Shadowhunters look like a more extreme form of the typical Tribal or Bastian Tyrolean. They're bigger, more muscular, faster, and have more pronounced and a greater number of bone spurs, as well as spines down their backs, and small, but sharp, horns and spikes on their faces. Looking at them screams danger, and their aggressive demeanor, once provoked, is impressive to see in action. However, this is only one form. Shadowhunters are therians, shapeshifters. They can also assume the form of a normal member of their parent culture, either a Bastian or a Tribal, depending on their parentage. When concealed in this form they are undetectable, including by genetic testing.
Genetics and Reproduction
Shadowhunters are the product of genetic interference in the natural evolution of the Tyrolean species by the Bastians. They breed true among Tyroleans, regardless of ancestry, so if they mate with a Bastian or Tribal, or another Shadowhunter, the offspring will always be a Shadowhunter. This was by design, so the Bastians could produce a race of slave soldiers for use in war. Like Tyroleans, Shadowhunters are sexual beings, having males and females. However, incidences of hermaphroditism are not unheard of among them. Unlike other Tyroleans, Shadowhunters operate on an instinctive level when selecting a mate and choosing to reproduce. Males are usually only interested in sexual activity when a female in heat is nearby, though they are able to copulate at any time.
Growth Rate & Stages
Like other Tyroleans, Shadowhunters give birth after a gestation period of about six months. Females bear one offspring per male they have mated with and/or time they have mated. Typical litters are still between three and five pups. Unlike Tyrolean pups, and because Shadowhunters live in the wilds, pups are only blind at birth and typically open their eyes after about six to twelve hours, cutting the downtime needed before they can start learning to move on their own and run, if needed. During there period of blindness, they are nursed by their dam almost continually. If the male who sired them is still around, he will typically provide food for the nursing female, and ward off predators until the female and pup can leave on their own. If isn't that the male will drive them off, but large groups attract the notice of Tribal and Bastian alike, and both groups are known by Shadowhunters to be dangerous, but for vastly different reasons. Once their eyes are open, a Shadowhunter is a force of nature. They are deadly in a fight against all but the largest predators. They only hone their skills with their mother as they grow, and when they become physically mature, are encouraged to find their own territories. They typically stumble across their sire's territory first. If the two cross paths, the senior male will be able to smell that the youthful Shadowhunter is his, and will spend some time teaching his pups what he knows. When the pups begin to reach sexual maturity, they are told to move along and establish their own territories. This is for different reasons, depending on the sex of the pup. If the pup is male, the sire and he will be competitors for mates, and that could lead to inbreeding, violence, and worse, being found by Tribals who would try to kill them. If the pup is female or a hermaphrodite, the sire will instinctively attempt to mate with her when she comes into heat, leading to inbreeding. Shadowhunters have strong instincts, but they aren't stupid, either. They do know enough to not inbreed, if they can help it. Female offspring are encouraged to visit when not in heat, and to bring any grandchildren with them. Shadowhunters love their families, even if they have to stay away from one another to keep from being found.
Ecology and Habitats
Shadowhunters live across the wilds of Tyrol. Wherever the jungle is thickest, the predators are fiercest, and the rest of Tyrolean society is least likely to be, that is where the Shadowhunter thrives. They don't hate their cousins, but the Tribals fear them and regard them as unnatural abominations, which isn't completely untrue, and the Bastians want to enslave them and force them to fight in their wars. Since Shadowhunters are extremely difficult to kill, they would end up fighting one another, and they have a strong interdiction against doing that.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Shadowhunters are carnivores, but can tolerate eating plants if they have to. Since plants on Tyrol are carnivorous, too, they have some meat in them to consume along with the roughage.
Shadowhunters are able to enter a period of prolonged biological downtime called "torpor". During this time life signs are nearly undetectable without sufficiently sensitive equipment. Even the sense of other Tyroleans are not sufficient to the task. The heart doesn't stop beating, so much as it is in constant slow motion, squishing the blood through the body instead of pumping it. Even the Shadowhunter's cells enter into a state of metabolic rest where all energy production is reduced to such a low level that they appear dead. Shadowhunters can "program" their torpor to end at a set time or under certain conditions, allowing them to come out of torpor whenever they need. It takes only moments to enter and exit torpor. It should be noted that a Shadowhunter doesn't bleed when in torpor. The blood moves, but it becomes an almost gel-like substance, and oxygenation occurs through the skin instead of with the lungs. As such, Shadowhunters do not need to breathe while in torpor, and therefore are not affected by non-transdermal airborne contaminants and poisons. And finally, Shadowhunters have quick reflex immune systems and regenerative abilities. Instant would be an exaggeration, but most non-lethal wounds are able to heal in a few days, and even normally mortal wounds can heal in the span of weeks, instead of months or years. Similarly, their immune systems are able to defeat most diseases they encounter, and even cancers are able to be resisted and dismantled as invaders.
