Enhanced Representative Genome Species
The RGS wants YOU!
The Pangenomic Project Continues
We are pleased to announce that the first full biological synthesis of intelligent races is rapidly growing in popularity! The previous beautiful and efficient fusion of Abian and Manowar forms has been further augmented with the robust sensitivity of the Visaol, and the mighty ferocity of the Howl, along with some sundry genomes less worthy of mention. We are pleased now to declare ourselves the Enhanced Representative Genome Species, or ERGS if you prefer. All are requested to come and participate in further synthesis, together we can be one people, freed from strife and want – not by subsuming our physicality, but by embracing unity, singularity of purpose, and the physicality which makes us alike.
The Abo originate on Kapo – a relatively low density world with a high degree of axial tilt and an irregular orbit. As a result, life of Abo has evolved to be highly adaptable, accommodating starkly different climates seasonally, annually, and according to a 200 year cycle of solar proximity, which the long lived Abo experience multiple times. Their genetic code is malleable, permitting them to “molt” nearly their entire physical form, growing and shedding fat stores or sweat glands, altering the function of their eyes to accommodate changes in the common amplitude and wavelength of ambient light, and so on. For most Kapian species this process is instinctive or autonomic, but after millennia of development, the Abo obtained a conscious level of control.
The Kapo system includes a number of other “habitable” planets… barren chunks of rock, ice worlds, ammonia seas, and so on, which the Abo have colonized. These colonies do not provide much in the way of material or population (unless I pay points for them I presume… I might keep that option open) but they have allowed the Abo to expose themselves to fun and inclement climates. This exposure aids them in creating new mutations and developments by triggering the unconscious evolutionary processes, the fruits of which can be consciously harvested.
Paleobiology on Kapo -
After solar accretion, Kapo began with a reducing atmosphere, low in oxygen, and extremely permeable to UV radiation – such an environment led to the easy formation of simple organic molecules and proto amino acids. The Rather elliptical orbit of the planet caused a high degree of tidal stress, opening countless undersea vents and fissures, spewing zinc, magnesium, methane, and iron into the oceans, which allowed for simple compounds to grow more complex, and provided the boiling temperatures required for the synthesis of cytosine and uracil. The high UV radiation did, however, lead to the breakdown of more complex polymers with only a very brief half life. Fortunately the elliptical orbit also carries kapo far from the sun at other times in the cycle – this, combined with the erratic tidal stresses, led to extremely fast freezing of water bodies. As the water froze, impurities (ie pre biological molecules) were forced into close proximity in enclosed spaces -this led to a much higher rate of reaction, and provided the freezing temperatures required for the synthesis of adenine and guanine. Also, by creating a frozen superstrate of zinc oxide near releasing vents, the deleterious effects of UV radiation were prevented in some locations. The freezing reduced vastly the Amount of water in solution with these protobiotics, and therefore decreased the ordinarily high likelihood of hydrolysis of new polymers into their constituent monomers.
The first “life” as the abo define it was simple self replicating RNA, capable of both storing information, and catalyzing reactions. The melting of their individual pockets and recombination of these simple RNA elements led to a gradual synthesis and the development of life on Kapo.
The harsh and changing environment on the planet, however, kept life at this point to its simplest an hardiest levels. anaerobic and cyanobacteria formed, oxygenating the once reducing atmosphere, and were followed by facultative anaerobic bacteria. Here evolution was halted, as strict aerobic or anaerobic life was stymied by the rapidly changing conditions.
Then came a meteor crash bearing extakapian organisms of unknown complexity – either complex organisms which underwent biopoeisis, or simple RNA strands such as we’re formed earlier on Kapo. The end result was a symbiotic viral infection of many Kapian organisms with what became the superego DNA of modern Kapian biology. At this point the dual nucleolar structure of the Kapian bacteria allowed organisms to survive vastly different conditions By expressing different genes depending on environmental constraints. From here on out, life flowered, and evolution proceeded apace.
Because the Abo know this history, they have long been aware that other planets could potentially harbor and form life – but they are surprised and delighted by the diversity of sentient species that thy are presented with. Until contact was established, the “Rare Kapo” theory was ascendant – that life could only possibly evolve on worlds with elliptical orbits that traversed the entire habitable zone, and that on such worlds evolution beyond the bacterial stage could not happen except for the extremely unlikely occurrence of a combining of two compatible biospheres… So although they looked forward to exploring and colonizing the galaxy, they thought themselves to be almost certainly alone. If any other intelligent life was found, it would, according to theory, also have a multi-nucleolar cell structure and modifiable genome.
