”They began as monsters. They became abominations.”
The Vordekai (Macrogarida alogakichtypima) are a race of carbon-based spacefaring crustaceans. Their species, in its natural form, is recognisable for its significant sexual dimorphism, amphibious nature, and aggressive inclination. The original home of the Vordekai is an island-dotted world known as Mindukar. The etymology of their name is worth nothing- the term “Vordekai” technically refers to the macrogarida alogakichtypima vordekai sub-species which resulted from instances of cloning and attempted genetic engineering. However, the term is used frequently to describe all members of the species, including those native to Mindukar, as that group holds no current relevance to the universe at large. Vordekai are capable tool-users with fast reaction times and exceptional visual senses. Modern Vordekai have adopted Voshkaduid as their home world, with some presence on other worlds, most notably Khortet.
There are two major caveats that exist when discussing Vordekai biology. The first is that all modern Vordekai of note suffer from the Rot, a genetic condition that leads to several initial and degenerative alterations to the body. This means that no true member of the original macrogarida alogakichtypima species exists within the Vordekai Continuum, the society which has access to a Nexus Gate. The second is that any Vordekaei that survives the Rot does so through extensive body modification. The most esteemed among the Vordekai are often noted to appear as entirely different species, having replaced and modified so many parts. The nature of their society has left the species with an extreme level of artificially-induced anatomical diversity.
Vordekai are carbon-based lifeforms using water as a solvent and oxygen as a respirant. The native homeworld of the Vordekai is rich in oxygen, and Vordekai naturally require hyperoxic conditions. This need is lesser but still present for modern Rot-afflicted Vordekai. They are generally unremarkable biochemically, though are immune to carbon monoxide poisoning due to the pigments used in their haemolymph. They are also resistant to heavy metal poisoning and require a large supply of calcium to maintain their shells and exoskeletons.
Vordekai possess eleven pairs of limbs, for a total of twenty-two limbs. Of these, eight are considered stomatopeds. These vestigial legs now serve a far more lethal function, used for rapid bashing movements which allow an attacking Vordekai to break through armour such as exoskeletal carapaces or mollusc shells. The four major legs (or pereiopeds) are used for locomotion, each containing two segments. The feet of a Vordekai are thin, curved and hook-like, designed to easily grasp rough surfaces. The raptorial limbs have enormous shoulders, which form additional armour at the third of their four segments. These limbs end in powerful pincers. Each major limb of the creature also contains a small chitinous protrusion, each of which serves as a sound receptor and very weak electroreceptor.
The pincers of a Vordekai vary depending on sex. Males have a pair of large, symmetrical claws designed for rapid snatching and slashing motions, capable of grabbing targets in the span of milliseconds. Females have a similar albeit smaller pincer on their right arm. Their left arm, however, carries and entirely different weapon. An enormous claw is present, capable of crushing bone, but the pincer is not designed for such a use. Instead, the claw snaps shut with such speed that a cavitation bubble is produced, generating a powerful shockwave that can stun, knock back, and even rupture a nearby target. While incredibly potent, this effect only works effectively in warm, low-pressure water, and cannot occur outside of the ocean. In the much drier environment of a modern Vordekai, this capability is effectively obsolete.
The carapace of a Vordekai offers protection from stabbing and slashing attacks, but will not protect against precise tearing or crushing force. The carapace becomes a hardened, more resilient shell on the creature's back, and is weakest in the area containing the stomatopeds. This armour must be shed in a yearly moulting process. Notably, both males and females have a small gap at the point where the shell shifts from vertically to horizontally oriented, which is where the ovipositor is located in females. While often vibrant in natural specimens, modern Vordekai have far more dreary shell colours. One unique component of the animal's protective coating is a crystalline covering over its pair of eyes. These structures contain gelatinous vitreous fluid in addition to refractive crystal. While they can lead to blurred vision compared to many species, these eyes allow for a wide range of vision and are more difficult to internally damage than exposed eyes. Also emerging from the frontmost portion of the body is a pair of antennae, much longer and more slender in females, used to pick up on chemical and vibrations.
Vordekai heads are the smallest parts of their bodies. The creatures lack any kind of neck, which limits their ability to rotate their heads to some extent. These heads contain their eyes, mouth, and reproductive organs. In addition to a universal six mandibles, males possess two sharp spermatophores and females possess two chelae, each of which is involved in reproduction. Four frond-like maxillae can be released from within the mouth to help in guiding food to the organ, and serve as the taste organs of the species. Vordekai do not have teeth within their mouths.
