General Info: Cracklings aren't so much creatures as they are light. Some weird convolution of the PIF is almost certainly involved. Perhaps a nova was sucked into the PIF and decided it wanted a personality. Perhaps something exploded and decided ooh, let's attach to a humanoid. No one really knows. It's one of your 'Oh, the PIF did it' species. Not uncommon, not at Whazzit anyway. Cracklings move around by floating in patches — they are not balls of light, exactly, but more a collection of sparks. Now, imagine said sparks constantly following you. That's a Crackling. Those who've seen fireworks will be strongly reminded of the pretty explosions.
Mating Info: For some obscure, PIF-induced reason no one can comprehend, Cracklings will only mate in the presence of a party. At such a party, a female Crackling will start emitting a shrill whistle, probably deafening everyone in the near vicinity, and rise up to hover maybe 500-1000 feet above the ground. She will pulse brilliantly in her color (whatever that is) and even at her dullest will be about twice her normal brightness. Far more spread out than usual, her sparks will continue their pattern until male Cracklings come to join her. They will imitate her antics until she decides enough males have arrived, at which time she will cease to pulse and keen (but still glow) and will simply hover, waiting. At this point the males have to impress her. They will put on aerial displays, a light show if you will — weaving patterns, mini explosions, expanding and contracting and twisting into weird forms. They're sparks. They're flexible. When the female reaches a decision, she will mingle her sparks with the male of her choice until their sparks are dispersed almost evenly, then both expand rapidly with a deafening *BOOM!* Think fireworks. Definitely, emphatically think fireworks. Because, ah yes, they're live fireworks. They will continue to explode for about ten minutes, then they will contract back into their usual glob of hovering sparks — but extra little globs of sparks will be ready and waiting to go find a Bonded. <3
Bonding Info: Young Cracklings (Crackles) are very picky. And very close to their party-mates. The entire group of Crackles will typically stick together in one large group of spark-globs, though they can move around freely if they so choose. The parents watch closely as humanoids approach to examine their children, warning off anyone unacceptable with their high-pitched keen. Crackles are attracted to light (whoever said opposites attract?) so bright colored clothing and light sources — flashlights, candles, glowbaskets, whatever — are highly recommended. Some Crackles prefer their own color, some prefer opposites, but it all depends on the Crackle. When a Crackle sees possible Bondeds, it will bob away from its party-mates to examine the offerings. When it makes up its mind, it will buzz softly, very very low, and then it will follow that person around for the rest of the night. And for the rest of its life, of course.
Both male and female look the same; females favor warmer colors (red, orange, yellow) while males usually appear in cool colors (blue, green, purple). There are no visible differences between genders other than the colors, and sometimes even then it is difficult.