Endless Blue – Week 77 – Aquatic Prosthetics: Restoring What Was Lost   Leave a comment

Archaeology

Aquatic Prosthetics: Restoring What Was Lost

Life beneath the waves is a perilous existence.  The constant battle between the well-honed ungues of the predator and the evolutionary adaptions to escape of their prey is a constant specter.  Those escape tactics don’t always succeed, and by some twist of fat should the prey survive an attack, they rarely always survive unscathed.  The lucky remain relatively intact, with scarred-over gashes where tooth tore flesh.  But many other creatures pay a dear price for their freedom, losing limbs to the jaws of the aberrations above or the ocean predators below.  For these victims, their loss need not be completely permanent.

Prostheses are artificial creations that replace lost bodily parts.  Their purpose is so the piscean can regain normal function in day-to-day society.  While lost limbs are seen as a red badge of courage (and those individuals are given respect for the dangers they escaped from), their absence still proves a hindrance to living under the waves.  Instead of having to rely on another piscean for daily functions, most pisceans prefer the independence granted by limb replacement.

Form and Function

Most prostheses are single function.  Meaning, they are designed to replace a single activity the lost limb could accomplish.  Tails and fins are designed to give maneuverability back to the amputee.  A lost hand would be replaced with either a hook for combat or a flipper for movement.  Chirurgeons, who often “cut to cure”, rely heavily on prostheses for their patients.  Resurrectionists study anatomy in order to better understand the piscean form, and by extension this helps them design better prostheses.

Mariners and other soldiers often lose a limb in the service of their homesea.  In the cases of lost hands, many chose to have their favorite weapon replace the lost hand.  Spear and Trident heads are the most prevalent, but simple blades or even blunt cestus’ are known to exist.  Many military groups bestow those maimed in service with a traditional prosthesis that bears an inscription or other carved insignia dedicated to the piscean’s sacrifice for their homesea.  Such a prosthesis would be passed down from generation to generation, down the family line, as a symbol of respect and reverence, in many ways becoming a family heirloom.  Sahaguin have been known to purposely amputate themselves so a particularly famous family prosthesis could be attached to their body, raising their esteem in the community.

Forms of Prostheses:

Limb — Prostheses of this type can vary in nature.  While a finger is usually too small to replace and still maintain functionality, a limb missing at various points along the arm is more common.  Hand, forearm, and full arm limb replacements are possible.  While movement at the joints is possible, it is a bend-and-lock mechanism that must be adjusted through applied force.  These prostheses are incapable of mimicking normal movement of a limb.

Tail — A common predatory tactic is to sneak up from below and bite their prey in half.  It is rare to survive this kind of suprise attack, but it does happen.  Survivors find a great portion of their tails lost.  Such a loss severely impacts the ability to swim through the water.  Tail prostheses are based on a flexible rod that replicates the undulating movement of swimming in reaction to movement in the hips.  Otherwise, the prosthesis is rather stiff, making its existence obvious to the observer.

Dental — Blunt trauma to the face can result in permanent dental damage.  The repair of lost teeth or a damaged jaw is possible through dental prostheses.  These are usually permanent implants, but temporary removable dentures are possible.  Due to the variation between the shape of the mouth, all dental prostheses are custom-made.

Ocular — Lost eyes can be replaced by finely smoothed glass or obsidian glass spheres that are inserted into the empty socket.  Unfortunately, these prostheses are cosmetic only, and cannot restore binocular vision.

Dorsal/Pectoral/Caudal Fin — The replacement of fins is important to the mobility of the afflicted piscean.  Fins are normally in a constant state of small waving motions, in order to stabilize or shift the orientation of the individual.  Even the most delicate of fins can be replaced, but restoring the original minute dexterity is beyond the skill of prosthetics designers.

Enscorcelled Prosethetics
These are magical works of metal, bone, coral, and other materials.  Imbued with mystic energy, they act exactly like the missing appendage or organ.  The most infamous of these magical prostheses is the Cetacean artifact, Khantusk.  Wielded by the first Khan of the Cetacean Hordes, and lost during the battle of the Leviathan, Khantusk bestows great leadership and mastery of command to those that posses it.

Resurrectionist Prosthetics
Biological prostheses are the grafting of flesh given life once more.  These prostheses are not cheap: Resurrectionists still suffer from the superstitious fear of the populace, so they must work in secret, and require severe compensation for the risk they incur.  But should a piscean possess enough wealth, he might persuade a Resurrectionist to graft a limb.  These limbs utilize the same animus vitae that Resurrectionists employ in the animation of homonculi.  The replaced limb becomes a natural part of the, with the same blood flow as the rest of the piscean.

“Transpisceanism”

The Transpiscean Movement is in its infancy.  These Resurrectionist believe that the races of the Elqua should not be limited by the piscean form.  The piscean form can be improved upon, through the grafting of newer organs.  Some fear this idea of slowly replacing the body with homonculi organs, piece by piece.  But it goes further than a creeping supposition of the body — Transpiceans believe they should not be limited to the shape of their bodies.  Extra arms, dermal carapaces, even organs like ink glands or venom sacs can be infused into the piscean form, at the individual’s whim.

Due to cultural taboos, Transpisceanism is viewed negatively by many species of the Known World.  The Chelon and Lumulus, usually at odds over almost everything, both reject the idea of purposely revising the body.  The Church of Olyhydra views it as an aborration against the Mistress’ design, to such an extent as to decry almost any prosthetic other than those that are the most primitive, basically sticks strapped to arms.  But Transpisceanism has found a home in the Mer Currents due to the culture’s inherent openness to new ideas.  There it flourishes just as well as the Olyhydran Church, and it is just a matter of time until the two philosophies clash.

The piscean form is an artifact designed by inheritance.
It was not designed to remain in its present biologic state
any more than roe is designed to remain roe.
— Transpisceanist argument.

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