"I am the Lorax. And I speak for the Trees." - Elohi
Methods of contact (Updated 3/8/2018)
- 1 Main Lore
- 1.1 Overview
- 1.2 Occupational
- 1.3 Mechanics
- 1.4 Biology
- 1.5 Social
- 1.6 Culture
- 1.7 History
- 1.8 Beyond the Knowledge
- 2 Biology
A rather strange, cryptic species in comparison to the rest, Dionae are actually a bipedal fusion of smaller, singular organisms working collectively to create a whole. The smaller organisms are wood-fleshed, larger cat-sized caterpillar-like creatures with a curious, childlike disposition. Nearly every aspect of the species is a mystery; their origins, their behavior, and functions. What is known is that they are capable of great intellectual and biological feats alike... for a price. Biologically, they are as much of an amalgam as their forms, similar to both plant and animal alike and yet not, surviving primarily off of the electromagnetic spectrum with a healthy diet of biological matter to supplement their growth. This has resulted in a weakness to lack of radiation and can lead to death if not exposed to at least proper lighting, and when fused with others can move incredibly slow due to a shared hivemind and the need to make decisions as a group than a single entity.
To become one of the strange, plant-like Dionaea, apply here
Dionaea can be the following Heads of Staff:
- Research Director
- Chief Engineer
- Chief Medical Officer
Dionae cannot be any of the following positions:
- Security Officer
- Emergency Medical Technician
- Custom language accessible with ,q prefix
- Feeds off light
- Completely unaffected by atmosphere (or lack thereof)
- Completely immune to pressure (or lack thereof)
- Heals brute damage when exposed to radiation
- Walks/runs slowly
- Can absorb nymphs through context menu
- Can swallow mice and consume other animals such as carp through the context menu
- Take damage from being cold, and will die if without heat
- Can form partial Gestalts with less nymphs and enough biomass
- Becomes poisoned when metabolizing teas, Hyronalin, and Arithrizine, the latter extremely deadly.
- Recovers from anti-radiation poisoning by metabolizing Radium, exposed to a radiation storm, or the Supermatter
The Dionae, by virtue of being an unique lifeform, feature an anatomy seen almost nowhere else.
Their base form, the nymph, has very few organs (which have no set structure): the neuralias, which behaves like a cluster of neurons, the chlorodermates which attach together to form a light-sensitive skin that produces usable energy, the optical organs, the glucose sacs that process the sugars made by the chlorodermates, the "motor organs" which allow them (and their growths) to move, and the circulating system - which is equivalent to our heart, veins and arteries combined. While they usually only have a single circulation system and optical organs, the others can find themselves in almost combination of numbers as they dedicate themselves to a task - processing nymphs would have a higher count of neuralias, while those who dedicate to motion would have a higher number of glucose sacs and motor organs. Interestingly, Dionae are perfectly adapted to life in a vacuum environment.
However, it is to be noted that because they dedicate themselves to a task, they all require at least one of each organ to survive, and as such even a basic nymph has rudimentary intelligence, equivalent to a very young human child.
The work form that you all know are actually an amalgam of various nymphs - usually from three to six, and most often with one thought-dedicated linked to an energy-dedicated and one to three motion-dedicated nymphs, all working together. Furthermore, this symbiosis means that if a nymph becomes sick - or even dead - it must be treated/removed for the Diona body to be healthy, though interestingly enough they will often reabsorb the dead nymph, with no obvious downsides, to be used as a source of nutrients.
Fortunately, they structure themselves (generally) in a manner that almost emulates most other sapient organisms, and as such surgery is not too complicated - with structures clearly functioning as motor devices, with a skeleton-like substructure made of a material similar to the core of a tower-cap mushroom, which unfortunately takes an extended amount of time to heal, and can be hazardous to nymphs if used regardless - much like the bones of a standard humanoid, down to the fact that they can (and should) be repaired just like one.
Even so, very little is actually known about the function of their larger gestalts - except that Dionae do not have natural deaths, and are functionally immortal as far as is known.
