The Ti’an – An exploration of true Darwinian Communism by Gregory Sperling
When I was invited to become a permanent resident of ward 8 in Valafor colony I was initially somewhat nervous. Though I have dedicated my life to the study of alien cultures the Ti’an have always seemed to present the largest challenge of study because of the demands it places on the observer. To actually participate in their society not as a tourist but an actual part of their community involves adopting an almost monastic lifestyle in which one must give up all of one’s personal possessions. Other alien species have a very defined and familiar way of looking at property. I admit even the most worldly human being has a hard time not actually owning anything. We attach sentimental value onto our stuff, pass it down through the generations, fight and occasionally die protecting it. The Ti’an however look at everything they use as property of the greater group. Their wisdom trends toward the needs of the many outweighing the demands of the few.
Having been a tourist in a number of Ti’an colonies and having studied them from afar I was familiar that there is a darker side of their communities which is not immediately evident in their seemingly communal paradise. They are an exceptionally Darwinian species with little sentiment spared for the weak or the deviant. Troublemakers are not tolerated in Ti’an culture which has relied heavily on the lack of civil dispute as a matter of survival for their entire history. Having conflicting ideals or socially bizarre habits are acceptable and even praised provided they either present no impact to others or follow the guidelines of peaceful protest and democratic process.
The fact that they have such differing physical needs was also somewhat concerning. From her wonderful book “Mammalian Culture” Ti’an Writer Darevoquin reveals that Ti’an’s view of mammalian species, like for instance humans, isn’t particularly flattering. Ti’an being cold blooded don’t itch, shiver, perspire or secrete oils from their skin. They likewise are insectivores and herbivores and require less than a quarter of the food a human needs to survive. Therefor many Ti’an encountering a human ( or other mammals) for the first time tends to have the opinion that we are foul smelling, convulsing, flesh consuming, dirty creatures with the appetite of a plague of locusts. Thankfully almost all Ti’an are too polite to comment on this.
Unwilling to let this opportunity pass me by I opted to become a resident and spent years learning to exist in their culture. Tourism to Ti’an colonies is highly sought and most believe they understand the Ti’an after a few weeks in their culture. Most are left with the impression of an extremely polite species that offer free (raw) food and entertainment all for a flat rate fee imposed by the Ti’an port authority.The local view of tourists is that they are somewhat of a nuisance. While they are not treated unkindly they are definitely looked on as outsiders and often handled with kid gloves by their Ti’an hosts. I expected that this was simply their way of interacting with aliens who operate on an almost universally consumerist or commercial culture and was prepared for a somewhat lonely study from the outside looking in. I was pleasantly surprised to find that was not the case. Once I was installed in my new home and my intention to remain an at least semi-permanent fixture of the community they adopted me without reserve welcoming me wholeheartedly into their culture. Whether you are planning a vacation to a Ti’an colony, attempting to immigrate or simply interested in their fascinating culture I hope you will enjoy my introduction to the culture and history of the Ti’an people.
A Brief Overview of Ti’an History —
It is important when trying to understand the Ti’an to have a basic grasp of their history. Ti’an were the second species encountered by humanity that were not already space faring. The first species we met who were pre-space age have had perhaps the greatest hand in their development as a communal species as they shared the same planet. The Gen are a bipedal furry species that are exceptionally strong and easily over an average of seven feet tall. If they have one draw back it is that their hands have only three blunt digits that are tipped with lethally sharp claws. Gen hands, while capable of crafting crude tools, are unsuited for fine detailed machining or crafts. When we encountered their civilization at it’s pre-industrial stage the manufacture of their finely crafted clothes, toys , weapons and books were a mystery. Our introduction to the Ti’an was a slave race schooled to be mute and showing sentient promise only through their exquisite grasp of complex manufacturing techniques. These docile sweatshop labourers , servants and pets of the Gen piqued our concern and interest.
Possessing much smaller frames more susceptible to the elements and dexterous hands the Ti’an have been enslaved by every culture of Gen on Ti’an-Gen and are the source of their industry. Through the Gen we learned that wild tribes did still exist and were hunted largely for sport by the warlike Gen. It should be noted that while the Gen received humanity’s existance with fear and awe it did not last. In a notable instance where an angered Gen emporer lashed out and killed a human diplomat. Learning we were not gods researchers were no longer welcomed on Gen territory and all following observations of their culture have been made in secret.