Shadowhunters do not have a society, per se. They deal with one another on an individual basis, but have an interdiction against killing one another, so if they come to blows, it's always non-lethal. There is no interdiction about leaving one another to die at the mercy of the planet...
Despite the Tribal assertion that they are mindless killers, Shadowhunters are not base animals, but thinking intelligent beings, and therefore cannot be, and do not need to be, domesticated.
Like Tyroleans, Shadowhunters have lupine characteristics, particularly their heads and faces. The difference here is that they have more spikes and ridges, and small horns on their chins and jaws. It's dangerous to grab a Shadowhunter, if they don't want you to.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
There are several exceedingly dense sections of jungle measuring in the thousands of hectares scattered across the face of Tyrol. Each of them houses a significant population of Shadowhunters, though none of these populations can be reached easily, with the exception of using orbital drop deployment. Given the danger of literally dropping in on a pack of Shadowhunters, this option has yet to be used to truly map out their distribution and numbers.
While in their smaller Tyrolean form, they are as smart or smarter than most Tyroleans. Their cleverness, however, is almost always in survivalism, as they don't have a choice in the matter. They don't have the capacity to make high technology, like the Bastians, and only the lower tech used by the Tribals is in ready supply. The territory of a Shadowhunter will contain traps that are set specifically to catch predators and animals, but, for a careful hunter, would seem obvious. This is because they regard hunters are potential mates, not threats. However, in their Shadowform, the Shadowhunter is less driven by intellect and more instinctive. This isn't to say they get dumber, but they stop thinking things through and react more than plan. They can be influenced more easily, but they also are quicker to anger.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Shadowhunters have all the sensory capacities of a normal Tyrolean, as well as the ability to see in extreme low-light. They also have the same psionic capabilities, including flickering, but they are all active psionics. In addition to all Shadowhunters being telepathic, they are also telekinetic, using their minds, particularly, their wills, to augment their physical strength, giving them an impressive capacity for destruction and dismemberment.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
The Tribals can be said to have a parasitic relationship with the Shadowhunters. They have a de facto war of extermination with them over religious views. The Shadowhunters want to live in peace, and the Tribals think they're abominations and need to die. The Tribals use the Shadowhunters as a Rite of Passage, sending packs of young pups out into the jungles to kill the Shadowhunters. They also use the existence of the Shadowhunters as boogeymen sent by the Bastians to threaten the lives of all Tribals. The irony is that isn't completely wrong.
Civilization and Culture
Shadowhunters are telepathic. They have no true need for names, as they know one another by psionic signature. When they need them, they make up simplistic compound names, like a child would. Shadowpaw, Razorfang, and Sharpclaw are good examples.
None. Shadowhunters don't form governments, but occasionally form temporary packs for specific goals. Such packs have a defined leader, but they never last very long, because survival issues tend to crop up and the pack disperses back to their own territories.
None. Shadowhunters don't worry about that sort of thing. They're attracted to scents, energy signatures that harmonize with their own, and those who aren't trying to kill or use them.
Shadowhunters don't put any thought into such things. Males mate with females to produce pups, and males and females mate with whomever they want for pleasure. There is no thought given to this behavior because it isn't a morality issue for them.
Females come into heat once every two years for a period of a few days, and will typically know they are about to come into heat a week before they do. At that time they will begin looking for a male's territory or start stalking a Tribal area in order to solicit a mate. If they are not near a Tribal area, they will look for the territory of a male and begin leaving scent markers in areas where he frequents. When they come into heat, they will spent only a little time marking the locations with their new scent to advertise that he shouldn't waste time finding them. Mating usually progresses normally from there, with the male enthusiastically mounting the female, and ending with them tied together by the knot on the male's penis. Predation during copulation is unheard of, as both Shadowhunters will be in a state of heightened awareness, and have almost manic levels of energy. If a Shadowhunter, male or female, is near a Tribal area, it isn't uncommon for them to kidnap a sexual partner, either a male or a female in heat, and make off with them into the jungle to mate. Males are typically released by the female after they have provided their sperm for insemination, while female captives are typically given the option to return, but stay with the Shadowhunter to birth their child as those "tainted by the bestial abominations" are usually killed, or at least their newborn pups are. Also, Shadowhunters are fierce protectors of those they consider part of their pack, because of the strong instincts programmed into them by the Bastian Protocol, and they provide fairly safe homes in the deep jungle for their Tyrolean mates to live in. After the initial scare wears off, many find them to be considerate and gentle lovers, at least in as much as they can be.
