I Drew a Picture, So Here’s Some Context

I’ve been quite lazy about blogging. I’d like to say it’s because recent days have been keeping me busy, but it’s more like I’m just a self-piteous wreck who needs to get a ******* move-on.

So I drew something. I was bored, and didn’t feel like moping anymore (having got in a good four hours of moping in between fragments of sleep this last night), so I got out my trusty Papermate #2 mechanical twist pencil (one of twelve identical twins, mostly out of lead), laboriously drew 73 million scales, and threw a lazy iPhone filter over it.

I’d rather not bother too many with the maudlin musings that kept me up through all the night and resulted in this neat little portrait of an alien woman (an ambassador, specifically) of a race of space vikings recently deprived of their empire and currently in a transitional period of political experimentation, dabbling in anarchism, multiculturalism, fascism, and the traditional resort of piracy and pillaging. Also known as the Syntar.

This particular individual has actually undergone significant facial surgery to make her face look more human in appearance (diplomacy is more smoothly conducted when your inch long incisors are not easily visible at all times). In her natural state, her mouth would be roughly as wide as her eyes, with skin folds to allow it to expand up to a 75 degree angle. Syntar noses are also much larger and more heavily scaled, providing a great deal of protection alongside their prominent armored brows. The eye shine effect is due to the tapetum lucidum in their eyes, which reflects additional light onto their retinas to give them superior night vision, which is not easily rectified with surgery.

Syntar ambassadors are almost exclusively women, with the exception of military attaches and liasons, who see a similar ratio as the Tav-Osst (Old Guard) rank and file, roughly 3:2 male/female (more on that later). The rationale is that Syntar are naturally unsettling people to look at, and humans are already made uneasy by the Syntar people’s height, mass and advanced technology. Syntar females are somewhat shorter, and require a great deal less modification to present a reasonably humanoid front.

There’s also the little problem of Syntar using casual violence to express everything from frustration to joy to political discourse, and humans being a great deal more delicate. Syntar females are somewhat more likely to use their words instead of their claws (by about 8.5% in comparative trials).

In fact, this is not a particularly popular surgery. With their mouth so reduced in size, they are unable to open their jaws comfortably, suffer painful stretching when trying to smile normally, and must retrain themselves to put on more human-sized expressions. Often, they must forego their traditional eating habits (large hunks of seasoned and cooked / uncooked meat), and learn to use a knife and fork, which is unsatisfying, boring, and takes far too long (particularly when biology designed you to eat while your food was still struggling for its life). Syntar have large stomachs, and are obligate carnivores, so soups are not particularly helpful for nutrition (though not as toxic as bread. A war nearly started over a misunderstanding on rations).

But if a pleasant looking diplomat keeps the Syntar people safe from nuclear extinction for another week, then it is a price the Envoy Corps are willing to pay.


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