The “wild” Ti’an as we discovered were very difficult to track down. While they may have one time existed freely in colder or more barren climes they had been hunted and enslaved to cultural extinction in regions where they hibernated in winter. The free population retreated into the densely forested tropical belt of their home world and became completely nomadic to foil their aggressors.When first contact was established they were surprisingly quick to grasp the concepts of our alien nature and responded with wary curiosity. The curiosity was mutual and it wasn’t long before our ancestors got the idea to relocate the free Ti’an to Human controlled frontier worlds where their threatened culture could be in some ways preserved. It was remarked upon by the first researchers that the Ti’an were only nomadic out of necessity and were quite amicable to the idea of settling down in a safe place. It has also been mentioned that while the Ti’an seemed to have limited technology this had not restrained their scientific advancement. Advanced physics, chemistry, biology , earth sciences and mathematical theory were well understood through their reverence for understanding the world around them through experimentation and observation. It has been proposed that had the Ti’an not been under constant threat from Gen enslavement their access to mining and thus tools would have been unhindered and they would have advanced far more quickly possibly even into orbital spaceflight. However this lack of access to enough resources to make abundant tools and the constant threat of an shared enemy is arguably what foraged the Ti’an culture into it’s communal state.
Once humans intervened and established Ti’an colonies on frontier colony worlds the Ti’an underwent a cultural transformation the likes of which we had never seen. Drawing on human learning which they soaked up at an almost alarming pace they devised a means of translating their nomadic culture into a stable and stationary one. Their reverence for the natural world was also key to their development as they liaised with the greatest human professors to pick and cherry-picked the ideal and ecologically inspired aspects of human architecture, city planning and agriculture drawing from the experience of mankind to make their own place in the galaxy. Within a generation their colonies were self sufficient, at two generations they were making their own cutting edge scientific advancements. Still there were a few problems to be worked out and some of those problems still lack adequate solutions.
Body Language and Physical Nature —
Even those who are not particularly interested in xenobiology find the Ti’an physically fascinating. Many who are not familiar with the Ti’an make a few wrong assessments based on our own physical template. Our instinct is often to label the drab coloured, larger framed, horned females as the males of their species. It is an understandable miscalculation. Coming from a species where our females are smaller, often attired in bright colours and possessing visibly bulges on their chests in the form of mammaries our cues for determining male and female are without familiar reference in the case of the Ti’an.
The Ti’an are a cold blooded species that are often noted as looking very lizard like to humans. They have soft scaled skin that feels velvety to the touch that is capable of changing colour as a means of social signaling and thermoregulation. The species possesses a tail which aids them in walking upright and is prehensile enough to assist them in climbing trees but not in performing other tasks as commonly thought. The females can brood two to seven eggs once every three years starting at the age of fourteen. The eldest recorded Ti’an reached the venerable age of 86 making them somewhat less longer lived than humans but more so than the Zetyr.
Ti’an females as mentioned before are larger than their male counterparts standing an average of 6 feet tall. They possess natural camouflage in the form of their brown and green colouration and marbled patterned skin and are more muscular in build than males and possess straight horns which protrude from the back of their skull and a row of smaller horns which run from the tip of their nose to the crown of their head. It is interesting to note that only one in every brood of Ti’an is born female. In their nomadic state their culture was matriarchal with females holding the key roles of decision making, healers, scientists and mathematicians.Males were once strictly relegated to a military like career and were expected to protect the group at the expense of their lives if necessary. Now that they are not universally threatened the attitudes have shifted in most colonies to encourage males to take up roles that were perceived as being strictly female roles. Males of the Ti’an are much more flashy. They stand on average about 5’5 and are striped and exceptionally brightly coloured ranging most of the visible spectrum in both skin colours and plumage colour. They have no horns however they possess a crest of brightly coloured feathers that are so fine that from a distance they resemble human hair. As such many have taken to styling their crests in human hairstyles.