While an omnivorous species, Vordekai are primarily adapted for a carnivorous diet. Their mouths are designed for consuming pulp, and so they will often bash or grind their food before eating it, especially in modern times. Maxillae are frequently extended even for prepared meals, as a method of pre-tasting. In addition to their usual natural prey of crustaceans and molluscs, they can also devour fish, terrestrial animals, fruits, reeds, eggs, and artificial sugar-rich products. A typical natural diet will consist of around seventy-percent meat and thirty-percent other components. In modern times, they are typically forced to become as opportunistic as possible, devouring whatever they are able until they can sustain themselves effectively.
The digestive tract of a Vordekai begins at the mouth, where pulp can be rapidly consumed, or where food can be readily pulpified. The mouth consists of six vertical mandibles (two on top, four on the bottom) which serve mainly to tear and guide food into the mouth. Maxillae are used to guide food into the mouth and for taste purposes, and will typically be retracted once the taste is to the eater’s satisfaction. The sexually dimorphic reproductive organs can also play a role in eating. The male spermatophores can be used to help in tearing actions, and the female chelae can be used to better guide food and for sucking actions. Vordekai will typically suck food into their mouths. While capable of tearing, Vordekai jaws are not especially effective weapons.
The pulp is then transferred to a gastric mill which further grinds and chews the material using muscular contractions. On occasion, material will be regurgitated for better pulpification prior to further processing. This material is absorbed in the midgut, which serves a similar function to the small intestines, and is also adjacent to the hepatopancreas, which serves to eliminate toxins and produce hormones. Finally, food enters the hindgut, where it is compacted and released as waste material through the rectum.Notably, the Vordekai digestive system makes minimal use of chemical digestion, relying upon mouth saliva for this purpose and performing mechanical digestion in the gastric mill.
The nervous system of a Vordekai is based around a centralised brain, with nerves transmitting signals to other organs and patches of neural tissue existing around sensory organs. The brain is narrow and curved in shape, and contains multiple lobes. It is not divided into distinct hemispheres. While capable of rapid reactions, it is worse at processing numerical calculations and precision than the average brain of an intelligent life-form- though modern Vordekai tend to be born with greater cognition. Damage to the brain cannot be effectively regenerated via natural means.
Vordekai employ an open circulatory system. Their bodies are filled with haemolymph, pumped from no less than ten heart chambers on their backs. This yellowish substance carries oxygen and serves an immune function- in modern Vordekai, however, this immunity is absolutely pititul, which both leads to infection and allows for easy grafting. Rather than dedicated blood cells, Vordekai produce pigments within the haemolymph itself. Respiration occurs using a combination of spiracles leading to gills and lungs, and a main pair of branchiostegal lungs located between the fifth and sixth heart chambers. Due to the hyperoxic atmosphere of Mindukar (and now Voshkaduid), this arrangement is enough to sustain them despite their large size and minimal internal skeletons. This does, however, make them slowly suffocate at standard oxygen levels for most species.
As invertebrates, Vordekai lack spines or spinal cords. They do possess chitinous structures resembling bones to enhance their stability, but this pseudoskeleton is designed for flexibility rather than rigidity, and is very vulnerable to fracturing.
Vordekai are capable of displaying a wide range of emotions. They tend, however, to arise and fade quickly. Anger is especially notable in this regard, with aggravated Vordekai often snapping and lashing out for mere seconds before returning to calm. The species is also known for its intense competitive drive. Vordekai are very prone to comparing themselves to their peers and seeking to outdo them, which can lead to risk-seeking behaviour and violence. This competitive nature is strongly linked by an inherent desire to dominate, and in the superiority of one's group over others, and one's own superiority over others in the group. This dominance is the basis for many group dynamics in Vordekai society. Some schools of social thought, such as those endorsed by the Continuum, involve cooperation through competition, where this desire to outdo others is used as motivation for innovation, diligence and dedication.
Due to their neurological wiring, Vordekai naturally have difficulty conceptualising personification of beings that do not closely resemble them- a fact sometimes deliberately embraced by modern Vordekai. This leads them to lack empathy for animals, and even other intelligent species, without considerable effort. In the past, this has also applied to different ethnicities within the Ic'ogokip species, although the modern situation has helped to eliminate this perspective. Strangely enough, most Vordekai in modern times are xenophiles, but not due to understanding aliens- but rather, to enhance anatomical understanding and diversity by making use of knowledge of foreign biology and transplanting their organs.
