Starseed Pollination

As seen in A Few Good Elves
Trees of Life have long mystified and intrigued naturalists. The greatest puzzle was propagation. How does a giant tree that is inevitably the sole member of its kind in light-years, reproduce itself? Assuming that they truly are trees, how does pollen pass from one tree to another to produce Starseeds?   It was the work of Avalonian Imperial Navy druids and naturalists VonVin StarSong and Alesander Tremayne that eventually led to the answer. Trees of Life use the Airts to further their own reproduction, and they effectively pollinate themselves -- although other starfaring ships and even some large starfaring creatures may also serve as secondary pollinators.  

Life Cycle of a Starseed

A Starseed develops, seemingly of its own volition, as a product of a Tree of Life. The seed somewhat resembles a gargantuan maple or ash seed, with two to six distinct "wings". Left to its own devices, it will grow to the size of a dreadnaught before it detaches itself into the currents of the Airts. The unique nature of a Starseed allows it to harness the Airts for motive force, although it has no way to accelerate beyond light speed unless it happens upon a wormhole, nor does it possess a method of "steering" or sailing. Like a leaf adrift in a stream, it is entirely reliant on the currents it is in to carry it elsewhere.   Most Starseeds simply wind up adrift in the Void, where they enter a state of hibernation. Over eons, they may slowly wither and die without access to the energies of a star to sustain them. But some find a solid body in which to take root -- usually an asteroid or comet, but sometimes a moon or planet. The process is little understood, but it is believed that when this happens, it is possible for a Starseed to grow into a full-grown Tree of Life in only a few centuries.   When utilized by the Avalonian Imperial Navy as a Starseed ship, a Starseed can instead be shaped through magic and careful druidry to carry crew and passengers. This may be to the Starseed's evolutionary advantage, because it allows the ship to more effectively navigate the Airts, and thus, increases its odds of eventually finding a suitable place in which to root -- although that may delayed several centuries, while the Starseed remains commissioned by the Navy.   Still, the question remained: how does a Tree of Life pollinate? How do Starseeds develop in the first place?

Manifestation

Starseeds are not, in fact, seeds -- or, at least, they are not just seeds. In a manner of speaking, they are also highly-sophisticated flowers. Most Starseeds are female, and as they make their journeys through the vast reaches of the Void, they hope to encounter Starseed pollen. If they are so fortunate, they store the pollen in their stigma until an opportunity to take root somewhere presents itself. When the Starseed is fertilized, this is usually signified by a colour change, shifting the Starseed to brighter pinks or purples, as opposed to their usual iridescent greens, purples, and blues.   It is the characteristic hexagonal "crystalline" pattern on the surface of the Starseed that contains the plant's sex organs. There are thousands of microscopic stigmas in each hexagon, creating maximum opportunity for pollination, as the stigmas literally cover the Starseed's shell.  

One in a Thousand

However, perhaps one in a thousand Starseeds are male. To an untrained eye, they are indistinguishable from female Starseeds, but they tend to lean to a more aerodynamic shape. They also have larger "wings" than their female counterparts. When shaped by the druids and archmages of the Avalonian Empire, they are more easily configured into fast, extraordinarily maneuverable versions of their ship's class. It was Alesander Tremayne who observed that ships with a reputation for being excellent dogfighters are more likely to be male.   Instead of containing thousands of stigmas, the hexagonal "crystals" of a male Starseed's shell contain thousands of microscopic stamens, which constantly produce pollen. For the most part, this goes unnoticed. However, a savvy captain will eventually realize that their ship leaves a trail wherever it goes. Within the vastness of the Void, these particles of Starseed pollen are so insignificant that they are never noticed, but the residue of pollen may linger when a male Starseed is engaged in slower maneuvers, such as fleet movements.   When left idle in space, or when sitting in drydock for extended periods, a male Starseed will build up pollen residue. The pollen, like the Starseeds themselves, is iridescent. Therefore, the Starseed develops a sparkling coating over time. This has been described by some starfarers as "pixie dust."

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Yggdrasil's Sprout by Diane Morrison

Type
Natural

Properties of Starseed Pollen

One might think that the byproduct of a Tree of Life would have some beneficial effects on lifeforms -- and one would be right. Starseed pollen has significant healing properties. When consumed, it bolsters the body's healing capabilities to an extraordinary level. Consumed over long periods of time, it also improves health and physical capabilities. It is often used by mages, witches, and clergy as an ingredient in healing potions or compounds that enhance the physical capabilities of the body for short periods.


Cover image: Man O War 2010 by Silverblade the Enchanter

Comments

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31 Aug, 2020 08:37

*insert mind-exploding gif here*   This is some next level worldbuilding. Loving it. :)

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
6 Sep, 2020 12:27

*blush* Thank you so much! <3

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga Eater of pickles, Friend of nerds, First of her name
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