Summary: hydrogen-filled floater plants.
Homeworld: Cloudsacpe. A hot Venus-like planet with a temperate cloud-layer.
Physical Description: hydrogen-filled floaters.
The Luftballonts are photosynthetic organisms that produce buoyant gasses as part of their metabolic processes. They have a single large gas-bladder, or balloon, on top that stores these gasses. They metabolize sunlight through their skin and have a number of manipulatory appendages and sensory organs that descend from their main body. A series of valves allows for bouyancy control and limited short-burst jet-propulsion to evade herbivores. They also posses strong chemical defenses against browsing.
They reproduce through pollination assisted via smaller flying creatures, and the release of wind-blown seeds. Upon landing on a suitable creature the seed works its way into the flesh of its new host. The larval form exists as a parasite, gradually co-opting the central nervous-system of the host. Eventually the growing sprout kills the host, by producing a large gas-bladder that ruptures the host-body.
Reason for Staying: tend to pop...
Luftballonts have very specific temperature and pressure requirements for their continued survival. As such removing them form their homeworld if most often fatal, and universally causes serious injury. Transporting suitable host-species for the young is similarly difficult, and thus it is not possible to cultivate populations on other planets.
Social Structure: social climbers
Luftballonts communicate via chemical signals and vocalizations produced from their gas-bladder. Chemical signals communicate moods and emotions, while vocalizations often contain information of more analytical subjects. They often congregate for mating and mutual defense. They do not engage in much parental care of their offspring, that are left to fend for themselves for their early lives.
As they age they organize themselves into small close-knit cliques, with the responsibility for the cliques safety vested in the highest-floating member. During the spring the cliques gather together into larger flocks for pollinating purposes, with higher-floating cliques looking out for the lower cliques, and the highest-floating individuals forming their own top-clique. As herbivores become more numerous in the summer, the flocks can gather into great swarms of Luftballonts, with higher-floating flocks caring for the lower-floating ones. Often in these swarms, the various top-cliques will merge into a top-flock, with an apex-clique above them all. During the fall, the swarms disperse into various flocks to spread their seeds, with new top-cliques for the lower flocks. As the presence and activity of herbivores diminishes during the winter, the flocks disperse into smaller cliques, many of which now have new top-floaters, to begin the great social cycle anew with the coming spring.
The Luftballonts greatly prize the responsibility of being above their fellows, and place great social status of the highest-altitude of their kind. Not only to the highest of them look out for the safety of the group, but also enjoy the best access to much-valued sunlight which sustains them. That allows them to rise higher and produce even more seeds. Those at the top of the social ladder secure and maintain their place via the circulation of rumors about other Luftballonts. Those at the bottom of the social ladder attempt to use rumors to elevate their own social standing.
History: on the up-and-up
For many aeons, the Luftballonts were simple floating vegetation with only rudimentary social structure. However over time they learned to eek-out civilization in the clouds of their homeworld. Ancient Luftballonts learned to place complex chemical messages onto pollinating flyers, allowing them to arrange times and places to gather into flocks and swarms. They learned to chart the stars and record the seasons to predict the best conditions to gather or disperse. Their tattoo-scribes learned to imprint permanent chemical signals massages into specific shapes on their bodies, allowing members of their kind to serve as living records. They even learned to herd and domesticate suitable host-creatures for their seeds. Though the mineral resources of the surface are inaccessible to them they have built a civilization upon the use and controlled breeding of the various other organisms on their homeworld.
The great meetings of the cliques into flocks and flocks into swarms, which was once random, now occurs in an organized fashion. A special class of top-floaters employs a permanent rumor-mill to maintain control of the population. Favored Luftballonts have rumors of their merit spread across the clouds, while disfavored Luftballonts are scandalized. The different apex-cliques spread rumors about each other, their merits, and their motives, sending gossips and spies to each others swarms and flocks.
The rumor mills have even engaged in great gossip-wars, destroying the reputations of entire flocks, and resulting in the disillusion of several great swarms. According to the Luftballonts this was quite scandalous, but the drama was very juicy. Some of the rumors of the earliest gossip wars survive to this day. Eventually the Luftballonts discovered memetics and psychohistory, and learned to weaponize them. It was when the power of a single rumor to destroy an entire swarm at once was realized that their leadership realized that they must learn to use these powers cooperatively, or their civilization, if not their species could be destroyed by their own tools. The great unity of the swarms was created, with the top-floaters and apex cliques being vetted by expert psychohistorians and memeticists. Or at least that's the rumor.
Some claim that there never were such gossip-wars, and that the species has always enjoyed its current peaceful and organized state. They claim that the rumor of the great gossip wars have been created by psychohistorians to legitimize the current administration of the top-floaters.
- Metabolism: phototrophic
- Preferred Environment: inferno
- Research: average.
- Industry: bad or none.
- Growth: excellent.
- Supply: good.
- Stealth: maybe average (for the species), but their planet should have the cloud cover special.
- Ground Troops: none.
- Environmental Tolerance: narrow
- Telepathic: probably no.
- Xenophobic: no.
- Space Fairing: no.