Art by, Mel
Age: 519 years
Size: 5'5" ft tall
Job: Child protective services
Likes: Children, Fish, Naps
Dislikes: Problems in children, Natural births, Problems in children increased in probability by natural births
Notable contributions: The highest rate of success in the Woods in almost 70 years
M-4 is, to put it lightly, flashy. They can almost always be seen in clothing that shows a great deal of skin, and even if the weather may not be particularly suited to such outfits, they never show a single sign of discomfort. The only time they dress any differently is around children; if M-4 even suspects that a child might be nearby, they immediately pull on a robe over their other clothes.
Given that most notail children are only ever in the villages they're raised in, however, this leaves a lot of time for M-4 to go without - and not even their own charges are safe, once they have grown to become adults themselves.
Due to the scant amount of fabric they choose to don themself with, it isn't a rarity at all to be able to see the tattoos they have adorned upon their relatively dark skin. M-4 also has piercings lining their pointed ears, and has been happy to share with the Cosmosdex that they have one in their tongue as well. They offered to demonstrate, but the Cosmosdex team declined.
M-4's antenna poke out from behind their mask in a smooth curve, rather than the more sharp bend of jointed ones, somewhat similar to their W-class parent's pair. Though antenna are vital to most notails already, especially for M-classes who track their children with them, they're even more important to M-4 in particular; their inability to speak means that they usually talk through their antenna to other notails out of work as well.
This is not to say that M-4 has not had experience in sign, for they are perfectly fluent in the language - however, most people would likely not be, so unless circumstances such as their conversational partner being antennaless disallow their ability to communicate with them, they will usually stick to their antenna.
Their mask is that of a white fish with its eyes closed in contentment, and they always make a u3u expression.
It is easy to make hasty judgements about M-4 because of the way they look. One may be tempted to believe they're careless on the job due to the way they dress when not working, but this couldn't be farther from the case; there is nothing more important to M-4 than the care of the children under their watch.
When not working, M-4 speaks casually, often dropping a flirtatious comment or ten in conversation. They're chatty and friendly for the most part, commonly asking about their day and inviting them to speak about what interests them; M-4 is very curious about other people, and adores learning more about what they like. Perceptive as they are, they are good at intuiting their conversational partner's boundaries; this is why, despite how they come across as an incorrigible flirt, if the flirtation truly distresses someone then they will stop altogether. They are clearly aware of how this kind of talk tends to edge against the common notail's comfort levels - rumours speculate this, as well as their manner of dress, may be deliberate in order to ward off any unwanted remarks about their inability to verbally speak, but M-4 themself usually waves off such theories as overthinking it; and indeed, it would seem that among notails this trait is one that isn't normally noticed. The other - and more likely - reason for their actions is, of course, because they think it's funny.
In addition, M-4 also never misses out on an opportunity to suggest solutions for people who express problems to them, and they seem to enjoy assisting those who ask - or don't, as a matter of fact. Though this may come off as rude to some, M-4 simply has such a charismatic aura that they - even with their incessant flirting - tend to leave a more favorable impression than many others would.
When in a good mood, it seems almost as if they can charm even fate itself.
At times, however, M-4 seems to withdraw into themself. Though they visibly try their best to maintain their chipper, friendly attitude, in these moments they never seem to quite be able to do so. People who would usually be so charmed by them simply are not, and this only appears to frustrate them further, prompting them to try harder with much the same result. On days like these, the self-perpetuating loop always spirals, their mood worsening and worsening, until M-4 finally retreats - and this, considering the persistence they tackle most problems with, takes a while.
But this only affects them in their more casual life, and their work remains unchanged despite their personal turbulence. When M-4 is working, it is as though they are an entirely different person. Gone are the teasing and the jokes - they're much more serious and much more strict, making for a startling contrast considering the way they dress.
Despite being a naturalborn themself, M-4 seems to despise the idea of creating children out of partnerships rather than leaving that to the B-classes; they are kind to natural children, but it is obvious that M-4's opinion of their parents is low. To M-4, having natural children more often than not results in poorly adjusted and neglected children who end up having trouble fitting in with society, to say nothing of the increased chance of a D-class. Parents who cannot give a child a good life shouldn't have had a child in the first place.
Though people might assume that, due to their confidence in both their skills and their flaunted looks, M-4 is conceited or egotistical in some way, this is not truly the case. While it is fact that they tend to be stubborn and firm when they are completely sure about something, if someone they feel is more knowledgeable about something than they are corrects them, they will not argue about it. Instead, they will accept this and simply seek to know the reasons why they are wrong, and what can be done to fix this; they would only then reject a correction if the rationale behind it wasn't sound.
