Aven

Avens (Homo volans) are a posthuman species engineered for flight, resembling thin humans with a large pair of wings sprouting from their back below the shoulders. They are capable of flying in Terran-standard gravity and atmospheric conditions. The avens are the first of the so-called "Children of Helia".

Biology

Aven appearance is best described as a paradox of strength and fragility, in that they require powerful muscles in order to fly but must also be light-weight. Even if you saw an aven whose wings were somehow obscured from view, you'd still know you weren't looking at a human: they are very thin yet not bony, with narrow jaws and thick chests. They can see planetary magnetic fields as a kind of glowing band running across the sky.
  Their wings are utilize bio-engineered feathers for lifting surfaces. When fully open they span over twice the individual's height, and can fold up behind the back where they will stay out of the way when not in use. The sternum is thick and reinforced to hold the flight muscles, and two secondary "steering vanes" on the lower legs help provide extra lift and control. A secondary blood chemistry using oxygen-dense protiens helps power flight and provides faster healing from injury.
  Beyond flight, the specific posthuman adaptation of avens is a high power-to-weight ratio granted as a consequence of their bio-engineered muscle fibers and low mass. Aside from flying, this enables them to do such things as jump over short walls, hang by one hand without much effort, and take off with a powerful running leap.  

Flight

Avens are capable of flying in Terran-normal atmospheres, though they are not as nimble as smaller winged creatures. As with any bird, flapping is a very energetic activity, requiring an effort equivalent to climbing stairs when ascending. Gliding and soaring are much easier by comparison; aven chest, leg, and neck muscles have been engineered to hold the body in flying position for extended periods. Some aven houses are built on stilts or towers to create a high perch for flight.

Psychology

Compared to humans, avens are hyperactives with a seemingly limitless supply of energy. Movements are fast and easy for them on account of their high power-to-weight ratio. Avens tend to be fast and twitchy, similar to birds, and a common stereotype depects them as speaking too fast for humans to understand.
  Because they are somewhat fragile, their standard response to encountering a ground-based threat is to flee into the air (and they will start opening their wings on reflex if startled). Avens are generally more hesitant to resort to violence than humans (their societies have never been known to engage in practices like dueling), and when they do it is in response to what they perceive as an imminent lethal threat--they do not have much of a distinction between a brawl and an attempt at murder. Hence, the aven philosophy on fighting and war can be summed up as "if it's fair, you're doing it wrong".
  Avens are, in general, better at coordination and solving collective action problems than humans. Helia very deliberately crafted their psychology to fix what she saw as "flaws" in baseline humanity, such as egotism and short-term thinking. She engineered them with a greater capacity for empathy, hence they are less willing to exploit others for their own gain.   They are not as egotistic as humans, if you insult an aven he or she will just look at you with eyebrow raised, and calmly say something like "That's wrong." This is in stark contrast to honor-based cultures sometimes seen among humans, and evidenced in amplified form among Spartans and some types of uplifted primates, where insults are grave challenges which must be met with force.

Aven

An aven wearing a flight suit

Genetic Ancestor(s)
Scientific Name
Homo volans
Average Height
5-6 feet
Average Weight
30-40 kg
Average Length
10-15 feet (wingspan)
Major Polities
Central Authority

Civilization and Culture

Technology

Technology used by aven polities is generally at or near the cutting edge of scientific advancement, on account of their political stability avoiding technological regression, and as a means of compensating for their physical lightness and low population.
  Aven-built flying vehicles are sometimes regarded as unsafe for human passengers, as they rely on the assumption that if something goes wrong, the crew can bail out and fly on their own.

Languages

Early aven history saw the establishment of several constructed languages designed for high information density and deep cognition, separated into variants such as Standard, Technical, and Logical. In addition to this, most avens are fluent in one or more human languages such as Americ, Inglic, or Celestial Han. Their languages are noted as being difficult for humans to learn, being designed for fast-thinking, three-dimensional minds.

Cultural Traits

Preferring not to dwell in large cities (or large cities where the skies are full, at least), they commonly build free-standing dwellings on hills, cliffsides, or stilts/pillars. An aven town can also be a single tall building, with open balconies along the sides for landing and departure.
  Most avens do not swear oaths, a trait they probably picked up from altans. Asking one to do so can be no small insult, it implies they are by default less-than-trustworthy.
  Described as fiercely egalitarian, aven societies are devoid of the inherited hierarchies and aristocracies sometimes seen in human cultures. They are deeply suspicious of power relationships which seem exploitative, and consider the primary goal of governments to be the promotion of the common good, not the enrichment of an elite class.
  Culturally, avens have deliberately tried to separate themselves from what they view as humankind's by-and-large barbaric history. The average aven will have only a dim idea who human historical figures like Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, or Nelson Mandela were.

Common Taboos

Perhaps the most well-known and enduring taboo among avens is their prohibition against war with each other. Aven societies have fought wars with those of other species, but hold so-called "self-war" to be forbidden and unthinkable ever since the First Thousand set it down as a rule. This cuts both ways: not only should one group of avens not attack another, but they must also not do anything so evil it would oblige other avens to go to war against them.

History

The aven species was created by the artilect Helia during the Terran Restoration, a grand project which saw humanity's battered and polluted homeworld regain (if only for a brief time) some of the beauty it lost. These first avens, who later became known as the First Thousand, established various rules and customs, such as the principle that aven nations would never wage war on each other--a principle which has held to the modern day, though some would say only because there are not enough avens yet.
  After Terra was once again devastated by war, many avens ended up elsewhere in Starweb space, joining other nations or forming their own.

Interspecies Relations

Being flying humans, they naturally inspire a lot of awe in their ground-dwelling brethren and hence well-known even when not many of them are around. On some isolated, technologically-regressed planets during the Interstellar Dark Ages, avens became remembered as semi-mythologized "Winged Men". On the other hand, they can come off as quite arrogant, often pointing out the "incorrect" attributes of human societies while being unable to offer advice besides "do better".
  Avens are not very warlike, but if attacked will retaliate with massive force until the threat is neutralized. In battle, avens will usually surrender once they realize they are beat rather than go down fighting, and in the opposite case are quick to accept offers of surrender from their opponents. Even so, they can be rather nasty and vindicative towards their enemies, tending not to let up until they stamp out ability for future attacks.
  Their low population growth rate has caused them to seek cooperation with other species and nations in order to make better use of their limited labor force. Most aven polities have good relations with torens, and readily tolerate toren activity in volumes they control.  

Articles under Aven



Cover image: by Vertixico

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