Tweechis

Average mass: 18 kg
Average length: 1.3 m
Thermoregulation: Endothermic homeotherm, 39° C

Description

Tweechis are flying sentients. They have a long neck and a head with two bulging eyes and a pair of hand-like mouthparts. They have one pair of limbs, which they use for both flying and walking. The Tweechi abdomen ends in a pair of grippers that they use to hang from roosts or grab on tightly to objects. They use their feet or grippers for powerful grasping and their mouthparts for fine manipulation.

Internal Anatomy

A Tweechi's brain is located between its shoulders, although a secondary brain used for sensory pre-processing is located in the head. A Tweechi's digestive and respiratory organs are set in its abdomen while its twin hearts rest in the chest cavity. Tweechis breathe through openings along the side of their abdomen. The bones of a Tweechi are hollow for reduced weight.

Senses

Tweechis have good eyesight, which is adapted for night vision. As a consequence, their sense of colors are muted. Since they evolved around a red dwarf star, their vision ranges from the near infrared to the orange part of the visible spectrum. They cannot see yellow, green, blue, or violet light. Their ability to sense near infrared does not give them thermographic vision (that requires far infrared sensitivity), but does allow them to see the infrared beams of laser weapons. Their vision cannot resolve as fine of details as that of a Human.

Tweechi hearing is highly developed. Their hearing is tuned more towards the higher frequency part of the spectrum than that of Humans. They can pinpoint the location of anything they can hear.

Tweechi taste is centered on their grasping mouthparts. In essence, they can taste whatever they hold. The Tweechi sense of smell is roughly equivalent to that of a Human.

Communication

Tweechis speak using a larynx-like organ in their abdominal respiratory system. Opening and closing different abdominal spiracles gives their voices different tones, much like stopping the holes on a flute or oboe. Since they need to breathe to talk, their abdomens pulsate slightly as they speak.

Tweechis can easily reproduce Human speech, although it comes out with a bit of a squawk. Gummis have to pitch their voices into higher registers than usual in order for the deep thrumming and humming parts of their speech to be heard by a Tweechi. Tweechis can make Gummi sounds individually, but they cannot mix multiple sounds together for native Gummi speech and it comes out comically high pitched to a Gummi.

Most Tweechi in the Verge speak Sequential. It is not unusual for them to learn English as well, to communicate with Humans and their entrained species.

Locomotion and Biomechanics

Tweechis are excellent fliers, and adequate runners. They launch themselves into the air from the ground with a leap. Tweechi wings are adapted for soaring long distances using thermals.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Tweechis eat using a long, prehensile tongue with a barbed lancet at the tip. The tongue penetrates animal or vegetable matter and injects a digestive toxin which liquefies the food item. Then the Tweechi sucks out the juices.

Reproduction

Tweechis have two sexes. They are monogamous, and lay one egg at a time which both parents share in incubating. When the infant Tweechi hatches, the parents feed it with regurgitated liquid until it is old enough to liquefy food on its own.

Psychology

Tweechis are proud, curious, and territorial. They do not take slights easily and resent being the butt of jokes. It's just not something that friends or flock-mates do! Tweechis can hold a grudge for a long time. Trespasses will be forgiven with a sincere apology – accidents happen, and Tweechis understand that – but intentional malice will make a Tweechi an enemy for life.

A Tweechi will take interest in anything that is out of the ordinary, investigating it until they can place it in their system of understanding. They love to explore, and get restless if they are stuck in one place for too long. Tweechis will collect small trinkets and interesting items, knick-knacks, and souvenirs – and occasionally larger items – to decorate their nests. You can get a good idea of a Tweechi's interests and hobbies with a look into its nest.

A Tweechi's friends are important to it. They have an innate tendency to defend their friends from any outside force, and to help them when in need. Likewise, Tweechis are possessive of their stuff, and very protective of their own personal space. Tweechis are suspicious of outsiders within their community, although they are fine with strange people when off exploring.