The Ti’an have been sometimes compared with chameleons for their ability to change colour. However this is not often used as camouflage and is not often consciously controlled. Instead their colouration often marks the mood and disposition of an individual or is used for thermo regulation. As a general rule they are at their brightest when showing off, lightly coloured when calm or warm, a deeper colour when stressed or scared and black when angry or cold. Female colour palettes are mostly uniform: They are almost ocelot patterned and at their brightest are a vibrant leaf green, light brown and spring green when calm, dark brown and green when stressed and black on charcoal Gray when angry. Males in contrast come in a multitude of shades are usually striped and are always capable of at least two separate hues. For example an individual might have a light shade of vibrant blue and shift through purple to reach a stressed colour of maroon red.
Though it has not been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt it is thought there is a sort of tie between different colouration and the genetic personality traits of the individual. Personality wise different colours have different implications whether they are a dark shade or a light. A light shade of blue generally means the individual is an attention seeker and very gregarious or very affectionate however a dark blue means that the individual in question is genetically disposed to reacting to stressful situations calmly but often by employing harsh measures without remorse. Light red or pink is rare but is a sign that the individual is prone to having difficulty focusing on tasks for very long but is also a sign of great physical aptitude while Dark reds are a sign that the male has a tendency to be unpredictable and think outside the box. Yellow in it’s light form it generally means that the male is very creative or individualistic. Orange is considered yellow’s darker version and reveals a short temper and tendency to react violently. Lavender shades reveal the male is very shy while royal purples are a sign of those who deal very levelheaded under pressure. Green or brown in males except in transition between colours is an almost always a sign of infertility and males born green are generally very docile. Keep in mind that this is a very rough guide to Ti’an genetic dispositions and not a surefire way of understanding an individual. Many Ti’an societies look at this colouration as a guide of how to raise the individual child by tailoring their teachings to counteract their genetic traits. Experience alters personality in some cases more than others but it is certainly a point of interest when entering their society.
Being mammals our reactions to heat and cold are likewise very different. Our instinct is when we are cold to put on more clothing. With cold blooded creatures this actually inhibits their ability to soak up ambient heat and should a Ti’an become dormant through exposure to cold it is not recommended however good your intentions to wrap them in a blanket! This being the case Ti’an traditionally didn’t wear clothing however most have adopted wearing something as a measure of human-like modesty to cover up their groin at the very least. Loose fitting pants, capris or shorts are generally favoured. All Ti’an colonies are situated in tropical locals so plan to pack for warm humid weather. Cold blooded creatures when exposed to cold tend to become very sluggish. In the Ti’an the reaction can be rather alarming as the most vibrant and hyper individuals become apathetic and docile. On their home world Gen store Ti’an in houses with ice packed in straw when they are not actively using them as slaves and it is theorized that this has been the cause of such widespread and effective enslavement of the species.
One last thing to note is the diet of the Ti’an. Anyone spending time in their communities had best be prepared to eat mostly raw vegetables. Ti’an eat mostly edible leaves, fruit and non-starchy vegetables and grow a selection of plants from both earth and their home world. Their diet also includes eggs and a selection of insects from a multitude of worlds. Interestingly while they cannot digest most meats they can eat chicken though most find it extremely disgusting and have a history of vomiting it up anyway due to it’s odd texture and taste. Cereal grains, nuts, meat and starchy vegetables like potatoes can’t be digested by the Ti’an and is liable to make them extremely ill. It is also important to note that the Ti’an do not cook or chill their food. Eating something hot or cold effects them physically and most find the experience disquieting. Guest quarters for tourists are provided with stoves and freezers however it is recommended that you bring your own grain or meat products as well as any prepared sauces you require for your stay. I for one experimented with toasting, roasting and steaming some of the larger insects and grubs with fresh herbs and found many of them quite palatable… If not somewhat difficult to adjust to initially.
WARNING: Due to their metabolic rate Ti’an should never be given mammalian sized doses of any drug as they are likely to overdose. If you have a despairing love of stronger grain based alcohols such as I do then I suggest you bring your own and never offer any to the Ti’an. It is not rude to withhold something from them that is likely to poison them.
Society and Civil Structure —
Ti’an are unique in that they operate entirely communally. Individuals own almost nothing and a great deal of their law structure is devoted to discouraging behaviours that directly harm the harmony required for their society to function. As a tourist you will not be subject to most of these laws but you will be guided to use the most expendable of items because the perception of Ti’an hold towards humans and other races is that we are prone to stealing and disrespecting shared equipment. I must say that after years of living with the Ti’an I have witnessed a few of my own species who have done intentional damage to items and felt extremely embarrassed on their behalf.
