicted with a less severe strain of the sterility plague than that of the Karnasaurs. While they can no longer reproduce oviparously, Vaikan still maintain population growth through genetic engineering and cloning. This also means for quite some time, Vaikan had forgotten the purpose of intercourse, viewing it as purely a recreational activity.

However, going without oviparous reproduction for a very long time as resulted in Vaikan, both male and female, to become physically smaller in body mass. However, the general cognitive notion of large hips equating to fertility still survives in the Vaikan mindset.

Maturity Cycle

  • Age 0 - 5
    • Hatchling Vaikan will grow to be about three feet tall. Upon birth, a Vaikan possesses the concept of object permanence.
  • Age 5 - 15
    • A Vaikan will grow to three and half feet tall. While they have developed more complex emotions by this point, they will have yet to develop significant muscle mass and body fat.
  • Age 15 - 30
    • A Vaikan will generally become stronger and more able-bodied. They will reach a height of about four and a half feet. Around this age, a Vaikan will seek out employment.
  • Age 30 - 50
    • Age 30 is considered puberty. Age 30 is considered the age of consent, and they are considered a legal adult.
  • Age 50
    • Age 50 is considered young adult. By this time, they will have fully matured albeit retaining some child-like features. The appearance of a 50 year old Vaikan is generally considered a status of experience and leadership.
  • Age 50 - 70
    • In modern era, Vaikan would seek out a mate around this age, but in the past, it was not uncommon for younger Vaikan to do so.
  • Age 70-90
    • These are middle-aged Vaikan. Generally, they are quite experienced and are considered the leaders of society.
  • Age 90+
    • Elder Vaikan age. While Vaikan have natural maximum lifespans of 150 years, nanobot technology has boosted lifespans up to 300 years.

Primal history

Early history

Vaikan share a common ancestor with four-legged monkey-like cliff crawlers. These cliff crawlers had opposable thumbs, yet stout bodies and were designed to scale large cliffsides amidst the rugged terrain.

Egg laying was favored as the cliff monkeys could hide their eggs within crevices without having to carry extra weight.

Bipedal evolution

Ucharpli was already in an ice age, but further climate change caused resources to grow more scarce than they already were. An early ancestor of Vaikan evolved known as a Muruu-kai, bipedal blue ape-like creatures. Like the cliff monkeys, Muruu-kai had excellent climbing abilities, though they lost opposable thumbs on their feet.

Muruu-kai were very short, no more than two feet tall, and they had a stout appearance.

Later evolution

Climate change grew more rapid and Muruu-kai would eventually evolve descendants that lost hair, eventually becoming the early ancestors of Vaikan. During this time, they were three feet tall and retained much of their cliff scaling abilities. They were particularly low on the food chain, and thus, they acquired the ability to induce an electrical discharge through their fingertips. This worked well with the large metal deposits in their habitat.

When modern Vaikan evolved, they had taken on their modern appearance, though it was rare for one to reach four feet high.

Electricity abilities

With the discovery of metallic tools, Vaikan quickly learned that their electrical abilities were amplified when using them in combat and hunting. Thus, the electrical gene saw a boost in commonality as those that could use electrical weapons dominated those that couldn't.

The number of Vaikan bearing electricity abilities increased further when those without it were systematically killed off by the invading Eghos species.

Post-Sterility Plague Evolution

With the shift away from oviparous reproduction, it no longer became necessary to sustain oneself with so many calories. As a result, Vaikan shrunk overall, becoming much thinner, and their eyes becoming relatively larger relative to the rest of their bodies. The prolonged periods in space permanently altered their circadian rhythm.

Unique toxins

Adrenaline

Adrenaline is toxic to Vaikan because it has an immensely exaggerated effect on them. Their minds are more naturally evolved for calm, processing of information - in prehistoric times, Vaikan would go into extremely violent outbursts to scare predators, but are otherwise very collected and logical. Because of this, adrenaline creates false signals causing unusual sensations and hallucinations.

In larger amounts, the body begins to sense imminent danger. To protect itself, the two front sectors go dormant to allocate more power to Saskana's area to expel the adrenaline from the system, causing the Vaikan to enter a frenzy. Dangerous in vast amounts, adrenaline is considered an illegal narcotic exclusive to their species.

Unique diseases

There are some unique Vaikan diseases that originated on Ucharpli.

Blood craver virus (Vampire's disease)

The Blood craver virus targets the cells in the mouth that allow them to tolerate the taste of animal blood and plant matter. Victims, on many occasions, will lose appetite for normal food and start to feed off the blood of another Vaikan. Other side effects include a boosted immune system and an elongated lifespan. Today, the virus is in captivity in a remote Vaikan colony.

Rockbone disease

A form of paralysis that solidifies the joints making a Vaikan look like a statue. They can still think, breathe and carry out life functions. The only thing they can't do is move from whatever position they are stuck in.

Daggerfang virus

A subspecies of panther known as Daggerfangs spread this virus. This disorder makes them more susceptible to frenzies.

Maj deficiency

A genetic disorder where in the Vaikan brain, the region known as Saskana's area is faulty due to a reduced amount of conduits. Found in roughly 0.1% of the population, the disorder is highly correlated with areas with extreme poverty and lack of food as on average, those with Maj deficiency eat slightly less. Unfortunately, those with Maj deficiency have difficulty with brain functions. While their intelligence is comparable to an average Vaikan, they are slow to move and react physically, and they eventually become paralyzed when they get older.

Crumbleskin syndrome

Crumbleskin will result in a Vaikan losing skin particles overtime which makes them unprotected against Szon's dangerous UV rays. Crumbleskin is a genetic disease that has yet to be cured.

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