Tweechis prefer roosting in places with wide views of the surrounding land. Confined spaces make them uncomfortable.

Society

The basis of Tweechi society is the flock. Flocks allow the Tweechis to socialize and network, find mates, keep track of who is doing what, and who outranks whom. Members of a flock assist each other in times of need; in their hunter-gatherer past they would share the locations of rich sources of food and band together to drive off dangerous predators and rival flocks. Each flock is protective of its roost and territory, but this applies more to other Tweechis than non-Tweechis – alien species are given somewhat more tolerance and latitude, so long as they behave themselves. Within a flock, there is a loose dominance hierarchy. Less dominant Tweechis will tend to defer to those who are more dominant.

While the flocks are gregarious and communal, each Tweechi family will have its own private nest. Sub-adult Tweechis remain in their parent's nest and help care for their younger brothers and sisters until they themselves find a mate and build their own nest. Nests are built as enclosed structures, but they will always have windows, outside roosts, or porches for observing the surrounding terrain.

Tweechi nests on Whum

Culture

Architecture

Tweechi dwellings are built using basic Gummi methods, but are built in high places – often on tall poles if no suitable cliff or tree is around. Their nests are much more open than a Gummi house, with large windows offering an expansive view. Tweechi nests will usually have an outdoor porch, with an overhang sheltering grips from which Tweechi can hang.

Art

Tweechi are known for their traditional artistic net weaving. Many Tweechi still decorate their nests with the net patterns they weave.

Cuisine

Tweechi cuisine consists of fruit, succulent plants, nectar, and large-ish animals (usually pre-killed). Their food needs to be large enough to be pierced by their tongue, so that it can be liquefied and sucked dry. The exception is liquids (like nectar) which can be drunk directly from a glass (or, in the case of nectar from several of their native autotrophs, from the flower).

Dress

Tweechi clothes, if the Tweechi wears anything at all, are usually lightweight and aerodynamic. They are tailored to be more or less skin-tight while providing insulation. Tweechis do not wear hats - hats have a lot of drag and tend to fall off while flying. Fancy clothes have the same sleek profile, but will be decorated with more brilliant colors and bold designs. Because Tweechi see in a different part of the spectrum than Humans, the effect can be rather odd to Human eyes.

Music

Tweechis sing through their abdominal spiricles, opening and closing different spiricles produces different notes much like covering the stops on a wood wind instrument. Each Tweechi develops its own personal song as it matures, which it uses as a sort of sign or identifying marker, similar to a Human signature or signet ring. Tweechi coming of age cerimonies involve the soon-to-be adult performing his song to the community. When Tweechi form pair bonds, they merge their songs into a single nest-song. Singing duets is a form of pair bonding for Tweechis, somewhat analogous to sex among Humans. A pair will usually sing several times a day from their nest, with the song serving as a territorial signal and indicator of presence, status, and health to the rest of the flock. Entire flocks will also get together to sing, often to warn off another encroaching flock but also to forge community connections. This uses a community song rather than personal songs, since using one's personal song is much more intimate. Since encountering Humans, it is not uncommon for Tweechis to incorporate pieces of Human songs into their personal or community songs - a Human walking past a Tweechi nest might recognize among the music coming from the flock snippets of Beethoven's 9th symphony, the Beatles' "Yesterday", Mia Chang's "A Man and his Monkey", or other well-known pieces.

Sports

Tweechi sports usually revolve around flight. Synchronized flying, aerial tag, races, agility flying through obstacles, and games of chicken to see who pulls out of a dive first are all popular. Different flocks may compete in fly-ball, where each tries to get an "egg" in a "nest", while the other team tries to stop them. A variety of aerial capture the flag is another popular team sport. Individual competitive sports involve target dropping, where the Tweechi tries to hit a target (which may be stationary or moving, depending on the variant) with a dropped object, often a ball, net, spear, stone, or metal bomb or flechette. Similar to target dropping is a flyby with a spear or net to strike or entangle a target.

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