About Herapods

Race Name: Herapod (Herapods is the plural)
Homeworld: Kovis 18C-t, "Hera"
Religions: Unknown/None
Main Cities: None
Dominant Species: Herapods

Biology & Diet
Gelatinous carbon-based invertebrates, Herapods are found in the inner atmosphere of gas giants. The bell-shaped body of a Herapod houses the central nervous cluster, and a system of siphons running through the Herapod's body aid the species in movement. Though the Herapod can pulse its bell to traverse short distances, by intake and expulsion of gasses through the siphon system, the Herapod species is able to accelerate rapidly for extensive periods of time - sometimes fast enough to escape the planet's atmosphere all together.

Herapods have numerous eyes covering their bell, and an enormous mass of thin free-moving tendrils connected to the underside of the bell. The bell itself is made up of cells which can luminesce in an array of shades and patterns at will, aiding in Herapod communication. Two beaks on either end of the bell enable the Herapods to grasp each other or more solid objects such as passing asteroids, but are not in any way connected to the digestive system.

The Herapod digestive system is housed solely within the feeder tendrils. The tendrils act as an enormous filtration device, grasping and absorbing microbes and gasses alike in the atmosphere to feed the Herapod. In addition to acting as a digestive tool, the tendrils are also able to detect the minute changes to gasses other Herapods make as they pass air through their siphons.

Since much of the Herapods' time is spent free-floating through the massive gas giants, their energy usage is extremely conservative. When a Herapod enters interstellar space, the bell freezes and the Herapod itself is able to drift on-course for as long as five years. This has enabled Herapods, through sheer chance, to populate four additional gas giant planets within their solar system. Through careful study, it has been determined that the successful arrival on these planets is sheer luck, though the solitary existence of the first few Herapod colonists was hardly abnormal to the species. Those Herapods lost to the void of space during attempts at the colonization of alien worlds are not forgotten, though their fellows do not seem to feel any sense of sorrow for their loss. Herapod rationality is that if your last meeting was a good one, you will have no regrets if it was your last.

Unfortunately, the biology of the Herapod is ill adapted to what most vertebrates consider "average" gravity. The gentle Herapods would be immobilized and crushed were they brought to a terrestrial planet, or on-board a spaceship without a special de-pressurized containment chamber.

Sexual Dimorphism & Reproduction
A hermaphroditic species, there is no sexual dimorphism for Herapods. Herapods expel eggs from the lowest set of siphons on their bell at least once a year. These microscopic eggs are detected by other Herapods' feeder tendrils, and so the other Herapod may fertilize those eggs during its passage through the area. Egg clusters can have numerous parents, though it is extremely unlikely that any of the "family" will ever meet or live together.

Herapod young hatch from fertilized eggs over the course of four Earth-standard weeks. Young Herapods are microbial in size, but grow rapidly, reaching one foot in length within their first year. Growth slows after this point, though Herapods as long as sixty-eight feet (aprox. 28m) have been found.

It is rare that Herapod relations ever meet, but if they do, it is considered (like all Herapod meetings) to be a joyous, but fleeting occasion.

Language & culture
Herapods are a recently discovered species which have caused scientists to seriously rethink the qualifications for communication and development of sentience in the known galaxy. Though they lack verbal or written communication and do not have thumbs, tools, government, infrastructure or even a real sense of object permanence, they are without a doubt an intelligent species which live rich internal lives.

Herapod communication, as previously covered, is largely based in movement and colour shifts as well as the "scent" of gasses passed through Herapod siphoning systems. By slightly altering the molecular arrangement of planetary gasses within their bodies, Herapods are able to leave exceedingly detailed messages in the atmosphere for others who may pass nearby. Researchers in self-contained laboratories on Herapod homeworlds have struggled to catalog and mark the details of the Herapod olfactory "language," but by the time they have managed to isolate and examine the atmosphere altered by a Herapod, it has already undergone several changes during the process of collection. Therefore, though close approximations have been made, no researcher has ever been able to smell "fresh" Herapod language.

Though Herapods live primarily solitary existences drifting and swimming through their atmospheres, they quite enjoy meeting other intelligent beings. Herapod logic dictates that any meeting is likely to be the last time you encounter someone, and so aggression serves no purpose. As filter feeders with abundant resources, they have no psychological drive for conflict. This has also lead to Herapods having seemingly no concept of object permanence and yet exceedingly long memories. When you have left their sight, they consider you gone forever. However, should you reappear, it is surely a momentous occasion worthy of joy and celebration. This trait has lead researchers to call Herapods the "ideal" xeno-anthropological study species. They are always happy to see you and happy to do whatever a researcher might require for their studies.

Solitude is the natural state of being for a Herapod, and so the species has developed a unique way of entertaining themselves. Though translations are incomplete and extensive study is still required, it appears that Herapods use their siphon and gas-alteration systems to "write" works of fiction or art for other Herapods in the atmosphere. A particular Herapod artist may never meet those enjoying its creation, but may in fact develop a literal "following" of fans over the duration of its lifespan. Herapods are extremely enthusiastic about these works, and will often attempt to signal to xenobiologists when they have located a new "chapter" in someone's works.

Religion & Rulerism
Herapods seem perplexed whenever the idea of religion is explained to them. They simply do not seem to understand it, and change the "conversation" to the topic of their favourite "writer." There seems to be a fundamental disconnect where Herapods are unable to grasp the context of religion, and therefore, xeno-anthropologists believe they do not have one.

However, opponents to this theory suggest that in order to calmly and patiently wait eternities to meet another Herapod, the species MUST believe in some kind of higher power. Xenobiologists dispute this, stating that the Herapod nervous cluster simply does not register the concept of loneliness as a negative emotion.

Herapods themselves have only been able to clearly express one thought on the matter, and that is that anything or anyone who is with you at all times feels "flashes of purple bands and trace amounts of nitrogen/methane."

Technology & Alien Cultures
Because of their lack of belief in permanence, Herapods have not developed any technology of their own. However, they benefit greatly from alien technology in terms of how it may aid them in communicating with alien species.

The first aliens to interact with Herapods were a group of Rakwulf miners who arrived on Hera in order to harvest the gasses within its atmosphere. Though originally frightened and intimidated by the enormous dual-beaked Herapods, they rapidly realized the species not only meant no harm, but were far more intelligent than previously thought capable for simple invertebrates. The Herapods, for their part, were completely delighted by these strange and new (though seemingly mute) things, and excitedly flashed colours and expelled gasses whenever they encountered a miner, growing more excited with each repeat meeting.

After the miners reported their interactions with the Herapods and xeno-study groups arrived to set up observation and research colonies, it soon became clear that Herapods were not solely isolated to Hera, and had in fact landed and grown smaller populations on the system's four nearest gas giants to Hera as well. The Kovis system now houses six Herapod research colonies - Two on Hera itself, and one for each of the other planets.

Due to Herapod biology and the atmosphere of Hera (unbreathable, by Human standards), it is unlikely that most people will ever encounter a Herapod unless they are working on one of these research settlements. The system itself is under tight regulation to avoid disturbance or abuse of the Herapod populations, and the equipment needed for individuals to move freely within Herapod planetary atmospheres is extremely specialized and expensive.

The Herapods, however, would be more than happy to meet anyone who did arrive.


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