Most Hatel have citizenship in the Hatelese Commonwealth, an immense interstellar nation-state heavily dependent on the leadership and guidance of vast artificial intelligences, commonly called Minds, Psyches, Souls, Spirits, or simply Cores. The Commonwealth strongly believes in the right to self-determination for all of its citizens, including these artificial intelligences, which has led to a society that is, at its best, utopian, and at its worst, completely dysfunctional. This has left a powerful mark on the culture of the Hatelese, and even those who have lived entirely outside of the Commonwealth generally have noteworthy willpower and ambition.
The biology of the Hatel is not altogether unlike that of a stock human. Like their cousins, the Lyrisclensiae, they generally have lifespans measured in a few centuries, although the Hatel do not have vertical transmission of memories and thus live completely unique lives. However, they do share the distinctive pointed ears of the Lyrisclensiae, which are generally described as slightly elven in appearance.
As the Hatel have a strong cultural respect for engineering and a fascination with mechanisms, they have also innovated in the genomic domain. Healing capacity is greatly enhanced in both efficiency and extent, allowing the regrowth of a finger over the course of several months, the mending of broken bones in days or hours, and the closure of deep lacerations in as little as thirty minutes. Blood loss is the most common cause of premature death.
It is not known how, when, or why the Hatel developed green skin, as the early years of their history have been lost, although the prevalent theory is that it was changed to match their improved circulatory system, which uses cyanoglobins and gives them distinctive green-blue blood.
Most individuals have black hair; when fairer hair manifests naturally through the expression of recessive alleles, it tends to have the same hue as the skin, a phenomenon known as synchromia. Eyes are also generally synchromic, although they display much more natural variety.
Sex and gender
The Hatel are born in the familiar binary sexes, although up to a quarter of their population will later voluntarily adopt mixed genitals or undergo a complete sex change. Heritability of intersexed anatomy is a frequent topic of ideological schism among the Hatel, with conservatives and progressives both arguing that their preferred model offers individuals the most freedom to choose.
For the most part, the Psyches have sided with the conservative view, as their models suggest introducing such variability would lead to a homogeneous population of hermaphrodites disinclined to give up any of their primary or secondary sexual characteristics. Comparisons to the gender monoculture of the Lyrisians are also frequently made. Serving as something of a 'tie-breaker,' this has kept intersexed configurations out of the germ line for many thousands of years.
Regardless of sex, gender among the Hatel is best described as the product of two variables: violability (femaleness vs. maleness) and assertiveness (submission vs. dominance). Attraction (sexual and gender orientation) is sometimes put forth as an aspect of gender, as well, as it may dictate different gender behaviours in different contexts. Violability is an abstract notion of how much the individual allows the environment to influence personality, body, and self-image; for quintessentially feminine women, who are always recipients of penetration, give birth, dress attractively, and highly value the opinions of others, violability is high; conversely, extremely masculine individuals tend to eschew these qualities and reject violations of their autonomy. Assertiveness is frequently (negatively) correlated with violability, but can also be understood to describe how the individual behaves in structured social situations among peers. That said, no individual is as simple as a point on a line, nor even a large but finite set of lines; there are always exceptions, spontaneous deviations, and other nuances that defy generalisation or categorisation.
The behaviour of this gender system as a superset of Western values at the end of the Terran Holocene is no coincidence; see 'Current society,' below.
For all of their history, the Hatel have had a close relationship with the Lyrisclensiae, fulfilling the role of engineers in complementation to the Lyrisclensian theorists. Indeed, the Hatel were originally a splinter faction of the Lyrisclensiae who opposed new developments in the specie's course. Today they have a distinct culture, worldview, and civilisation which is generally regarded as among the most sophisticated and enlightened of all the spacefaring peoples.
The Trestunarion Conference
Not long after humanity left Earth, scholars found their work greatly hampered by the difficulty in maintaining academic discourse communities between ships and planets that were often so remote from one another that news of a discovery could take more than a lifetime to propagate. This was addressed by the creation of enclave universities, enormous settlements of researchers who abandoned the Mandate of Emmet to explore the universe in favour of more introspective cartography. As the effectiveness of these institutions is dependent on the scale of their community, agglomeration inevitably followed, leading to an ultimate, singular university of universities. This was the Trestunarion Conference, and although it was not initially intended to be a permanent establishment, its duration was repeatedly extended, and moved into ever-more-permanent facilities. Today the Trestunarion is synonymous in synecdoche with its facilities, a hollowed-out asteroid which resides within its own spacetime manifold.