Shadowhunters don't form long-term relationships because the Tyroleans they live around are so much more ephemeral than they are. Since they were created, no Shadowhunter has died of old age, or has, in fact, suffered any age related issues at all. They are friendly enough with one another, for the purposes of mutual defense or mating, and raising pups, but those are still short term relationships as far as Shadowhunters are concerned.
Average Technological Level
None. Shadowhunters don't innovate technology on their own. They prefer to keep their technology simple, repairable, and buildable in the wild.
Major Language Groups and Dialects
Shadowhunters can learn language, but primarily rely on their telepathy for communication. The downfall of this is their understanding of concepts is more simplistic, so offworlders trying to communicate with them may try to impart concepts too complex for their feral minds to grasp. That isn't to say they can't be educated up to grasp the concepts, but such things are rare.
Common Etiquette Rules
The most that passes for etiquette among Shadowhunters is leaving scent markers to announce their entry into another's territory.
Common Dress Code
Shadowhunters rarely, if ever, wear clothing in their native environments.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
None. Shadowhunters tend to be solitary hunters. They will form packs when needed, but such things are always short-lived.
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
Stay alive. That's about as deep as a Shadowhunter normally gets.
As Shadowhunters are simple creatures, they have few taboos. They grasp not inbreeding to prevent birth defects, though it's currently poorly understood if they can have birth defects. Their immune system repairs genetic damage fairly quickly.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
There have been a number of reports of Shadowhunters interacting with non-Tyroleans. Almost all of them have been described as non-violent until provoked. Some have described the Shadowhunters as willing to engage in sexual activity with them. Several Shadowhunters were "domesticated" (until their intelligence was understood, at which point the domestication designation was altered to "recruited") in this manner by Imperials seeking them out. One of the first was a male Shadowhunter of indeterminate age named Torgal. This was also the name of a nearby tribe of Tyroleans, and it is believed that the Shadowhunter was an abandoned offspring of the Tribals. He was recruited through the combined efforts of a female Zanth Shifters, a male @Ruby dragon and a male @Jade dragon.
- Genetic Ancestor(s)
- Scientific Name
- Canis Tyrol Obscuris
- Artificial Genetic Modification
- Unknown. The Protocol was introduced 1500 years ago, and no Shadowhunter corpse has ever been recovered that showed signs of old age.
- Conservation Status
- The Eternal Empire is taking extreme steps to find and recruit/rescue Shadowhunters from their homeworld, where they are hunted by the bulk of the population, usually without much success. In Tribal areas, their former tribesmen often declare them abominations and hunt them without mercy. It is often used as a Rite of Passage for young males to hunt down a Shadowhunter and attempt to kill it. More often than not, this doesn't end well for the Tribal youths, though a Shadowhunter is unlikely to kill the young sent to kill them. Instead, they will capture them, keep them for a few days, let them see how ineffective their attacks are on them, then let them "escape" with a horrifying story to tell their tribe about how they barely got away with their lives. If the Shadowhunter in question is a female, and happens to be in heat, she will add mating to the list of "menacing" activities, though most young Tribal males never seem to feel menaced. This occurs with some male Shadowhunters, as well. Not all those who never return form their Rite of Passage failed to do so because they died.
- Average Height
- 2.4 m to 3.0 m
- Average Weight
- 175 kg to 200 kg
- Average Length
- Average Physique
- In their natural form, Shadowhunters are buff. Like, totally Shadowhunter's workout routine. They have to stay fit to survive, and they do so by running, swimming, and climbing.
- Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
- Shadowhunters can fade into the shadows, as their name suggests. They literally disappear into shadow and can reappear from any part of the same shadow. They can move through shadows of those tracking them, and step back out of the shadows when the time to attack is appropriate. The only limit on this ability is that the shadow has to be able to conceal the entirety of the Shadowhunter's form, though since they shapeshift, this becomes easier for them. Naturally, they are darkly tinted, their fur having a wild variety of patterns, non-patterns, spots or stripes mixed with dark and light colors. In the dappled twilight of the jungle floor, they blend in well.
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