Information and Anatomy provided by Maveriknight
Dionaea have three stages of growth, a small, singular Nymph, the human sized and shaped Gestalt, and a space station sized Galactic Gestalt. For most people, the important forms are the Nymphs, small slug like creatures roughly the same size as a yorkie or other small breed dog, who weigh roughly the same as a loaf of bread due to the pores and other empty spaces inside them, and the fact they’re made from a light but durable wood like material. Nymphs are also capable of extending feelers out, which are sharp enough to take blood from people in passing with, which the Nymph need to grow.
The Humanoid Gestalt on the other hand, being a conglomeration of Nymphs, is roughly a third the weight of a like-sized human, but possesses strength superior to that of an Unathi, being able to rip a human limb from limb at will, though they lack the disposition for such. Like the Nymph, the Gestalt can consume almost anything it can digest, and some Dionaea have even been known to become addicted to eating highly efficient food sources such as dehydrated animal cubes, though these cases are rare. Dionaea gestalts, like nymphs, will regenerate any damage taken over time, short of something sufficiently damaging to kill a gestalt outright, as long as they have light or radiation to use as a food source, though the regrowth of lost limbs is a process that can take several hours to complete, though most Dionaea very rarely even notice such losses immediately, instead wandering unaware due to their lack of pain receptors.
The Galactic Gestalt is significantly more complex in anatomy, but as they are typically not encountered, that information is currently omitted from this page, and is available at the more comprehensive anatomy page.
Diona are slow plant beings hired by Nano-Trasen in a symbiotic relationship of labor for data. They are the most unique of all races, consisting entirely of plant-like matter and appearing woven from roots and twigs. They have two stages of life, a nymph and an adult stage which consists of multiple nymphs linked together to form a humanoid gestalt. This may also continue to form a gestalt at a later date. They do not understand harm, and fear only due to primal instinct; darkness, Kida (their home world predators), and death of "alpha nymphs", the main repository of information held within a humanoid gestalt. They are pacifistic and will never commit assault. One Diona would have the potential to wipe out whole crews if not for this, as their ability to regenerate is far beyond that of the other races. They require light to survive, but lack much more in the way of nutrition. Their main drive is information, as their curiosity is by far the most visible.
While the most recognizable of Dionaea are their gestalt form, three separate sizes and stages of Dionaea’s life cycles do exist. As a result, this section has been divided up into three separate sections.
Immediately after being harvested from their pods, which are, for all intents and purposes merely large nuts, roughly the size of beach ball, the first stage of the Diona life cycle, the Nymph, is fully developed, Possessing what has often been described as a slug-like body. Consisting of a number of material types, all Nymphs have a hard bark-like shell on it’s back, segmented like that of a centipede with a fair amount of overlapping, serving as armor to the otherwise soft and squishy Dionaea nymph, and in fact, this shell can take up to several hours to harden completely, though typically hardening, which reaches a toughness on par with copper, finishes within the first fifteen minutes after harvest. Beneath the hard wooden shell, the Diona consists of a pulpy soft material, similar to cottonwood or particularly dense sponge, which makes up the majority of the body of the nymph, giving it a flexibility that allows it to squeeze into most air vents and other compartments, as well as giving it a rigidity that allows it to move and act as it sees fit.
Covering the underside of the Diona, facilitating movement and speed, the Diona will grow a skin very similar in makeup to that of grass or flower stems, being slick and smooth to the touch, but flexible and tough, giving it both flexibility and protection, allowing for it’s range of motions.
Despite lacking recognizable organs as would be defined in mammals, Dionaea Nymphs still possess a number of internal and external organs that allow for it’s continued existence, which cannot be facilitated through light intake alone, which consist of a singular “Eye”, a rounded cavity in the interior of the skull, inside of which grows a quantity of light sensitive fungi-like structures, which replicate the functions of rods and cones, allowing for sight. Surprisingly, however, unlike a human’s eyes which have a concentration of rods in the center of the eye, resulting in colorblindness at the edges of a human’s vision, the Diona nymph does not, with it’s distribution of the rod and cone like fungi being even across the entire surface in which they grow. To protect this eye, a single piece of bark like shell concealed within the rest of the shell exists, capable of sliding upwards in response to threats or during sleep states to protect the interior, though it is possible for Diona to regenerate the lost materials involved in their sight given sufficient time.
On the bottom of the Diona nymph, a number of protrusions, mostly lacking definition beyond simple lumps, exists, analogous to feet in mammals, though their number, typically twelve, and arrangement, in two lines from the front to the back of the nymph, are similar to insects, which are capable of transporting a Diona nymph at considerable speed, typically being able to keep pace with humans while on foot without the need for performance enhancers.
