The Change - a Lady's Favor
The rarity of senior males among the Tarka population was a subject of some interest to human biologists, who for many years could not understand the process by which an average Tarka male could become a senior due to the social taboos surrounding the open discussion of the Change and its triggering mechanism. The key to understanding was finally discovered not in the laboratory but in the library; the answer was revealed when our linguists were finally able to translate the Tarka gutter dialects. A great wealth of pornographic literature had been written in these lower-caste languages over thousands of years and a sizable majority of the fantasy scenarios in Tarka pornography are directly concerned with the Change—and its aftermath of course.
The mechanism by which Tarka males achieve the Change is simple: they must eat the unfertilized eggs of Tarka females. Because these eggs are her personal and highly sacred property and because all Tarka females are aware of the prize that their eggs represent, no female will relinquish an egg to a male without reason. If she does not have a worthy male available at the end of her egg cycle, a female Tarka will simply eat the egg herself. The act of giving an egg to a male as a reward for his achievements or for services rendered is sometimes referred to in more civilized circles, but always obliquely. The act carries a delicately euphemistic name: "Shal mek Tot" or "The Lady's Favor".
No data is available on how many eggs a male Tarka must consume in order to trigger the Change; there is some evidence that the onset of the Change may vary with the individual. However, it is obvious that a single egg, or even several, is insufficient to trigger the transformation; it seems far more likely that the Change is brought on by a fairly steady diet of eggs over a significant period of time. It is also apparent that when a male Tarka consumes even a single unfertilized egg, the broth of fertility chemicals consumed has an immediate & powerful effect on his body and mind. All authors willing to discuss the subject describe the consumption of the egg as an ecstatic, almost psychedelic experience—eminently desirable even if it does not lead immediately to the onset of maturity.
Once the mechanism of the Change was revealed the behavior of lower-caste and less affluent Tarka males was far more easily understood. Their lives can be seen as a never-ending quest for reproductive viability and all the privileges that go with it; their willingness to accept great personal risk is balanced by what they perceive as the possibility of great personal gain. Achieving the Change is an important goal for any male Tarka but only one in a thousand is ever able to become a father; under the circumstances, male Tarka who are not born into wealth and power are extremely motivated to prove their worth to the females that surround them and to achieve as much wealth and status as possible.
The evolution of the Change was likly as a response to the nature of a Changed male. As useful and valuable as he is to his tribe, a Changed male presents certain problems. He is violently competitive with other adult males—doubtless due to territorial clashes during the evolutionary stage. So although one Changed male in a tribe is very desirable, two at one time is a disaster for everyone—instant faction war, tribal split, and mass infanticide results. Also, biologically speaking, a Changed male is an expendable unit. If he dies, he must be replaceable by another SINGLE unit—not by several competitors at once. And all the other males in the tribe must remain useful during this period as egg-tenders, child-minders, food-gatherers, etc.
Not all Tarka males will undergo the Change; in fact, it is estimated that only one in a thousand Tarka males ever reaches this phase of development. When the Change occurs, however, a male Tarka undergoes a profound physical and psychological transformation, which affects every aspect of his life.
The production of sex hormones in his body increases, which causes him to develop a broad spectrum of sexual traits. Firstly, he becomes fertile: although he has been able to perform as a sexual being from early adolescence, it is not until the Change that he begins producing viable sperm and becomes capable of fertilizing an egg. Along with this primary change in his reproductive capacity, he also develops a host of secondary sexual characteristics, which signal his availability to females and enable him to compete vigorously for mates.
His physical size increases enormously; he may grow up to 50 additional centimeters in height and his mass is likely to double—some senior males may weigh in at 200 kilograms or more. His vocal chords thicken and his voice becomes louder, deeper and more resonant. The coloring, arrangement and thickness of his scales will change radically, often forming entirely new marking patterns. His personality is substantially altered as well; in general he becomes much more aggressive, extroverted, ambitious, and prone to intense emotional outbursts and moodswings.
The pheromones that a mature male exudes have a variety of psychological effects on other Tarkas. Younger males, who have not undergone the Change, seem to find their senior counterparts extremely magnetic; they are docile and cooperative toward seniors, and easily influenced by their charismatic leadership. By contrast, other senior males become immediately hostile and competitive toward a male of their own stature, reacting automatically to every signal of maturity with anger. The rival’s voice, coloring, bearing and attitudes will be found offensive at an almost cellular level, and if the two are brought within range of one another’s pheromonal signatures, this effect increases many fold. Put two senior males into one room and a physical altercation is almost sure to result.
Females Tarkas, by contrast, have a less intense emotional reaction toward senior males. Although they find seniors personally, professionally and sexually attractive, they do not mirror the docility of their young male counterparts. Culturally speaking, female Tarkas tend to view all male Tarkas, both young and old, with a certain amount of prejudice, regarding them as emotionally unstable and prone to poor judgment. However, the ability of a senior male Tarka to command and control his juniors is often very useful in politics, in the military and in business affairs; most female Tarkas are inclined to harness and direct this power rather than suppress it.