Scellor are a species of psychic animal/plant symbiotes from the innermost depths of the galaxy. They most resemble mammalian humanoids with mottled or spotted green skin and brightly coloured hair, with large eyes, no nose and three tongues in a mouth filled with sharp retractible teeth; they have a fleshy antenna on top of their forehead called an orel, and their ears are long tubes that hang down their backs, through which they also breathe. The majority of scellor are nameless drones that gladly obey the will of their species' collective consciousness, referred to as the Undermind, and through which their minds and memories persist through death and reincarnate in new bodies. Some scellor, however, have minds powerful and wilful enough to assert their own desires, becoming sentient individuals. Due to their "immortality", scellor are a recklessly inquisitive species and not afraid to push the limits of science, exploration or hedonism.
Scellor have six castes, roughly describable as diplomats, workers, scientists, doctors, warriors and spies, each predisposed towards a particular discipline of psychic ability.
Orthan and Praal (like Mitrel and Maolla, respectively) are smaller than most humans could be, around or under 4 feet. Ulkam and Orthe (like Shiia and Rel), along with Ayaar, are about as tall as a normal but noticeably short human. Niiar, finally, go up to about 7 feet.
Niiar and Praal have dense muscles and bones and are heavy for their size. Orthe and Ayaar are a little heavier than a human the same size would be, and Ulkam and Orthan are about the same as a human for their size. Precise weight, of course, depends on what planet you're on - the scellor homeworld has gravity that's a fraction higher than earth's, a little more than 1.2 gees.
There is no notable sexual dimorphism in regards height among scellor. They do have differently shaped bodies, of course, so there is a weight difference, but not as much as between humans.
1: Message. Send a short message to a non-psychic or hold conversations with other psychics.
2: Empathy. Sense emotions, detect deception, etc.
3: Contact. Conversations with non-psychics, complex information transfer with other psychics. At this level you can also Jam other people with distracting signals - or do the opposite and take distractions away, Focusing them.
4: Read. Detect surface thoughts in unwilling subjects, deep information/memories in willing. You can also Disrupt other people's minds, stunning them.
5: Delve. Extract complex information and memories from unwilling subjects, mindmeld-like contact with willing ones. A scellor with this ability can form unified minds with other scellor.
6: Mental voyage. Journey into another's mind, psychonauts-style, to uncover hidden information, battle neuroses and even rewrite them from the inside.
1: Creation. Produce sounds, light, heat and other energy forms.
2: Projection. Use Creation at range.
3: Psiblast. Fire a disrupting bolt of psychic energy.
4: Manipulation. Alter existing forms of energy.
5: Illusion. Light, sound, etc. can be formed into convincing fabrications, and the user can cloak most all emissions, turning themselves invisible.
6: Kaboom! Blow stuff up real good.
1: Psychic Sense. Perceive psychic disturbances, powerful psychics, etc.
2: Psycholocation. Know the location and nature of everything within a certain range, trumping most forms of concealment.
3: Farseeing. Project any of your normal senses somewhere else.
4: Precognition. Receive visions of the future, either as helpful instinctual urges or vague prophecies.
5: Fabrication. Sad you can't see in infrared, hear radio signals or sense gravity wells? Well, now you can, by making new senses!
6: Show me. Send your senses hurtling back into the past to witness history, either in your location or along your own timeline. Alternately, send your senses forward along your own timeline, sensing anything that you personally will - inescapably - experience.
1: Push/Pull. Do either of those.
2: Lift. Carry things.
3: Telekinetic Bubble. Create "solid" objects of telekinetic force.
4: Telekinetic Crush. Apply contracting or expanding force. Doing so in a "burst" creates a shockwave. Contain liquids, gas and other dangerous substances in TK bubbles.
5: Telekinetic Harden. Focus Telekinetic Bubbles into stronger shapes, making effective shields, walls, and so on. Focus pulls or pushes into telekinetic "punches". All TK becomes more powerful.
6: Telekinetic Slice. Part things from each other at the molecular level.
1: Hibernate. Reduce body's consumption of resources and slow its processes.
2: Physical Enhancement. Improvement of strength, stamina, dexterity, etc - at the cost of the body's resources.
3: Healing. Induce faster healing or regeneration. Useful when training.
4: Renew. Help the body replenish itself faster, healing at a low level and clearing away defects as it does. Requires food.
5: Mental enhancement. Improve reflexes, quick thinking and senses, again with the cost of resources - and the chance that the brain will overheat.
6: Mutation. Who wants superpowers? Takes time.
1: Decelerate. Slow the passage of time within an area, relative to the rest of the universe.
2: Accelerate. Make time flow faster in an area, relative to the universe at large.
3: Gravity field. Press temporary dents into spacetime, creating small but powerful gravity wells that you can manipulate. Fun at parties.
4: Teleport. Twist through space to transport yourself elsewhere.
5: Gate. Create a pair of in/out portals that you can manipulate.
6: Reverse. Turn back the clock - but only in a limited area, and only 20 minutes. Very dangerous!
The scellor homeworld is less dense than earth due to somewhat less metals, but is a good bit larger, so has higher gravity. It orbits a binary star system which, in turn, orbits a supergiant, which is located unusually near to the galactic core; there is no "night" on the world, since even when all the suns are out of the sky the stars are far brighter and denser than on earth. It has one moon just barely large enough to hold a thin atmosphere and three that are smaller but still visible from the surface. There are many other planets in the system, generally tending towards hugeness. The homeplanet's crust is thin, with small tectonic plates; no large mountains or deep trenches and no major continents, mostly large islands and island chains spread over shallow, warm and mineral-rich oceans. Lots of earthquakes, though not as intensely, and lots of volcanic activity. Aside this disaster-prone environment, a quirk in the way this star system worked meant that every 86-and-a-bit million years the binary stars "stretched out" from each other and got closer to their planets, usually causing an extinction event.
As a result of the intense emissions of local stars and the weaker magnetic field, life on the scellor homeworld is much more resistant to radiation than on earth, but still suffers a high mutation rate, which in combination with the fast-changing environment resulted in quick natural selection and evolution, with extinction events giving regular opportunity for species to "reinvent the wheel" in myriad forms.
