"Ziel, Core, Essence, Magic: whatever you call it, this substance has existed since The Great Strike. We want to call it a phenomena, but recently we realized that it is a living, breathing thing. It's not truly plant, nor truly animal: it is very fungus-like, but also bacteria-like. Basically, Ziel gives a creature control of the elements, for its energy and protection."
---Unknown author of 'Ziel: The Symbiotic Lifeblood of All Solarian Creatures'
While each individual of Ziel can bioluminesce when energized, each are biologically distinct in the fact that each can take on different parts of the environment, or Affinity. Affinities in their purest form have equal strengths and weaknesses, allowing each one to be kept in check. Those individuals that lack an Affinity are designated 'Pur', with most of them being held captive in human experimentation labs. The Elemental Ziel types are as follows:
Bakke is mountains and the valleys, the stretches of desert and forest, caves and cliffs.
Elektrik is sky, wind, and friction, the purest form of energy harvested by humans.
Voda is oceans and lakes, winding rivers and outstretched clouds, the blood of nature.
Pyre is warmth, volcano pits and low-hanging fog, a helper of wind, a light in darkness.
Eise is cold, icebergs and snow-capped mountains, a helper of clouds, the dark depths.
Yad is protection, poison of plants and the venom of beasts, a helper for nature's gifts.
The top three types are known as the Classical Triad, its arrival being due to the events of The Great Strike. The latter three types, known as the Novel Triad, ended up cropping up sometime after the Classical; some speculate the Novels were dormant in creatures prior to The Great Strike, and intensified to the point of identification during the aftermath. In either case, both Triads are part of a dual-triadic cycle of opposition and strength.
Genetics and Reproduction
Ziel is an asexual organism, with its main mode of reproduction being ultimately dependent on the form of Ziel it is. Many split off parts of its main body to propagate; these are the most common ways it does so:
- When a solid, Ziel reproduces through fragmentation-- the parent splitting its body in half;
- When a liquid, Ziel reproduces through budding-- the offspring growing directly from it; and
- When a gas, Ziel reproduces through sprorogenesis-- forming spores through mitosis.
Growth Rate & Stages
The growth rate of Ziel is ultimately dependent on its access to energy: it has no defined maturity stages, as a freshly-"born" Ziel can do exactly the same things as a Ziel that has been around for thousands of years. Not even size is indicative of age: there have been month-old Ziel crystals that far exceeded the size of year-old Ziel with no access to energy, and thousand year old Ziel spires have been overshadowed by spires only a decade old.As Ziel don't show any signs of aging, finding out the age of a specific specimen is remarkably difficult when there lack any points of reference. The only times which a Ziel individual can be aged somewhat accurately is if it lacks an elemental Affinity, as Ziel typically grows with influence to the environment it pulls its energy from. Outside of that rare circumstance, Ziel is usually given an age by what it becomes, or became, symbiotic with.
Ecology and Habitats
Dietary Needs and Habits
Ziel eats via the Vessel it chooses, being ultimately dependent on leeching off the energy produced by other lifeforms when attached to fauna or flora. When attached to an elemental source, it uses the surrounding natural environment to bring it nutrients as it sits in stasis. As it prefers a roaming host over a static one, Ziel will integrate itself into plants, minerals, and even bacteria in order to attract another creature to consume it.
When part of a living host, Ziel will integrate itself into the creature's DNA, splitting itself apart and putting its own genetic material into the organism's cells. This grants the Ziel far more energy efficiency, and after time, the host will start to show signs of elemental manipulation. So long as the creature continues to consume food, or interact with Elemental Hotspots in line with the Ziel's attunements, it is left unharmed.
After the host dies, the Ziel will eat away at its body: a last ditch effort to gain energy before it undergoes stasis once more. Sometimes, the Ziel will preserve a part of its host's body-- for animals, a claw, horn, or tooth; for plants, a fruit or seed-- by becoming that specific part. A majority of it, however, will integrate itself into the ground below it, the sky above it, or, if applicable, the water around it.
