Since Hleengar first set foot in Albia, he showed himself to be a very poised and intelligent Norn. On this visit to my world, I decided that he was about to be an accomplice in the world’s worst pun. Hleengar stood as stoic as ever and contemplated life’s most important question: To bee, or not to bee? If he could understand what I was talking about, I think he would have turned around and shook his head at me in disgust! As it happened, he went about his usual routine around the nursery and garden. I used to refer to the area near the incubator and learning computer as the “incubator area,” but “nursery” has a much better sound to it! Hleengar made sure I was not going to make any more puns, and then off he went to the garden.
With the nursery empty and my three Norns well on their way to growing up, the time was right for a new member of the group! The incubator fizzed and popped in anticipation of this new egg, and I was soon going to find out what I had unleashed! Hybralvao emerged from her shiny egg a bit upset about her new surroundings, which were not at all to her taste. As the daughter of Hypocolius and Cotinga, I hadn’t expected her to be so picky! Her personality was all her own, although I had an idea that her genetics might influence some of her decisions. Time to dive into the land of mutations!
Chemical receptors define parameters for a certain chemical. When these parameters are met, an element in the Creature is affected. These genes can increase drives, define life stages, control fertility, and more.
Mutation: 248 Chi B MutDupCut Creature, Sensorimotor, fearful, chem=Boredom, thresh=144, nom=0, gain=239, features=Analogue
Default: 248 Chi B MutDupCut Creature, Sensorimotor, fearful, chem=Fear, thresh=144, nom=0, gain=239, features=Analogue
It should be quite clear what this gene is supposed to do: It makes a Norn fearful whenever the level of the fear chemical reaches a certain level. Anyone who follows these genetic analyses closely will recognize that this was inherited from Cotinga. Effectively, Hybralvao will become fearful when she has a decent amount of the boredom chemical in her system. I observed this behavior in her mother, Cotinga, which often resulted in her walking around in fear a lot more than a usual Norn. The only way around this will be to keep Hybralvao from being extremely bored. Likely this mutation will affect her, though it didn’t slow down her mother!
Mutation: 305 Emb B MutDupCut Creature, Drive Levels, Tiredness, chem=Sleepiness, thresh=230, nom=0, gain=255, features=Analogue
Default: 305 Emb B MutDupCut Creature, Sensorimotor, Invol 5=’sleep’, chem=Sleepiness, thresh=230, nom=0, gain=255, features=Analogue
There are some genes that can be altered in strange ways, and this was one such example! In the standard genome, this chemical receptor states that when the sleepiness chemical reaches a very high level (a threshold of 230 units out of a maximum of 255 units) the Norn will fall asleep. This is often why very stubborn Norns will sleep from time to time: Their bodies force them to! For Hybralvao, this gene apparently went through a storm during her creation and didn’t turn out too well. Not only has she lost the involuntary action for sleeping, but now her tiredness drive will increase when her sleepiness reaches a high level. There is the possibility that Hybralvao will be completely unable to sleep. I wanted to hatch her, however, because there have been Norns with far worse mutations who led happy, healthy lives.
Chemical reactions define rules for individual chemicals and chemical combinations. These genes can also state the rules for how chemicals are used up, and each reaction has a defined half-life to determine how often it occurs.
Mutation: 239 Emb B MutDupCut 2*Histamine A => 2*Sleepiness + 1*Tiredness; half-life=64
Default: 239 Emb B MutDupCut 2*Sleep Toxin => 2*Sleepiness + 1*Tiredness; half-life=64
After that last mutation that could have serious consequences, I was pleased to find that Hybralvao had something a little more interesting! This is one of the genes that defines a Norn’s response to environmental toxins. This particular one typically defines what happens with sleep toxin. However, Hybralvao’s mutation means that she will experience sleepiness and tiredness in response to histamine A. There are two major characteristics. First, Hybralvao will become immune to sleep toxin since it is no longer defined in her genome. Second, she will suffer from histamine A with more than just the usual symptoms, though it may decrease in her system more quickly since she will be using it up in another reaction. It would be an experiment to find out what happened to her if she became ill with histamine A, though I hoped that would never happen!
Stimuli genes define the chemicals that a Creature expects to receive in response to an action. These actions can range from interactions with the hand to involuntary actions like coughing or sneezing.
Mutation: 244 Emb B Mut ‘Invol 3=’cough” causes sig=0 GS neu=255 int=0 => 32*Pain + 8*Coldness + 8*Fear + 16*Hexokinase
Default: 244 Emb B Mut ‘Invol 3=’cough” causes sig=0 GS neu=255 int=0 => 32*Pain + 8*Tiredness + 8*Fear + 16*Hexokinase
Interestingly enough, this gene was also inherited from Cotinga! In response to coughing, a Norn typically experiences pain, tiredness, fear, and hexokinase. For Hybralvao, tiredness was replaced with coldness. Since coughing can be associated with a fever, this could be quite beneficial. And since she already had enough trouble with sleepiness and tiredness, it seemed like it could be slightly more useful! The only downside was that her histamine A mutation coincided with sneezing, not coughing. All the same, this was a slight advantage for Hybralvao.
I assumed that she might tire out quickly and want to just lie down. Not Hybralvao! I had to send her on two trips up the lift before I could distract her from the shiny buttons. The computer was another story: She squirmed, she pushed, she talked out of turn, and she was just like one live wire! After having relative ease with my first female Norn, Hybralvao was the complete opposite. So much for thinking she was going to struggle! My only concern was that she might burn herself out.
Speaking of burning oneself out, I found the ball brigade still glued to the bouncing ball! Brekennion and Nildeleer could not get enough of their fun. They temporarily took the ball out of the lift to bounce it elsewhere, but Nildeleer had enough of it and brought it right back to where it started! I wish I had a video of it, since it was quite funny to watch happen. I had the idea to bring them a little snack, though they were hardly impressed with the lemons. They didn’t bounce, tasted odd, and left a sour taste in their mouths. So long as they were healthy, I didn’t care how long they played together! It was a miracle that the ball didn’t pop or just fall apart from the abuse. That thing was in the air all the time!
Word of the ball brigade traveled across the garden, likely on the heels of the echoing bounces. Dahloi remembered his first toy encounter and decided that he could do much better! With the help of Hleengar, the offshoot of the ball brigade set up an even more impressive spectacle: A ball that could bounce inside the teleporter without disappearing! The two pairs were close enough that I could watch them on the screen at the same time, and they really looked like they were having a competition to see whose setup was better. Luckily, this was not a competition with a winner!
Athahain remained on the island, ever since she made her first journey across the sea. With all of the Norns and Grendels otherwise preoccupied, she was still quite alone. Hybralvao could turn out to be a wonderful companion, yet I had a feeling the quiet Athahain was in no mood to keep track of a hyperactive baby! She decided that the seahorses on the other side of the underwater observatory were more than enough excitement for her. As she fell asleep as close to being underwater as she could be, I watched over her carefully. I was happy to be her sole friend until someone of her species quietly walked into her life.