As mentioned, the Dionae can obtain nutrients from any source - including ambient air, to grow. Furthermore, they only need a source of energy - light is by far the safest and most common.
However, it is noted that radiation - lethal to most other forms of life - is EXTREMELY beneficial to Diona, accelerating their growth geometrically, especially if given organic matter to process.
The Dionae follow a more plant-like reproduction cycle; they are asexual, and approximately once per year, a gestalt will release a large amount of seeds in it's surroundings (regardless of it's location), which will be carrying by whichever forces are applied upon them (the spores having a configuration that is even adequate to be spread by solar winds).
Once the seeds reach an adequate location, the seed anchors itself and starts developing into a Diona replicant pod - which is, in essence, a Diona egg. The pod absorbs the nutrient it needs - water, oxygen, carbon and other elements - from it's surroundings, when available, to grow and eventually hatch. Once hatched, a pod will produce an almost mature nymph.
Given proper conditions, a pod can fully grow a nymph within half an hour - however, should the pod run out, it will go into dormancy until proper conditions are met - and as such, in particularly barren conditions, it can take centuries for a pod to complete development.
The Dionae, being by its very nature a compound creature, comes in several known and theoretical forms with several characteristics:
Nymph: The default form tackled above. Medium intelligence, extremely curious, extreme learning potential.
Worker: The most commonly seen form, this occurs when three to six nymphs link together and grow a humanoid body. Highly intelligent.
Colossus: A rare form, the Diona Colossus is a large network - often upward of a dozen - of nymphs inter-connected, forming a veritable physical and information net. The Skrell are looking into inducing this form and using it as a controlled organic processor for facilities. Very high intelligence, low learning potential.
Shell: An even rarer form, a Diona Shell is a large-scale structure - the ones found were made of more than hundreds of nymphs - exhibiting advanced intelligence and isolationist tendencies. One particular example was found growing around a derelict space station - it is also believed that the "Organic Craft" that attached itself to the human cruiser reached at least this state. Extreme intelligence, assumed low learning potential.
Satellite: Only two such forms were ever observed (that being the gestalt above Mralakk, the second being the recent Venter's Satellite), a Diona Satellite is just that - a mass of Diona so immense, in the orders of a million nymphs, that it can be considered a stellar body. The specimen observed seems reluctant to communicate despite showing they are capable, and show a natural (but weak) magnetic field and radiation emission. Unknown capabilities - theorized to be more intelligent than most other forms of intelligence, organic or synthetic. It is suspected that the original Dionae gestalt, where it may be, is at least this form if not the form below.
Singularity: A theoretical form of the Diona - a planet, or even star-sized diona form consisting of maybe more nymphs than is currently known to exist, may be the pinnacle of organic processing and thought. Uncharted intelligence. The Skrell has an order to destroy any Diona structure that could reach, or has reached, this size due to the inherent risk of intelligence singularity and other classified risks.
While their origin is unknown, it is highly suspected that Dionae have evolved on a planet with atmosphere due to their ability to consume air as efficiently as they do, and also due to the presence of the gas bladder. In studies done with Dionae that have not been assimilated with other species, the organ is capable of producing an orchestra of sounds that can emulate strings, woodwinds, and even drums in addition to sounds created externally such as rustling, creaking, popping, snapping, and other natural environmental sounds, as well as the addition of ultra- and infra-sound, and slow body language. Once genetically assimilated with another species, they are capable of altering the shape of their gas bladder upon merging to easier communicate with the donor's species- this also allows the creation of "masks", or special growths used to mimic and communicate with other species, such as ear-like growths used to mimic Tajara or large, thick tail-like growths to mimic Unathi, and so on. Despite being capable of learning other languages through genetic assimilation, Dionae often find it difficult to speak ones that use quick body language and gestures such as Sinta'Azaziba, Nal'rasan, and of course, sign-language due to their physical slowness. This often results in misused gestures and make the Dionae appear to have "drunken speech", and so using the language outside of a few understandable vocalizations is typically avoided. Dionae communications seems to heavily reflect what is commonly known as the "Elements of Music" in sentient space to convey emotion and thoughts through their language, which has been roughly translated as "Rootsong". Other races have been able to learn and successfully commune with Dionae, but it takes at least a four-person band or technology to do so because of it's complexity, due to the many vocalizations that one Nymph is capable of in an single instance. It is easy to understand that many Dionae take up an interest in music from other species as a curiosity, and listening to songs as a typical pastime.
