Joker Leaf-ants

Sarcastic and dangerous alien lifeforms

Image from Steve Bowers
Leafants, unlike most animal-like creatures, are not bilaterally symmetrical, but instead show plant-like growth forms

Kammerer is a garden world in the outer Carina Rush, which contains a single, large, intelligent biome known as the Festuca Macrospecies. This complex of organisms includes a wide range of morphs, which can function separately but work together as a co-ordinated superorganism when necessary.

The animal-like mobile species that is most like humans is the Joker Leaf-ant, a kind of cross between a monkey, an ant, and a rubber-plant. These creatures grow like fruit on the outside of much larger plant-like organisms, and detach themselves in order to become mobile. But the limited area of photosynthetic tissue these creatures possess is not enough to keep them fully active, so they feed on their parent plants for extra sustenance. The parent plants exude a nectar rich in sugars and amino acids for that purpose.

The Joker mobiles compete with each other in their language of shrieks and sign-language in contests of wit, sarcasm and insults; very often the competition breaks down into mask fighting, which involves duels with their extendable jaws. The most successful of the duellists, both linguistic and martial, have their genetic load perpetuated by the ecology. When a Joker mobile dies it is apparently remembered by the sum total of its spoken wit over the period of its mobility or 'lifetime'.

This culture of ascerbic humour and insults carries over into their relationships with Terragen sophonts and other aliens. Once translated, their speech is full of wry observation and mockery, and they are very quick to detect the shortcomings and hypocrisy of anyone who interacts with them.

Kammerer is too dangerous for ordinary sophonts, and is surrounded by a restriction swarm which (in theory) keeps any information from coming in or out; but illegal copies of the Joker phenotype occasionally are sighted throughout the galaxy, especially wherever low level brushfire warfare is likely or in progress.
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 11 July 2020.