Most Tarka males are not Changed and will never be Changed. They are functional sexually & socially and can form deep emotional attachments, but they cannot fertilize eggs. But being Changed is considered the ultimate goal of every male, because it represents a pinnacle of status, achievement and privilege both social and sexual. Fatherhood is a practically sacred thing to Tarka males.
Tarka females, on the other hand, tend to regard males and their near–obsessive desire to become Fathers with affectionate bemusement. Most Tarka females are much more career and advancement–oriented than the average Human female and can take or leave motherhood in general. They are not biologically designed, as Human females are, to form an intimate pair bond with their offspring — although their eggs must be tended and their children nurtured and taught, these tasks are generally more communal than personal. A Tarka female who has not produced an offspring will not generally feel as if there is something "missing" from her life or feel the perverse urge to "settle down and have a family", giving up her professional agenda to do so. Hatching a fertile egg will always be a part of her plan rather than a derailment of her plan and she will choose to create a child when she is professionally and financially ready to do so.
The small clan groupings of the Tarkasian professional castes are still much larger than most Human families, which tend to surround the nucleus of a single mating pair.
The most common Tarka family dynamic is a sort of group marriage arrangement — the closest Human historical equivalent might be the group marriages of the Spartans. This is a tightly–knit group of females and unChanged males who form a bonded social and sexual partnership. All of them live together communally, share expenses, home maintenance & meals and often work together professionally. They support one another in their ambitions and efforts.
It is in this setting that most growing Tarka children would feel a sense of "family" as we know it: rather than being raised by father and mother exclusively, they will have a mother and a group of loving "aunties" and "uncles" — unChanged males who may be related to those females by blood or who may join the group for other reasons. This is the family that looks out for them, disciplines them, shows them love and affection, funds their education etc. And this is the home they return to when they are not in schools or training facilities.
Seeing one's "father" would be an extremely rare experience for Tarka of the middle castes. Although it is common to know who one's sire was and to keep tabs on the paternal parent's career, in case there might be some advantage to be gained.
It must be noted that a sort of "family" dynamic sometimes springs up aboard smaller fleet ships in the Tarka star navy as the crew may become deeply bonded by their combat experiences. It is something the High Command discourages by regulations but does not stamp out in practice.
There are no taboos placed upon incestuous relations between Tarka as there are in Human cultures. The Tarka definition of "family" is very different from the Human use of the word. An "aunt" among the Tarka is any older female who was a member of the coterie which raised the child — there is usually no genetic relationship between her and the "nephew/niece." A "sister" is a female Tarka who was raised within a child's coterie as a peer to their generation. There is not necessarily a genetic relationship with "aunts/sisters". But if there was a genetic link it would not be particularly taboo for a sexual act to take place.
Very few sexual pairings between Tarka result in offspring and when they do it is deliberate. Because they are a very ancient race with an enormous population, their genetic code is extremely diverse and varied: the results of inbreeding are less negative than among Human populations where the taboo against incest is well–founded in near–instantaneous negative consequences.
There is a difference between how Tarka bond to form long–lasting personal relationships versus the process that females go through to be fertilized. Getting access to a Changed male is a lengthy process and can be made more arduous if the female who wants to get pregnant is looking for access to one male in particular, whether because he tickles her fancy in a purely physical way (rare, but it happens occasionally) or because she admires his genes, accomplishments or pedigree in some other way.
To get access to a particular male, a female Tarka must deal with quite a lot of hassle. She will have to get through (or around) his protective coterie of "handlers", she will have to compete with the other potential applicants and she will probably have to pass some standard of physical and personal worthiness which will be completely arbitrary and personal to that particular male.
A female may go through many trials seeking fertilization, ranging from the dangerous to the ridiculous. A male Tarka martial artist might demand that all females seeking his favor compete in a tournament for example — a male artist might ask females to make him a gift and grant his favor to the givers of the most beautiful and creative presents he received. A great general might refuse to mate with a female who couldn't beat him at a certain game. Some males have no interest in females who cannot make them laugh...etc.
Males and females are definitely not monogamous in the usual sense. "Mating for life" is a phrase that most Tarka would not understand. "Loyal unto death" would probably make more sense to them.
