The Pey (from Keshnul: Epeylléta, pron. eh-pey-YEY-ta, "mist people") are a species of bio-engineered humanoids living primarily on the Kiri worlds and Shi-Durn in Selbûn. They are strong telepaths and proved adept Walkers in the Jana Era. The abbreviated name, "Pey," originated on Shi-Durn, but by the Jana Era had come to describe the species internationally.
Biology and Social StructureEdit
The Pey strongly resemble Tralorváti: they look very much like humans but have slightly larger eyes and tend to be either very pale or very dark. They are generally slighter in build than humans or Tralorváti but not outside the normal range of variation for those species.
Pey can live to be about 500 years old. They are very strong telepaths and, conversely, have low verbal skill. Their native communication is a combination of short sentences augmented by telepathic transmission of emotions, images, and intents. They have difficulty constructing sentences of more than one clause and have difficulty with tense. While they can learn to read and write, they usually struggle with it and do not natively use written language among themselves.
Pey tend to live in gentle, tropical or sub-tropical climates that require little shelter from the elements; their level of technology is very simple. They are, however, adept at performative arts, such as dancing, athletics contests, and certain types of music. They commonly live in communities of a few dozen individuals loosely linked to other such communities. They are usually cautious but friendly toward other humanoids, but their low verbal skill and high telepathy relative to many others makes clear communication problematic.
The Social Unit of the NnEdit
The core unit in Pey society is the "nn" (a verbal approximation of a telepathic idea). An nn is a single life-partner with whom a Pey is typically telepathically and ceremonially bonded shortly after birth (but bonding may occur up to age three Standard). Nn spend their lives together. Every Pey must have an nn to function in Pey society. If one nn dies, the surviving partner is expected to commit suicide. If the survivor does not, they are expelled from Pey society. If a child is not bonded by age three, it is also expelled or killed. Nn are typically emotionally close and committed; it is rare for them not to get along well and is considered a serious mental illness if they do not. Two nn in persistent conflict may be expelled from the community. Nn are generally sexually involved from early puberty, but they are prohibited by taboo from procreating with each other. (This is essentially an incest taboo: see "Reproduction" below.) Pey generally have sex freely with others; this is not considered a violation of the nn partnership. Nn may be any sex.
Like some birds and insects, Pey mate by means of a lek (a competition of males in which in the winner mates with all receptive females). Competitions are typically athletic or artistic and generally not violent. Females in the mating pool decide the winner together. There are typically about ten females in a mating pool, as determined partly by which females are in estrus and partly by social choice. Females enter estrus once every few standard years. In a lek, the number of females is always even in an attempt to produce an even number of children to pair as nn. Thus, nn are typically half-siblings and, to prevent inbreeding, are prohibited from participating in the same lek if they male and female. Two female or two male nn are not absolutely prohibited from participating in the same lek, but in practice they do not since having two females nn pregnant at once or two male nn in competition with each other would be a physical and/or emotional strain on the relationship.
Females cannot conceive unless in estrus and, in practice, do not mate unless in a lek. Thus, sex is naturally sterile most of the time. Females in estrus who do not wish to conceive may spend several days isolated from the community (including a male nn) to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
Children are raised by their mother and her nn but generally spend significant time with their father. In the even of the death of the mother and her nn, children are raised by their father and his nn. If both parents die, they are raised by another pair in the community.
Early in the Jana Era, it was discovered that the strong telepathy of the Pey gave them a natural predisposition to be successful Jana Walkers. Around the same time, the Pey of Shi-Durn began to interbreed with humans, producing fertile hybrids by means of genetic manipulation. In 2245 AE (203 J), the Shi-Durn Pey were named an official police force in Jana as a group disinterested in human affairs but attuned to monitoring the safety of the Jana dimension.
Over the next several centuries, the Shi-Durn Pey, now almost all interbred with humans, gained international power, eventually becoming the respected and sometimes feared institution, Durpey. The Durpey had human cognition and verbal skills but retained much of the Pey telepathic ability. They lived in higher tech communities than their ancestors, though still fairly low-tech in daily life in comparison to the complex jae tech they worked with professionally. They largely abandoned the lek but retained the institution of the nn.
Asoiya West-of-Now: The half-Pey daughter of First Walker, Laran West-of-Now and a Pey named Far. She and her nn, Mei, were the first Pey Walkers.
Mei West-of-Now: Nn of Asoiya, the son of the Pey, Far's, nn. He was adopted by Laran West-of-Now after the deaths of all his close Pey relatives due to an earthquake.