Shekt, the multitude
The shekt are a race of collective selves, each discrete entity composed of myriad sub-intelligences. In their ordinary form, shekts are a swarm of irridescent segmented discs, each resembling a nautilus. They unify their nervous systems via bioelectrical induction, producing a highly advanced composite being.
Shekts are renowned for their diplomatic and commercial ventures, perhaps granted insight by their own communal nature. A less flattering explanation is their widespread use of psychological manipulation. Amongst themselves they communicate by vibrating their crystalline shells, but they are also known to harness this ability as a tool and a weapon. The subsonic and ultrasonic vibrations of a shekt sonic adept can influence mood, cause pain, and even shatter stone.
Being composed of many tiny creatures, shekt have a high energy requirement. They typically consume very large quantities of sugar, as much as five pounds per day. Their skinsuits are capable of consuming normal human food and digesting this into usable components, but shekt normally favour a diet rich in sweets, cakes and fruits, as well as sugary drinks. In some cases they will simply consume raw sugar or syrup.
The shekt tend to be patient and contemplative; though its drones may die and be replaced, an individual shekt is virtually immortal. Their own psychology spurs them to seek resolution through harmony and unification, even if this means manipulating others to bring this about. Not all shekt take this view; it’s as easy to divide the galaxy into shekt and non-shekt, with the latter group fundamentally different and irreconcilable. Shekt individualists also exist, led by their own longevity and self-contained nature to scorn even other shekt.
Fragmented Body: Since they have no overall metabolism, shekt ignore effects that require a bloodstream or coherent tissue. Injected drugs and poison bites are useless against them. They don’t suffer ongoing blood loss. However, diffuse effects are highly dangerous because the tiny individual creatures are very vulnerable. The shekt suffer a -2 penalty against gases, immersion in liquid, and environmental hazards such as intense cold.
Resilience: Their unique composition means shekt aren’t vulnerable to organ damage like humanoids. Targeted attacks against a shekt in humanoid form are still effective, disrupting the functioning of the skinsuit as well as the swarm itself – limbs can be disabled, visual sensors damaged and so on. However, a shekt doesn’t suffer additional damage from attacks on vital organs, such as the brain or heart.
Disperse: At any time, shekt can abandon their skinsuit to become a swarm with radius 1. This offers certain advantages, but also leaves the shekt vulnerable. In swarm form, a shekt has the following properties:
- Many actions are impossible in this form, including human speech. Use common sense.
- Strength is set at 0. The swarm can’t lift objects weighing more than a few grams.
- Speed 5, and can hover a few feet from the ground. Cannot swim.
- Has no body parts to be targeted.
- Suffers half damage from most weapons. Immune to falling damage, regardless of source.
- Suffers normal damage from non-physical effects, such as mental attacks.
- Area effects and large objects inflict normal damage and impose -2 Defence.
- Can roll Dexterity + Brawl to inflict 1 Bashing damage to a selected target within its radius. Armour is effective against a swarm only if it covers one’s full body, but even then it provides only half its rating.
- Can squeeze through any gap at least ½” across, but speed is reduced significantly.
Resuming human form requires the shekt’s skinsuit, one minute of time, and a Wits + Composure roll.
The shekt skinsuit is a remarkable piece of biotechnology. If damaged, it repairs itself at approximately the same rate as human healing occurs, providing it is occupied by a shekt. Repairing a skinsuit otherwise requires access to a shekt medical facility and an extended Intelligence + Medicine roll.
Shekts adopt elaborate bioengineered skinsuits to pass unnoticed amongst humans. These are superficially indistinguishable from a human body. However, any form of scanner which distinguishes tissue types or organs (such as X-rays) will reveal thousands of calcified shells clustered within the body, with only an approximation of a human skeleton forming the framework of the suit. This is a Blatant Tell.
The skinsuits are advanced enough to behave like human flesh under most circumstances: they have normal temperature and conductivity (allowing them to use touchscreens), produce goose pimples in cold weather and artificial sweat in the heat. They have a small reservoir of artificial blood, which provides a false pulse and allows minor wounds to bleed. However, any penetrating injury inflicting 2 or more levels of Lethal damage will not bleed adequately. This is a Subtle Tell to observers, or a Blatant Tell if the wound is examined.
A skinsuit is an incredibly realistic imitation of human skin and surface tissue. Its skull and skeletal framework are rigid when in use, but collapse and compress into flexible gel for easy storage. An unused skinsuit is a rather horrifying Blatant Tell, resembling a human body drained of fluids. A shekt donning or doffing a skinsuit is an Inhuman Tell.
A shekt outside its skinsuit may be innocuous or suspicious, depending on its actions. Acting like a group of insects can fool an untrained observer, but purposeful activity ranges from Subtle to Inhuman.
The Shekt Gift pools are Cadence and Swarm.
Shekts rely heavily on intellect to solve their problems, giving them an affinity for Mental Attributes.