One form of life that persisted from an early stage, however, was kel, something like a plant or fungus that is notoriously hard to classify, as it changes itself very rapidly. It can do this because it absorbs psykonium from the environment and developed a primitive, vegetative "mind" which it uses to alter itself to mimic other plants or adapt better to its surroundings; kel spores can develop into trees, seaweeds, funguses, algaes and even develop entirely new forms when exposed to a new environment. The first animal life forms on the scellor world bonded with kel that developed symbiotically, using it in place of the mitochondria that exist in terrestrial animal cells. Almost all animals on the homeworld have some psychic ability, mostly low-level, primitive telepathy amongst members of a species; social animals are thus extremely common and can come in very large groups. Some animals instead developed internal psychic powers that enhanced their physiology, allowing the emergence of immense superpredators.
The ancestors of the scellor dwelt in trees; they might be thought of as something between squirrels and monkeys, with rudimentary tool-use on the level of poking sticks into holes to get food out and making nests to sleep in. These creatures, under pressure from predators and the lure of warming seas, moved to coastal swamps and began to develop some facility with moving in water; on a diet of fish their brains grew larger, and they developed more sophisticated tools, most noticeably in the weaving of nets. They developed longer "snorkling" ears and developed "false scent" glands on the ends of their tails to throw off predators. As they advanced and spread further, they were exposed to natural disasters and became more nomadic, developing for better and quicker adaptation by adding again to their brain size and tool use, becoming properly sentient, more humanoid and developing into the first properly recognizable proto-scellor. It is at this time that they began to develop civilization.
The proto-scellor spread across the world, and eventually developed into three "races" or subspecies: island or sea-dwelling scellor, who were smart and streamlined and lived off the ocean, who used their discoveries in combination with psychic power to begin to develop biotechnology; coastal swamp-dwelling scellor who were smaller, more reclusive and most adept with psychic powers; and land-dwelling scellor who roamed the hills and forests and developed fire, stonework and metallurgy. This was the scellor species in its natural state, before any alterations made deliberately to themselves. Each sub-species had a basic subconscious psychic link and easy telepathy amongst its members, but the Undermind did not exist and individual scellor did not normally reincarnate as they do now. Lacking the constant lure of their race-mind, all scellor were intelligent sentient persons.
In time, the ancient scellor developed astronomy and learned the fate their star system had in store for them. Eventually, they decided to mine psykonium on a massive scale and plunged into psychic development, with the end goal of pooling all their psychic power into a minor adjustment in the orbit of their smaller sun, which would end the cycle of extinction their planet had been subjected to. The attempt was a success, but the ancient scellor were trapped in the joined mind they had created and its overwhelming influence eradicated their individuality and self-awareness. It was hundreds of years before any scellor's psychic pattern became strong enough to distinguish itself as a sentient being once again, wrestling their species' overmind into an Undermind and beginning the state that their species exists in now. In time, the scellor encountered visitors from beyond the stars and embraced technology with ease, adopting a transhumanist outlook which eventually saw them modify themselves into the physical forms they now have, including the restructuring of the original three races into six castes.
Before the Undermind was formed, scellor were very different to how they are now. They were biologically the same species - a modern and primitive scellor would be able to reproduce, though the offspring might have health issues without advanced medical conditioning - but a lot has changed. Primitive scellor were not biologically optimized as modern scellor are; though they had few diseases compared to humans, they could develop internal health problems, particularly with age. Scellor women at this stage carried their children to term as placental mammals do; children were born as infants and had to be raised, though they still grew faster than humans did, reaching physical maturity at about 10 years of age. That's terrestrial years - the scellor homeworld's years are more than twice as long, and the ancient scellor usually measured long time periods by how often their pair of binary suns crossed each other in the sky (about once every 5 earth months).
Psychically, primitive scellor were far less developed than their later descendants; most individuals were capable only of empathy (actually pretty similar to Lagotrope's neumono) and basic telepathy with individuals with whom they were "attuned", usually members of the same community. There was a spoken language, several of them in fact, but scellor vocal cords and diaphragm control was always rudimentary (modern scellor are even worse), and the relatively simple sounds they could make to form words had to be augmented with empathic inflection. Beyond that, other psychic powers were rare, but almost all scellor would at least have heard stories about them; for the most part, any serious psychic potential was the domain of hermits, mystics, cultists and occasional rare prodigies. Working in groups was a necessity for any truly impressive psionic feats, again except for rare individuals. Scellor could, as they do now, use psykonium to enhance their psychic abilities, but deposits of psykonium had a tendency to attract various giant monsters and other living dangers. Overall, psychic powers were treated like magic! And relatively low magic. Perhaps some day it'd be interesting to do a "sci-fi fantasy" story set in this time period, but not any time soon. Or perhaps someone else would like to? Hm. Well, let's move on.
The different castes didn't exist. Instead, as described in previous posts, there were three major races - illustrated here from left to right, girls along the top and guys along the bottom. The first, older race might be referred to as pygmy scellor, being small, and who lived in tropical swamps, marshes and waterside forests by preference. Then seafaring scellor, who lived on islands and archipelagoes; and, finally, the giant scellor (actually only about the same height as a normal human), who lived on what you might call their planet's pitiful excuse for continents. The largest continuous landmass is smaller than australia, and even then is a twisty mess of fjords and inland seas, riddled with volcanic activity. Again as previously mentioned, the scellor homeworld has a thinnish crust with smaller and more numerous continental plates than earth, and its extra suns and moons contribute both to the geological activity and chaotic weather. Natural disasters were a problem for all the ancient scellor.
The pygmy scellor (not their proper name, obviously - they didn't even call themselves scellor) were the most reclusive of the three, dwelling in relatively crude treetop villages in secluded corners of their waterlogged homes. They were the least technologically developed, mostly because they had no access to materials that wouldn't rot away in a few years. Occasionally they might get something more advanced from the other races, but the extent of their own development was simple devices of rope and wood, used for hoisting goods into the trees or laying traps for their food animals. They had small boats, of course, and had a particular fondness for nets: aside being their main source of food and essential for carrying things, they would also drape them around their homes to make climbing easier, and endowed them with religious significance, metaphorical for the strands connecting and tying together themselves and all other life in a great web. They liked them so much, wearing them was common, both for decoration and to have them handy to use; most other "clothing" was camouflage, usually involving leaves tied at the extremities to break up the outlines of their bodies and blend colours so as to let them fade into the background of their environment. The pygmy scellor had the most psychics of the three races, partly because of their funeral practices; bodies were moved to "gravegroves" where the bodies, consumed by the kel spores inside them, would become trees or other local plants. On significant days, fruit from these trees would be eaten, allowing the tribe to gain the "strength" of their ancestors (actually the traces of psykonium that had been in their bodies). These gravegroves were pretty sacred! Most of the trees would be marked in some fashion, and decorated in ways the tribe would feel was too dangerous for their own homes. Outsiders visiting and especially interfering with the grove could easily upset them; they were relatively dangerous in and of themselves, with spooky psychic phenomena drifting between the trees, faint echoes of the scellor who had died to produce them. Because of the pygmy scellor's isolated, tight-knit communities, their shaman-like psychics' powers tended towards the sympathetic: telepathy, prognostication and healing powers directed at other individuals. Overall, they were quiet and reserved; making a lot of motion and sound was discouraged, to avoid attracting dangerous predators. However, they were remarkable painters, with access to plenty of natural pigments, and filled the insides of their huts with vibrant colours in order to offset the relative gloom beyond their doors. There was little difference between the sexes.
