Species : The Tay, Nightflyers, Succubi
Physical Description : The Tay are winged humanoids, the wings being stretched skin over bone. Wings, skin and hair are generally all brown, the better to blend with the jungle environment of their home world. They are night hunters. Their eyes and ears are enlarged. In addition to the wings, they are built light, with hollow bones, thin skin, and organs designed to save weight as much as possible. While strong for their weight, they are not strong for their size and are somewhat fragile.
Males average 1.8 meters in height, are specialized for defending territory and protecting the young. Females 1.4 meters, are specialized towards hunting and scouting. Both genders have formidable natural weapons, extendable claws on fingers, toes and heel, and at the palm joint of the wings.
Culture : The Tay on their native planet never developed a technological culture. They are a communal nocturnal hunter gatherer race, adapted for a low gravity jungle world. The highly fertile home planet evolved highly dangerous and competitive fauna. The Tay were not the alpha hunters, able to stand their ground against any competitor, but depended on stealth, agility and flight to avoid the several stronger and tougher competitors.
Many millennia ago, they were contacted by a star faring race, the F'lan. It may be that contact with the F'lan prevented the Tay from developing technology by themselves, but as a tree dwelling race with natural weapons, it can be argued that the the Tay would never have developed fire, agriculture or tool use on their own. Instead, after initial misunderstandings, a mutually agreeable arrangement was worked out. The Tay gained access to modern health care -- including birth control -- while the F'lan gained access to a challenging hunting recreation world, and were provided with access to numerous plants that provided base materials for foods and drugs. By mutual agreement, the Tay's planet was kept in a state of natural evolution, with no significant clearing of trees or terraforming. In addition, in times of plenty, a small number of the best juvenile females were allowed to leave the world. While the Tay are evolved for their highly dangerous natural environment, not all embrace the eternal hunt. Glimpses of the wonders of F'lan technology tempt the young and impressionable. The constant skirmishes for prime territory also tempt pride leaders to breed too many breeders, in case conflict requires a population increase. Rather than casting young breeders into an environment where no pride will accept them, the surplus young take to the stars.
They adapt reasonably well. Their dangerous world makes them a match in intelligence, sensitivity and dexterity for most 'civilized' races. As they are bred for flight, they are natural pilots. They have an intense curiosity, a need to know everything about the local environment, and any threat that might exist therein.
They have a pride social structure. While most star capable species will follow a political or military leader on one hand, and have a mate on the other hand, the Tay do not differentiate between political and family bonds. In any given pride, only the alpha male is sexually active. Thus, Tay females have no sexual interests in any but the alpha male. This pride social structure does create cultural tension among star faring Tay females. While in many species sexual relations with one's superior in a military or political chain of command is taboo, for pride based species it is the norm.
Language : The Tay hunt on the wing, at night, by sonar. Their ears and vocal apparatus are evolved for sonar. As such, their language deals in echo images rather than words. It is a very dense language, mostly ultrasonic, and as such it cannot be heard by most species, let alone be understood. As the high and multiple frequencies are involved, containing multiple messages at multiple layers, standard universal translators often cannot parse all layers of meaning unless the speaker uses pidgin, deliberately simplifying their message. Conversely, the usual serial word single threaded communications used by most races does not contain echo sound images of noise performing actions that would be the equivalent of verbs. Thus, normal communications of other species can only get translated into a crude pidgin of echo speech.
Tay vocal apparatus is so unsuited for normal language that most star faring Tay learn sign languages, or use finger driven voice synthesizers. Tay are easily capable of hearing low frequency sound, and thus can understand word based serial languages, they are just not equipped to speak it.
Many do speak a one syllable emotion language. They will modulate their sonar pulse carrier into audible pitches, and convey emotion. They can express without mechanical aid simple exchanges such as 'hello,' 'I hear you,' 'alert' or 'I hurt' much as an animal can convey similar messages. However, do not mistake this primitive language as inability on the part of the Tay. Other species will hear 'urgent need' but unless the species possesses ultrasonic sonar they will not hear, 'Timmy has fallen in a well" while giving range bearing and depth of the well, and how long Timmy has been down there, how active he is, and an echo picture of what Timmy looks like. All that information would have to be synthesized in the form of slow, clumsy words.
