Status: Major Race
Classification: Omnivore gatherer/scavenger
Size: 1.5 meters from ground to top of upraised head
Hivers are a Major Race with a large federation trailing the Imperium.
Hivers average 1.5 meters from ground to top of upraised head and weigh about 150 kg. Descended from omnivore gatherer/scavenger stock, they are the most alien of the major races. Hivers exhibit a modified six-fold radial symmetry; the body has a calcareous internal skeleton consisting of a series of rings supporting the limbs and a fused carapace protecting the brain and internal organs.
The head is a modification of one of the limbs and contains six eyestalks and six manipulative tentacles, plus paired infrared sensor organs. The other five limbs are identical (except for slight modifications of the hand opposite the head) and are used as arms and legs indiscriminately. Each limb ends in a six-fingered radial hand. Fingers are very flexible and have muscular suction cups on the lower surface about halfway to the tips. Hiver arms and hands are generally weaker than a human’s but are very tough and difficult to injure.
The mouth (digestive opening) is on the lower surface of the body. There is no sound-producing organ, but hivers do have three ears placed around the neck near the head.
Hivers have only one sex. Reproductive cells are exchanged each time that Hivers meet, using the modified rear hand (the process has been termed by humans “shaking hands”). The cells are kept in a reproductive pouch on the lower body surface where they conjugate and exchange genetic material. Once every forty days or so, a cell will develop into a larva, which then drops from the parent’s body.
Hiver planets are mostly wilderness, and the larva enter the wilds, where most are killed. After about a year, survivors return to civilization, where they are welcomed into any nest and begin their education as citizens. Parental instinct in Hivers is very strong, and the young are adopted by the entire nest. (Note that this instinct applies only to the year-old returnees; Hivers have no concern for the younger larvae, and in fact they consider them minor pests.)
Hiver language is a combination of arm/tentacle waving and physical contact. The written language is ideographic and is used as a standard language among the races of the Hive Federation. Hivers talking among themselves use all three aspects of language (gesture, touch, and writing) at once, a process capable of great subtlety and sophistication, but unintelligible to the outsider.
Hivers are unique among major races in that they had a complex culture before becoming sentient. Originally, they lived in the tunnels and built-up mounds of the snohl, a large (1,000 kg) burrowing animal. In exchange for shelter, they gave food. They farmed fungus and foraged outside for decaying vegetation and dead animals as a source of food for the fungus.
Burrowers were allowed to graze in the farm tunnels. Hivers ate the fungus and whatever fresh food they could find outside. Intelligence arose as the outside environment changed, forcing the foraging parties to travel farther to discover new sources of food and fertilizer; foragers advanced from simple scavenging and gathering efforts to complex cooperative efforts of hunting and trapping live game.
Today, fungus remains the staple of the Hiver diet; fungus growing is a highly developed art. Most buildings retain the beehive shape and large underground tunnel complexes of the original burrowers, but they are constructed by machines; the burrowers (known as snohl) are now reduced to the secondary function of keeping the tunnels clean. Hiver attachment to them is essentially nonrational; they just feel more comfortable with snohl around.
Hive society is highly individualistic. The term “Hive” results from an early human misconception which stems from the appearance of the Hivers’ building and tunnel complexes. Nests contain from five to five hundred individuals, who are usually centered around some common endeavor.
While one hundred is an average size for a nest (and was the size in precivilized times), larger groups may come together for some civilized purpose such as large manufacturing companies or universities. Small nests are usually spaceship crews or isolated research parties. A young hiver will spend his first fifteen years in his home nest; thereafter, nest changes may take place as often as a modern human might change jobs.
Because of the nature of their reproduction, hivers never experienced the population pressures so important to human history. The population of the homeworld is now only a few hundred million, only ten times greater than it was in prehistoric times. Predators control the young; when the adult survival rate rises, thus increasing the numbers of young produced, the predator population increases proportionately and the balance is maintained. Space colonization arose not from pressure but from curiosity, with which Hivers are amply endowed.
The Hivers have colonized only those planets with climates most pleasant to themselves; if the planet has no predators that like to eat Hiver larvae, they are imported. Because of the high birth rate, a colony will rapidly fill up to its maximum population level of a few hundred million and will then stabilize. Hivers like planets of size 6 or less, with thin or standard atmospheres and unvarying climates. Hiver enclaves, for commercial or scientific purposes, are found on worlds of more extreme characteristics.
Hive industry and business excels at communications technology and robot construction. Major exports include artificial and computer languages, translators, and sophisticated electronic hardware of all types. Hiver mathematical systems are much in demand for their power and elegance.