Theory states that at some point in their evolution, Dionae were capable of using the electromagnetic spectrum that they feed on to communicate, biologically emitting micro- and radio-waves with their neuralias. It is suspected that at some point they have managed short-distance space travel and began to develop microwaves for short-distance communication in an environment lacking an atmosphere, before obtaining the capabilities to create long-distance communication with radio-waves. When being used, Dionae are observed to still use environmental communication alongside it, atmosphere permitting. The biological nature of their electromagnetic communication makes it difficult to trace and translate the signals emitted as it is often scattered and abstract, typically requiring specialized equipment for the task. The electromagnetic communication functions as an open broadcast to others of their species within each communication class, however it is not unusual for scientists, travelers and synthetics alike to pick up unknown signals and receive haunting melodies within the range of a Dionae's airless song. It is theorized that the myths of "space sirens"- stories of ships following strange, musical signals into the unknowns of space and disappearing and possibly returning with mystical stories of seemingly omnipotent life- are actually undocumented, large Gestalts that have unknowingly charmed their curious audience, with possibly fatal consequences. The opposite is true for Dionae, as they can occasionally pick up pieces of radio chatter and other signals.
Nymphs are very child like in almost every aspect- they are incredibly curious and emotional creatures. All newly formed Nymphs are capable of feeling four core emotions: anger, fear, happiness, and sadness. On an individual level, a Diona does not have the filter of multiple minds to place logic above emotion, which is a learned behavior taught through merging with others. They act very much like animals in the beginning as a new growth, carefully observing everything with their eye first before going about to closer investigate an object or situation. Emotionally, their responses are rather raw; acting listless when sad, chirping and skittering about when happy, clicking and nipping when angry, and attempting to flee or blend in when fearful as a few examples. Later on in their growth they will display mimicry, oftentimes using echolalia as a form of pseudocommunication in much the same way as any developing child would while in socialized. Their best source of knowledge however come from the genetic analysis of biomatter and merging with other older, more experienced Dionae, shortening the process exponentially.
It is suspected that Dionae evolved in a competitive environment with other lifeforms based on the presence of emotion. Simpler lifeforms without much in the way of competition and living in rather ideal conditions all lack the ability to feel and display emotion, which serve as a survival tool. This is backed up by the fact that later in their development, Dionae are capable of developing more complex emotions using either more refined versions or a combination of their core emotions when exposed to other species. This is another result of observational learning, and will more likely result in the species living in cohabitation with another to further their survival. However as previously mentioned, when merged Dionae are given an "emotional filter": with the minds of multiple individuals joined and each action thought out in a consensus, emotion is set aside in favor of logic. Whereas individual Nymphs act as animals, a Gestalt behaves similarly to synthetics and unfortunately gives them a rather eerie presentation. However, the longer a Gestalt has been merged, the more likely the individuals are able to sympathize with one another and show logical emotional responses instead of raw displays.
Due to their highly nomadic nature, Dionae do not experience a universal culture outside of certain behaviors that appear to be biologically ingrained and somehow hard-wired into their genetics. Information on individual group cultures can be found in the [Dionaea#History|History] section.