Metabolism : The Tay home world has a natural gravity of 0.79 Earth gravities. The Tay hunting style is lurk an pounce. They females will remain stationary high in the tree, monitoring lower levels, looking for an opportunity for a silent approach and kill. On worlds with somewhat light gravity and dense air, they can sustain distance flight. They are not hyper agile flyers, capable of intense maneuver, bearing heavy weight, or air combat maneuver "dogfighting," especially intense efforts over long periods of time. They do have an evasion reflex. If startled by another being, for a brief time many claws will come at the being from many diverse angles, there will be a very loud scream, then the Tay will be gone, moving towards cover at high speed.
Flying takes a large amount of energy. Unlike many beings, the Tay do not have a normal body temperature. The more active they are, the higher the temperature is allowed to build. They do have cooling mechanisms. The wings can carry considerable blood, and heat transfer through the wings will delay heat exhaustion beyond the level of many species. However, the Tay carry little surplus energy. They have little fat, not being able to carry extra weight. Thus, if they sustain heavy activity over long periods they might exhaust themselves. They eat more frequently than many species.
Tay also go dormant. By day, Tay hide near where the young are gathered and watch. By night, Tay hunters hide high in tress, then pounce. Thus, they spend much of their time stationary, watching, lurking, ready at any moment to spring into action. It is not healthy of them to suddenly peak their metabolism then return to lurk state too many times. They have difficulties at times maintaining moderate levels of activity over the long term. Keeping up with humans on an all day hike might be problematic. On the other hand, they can stand watch in lurk mode all night, not needing sleep as humans experience it at all. They can also sustain brief bursts of very quick and intense movement, moving faster for brief intervals than most species could sustain.
The Tay are by nature nocturnal. Given their preferences, they would go into a sustained passive lurk rest mode when light is bright, and become more active in the dark. Their eyes are optimized for low light conditions. They adjust very poorly to sudden intense light. Others unfamiliar with the Tay have accused them of sleeping on watch, but this is a lurk mode. They are resting physically, minimizing energy use, while still being quite alert. They can without undue difficulty maintain a higher metabolism when serving a watch, giving the impression of alert readiness expected of other species, but will need to eat more frequently to do son, and will be required to lurk on following shifts.
Martial Styles : Tay fighting instincts and styles are gender dependent. The males are bred to defend territory. They are strong and tough enough to delay other predators long enough for the young and females to escape. They establish territorial boundaries by making threat displays to males of adjoining tribes, and to establish a male pecking order. Occasionally, if the threat displays are not sufficient to establish dominance, ritual conflict does occur. Thus, male combat styles involve element of stand and hold one's ground.
Females, by preference, either hunt or evade. If they hunt, it is at night. The idea is for the prey to die before it knows it is prey. If they evade, it is because they have been surprised. They have allowed something to come close which should not have. The instinct is for a brief flurry of action to buy time to get on the wing. There are not a lot of creatures who survive a nightwing clawstorm, let alone check their forward momentum. Startling a female Tay is not recommended. However, after the brief all out attack there will generally follow an all out retreat. A young female's role in the pride is to watch the perimeter and give warning. Once the warning is given, she retreats behind a line of males. After that, the intruder is not her problem. She helps herd the young out of harm's way.
This instinctive division of combat roles by gender sometimes conflicts with other species combat doctrines. While in principle it can be problematic, give a Tay a tricorder, and she is not likely to be startled. Give her a phaser as well, and she can contribute from a rear or flank position in a small unit action. Just do not expect her to stand toe to toe with a larger, stronger, more aggressive race. Tay females are small and light, their skin, bones and wings fragile. Their instinct to run from head on physical conflict evolved for good reason.
On the other hand, if it is dark, if there is wing room and cover, if the opponent doesn't have a tricorder, if his sight, scent and / or hearing is not unusually sensitive, he is prey.
Proficiencies : Tay commonly serve as pilots, sensor operators, scouts, marines, security officers and science officers.
Cross Cultural Difficulties : Tay have sensitive and fragile skin, and are flyers, used to sensing the air with their entire bodies. They prefer to wear little clothing. Full length tightly fitting Starfleet uniforms are definitely problematic for the species. While Tay females understand ground walker taboos, and thus acquiesce to traditions, and understand that personal comfort might give alien males the wrong idea, it should be understood that flyers don't like to carry around unnecessary weight or anything that might produce aerodynamic drag. (OOC: Here I'll invoke an unofficial Star Trek rule. The most attractive female member of a show's cast gets a special uniform designed to improve Neilson ratings.)
