Shameless Plug Post

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/649736

To quote the blurb:

Death, dismemberment and degradation awaits a village when a gleaner’s nest is discovered nearby. Fearful of becoming prey, the villagers decide something must be done. When Monolith, a giant of a man, arrives, they desperately turn to him for deliverance with renewed hope and courage; hope that the gleaners can be defeated and courage to prevail against indomitable adversity.

Reproduction and Interbreeding

There are so many types of being upon the planet, the means by which they breed have not only altered, but become more varied. For the most part, creatures reproduce the same way humans have always done so. Yet some have their own way. Beings will do whatever works in order to survive. This will often limit interbreeding, and that has other problems as well, but it still happens.

An important topic to initially deal with is who can interbreed with who. Humans can breed with each other, obviously, but also mutants, who are simply altered humans. This has led to many interesting mixes, as has breeding between types of mutants – some of them are improved beings created scientifically, others are naturally misshapen due to various pollution. Machines cannot interbreed with anything else. Cyborgs can make more of their own as living beings. The cybernetic aspects to a new creation will be added over time. As for monsters, not only is it the case that humans and mutants cannot breed with them, but the types of the supernatural race don’t mix either.

To elaborate on this point, harbingers cannot breed with brutes, nor devil-beasts with gleaners, etc. There are many practical reasons, in terms of varying sizes and differing ways of reproduction. However, some could, and there are certain theories about why it doesn’t work. Many will claim monsters cannot breed with humans or mutants because they were originally from another plane of existence. They will add that monsters may be deemed a collective by humans, yet they are very different creatures, so there is no reason why they should be expected to be able to interbreed.

But there is a tale among many that the humans made a wish early on. They saw these new creatures and feared not only what they were doing, but what they could do to transform the human race. They feared being replaced by hybrids. They also feared hybrids of the monsters themselves – new and improved versions of harbingers, vandals and writhers, for example. So someone or someones used a magi and made a wish that monsters couldn’t breed with others. Only their own. Another thing to add to this is that dragons seemed not to be able to reproduce at all. Being creatures much more attuned with magic and the Shadow World, they found they couldn’t bring new life into this world. That is, apart from the infamous Havoc, half human, half dragon warrior of legend. Perhaps this is a major part of why the dragons returned to the Shadow World.

It has to also be noted that monsters have different ways of reproducing. For instance, gleaners and denizens lay eggs. The difference between them is a gleaner queen will lay many, whereas a denizen will lay one egg and raise it alone, imprinting all the knowledge and skills available. Writhers also lay eggs, which is normal in a way, seeing as they are basically snake-people. Dragons did lay eggs, as least legends say so, but none hatched, as previously mentioned.

Deemi have their own unique way of reproducing. They may look like voluptuous women, but in truth they are hermaphrodites. To make another life, they need the souls/life energy of living beings. They gather them, feed on them, and this creates a new life within them. Every deemi is born by a mother and raised to become another magical predator, set to continue their race. Wraiths, however, remain a mystery. They can become physical beings and tales are told of how they gather, become solid and mate to make new wraiths, but only they know how they reproduce. Wraiths have human shapes but remain hooded and cloaked figures, even when solid, so to think they have human physical attributes is an assumption.

Apart from these mentioned, the monsters tend to reproduce sexually, with males and females coming together, and then females giving birth to the offspring. They have differing ways of rearing these children, but that is for another time. The only thing left to be said regarding monsters is that magi remain the most elusive and mysterious type. They can take many forms so sexual reproduction could be possible, but no one knows if magi need to create new life, let alone if they have. Magi might be immortal and sterile.

Turning to machines for a moment, they can reproduce too. On the one hand they recycle often. Droids that are damaged or even destroyed can be broken down and used to make new ones. On the other hand, more can be manufactured with gathered resources and simple programming. Robotic armies will always swell over time and are much harder to wear down than living beings. Anything highly complex is unlikely to reproduce, however. Creations like that tend to see themselves as the ultimate goal, so making another would either be pointless or perhaps a threat.