While most Nymphs are not observed doing so on a regular basis, all nymphs are also in possession of a mouth that changes shape over the course of the nymph’s lifespan, dictated by the types of blood it has up to that point consumed, growing to accommodate all the types of speech the Nymph is capable of. However, more importantly, the nymph’s mouth, which has a pair of mandible like limbs growing in front of it, though these can be tucked into the nymph’s bark-like shell and concealed, serves to allow it to consume not only plant matter, as some believe, but ANY sort of matter, organic or inorganic, depositing the consumed materials into what is most effectively compared to a pitcher plant in form and function, an interior organ containing a large amount of digestive fluids, composed of water, bacteria, and a number of other, as yet unidentified fluids, due in part to extraction of these being difficult. All digestible matter thusly consumed is, without exception, left to digest, however any indigestible matter is summarily regurgitated, typically no worse for wear.
After consuming at a minimum five separate blood samples, and a reasonable amount of miscellaneous matter and absorbing it, a Diona Nymph can, at will, expand into it’s second stage of life, known as a Humanoid Gestalt, or simply Gestalt. While still consisting of the aforementioned bark like material and spongy interior, most Gestalts, though not all, will absorb the slick smooth material that made up their belly, replacing it with more hardened bark, though now possessing sufficient force to bend these materials at will, leading to them being capable of a full range of motion.
Also of importance is that after the expansion to Gestalt, during which the growing Nymph has split off into multiple other nymphs which then went on to become the limbs and torso, the Gestalt not only consists of the same pitcher-plant type stomach, but also is almost 50% empty space, with cavities openings and gaps being present in all gestalts almost uniformly, giving them a surprising lightness, but their primary function is to allow for the inhabitation of several further Diona Nymphs to take up residence in the host Gestalt, all of whom thusly consider themselves as part of a single collective. Capable of motion by the growth and retraction of the vines making up it’s limbs, the Gestalt is the most commonly observed Diona form, though by far not the only one, and will often seek out and offer work for information and data, In lieu of further payment.
Like Nymphs, the Gestalt possesses eye-like structures, but unlike most other sentient species, these “eyes” aren’t always in the same place on every Gestalt, nor are their number and placement uniform, instead, being present on the head portion of the Gestalt, feeding visual stimuli to the “Brain”, the core of the Diona Gestalt. Similarly to the Nymph, as well, the Gestalt lacks most major organs, instead only having a few, primarily being the stomach-like pitcher plant structure.
Of importance to note, however, is that, out of the entire Gestalt, there is typically only one recognizable nymph among the whole mass, that being what is referred to as the “Alpha” Nymph. This nymph is the original Nymph that broke off the sub-nymphs that grew into the torso and limbs of the Gestalt, and serves as the brain, having final say in what the Gestalt does, where it goes, Etc, and in many cases, while aboard Stations where the Nymph population is low, may be the only recognizable nymph in the Gestalt, whereas most Gestalts host a number of foreign nymphs until they grow or until they merge to move on to the next and final stage of growth. In the event that the Gestalt takes sufficient damage and can no longer survive, it is regularly expected the Alpha Nymph will break off from the Gestalt, to resume the process again.
Of note as well is that the typical Gestalt will consume any organic matter it can find and digest, in preparation for the third stage, and may, given the opportunity, and if not properly educated to not, consume corpses or even wounded sentient species as they might a wounded animal, due to the nutritional content provided, though these cases are rare.
The Final stage of a Diona’s Life typically takes place many years after their initial harvest, but can vary heavily depending on the time between seeding and convergence. This stage, referred to as the Galactic Gestalt stage, consists of a multitude of Gestalts, each having gathered as much information and material as possible, converging at a set location and merging, typically in a low orbit around a star, or gas giant, similar to where they were initially discovered.
During the initial stage of this form, the Diona in question will typically either find a method of transport that gets them near enough to the target location, be it a cargo ship, space station, or even the stray asteroid, or will begin growing, forming the first stages of the Galactic Gestalt, Engaging in some sort of as yet unexplained method of energy production, emitting radiation as a byproduct, but providing sufficient power to convert into thrust, which is used to move into space, and from there, to the destination.
On arriving, the first Gestalts there will enter a high orbit around the star, serving as a target for later Gestalts, and will work to stabilize itself. Following this, each successive Gestalt that arrives will, with little finesse, crash into the preexisting Gestalts, and immediately grow into it, converging into a single biomass, with the process repeating for on average at least a hundred Diona, typically more. The Dionaea will then drop into a low orbit around the sun or gas giant from there, siphoning off material and energy and processing it, using this to fuel further growth until seed pods, which are typically about the size of a sedan, have grown and are then launched into space. At present, through a process unknown, many of these pods seem to be aimed at the nearest planets in the system, which they then seed upon arriving, each pod opening up, or burning away in the atmosphere when applicable, and releasing dozens of seeds each, which then germinate on the target planet or heavenly body, growing into further Dionaea over time, when the conditions are sufficient.