The design of Ti’an communities are laid out in a way that has much public space as the Ti’an are an extremely social species. The average Ti’an only uses their personal quarters to sleep in spending all of their time in public space. Gossip and news passes very quickly through communities and bad behaviour on the behalf of one Ti’an is viewed as harmful to the group and they enforce their social order by means of public shaming. I will devote more time to this subject later as it merits particular consideration.
Part of what makes Ti’an colonies such a tourist destination is that the Ti’an employ no forms of currency. Objects in their possession are all stored in cashes that look a bit like shops. These “shops” are actually more akin to libraries and are usually attended by someone whose job it is to repair and maintain the objects in their care. When an individual is finished using an item it is returned to where they were found. Certain areas are outfitted with all the supplies one requires to do a specific activity like art studios, science labs or theatres for the productions of plays. It is common practice for most places to be accessible from dawn to dusk. Tools are treated with particular reverence and one should be forewarned that damaging on is not looked on lightly and if you are particularly accident prone or intentionally damaging property than the “shopkeepers” will discourage you from using the communal equipment or bar your entry. Keep in mind that when visiting due to your status as an outsider you will be scrutinized albeit from afar and subtly as a possible destroyer of objects.
Food in Ti’an colonies is abundant and everywhere. Every building has it’s rooftop garden, insect house, hen house or aviary and is skirted by another garden at it’s base. Everyone in the community has a responsibility for food production and Ti’an are often personally responsible for at least one garden, insect house, hen house, aviary or compost pile. Often times these duties are traded on an individual basis by Ti’an to keep a task from becoming dull. As a visitor it is highly recommended that you volunteer to help as it sets a remarkably good impression however you will not be considered socially obligated to do so. In the case of harvesting it is considered poor form to take more than can easily be regenerated by a plant or insect colony so try and aim for only harvesting 50% of a plant’s leaves or insects from their enclosures.
Architecture styles are usually of human styling as the Ti’an have no previous history of building permanent structure from which to draw. Theatres, galleries, decorative gardens are all free to enter and in the case of live entertainment stages are booked in advance by the performers and audiences often reserve tickets to enter by inquiring at the box office. Outdoor stages are favourites of bands and musical troupes and are in almost constant use. Those learning instruments or rehearsing often do so in one of the larger public spaces such as a park or civic square. All services are free to use though their use is on a first come basis.
Government and public security amongst the Ti’an is very diffused. Every city is developed into wards which each has three councils. The council of elders, the council of experts ( made up of scientists, artists, doctors, architects etc.) and the council of the young ( Adults under the age of 25) Notions are discussed in large chambers where anyone with an interest is invited to sit and watch and politely bring their issues to the councils. Notions for civic actions are discussed or voted on by all three councils and if they are excepted by at least two out of three are brought into the general public knowledge by way of a public display in the Ward’s city hall where the voting for whether to proceed with the notions is open for roughly about 50 days. This public vote is what counts. The council members are reselected at random every two years and most consider their civic duty to be interesting but stressful and most are eager to go back to their normal lives. It should be noted that the council of Elders and in more traditional communities the council of experts is almost always dominantly female.
One social problem facing the Ti’an is their prodigious birth rate. Ti’an are not a romantic species and pairings are always at the female’s discretion who determines what sort of traits she desires in a mate once she becomes fertile every three years. A clutch of eggs is usually at the very least two to six eggs and only one female will be born in each clutch. Females often choose not to mate as often as possible though many still have roughly about five clutches during their lifetimes. In his book “A Match made in the Heavens” by Ulysses Miller which details in unparallelled detail the sex lives of alien species and the authors personal quest to experience sex with multiple alien races he had an unusually succinct section of his book and this to say this about the Ti’an in summary:
“The Ti’an do not mate for fun and when they do mate it is an extremely private and short affair which isn’t regarded as being socially significant after the fact. I convinced a few curious Ti’an females to try pairing with me I can say with some authority that the experience is best avoided as it is nearly physical impossible, uncomfortable and not enjoyable for either party. I suggest giving this particular species a pass.”Children are raised exclusively by their mothers for only two years after which they are raised communally by the adults. At the age of 12 they are considered subject to the laws which govern the community and are entrusted to a principle teacher who guides their development and curates their education. In their original nomadic culture males were looked at as being somewhat expendable and when too many mature males were in the group the males would take with them gifts from their old tribe and seek an new one to join perpetuating the transfers of technology along with genetic diversity. The projected lifespan of a male however was very low as aside from the Gen the planet of Ti’an-Gen is fraught with natural hazards. Now their numbers work against them as males vastly outnumber females if left unchecked.