Sea scellor, while having the most isolated settlements, were ironically also the most well-travelled of the ancient scellor, with a tendency to form vast trading networks. While they were as much at the mercy of the weather and geology as other scellor, their island homes were safe from giant predators (though the oceans were a different matter); with this relative safety, especially when combined with more environmentally secure islands such as as those formed by extinct volcanoes, they were able to develop a stronger sense of their own history and invest in more long-lasting structures, both physical and social. Stone circles designed for various time-telling purposes were common in their early history, leading on up to more elaborate works such as stepped pyramids and buildings carved out of natural rock. Despite having limited land, they made use of natural (and later, artificial) bays and tidal lagoons to develop sea-based agriculture, farming fish and shellfish, seaweed, and a kind of giant sea millipede (that's good eatin'!). A trained sea scellor diver could hold their breath for a bit more than 20 minutes at a time. Having little to fear from predators and an eager interest in showing off to outsiders, sea scellor were keen on decorating themselves, making use of leather, carved bone, stone and wood, leaves, flowers and whatever other sufficiently prestigious materials were at hand; they had little concern for coverings beyond that, especially those that would get in the way in the water, and mostly used crude skirts of leaves and crude rope to keep some of the sunlight at bay. In their spare time, storytelling was a common form of recreation, along with singing and woodwind music that humans would consider quite crude and simplistic. The majority of sea scellor societies disposed of their dead at sea, currents permitting, but a few disreputable cultures practiced cannibalism. This was a dangerous prospect for ancient scellor, as fragments of the dead scellor's personality could impress themselves on whoever ate their body; doing so repeatedly could cause insanity, depending on one's strength of mind. At the same time, however, such individuals developed stronger psychic powers, which sea scellor were otherwise pretty lacklustre with compared to the other two races. Such psychics were most famous (or infamous) for using telepathy to tame giant sea creatures; less immediately impressive, but more dire, was their tendency to develop inauspicious powers of prophecy, which also allowed their most advanced masters to sense the fabric of space-time and become the first scellor to manipulate it. The vast majority of scellor were understandably wary of and often repulsed by these people, but in time, secret cults practicing similar methods would spread through other scellor cultures. Other sea scellor psychics, few though they were, tended to dabble in more agricultural uses of their powers, and in later periods would begin developing crude biotechnology. Typically, female sea scellor mostly tended to the farming, while males went fishing further afield; males were responsible for trading with others, but females were responsible for dealing with traders who came to them.
Giant scellor, finally, were to become the most "civilized" by standard human reckoning. After early years as nomads, the majority would settle into fortified towns designed to fend off dangerous creatures and, later, other giant scellor city-states. They developed proper agriculture, pottery, the wheel, metalsmithing and even the production of glass. However, the scellor homeworld has a significantly lower proportion of metal than earth; iron, in particular, was split with psykonium, leaving it about three times harder to find than terrestrial iron. As already mentioned, psykonium itself, in ore form, attracted the giant beasts that used internal psionic powers to sustain themselves, making it horrendously difficult to mine even when it could be found. Combined with the scellor world being so waterlogged, all metals were valuable commodities, and the history of the giant scellor was rife with conflicts over supplies of the stuff. Warriors used armour crafted from the bones, hide or carapaces of superpredators, and the majority of the population made do with weapons and tools made of bronze when possible, saving more advanced aids for when real necessity required it. The sciences beckoned: natural disasters were still a plague for giant scellor, with tales abounding of settlements wiped from the map or crippled in such a manner that the creatures of the wilderness could finish them off, leaving abandoned towns and ghost castles to tempt foolish explorers. Environmental pressures, then, begged for the scellor to develop systems to analyze and predict the patterns of their world, observing the shaking of the earth, the surge of the tide and the sweep of the suns and moons for signs of disaster. The giant scellor led the way in such advances, though prompted and assisted somewhat by sea scellor, and it was advances in this field that allowed them to chart the stellar cycles that would eventually push the species to its fate (or doom). Wealth permitting, relatively advanced chemistry was available, as well as relatively crude (and expensive) clockwork devices. In contrast to their more nudist cousins, giant scellor wore something closer to what would be considered proper clothing, having developed weaving and its attendant advances. Furs were also common, and jewelry, albeit with gems set much the more often in wood or bone or elaborately woven strands of cloth than into metals, precious or non. Giant scellor enjoyed music and dancing when times were good, with particular favour for string and percussion instruments. Giant scellor settlements had a broad variety of ways of disposing of their dead, but most involved shipping them quite far away, so as to avoid attracting predators. The psychics of this race tended most towards the more blunt, brute-force psionic powers, such as telekinesis and pyrokinesis, and most often put such skills to work for crafting - or, somewhat more rarely, used them to combat monsters and enemy warriors. More rarely because such individuals tended not to live so long. Giant scellor had the most pronounced cultural differences between the sexes, with men as warriors and taking care of the most physically strenuous labour, while women handled more sedate crafts.
