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Jan 29, 2013

Vozgrow and Leymaygn

Dryad
I've been sketching out character and plot details for Chapter Three of Exode. Previously I mentioned that Vozgrow and Leymaygn are two Buld at Lendhalen who train Parthney for his Interventionist mission on Earth. Everyone who lives at Lendhalen is free from pek nanites, but that makes it difficult for the Buld to maintain a stable population. I've decided that Leymaygn makes use of a type of "partial change" that has been developed by the lisden of Lendhalen to help the Buld Interventionists stabilize a small population of rebels. As described for Pla'va, by going through "partial change" Leymaygn can be rejuvenated and also retain some existing brain structure and behavioral patterns although most individual memories are lost in the process.

In contrast, Vozgrow has a long personal history of experimenting with medical nanites provided by the Fru'wu. Leymaygn has the typical youthful appearance of the Buld, but Vozgrow is ancient like Yandrey.  Yandrey shows some effects of extreme age, but since thon lives on Hemmal there are pek medical nanites in thons body that do a good job of preventing most of the deleterious consequences of old age. For example, Yandrey wears a wig to hide thons baldness and makes use of a kind of makeup made from nanite components. The Fru'wu medical nanites are not as efficient as the pek nanites and so Vozgrow does not have a youthful appearance. Parthney is rather shocked by Vozgrow's odd appearance and Gwyned tries to make him appreciate the fact that there are many old and disabled people on Earth. Where Parthney grew up on Hemmal, everyone is genetically perfect and kept healthy by pek medical nanites, so before seeing Vozgrow, Parthney has never really experienced a person with alarming physical features. I've been trying to decide just how hideous to make Vozgrow.

In the Jack Vance novel Star King an alien creature called a "Dryad" is described: "They are at least half plant...bipeds, with a peculiarly human torso and head structure...the head showed...purplish-green bruises which seemed to be eye spots." I'm amused by the idea of a sapient, bipedal plant-like creature and I'm imagining that Vozgrow has been shifted in that direction by the Fru'wu medical nanites.

Glimpsed image of a Fru'wu
The two alien species featured in Exode are the Fru'wu and the Nereids. The Nereids are fairly humanoid, but the Fru'wu have an alarming body form and so they avoid showing themselves to humans. I've previously hinted at the body structure of the Fru'wu. In my thinking, the original naturally-evolved body form of the Fru'wu is lost in the distant past, but we can try to reconstruct their evolutionary origins. The Fru'wu (more accurately, the distant ancestors of the Fru'wu) were an old species when the pek arrived in our galaxy seven million years ago. The Fru'wu are half biological and half artificial; a symbiotic hybrid construct of biological cells and nanite components. Although not complete shapeshifters like the pek, the Fru'wu can easily alter their surface features and it is doubtful that humans have ever seen their unaltered form.

Fru'wu home world
The Fru'wu provided medical nanites to the Buld, but the Buld have never had a very good grasp on biology. The Buld have never been able to make the required adjustments to the Fru'wu medical nanites to fully adapt them for use in humans. With time, Buld who make use of Fru'wu medical nanites begin to have some distinctive morphological features that reflect aspects of Fru'wu biology. I'm trying to imagine how to transform an elderly human part way towards a plant, something about 10% of the way towards Vance's Dryads.

Spoilers
The original planet where the Fru'wu evolved was significantly hotter than Earth, a world with a carbon dioxide-rich reducing atmosphere where oxygenic photosynthesis never appeared. An oxygen-containing atmosphere is poisonous to the Fru'wu and humans cannot survive in the type of atmosphere that is suitable for the Fru'wu.

The star of the Fru'wu home world produced mostly long wavelength light that could be used for a type of photosynthetic acetogenesis that allowed for efficient carbon dioxide fixation and a metabolism based on carbon compounds. Nitrogen fixation was accomplished on the Fru'wu home world by a second linked photosynthetic electron transport system with a specialized vanadium-iron nitrogenase complex.

Orbits of Oib, Hemmal and Clu'ten'iun around the star Koly. Positions of some Pla spacecraft are also shown.

When Parthney arrives at Lendhalen, he believes that he is on Oib. However, the interventionist base on Oib is just for cover...Lendhalen is actually located at the next planet closer to Koly than Hemmal: Clu'ten'iun. The conditions on Clu'ten'iun are not fully compatible with Fru'wu physiology, but the high temperature, high carbon dioxide, no oxygen atmosphere makes it a reasonable place for a Fru'wu base of operations in the Koly star system. When Parthney arrives on Oib he is secretly teleported to Clu'ten'iun. The readers of Exode do not learn about Clu'ten'iun until Parthney returns to the Koly star system after his mission Earth.
Leymaygn and Vozgrow.

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