Watch-Whers of Whazzit

Created by Sparkie

Singular: Watch-Wher
Plural: Watch-Whers
Group: Legion of Watch-Whers

General Info: The mixed-bag results of an attempt to improve upon the original genetic design for dragons, Whers were long regarded as unfortunate mistakes and the misfits of the three draconic species. Though they share the same soft, leathery hide in the same colors as their larger kin, there is little else to connect the two species. Large, low-slung and bulky, the average Wher will weigh between six and eight hundred pounds, reaching about six feet at the withers. Bulges of muscle testify to their brute strength but hide the fact that they can be surprisingly quick on their two-toed feet – meant for bearing weight, which is lucky considering their heavy, malformed bodies. Their wings are small and stumpy, incapable of carrying anything but their own bodies on the thinnest, coolest night breezes. Even their eyes are mutated. The obvious faceting seen in dragons’ eyes was smoothed out in Whers to thousands of much smaller facets, intensifying any light, whether the merest spark from a fire or the glare of the sun, to painful brightness. This is in part due to the fact that Watch-whers see in infrared: that is, their vision functions by sensing heat. Because of this they are invaluable during rescue missions where conventional search methods may fail, such as cave-ins (back on Pern, Whers were most often put to work in dark underground mines for this very purpose) or during blizzards.

Temperamental and territorial are just two words that will probably describe any given Wher. They are fiercely possessive of both land and their bonded, but are capable of coexisting with other beings if properly trained and gradually exposed. They are nocturnal by nature, functioning best at dusk.

Watch-whers are intelligent but not clever, able to learn commands and even how to 'speak' to some extent. This speech is made of sounds in attempt to mimic spoken words, but they can only remember a few at a time – and the end results, unique to each Wher (one may say "errrrwl" and another may say "brrrrd" to signify the same word) will sound nothing like true speech. Learning to communicate 'bad air', 'avalanche', and so on would have been most appropriate for Pernese Whers, given their manner of work. They are capable of using mindspeech only with Dragons, who will typically act as translators. Their eyes change color according to mood (see Dragons entry).

Whers are capable of going between like a handful of other species, but they do so rarely. It is very difficult and generally not attempted to teach this behavior, used more of their own instincts than any formal education. While higher ranks tend to be more trainable and intelligent on the whole, all colors of Whers are capable of recognizing and deferring to their handlers as well as other humanoids or Shinies they have frequent contact with. It is not advised for any stranger to assume familiarity with an unknown Watch-wher without the initial presence of its bonded, no matter how much expertise they may have.

Mating Info: Whers mate at night in a traditional chase, running along the ground. A female will lead males across any sort of terrain, never taking to the skies. Fights often break out amongst the males during this time, but it will have to be the fastest and strongest that catches the female in order to ensure strong, healthy offspring.

Bonding Info: After a female lays her clutch in the coolest, darkest place available, she will hardly leave their side. Wher eggs do not require heat for incubation, but the protective instincts of a mother stretch easily to include her brood. Sometimes the father will help guard the clutch, but this often hinges on the personality of the brooding female. Not all eggs are viable; part any clutch will be composed of dud eggs that either fail to thrive or hatch into malformed Whers that die too quickly to bond. If the eggs are laid by a bonded mother, however, the success rate may rise considerably.

When the eggs have hardened sufficiently to protect themselves against minor bumps and scrapes, the mother's handler will allow other humanoids who wish to try their hand at bonding to enter the area where the eggs are concealed. This event may happen up to a week in advance of the hatching date or on the very occasion, but traditionally each humanoid will seek to be approved by the mother in order to select one egg from the clutch and take it aside, responsible for its well-being until it hatches. This practice has become less common as the demand for Whers decreased during the transition from Pern to Planet, and many Wher handlers allow the clutch to be approached as a whole in the style of a traditional bonding. Again, it depends upon the personality of the mother Wher and the wishes of her bonded.