All ancient scellor tended towards a certain fatalistic approach, partly from the relatively high probability of unexpected disasters, and partly due to influence from individuals who could genuinely get some sort of feeling for the future, though other scellor tended not to be comfortable around them (stop talking about that vast roar of endless voices screaming at you from centuries yet to come, dude!). There was a strong tendency in the whole species, as there is in modern scellor, to produce as many offspring as possible and send them out to colonize other lands, knowing that if there wasn't anywhere free for settlement, there soon would be. Politically, scellor were relatively varied, though humans would find them unusual in their lack of centralized leadership. By "default", each community would form internal, informal collections of individuals with similar skillsets, who would automatically become leaders when the situation called for their expertise. Within said groups, shifting tides of personality and strength of will would modify leadership every day, with empathic intuition clearing the sense of who was in charge at any particular time. Some communities, especially those who were more "civilized", would be more formal in their politics, with guilds or councils or advisorships or similar, but the basic structure was usually there. Psychics, though powerful in their communities, tended to be more interested in their abilities than in taking charge, a quality responsible for getting them the powers in the first place. It was only in the case of groups of psychics, for example the aforementioned sea scellor cultists, that psychics might tend to dominate a society's decisions. Which is not to say the scellor never had leaders: occasionally, particularly powerful personalities, most often well-respected polymaths (or unscrupulous telepaths) would effectively become chiefs of their communities.
There was art, and philosophy, and politics. Relations between different tribes, different nations, both benevolent and hostile. War, crime, exploration, wonders and treasures and adventure. Music, stories, architecture, history. Culture. So what is left? Perhaps a few stones, piled oddly, covered in vegetation.
All else is buried, sunken in the ocean of endless thought and noise.
As established, there are six castes of modern scellor; six was actually a pretty significant number to the ancient scellor, as was three, as they had three moons and three suns (actually, they have four moons that are visible to their naked eye, but one of them is small and only visible when no suns are out, and they generally thought it was some special wandering star). All of them are heavily modified and mixed from the three races of pre-Undermind scellor, but I'm saving the talk on the scellor's general modification of themselves for another post to itself. All scellor contain the genetic instructions necessary to develop the traits of any caste; diet, training and treatment during childhood is what decides what an individual will become, usually with strong consideration of their existing genetic predispositions.
Praal, the "builder" caste, are small (to make navigating the innards of ships and buildings easier) but strong and solid. They have dense muscles, sturdier skeletons, and firmer skin than most other castes, and of course are thus heavier than their size would indicate. You've possibly noticed that all scellor tend to go barefoot, and have a tendency towards what might be referred to as "mega man legs", where their proportions seem to increase outward from the knees down. This is because scellor evolved in marshy swamps and coastal areas where the water (or dense undergrowth) was filled with little bitey things, so scellor essentially developed boots built into their feet. In Praal, who were assumed to all have telekinesis anyway, the overdevelopment of the forearms and hands was for similar purposes; they don't need them for fine manipulation, so instead they've traded dexterity for strength and protection. Thick gloves built into their hands, to re-use the metaphor. Four fingers have been merged into three thicker, stronger ones. They have "claws" where the skin at the tips of their fingers is particularly hard and comes to a blunt point; they aren't sharp, but do make it easier to jab into vulnerable areas. Praal are the second most populous caste, making up the majority in urban areas.
Praal, like three other castes, have a "fat" orel that thickens out before tapering to its point. They are small and cute, but should also have a little sense of power to them; stocky is not quite the right word, but compact. A slight sense of contents under pressure. A bit of muscle definition. They have spikyish hair, sort of a clean but unkempt look, and usually shortish but not enough that it looks like they particularly care beyond practicality. Similarly, I don't draw female praal with defined eyelashes, the goal being to make them look a bit less delicate. Their faces are a little rounded.
Niiar, the warriors, are the caste closest to the old "hill" scellor race. Knowing that by galactic standards their species was not very agile, scellor on the cusp of their new era decided their fighters would go for more brutish power. Big guns, big armour, and lots of troops, that's the scellor strategy. Space marines, but more like bootleg knockoff space marines; mass production would be the order of the day. Thus, Niiar were designed mostly for size, strength and toughness, and to be able to carry big chunky war machines. They borrow a lot of elements from Praal, enjoying the same benefits to skin, muscle and skeleton, and have a similar structure to their arms and hands, though Niiar arms are longer in proportion to their bodies than other scellor. Niiar would be the most populous caste if one judged by how many are produced; being warriors, though, the rate of attrition puts them in third place.
Niiar orels have a "scorpion tail" look, with a little crest flicking back over the tip. They're not only taller but a bit broader than other scellor, particularly in the shoulder; they look powerful, but in a somewhat crude way. Just a little bit of hulk. Spiky hair, like Praal, and usually much shorter. Their eyes are a little smaller in proportion to their face than other scellor, and their faces are longer and a bit more angular. Plenty of muscle all over.
Orthan, the "diplomats" or managers, are small and thin, scrawny even, and closely related to the ancient swamp scellor. Based on the assumption that no-one would need more intimidation by their species, the scellor decided their emissaries should present a more vulnerable face; Orthan are designed, therefore, to evoke sympathy and concern. Being small is also a big help in that it reduces their dietary needs; Orthan can go longer without appropriate food than other scellor can, and their lower weight makes it easier for them to handle high gravity. Overall, they have been tinkered with in such a fashion that they are actually very adaptable; though comparatively vulnerable to direct injury, they are more comfortable in extreme or alien environments than other scellor are. Still, they are the second rarest caste; orthan drones are seldom used for anything else than telepathic relays.
Orthan are tiny, thin and cute. Their orels are slim and whip-like. They have soft-looking curly hair, usually a little long, and have big, big eyes, often with large, defined eyelashes.
Ulkam have a somewhat nebulous "purpose", being divided into two main professions: science and transportation. They're relatively unmodified compared to the other castes, being a more direct port and upgrade of the ancient island scellor. In a way, they're the closest to an average from which the others deviate, and ulkam sentients are the most likely to forego the traditional roles of their caste. They do, however, have particularly sharp senses compared to other scellor, with a bit more room in the braincase for the processing power to deal with it, and they have little more delicacy in their hands.
Ulkam are the most plain-looking scellor. They have slightly longer faces, and straight hair. What makes them as characters is what they do or what they know; they're a little less scrutable than the others.
Orthe, called the "doctors" by other species because that's what the ones they meet tend to do, would be more appropriately called "growers". They are the most populous caste, making up the vast legions of scellor who produce food, create and tend to biotechnology, and raise children. Whole continents of scellor worlds are given over to production of food, with a layer of orthe spread out over the whole thing; even in cities and on space craft, biotech life-supporting and life-easing systems need daily supervision and gardening to keep them in line. Orthe were designed, then, to be a bit more efficient than other scellor (excepting Orthan), needing less food and able to go for longer without it. Orthe can be thought of as the "default" caste; a scellor child who somehow grows in isolation will become one.