All types of life seeks to survive and that means reproducing and doing so in greater numbers than any rivals. Typically, the more ferocious the lifestyle, the more in number they need to be. Gleaners, for instance, aim to produce generation after generation, filling each nest until a new one needs to be created. At the same time, aquatics live with more security in the sea, and with this and much more space, they have grown to considerable number as well.

This is all true of mutants on land as well. Super-soldiers were originally designed and born in labs to fight and prevail. Some still are, but most are born from their parents in more natural ways. Natural procreation has helped to overcome many of the original constraints and flaws placed in their genetic make-up. Not always, but for the most part. It can be that a super-soldier is born from parents who have normal life spans to only live 20 or 30 years. By and large super-soldiers remain instinctive fighters, yet some can be different. Once formed by careful planning, mutants are now subject to the more chaotic laws of nature.

An ugly side of reproduction needs to be brought up, which especially applies when it comes to lesser mutants. It has been known for mutants to have taken humans to forcibly breed with in order to try and remove the deformities and difficulties their kind struggle with. They sought to ease the burden on their descendants, and mostly felt fully justified, seeing as the humans made them this way. At least, this was their view. Mutants made to be superior are clearly less likely to want to breed with anyone or anything lesser than them, yet it does happen. In these instances, it can be attributed to simple lust or rare love. Those born from a super-soldier and human coupling could end up much like one parent or a mix of both. The same is obviously true of breeding with other types. Those who choose this path of reproduction are taking a risk with their future, so it does not happen too often. But it does, even now.

An aspect of all of this is control. In more open, free domains, individuals follow their passions and needs to make more of their own. As simple and true as ever. But when a group is in an enclosed space or living on few resources, or perhaps they have more to fear, then reproduction is under the direction of the collective. In underground bases, people will need to ask permission to have a child and prove themselves capable. In the stricter cyborg sects, reproduction is more like a production line of future members to improve their strength. Among some, people have a duty to make more of their kind, possibly even under duress. Arrangements can be made, compatible partners can be placed together, all to better the community. A good example is the aegis. This race of monsters has fought long and hard to prevent humanity and themselves from being destroyed by enemies. By now, they are not many. To some, this means they must find each other and have children, and then raise those children correctly. Their line cannot end. The world needs them.

In a harsh world, reproduction is just as vital a part of life as ever, if not more so. Life exists in far more varying forms, with different cultures and methods. In many places, you keep to your own. In a few, variety is sought out. Experiments go on, just as the Brainers once created the ultras. Uniqueness exists. As always, there are laws to be obeyed and guidelines to be followed, to give us all an understanding of how life endures. But there are exceptions to the rules and, now and again, those rules get broken.

What am I?

Another blog post to give information, background and general knowledge on the post-apocalyptic world featured in Sojourners in Shadow:

So a number of the defining aspects to being a person either no longer apply or are much harder to categorise in this post-apoc world, filled with creatures and creations. Things such as nationality, race, ethnicity and more have become muddled, forgotten about, changed, and yet to some still remain very important. There are no labels that work worldwide, although it could very strongly be claimed those don’t fit now. But this world is far more fractured, with some parts of it having no idea what even exists beyond the horizon. Genealogy is something many cannot trace back beyond a few generations. Racial and cultural history has no meaning for them, sometimes by choice, mostly by ignorance. The present is all that matters. Whatever group that is your group is everything you need to care about and all you need to care about. You don’t get to fuss about differences when your survival is dependent on people helping each other out.

Displacement has occurred in many places around the world, with people fleeing homes centuries ago and now residing in lands once thought far away. In Australia, you have Brits, Americans and Japanese co-existing in their respective colonies, alongside their hosts. Still, because of this, these all define themselves by their nationality, and the three white races have their issues with the single non-white race, and vice versa. In central Asia, many ethnicities have merged as the humans sought to survive, now forming a plethora of settlements across the plains. To these people, the idea of referring to anyone as ‘Asian’ is absurd, as they are all from there, yet four main racial groups do exist and generalised terms such as Arabian and Caucasian are now the norm. Some will define themselves more specifically, such as the famous Tsunami, who is purely Japanese, but most won’t bother – they have more important issues to deal with and they also know few others will care.