M-4 was born the natural child of W-8 and a B-class - and when they were still a baby, their B-class parent passed away, leaving W-8 to raise them alone. W-8, though an experienced parent, still had the natural inability to feel anything but happiness of the W-classes; where their other children had another parent to balance this out, M-4 did not.
Though they loved their parent, and they knew W-8 loved them back, there was a problem: W-8, on their own, simply could not express concern the way M-4 wished. No matter what reckless actions they took, no matter how dangerously they acted, W-8 could not be anything other than calm on the matter. They would never express worry or upset, even if M-4 vanished for a day - they would express a preference for them not to do it, but never anything more. W-8 only ever reacted one way; didn't they care about what their child was doing? They never behaved like it...
M-4 did not have an unhappy childhood, nor do they look upon it unfondly. True, it was plagued with the doubts that came with a child having a parent that never seemed to react no matter how they acted up, but with maturity came the understanding that W-8 did indeed care, despite their genetic inability to properly express it.
It could simply be thought of as some amount of early childhood rebellion.
M-4's time in the woods was, for the most part, unremarkable, save for one thing. Their beginning capture creature, a colony of fish, was similarly unremarkable; they were not usually considered one of the more powerful starters. And yet, at a critical moment, they lunged out of the water to save their notail where otherwise M-4 would have surely died. As a child, they had always donned a black fox mask and presented themself with a >w< face. It was at this point that M-4 chose to wear their current fish mask.
Due to W-8's discipline, or rather lack thereof, M-4 truly never had anyone when they were young to tell them no. This likely contributed to their stubborn manner, and is speculated to be the main reason why they chose to begin wearing the kind of clothing that they do upon leaving the woods.
Trained as an M-class, M-4, then M-211742, found their duties simple enough, if a bit stifling. Their real passion was less so in the actual care of children, and more in how the care was being decided. Why were M-classes expected to do this? Why were M-classes expected to do that? What effects did this have on children, and what was something else that could be changed to make this effect more prominent?
Taking a page from their parent's book, M-211742 tackled this subject with notes upon notes of observation, exacting in the way they wrote things down, as well as compiling the observations of M-classes from other villages. This, combined with their duties, left M-211742 with little time for sleep, but that hardly mattered to them; this was what they found truly important.
Eventually M-211742 submitted a few proposals of their own for modifications to some of the village experiments, only to have them rejected by the current M-4. They didn't take this personally, however; M-211742 felt their ideas were good, but also could accept that someone with far more experience than them might disagree, and simply resolved to figure out what was incorrect and see if they could improve it next time.
At least, they didn't until later on their exact proposals were put into place, with the current M-4 claiming that they had been their own ideas all along. This chafed on M-211742; it was one thing to tell them that their observations had led them to be mistaken, but another altogether to only do so in order to take credit for one's self, as M-4 had done. Still, there was little they could do, so they grumbled to themself and returned to their work.
Later on, M-211742 submitted another proposal, only for the same situation to play out all over again. The first time could have been a coincidence, as suspicious as M-211742 was, but there was no doubt about it the second time; M-4 was taking credit for their work, and M-211742 was none too pleased about it. With every proposal they submitted, the same result played out over and over again, so, they decided to apply for the spot themself - if they were good enough that M-4 wanted credit for what they did, then would the M-class not be better off with them as M-4?
This application was promptly ignored. So, M-4 decided to try again, and yet again, was ignored. Though they had done a great deal of work on their own, the fact that nothing they had ever proposed was ever credited to them meant they simply didn't make enough of a splash to be considered at all. M-211742, undeterred, kept trying anyway, and M-211742, unfailingly, was ignored.
Years passed, and M-211742 had had enough.
They requested an audience with M-4. Here at last, their efforts paid off, and M-4 took the bait; only one of them left that room alive.
M-211742, calm as could be, contacted the authorities, told them what they had done, and asked for the I-classes to look into who would truly be the better leader. After a long investigation revealing what the former M-4 had done, the results were in; M-211742 was now M-4.
Like all class leaders, M-4 is replaced with a clone that has all of their memories upon death, but only as long as they continue to outperform anyone else vying for their position.
Below are some of the experiments M-4 has instated in their time as the M-class leader.
Situation: No technology past the kind available in the woods is available in the village; fans, lights other than fires, computers, phones are not present for the children. Plumbing and sinks are allowed.