This problem is not tackled uniformly amongst all colonies. Some progressive colonies encourage their males to partake fully in whatever career they choose and then educate them to prepare them for inclusion in alien societies. Males are encouraged but not forced to leave and explore once they reach the age of 18-26. This tactic is often paired with an initiative to encourage females to brood only once or twice in their lifetime has proved somewhat effective. Males however often find themselves at odds with other species and fairly lonely in their new communities until they settle in and make friends amongst the locals. These males are encouraged to remain a part of their community by working and sending home money to their commune to keep their way of life well supplied and most males take this responsibility very seriously. Other traditional communities have a less ethical approach.
It has been a interstellar issue for ethical debate for some time that traditional communities of Ti’an socially enforce the vast majority of their males into a soft form of military training and indoctrination from an early age and then sell their contracts to human military organizations. Normally Ti’an from these military apprenticeships are taught to function as engineers or medics in addition to being infanty. The Ti’an raised this way often consider this their unavoidable course in life and do not object to it. I personally believe as many others do that this is a deplorable act on behalf of the matriarchal dominated councils of the traditional colonies. Ti’an raised this way make exceptional talented and exceptionally obedient soldiers and that human corporations continue to fuel their demand sends chills down my spine.
The way Ti’an deals with the outside world is also variable. All colonies have brokers who deal with the galaxy and planet at large handling supplying whatever needs supplying usually with raw materials since tool crafting is on it’s own considered a high art. Often times these brokers sell day passes or two week long passes to a certain number of tourists to regulate the number of other species within tolerable levels at any one time which fuels the tourist trade. Certain free passes are set aside for valued guests such as visiting professors, musical troupes, artists and other skilled professionals who are encouraged to stay, perform, teach and learn for up to three months. If you happen to be one of these longer term guests expect to be treated well and leave extra space in your luggage for gifts. Since I was there to study them culturally I was given special status as are other select individuals to stay on a more permanent basis. It goes to show that immigration is extremely difficult to arrange but not entirely impossible.
Social Justice —
The one thing to be wary of as a resident is to be aware of how the Ti’an justice system works. For the most part it follows the human model with Judge, jury, keepers of the peace, forensic experts and so on. If you are accused of a crime you have the right to legal council and a fair trial and anyone familiar with the human criminal justice system will have little issue following the proceedings. However sentencing works very different from human justice where prison terms are the norm. The ramifications of Ti’an Justice can be physically debilitating and lasting.Certain crimes simply do not have a punishment attached since they do not apply in the Ti’an’s means of communal living. Stealing for instance is alien to the Ti’an since all individuals have access to all items and tools. Trespassing does not apply and suing for damages is impossible since they employ no currency. However this being said there are crimes in Ti’an colonies which are alien to humans because they enforce the social fabric of the group and emphasize the importance the Ti’an place on the group over the individual. There are two classifications of crime in the Ti’an system : active and passive crimes. Active crimes such as bullying, criminal mischief ( purposeful destruction, hoarding or unwanted alteration of communal objects), assault, torture, homicide and rape are generally understood by human beings. These crimes involve active participation of an individual with the intent to cause harm. Passive crimes are unique to the Ti’an because they enforce the active participation of every Ti’an to the benefit of the others. Laziness, neglect of social duty, accidental damage, public indecency or manslaughter are all examples of passive crimes though the punishment is always less severe than for active crimes which show an aptitude for maliciousness.
