Reefs (Sepioteuthis sapiens)

Provolved Reef squid

Reef squid
Image from wiki commons
Two baseline reef squid
A provolve clade famous for being one of the first two cephalopod provolve clades brought into existence, along with the Neuropus, and therefore also one of the first two invertebrate provolves as well.

Physiology

Physiologically, Reefs are substantially larger than the Caribbean Reef Squid they are based on, at an average length of 40cm. They are a warm water clade, and can only thrive in water of temperatures above 22 degrees Celsius, which is why they are only present in their original form in oceans in tropical regions, or warmer worlds. They are covered in chromatophores, which they use mainly for communication, almost all of their languages being of this form. These chromatophores can also be used for camouflage, for story-telling, art and various games. An unaugmented Reef is not as intelligent as a baseline human, but intelligence augmentations are widespread in this clade. Their neural tissue is both larger and better organized than in their ancestors. Reefs do not possess an ink sac, at least in their standard form.

Reefs have eight arms, and two tentacles, which are much longer. Most are covered in suckers. One arm in male Reefs is modified to become a hectocotylus, which is a specialized arm used for inseminating females with spermatophores. This arm is not usually used for standard purposes, or at least is the last choice of arm.

Society

Reef society is not as structured as that of most biont clades. There is no family unit, and no real attachments between individuals. Reefs do, however, develop attachments to places or ideologies, and by extension to those who live in those places or follow those ideologies, especially if they are also Reefs. They usually do have their own names, but these are often more for convenience than anything, and are assigned by themselves once they reach a few months old, or assigned randomly by computer systems. They can memorize names, and assign them to individuals of whatever clade, with some difficulty. There is no rearing of young in Reef society. The concept of family does not extend below the level of 'race'. So a Reef will identify as being croydonish, or a member of the race from the Croydon Sea on Pacifica, but nothing below this level.

Left to their own devices, Reefs will usually fall back on one of a few different kinds of society. The most prevalent is a peaceful anarchy, where there is no real social structure, and crimes go unpunished, except socially as the community rejects the individual, but there is also no real antagonism which leads to warfare. Other common Reef societies are cyberdemocracies, ad hocracies and benign dictatorships under a post-Reef transapient, or a mind emerging from the opinions of every member of the society.

When they are with other sophonts, they are curious, but are not affectionate in any way, this not being part of their neural structure. So Reefs do not form friendships with others, but they can enjoy their company, and will therefore be pleased to see them again. Also, they will feel a sense of loyalty to those who have common origins or beliefs to themselves.

Reproduction

When a Reef female reaches 6 years old, they will gather with other fertile females, and males, to reproduce in shoals, choosing the male showing off his intelligence, strength, speed and skills to mate with. Sometimes a Reef will breed with more than one male. Soon after, the female will lay a few egg cases, containing seven or eight eggs each, in a designated chamber in their floating/underwater settlement, pipe complex, habitat or tank-system. More rarely, they will be laid somewhere remote. As the eggs hatch, the young will be kept in massive swarms inside designated chambers, where they are safe from harm. Either using specialized systems, or manually, food will be transported to them, in the form of plankton, algae and nutrient broths. There is an extremely strong taboo in Reef society against the cannibalism of young, mainly due to there being no instinct to stop this occurring. So the young are kept in specialized chambers, or move around protected by nanotech swarms, until they reach a year or so old, by which point they will be big enough to survive within and close to the structure, hanging around in small schools around the larger shoals, learning to speak, and later on absorbing culture, and even information about technology, politics, or other fields, until they reach maturity at around eight years of age. A Reef will take pride in producing lots of young, but will almost never know who they are.

Religion

As far as religion goes, Reefs are roughly evenly divided between monotheist religions, atheism/agnosticism/sophontism, and various sects of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, and derivatives of these. Zen Buddhism is particularly popular among planet-dwelling Reefs. Monotheist religions in Reefs are usually much modified, due to the utterly different (some say non-existent) family values of the clade. Therefore they usually worship a more abstract form of God, or worship an observant God who creates from curiosity, and whose great arms permeate the Universe.

Toposophic Tendencies

Reefs are roughly average in their tendency to ascend to higher toposophic levels. They often do so individually, rather than by joining up with others. They will cyborgize heavily, and outsource their processing, until they ascend, at which point they will probably abandon their biological body. However, in some cases, the transapient post-Reef will simply enlarge their old body to a much greater size, and continue to use it as the centre of their consciousness. Another kind of transapient which arises relatively often from this clade are distributed transapients. These are minds which run on a little part of the mind of each member of a society, and draw information from them all. These are often very strange in character.

