Life Cycle of a StarseedA 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?
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 ThousandHowever, 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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