The price of living in a community where civic peace is considered so important is that the punishments afforded for crimes are considered by many unethical. These punishments are varied depending on the nature of the crime and repeat offenders merit continually harsher penalties. For punishment of lesser crimes the Ti’an employ a mashed pulp of the Keeva leaf which when applied to Ti’an and human skin dyes it much like henna. Ti’an find this rather uncomfortable because the black colouration interferes with their ability to regulate heat on their skin but the true punishment is exacted by the community based on a system of different markings for different crimes. For instance, a Ti’an convicted of criminal mischief will be dyed solid black from fingertips to elbow and will be denied entry or use of communal tools and services as long as the marking lasts. After too many repeat offences the Ti’an will have one of the fingers on his off hand amputated and if the problem continues after they have run out of fingers on that hand the hand will be removed and then the arm up to the elbow. Assault is marked by A solid dyed black hood covering the head down to the shoulders and is reacted to by the community by sanctioning the the individual as a target for abuse. Many who have this marking hide as best they can until it wears off because the abuse is not always simply verbal in nature. Seven or more offences see the removal of the Ti’an’s dominant arm to the shoulder and fifteen is cause for exile from the community. Bullying (which can be verbal) is punished by Ti’an refusing to speak to a marked offender. This marking covers the eyes like a mask and repeat offences merit a set term of exile.
Homicide and Torture cases merit the most severe punishment where the convict is scalded with boiling water which in some cases sends the convict into lethal shock. The effect this treatment on those who survive this is an odd distinctive mottled mostly black tone to their skin which loses it’s colour changing ability. The criminal is then exiled from all Ti’an communes and should they make any attempt to return to Ti’an society they are mobbed and killed by the citizens of the community in a rather frightening display of savage violence.
Rape is extraordinarily rare as females are more than a match for any male and the rape of males is not considered criminal as the males are obligated to submit to the female’s right to choose her mate willing or not. In the event male to female rape occurs the edict is for any eggs produced from the pairing are smashed and the offending male’s genitalia are destroyed and he is driven out of the community. Thankfully this is is an extremely rare occurrence in Ti’an cities due to the difficulty in actually performing this crime and the harsh penalties of being caught.
It should be noted that a false accusation can be as terrible as any of these punishments as a proven false report sees the offender suffer the same crime executed (or that would be executed ) upon the falsely accused. This is only done in instances where the false report has been verified and then becomes the subject of it’s own trial.
Passive crimes are always never paired with bodily harm for punishment and rely on a system of patterns done in Keeva dye. Dots under the eye for laziness, Stripes from the muzzle to forehead for neglect, a solid band around the neck for manslaughter, three bands around the wrist for accidental damage to property and a stripe from shoulders to wrist for public indecency ( generally public drunkenness or rude behaviour. Nudity is not considered indecent) are all employed. The social ramification for these markings are simply that the offender is treated rather coldly by others who feel that the offender should feel ashamed of their actions. Too many reoccurences and the offending Ti’an will be ousted from the community to make their home somewhere else.
It should be noted that Ti’an with developmental and mental disabilities are not granted concessions from justice. As a result many are repeat offenders and expunged from their communities to fend for themselves with disastrous effect for the individual. Ti’an with physical deformities are in some communities killed shortly after hatching though progressive communities have outlawed this practice and simply are more lenient in regards to assigning them duties to perform and punishing them for passive crimes.
Sports and Recreation —
Ti’an, with their lower living requirements, don’t actually work as much as many other species. They are certainly expected to take turns doing their community chores and have some vocation that benefits the whole community but the average Ti’an only works about five hours every day. To work more is considered a personal choice and there are certainly Ti’an who are extremely passionate about their work and do so over 80 hours a week in some instances. Many Ti’an prefer to work the bare minimum and then engage in one of the arts or sports either as a participant or spectator and as such the outdoor and indoor theatres, sidewalks and parks host a number of street performers, dance and theatre troupes and musical groups of every description. It has been remarked that it’s almost impossible to walk a city block in a Ti’an settlement without encountering a performer of some description at practice. Visitors with some interesting party trick should consider performing it at some point. I myself found that my childhood fascination with legerdemain was very well received. Theatres of all sorts post their schedules for formal performances and no tickets are required. Instead for popular plays and musical acts one simply needs to reserve in advance to be assured a seat. This can only be done daily so be prepared to head to the box office first thing in the morning if you want to be assured a seat for the creme de la creme of Ti’an entertainment. Televised entertainment produced locally along with films from other species are screened in theatres or small parlours which behave on the same principles as live entertainment.