Sometimes science is wrong, and we have solidly determined not to make such abocentric assumptions in the future.
The Abo are more or less anthropomorphic in their “natural” form – two arms, two legs, two eyes, etc – the slightly lower gravity of their homeworld makes them (naturally) tall, slender, and not physically strong. I emphasize the “natural” because the Abo have developed a high degree of control over their own physical makeup, and can change to meet environmental conditions including much higher gravity (they have done this experiment in the home system – they still tend toward what would be tall and slender for the norm on a high gravity world.) This conscious control allows them a fair amount of biological specialization within the species, or even within different periods in an individual life. Would it be helpful to have wings? Hypersensitive hearing? A tongue which exudes a potent rock dissolving acid? The Abo can do all of these and more.
It does, however, take a degree of time and energy to “molt” such needed systems, and they are not all compatible (certain parts of the genome which control ocular sensitivity might also be used for control of, say, growing hooves) so the Abo are not a race of superbeings. If this were a game of DnD they would have an evolution pool they could spend points from, and could change out a few choices at every level or month.
A unique and critical part of Abo biology is their tri-nucleolar cellular nuclei. Where humans have a nucleolus containing 26 pairs of chromosomes, the Abo have three separate nucleoli, two containing 28 and one 132 pairs of chromosomes. The first (ego) fulfills the same function as human DNA, coding the physical form of the species, regulating the growth of cells, the development of the fetus, and so forth. The second (superego) is used for regulating and rewriting the ego DNA, either responding automatically to environmental stresses, or responding to meditative conscious control to promulgate changes. The third (latent) is a storage space for previously used or received genetic information, coding for an immense number of potential improvements or alternatives which the Abo can molt into. The latency nucleolus is not present in all cells, but is present in many, including a series of special endocrine glands throughout the body which can secrete LRNA for processing by the bi- and mono-nucleolar cells, LRNA can also be transmitted to other Abo (see below)
The Abo can reproduce sexually or asexually. Sexual reproduction is strongly preferred, as it generates a recombinant mixture of chromosomes from the Ego and Latency DNA which allows for individual uniqueness. It is also more fun. Asexual reproduction is performed simply by molting a biologically viable part of the body, and maintaining its life long enough for the superego chromosome to re-spec the ego into growing and developing the necessary organs and appendages for self sufficiency. This is much less fun – and since it effectively produces clones, the Abo see little point except in unusual circumstances. In either case the superego chromosomes are maintained intact and unchanged; they are identical in all Abo. For what its worth, the Abo are born as one of two functional sexes. They can, with sufficient molting, become either one, both, or neither.
The Abo can also exchange information and genetic material directly – through direct exchange of biological material, or through a scripted re-creation of documented types. The direct exchange is generally done through bodily fluid – although some information can be passed along pheromonally. The re-creation of documented types is performed by specialized synthesizer or “reading” glands developed some thousands of years ago. These glands allow an Abo to “read” a molecule like a book – immense quantities of information can be passed from Abo to Abo in the form of genetic molecules – although parsing and digesting (literally in some cases!) this information takes about as long as, say, a human reading it from a book. This exchange has strongly informed their system of writing, record keeping, and discourse.
Finally, it is worth noting that with enough available resources (some of which require refining for long periods in the cells of other Abo) an Abo can keep his genes fresher and cleaner, molting and re-growing cells from carefully harbored latency DNA, and attain a functional immortality. This process is inefficient enough that it can only be used by the most privileged – as it requires a growing number of individual Gelflings (as the donor Abo are named) specifically trained/grown for the individuals latency DNA.
History and Culture
Since the Abo are genetically flexible, their history has included very little ethnic strife, gender conflict, or other phenotype related issues. Human history is marked by warfare and competition over skin color or dynastic ambition – this would make no sense to the Abo. In fact, since the superego DNA is the only immutable part of their genetic code, and is identical in all Abo, they could be seen as many copies of the same individual. Spandrels in the latency DNA do lead to individual differences, and these can be inherited, but since they can be largely suppressed or copied with an act of will, there was little to stop the formation of a single worldwide society on Kapo from a very early period in history (roughly equivalent to the bronze age on Earth).
