Haiu: Annual Spore Bloom
The annual Haiu has hit Felth this month, drenching the skies in weeping hues of spores too thick to breathe. Haiu is celebrated as swathes of excitable Residents flock outdoors to catch and drink the spore tainted rains, a free hallucinogenic 'Haiu High'. Large meshed fabric archeries protect busy streets and livestock fields while air-purifiers work overtime to keep indoor areas 'safe mask free breathing zones' and fauna throughout exhibit all sorts of unusual behaviors as a result of spore highs and poisoning. Be careful while you're tripping out there folks!
In the east side, the latest hit from a gruzz artist rebounds from the dew-slick walls of the colony, morning risers waking up to the rumbling, calming base.
As the morning dew burns away under the rising sun comes, the west side responds with a newly-minted diss track towards an artist in the north and their sloppy gene security, the music itself heavily sampling last month’s hit single from the same sloppy artist.
The north is as loud as ever, a cacophony of different samples sounding out as a new virus sweeps through the soundscape, the old mutating into the new. In the south, all is silent save the isolated crooning of something old, something long recessed, coming to the surface in the placid aftermath of genetic extinction.
You look upwards into the gray sky peaking between the facades that have long since grown into a thick canopy. It flashes a deep mix of angular greens and toxic, rusty oranges, startling you into dropping your cup of stimulant as a loud buzzing rushes overhead, the diss track following it on it’s third verse.
The Orniscop is a species of flying insect vaguely 12” in length with the traditional body layout of a arthropod, having a head, thorax, abdomen, six limbs, and two wing sets. Their body plan is very unusual, in that they only vaguely resembles traditional arthropods, and instead more closely mimic terrestrial city-dwelling avians. Whether this is a trait to aid in survival or simply a side effect of their unusual body plan isn’t known.
Starting at the head, the Orniscop features a curving, thick, short beak at the forefront of their face, containing within it a modified radula that acts as a sort of tongue. Two antennae extend from the base of this beak outwards, and can vary heavily in design depending on subspecies.
The eyes are set on each side of the head and rather than being a part of the carapace are set within their own floating shells and attached via a set of muscles, giving them freedom of movement and strong vision.
The ears, unlike in vertebrae, are located on the rear-most legs, and can be manually opened or closed to protect themselves.
Each limb is unique due to the heavily modified body plan of the Orniscop, and as such there are no redundant appendages in their form beyond traditional limb pairing.
From their back sprout a pair of fleshy, membranous wings, the chest cavity of the Orniscop packed with enough muscle to give them strong long distance flight abilities. In males the inner membrane of the wing is often very brightly colored and will have distinct patterns, usually bearing the name of whatever artist has encoded them with a song. Females have the same kind of patterning, but in a duller, monochrome shade to help them camouflage themselves and avoid predators.
Below the wings are a pair of single legs that end in strong grasping claws. These legs are fairly dextrous for a perching species, and can also propel the Orniscop along at a speedy walking pace when on the ground.
However, unlike other insects with a modified forelimb structure, they only have a single pair of legs to walk on. The other set, and the set that contains their ears, has been modified into a pair of “beaters” that can thrum at high frequencies. Paired with their lower sets of “wings,” each of which is a drum-like membrane attached loosely to the thorax, they can replicate any sort of music they hear. Audio is stored into genetic memory, and then played back with the oscillating vibrations of this wing and leg pair.
Finally, their rearward-most limbs, small and usually tucked in under a layer of soft body fur, are the most heavily modified of all. These tiny limbs each has a receptacle for genetic material at the base, or more specifically, for any sort of encoded music the artist might want to imprint onto the Orniscop via specially built gene-tablets, though this method has fallen out of favor as of late. These also aid in the fertilization of male to female, with the male manually moving their singular spermatozoa into the female’s abdominal end using these small limbs.
Life Cycle & Diet:
Male Orniscop use their singing ability to attract mates. Groups who sing the same song, or close enough to it, will cluster together into a “band” as a way to boost their volume, and then sing for any local females who are tuned to the same song. Females who find the group will be given a selection of males to choose from at they display their plumage, and the winning male will pair off with a single female.
Once paired, the two will mate, exchanging cellular data, fertilizing eggs, and then constructing a quick nest. The eggs will be fully fertilized within one to two days, giving them just enough time to build a nest.
Females lay soft shelled eggs within these small nesting sites built into anything vaguely protected from ground-based predators. This is most often trees or the eaves of buildings, but with how widespread the species is, roosting spots can also include mountain or cliff sides, large megafauna, and low-hanging atmospheric satellites.
Nests are traditionally made from chewed wood pulp but can also be made from scavenged incubating materials including everything from old paper bags to housing insulation. Both males and females will watch over the nest as the young hatch and mature, a process that generally takes two to three weeks. Young are fed chewed up and regurgitated biomass, usually a thick mix of protein slurry. Once mature, the half dozen fledgelings will leave the nest and begin their own life cycle.
The adult diet of most Orniscop will wholly depend on their location, as most of them are opportunistic scavengers, thriving off a diet of city refuse. Old crusts, dropped food, and the contents of overflowing dumpsters are their main source of nutrition, tempered with the occasional bug as they do their part in culling local insect infestations.
Having the strong adaptability and higher level intelligence needed to strive in the cities of Felth, Orniscop are mostly known as a common nuisance within any heavily populated area. Building nests in the eaves of buildings and scavenging for dropped trash is how they best thrive, and as strong as their symbiosis is with the people of Felth, its those same people who have truly driven the Orniscop from their place as common vermin into their own bizarre para-biological niche.
Modification & Usage:
What makes the Orniscop so unique among the various other applied bioforms is that it’s natural behavior has been wholly co-opted by the shifting cultures of Felth, and in turn, has helped the very thing that shaped it.
Even before more direct gene-tampering became a easy way of delivering some entrepreneurial artist’s mixtape to the masses, citizens of Felth would keep and train Orniscop to recite or play back certain songs. These songs would in turn be co-opted by the species of itself, kept in it’s genetic memory, used to attract mates, and then transferred on.
With natural selection ensuring that the tastes of certain females would be upheld over others, clusters of males singing the same song would form, and as their sound because more or less ubiquitous within certain regions, generations of music changed with the generations of Orniscop. Mutations in gene-taste led to mutations in, remixes of, and the adoption of new songs. Genetic memory and memetic memory became one and the same.
It’s not uncommon for recessive genes to bubble their way to the surface, with old music piping up in the early morning, and the signatures of long forgotten artists to be seen buzzing overhead. Artists are keen to take from and remix these old sounds, with musicians and their carriers forming a feedback loop of memetic and genetic material.
The biggest change in recent years has been the advent of viral music. Simple sporocysts laden with modified viral genes are set on the windowsills of working artists, with interested Orniscop coming to investigate. In turn, they become infected, with their audio and wing coloring changing to match the gene code stored in the viral infection.
Instead of waves of music coming and going by the dictation of the Orniscop’s natural genes, it is instead dictated the waves of competing musicians, as viral infections vie for control of the air waves. Artists dominate the city soundscape not by the biological strength of their sound, but by the strength of their viral engineering. Iridoviruses forcefully change the patterns in their wings, with newer artists literally removing the old from memory.
A pigeon-shaped bug that contributes to the noise pollution of the local cityscape.
Post by possmonaut on Mar 25, 2019 12:55:21 GMT 9.5
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I WANT TO THANK MYSELF FOR BEING SO CUTE, AND MY CATS FOR BEING SO ADORABLE. GOOD JOB US.