Cortiian physiognomy

Cortiian physiognomy

Cortiian physiognomy

The Cortii are a distinct humanoid sub-species, legally recognised by interstellar governments as having met all the markers for recognition as a separate race.

Physically, we know the Cortii are based on artificially-generated bodies. Cortiian scientists have clearly managed to overcome some of the key challenges with the full cloning process, and Cortiians in active service show none of the health defects or challenges to independent thought that clones usually face.

The majority of Cortiians fall in the upper third of the height range for humanoid variants, a compromise that gives them a slight disadvantage in heavy gravity environments and smaller, closed environments, but which demonstrably gives them an advantage of reach and speed.

In colouring, they tend towards a mid-tone shade. Prolonged time in a closed environment leaves the majority pale or sallow, but even moderate exposure to ultra-violet light darkens skin tone quickly. Very few Cortiians observably experience burning in strong light environments short of severe over-exposure. Hair colour tends towards absolute shades, potentially as a result of the cloning process, and black, blond, and red are more common than in most humanoid species. Brown and other intermediate shades are rarer although not unknown. Induced shades such as greens and blues have not been observed to occur naturally. Eye colour shows a usual range.

Cortiians show an average range of genders and appear as a species to have very little by way of fixed sexual orientation.

Dissection has revealed that Cortiian bone structure is slightly denser and noticeably more resilient than the humanoid average. It can be conjectured that this results in cracked bone where most humanoids would suffer a fracture. Muscle tissue has been likewise modified, adding a little mass, but offering greater strength and resilience. Certainly, Cortiians heal observably faster than average; slightly faster under adverse circumstances, and significantly faster when able to rest and provided with sufficient nutrients.

Cortiians have slightly enlarged sinuses, resulting in a tendency to high, angled cheekbones. Analysis of nasal nerves indicates a high probability that Cortiians possess very acute olfactory senses. Eye sockets tend to be deeper, providing better-than-average protection to the eye itself, and eye structure shows that Cortiians have at least limited vision into infra-red and ultra-violet, as well as enhanced distance vision.

They also demonstrate resistance to a wide range of adverse environments, and metabolise a number of common compounds faster than average, especially those used in sedatives and other related medications.

Studies up to this time have failed to isolate the precise modifications that result in these variations, or in successfully reproducing the effects.

Telepathy, empathy, kinesis, precognition

Telepathy, empathy, kinesis, precognition

Abilities aren’t just telepathy, empathy

Telepathy, empathy, kinesis, and precognition are chief among the so-called ‘mainline’ Abilities recognised by the IESRO. Because the IESRO regulates the most powerful Abilities across multiple species, their primary interest is the Abilities that manifest with recognisable consistency across species lines.

Among all species discovered to date, some form of empathy is the most common: the ability to communicate basic non-verbal concepts within a species and to others. Telepathy comes a close second, but because telepathy is primarily the ability to communicate complex concepts mentally, it can be hard to recognise cross-species as the underlying concepts required for it differ radically.

Kinesis is the easiest mainline ability to recognise in any species, entailing the ability to manipulate matter, but also one of the rarer ones, vying with precognition.

Precognition, the ability to predict the future, or at least to perceive the most likely turning of causality, is usually the rarest of the mainline Abilities, even if only by a fraction of a percent.

The IESRO recognises, but doesn’t regulate, a handful of other Abilities, many of them species-specific manifestations. Among the humanoid species, a couple of the more common unregulated Abilities are healers, who are mostly seen as a form of empath, and can diagnose injuries or diseases with varying degrees of accuracy, and some limited forms of kinesis, such as fire-starters.

The IESRO does not formally recognise, but will absolutely regulate on occasion, the ‘wild’ Abilities over a certain power level – Abilities that don’t precisely check a box for what can be done with them, but fall into potentially dangerous fields. Anst’s Ability to get around people’s mental defenses, most likely with its roots in empathy, would absolutely be such a case if it came formally to their attention.

Because a lot of the species in the early stages of their development, including humanoids, are uneasy with mental Abilities, wild Abilities are viewed with particular suspicion, as there’s less clarity around what they can do. While some may be worried about what a powerful telepath can pick from their brains (not a lot in most people’s heads worth the effort), or read past their vaunted poker faces with empathy, there is a general feeling that those are known and regulated hazards. Wild Abilities, well, who the hells knows?

Humanoids show a high incidence of some trace of Ability, but at this early stage in the species evolution, humanoid Abilities even eligible for IESRO registration are rare, and those not only eligible for registration but powerful enough to factor in as more than a blip in the lower registers are rarer yet.

A basic level of telepathy is a requirement in the Cortii for eligibility for derian training. Those without telepathy, or whose telepathy rating doesn’t reliably achieve the minimum required for active operations, become Base technicians – Instructors, in some cases, or medics, engineers, researchers, scientists. Those who achieve far enough over basic levels to achieve an IESRO rating are fully eligible for derian training, and stand a better than average chance of stopping a knife in the back: Cortiian deriani are generally highly trained and educated and well-travelled, but balance that with an ingrained tendency to be cautious rather than sorry.

