ok so like there are these alien dudes capable of rapid mutation via extracted dna. theyve come to the planet to colonize etc etc. they semi crash semi land in the middle of a deserted wildlife reserve with a river running nearby.
its been deserted for decades at least, after government funding got cut it shutdown, with only the properties to the land remaining, as to keep it in tact but no groundskeepers. they meet some cats and are promptly just kinda stuck there. also none of them have genders. it isnt real.
society if i didnt have to worldbuild. ok so basically these guys are just sorta lumps in their natural form, with interspersed neurons around their "body" for brain funtion. the way they take in other creatures dna is by how like certain plants keep predators away by having little hairs of agony? yeah theyve got those but for copying a species genetic layout.
theyre basically helpless in their "true forms" and can only survive around a day at most. this is because their cells are set to alweays be ready for an almost explosive sort of mutation. they literally get cancer and will straight up die because of how unstable they are.
the MAJOR benefit from all of this however is a sort of psuedo-immortaality. as long as they switch forms before the one theyre in reaches the end of its natural lifespan, they can just sample another and their age is physically reset, making them near immune to dying of old age.
however, theres one major thing they need to actually trigger this transformation. a certain compound that only forms under the specific conditions of their home planet. it acts as a chemical trigger for all sampled dna activation, but without it the whole speedrun getting old and dying becomes very real. when reproducing, they have a form of genetically contributed mitosis.
they dont give birth, but rather split from eachother when they need, and in the first few minutes of life, basically anyone of the same species can touch them, and their newly formed dna sampling hairs will take that and react accordingly, contributing it to their essentially "first form". one will be a sort of runt, not retaining many of the memories of the other, while the original will be unchanged. this is because they never actually evolved sexual reproduction, and instead took advantage of their pregiven mutation and modified the already existing mitosis so they can remain genetically diverse.
the "newborn" will be in whatever form the "original" was in, so lump makes lump, cat makes cat, ETC, though if already mutated they still retain the inherent ability to transform back. i say newborn and original in quotes, because really theres no major differences between the two besides memory, age and birth mutation. if no birth mutation is applied, theyre essentially just a clone.
another side effect of this form of reproduction is that because of their flexible genome, they tend to mutate like wild, even if they start as base cats, if you go a few generations down and theres a crazy amount of physical dimorphism.
also of note, due to the nature of their reproductive process, none posess physically gendered traits, besides the sex of the creature whos dna they have copied. also of note, cloning isnt very romantic, more of something youd invite your friends to watch and contribute their genome to. like hey dawg gonna be splitting today you got dibs on editing the runts genes lol.
characters n stuff
meteor - programmed the ships systems, so he got a free pass up if he wanted it. programming isnt very useful when your ship is already done, so he just chills and helps where he can. the initial perspective, generally sticks out from his shipmates but is well liked until the series of misunderstandings that gets him kicked out, and after which we get the story from the runt clone, comet. good friends with mist, hazel, and beetle. hail gives him an uneasy feeling though.
mist - knew meteor "growing" up, honored to be in the mission. good friend to meteor, stays calm and collected, and is trying really hard not to fuck everything up. does ship maintenance. unusually small.
sprout - hes just a little guy. hes trying his hardest and thats what counts. doesnt have any real good friends, mainly an assistant for willow. if he ever got his shit together the universe would collapse.
willow - ship scientist, knows how to work the ship and sciency things. constantly on the verge of collapse, shes tired as shit. sprouts her runt clone, and helps her with errands, getting readings, and brewing her cocktail of energy drinks in the morning.
beetle - ecologist. unhealthy amount of pets, and it knows it. strong set of morals on the basis of "you dont shoot me i dont shoot you. if you do shoot me i will stab you to death.". good friend of meteors.
hazel - the more likeable of the two mission leaders. while second in command, her orders are generally more respected. she is very much the mom friend. doesnt reciprocate whatever hail has going on. she respects him as a mission leader and does her duty when it doesnt conflict with her morals and thats it.
hail - as his name implies, hes cold. never often leaves the bridge, where he navigates the ship. theres something going on between him and hazel but nobody has any clue what exactly. love? murderous intent? who knows.
dove - shes those videos of the buff women crushing watermelons between their thighs. invited as muscle in case of hostile inhabitants. she maybe kinda lied on her resume about how willing she actually was to hurt people. would cry over stepping on an ant.
crow - first clone made on-planet. hail had dove clone, and contributed to the runt. dove did not have much of a say in this. crow mutates to have melanism, which just makes him seem like a black cat, despite having no genes for it. lighter patches on certain parts, remnants of original white spotting. gets manipulate mansplain malewifed by hail animal farm style.
the guys arrive, after a somewhat rough landing. they seek out what they hope to be a sort of "dominant species" AKA the smartest most culturally advanced etc. they montior a group of wild cats arriving on the scene, mistaking them for the most civilized species, wanting to talk to them. they sample them and take their form, as to not cause alarm, before coming out to greet them. it immediately become very ovbious these arent it.
as they try to change back, they realize the planet has none of their triggering compound is on this planet. at all. while at least adjusted to the atmosphere from becoming the native species, theyre stranded as cats. after messaging their homeworld for further guidance, expecting an answer within 2 earth rotations, they decide to get aqquainted with the wildlife theyve discovered. as their true names are unspeakable now with their current vocal cords, they do some rough translations and take inspiration from their appearances.
meteor, an eccentric member of the group, is the first to exit and socialize with them. he finds out that their ship landing caused a disturbance for most of the cats, and many from nearby hunting parties had come to investigate. as he tries to get the group in order, he begins to realize a sort of tension that exists between the cats.
he seeks out to create some sort of order, he meets shell, who tells him that, while there are some rogues, a lot of them really only come from 1 of 3 places. as more "cats" emerge, finally managing to quell the situation and interviewing cats as to understand what the social geographical etc situation is. shell contiues to explain, that while the forest has plenty of food for everyone, many leaders have still never found peace with the other factions.
while there only used to be two, a group of hairless cats at a rockbed with a stream, and his own group, one that resides in what they say is the hardend ribcage of a great beast over a river, but not long before shell himself was born, a well known aggressive group of rogue cats took up base in a boulderyard. while still small, they easily can overpower the other factions, though they suffer from starvation often, due to lack of organized hunting parties, and there are already rumors of a brewing power stuggle, though its leader always keeps up appearances.
as the alien cats finally acheive order and get across the message that theyre not from here and plan to coexist if possible, it turns out that one of the groups sent runners back to camp and a leader has shown up.
swift, a hairless bony cat limps in. shell is like holy shit this mf never leaves camp, hes the head honcho of the elders in bingusclan(name pending) and almost never leaves because of his bum leg. hes followed by tiny, an up and coming cat, who sees swift as a mentor, who is also bald but with very short black and white fur on his ears legs face tail etc, look up a bambino cat. meteor takes note of his bum leg, as well as seeming to be missing reproductive organs like most of the other cats, but doesnt make any comment.
swift very much thinks their arrival is a sort of aid from the stars, claiming that some sort of "loyalty" has paid off.
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