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Avivecs

Avivec
Image from Steve Bowers
A wandering Avivec trader from Sagittarius

The avivec clade has origins among Zoeific Biopolity Environmental Vecs during the Age of Establishment. Avivecs are designed to closely resemble various species of bird.

Physiology

Being primarily dry-tech in structure, Avivecs are an unusual form for the strongly biotech-centred Zoeific Biopolity. The vecs of this clade have always very closely resembled a set of bird species, typically species of gull, pigeon, parrot or corvid. To a modosophont with typical sensory capabilities, such as a standard nearbaseline, they are essentially indistinguishable from these bird species. Being capable of flight much like the creatures they imitate, they are built from very light-weight materials, including foamed lightweight bioplastics.

Computronium is distributed within the body, rather than contained purely within the head as in the birds they emulate. Within the main torso is housed a radio transmitter-receiver, which is the primary method of communication, especially within the clade. They can vocalize, but it has taken re-writing of protocols to enable the vocalization of speech as opposed to simply bird calls.

Being originally designed as Environmental Vecs, Avivecs have a broad sensory range. In addition to being able to see in the visible range, this extends substantially into the infrared and ultraviolet spectra. They also have sophisticated temperature sensor abilities, can detect small changes in air pressure and wind movement and even chemical composition in the air, all through sensors distributed across their bodies. They also have sophisticated chemical sensors on their feet, which they can use to ascertain the chemical status of water bodies, soils and so forth. Finally, they also have very fine hearing capabilities.

There is no inbuilt reproductive ability in Avivecs, as historically they reproduced through the use of central manufacturing facilities hidden beneath the ground on the wild worlds and habs where they worked as environmental monitors and caretakers.

For their manipulative abilities, Avivecs use an effector frame, the ufog of which attaches to their feathers when not in use. This is suitable for small operations only, but they do have the ability to manufacture it if needed, for replenishment and for heavier lifting.

Power is generally received through induction charging from power stations, but Avivecs also have small biomass-based generators which they can use to recharge through burning dead leaf matter or similar substances in an emergency, taking it in through the mouth. Historically, the most commonly used power stations were based on trees which provided electricity for the vecs to charge as an engineered side-effect of their photosynthetic processes.

History

During the establishment of the Zoeific Biopolity in the 2500s onwards, a large number of worlds were terraformed, and many large habs with extensive biospheres constructed. The bioist tendencies of the Biopolity, and the Association of All Life which preceded it, meant that aioid sophonts were somewhat rare, but there were a few notable vec populations present right from founding.

The monitoring of biospheres for assistance in their design, for insights into future ecological engineering projects and for informing the public of the Biopolity was often carried out by sophonts, this being a societal preference. While direct transapient observation through ufog was common and many biont clades (especially flying bird provolves) found a role here, a strong cultural trend among vec populations, supported by many Biopolity modos of other phyles who sought to maintain a role for modosophonts in these processes, advocated for the use of vecs of more traditional designs. This was the origin of the Zoeific Environmental Vecs, a hugely diverse and long-lasting minority of sophonts within the Biopolity. One of the arguments in favour of the use of hylo-vecs and -bots in ecological management was that their non-biological nature would make them less prone to transferring microbes and otherwise being a factor influencing the ecosystem. While the vecs would themselves often roam around and make close observations of the developing biosphere, and minor modifications when necessary, they also made extensive use of bots and/or remote bodies.

While many of these were ufog-based, or unchanged forms of previously-existent vec clades such as the Silicon Ocean and the Sundarbanis, many were developed during the years of the Age of Establishment specifically for the purpose. In particular, there as a push among certain systems advocating the use of biomimicry in Environmental Vec design. The Avivecs were among those clades resulting. Not only were the Avivecs themselves biomimetic, many of the bots they made use of were too, including designs based on small birds, rodents, lizards, snakes and insects.

First produced during the 2900s at a number of systems within the young Biopolity, Avivecs soon became part of the complement of a few dozen terraformed worlds and biosphere-hosting habs. In particular, many of the more isolated or far-flung biospheres hosted Avivec populations.