However, this is not to say that Tarka don't experience love in our sense of it. There are two separate words in Tarka for different types of sexual attraction. Two females discussing their preferred males would make a distinct separation between "kokari dok" — "the desire to entwine" versus "vu vanuu" — "egg lust".
A Tarka female can conceive up to twenty or thirty times a year if she chooses — the egg once fertilized does not remain in her body for an extended period. It goes to the hatching phase, and very seldom does her own work involve the hatchery — whether she is a military officer or a fisher woman. How much it costs to put ones eggs in hatching care is directly proportional to caste and class.
It will be two years before the fertilized eggs are children. She can produce forty more offspring in that time if she chooses. The only limitations are financial. Changed males are more than capable of fertilizing several females per day if they choose. Impregnation is virtually guaranteed with a single mating — unlike Humans, whose reproductive viability is much more variable.
Child Rearing Edit
Child–rearing among the Tarka is not a solely female responsibility, nor do Tarka females have to carry infants in a debilitating long–term pregnancy. There is no conflict between career and family among the Tarka — attending children in early infancy is a career in itself and after hatching, children are raised by a collective of adults who live work and play together in large clans.
The average size of a typical Tarkan communal household, and how many children they will usually have each generation, depends on the situation and profession of those involved. Different castes handle the childhood and adolescence of their children differently, based on the professional needs of the adults. Military castes, for example, tend to put all children into large training academies until they are ready to serve — the children spend time with various clan members, including the mother and uncles, when and if the adults have leave or are assigned locally.
Merchant clans tend to live in groups of up to 20–30 adults, and will be raising up to 20 children at any given time, with most children attending some sort of obligatory public schooling for a few hours a day in shifts while others work, and with older children having some responsibility for younger siblings while adults are busy.
Most social groups of Tarka fall somewhere between these two points. The more elite the family, the smaller the group and the more time the children will spend in expensive training environments rather than the home.
Tarka families and clan groups are not arranged around paternity. There is very little likelihood that a Tarka child will meet or interact with his/her biological father, and the biological father takes no political, personal or financial responsibility for his offspring. The father's clan is noted in a child's surname mainly as a courtesy until the age of majority, at which point a Tarka takes on a clan name that helps identify his/her working affiliations.
A mother takes a great deal of interest in her offspring, and a father very little, until you reach the top rungs of the Kona caste and the bottom rungs of the working class. At the bottom levels of Tarkasian society, it is still typical for a Tarkasian patriarch to live communally with up to 30 other Tarka, and all offspring present will likely be his own. And the top levels of Tarkasian society, an emperor or a Supreme Commander must keep an eye on the children he sires of both sexes, or they'll have a tendency to raise an army and cut his throat.
Tarka males have the full range of emotions throughout their adult lives, including sexual urges and attraction to females...but all their passions become much more intense, mercurial and difficult to govern after the Change. Long–term love relationships and emotional bonding between Tarka males and females are practically non–existent after the Change has taken place — it is extremely rare that any friendship or bond with a female survives the physical, social and emotional transformation that a Changing male goes through.
Accordingly, most Tarka females feel much more personal attraction and kinship with males who have not been Changed, are more comfortable in their presence and are more likely to treat them as comrades, equals and friends. A Tarka female may spend a single night of passion with the Father of her child — she will likely spend a lifetime with the males who share her home and help her raise that child.
Changed Males Edit
Obviously there are not a lot of Changed males. Although a coterie of aggressive females does generally surround any Changed male, they will be his "handlers" rather than a harem of submissive "wives". Often at least some members of this controlling group will be his sisters or even his mother and aunts. Think of them as the management entourage that surrounds a heavyweight champion or a rock 'n' roll superstar and you'll have some idea of the tone of the arrangement. They manage his affairs, control access to him, direct his energies productively, control the blast damage of his passionate outbursts and see that his wants and needs are met.
This entourage of females may or may not make use of their Changed male to fertilize their own eggs — more likely they are concerned with arranging his rendezvous with other females and directing his charismatic presence to everyone's advantage.
Most Tarka females will never willingly share quarters for a prolonged period with a Changed male — Changed males are attractive sexually but they do not make desirable roommates or marital partners — they are considered too unstable and can become downright physically dangerous during a fit of temper. Most Tarka females also try to maintain as much distance as possible between Changed males and very young children — audiences with Father are rare and usually very controlled and formal.
For more information on Changed Tarka males, see: Tarka Change.