Before this time competition by city states and small empires over resources was relatively common – and a number of specialized mutations were developed by different powers. These mutations were used by warrior Abo to grow powerful muscles, thick hides, razor sharp fangs, acid barf, and so on. Many of these mutations are still archived and used in reenactments, but would be of dubious use in an era of modern technology.
The great change in history came with a major advance in communications, the “reading” gland. Before its development the Abo tried to maintain knowledge by scratching specially coded symbols onto rocks, paper, or the flayed hides of the enemy. This required both an understanding of the symbols and of the language (which was different region by region at the time) and was a pain in the ass to carry around. Especially the rocks. Communication between the geographic groups was therefore more limited. With the development of the reading gland, two things became possible – first the exchange of large amounts of information in the universal tongue of lantency DNA, and second the direct transmission of useful genetic material without the need for in person exchange of fluids. (the reading gland automatically synthesizes the genetic molecule in response to coded outside signals, similar to, but far more complex than, writing) Since this time, the Abo have been generally a cooperative race. Individuals compete for wealth and prestige with which to extend their lifespan, but even this is generally carried out though the establishment of Cabals, the organization of Cabals into Syndicates, and the shifting of economic and political powers amongst different parts of society. The Abo have a mercantile mentality, but also have a high degree of empathy (to some degree enforced by pheromonal response) so that the capitalist excesses seen in human society are inconceivable.
The art forms of the Abo all highlight the recursive. Fugues and cannons are the basis of musical work, often in as many as 132 parts and arrangements, to be played sporadically over many days during the slowest, coldest winters. The most common literary form is the poetry knot – a carefully constructed molecule of LRNA which can be read from multiple starting points and according to multiple schemas – the directions for which are located in the wording of the know itself. A lifetime is not enough to totally explore a poetry knot, and they can only be written by gifted individuals capable of entering a poetic fugue – perhaps a hundredth of the information in poetry knot is written and decided on consciously by the author – all else that is uncovered is a recursion of that part – in an unskillful knot it will be gibberish, decaying in form through each iteration, and in an artful knot the sequence can be explored and interpreted through innumerable layers without aesthetic or informational decay. Because of this, the skillful reading of poetry knots is an art itself, with schools and traditions dedicated to the practice.
The Tenets of Asha
Aside from the Philosophy and Religion section below, the Abo way of life is summarized by the tenets of Asha, philosophical maxims contained within one of the Abo’s poetry knots. Because of the complex process of reading such a poem and the convoluted traditions associated with their interpretation, I have included a excerpts from the most popular commentary here, and hope you will bear translational difficulties. There are hundreds of tenets and sub tenets, and new ones are constantly being discovered/created by adventurous readers, but the most important are these:
* Life folds mind shapes flesh tastes sweetest*
The flesh is shaped by the mind, which is shaped by experiences. All but memory is duplicable. Therefore to excel one must experience the best. Judge wisely your choices for your experiences now determine all that you will yet become. Do not fear the unknown, but open yourself always to the new, that you may surpass those whose selves are constrained by common experience.
- Gather leave smell blow buds roots flowers seeds*
Do not take away from the source, but take from the first freshness beyond. The source is valuable to the all. All that is freshness is valuable to the self. All that is finished in its making is valuable to the senses. All that is done is valuable to the source.
* Speak strange speak to strangers strange to speak*
Those to whom we speak most tell us least. Those to whom we speak rarely teach us better. Those we cannot understand could teach us most – speak and speak and speak until understanding, then seek the old who have become new and share your strangeness.
Philosophy and Religion
The Abo believe in serving the greater good through individual enterprise – which works because pheromonal signals make it impossible for the Abo to lie to one another. Hard work, innovation, and risk taking pay off, which has made the Abo eager to explore new things and places, and to take the time perfecting themselves. In the case of the Abo, what doesn’t kill you does indeed make you stronger (or at least more specialized for that particular stress) and that specialization/genetic-knowledge can be spread to other Abo in return for wealth, fame, and the promise of functional immortality.