Fracturing has had a huge impact too. Nations dissolved, empires rose and then were thrown down. Russia split and soon many people deemed themselves to be Siberian. The U.S.A. slowly stretched and strayed, until the Pacific States and the Atlantic States were rivals, trading with different parts of the world. The United Kingdom ceased to exist and the Oligarchs ascended to command in Central Europe. When the Shadow World came and made so much worse, it also changed the Middle East, which became a battleground as humans who followed Islam, Judaism and Christianity united to defend it against those powerful monsters that sought to ravage these sacred lands and break their faith.

Religion itself has less hold of people’s identities while remaining a vital part of their lives. There are no central authorities to dictate how people should worship. No international figures to inspire or instruct. People keep their own faith and small communities tend to worship together, if at all. The main difference is among mutants. While many worship the gods of the humans, a significant number worship the mutant god, Gilgamesh. They await their saviour, believing he will one day hand the world over to them. Seeing as he is a incredibly powerful mutant currently contained in a dormant state, this may well happen.

Mutants have impacted on the racial identities too. Many designed mutants were created not to look the same as their creators or the community they were made to defend. People wanted different looking super soldiers – partly to prevent too much unity, partly because diversity was often seen as necessary. But also, some authorities wanted a force that felt detached from those around them, so that it could be turned on them if need be. Therefore a number of created mutants were soon walking the earth, part of a certain race and yet having no real lasting ties to that race or its past which defines it.

So in many ways defining someone racially or ethnically is really only done to help describe someone. Usually physically, but perhaps wishing to give some kind of insight into who and what they are as well, and how they may behave or see certain things. Racism still exists, of course, but it has much less meaning and more often is contained in ignorant comments. If one racial group dominates, then there tends to be some casual contempt or distrust for those who look different, but it rarely goes beyond that unless they feel threatened as well. In the Octagon State, where eight underground bases have survived and most of their inhabitants are white, there is a sense of being better than those not white, yet such is their dominance and such is their vicious war with super-soldiers, that there is rarely persecution. In the Northern Federation, where cities have prevailed amidst the magically-charged jungles of Africa, everyone is black, and yet some may have a slightly lighter tone to their skin, suggesting an ancestor or two from another race. This is never a cause for outright contempt, yet it may raise some notice and perhaps some jokes, as Ensign Ali finds from his low ranking crewmates, Chisel and Wrench.

Nationality is perhaps the weakest label to remain. People will often refer to themselves as coming from a place, but that is all the name means to them. Being British means you live in the British Isles or in New Britannia, in Australasia, and while the latter has more sense of identity and history, the inhabitants of the once United Kingdom are more defined by what village they live in or what master or guardian they answer to. Even with the colony in Australasia, many Britons move around, especially spreading further into the central and wilder area, as do the Americans and Australians, so nationalism makes way for new and more independent identities.

The ways of the world before the collapse, before the Shadow World, have little meaning to those who live in it. Most of them have no knowledge of what went before them. Nations and races can have a degree of importance for many, but it rarely keeps people from uniting to survive when they have to. Monsters work together and so do the various types of mutants. The numerous threats to humanity means it cannot afford the luxury of bigotry. Hate people for any reason you want, but save your utmost hatred for those trying to kill you.

So how do people define themselves? Cyborgs do so by sect. Monsters by tribe or clan or pack, etc. Even then, there are always those exceptions to the rule. For most humans, if they have to declare a racial identity, it is usually whatever they mostly are. If three grandparents are from Argentina and one is from Yemen, then typically you forgo specific locations and degrees of heritage and simply say you are Hispanic. Even then, many around the world would have no idea what that meant, let alone the differences that can create between people. Perhaps you wouldn’t either. The truth is many people around the world can’t say for sure if they are 100% anything, even if they look it. They may use national, racial, ethnic and cultural labels, but rarely is anything an undisputed fact in this world.

The essential truth is most people around the world will see another person’s differences, may even be suspicious of them, but typically they will wonder if this is someone that can harm them or if they will be the victor, and what could be gained by killing this individual. If nothing, then perhaps an alliance is in order. It’s true that keeping to your own is the safer bet, yet someone’s own has become redefined by the standards of the time and even then, sometimes you will have to take a risk.