Excepting medical personnel (with lots of warning and good cause) or martial arts exercises (with lots of warning and good cause) or or a male ship's captain if the Tay is female (with lots of warning and good cause), do not touch a Tay. Especially, do not touch a female Tay in the breast, genital or wing areas, excepting an alpha male. In Tay culture, only the alpha males is sexually active. For another male to develop sexual urges before challenging the alpha for control of the pride is perverse. While intellectually Tay females understand other cultures are different, for other males to be sexually interested comes across emotionally as treason, a challenge to the captain's authority, or an indication of sexual perversion. For this reason, when a Tay female goes on shore leave, her companions might need be ready to convince those not familiar with Tay culture to leave her alone. (There is a legend that if you kiss a succubus, she drains your soul, which is absolutely untrue, but gets repeated a lot at space port bars.)
Tay males are highly territorial and competitive. They are driven to protect, to contest for status with other males, to defend their territory. While there are rare exceptions, Tay males almost never leave their home planet.
While intellectually Tay females understand that practicing martial arts is a wise and prudent thing, it is best to use female sparing partners wearing claw resistant protective gear. Beware highly competitive sparring exercises and forcing alien pace. There is a possibility of triggering panic reactions. Tay females generally do not attack if their opponent knows they are coming. Tay males never attack Tay females, thus mixed gender sparring exercises can be traumatic.
Young Tay females are not by temperament strong emotional leaders. Tay prides are relatively small. All look to the alpha male as the governing authority, though an alpha female who is generally the senior wife handles some issues. While competent in many ways, and intellectually understanding what it might take to get a job done, a Tay is unlikely to be an dominant emotional superior.
Being a tree dwelling race, the Tay never developed fire, and thus athey do not do cooked food. Their preferred diet is a mix of fruit and meat. Fresh is good. Anything out of a replicator doesn't really qualify as fresh. Anything you catch on the wing somehow tastes better. Grains and vegetables almost qualify as food. Complex creations such as pastries, cakes, meat pies, mixes such as lasagna are suspicious. Tay are one of the few species that can really appreciate Klingon Glagh.
Tay normally get moisture from fruit. Drinking, going all the way down to the surface and risking contact with big strong ground walkers, is a daring exotic and somewhat naughty thing that youngsters do after heavy exercise to prove how brave they are. Drinking alcohol in a room full of non-Tay who poach on other alpha's females... very naughty.
In the wild, a Tay wants to know the location of every branch. If in a hurry, one wants to know how to evade through tight spaces while not catching a wing. Thus, Tay have a strong urge to explore, to know their environment. They are somewhat nervous when they have not had time to scout, growing more confident as they know their surroundings. This need to explore and memorize results in excellent memory and intelligence. While the Tay developed no science on their own, and are taught little of it when they grow up in the wild, they are capable of developing academic knowledge, and pursuing it quite intensely. While their home culture and instincts might in some ways be described as 'primitive,' individual Tay who have spent time among space capable cultures are anything but.
Tay females are most often seen in space as pilots, executive officers and second wives to F'lan merchantmen and occasionally warships. The F'lan star systems were long contained within Federation space before membership was granted. There was a strong problem with the Prime Directive, as Federation Policy would ban the long established cooperation between the F'lan and Tay races. While many in the Federation still do not like it, it was recently decided that membership would be allowed for the F'lan, and that the traditional small number of Tay females would have freedom of travel through Federation space. As part of this exchange, a few Tay females were invited to Starfleet Academy. This was not a successful experiment. The Academy's population, let alone the population of San Francisco, was considerably larger than a Tay pride. There was insufficient contact with the alpha male. Too much was done in daylight. Too many people. The Academy councilors soon transferred the students to smaller colleges with similar curriculum. They have proven able to adapt to various niches in Federation cultures, but are most comfortable working with small groups in ships or wilderness environments. Schooling outside Starfleet Academy makes them less suitable for command track, but good ship mates none the less.
A few Tay females have become separated from their usual F'lan or Starfleet pride mates, including some taken by Ferrengi and Orion masters. This often involved the death of a F'lan captain. Stopping this practice was significant in the recent admission of the F'lan and Tay to the Federation. It is now understood that star faring Tay are Federation citizens. Forcing them into unconventional prides, not of their own choosing, is considered a form of trafficking in sentients.
