I’m watching a lot of DS9 right now and reading alternate history and I can’t help but imagine a drama centered around:
Flightless vampire bats from a timeline where South America never connected to North America, the Fair Ones built boats and wrapped their world in trade networks, never losing their instinct for reciprocity.
The Kleptotherms are giant tuataras from a timeline with a different pattern of asteroid impacts after the Permian extinction. They have slow basal metabolisms, but by cuddling together, they stay warm enough to run consciousness on the brains of the individuals in the middle of the cluster. Modern Kleptotherms have heated clothing, but their customs still hearken back to the days when they stole body heat from subordinates (and domesticated penguins). They regard heat the way we do height — a symbol of authority — and while for mammals cuddling is an act of bonding between mother and child, Kleptotherms use it as an act of dominance.
Descended from ape-like rodents, Toxoplasmotics are the host of a species of protist that causes infected individuals to enjoy working late in dangerous environments far from friends. Originally, toxoplasmotics (the lowercase letter indicates a member of the Toxoplasmotic species carrying the parasite) would walk out of camp into the night to be devoured by hyenas, but their utility as diplomats, prophets, and harbingers of danger has elevated them to a revered station in society. Toxoplasmotic “hospital-industrial churches” maintain power by choosing whom to infect with which strain of the parasite.
A timeline where sapience evolved during the Mesozoic, and formed its own network of cross-time gateways before (accidentally, we hope) sterilizing its home Earth. Gates from this now lifeless timeline lead to:
Symmetrists come from a very divergent timeline, where terrestrial life takes the form of amoebas colonizing a “slush” of water and glass spicules. These sapient sponges grow the tools they need from glass (including arms and legs), and mimicry-of-form is basic to their communication and cognition. Other sapients find Symmetrists’ slushy homunculi to be creepy.
Even-toed ungulates related to antelopes and bovids, Sealed Orders evolved 10 million years ago when the collision of India and Asia threw up the Himalayas. In a rapidly-changing environment, proto-Sealed Order habitat-modification instincts became the basis of agriculture, which was followed by politics, which was followed by religion, art, and language. Sealed Orders have a strong herding instinct, and so do not appoint leaders so much as follow weathercocks (Joe Average is the perfect authority figure). In order to make decisions, a herd gets together acts out mass-movements in a small-scale simulation (it looks like communist dancing). These dance-services leave their participants with subconscious imperatives that individuals cannot fully grasp, but which inform their actions when acting alone. This tendency has given Sealed Orders a reputation for terrorism and espionage.
Thanks Exxos-von Steamboldt and Viergatch for helping with the goat-people 🙂