Scoutmaster's Guide: Homo Metreans
The most prevalent hominid species in the aftermath of nuclear war is the world's most tenacious and adaptable GMO, a product of bioengineering liberated from their creators. They’re the wasteland’s resilient survivors in the face of devastation, and they face ever forward into the future. They are the world’s first, genetically engineered nekomimi, foxfolk, eq឴uine-Americans, and all around kemonomimi- or as some were called by generations past, catgirls.
Their historians recount centuries fraught with hardship. Over 200 years prior, their genetic treatments were promised to cure disease; before they were subject to experimentation, eugenics, and human trafficking. If not for the efforts of mothers, biohackers, and mutual aid groups their history could easily have gone down a darker path- but when the dust of nuclear war finally settled, they found that they had weathered the storm while their corporate overlords crumbled to the blast.
Now all that’s left is to move forward, with one paw in front of the other. Praying always, that the past never repeats.
Genetically Modified Catgirls
While the first generations of Homo Metreans originally voluntarily chose their appearance (and were quite proud to show off their new cat ears) the subsequent generations had little say in their physical appearances. 200 ago the offspring of metreans were viewed as sexual deviants and fetishist by 21st century hate groups, and “catgirl” was once considered a slur. In the current era, it’s rare to hear it in that context. The few who remember it as such rarely interact with modern homo metreans, let alone those with feline traits. The word has largely been reclaimed as a point of pride, but it can still get a little touchy if an outsider uses it with the wrong tone of voice.
Homo metreans rarely resemble their parents; as the mother’s climate, environment, emotional state, and even sun exposure can drastically alter the adaptations expressed by their offspring. Not by conventional evolution, but by turning genes off and on in an extensive library of existing traits while they’re still in the womb.
At one time, this genetic library was strictly controlled to ensure that no GMO traits could be passed on without the strict approval of the MechanoMaia biotech corporation, who extorted their creations under the excuse of genetic copyright. The entire gene library was kept under lock and key by artificial proteins that controlled gene expression in their offspring- before mothers across the world jailbroke their genomes. Where once their treatments were barred from being passed to their children, now they’re free to adapt and change.
In the post nuclear wasteland, the only Homo metreans left are the direct descendants of those very mothers. All others have had their genetic libraries turned off, leaving their descendants subject to the same genetic diseases their forebears once sought refuge from.
Heritage and Race
As the descendants of Homo sapiens, Homo metreans retain ties to races and cultures of the past. In their early history, MechanoMaia specially targeted American racial minorities with advertisements, opened clinics on their doors, and performed human experimentation in the guise of “charity.” So while Homo Metreans can come from any ethnic background, an estimated 66% have some degree of African American ancestry. (Though most metreans alive in the Pacific Nukewest today would be considered mixed race by 21st century standards.)
Many still celebrate heritage from across the globe, but they’ve been forced to decouple physical appearance from the cultures of their ancestors. Family resemblance is an oxymoron for a species that changes its genetic expressions every generation, but that does not invalidate their ancestries or the ways they express their heritage. Their treatments might have left them with long ears, paws, or tails, but that does not make them any less human.
When MechanoMaia first unveiled its genetic treatments, they made claims too good to be true. Logically, it should only have been necessary for a small portion of the population to receive treatment- but the marketing never stopped. Kefinkii historians have recounted ads ranging from baldness cures, to vision, to resistance to lead in the water- while the Trausten remember MechanoMaia corporate donations blocking the repairs to the same pipes polluting those they sold cures to.
It was only when MechanoMaia turned to tailoring personalities that the public began to turn against them. The attempted eradication of autism and ADHD made their intentions clear. Any trait that was (supposedly) unprofitable in their eyes was being eradicated from minority populations, while they twisted their genes for traits they hoped would breed productivity and subservience.
Today, the topic of disability remains a touchy subject in their culture. The term itself is often viewed as an antiquated byproduct of 21st century bigotry. If a condition can be accommodated for with understanding and support, then treatment is viewed as unnecessary and even cruel to force on their young.
This mindset has only become more prevalent, as mutations have begun to crop up in the genetic library. Code that once made them homogeneous now deviate freely. The stain that eugenics has left on their history may never fade, but through the acceptance of random mutation, their honored diversity, and their solidarity with one another- they hope to mitigate at least some small modicum of harm done to them.
One could be forgiven for thinking a feline humanoid and a bipedal canine might be separate species, but they could easily be siblings. The traits they express can be so broad and varied that some are almost unrecognizable- and the local radiation of the Pacific Nukewest certainly lends to that. The average metrean generally appears mammalian with 2-4 ears of shapes to various to mention, slit or circular pupils, digitigrade or ungulate feet, 1-9 tails, 0-4 horns or antlers, fingernails or claws, various flat teeth or fangs, human noses or animal muzzles, and reproductive organs that are none of your business. Precisely how they arrange these features varies by individual- with some having striking resemblance to existing mammals, and others appear decidedly more alien.
Despite the wide variety of phenotypes that Homo metreans express, there are certain trends in phenotype by region. Climate plays a pivotal role in what traits are expressed, and the Pacific Nukewest is anything if not diverse from desert, to forests, to wetlands, coastlines, and frigid mountains.
That said, no environmental factor can entirely squash phenotypic diversity, and the trends are by no means universal. Regardless of likelihood, some exceptions still exist- whether they stem from statistical anomalies or mutations in the genetic library itself.
- Scrublands. Generally (But not always) encourage leaner physiques, larger ears, longer snouts, broader hind paws (or hooves), darker skin, and thin or non-existent fur. This region is the only environment where some members may take on equine traits, but there are some feline, leporidae, Hyaenidae, and even bovine traits reportedly expressed among the populations.
- Forests. Generally (but not always) encourage shorter ears, longer / bushier tails, shorter or non-existent snouts, more olive skin on average, and an abundance of feline “house cat” traits alongside some canine, cervidae, and rare caprinadae traits.
- Caves. Generally (but not always) encourage pale skin, shorter statures, sparse fur, dark eyes, pronounced whiskers, narrow snouts, and larger claws. The rare few encountered have almost rodent or mustelid-like features.
- Mountains. Generally (not always) encourage thicker fur, shorter ears, and stockier bodies. Often traits resemble ursines and caprinadae, but some canines and felines call this region home as well.
Credit & License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Original concept and writing by https://twitter.com/Jakuryusei
Proof reading by Riot_0204.