Teaser for Rebels’ Bargain, the fifth in the Cortii series!

Teaser for Rebels’ Bargain, the fifth in the Cortii series!

Rebels’ Bargain, Chapter 1

“Much as it annoys me, I need your help to kill someone,” Maklin said calmly.

Khyria leant back in her console chair. “You’re the specialist with a century of kills to your name. What do you need, applause?”

“Bait,” Maklin said succinctly.

She gave him a view of a brilliant, calculating smile. “How much?”

Unexpectedly, he chuckled, uncoiling from her couch, and came to stand much too close, trapping her in the heavy chair, looking down at her. “You’ll do this one for free.” This close, his empathy rubbed against her mental defences like a warm blanket on a cold night, enticing her to relax into it, to let him in. “I’m hunting Evor Leistor.”

It would be very interesting to find out why, after decades of tolerating each others’ existence, Maklin had chosen tonight as the last night of Leistor’s life, and it seemed unlikely he was going to simply tell her. Khyria let her smile widen.

“You expect that you and I together will be more than he can resist?”

Maklin shrugged, propping a hip on the console desk. It didn’t move him noticeably out of her space, which was undoubtedly deliberate. “He’s been avoiding hareni gatherings, and most of his other usual haunts. I don’t feel like spending most of the next month beating him out of whichever conduit he’s gone to ground in. So, yes. I hope that word of you and I, together, will offer him a target he can’t resist.”

Mainstream, much to my surprise…

Mainstream, much to my surprise…

Mainstream, me?

Well, based on the review round Death is for the Living just came out of, yes, maybe?

I put Through the Hostage through Hidden Gems last September, and got a majority of 4- and 5-star reviews with the expected smattering of ‘confused!’, which is pretty much business as usual across the series. Death is for the Living went through the same process last month, and came back with much more of a ‘Marmite’ reaction (love it or loathe it). The reviews could be largely summarised as ‘Not what I expected – WTF?’ and ‘Not what I expected – cool!’.

I’m not sure if that’s because the sci-fi community tends to be more aligned with the ‘expect the unexpected’, whereas vampire UF readers have more defined expectations. It’s possible. Vampire hunters, based on a yacht, in the Caribbean, isn’t a plot I’ve come across before, and I’ve been reading sci-fi and various types of fantasy since I was six or seven.

On the other hand, it seems that based on those review rounds that by comparison to my urban fantasy, my sci-fi series is, in fact, mainstream. One day soon I’m sure I’ll be able to stop chortling hysterically about that concept. Maybe. My sense of humour has been described as malign, and since I took that as a compliment, that probably provides all necessary explanation.

I have a feeling that that reaction’s liable to remain status quo, in any case, as although my sci-fi series is biting hard right now, and I’ll probably be working through the next couple of planned books in that before I take the path less travelled again, the next urban fantasy story I have rattling around in the ‘condemned’ areas of my brain is about a half-siren, half-asshole (her description) acquisitions specialist on a quest for the peaches of immortality.

Cortii series – now as a box set

Cortii series – now as a box set

The Cortii series box set

Well, yes, this happened. I’ve been whining about the massive formatting job it entailed since sometime in February, if memory serves, and it is now finally, as of 11th May, out and done, at least on Amazon. At some point, when I have the energy, I’ll adapt it for D2D and Smashwords.

Robin Ludwig Design made me a beautiful box set graphic, which was the high point of the process, and the other bonus is that depending on the screen size, I’ve unlocked a personal trophy on my Amazon author page… you may have to actually scroll to see all my books in the upper display (yes, yes, I know, but how cool is that?).

So what’s in this box set that I’ve been whining about for months? Well, it’s the first four books in the series plus the Unaltered novella that insisted on getting written early this year. It’s a good stopping point, as book five is going to throw a bit of a monkey wrench into the series  plot arc, after which chaos, intrigue, and in-fighting will ensue. (After all, what else do you read the Cortii for???)

Unfortunately the box set is going to be digital-only, as the capacity to actually create printed box sets rests only in the hands of the traditional publishers, vanity presses and possibly Ingram Spark, and I work with none of the above. However, if you’ve been thinking you wanted to dip an expendable appendage into the world of the Cortii, and just hadn’t taken the plunge, you can grab the four-set for the price of two books.

I am currently working on book five in the series, which I’m hoping may publish around Christmas (again). In my defense, I published my first urban fantasy in December, a novella in March, and then got a completely new day job in April, so I haven’t been too unproductive this year.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the jacket teaser:

The Cortii are mercenaries, for hire to anyone who can afford their services.

Every government uses them; no single government can destroy them.

Violence is a highly saleable commodity, and the Cortii have been the galaxy’s final solution of choice for millennia. Among them is the unit known as Wildcat; junior in the rankings and already the subject of rumour.

Wildcat’s commander is Khyria Ilan; her commanders want her dead, but so far she and her command have survived against all the odds…

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