Time does not affect Ziel in the traditional sense, as it shows no signs of aging, and can hypothetically live forever. The main impact the environment has on it is elements that act unlike it. Below is a basic outline on how the different Ziel Affinities would interact with the elemental planes-- their strengths, weaknesses, and resistances:
Legend: Resistant// Element >>Strength
[The element that resists Element] // [Element] >> [The element that is weak to Element]
Classical Triad: >> Voda >> Bakke >> Elektrik
Elektrik// Voda >>Pyre ; Voda// Bakke >>Eise ; Bakke// Elektrik >>Yad
Novel Triad: >> Pyre >> Eise >> Yad
Yad// Pyre >>Elektrik ; Pyre// Eise >> Voda ; Eise// Yad >>Bakke
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Ziel is used in non-human societies as a main part of their infrastructure. In Typhon's Teeth, for example, whole Domains have a grid of element-powered Ziel spires that keep their borders lit, and a system of Beacons that transmits supersonic waves into the atmosphere, making the whole landmass undetectable to humans. Since Daemon of the same Elemental Affinity stay within the Domain that matches their typing, the Ziel of these areas gain a stable amount of energy throughout each domain with little to no complications.Within human societies, Ziel is used in a wide array of scientific processes due to its incredibly-fast growth rate and low carbon footprint. In the food industry, they use its unique symbiotic processes for what they deem as "cruelty-free" synthetic food products. For product testing, Ziel is also used in heavy amounts, since it has so many structural similarities to both creature, plant, and bacterium on the planet. The newest, experimental usage of Ziel is in batteries, as it would have high energy efficiency as a power source for vehicles and weaponry.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Ziel senses the environment not through sound, or sight, or even a true sense of touch: it is said that it senses its entire environment through smell and taste. As its entire body is permeable, as air passes through an individual, it can pick up tastes and smells the organism, over many millenia, associates with the planetary elements. Heat, unusually enough, is included with this, as Ziel can identify heat from the smell of the air around the heat source.
When part of a host's body, Ziel loses all senses that allows it to interact with the world. What it does do, however, is grant its host elemental manipulation: this means that, through the Ziel itself, a host can tell its body to activate the process required to manipulate an element the element the Ziel is attuned to.If a host were symbiotic with a Ziel of Pyre, for example, they can shoot flames through the pores of their body, or if they had a Ziel of Bakke, they could create a thick crust of rock by manipulating their skin cells.
Civilization and Culture
Common Etiquette Rules
Ziel isn't traditionally sentient, by all means, but it seems to have a system when it comes to the different types. For one, Ziel of a certain nature will outright repel one another for its own safety. Ziel of Pyre affinity would fear being extinguished by Ziel of Voda affinity, but wouldn't be intimidated by Elektrik Ziel, for instance.
Secondly, Ziel is incredibly territorial: if a Ziel system [a Ziel individual and its host body] is of a specific Affinity, it will not allow any other individual in unless it shares the same Affinity. Ziel found attempting to breech the territory that another Ziel has laid claim to will use the body's immune system to attack it: this usually leads to only a mild fever and lightheadedness to the host, but lengthy assaults may cause future life complications.The only exception seems to be when two individuals of different Affinity enter the host body before one of them starts to "settle" into it, or if the introduction of a second individual happens when the original is fighting for its host's life: this phenomena is called a Bond, and is covered below. Three-part systems, or hosts with more than two unlike Ziel individuals, do not exist, as a host's body will naturally reject more additions as dangerous.
Dual Affinity, or Bonds
In the case that there are two unlike Ziel individuals in a single host, they will intermingle with one another until the host's cells are a combination of both individuals, fusing the Affinities together. This is referred to as a Super-Affinity, or Bond, due to the immense, and at times unstable, power the fusion creates.
A host with a Bonded Ziel symbiote within them can either access each Ziel's elemental Affinity separately, or in some cases use them in tandem with one another. A creature with a Pyre/Bakke bond, for example, may be able to spew molten rock as a defense measure, or create an obsidian shell around itself for protection.
Bonds are extremely unnatural, and usually occur by outside anomalies. These anomalies can be as simple as mixed-Affinity parents, or as complex as environmental catastrophes. In either circumstance, a Ziel system must take caution around others: as Ziel is territorial, if the host comes near a Ziel individual that is incompatible to their own Ziel, the resulting interaction can cause extreme injury to-- or from-- the host.The aforementioned Pyre/Bakke Ziel system would fare fine around Bakke, Pyre, and even Elektrik individuals; conversely, they might cause irreparable damage to a system that's solely Elektrik or Eise, or be seriously injured by a Voda individual. They would need to stay near a location that facilitates its Bond, like an active volcano.