Monday, January 10, 2011

Dezhu: Intellectual Insectivores

Gecko-descended protohominids, the Dezhu (Dez Hoo) take the fine art of hunting insects to unparalleled levels as they climb across any and every structure or edifice, exploring every sinkhole or mountainside, spelunking through cavern systems or rappeling up and down the walls of the Great Rift itself. The Dezhu have no fear of heights, depths or sheer surfaces. They will attempt to climb anything, if there is the promise of insects they can eat at the end of the expedition. The more exotic the insects, the more elaborate the effort they will put into reaching them with the express intention to dine upon them.

Competitive full-contact gourmands who frequently traverse extreme environments, the Dezhu have self-modified their genome in thousands of different attempts to make them better adapted to a vast array of environments or climates, and to make them the best insectivores possible. Their modifications have been so idiosyncratic and personalized that the Dezhu require medical intervention to reproduce and most opt for designing their own set of clones as their designated back-up crew and handlers. In some ways every Dezhu Team is effectively a unique genoculture unto itself, some more so than others.

Physical Appearance
Dezhu vary widely in terms of superficial appearance, but overall they retain a strong resemblance to their blended gecko ancestry, with the addition of multiple sets of secondary limbs being one of the most common modifications that one will find amongst these hyper-athletic reptilians.  A Dezhu will have between two and six legs, often with the secondary legs capable of being used as arms with composite foot/hands. They generally have four arms at a minimum, though a few eccentric individuals have gone back to having only four limbs total (plus the tail), mostly as a publicity stunt. All Dezhu have heavy, thick tails that they use for balance and stability, and as a back-up gripping limb that is sometimes articulated to be prehensile.

Dezhu retain the spatula-shaped setae scales of paleo-geckos along the inner surfaces of their hands and feet. These specialized scales allow the Dezhu to cling to surfaces by virtue of manipulating Van der Waals forces, not surface tension nor using any adhesive. Dezhu disdain adhesives in general, though they will use extrusion-spinnerets for synthesilk lines when freeclimbing just isn't an option.

Their skin is almost always a pebbly-grainy hide reinforced against the elements and often interlaced with bioLEDs or vidfilaments so that they can shift their coloration, emit patterns, or even run highlights of their past expeditions across their own skin. Those indentured Dezhu who are in service to some sponsor often have branding images and logos sliding around their skins.

Dezhu are generally very proud of their heritage and retain the distinctive appearance of a particular type of paleo-gecko such as the aggressive Tokays or the diminutive Jaraguas. The most successful and popular Dezhu teams tend to be very dramatic and colorful in order to better appeal to their fan-base and the viewers at home who watch their every move via the schools of papparrazzi and mote-cams that surround them like a flickering mass of bubbles.

Cultural Aspects
Extreme competitors and superb athletes, the Dezhu teams race one another to explore any and every ecological niche where they might locate new species of insects that they then prepare for their viewers and consume with gusto as part of their overall effort. Each team is empathically connected, often telepathically bonded to one another and share a group rapport that is essential in the highly dangerous expeditions, climbs or explorations that they undertake--many of which take them outside the bounds of Municipal, Metropolitan or even Exurban jurisdictions leaving them vulnerable to conditions and situations where rescue or recovery can be chancy or even unavailable. Several popular teams have been lost outside the range of the Helical Cathedraes or any other form of recovery, leaving only some genesamples and databases behind for a new offshoot team to be formed as a sort of descendent-type tribute to the great ones whom they'll probably never quite measure up to, no matter how good they become in their own right.

It's a tough, gruelling, demanding existence for the Dezhu and some teams cultivate and encourage clones to develop their own individuality and to eventually gain the skill, discipline and experience necessary for them to split-off and found their own team of clones. Some teams, it must be pointed out, have been attempting to integrate non-clone, even non-Dezhu members into their groups with decidedly mixed results. There are also a number of wash-outs who've dropped out of a team for one reason or another and who now loiter around various urban areas, often resorting to burglary for the sheer adrenaline rush it offers.

Dezhu who like their solitude sometimes become Guides who demand very steep prices for their expertise in regions that very few others could even hope to climb or traverse under their own power.

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