Orthe, being life/biology-themed, are the "sexy" caste, in a breedery sort of way. The females are a bit softer and curvier, and the males are a little more romance-novel-cover-er. Like Orthan, they have soft, curly or wavey hair, which is usually pretty long.
Ayaar, finally, are the spies, saboteurs and secret police of the scellor. They are the rarest caste, as they are only made "on demand"; when a sentient psychic pattern inhabits an ovum and indicates that it wants to become one of them. They are scellor with all the optional extras, given the best features of each other caste so far as they can be pushed without interfering with each other. With the advantage of extra medical effort and expense put into their physical development, they're the most versatile of all the scellor castes; the most agile and dextrous, while still being decidedly hard-wearing, powerful and economical, with decent senses and keen brains. "Not the best at anything, but second best at everything."
Ayaar are the most physically variable caste, and can blend traits in regards face structure, eyes, hair and build, so long as they don't go to the extremes of the other castes. They are usually around the same size, though, and should have an air of competence and, especially, danger. Ayaar are in some ways the "best" scellor, so of course I would usually use them to represent the worst of the scellor, bringing the lurking threat and alien nature of the species closer to the foreground when they're involved. Ayaar characters, then, would be usually drawn to look crueler, creepier or crazier than other scellor.
I am not a biologist, so if any real biologists are devastated by my ignorance, please point out anything that's super dumb. Pointers on how to make things make more sense would be appreciated!
Any understanding of scellor biology must begin with the basis of all animal life on the scellor homeworld, kel spores. Are they a plant? A fungus? Their own funky thing? They can be almost anything. After eons of mutation and extinction cycles, any individual kel spore contains several species' worth of genetic code; somehow, mystifyingly, the spore can use trace elements of psykonium to sense its environment and select the code it needs to adapt and thrive. No one species of kel spore can turn into anything, but each species has a vastly diverse range. One single species - that found in the scellor themselves - is responsible for forms as tiny as the trichloroplasts that live inside other cells, up to specialized organ systems, to the heavy seed-like ovum, even on to the massive trees that grow from a dead scellor's body.
Speaking of cells - scellor cells start off roughly similar to those of a terrestrial animal, if a bit larger. The main difference is the kel spore inside each one, which as mentioned usually takes the form of a trichloroplast, serving the same symbiotic function as terrestrial mitochondria (though not quite as well). Even now, however, the kel is ready to switch it up as conditions change. If exposed to high light levels, it will push out normal chloroplasts to begin photosynthesis; perhaps more interestingly, if it finds itself in an otherwise healthy cell that doesn't seem to be moving around, it will drift towards the cell membrane and begin building its cell some cellulose armour, as we see along the top of the attached image. If, after a long period, the cell remains where it is and is not stretched or deformed, it will find that it has developed a sturdy cell wall. The upside of this for the scellor is that soft tissues that don't move much - away from the joints, against the bones and cartilage and under the skin - stiffen and become an extra layer of protection against physical injury. The downside is that inactivity carries the risk of one's limbs seizing up. Thus, although many scellor are more than happy to maintain health and strength using medical treatments, they must pursue a strict regimen of flexing and stretching if they want to stay mobile. Maolla, in the bottom left, would rather this was not the case. But what can you do?
As a symbiotic but independent organism, kel spores can survive the death of their host cell, upon which they will devour its remains and begin growing into their tree-like form. Fortunately for their greater host, a young and healthy scellor's immune system actively searches for and destroys any "wood" growing in their body. What about big injuries, though? In the bottom right of this picture we have an example of what happens. Poor torpedotits here, after receiving a terrible wound and losing her arm besides, is bleeding profusely and has a ragged mess of dead cells bordering her injuries, too thick to let her immune system reach in. Exposed to the air (assuming her native atmosphere), a sugary sap-like substance in her blood swiftly gums up the wound and prevents blood loss. Coincidentally, this (delicious) rubbery gunk provides a feast for the kel to begin growing, consuming the dead flesh around her wounds but prevented from growing too far into her living tissue by her immune system. Over time, it will be pushed back as fresh cells pour in to replace those lost, and her wounds will eventually heal. Mostly. Scellor can develop scar tissue just as terrestrial animals can, save that theirs is consumed from within and develops into something very similar to wood. Thus, battle-worn scellor will appear to have patches of bark across their skin; particularly large scars may even put forth leaves or flowers.
Scellor blood is a very dark brown (resulting in a variety of unimaginative epithets), ranging in precise shade depending on the individual's lineage, age and health; scellor entering old age have blood tinted more towards green, while young scellor or those engaged in a lot of physical training will be more reddish. A variety of other pigments, which normally express themselves through eyes, hair and flowers (if any), may tint the shade towards other colours. Generally, however, the casual observer under normal lighting will assume that their blood is black, and a scellor with flushed skin will merely show a darker shade of their normal skin tone. Many scellor would prefer if their blood was actually black, and individuals who demonstrate particularly dark blood through the shade of their lips or eyes are often considered especially attractive.
Along with a couple of other things. Once again if anything I say is monumentally stupid, tell me about it.
As previously discussed on Xeno Theatre, scellor evolved on a world close to the galactic core, which was thus endowed with a particularly dense sky. A pair of binary stars orbiting a massive supergiant effectively provided them with three suns, making night and day erratic affairs; even when all three were on one side, the night sky on the planet's dark face was filled with stars and nebulae much larger and brighter than on earth. Early lifeforms were so swiftly dependent on light to find their way around that bio-luminescence became extremely common in organisms that had otherwise adapted for dark environs such as forest floors or deep seas. What this means for scellor is that they have poor night vision, their eyes suited to a light level somewhat higher than the galactic average; a human in a scellor ship or lit building would probably consider it uncomfortably bright. And, because scellor are adapted for environments with limited visibility - forests, swamps, hills, under murky water - they are also slightly more short-sighted than humans, though this difference has been minimized since modern scellor "tuned up" their bodes with genetic modification. The upside of this otherwise poor vision is that scellor are significantly better at seeing colours than humans are, able to identify smaller differences and perceive some additional colours.
Scellor hearing, on the other hand, is worse in almost all ways than human hearing; it has a slight advantage underwater and is otherwise pretty terrible. They are compensated somewhat by being entirely better with another, more subtle sense, their proprioception - the sense of where their body parts are in relation to each other. This gives them an advantage when moving in three dimensions: their ancestors enjoyed this underwater or in the treetops, while modern scellor find it helpful in the absence of gravity. Combined with the use of their tail and other additional appendages, an average scellor has a better sense of balance than a normal human does.