Newly shelled, Whers are much smaller than they will grow to be, small enough to make an armful for any average humanoid. They are quick-tempered from hunger and equally aggressive as they are ravenous. The traditional strategy is to distract them from mischief with a mixture of chicken blood and porridge, which they will eat until they cut their first teeth. In order to form a true bond a hatchling will have to 'blood' to their humanoid, which entails drinking fresh blood from the person in question in order to memorize their scent and effectively bond them together. When this happens the Wher will offer up the only mental statement it will ever give, its name: ending in ‘sk’. The first Watch-Wher that a person bonds is considered to be their closest, and takes a part of their handler's name. The more it accepts, the tighter the bond.The longer the name, the stronger the mental link between the two (i.e. Sparkie could Impress a Watch-wher named Spask or Sparsk; Sparsk would be the stronger bond).

Ranks

Gold
The largest and often most unpredictable Watch-whers, Golds are as territorial and intolerant as they come. They usually forge strong bonds, however, and with patience and willpower can be trained to direct their aggressive behavior towards more profitable ends. These queens come in all shades of metallic yellows and browner golds. They clutch up to fifteen eggs per mating and keep close, jealous guard over them. Typically over three-quarters of their brood survive to adulthood.
4 PSP

Silver
A bit smaller and less aggressive than the domineering Gold Whers, their hides usually coming in all lighter shades of grey though darker ones are possible, Silvers tend to be more social and even go so far as to familiarize themselves with a few other 'companion' Whers in a sort of pack. They also tend to bond strongly with their humanoids, and are more likely to allow others near their clutches, which are equal in size and success to Golds'.
4 PSP

Steel
Steels usually act as the dominant males when in groups of Whers, and do not easily tolerate changes to their environment. They are still intelligent but more difficult to train and control. Like Silvers, their hides are shades of grey, sometimes with hints of blue. If they win a mating chase, they are the most likely of the three lords to become protective of the female and any resulting clutch.
2 PSP

Bronze
Bronzes make ideal bonds. They are more vigilant than Obsidians but not as aggressive as Steels, with the intelligence needed to teach them balance between the two split-screen behaviors. All shades of metallic browns can appear on their hides. Similar to Silvers, they are more prone to 'pack' behavior and will willingly help protect eggs they father.
2 PSP

Obsidian
Obsidians are markedly more easygoing than the other lords, another step down in size from the metallic males. They are capable of mating with queens, but catch smaller females more frequently. Because of their colors, always black but with traces of other dark colors as well, along with their accepting attitude towards training, they often make excellent sentries or nighttime bodyguards.
2 PSP

Ruby
Rubies have good maternal instincts; they are commonly put to work as nursemaid of a clutch if the Gold or Silver in question allows it. On their own, they clutch as many as a Gold or Silver, however roughly half survive. Vibrant reds often cover them although any shade or tint can appear. These mid-weight females like to assert themselves over smaller ranks but rarely brawl with lords or queens, sharing some of the Obsidians' mild temperament.
2 PSP

Emerald
Submissive but liable to lash out if they sense weakness, Emeralds require rigorous training to curtail their hair-trigger instincts. They have impressive energy and stamina, and with their smaller, relatively agile builds they may excel at hunting if properly trained. Emeralds can be found in a wide variety of greens. These females should be kept away from eggs; they will do more harm than good if entrusted with a clutch. If carefully watched, an Emerald may rear a couple of offspring, with a success rate of less than a quarter.
1 PSP

Sapphire
As the smallest and most common males, Sapphires are generally nervous and high-strung creatures subject to the aggressions of not only dominant males but also the more foul-tempered and larger females. Any variation of blue can appear on a Sapphire, from azure to navy, from indigo to teal. They are slow learners but usually make willing bonds.
1 PSP

Amethyst
Numerous and versatile, the smallest female Whers prefer to keep to themselves despite their merit as workers in places larger ranks may not easily access. Amethyst handlers must work extra diligently to acclimate their charges to a variety of individuals and environments to counteract this, a task made difficult by the less intense bonds frequently formed by common Whers. Purples dominate her hide, whether dark or eye-searingly bright. She may lay as many as 8 eggs, though usually only two or three survive.
1 PSP

Albino
The only color not also seen in Dragons, Albino Whers are the smallest and weakest of the lot. Their hides are milky and translucent, often pinkish in tone. These genderless specimens rarely survive in the shell, and even fewer live if they hatch successfully. Because of their poor constitutions and tendency towards illness, Albinos can only live with the care of a humanoid and are never found in the wild.
1 PSP