With each agglomeration event, ideological clashes emerged. Consistent with the Mandate, the Telai had routinely resolved conflicts by dividing ships, personnel, and other resources, and the causes of these divisions could include anything from wanting to take different routes to a destination to deep philosophical differences. Reunifications of crews and fleets after more than a few years' absence were rare, and from the start the research enclaves tested members' abilities to tolerate each other. The Trestunarion was the largest and most drastic unification of ideas, pitting fragile communities against one another and re-opening many wounds both old and recent. Within a year of its creation, some 70% of invited participants had withdrawn, chiefly for political reasons. Those who remained would go on to form the basis of the species today now known as Lyrisians.
Eugenics and speciation
There is conflicting data as to what, exactly, the early Lyrisclensians believed, but it is clear that the overriding agenda that united the remaining conference participants was a transhumanist one. The acceleration initiative would proceed in three phases: first, to achieve maximal intellectual capacity for organic humans through genetic engineering; second, to drive research into artificial general intelligence until machine sentience arose; and third, to reach total post-scarcity. (Evidence of these priorities can be found in how the modern Lyrisian knowledge economy indexes research categories; a full third of the numerical range is allocated for AI applications, even though major publications in this area are now relatively few and far between.) The modern Hatel and Lyrisclensiae both strive to complete this initiative, but critically differed on details within the first phase.
Although it is not widely known outside of the greater Lyran culture, the single most distinctive feature of the Lyrisian genome is the hereditary transmission of memory. This is passed matrilinearly over the course of gestation, and is not immediately effective; children must study for years to develop intellectual touchstones over which to bond with their mothers' imprinted knowledge and experiences, and the process of connecting to the enneagrams, called Awakening, is rarely completed before adulthood. When it was first introduced the imprinting process was limited in efficacy, and while memories could be recalled with clarity they had little impact on the child's personality.
This has a clear disadvantage for males and non-mothers, in that their memories were not preserved by descendants. Additionally, shortly after the first children were imprinted, policy changes to a system called citation royalties were implemented, allowing imprinted children to also be allocated upload credit for the work of their ancestors, consistent with the intent of imprinting—that it be a means of compromising between immortality and the renewal of generations, a sort of partial resurrection.
These issues were raised, but largely dismissed by the leadership of the Lyrisclensiae. In their view, traditional gender as both a societal and biological construct was not something that needed safeguarding, and any value that it provided could be recreated later through conditioning and hormonal variance, without sex; at this time, sexual dimorphism was minimal, and these other factors already determined the majority of gender-linked phenotypes. Moreover, the citation royalty system was already designed to concentrate wealth and to permanently commemorate noteworthy contributions, so dissenting opinions on this Objectivist ideal were met with apathy; some historians have speculated that this tendency toward Libertarian thinking may be an inevitable development within eugenicist groups. It remains important to note that at this time memory imprintation fell far short of its goals, and would not reach the modern fidelity of quasi-immortality for thousands of years.
The dissenters did not immediately decide to depart; several generations elapsed as a stable population developed of Trestunarion citizens who refused the necessary germline genome alterations that would remove their ability to have male offspring and begin the all-female lineage of memory-imprinters. Opportunities were denied to them, at first subtly and then more openly, despite little or no concrete evidence that the imprinting offered meaningful intellectual advantages. Most of the antagonism was directed toward men, who were derided as obsolete; women among the dissenters experienced comparatively little hostility, particularly as they were not visually distinguishable from the majority of the Lyrisclensian population.
In time the politics of radicalism played out, and the dissenters rallied around a socialist ideology called heteroism ("other-ism"), proponents of which were called heteroi. While they still believed in eugenics and the acceleration initiative, the heteroi strove to do so while protecting the identity of the individual, to prevent restrictive consolidation of economic power, and to expressly forbid predetermination of children's lives.
The awakening of this class consciousness alarmed Lyrisclensian leadership, and had a ripple effect through Trestunarion society that lasted for some time; indeed, records from this era were at some later point destroyed. We do know that attempts were made to identify and track the heteroi, and that in response...