As a special note, the Skrell have made a regular habit of integrating Gestalt Dionaea into machinery such as ships and stations, as well as being key to their terraforming tech. however, due to the endless ways they have been integrated, no specific examples will be given.
Being a plant species with nearly unrivaled healing power, Dionaea are even more mysterious on a psychological front. While most species in the universe are alien to humans in their mindset, there are few nearly as foreign as the Dionaea. While they are typically non-aggressive, Dionaea are actually among the most dangerous creatures to interact with on a regular basis, due in no small part to the fact that, while outrageously strong, they have absolutely zero concept of “pain” “Injury” or “Harm”, due in part to the fact that they can regenerate even lost limbs given enough time and material, and will regularly absorb “Dead” Dionaea into their mass to incorporate them. This leads directly to issues any time a Dionaea is asked to so much as move another person, due to the complete possibility that they will overdo it, seriously injuring, or worse, throwing, the person in question, as well as similar issues in any other job. Dionaea are as a result typically relegated to non-surgical purposes aboard stations, due to the chance that when they say, use a scalpel to start an incision on someone, they go through the table below them.
Similarly, this means that even when being aimed at, or fired upon by weaponry, the Dionaea may not even register that physical harm is occurring to the gestalt, and continue what it was doing, and for good reason. Given enough time, most Dionaea will regenerate any injury. Of course, most important of note is that, due to not understanding the concept of harm, Dionaea similarly don’t understand the point of being Aggressive, which is VERY good for other species, as it means that Dionaea will neither defend themselves, nor others, which can result in serious injury if they did.
However, there are two things of note in regards to Dionaea. Because of their thirst for knowledge, most Dionaea can be convinced to do anything in exchange for information they didn’t previously possess, sometimes in a disproportional scale. The second thing is that, despite their lack of understanding of the concept of harm, they DO feel fear, but the causes are few, typically only being Kidan, which is instinct bred from a long history of being their favorite food, Darkness, which is fatal to any Diona trapped in it, and that the Alpha nymph will perish. These three things are the only causes that will result in a Diona being afraid of something. However, that said, it is important to note that Dionaea DO experience all other emotions, however, including joy, sadness, and even love, though they may not jump to protect something or someone they love if they are in danger due to not understanding harm.
While a highly intelligent species, Dionaea actually lack formal governments and organizations due in part to their nature. However, it is worth noting that many times, a humanoid Gestalt, or even Integrated Gestalts will work as a mobile democracy, with all nymphs in the Gestalt, whether it’s a solid part of the Gestalt or merely merged temporarily, will have a vote in the actions undertaken by the Gestalt, leading to the slow nature they’re known for. However, an Alpha Nymph, the original Nymph that grew to form the Gestalt through asexual division, will have final say over the Gestalt’s actions, and in times of serious disaster, such as an impending singularity, will take control to avoid the total irrecoverable destruction of the whole. This multi-individual nature is the primary reason that Dionaea Gestalts refer to themselves in the plural.
Relations with other species
Unlike most species, Dionaea actually have a fairly basic relationship with most others, viewing everyone as three things, with the exception of the Skrell and the Kidan. All other species are, somewhat uniformly, thought of as first and foremost, friends, in the sense that friends share information with friends, food, since they can digest everyone, and curiosities to be observed.
To the Dionaea, Kidan are the boogeyman, the only thing that Dionaea instinctively run from, even though they’re willing to go hug Nar’Sie. Grown as a food crop by the Kidan on their home world originally, the Dionaea eventually evolved to the point of being able to leave their planet in response to the Kidan’s unpleasant habit of treating them like a delicacy.
Being the first to have discovered the Dionaea, the Skrell hold a special place in Dionaea’s… erm… Hearts? Viewing the squishy amphibians as parental figures and friends more often than anything, Dionaea actually do understand the idea that a Skrell can be injured to the point of dying, in no small part due to the extensive interactions with them. The Skrell also often use the Dionaea in machinery, for starships, Terraforming engines, and more, often growing them straight into their desired use, much to the Dionaea’s pleasure. The Dionaea often expect the Skrell will part with new information as well, something they’ve grown used to after extensive interaction with the pleasant species.
While all other Organic species are uniform in the Dionaea’s opinion of them, the Dionaea don’t typically know what to make of IPCs or other synthetics unless they have grown up around them continually. Viewing them as a wealth of knowledge, but useless for anything else, the Dionaea will often regard synthetics with frustration and curiosity, and many IPCs have had to call for help when a curious Dionaea decided to find out how they work.
The Dionaea have no interest or need to act as any type of antagonist, and share their knowledge of them with the skrell in all areas.