Sports are as pervasive as the arts and games are constantly in progress in a dazzling array of leagues or open invitationals. Traditional sports include Chifenfen which is somewhat like a cross between lacrosse, soccer and basketball and a number of martial arts which have been adapted to become sports. Ti’an have adopted sports from a number of different species and as long as they are physically capable of replicating it they play it. Visitors are encouraged to participate.
Though lively the Ti’an do spend a fair amount of time basking in the sun and many building have skylights to afford them more access to the sun’s rays. Pack sunscreen and a hat even if you plan to spend the day at indoor venues.
Religion and Superstitions—
Native Ti’an religions involve a parallel spirit world which echos the natural world. It is believed that after an individual dies their soul remains whole for a time “like a fruit picked from the vine” it eventually decays and breaks down into it’s composite parts to form new souls. It is believed that at birth a youth has only the tiniest amount of spirit but as time goes on they draw from the spirit world to become a larger composite of ancestors from not just the Ti’an race but other races across the galaxy. Some believe that these spirits can also infuse certain objects which is why after a tool or valued artwork is broken beyond repair it is given a sort of ritual funeral. Ti’an culture honours their dead with funerals and mortuary tablets in giant halls of records but actual cremation and burial is not practised. Instead the body is mulched and turned to compost where it can return to the natural world as the soul does to the spirit world. This process always takes place outside the city in specialized areas due to the unfortunately grotesquely visceral nature of the process. I must admit that I have found the practice a little too practical and have always had a will which stipulated in the event of my death that my body be shipped home to my loved ones for human style burial.
This approach to the soul means that parents tend to name their children with composite of single syllables from loved ones or people they hope their children will grow to emulate. It is considered unlucky to name a child after someone specific though many Ti’an in human cities have taken to abandoning this custom in favour of human names because of the sheer number of people named say “Jane” or “Richard”. It is thought that the name having been reused so many times has had to draw from a deep well of soul from so many people named similarly and thus are likely to form a composited soul regardless of their seeming unoriginality and prepares the offspring to fit in well amongst humans.
Other superstitions are more local in nature and luck charms and amulets for safety are carried by many Ti’an as they believe in fortune being an actual force that can be drawn and harnessed. Many charms and superstitions have been adopted from other cultures. Many believe that bad creatures from the spirit realm can latch onto the unwary causing them bad luck and depression. If an individual is suspected of having one of these spiritual hangers on they are encouraged to meditate to strengthen their own reserve of mental strength to force their spiritual hanger on to detach by concentrating on severing the connection with it. This activity usually is encouraged in peaceful natural settings and many public gardens are laid out with this belief in mind.
While Ti’an may not own much individually it is traditional for them to keep a small bag in which a few personal items are placed and most of these items are ritualized keepsakes. Female’s Hibarkesh (“keepsake bags”)include small engraved and carved pieces of wood or stone, one for each brood she has produced with the names of her offspring included on the piece and a small sample of plumage akin to a lock of hair from her mates. Male’s and female’s Hibarkai both include Other items to indicate other major events in an individuals lifetime. Common items include a small medallion traditionally carved of a soft stone like soapstone or alabaster given to them by their principle teacher to signify the end of their apprenticeship, a small token signifying their passage into adulthood at age 12 and a piece eggshell from their birth. Other pieces are usually something small and have significance only to the individual. I was fortunate to be given a glimpse into a number of Hibarkesh which are considered usually to be very private affairs akin to leafing through a diary. A meaningful object can be a pressed flower from a garden they designed, a rivet from a ship, military dog tags, a scale or claw from a dear deceased friend, a tiny scroll with a short poem, a ring they acquired in a foreign place, a small labelled bottle with soil from their home colony and so on. At the end of the individual’s lifetime the Hibarkesh is taken and stored in an archive designed for that purpose along with any personal journals the individual kept during their lifetime.
Ti’an Outside the Commune —
Ti’an often tend to bond together where they are found outside their communes to operate in commune-like settings at a smaller scale. This has lead to a number of “Ti’antowns” ( Also known less affectionatly as “Lizardvilles” ) in human cities. Most of the Ti’an towns operate like their larger communes however the flow through traffic of other species has altered the way they live. These Ti’an through necessity use currency when dealing with other species but live in big communal houses and offer goods freely to permanent residents. Usually they are not granted the powers of self governance and are covered under human law and not permitted to use their own justice system. Often these communities are latched onto Universities which allow young Ti’an to study in their traditional apprenticeships in the University setting.