Scellor have a very rudimentary set of scent receptors in their ears; if those pick up anything that hints at being interesting, they'll take a breath through their mouth, where their secondary tongues will take a much more delicate sample. The primary tongue in the center, larger and longer than the other two, functions much like what humans would consider a "normal" tongue with normal tastebuds, while the secondary tongues to either side are thinner, more delicate, and covered in softer, feathery receptors that pick up more complicated scent and taste. Thus, for scellor, holding one's mouth open to breathe is an indicator of alertness and tension.
Since we're in the area, I'll also talk about scellor teeth. Like certain earth animals such as rabbits, scellor teeth continue growing throughout their lives, albeit very slowly once adulthood has been reached. Their front teeth are terribly sharp: however, their hardness and thin edge make them very brittle, necessitating the ability to retract their teeth in order to protect them from casual damage. This also allowed the use of a length of firm tissue behind their gums to actually sharpen their front teeth every time they come out, so once again, they are very sharp; some ancient scellor harvested these teeth from their dead for use in tools and weapons. They have slightly blunter teeth towards the back of their mouths, but scellor do not really chew like humans do; these back teeth are for cracking shells or briefly biting into large chunks of food to see if anything dangerous or especially tasty is concealed within. The real work of grinding the food down is taken care of by the gizzard, which has its own chitinous "teeth", like some terrestrial insects do.
All physical scellor senses are constantly being checked and cross-referenced with their psychic senses; on their homeworld, all living things produced a considerable psychic field, with animate organisms producing even stronger ones. Scellor bodies developed this checking system as a counter to camouflage, allowing them to tell whether that erratic boulder was actually made of rock or was in fact an example of the rare four-clawed granite grabber; or whether their mouthful of fruit contained any venomous wasp larvae. The downside of this for modern scellor is that they have a hard time identifying dangerous creatures that don't have any psychic presence (killer robots, for example), since a part of their mind has already disregarded it as an unimportant background element. Sources of extreme heat are an exception to this, provoking a strong fear response of the sort that develops when your planet has lots of volcanoes and you catch on fire easily.
"Standard" Genetic Modifications
Being crazy into transhumanism (or rather, transcellorism), the scellor have rummaged around in their own chromosomes in a way that only a species that considers its bodies disposable could. Now, there are a few unengineered scellor around, but they're only a small breeding population of a few hundred individuals, kept on the home world as, essentially, a backup. There are similar small groups of scellor with nonstandard modifications, just as alternatives in case some common feature turns out to not have been such a good idea after all. Since the scellor number in the hundreds of billions, however, these groups are hardly worth mentioning. A larger but still minority segment of the population represents "freegene" scellor, who are still modified, but are not screened for genetic defects during development; this is just so that the species gene pool doesn't stagnate. The vast majority are still smoothed-out, overclocked superscellor, enjoying a range of improvements that the species as a whole was eager to pile on almost as soon as they got into space. Aside the reordering into castes that I already discussed, and the changes to their reproductive system which I may dedicate a post to at some point, I'm going to list the major features that the scellor have pushed onto themselves here, and the reasoning behind them.
The first modification, before anything else, was what you might call a general tune-up. The early spacefaring scellor paid a lot for advanced alien scientists to unravel all the mysteries of their own biology, and developed their own medical knowledge in the process. That done, the first round of changes was a general sweep of cleaning up, ironing out inefficiencies and improving systems wherever possible, mostly in the internal organs. This work eliminated a lot of the more glaring flaws, but in the main, it was used not to improve their bodies' functioning but rather to have smaller organs that could still do the same work. This would create room for more radical modifications, and has the added benefit of making the scellor less susceptible to puncturing wounds; smaller vital organs simply means less chance of having your heart or guts lethally pierced by a bullet or a piece of shrapnel.
This done, the scellor focused on more colonial needs. There are a lot of habitable worlds in the setting the scellor live in by default, but variations in climate, gravity and other environmental factors make for some large differences between "liveable" and "comfortably liveable". The scellor species, and orthan in particular, were modified to be more at home in a wider range of situations. Their skin was altered to need less moisture while regulating temperature better, making them more comfortable in cooler or hotter climes; their bones were made a little more sturdy against high gravity, and along with their muscles were proofed against degeneration in low gravity. Their lungs were fitted with filtering that allowed them to deal with different atmospheric mixes and even screen out some more directly hazardous gases. The largest change was to their digestive system, with a set of organs and associated plumbing that would allow a far wider variety in the scellor diet. The new scellor can digest foods that would have been toxic or inedible before, including food from worlds where the amino acids are flipped around, though in for example that latter case the process is terribly inefficient, and an individual would have to eat nigh constantly to keep themselves from starving; thus, it's only of any real use on worlds that are already civilized to the point of having a surplus.
But this was not enough! There existed, and had existed for a long time, a set of modifications for spacefaring, which in most species were usually only for the children of wealthy spacedwellers. The scellor, enthusiasts as they are, piled it in with all the rest. Their existing high resistance to radiation was bumped up another notch, the nausea and other discomforts of microgravity were proofed against, and a complicated overhaul of the respiratory and circulatory systems was put in place to protect against depressurization. Scellor can't live in a vacuum - that's still a bit of a tall order - but can survive space emergencies far better than most all-natural species. In the best-case scenario, given a chance to catch their breath and cover their eyes, a scellor could go for an unprotected space walk for a bit more than 10 minutes without permanent damage, if they didn't mind being in constant, increasing pain.
Such rampant tinkering has not gone unnoticed by other species. There are a lot of groups that oppose these sorts of sweeping alterations, from ideological groups that oppose the "unnatural", to political groups that simply disapprove of anything that could mean more alien influence in their own territories. At the same time, however, after initial input from more developed species in the early decades, the scellor rapidly advanced in the biological sciences and did most of the work on themselves by themselves, taking most outside help only at the earlier conceptual stages. Given that biotechnology became their biggest export, the scellor have handily become the biggest advertisement for their own work.
Once again I hear your cry, "but Jukashi! I thought scellor didn't have romance!". Once again, you are an attentive and keen-minded examiner in xenostudies. And the truth is, you're right! They don't. But, as with culture, they used to have something... sort of similar. Close enough that a human could confuse it for the same thing. Listen now, and I'll tell you how things used to be, and how this ancient feature of scellor minds turned from a helpful social force to a dangerous mental illness.