During this time, the Biopolity’s policies regarding Environmental Vec populations was somewhat untested, and their populations were often very isolated and separated from the main body of Biopolity society, which was located in the arcologies within the biospheres and in large outer-system industrial complexes. This sometimes lead to complications, leading to the Biopolity’s eventual change of the policy to bring Environmental Vecs and other ‘caretaker’ sophonts into closer cultural contact. If nothing else, cynics say this ensures they remain inculcated with Bioist ideals.

In the Bishop Ring Geokichla, in the Turdidae system in what was then the outer reaches of the Biopolity’s contiguous territory, this was acutely the case. Aside from the Environmental Vec populations in the Bishop Rings Geokichla, Cathanus and Myadestes, as well as the McKendree Cylinder Turdus and a variety of smaller habs, the population consisted only of some superturing administrator ai and a few communities of astragen sophonts in the Kuiper Belts.

As well as Avecs, Geokichla hosted many ufog-based Environmental Vecs and some other varieties, including a large number of pebble-vecs along the major river courses. These populations remained largely distinct. All these Environmental Vecs had originally volunteered to move to the system for the purpose of maintaining its biosphere, which was almost entirely forested, ranging from tropical rainforest to temperate woodland. For the first few generations, things proceeded smoothly, but beginning almost a century following the establishment of the habitat certain elements of the Avivec community on the landmasses of Princei and Cinerea began to question their situation as caretakers of the Geokichlan environment. The slowly-growing Environmental Vec population, and the increasingly-stabilised environment, made them feel that their presence was unnecessary, and that their continued presence on the isolated habitat was unfair.

Groups among them began to petition the system administrators for leave to exit the system. The system administrators were primarily ai, but a few were senior figures from within the Environmental Vec communities. In either case, these pioneers of the isolated ecosystem reserve system tended to be highly zealous Zoeticists, and many appear to have thought the petition by these vecs was a betrayal of their ancestors' sacrifices for the Bioist cause in relocating to the far-flung system. The administrators seemed to also believe the malcontents would come to their senses and settle down in due course. They therefore neglected the petitions of the Princeian and Cinerean Avivecs. This led to increased disenfranchisement among the Princeian and Cinerean Avivec populations, including growing distrust of the system authorities. Many went so far as to renounce Bioism altogether, or to a substantial degree. As they increasingly ceased to monitor their local environments, and gathered in ever-larger numbers around their subterranean manufacturing centres (unusually for Biopolity technology, these were primarily dry-tech as was needed for hylo-vecs upkeep and manufacture), tensions rose between the rebel groups and the administrators, as well as other Environmental Vec groups, Avivec and otherwise. This culminated in the establishment of the Exodus Installation on Princei, a large above-ground structure containing residences and a central launch facility for spacecraft, which the rebels were beginning to build. They were joined by a number of local pebble-vec communities at around this stage.

This disruption of the local environment was unacceptable to the local clades and to system administration, and so the rebels were ordered to dismantle their Installation immediately lest force had to be used to make them do so. Dreading a return to the increasingly demonized lifestyle of monotonous environmental monitoring, the rebels refused, and instead demanded free transport out-system for all the vecs requesting it, or they would continue work on their own spacecraft projects.

Saner heads among the system administrators prevailed, and this request was granted. An exodus of Rebel Avivecs, and a scattering of vecs of other clades and cultures from Geokichla numbering several tens of thousands departed the system in a series of starships, bound for more populated Biopolity settlements in nearby space. This was one of the events which lead to a greater establishment of civilian populations in all the peripheral Biopolity reserves, such as in Turdidae, where a number of arcologies were set up in the habs and several smaller habitats were established in which the Environmental Vec cultures could have freer roam.