Dionae names are typically a summary of experiences which are both unique and are routine in their lives, the length and style also holding meaning among Dionae, only ever changing when merging and agreed upon by a consensus or separating from a Gestalt and done by the individual itself. When a Nymph is first grown, they are often nameless until their curiosity is recognized in the form of their first interest, and is usually a singular word that references their first interest. Among Dionae, the length of a name reflects their age: short names are for younger Neophytes, while longer names are reserved for elderly Sages. If a Nymph cannot find an interest, a Sage will often give a new Nymph a name and it is not uncommon for other races to name a fresh Diona as well, especially if they were hand-raised by the one that planted them. Another way of identification is the complexity of the name- this usually refers to how literal a name is. Once more, simpler names are given to Neophytes while more abstract names are reserved for Sages, denoting their reserves of knowledge and helping to keep name length manageable, even among themselves. In the presence of other species, Dionae will take up a condensed version of their name in cultural assimilation, and hold no offense to others further shortening their assimilated names into nicknames.
Relationship specifics between one another of the species.
Identification: Dionae see themselves in a different light than other sentients, using mainly gender-neutral pronouns such as "they/them/it/" due to their asexuality and interchangeable definitions of groups and self which may be confusing. A single Nymph is called a Diona, the base form of the species and is seen as an individual, identifying with "I/me". When merged into a combined form of a Gestalt, the group is called Dionae, the plural of Diona despite the fact that their physical appearance is that of an individual to other sentients and is seen as a group of individuals, even identifying as "we/us". Separate Gestalts in a gathering of one another is known as Dionaea, a plural of plurals.
Neophyte and Sage: The only time when one Dionae is venerated above any other is when one is present that is older and/or larger, and therefore, holds more knowledge- often deemed as a "Sage" by the other Dionae. This is seen with interactions between a single nymph with a worker gestalt, a worker with a colossus gestalt, and so forth. Younger, smaller individuals- what the sages refer to as "Neophyte" as a whole- tend share a symbiotic apprentice-mentor relationship with these elder gestalts, especially so with a newly created nymph to help nurture them in their growth. In turn, the apprentice assists their mentor within the best of their capabilities with daily life. Otherwise, they remain rather amicable and neighborly with one another. However, in times when danger is present, it has been observed that all nearby Neophytes will defend any Sage present to the death unless ordered otherwise by their elder.
With being a complex multi-formed and somtimes ever-changing organism such as a Diona, one can imagine that becoming a part of a society can be rather complex.
Like other species, Dionae must apply for citizenship to be allowed sanctuary in a system, or face removal. However, this does not apply to Nymphs, only Gestalts. Some tests are involved in the process and are somewhat similar to the ones an IPC would take, such as one to determine their personality, and another, their intelligence and learning potentials. Gestalts must resubmit for citizenship and defend it's education (if it has one) each time a merging is made, as the Gestalt is technically not the same entity it was before. Once the process is complete, the Gestalt will have it's nymphs microchipped to better keep track of where the nymphs end up, and is a one-time process. It is much like microchipping a pet cat or dog, and is not harmful or hinders the Nymph in any way, usually installed along the back in the middle for easy scanning. The chip itself contains a summary of information about the Nymph, such as it's age and origins, and previous Gestalts it was merged as. If a re-merged Gestalt has all Nymphs chipped, the process of re-registering is made simpler and therefore shorter, completing it in almost half the time.
Although Dionae can contain vast amounts of knowledge and possess extreme intelligence, the species still have to obtain the appropriate degrees for the occupation they wish to pursue in their chosen location of residence. This can be accomplished after being registered for citizenship. All newly-registered Dionae must complete and pass the courses required for their field if their degrees from past planetary systems is not recognized in the new location, or they lack one all together. Their education must be defended one year following the awarding of a degree, and then every five years there on out. However, that timer is reset due to the fact that after each merging, Dionae are required to defend their education along with their re-registration for citizenship due to the possibility of accumulation of new knowledge, and possible loss of information depending on the nature of the new merging.
The Dionae's history is highly debated - with no significant evidence, xenoarcheological or actual, towards an origin point - most notably due to the tendency of space-bound gestalt's seeds to travel immense distances. The species itself does not have concrete information on this subject - however many people of all species have linked them to mythological being, as it is thought that the species is old enough to have spread to a significant portion of the galaxy, including all of the currently colonized areas, some even being recorded in Vaurca histories, half-way across the galaxy.
