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BAPS

by Chris Wayan, 2006

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A bap--a huge, intelligent six-limbed bat, playing a flute with its two free limbs. Click to enlarge.

SPECIES

These aren't bats like Grandma used to make! Baps have a wingspan of 3-4 meters (10-13'!), excellent eyes, and an omnivorous diet including a lot of fruit. Like most Lyrans, their body-plan has six limbs not four, so their dexterity and locomotion on the ground (and more to the point, in trees--they're a rainforest race) far surpass any Terran bat: quick and confident climbers.

And when at rest, they're equally quick and confident tool-users. For bap brains are superefficient--no larger than a dog's, yet capable of language, math, ethics, free verse and syncopation. Lots of syncopation.

Given the range of baps, coloration is surprisingly uniform: reddish brown everywhere. The only racial difference noticeable to outsiders are the ears, large and pointed in the south, small and round in the north (probably to reduce heat loss in the winter). Eye colors run the gamut from blue, green, gray, brown to gold, pink and red.

HABITAT

Baps are found in the cooler corners of the vast forests of Troisleons, plus Wold to the northeast. Their flight-membranes are frostbite-prone, so while they do venture further north in summer, to southern Scania and Grib, they don't stay the winter. Sunburn similarly discourages them from settling Troisleon's southern savanna, though baps do live in the deep forests of the Gerd Mountains and Papillon Valley.

While baps might do well in the dense forests of Corona, due west of Troisleons, the only flyway is via northern Scania (brrr) and the Shielding Islands (treeless, windy steppes)--a good 10,000 km, and none of it fit for a bap.
A map of Lyr, a large water world with small scattered continents. The small range of baps (big six-limbed bat musicians) is marked in yellow. In contrast, over the last few centuries a few bap families have flown southeast, to the Hisagazi Islands and Wersgorix. They do well there in the rainforests; but their numbers are small, and will probably remain so. Those forests are not empty, after all. Though lebbirds are much heavier and don't compete with baps over high canopy habitat, floxes do. They eat many of the same foods, too, and were there first: the niche is full. A bap--a huge, intelligent brown bat, playing a saxophone. Painting by Herman Miller, used with permission; see his own imaginary worlds at www.io.com/~hmiller/furry

Still, baps and floxes don't conflict overtly. Despite their odd looks and perceptual pecularities (they live in such a sonic world that it's hard for them to express themselves to other species), baps are generally liked, and can be found as guests or minorities in lebbird and flox villages. After all, musicians all over the galaxy are kooky nocturnal creatures living in their own perceptual world. Every sensible species cuts good musicians a bit of slack.

BEHAVIOR

Bap culture? Well, as the illustration suggests, baps are obsessed with jazz. They don't call it that, of course--their name is ziZIIIII' (a painful squeak followed by a much more painful squeak). But all the elements are there--improvisation, dense chords, syncopation, small combos in which each musician solos in turn. Even the scales are similar--not tempered quite like ours, but roughly Dorian and Mixolydian, with a flat seventh.

But the bap sense of time is twice as fast as ours, and high notes climb into the dog or dolphin range--so it all sounds like The Chipmunks trying to be beatniks. Bapniks? Vocals range over an average of five octaves (a good singer can manage six!), and are competitive--for singers are out to impress possible mates, and occasionally push things beyond what even a bap could strictly call musical, into, well, showing off.

It should be here noted that some bap astronomers claim that the mysterious substance gluing the galaxies together isn't "dark matter" but "showing off." After all, it's everywhere, isn't it?


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TOUR LYR! Climb volcanoes, swim seas, meet weird creatures. First: survival tips! Then, pick a region:
Ythri -- Polesotechnic Chain -- Troisleons -- Roland -- Oronesia -- Gaiila -- Flandry -- Diomedes -- Ak'hai'i -- Averorn

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