The common wisdom of “you can take the Ti’an out of the commune but you can’t take the commune out of the Ti’an” is particularly true. Ti’an outside the colony view themselves as being extensions of their home colony and while they may bond into mini communes with other Ti’an their contributions from their paychecks go back to their home to support their colony. Males seem to have a particular inherent wanderlust which many consider a trait which has been genetically favoured early in their evolution. It is odd to find a Ti’an travelling alone as they often leave their homes in pairs at the very least. Still it does happen and usually such individuals create strong bonds with other species instead. Human raised Ti’an often are at a loss for fitting into Ti’an communes as they are raised to value independence and human values suggesting that these traits are largely cultural not genetic.
It is importance to have patience with Ti’an who are new to the worlds outside their colonies. Currency use is explicitly alien and while many of them pick up the basic skill of using it quickly they are often at a loss when trying to understand things like receipts, reimbursement, till management, investing , mortgages, rent and other more obscure concepts that have to do with personal ownership and accounting. Also for a few months many find it difficult distinguishing individual belongings from publicly available ones. This has unfortunately given other species the impression that they are kleptomaniacs. Should such an event happen where a Ti’an take something of yours chances are they are simply borrowing the item and will return it after they have used it. As a courtesy try to be understanding and simply explain that it belongs solely to you. Many are dreadfully embarrassed to have made the mistake and will ask before using anything you touch in the future which I admit provides it’s own irritation until a true understanding is reached.
Ti’an Technology —
The Ti’an are exceptionally adaptive and their native reverence of the natural world and it’s mysteries have made them experts at bio-mimicry and nanobiotic technology. Drawing on human experience and their investment in being self sustainable has put them on a course away from using most of the periodic table of elements and rely heavily instead on those elements found in the natural world. Plastics are often substituted with programmable silk proteins which are biodegradable and computing hardware is often reliant on neuron powered technology making living computers with a lifespan of roughly a decade before they corrupt due to old age. Self-assembling calcium based micro organisms are used to coat ceramics and a variety of biological protein based chemicals are employed to do everything from harden sand with engineered micro organisms to form natural concrete to creating living batteries with bacteria. This means that Ti’an colonies are almost entirely self sufficient and require few outside resources. Indeed if a problem arises their first instinct is to try and emulate a natural process or use a naturalistic material or engineered organism to solve the problem. Bio luminescent silk based fibre optics are now being used by the Ti’an to form decorative sub dermal patterns that glow brightly firmly placing them at the head of the pack being the most gaudy coloured creatures in the galaxy. I personally have been enjoying my own “Light filament weave” for several years now with no ill effect except to my professional standing when my peers notice.
Slave Ti’an or “Ti’angen” —
It is with a sadness that I report that the Gen on their home world still retain their legions of Ti’an slaves which are referred to by the free Ti’an as the “Ti’angen”. Many believe that the Ti’an are biding their time becoming more numerous so as to launch an assault on the home world bound Gen to free their enslaved brothers but this is not the case. Unfortunately in the eyes of the Ti’an the Ti’angen are not Ti’an anymore. The slave population has been selectively bred for generations to create varying genetic offshoots of the Ti’an that vary from a pygmy variety to taller extremely docile and unintelligent breed much like human beings have done to create Chihuahuas and Great Danes. The slave populace is written off by the free Ti’an as having the genetic predisposition for curiosity, passion and free thought bred out of them and believe that they are beyond saving. I can’t say that I agree but then the Ti’an are at their heart not a very sentimental species and though it may seem cruel that they want nothing to do with the “Inbred genetically stagnant aberrations” it is understandable given their own traditional Darwinian notions of “Survival of the fittest”.
I highly recommend a stay, even a short one in a Ti’an community. Their culture has taught me many things and while my initial hesitation at leaving the human world behind did have it’s bumpy start the Ti’an represent extremely polite, whimsical and helpful people. It may be some time before their integration into the galaxy at large smooths out the harsh measures the exact to retain peace and end the exploitation of Ti’an males into a new willing form of slavery. I at least retain hope for their future.