Discovery, Part One - The Conglomerate
The first discovery - the one that proved their existence, in 2320 - was an immense pod-like gestalt. It is theorized to have contained upwards of a thousand nymphs, protected in a thick, haphazard organic shell that took the shape around whatever body it hit and integrated within itself. The entity was put into observation by its Skrell discoverers, being labeled as a simple organic anomaly - the lack of atmosphere and contact making communication not even a thought. Interaction did not happen until nine years later, 2329. Skrell scientists created a device to translate the chirping and popping of the pod, and exchanged greetings. This sent interest through Skrell society, as these Diona were the first sentient beings that the Skrell had met. The Skrell put forward more simple communications, and found out what this pod of life was. The two parties spoke in simple information exchanges, and this led to the Dionae pod explaining how to better communicate with each other - via blood samples.
With this new-found information, the large object - the Original Conglomerate - was finally officially contacted by ambassadors of the Skrell. The contact delivered a wealth of information - about star movement, physics behaviors, material properties, and so on. In the end, the "Original Conglomerate" was towed, with their glee, in orbit of Nralakk, where it remains to this day the main source of Dionae pods, workers, nymphs, and seeds. Diona have gradually gained a better standing in Skrell society, and the Federation began slowly integrating Diona into their workforce in the late 2360's.
Discovery, Part Two - The Organic Craft - "DSS Ophion"
The Dionae were found, the second time, in 2426, almost a full hundred years after the first encounter. An anomalous reading tipped off a scout ship - part of a Human-Skrell joint practice operation. A low-intensity yet high-frequency energy signature in the middle of seemingly nowhere, far in deep space. Upon investigation, a large mass - now known to be the result of six hundred nymphs being overgrown - was present. It was definitely organic - yet it showed readings similar to a space craft, including a simple (and empty) supermatter reactor and some sort of rudimentary drive. It seemed inactive.
However, upon approach - the craft took life, quickly dashing towards one of the human frigates, shrugging off the firepower and attaching itself to a ship called the Ophion. It moved like nothing they had ever seen - a captain of the nearby frigate even provided this description: "Like a fish moving as if space was an ocean". It quickly infiltrated the Ophion, bending hull and causing breeches, eventually reaching the ship's own power plant, siphoning power off. The ship saw no further damage - however it was already done, all the engineering decks were breached and the ship no longer had enough power for the engines. Under the orders of the Skrell Fleet Admiral (at least the equivalent of it) and with the approval of the incapacitated ship's captain, the exercise was canceled and the ships returned home, requesting a few science vessels and a rescue shuttle to be sent to them. Unfortunately, when they did arrive roughly a week later, no life was found aboard. The ship was considered derelict - and the vessels returned home, with a warning being placed on both of their star maps about a possibly hostile lifeform there.
This event also caused a rigorous security increase in the observation of the first structure, causing the Dionae to be officially labeled as "potentially hostile to Humans and Skrell". The Fleet returned later with a science ship, and a Dionae ambassador. The ambassador communicated with the shell surrounding the Ophion, and the Ophion responded, stating it was simply 'Growing'. Of course, with the current status, the question was asked: where is the crew? Correlated with the logs acquired later, the scenario became clear. The Diona's infiltration of the power plant not only caused the engines to fail, but life support. With all the breeches present, it did not take long for the crew to suffocate and die. And once that was done, the Diona (and it is quoted) "simply assimilated their form to learn about your species and conserve matter".
This information, while held "classified" for a long time, eventually were leaked to the public by disgruntled and scared sailors - on both human and skrell sides - earning them the nickname, among humans, of "Gravemind" in reference to a 21st century videogame. The Skrell were more keen in calling them "Saapimaa Rakhomm", or "Deathflower". In general, it made a lot of people quite wary of them.
Culture: Jokingly given the nickname "Dionae Space Station Ophion, Keeper of Life", the Ophion Workers are regularly hauled between Ophion and Tau Ceti - as while they are seen as methodical and even cold, there is no denying their scientific methodology. However - all stations whom host one are instructed to keep an eye on them, should they become hostile for whichever reason.