Vordekai have two sexes, male and female. Sexually dimorphic organs include pincers and antennae, in addition to the reproductive system. Males possess spermatophores on their mouths, which contain their gametes. Females instead have more flexible chelae. When mating, the male will inject the spermatophores into the chelae and release the gametes, a purely voluntary action that does not require stimulation. The gametes then travel through a duct to the ovaries. Eggs will develop, and will be deposited by an extended ovipositor, with a gelatinous base also ejected to serve as a basic nutrient supply and adhesive net. These eggs will take six months to hatch and must be cared for within that time.
One eggs hatch, the first larval stage of the Vordekai emerges- a nauplius. This organism swims using its antennae, lacks the hunched stature of an adult, and is generally entirely dependent on its parents. After a year, it will moult into a zoea. This organism more closely resembles an adult and has a small level of independence. After two years, it will moult into the parva or post-larval stage, the equivalent of a child. Yearly moults will now occur, each moult lasting for around two weeks. After a twelve moults, or fifteen total years of age, the Vordekai is biologically mature. Reproductive organs may be functional at anywhere from ten-fifteen years after birth, depending on the individual.
Mating rituals vary between cultures, but there are some commonalities. The equivalent of a kiss in old Vordekai society generally involves touching extended maxillae, with direct mouth-to-mouth contact being seen as extremely intimate. Many sought to engage in "cuddles" involving clasped stomatopeds, or holding pincers. It was not uncommon for part of the ritual of selecting a suitable partner to involve non-lethal combat between females and males. Polyamory is uncommon but not unheard of, but committed relationships typical only occur between older Vordekai, with many younger specimens rapidly changing between partners to satisfy sudden lust or desires for variety.
In modern times, all Vordekai are sterile, and all reproduction occurs via accelerated spawning, a form of rapid cloning. Romantic relationships and the capacity to feel lust do remain, however.
The Rot is a persistent genetic affliction that affects all modern Vordekai after spawning. It generally lasts for 3-4 months before death occurs. The disease is divided into five distinct stages.
Stage 0 is the first stage, that which the newly spawned emerge in. It is notable for causing minor chromatic changes compared to natural Vordekai but the initial state is otherwise similar to an ordinary specimen internally and externally.
Stage 1 is the second stage, lasting until the end of the first two weeks. The sound receptors begin to calcify. Antennae grow shorter. The pincers become slightly smaller, the colour of flesh and shell and eyes more dim.
Stage 2 is the average state at the end of the first month. In this stage, the shell begins to weaken and break apart. Tumours develop in place of the sound receptors. Pincers become even smaller, the vitreous fluid in the eye begins to dissolve, the flesh become lightly-coloured and pungent, and stomatopeds become smaller. Antennae continue to wither. Most Vordekai who progress further than this stage die of the disease.
Stage 3 is the average state at the end of the second month. The flesh becomes necrotic as the victim rots alive, giving the illness its namesake. The crystalline structure of the eye degenerates as the vitreous fluid is corroded away, making sight extremely blurry if present at all. The pereiopeds are stripped of their pseudoskeletal strength. Antennae become so small that they are effectively useless. Sound receptors fall off. In males, the spermatophores begin to split away from the mouth. In females, the larger pincer degenerates extensively, becoming minuscule, and the ovipositor withers as well.
Stage 4 is the final stage of Rot, occurring after three months. Reaching this stage is almost universally fatal. The remaining flesh is necrotised, leading to a massive reduction in body mass and changing the centre of gravity. Limbs become spindles and even the feet are withering. Eyes fall off. Antennae fall off. Stomatopeds fall off. The jaw fissures and splits open in differing directions. In males, the spermatophores recurve into the body, digging in. In females, the larger pincer is corroded away, and the ovipositor withers into a tenuous tube. Few can even support their own body weight in this stage. Every movement is painful, and the digestive system has ruptured, leading to sepsis.
In order to escape the Rot, Vordekai must temporarily or permanently replace afflicted organs and flesh with equivalents enough to stay alive. Those remaining afflicted with the Rot are called the vendiri, meaning “sick”. While there is no cure for the disease, there do exist ways to avoid it being fatal. Often, new organs are taken through combat, or through artificial growth, or even replaced with mechanical components. While initially this was done only to survive, the Vordekai Continuum has since used such means as the foundation for its ideology, in which all seek perfection through perpetual enhancement and modification of the body and mind.
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- Kyoki Chudoku
- Level 4.1
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- Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:29 pm
- NS Nation (Prefix): Conflicting Clusters of
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- Location: Australia
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