To start us off, we have to understand a few essential differences in the scellor mindset. The scellor homeworld is incredibly fecund - it's borne life for a long time, life which has been prone to very rapid mutation, and the result is that practically every corner of the place is crammed full of thriving lifeforms, thus providing more food than anyone needs. For most of their history, the scellor as a species also had no need for metals or other rare supplies (or at least, had not discovered a need), so ultimately, scellor groups only had only one environmental resource to really fight over: places of safety. Competition between individuals - for the best food, furs, etc. - was relatively unheard of, compared to humans, at least. This is part of what created the scellor's natural tendency towards "leadership by profession" (as mentioned in the last post), which in turn created a situation where competent, capable individuals were a valuable resource in themselves. When two scellor groups fought over land, they tended not to fight to the death; they would fight until one side was clearly going to be the victor, upon which the best of the losers would be taken into the victor's group to replace their losses. In some cultures this was slavery, in some a sort of timed servitude arrangement, some even just wholesale adoption, but the overall theme was the preference for capture rather than killing. Scellor, even at this point in their development, were almost never really inclined to do each other any serious harm; anger, hate or fear between scellor just doesn't inspire violence, the actual need to eliminate a threat, as it does between humans. The only scellor emotions that cause that sort of thing are either the dispassionate "needs must" of niiar mood, or a very extreme type of disgust or contempt that is relatively rare.
The reason I explain all this is to provide the reason why scellor have a function which builds relationships quickly and strongly; the wholesale transplant of individuals into a new group was quite common. This is where we get back into our space magic, because the psychic powers are coming in. Two scellor who felt the same emotion towards each other - even if it was mild, and regardless of what type of emotion it was - would, if they stayed close to each other for long enough, start to feed their emotions back into each other. If for example they admired each other, the admiration of one would be telepathically felt by the other, feeding into their own admiration, which would feed into the first one again, raising theirs again, and back and again and so on, until the two would be experiencing an invigorating emotional high every time they came near each other. This bond would allow easier telepathic communication and encourage intimacy and learning about each other: co-labourers would work better together, rivals drive each other to new heights, males be persuaded to stick around with pregnant mates, and so on. And, because at this stage scellor only had so much psychic power available to them, there was a built-in cap preventing things from escalating too far. If the emotions involved in a bond were affection and physical interest, then the relationship would become something that a human could easily identify as romantic.
With the Undermind in play, however, the whole thing went tits up. All scellor now receive a constant influx of emotion and psychic energy from the Undermind; thus, when this some bond begins to form in modern scellor, it escalates without any natural cap to put a stop to it; not only that, but any number of random, chaotic feelings and thoughts from the Undermind are prone to get pulled into the loop. The individuals involved will become dangerously obsessive, addicted to the intense emotions of the link; in time they'll begin experiencing mood swings, then go insane, and eventually suffer brain damage and, finally, death. Fortunately, the increased psychic link between all scellor allows other individuals to drag the participants out of their feedback loop, at least in the early stage. It's only when a pair are isolated together for long periods that danger looms, and this is, understandably, rare.
So: scellor sort of have something that looks like romance? But they wouldn't think of it as such, and in modern scellor it's a ticket to crazy town. Most scellor would not be aware that it's anything more than an unfortunate glitch in how their minds work.
Modern scellor do experience a phenomenon whereby multiple psychic patterns develop a tendency to pull back towards each other in successive reincarnations, but it is also rare, and its human equivalent would be more like a sibling relationship.
Free Will Collective
The Free Will Collective is a political movement that has existed in scellor society for quite some time. Formed in reaction to the early government's consolidation into a single power, they believe that the government is corrupt and obstructive, seeking to dismantle it and replace it with their own ideology of Free Will.
When most species think of the term "free will", they think of the individual's right to make decisions and choose their own path in life. The Collective's meaning of Free Will, however, is something very different; it refers not to the will of the individual, but the will of the undermind. The Free Will Collective believes that the undermind represents the most complete, harmonious, and unbiased expression of the scellor race's needs, thoughts, and desires; as such, the scellor will be best off when they serve the undermind directly, without the wishes of any individual getting in the way. According to their members, the government - any government - is inherently obstructive, distorting the undermind's will through the mind of limited, biased individuals, forcing the scellor to obey their authority and distancing them from what is truly best.
Of course, as any scellor knows, the undermind is far from harmonious, united, and unbiased. Free Will believers reply that serving individual rulers will lead to the same problems, but worse.
As with any political party, members of the Free Will Collective vary widely in their beliefs, even in the context of their ideology. Some believe that Free Will sounds nice, but the government's doing a decent enough job as it is, and it's best not to do anything drastic. Others commit acts of terrorism and sabotage against government workers and facilities. Some want to go as far as forcibly converting all sentients (or, as they call them, "deviants") back to drone status, thinking this will calm the chaos of the undermind and make the scellor race into a truly unified whole.
To the scellor, death is inconvenient but not tragic. For most of them, dying means returning to the Undermind, leaving some of their memories and skills behind, and starting a new life in another body, while their old body is recycled by the Orthe into useful organic machines. Some, however, cannot abide by this.
At times, a particularly willful scellor will become so attached to his current state of existence that he refuses to pass on even as his body begins to fail. Usually motivated by some sense of purpose too strong to ignore, he will use his psychic abilities to remain behind, subtly warping his body so that he may continue to inhabit it even if he can do nothing else. This is seen as a sad state to exist in, both because it is mentally and emotionally painful for the short time it lasts, and because the interference makes their bodies hard to work with. Some Orthe, however, have managed to put these souls to good use.
Officially named Psychoactive Echo Technology (Echotech for short) and nicknamed Kel Haunts, these machines are designed to work with, rather than against, the lingering scellor mind. The result is a stable organic machine which can live without its inhabitant's focus, instead letting his psychic powers serve as the device's function. Echotech comes in a wide variety of forms and functions, from a gun that shoots powerful bolts of psychic fire, to a vending machine that can heal the injuries of those who sample its drinks, to a satellite orbiting a dead planet which shows millennia-old images of when its inhabitants were still active. However, most of them have some features in common.
First, they tend to be bulky. The presence of a semi-functional scellor brain and the organs needed to sustain it means that the device must be larger than normal. This is generally only noticeable for portable equipment, though.