Discovery, Part Three - The Dead Planet
The final time the Dionae were found was in Epsilon Ursae Minoris in 2430 - where a large piece of their home planet had crashed into another world. The world in question was found by Skrell Captain Weirun Tup - who had been exploring stars on the behalf of the Jargon Empire, in order to find new habitable planets for expansion. That particular world had attracted attention due to two main factors, which conflicted with one another: the readings were highly unusual, yet all of the planet's landmass was covered in greenery. Of course, such a thing was exceptional, and warranted more investigation. And so, over time, several more vessels - under the guise of a 'scientific fleet' lead by Captain Tup - investigated it, took readings, analyzed it. And with that came more and more strangeness - organic structures, strangely coherent signals, and so on. It was not until much later - after a scientist applied a cryptoanalytic AI (before the widespread cessation of research occurred) that they realized that the planet seemed sentient.
It is during this time that the first attempted communications with Dionae were made successfully, albeit primitively - the Dionae only had rudimentary radio communication devices. Bolstered by such a discovery, Captain Tup managed a landing, an AI interface translating between the Rootsong and him. The Captain stayed, at first, for a few weeks - learning much about the Dionae, and helping make a complete translation guide between the two. But time went by, and soon Captain Tup was forced to make a decision. A permanent agent was requested - he could either resign as a Captain and become the official ambassador of the Skrell with the Diona, or leave the planet. He chose the former - and stayed nine more years, until toxic flora ended his life.
Eventually, an agreement was made - the Dionae would get Skrell genetic samples (which allowed them to understand Skrellian - although their limited physiology prevented them from speaking it) and an information trade deal would be signed in favor of the Dionae - and in exchange, they would allow the collection of their seeds in the goal of creating more nymphs for research, and the Dionae would assist them in tasks, being a relatively inexpensive (and unrestricted) labor force. However, the planet was quickly nicknamed "The Dead Planet" for two reasons - first, animal life seemed completely absent. As a matter of fact, except for the Dionae and a few select species of tough plants, the biodiversity was almost nil. Second, the thick coverage of Dionae growth meant that there could be no building potential - and so it meant that it was, technically, inhospitable for life, as no permanent settlements could be made. A third reason, however, quickly found its way into the name: a few deaths occurred, and no bodies were ever found.
Culture: The largest Dionae to have communicated with other sapients, Dionae from EUM have become highly focused on being efficient, having learned and adapted to Skrell culture. Most notably - the system has become notorious for being a checkpoint shipyard as the Dionae there most often specialize in engineering tasks. Of course - the exposition to the Skrell has made them wary of synthetic intelligence. Furthermore, they are the only known group with an unified creation theory - according to them, Dionae have been at home in "the Great Void" - as paraphrased - since the beginning of their existence, and their creation should have been nothing short of impossible.
Venter's Satellite, Reade's Colossus, and Other Groups
A recent discovery, Venter's Satellite is one of the few known Satellite-class Dionaea. Rather reclusive, they seem to have an immense amount of knowledge in atmospheric systems, having designed a circulatory array within themselves. Slow and meticulous - this group has elected to provide the Sol Alliance with Worker bodies in exchange for large amounts of biomass from various species - with supplementary "credit" for sapient specimens. They do not seem to fear extinction at the phase they have found themselves to be in, with "shards" of the gestalt being of almost nil importance.
Discovered in orbit of Reade, there is also an isolated and small group that is sometimes seen on facilities across Tau Ceti. They are reported to be highly social, a Biesel bar even boasting an occasional Dionae bartending experience. This particular gestalt seems rather knowledgeable about the goings of supply and civilian departments- though they are often seen with distrust due to the rumors of Reade. Of course, these are the large known groups. Among these two more recent additions, there is a total of eighty-one known subgroups with various traits - and an unknown amount of yet undiscovered groups. More information will be added when available.