History

Rather obscurely, this provolve clade has it origin in undersea archaeology. In the pre-Expulsion era, undersea archaeology was a highly significant part of that discipline and was dominated by remote-control bots. In the 440s AT a society calling itself the Specialized Undersea Archaeologist Development Company was formed in California, as a non-profit organization seeking to create a genetically modified clade which would be able to function effectively without requiring constant supervision. They styled themselves as a company because they also hoped to make a profit in the Undersea Archaeology industry, after they had paid off the costs of creating their new species, which could either work alongside existing merpeople or enhanced dolphin specialists, or if the provolution atttempt was successful, work independently. The SUADS decided that the Caribbean Reef Squid would be an ideal candidate for this project.

In addition to the creation of modified reef squid the SUADS also considered the creation of an aquatic vec clade. Having researched both these avenues, they decided upon the aquatic vec, a project which went on to create the Silicon Ocean series, a very successful clade, although they moved from archaeology to ecology monitoring as they method of paying for the project. The research they had done into squid modification, and the contracts of their workers in this area was suspended, pending later development; before this could happen the corporation was caught up in the chaos of the Great Expulsion.

The detailed records of this research, and a database of the modified squid DNA, was recovered in the Early Fereation Age by Hall-RoydII, a human superbright researcher. Royd was convinced that this recovered data could be used to bring the Reef squid to full sophonce. He encouraged a number of AI and superbright individuals to join the project; the resulting cartel bank-rolled the project primarily to see whether an invertebrate sophont provolve could be viable. It helped that these sophonts could gather together enough capital to make the project quite cheap, in relative terms.

Reef Squid were modified in large numbers, in an extremely micromanaged operation, with breaks in work for a few years at a time to allow natural cross-breeding and maturing of the produced squid, so as to add to the project with artificial selection. Eventually, with the help of several AI, some created for the purpose, others recruited, the modified species neared completion. At this point the project encountered the Marine Diaspora Institute, which at the time was nearing the completion of its own Cephalopod provolution project, based on the Common Octopus. To avoid any harm to the provolves which could occur if either group rushed to finish before the other, the two organizations signed a treaty claiming that they would unveil their projects simultaneously. After swapping a few tricks, this was done, and a handful of newborns of both clades were announced to the world on Mendel 28, 1001 AT. They were accepted fairly readily, and as these individuals grew up, the two clades began to forge their own societies.

For the first few decades, Reefs remained rare due to social problems among themselves, and often isolation as they were moved around the world for the purposes of the neophilic public. This was often very distressing for the Reefs involved, and they began to assert themselves more, demanding greater rights, until eventually they could come together to form their own societies, and mix with general society. This was helped by the resolution of most internal social issues. To begin with, Reef language was not very fluid, as it had been manufactured fairly hastily by two AIs involved in the project who had been distracted while they were meant to be working on it. Over time the language improved, through linguistic drift and other natural mechanisms, as well as active work by some Reefs and AIs. Secondly, Reefs had to take time to establish a social structure which worked with their instincts, and also with the high tech society they found themselves in, with their much greater intelligence.

Reefs could quickly establish large populations, now that they had the chance, and were very fond of the company of their own kind, in great numbers if possible. By the Middle Federation age the little shoals in orbital habitats grew into much larger groups. A number of habitats included Reef accommodation in their water systems, allowing the provolves to travel freely throughout most habitats. The Jovian system hosted a reasonably sized portion of Reefs. A few travelled out-system, and a small number joined interstellar colonization missions. Many Reefs were included as minorities in colonization vessels, while only a few were in the majority or on Reef-only, Cephalopod-only or aquatic-only missions.

In the present day, Reefs are still common in their ancestral form, or superbright/superior versions thereof. They are rare on non-terraformed planets, or cold planets, or those without much ocean, but given warm seas they will thrive, producing floating cities often not much different to those used back on Earth, or being more nomadic and surviving in a high-tech fashion through the use of widespread versatile utility fog. Nevertheless, the majority of Reefs live in habitats, usually along with many other clades of sophont.

Many have modified themselves through various methods. Some of the first modifications were for the ability to survive in colder waters, often by incorporating aspects of Humboldt Squid in their design, or by utilizing reteromorphic geneering. Others were for greater intelligence, greater size and greater reproductive capacity. Some incorporated human aspects to that they could understand mainstream society more easily, and in some cases even made the shift to human and other vertebrate languages. Later, some modified themselves to be terrestrial rather than aquatic, or even to become airborne, building on a basic flying ability inherent in their ancestors. Some then adapted themselves for environments such as Europa, or Titan, and even for life in gas giants. Astragen forms have also become apparent. It is rumoured that the Kraken supposed to exist in the Inner Perseus Arm is descended from astragen post-Reefs combined with a local Cosmoarchiteuthis clade.
 
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Development Notes
Text by KLS

Initially published on 21 June 2012.