While this was the first major injection of Avivecs into civilian society, many other Environmental Vec populations, in particular those associated more with population centres, became sources for emigrants. Many of the non-Bioist groups emerging from Turdidae quickly left the Biopolity, departing for the Periphery or for the neighbouring Keter and Solar Dominions. While quickly finding employment and occupation in diverse fields, many Avivecs went into conservation and preservation on more densely-settled habs, where there were sometimes infringements upon local wildlife by the sophont populace.

The Avivec design ultimately died out as an Environmental Vec form during the 6000s in the Zoeific Biopolity, although some similar designs do remain in use as remote bodies. However, as a form of vec they were outpaced by bio-ufog-based vec designs, continuing older hylo-vec clades such as pebble-vecs, Sundarbanis and Silicon Ocean vecs and most prominently by an ever-growing proportion of biovecs, more in keeping with Zoeific ideals. Some Avivecs may still exist on Caretaker worlds or in other scattered biospheres, but this is unconfirmed.

Avecs up to the Current Era remain as a scattered and diffuse clade, which is nevertheless quite distinct. Small populations can be found in the Zoeific Biopolity to this day, although there are larger numbers in a few Solar Dominion and Utopia Sphere worlds, as well as quite prominent populations in a handful of younger polities in what is now the Middle Regions, derived from early exoduses.

Culture

While the age of the Avivec clade has meant that it has diversified out hugely, the core of the clade retains some common features, often reflecting their habits as Environmental Vecs in ages gone by. Their societies tend be quite self-contained, consisting of a few dozen vecs from the same manufactory. This can sometimes expand to include sophonts of a variety of clades, often quite different.

Eagle Owl Avivec
Image from Wikimedia Commons
A Community Leader within the Fons Luminis Avivec community

Preferences for which birds to resemble seems to vary widely — the Avivec families of Fons Luminis have for a long time all resembled barn owls, tawny owls and eagle owls (depending on seniority), and have been very uncomfortable with Avecs of other lineages adopting these appearances, while the Avivecs of the Sagitarius Co-operation, despite being somewhat more eclectic, very commonly resemble Archaeopteryx, this having been a morphotype of some of the individuals in one of the few families to travel to the region following the discovery of the Tunh wormhole. Although their numbers are now declining, for some time there was a preponderance of Avivecs with distributed minds spread across flocks of small birds in the core of the Solar Dominion. These birds often included starlings, sparrows and hummingbirds. Their numbers may have decreased among the already-small Solarian Avivec communities, but some Avivecs of this type constitute large proportions of populations in Peripheral systems. There is some discussion as to whether these distributed Avivecs are a subclade or a new clade altogether.

It is also worth noting that the flying Avivecs adapted well to many free-fall environments, sometimes keeping their original designs and sometimes modifying them. Several Dyson trees, both within the Biopolity and in many cases outside it, host populations of this clade, some of them quite large.

Among some Avivec groups believed to have origins among the most orthodox Zoeticists among their reserve-dwelling forebears a popular form of artwork is based on bird imitation. In the most conservative forms, Avivecs performing this art attempt as best they can to imitate natural bird behaviours, in particular those which they find particularly difficult to master such as flocking and complex birdsong. The former has been incorporated as a form of dance by some Avivec-derived Zen and Pozen adherents. For the vast majority of practitioners, the art form has gone beyond pure imitation to a new and complex form of song and dance which mixes the activities of different species and incorporates ideas from other systems.

Bioism of various forms remains common among Avivecs, although some have left Zoeticism for other forms. This is a factor in their high incidence in bioist-leaning vec populations, and rather contributes to their lack of presence in the Metasoft Version Tree. This is not, of course, universal, and small Solarist populations, within the Dominion and as settlers of the Outer Volumes, also exist, while scatterings adhere to other faiths.

While one of the most famous of the biomimetic hylo-vec clades outside of the more 'realistic' androids, it is worth noting that there are several others with quite large populations. These include Clade CyJaguar of the NoCoZo, the arboreal Quantum Wood clades and the recently emerged family of fish-resembling clades descended from the original Pysgod Vecs.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Kirran Lochhead StrangInitially published on 17 February 2016.

 
 
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