Integration in Society
Their value, however - along with general helpfulness, high curiosity and impressive intelligence, even to the Skrell (who have approved them onto titles as high as Representatives since 2432) - gave the Dionae enough going for them that they were not phased out, and are commonly seen aboard space stations and spacecraft, especially human-owned. The Skrell have, however, started a new program to find and appropriate any other Dionae groups to ensure proper incorporation - or destruction, should the group be too dangerous. This program has already uncovered four dozen gestalts.
Bearing a wood-like appearance, a small bulbous nymph and with the tales of necrophagy, the Dionae have been said to actually have been the species behind several mythical creatures - such as the humans' Green Man and Leshy, and even the Mandragora and Man-Eating Tree. Most notably - it has been linked to a wise, ancient God of Life by some Skrell - the Oernabi (Tree-God), who was said to be benevolent to those seemed worthy. Such a belief spawned the Dienabi religion - the term literally meaning "tree child" - which stipulates that it is possible to ascend to the status of a noble Diona by protecting them with your life - after which they absorb and transform the martyr. Captain Weirun Tup is considered to be the first "ascended" of this kind, earning him almost as much veneration.
Beyond the Knowledge
As seen with reports of Ophion and the flaming Dionae, this species is still mostly unknown - in capabilities, origins and intentions. Many scientific organizations are willing to pay a good price for any useful data on the Dionae.
The basic representation of the Diona is the "Nymph", a caterpillar-like creature with a thick, vine-like exterior, the body terminating in a prehensile tail-like tendril. Eight tendrils to the left and right of their ventral side is used to scuttle about as they search for food. A singular ocular organ observe the world is placed on the rounded head, above which sit two antennae, and below the eye is an orface used for feeding. A nymph is typically cat-sized when they first emerge from a seed pod, weighing approximately ten pounds, but can grow as heavy as seventy pounds when nearing the end of their growth cycle. These larger nymphs will form appendages when they merge to create a worker-form Gestalt. Their exterior is just as flexible as their softer insides, and are capable of shifting their bodies as a whole: stretching and flattening to squeeze into tight and narrow spaces, and in contrast condensing and expanding to lodge themselves in a nook or cranny to prevent themselves from being pulled out by potential threats. Nymphs can do so at will, and can also contract their exterior and tendrils to harden them, making an bark-like exoskeleton and legs that terminate in singular claws to better grip surfaces- even making a stinger with their tail for self-defense. In such instances, some nymphs may release some of their radiation-rich blood into their tail in extreme cases, making sting treatments a necessity to prevent health problems.
The creation of a Gestalt is unique both in form and function, but not unseen in other less-sentient lifeforms. The process requires at least two mature Diona, and begins with both creating a vulnerable area on their bodies where the hardy exterior is pulled back where both will merge. Typically, one Nymph is chosen as a dedicated information and thought processor in groupings of five or more, increasing by one for every five nymphs. In smaller groupings, this is not necessary. Diona mergings can take up any configuration while merging in terms of placement, but once a decision has been made on which is most beneficial to them, the Nymphs will connect the areas and fuse together in a fashion comparable to the reproductive habits of Earth's Anglerfish, however this happens in an accelerated amount of time considering the creature's nature. After fusing, all organs and senses are shared between all Nymphs, the organs having fused to one another as well through a link.
The feeding orface is a slit that parts to reveal a radula, a tongue covered in tooth-like thorns used to scrape fine organic matter off of surfaces. These teeth can flatten against the tongue to become rather harmless, but when extended it is as destructive as a slow-moving chainsaw. Larger chunks of food can be taken into the mouth in which the tough walls of the mouth will crush the item as the radula scrapes away at the bottom. At the very tip of the radula is yet another hidden organ, a proboscis from within the radula that can be extended to puncture skin without much harm to a host and sip up nutritious fluids from wounds like parasitic insects, the inside hollow with a direct line to the core nutrition channel. The proboscis is rather prehensile itself and is capable of gripping small objects such as pencils- and if the nymph is dexterous enough- can write with it.