People One

People One evolved from a broad family of life spread across the wide oceans of their home planet. Most are single-shelled organisms with a muscular foot growing beneath a triangular or hexagonal shell. Many are slow-moving browsers, pulling nutrients and digestible organisms into their bodies with suction or radulae.

The more complex hexagonal forms evolved from tessellated triangular forms, creating small colonies of six that were able to share defenses and resources with each other. While many of the the hexagonal species remain browsers, they also exhibit more complex behaviors using the central nervous system that has emerged at the juncture of their tessellae, as well as extending their senses — primarily, electrical sensitivity — to each other. The hexagonal forms make social groups that migrate and care for each other, accurately predict changes in undersea weather, outwit much larger predators, and those that are predators themselves, often hunt in packs, adapting their strategies to new prey and new opportunities.

An individual/pair/dozen holds hands with a companion to express their interpretation of the output of the computer monitor in their pseudopods.

In the immediate supercategory that includes People One, they describe sixty-one extant varieties which they call “People-Like”. Their common ancestor was a hexagonal variety that mated foot-to-foot for sexual reproduction, then remained merged, protected on both sides by each individual’s shell, for the remainder of its existence. In most varieties, when they hatch, they gorge themselves on the compost in which they were born, then start seeking out a fellow one-ring with which to join, synchronizing their annual growth rings from that point forward. In some varieties, they release one to join with another. Some varieties trade partners, while others, induced by changes in season or particular events like epidemics, join in a huge ball, exchanging partners to maximize the spread of immune training, emerging with a new fused immune system and personality. Most live with a second half for almost their entire existence, only releasing a half that has quarantined itself to die of a disease while the remaining half seeks a new counterpart.

Much of this creation was done live on Joshua A.C. Newman’s Twitch channel, and all his creative work is supported by the xenophiliacs on Patreon! Join us there!

People One, like several of the People-Likes, have an ability to extend complex pseudopods — six from each counterpart, twelve in all — in between their two shells and can almost always get at least three around an object, using their powerful sense of touch, as well as chemical and electrical senses, to come to a deep understanding of that which they touch. Their pseudopods are additionally able to make pressure, electrical, and chemical changes in their surfaces, and through this touch they communicate most clearly, sometimes holding hands with other pairs for significant portions of their lives.

The planet on which they evolved is dotted with sea mounts and small islands churning with life that has developed an ability to live in oxygen-rich air with sunlight overhead. Several of the People-Like are able to climb out of the water, retaining sufficient water in their shells to survive for extended periods of low activity or short periods of strenuous activity, returning to refresh the oxygen-exhausted water in their ocean when they feel the need.

Venturing into the air and sun has given People One their curiosity, exploring ecosystems for the joy of it — whether intellectual or culinary. They developed first ways of soaring over the waves with sail to navigate by the heat of the sun, then turned the sails on their sides to gain the powers of flight as they came to understand flying creatures that moved between the many islands through the air.

And it is through that flight that they became aware of outer space.

People One are relatively comfortable in vacuum. Their bodies carry little gas to expand and their tough, hard shell mechanically holds their moist bodies under pressure. They avoid radiation by painting their shells with lead paint and carefully restricting the use of their pseudopods, preferring prosthetics and drones.
Their spacecraft bodies are mostly large, radiation-absorbing tents held in tension, with all life support being held in the sanctuaries — gel-filled areas next to the hydrogen and oxygen tanks and other equipment.
What are heroes like in The Fifth World? Absent sedentary, agrarian life, how do their culture heroes demonstrate the values of their society?
I wonder what religions are like in The Fifth World. Do they center around humans? Do they explain natural forces as having motivations, or do they recall the interwoven complexities of natural processes?

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