Masked Shadows is the name given by inhabitants of the surface to a sentient nanocells-based artificial species created by Maana.
As it is for most nanocell-based lifeforms, the aspect of Masked Shadows greatly varies between individuals, and throughout the life of one individual. However, a general body plan can still be described.
Skeleton structureA masked shadow skeleton is separated in three solid masses:
- The mask, at the top, where most sensory functions are located, and the central computation system are located. It is usually the same size as a human skull, with a large smooth plate on the front.
- the Thorax cage, where the two limbs attach, and where the digestive system as well as the nanocells regeneration center is located.
- The Pelvic cage, at the bottom, is where most reproductive functions are located. What is more, the artificial evolution algorithm is run in that location.
Body mass:Apart from the skeleton, almost all of the body volume of Masked shadows comprises of artificial nanocells. These individual cells communicate internally with each other, and form dense communication networks. Although cells are pluripotent, they are usually specialized in either computation, locomotion, digestion, energy storage.
Genetics and Reproduction
As for most ethereal nanocells-based life forms, reproduction is based on the seeding of a primary skeleton structure by several individuals. Among the masked shadows, the primary structure is usually a carved out mask, smaller than average. It is often completed by two small unarticulated limb structures, and a small thorax. The seeded mask is then gestated by the seeding individuals for 2 seasons. The gestation is shared between individuals, each seeder regularly carrying the mask in their Pelvic cage for half a season.
Growth Rate & Stages
At the end of the gestation period, the newborn has an autonomous nanocells body. However, its computation capability are extremely limited, and it needs to form an adult skeleton. The first parts of the newborn that are developed are its articulated limbs, and the internal part of its mask. This development is however slow, and it is usually around 3 years that a younglîg becomes able to speak and communicate with others, and it rarely is able to join the masked shadows telepathic network before age 7. Once the internal part of the mask is formed, the external part starts developing, behind the old mask. The old mask will start stretching, until it creaks and falls apart.
Masked shadows can be considered sentient, although their central computation system is fundamentally different way from the human brain. Although they do possess a complex neural network structure that is responsible for their decisions, complex thoughts, and the analysis of their environment, a part of their computation processes is based on binary computation. That is notably the case for their memory storage, as well as the 3D internal representation of their environment.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
In addition to classical visual and acoustic perception of their environment, masked shadows have a nanocell-based perception method, that is particularly efficient in the cave environment: the Scan. During a scan, the outer cells of an individual detach and dash in every direction. As they reach an obstacle, they send back information on its composition and distance to the individual, and they return to their owner. Although it is particularly efficient in the Caves, the Scan is useless, and weakening, in open environments. Indeed, as the area gets wider, one has to send more scouting cells per Scan, to get a good resolution. What is more, when cells don’t find obstacles in their direction, they tend to continue in the same direction indefinitely, until they lose connection with their owner. The Scan is the reason why most ethereal-based nanocell organisms tend to progressively weaken in open environments. Another sensory system Masked shadow possess is the Telepathic network. This sense, unique even among other ethereal life forms, allow masked shadow to automatically share information they store in their memory system, and their 3D modeling of their environment, with nearby individuals. It also allows individuals to verbally communicate slightly quicker than acoustic communication.
Civilization and Culture
Beauty ideals greatly vary among the Masked Shadow societies. Some tend to form very human-like facemasks and silhouette, while other have very different, almost abstract, shapes. The variations in beauty ideals among societies tend to be observed in the make-up present in the mask, as well as in the general silhouette of adult individuals. In cast-gender societies, the beauty ideals are different for different genders.
Although biological sexes don’t exist among Masked Shadows, some ethnicities do have created a social gender system, notably in the caste-separated societies.
Major Language Groups and Dialects
The dominant language is, as among every species capable of speech in the Cylinder, Commonlang. However, unlike other species, masked Shadows use commonlang both orally, and telepathically.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Masked shadow cultures usually fear the Ancients, whose existence is well known among them. Some cultures tend to admire or worship them. Other sapient species are relatively despised by masked shadows: they are seen as primitive lifeforms. What is more, other sapient species often dislike/fear Masked shadows, and tend to disrespect them. This causes masked shadows to often respect less other sapient lives than wildlife and nature.
75 to 110 years depending on the regions
1.2 - 1.5 meters
5 - 10 kg