Second, they require a sentient scellor to operate them. Kel haunts are focused beyond reason on their own personal missions; letting such a mind run autonomously would risk disaster, and a drone would merely serve as a new body for the haunt to operate itself with. Even a strong-willed sentient can easily fall under the influence of the haunt's powerful emotions, which will in any case affect how the device functions. A weapon might impart its hate of humans onto its wielder, while a medical device could mutate its patients to match its own unique sense of aesthetics. While inconvenient, this same focus is capable of extreme power; combined with their specialized designs, kel haunts can peform feats of psychic might that are all but unthinkable for a "living" scellor.
Third, they tend to require a startup period. Echotech is generally designed to hibernate when not actively in use, although there are some devices which operate continuously. Properly designed echotech can live for thousands of years and reach legendary status in people's minds, as lost artifacts of incredible power, or as magical forces "haunting" a local area.
For obvious reasons, echotech is a controversial subject among the scellor. Some believe that creating it is horrifyingly cruel and that kel haunts should be mercy-killed for the sake of their own mental health. Others say that creating it is doing a favor for the kel haunts, allowing them to fulfill their self-ordained purpose when it would otherwise be impossible. Former haunts are generally grateful that it happened to them, but at the same time relieved that it's over; if there is any psychological damage, it appears that it doesn't last after rebirth. Both sides of the argument use this fact to support their cause.
In spite of the scellor having exceptionally dextrous mouths, due to their retractable teeth and multiple prehensile tongues, the scellor tend not to use them very much. Since they breathe through their ears, and speak with their mental powers, the typical scellor will mostly use his mouth for eating or for manipulating certain sensetive equipment. Some enterprising engineers have seen this as an opportunity to grant the scellor a bit of extra convenience in their day-to-day lives. The result is an accessory known as the keybit.
Usually taking the form of a bar worn between the gums and held in place by flexible straps, the keybit is a miniature computer which can be used hands-free. Beneath each of the wearer's teeth rests a button which he can press by extending that tooth; meanwhile, the inner surface holds touchscreens, wheels, more buttons, and other controls which he can manipulate with his three tongues; in this way, the keybit can replicate nearly all the functionality of a standard control console in a readily available, easy-to-carry package.
The "standard" model of keybit is a fully functional, self-contained personal computer consisting of the standard bar mouthpiece, an elaborate series of straps, and an eyepatch which serves as the computer's screen; audio output is provided by vibrating the wearer's skull, leaving the breathing tubes free. Several variations exist, such as a ball-shaped mouthpiece; a partial mask which covers the wearer's mouth, hiding the mouthpiece to minimize embarrassment; an eyepiece which rests to the side of the user's head, allowing use of both eyes but forcing him to twist his eyes to use the device; a fully internal model which can be held in the mouth invisibly; a model which provides output telepathically (generally considered a waste of good psykonium); and many more. In addition, keybits exist that, rather than containing an internal computer, serve as input for another device, such as an arm-mounted firearm or a vehicle.
The use of a keybit is far from intuitive and takes a lot of practice, due in no small part to the fact that the user can't see the controls he's operating (some critics claim that the keybit would only be useful to someone capable of ESP, which fortunately includes much of its target audience); however, a practiced user can find it extremely convenient to have a device always available for use while leaving his hands free for other things. They are particularly popular among praal, who often find them easier to use than machines which would require their clumsy hands to operate. Overall, however, keybits are not very popular, considered more of an exotic toy, fashion statement, or "weird kinky thing" than something meant for practical use; most scellor are content with using standard consoles and handhelds rather than learning to use a keybit's arcane and limited controls.
Church of the Green Star
Once upon a time, all scellor were of one mind, and this one mind was of all scellor. Thoughts and feelings flowed freely between them, and every scellor worked for the good of all, without knowing loneliness, hatred or ignorance. Then one day, something happened; perhaps a reality-warping catastrophe, or merely a stray thought, but the end result was Chaos. Its many ideas forgot that they were of the same whole; its appendages looked upon each other and saw friend, rivals or enemies; it began to love itself, hate itself, compete with itself, lust after itself; the One Mind had shattered into a multitude of small, ignorant, petty, selfish, greedy beings.
Such is history as told by followers of the Green Star. Several of its members can confirm this, having memories which predate the Shattering. Many non-members claim that this cannot be true, as they were alive since the scellor's earliest times and know of no such event, but of course no one's memory is very reliable after too many incarnations.
The core tenent of the Church is that the minds of all scellor are in fact different parts of the same mind, and that they are ignorant of this fact because of what they call "Chaos", emotional influence that distances them from each other by distorting their perspective and driving them to irrational, selfish actions. Their goal is to increase harmony and contentment among the scellor in hopes that their psychic patters will eventually reunite and once more become a single, brilliant Green Star, shining with enlightenment in the psychic realm.
Nonbelievers often ask them "If you want us be united, why aren't you a drone?" The typical answer is that drones are not properly functioning minds (probably due to Chaos) and do not represent how the scellor would behave as the Green Star.
The church is divided into many sub-factions. The Primevalists, for example, believe that not just the scellor, but all sentient beings are parts of the mind of a single universal omnipotent being; they cite as evidence the fact that the scellor can access the minds of other species (which should not be possible if telepathy was unique to them) and exert limited control over matter and energy with their minds. Primevalism enjoys a measure popularity among other species, some of whom are inspired to undergo the operation to join the Undermind so they can be "closer to God".
The Purists have a more mundane worldview, believing that the scellor were simply a species whose brains were united telepathically into a single mind, until it encountered other species began to share their thoughts and ideas (by bringing their minds into itself, or simply through mental or social contact) which caused "glitches" in the mind's processes, eventually leading to its current divided state. Members of this belief system tend to be hostile towards scellor whose patterns were of another species in a past life; in practice, this usually amounts to "people who act in ways I don't like", since they have no real way of telling the difference.
Obviously, there is considerable overlap between this group and the Free Will Collective; however, their philosophies are not the same, and many members of either group will be quite eager to explain the difference to anyone who confuses them with each other. For example, many believers in the Green Sun support the government hierarchy, believing it an excellent tool to guide the scellor away from chaos and ignorance; while it would be unnecessary to a whole Green Star, the Undermind obviously isn't there yet.
[TODO: Put in a lot of the stuff posted in ITQ from the scellor]
|Races and Species|
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