Even our comfortable and well established citizens are capable of feeling the call of the horizon, as there is very little that will outright kill an Abo (at least here on Kapo) and we are brimming with confidence. Also, by thrusting themselves into trying situations, the Abo put themselves into evolutionary overdrive, the fruits of which are beneficial for the society and the individual.
Since the Abo cannot lie, there is no organized religion on Kapo. There are, however, a set of ancient customs, handed down the generations and accepted around the world – these are a comfort and a pleasing show, and provide the Abo with emotional satisfaction and a feeling of continuity… but the Abo are an adaptable enough race that they know they could do without.
Among the oldest of these customs is the Feast of the Dead, where the family, Cabal, and close friends of an Abo come together to ingest his or her earthly remains. Long ago this was a means of insuring that any genetic innovations were carried on after the death of the carrier – but with the reading gland this is no longer necessary. (It is speculated by some that this practice originated with more aggressive cannibals seeking to take for themselves the genetic advances of other individuals or tribes.) Eating the dead does, however, help the Abo feel that the loved one is now part of them, and indeed integrating the latency DNA into their own personal stores allows them to pick up some of the physical and personality traits of the deceased. It is the hope of all Abo to have their identity carried on though the generations in this way.
An immense number of seasonal celebrations (the Kapian calendar is extremely complicated) are celebrated at various times with dancing, singing, and performers who deliberately exhibit extreme and often impractical mutations, such as colorful butterfly wings, yards long moustaches, or gem encrusted skin. Perhaps the most interesting of these is held at perihelion, when especially staunch rivals come together to create offspring – these “peace children” help the Abo to overcome any personal differences, and see the best that is in their onetime foe. Peace children also generally carry ego and latency genotypes which make them exemplary in whatever field in which their parents were competing, which is to the betterment of all.
Government and Politics
Abian anarcho-capitalism holds the basic rights of sentient beings to be life, liberty, and property – and is strongly pacifistic. Any acquisition of property through force or the threat of force is illegitimate, and this concept has thoroughly saturated the culture.
The bronze age governments by monarchy or republic were all simply institutionalized monopolies on the use of legitimate violence, and once the reading gland allowed a sufficiently high level of comprehension between abo, it was realized that there is no legitimate violence, so those institutions were disbanded.
Since monopolies are quickly become inefficient due to lack of competition, the functions of government were outsourced to competing organizations, private corporations and syndicates now create the codes of behavior for localities, trade groups, and sectors of society. Courts independent of the organizing bodies rule on disputes.
The core tenet of Abian property code is that of added value – in order to establish ownership of anything, an individuals labor must be mixed with the original to create something new or improved.
It is planting an orchard that creates land ownership – and any fruit of that orchard that the owner or his hired labor could not or would not harvest is not owned, becoming the legal property of any abo who puts his labor into creating value where once there was none.
Because of this, the abo have no inheritance (and such weak family relationships that the desire is rare), and much enters the realm of communal property once it’s owner (or owners in the case of syndicates) are no longer making use of it. This communal property is claimed by whoever produces added value from it – although these claimants are often bought out by those capable of doing so with even more efficiency.
The ultimate “authority” in the case of inter-corporate disputes are the arbitrators – a nonprofit organization that other organizations have hired to mediate disputes not covered by the common agreed codes of conduct. Membership in the arbiters is by sponsorship only, and almost all are noted artists and philosophers. Arbiters are not bound by precedent, and have the authority to define compensation to injured parties – and in extreme cases to declare sanctions against transgressors, cutting them off from the economic life of the abo.
Such sanctioned organizations invariably cease to exist. Sanctioned individuals generally subsist as scavengers or fade into voluntary starvation. Occasionally such an individual will overcome their pacifism and resort to banditry or theft – these are no longer considered abo and are killed by animal control, their bodies incinerated in case a rogue mutation should cause the recidivist behavior.
Because the Abo are adventurous and eager to gain new experience (and DNA!) we intend to explore and colonize, to meet new people, and to establish trade relationships! Because we have long known for centuries the Superego DNA in our people is of extra-kapian origin (some hundreds of millions of years ago), we have long expected life on other stars and have been preparing to meet those cultures! Corporations are already undertaking the construction of a merchant marine, exploratory, and colonial vessels, and in face have been working on such a project for years before whatever event all caused us to be in contact with each other – although angel funding and investors are now much easier to drum up of course.