Few ships or land bound groups have more than one Tay female. By common convention, all such are commonly called 'Tay.' This is the sound most aliens hear when the Tay "speak" at a low enough pitch to be heard. Commonly, a starship captain will say to his pilot, 'Tay,' meaning "Come out of lurk mode. Something is going up." The pilot responds 'Tay," meaning, "I hear you, am increasing my metabolic rate, go ahead and tell me what's up." Not all Tay are called Tay, but it should be noted that even on their home planet, Tay do not have proper names. Each member of a Pride can recognized the voice of everyone else. If they wish to identify another Tay, they might mimic her voice briefly, or pulse a sound echo image of what she 'looks' like. Thus, to call a Tay "Tay" by mimicking her echo pulse -- however poorly -- is good as a Tay would expect a ground crawling heavy person who can't bounce sound to pronounce her name properly. Other species are just limited in vocal and hearing abilities. One must make allowances.
Finally, bright lights make it hard to see. Machines improperly designed or maintained -- especially transporters -- might emit highly annoying ultrasonics. Ground walker corridors are often designed without sufficient wing room. Not all ground crawling males understand they must not touch a Tay female, but are expected to protect her. And again, never startle a Tay female.
Nightwing Taboos and Traditions
The Nigntwing female life cycle goes from child, to juvinile, to mother to elder. Touching can be a matter of complex taboo. Children are touched for comfort frequently. Juviniles become more prickly about it, except among close female friends or in times of very high stress. Group bonds among juvinile females can become semi-sexual, but these relationships are generally abandoned upon adulthood. The wings are sensative and fragile. Touching the wings is normally reserved to sexual relationships, and is similar to touching the female breasts in other species. Males other than alphas do not touch females, excepting children. Sexual attention by the alpha male raises one in status from juvinile to adult. Loss of the affection of the alpha male results in elder status. Female elder status can be high or low depending on reputation, relationship with the current male alpha, the number of children, and general competence.
Nightwing females have very sensative and fragile skin. In the wild, native nightwing seldom wear clothing unless one is interacting with 'tourist' species. Off their home planet, nightwing have learned that their home world customs attract undesired responses from alien juvinile males. Most consider clothing the lesser evil.
Water is somewhat rare in the high tree tops. Mosture is mostly acquired through fruit. Drinking requires highly risky trips "below the roots" where heavy, mysterious, dangerous ground crawling species dwell. Thus, drinking even plain water is a somewhat dangerous past time, on their home world. There are traditions of small packs of juviniles drinking to prove their courage. It is an exageration to say that nightwing can get drunk on water, but between inherent responses to fluids and low body mass, nightwing are emphatically not known for responding to recreational drinking well.
Female nightwing hearing, optimized for echo sounding, is highly sensative. Loud noise, as in many species, can cause hearing loss. Dangerous noise levels are painful. Nightwing are more sensative and vulnerable than most. Yelling at nightwing might be considered a form of corporal punishment. On the home world, dominance though yelling matches is much more common that physical blows. (Male nightwing, who spend more time contesting with one another for pecking order position than hunting by sound, have much less sensative hearing than females.) On the flip side, nightwing voices can be very loud, though most frequently their voices will be pitched higher than most species can hear. Should a nightwing direct a loud echo pulse at another sentient, even if not loud enough to damage hearing, this should be considered either a very strong rebuke, a threat, or even a distracting attack. A strong loud echo pulse implies that the hunter knows the location of the prey, and is about to pounce. Strong pulses are more common among males than females. Females are more prone to pounce without warning. Still, if some alien taboo prohibits strike without warning, females will use the strong pulse.
Exchange of food is an important part of communal relationship within a nightwing pride. A juvinile female is expected to present meat and fruit to the matrons and elders for distribution among the children. Presenting to the alpha male is a form of courtship. If he eats it himself rather than letting the juvinile males have it, this is an expression of interest. Presenting food to another juvinile female implies she cannot hunt herself. A female presenting food to a high ranked male other than the alpha implies the female is seeking a new alpha. This is very seldom done without the approval of most of the mature females. If the male accepts, a challenge for alpha status is likely to result. Spacer nightwing quite understand that other species do not share these traditions and rituals. Still, nightwing generally avoid food service duties. Asking nightwing crew members to make runs to the food replicator might send unintended messages.
Space dwelling nightwing universally embrace the variations on the theme of 'flush toilet' and associated alien privacy taboos associated with personal maintanence. The lack of such taboos in the native nightwing culture would be of note only if one visits the home world. Tip well. Respect your tour guides. Respect the environment. If not, maintain situational awareness of what is going on above you. Young nightwing are expected to be aware of their surroundings. Those who cannot maintain situational awareness deserve to have their status reduced. While most tourists travel in areas where tourism is welcome, it is best to be polite.