Status: Children were all accustomed to survival knowledge such as how to start fires, but were unsure what to do with some items offered in the forest center. No P-classes were sent here, obviously. Ongoing.
Situation: Fewer M-classes were assigned to this village than the amount of children should have received. Supplies and capture creatures were given at the correct ratio for the population.
Status: The children failed to develop proper skills for their classes and consistently needed extra effort to learn skills as adults that they should've had down when they were children. Closed.
Situation: A large number of minor anomalies (nothing dangerous, and for the most part all non-interacting) were dumped into this village and allowed to mingle with the children at the density tailmics do in others.
Status: Most children overall are more likely to keep calm when dealing with anomalies, and Q-classes in particular are far less likely to panic when anomaly related missions go south. N-classes, however, show higher signs of stress compared to N-classes from other villages. Ongoing.
Situation: Little food was provided by the M-classes; only enough to keep them from starving to death. Children are expected to learn to steal from the stores as well as hunt for proper sustenance; older ones are expected to teach the younger ones how to do this without being detected.
Status: Notails that grew up in this village are often physically weaker. Children tend to be heavily suspicious and have improved stealth, which they generally utilise to sneak around. They have a habit of not asking for assistance from their superiors, but are more inclined to trust their peers. This benefits swarmers such as E-, Q-, and Y-classes. R-classes that are raised in this village also do better due to the skills taught.
There are no tailmics present in this village. Ongoing.
Situation: Once a month, children are pitted against each other in a ring; these fights are mandatory participation. Winning children get better supplies for the month.
Status: Fighting at such a young age caused permanent injures in several children. Certain classes had an automatic advantage for physical fights like this, leading to, for example, conceited, snobbish Y-classes and meek B-classes. Closed.
Situation: Each child is given a dart gun which can shoot a small suction dart with their name on it that cannot be removed from what it sticks to for about twelve hours. At the end of the day, M-classes tally the number of darts stuck to each child, as well as count how many of each child’s darts are found stuck to other notails. The lower the former number is, and the higher the latter number is, means that child gets more supplies. The child with the inverse, on the other hand, gets fewer.
Status: Children quickly became distrustful of each other and had difficulties cooperating. However, the consistent competition led some to work hard for high scores. Ongoing.
Situation: Similar to Osprey Landing, except instead of individuals, the children in the village are split into five color coded teams, and each member of each team receives supplies based on the overall group’s performance.
Status: Encouraged cooperation among team members and allowed extra expertise in swarming tactics, with the side effect of distrust towards any member “not of their team” or otherwise unknown to the child. Ongoing.
Situation: The village was split into two sub-villages, each separated by two miles of forest. Both sides were missing vital areas, such as one having the beds and no food while the other had food but no beds, forcing notail children to traverse this small bit of wilderness daily in order to get what they need.
Status: Children became more confident with and more accustomed to the wilderness, as well as more physically fit than their counterparts from other villages, leading to a higher percentage surviving the woods. Ongoing.
In addition to these villages, recently M-4 has been very excited about a new development occurring in Swallow’s Song, but when the Cosmosdex inquired further, they simply waved their hand and stated that it was something for O-9 and their M-classes to worry about.
Fishotomy: M-4 has both what can be considered a "work mode" and a "home mode". When they are doing anything pertaining to their job, they act serious and strict, with a business-like attitude that is generally at odds with how they dress. This can be considered their work mode. However, once what they need to do is done, they relax into their easy-going manner, which is when the jokes and flirts start up. This, in turn, can be considered their home mode.
These vastly different ways of acting for different situations appears to be in part compensation for their generally low empathy. Despite being unable to relate to how others feel, M-4 does not wish to hurt their emotions; consequently, through careful observation, they seem to have taken up these manners of acting as what is appropriate for the given situation.
• Much to the surprise of many, M-4 seems to have no trouble at all with navigating the B-class laboratories; despite the multitude of unicorns that populate them, M-4 always comes out not even slightly worse for wear.
• M-4 occasionally takes in children deemed lost causes by other M-classes to raise themself. They see these children as projects, and seem to take raising them into productive members of notail society as a challenge. All of the notails M-4 raised, whether from this or, previously, their job, have been taught sign language. Whether they only recall the basics or know the language in-depth varies.
• There have been quite a few incidents where M-4 was mistaken by another species or visiting notail for a B-class. They find this quite entertaining, and so are happy to play along. B-classes, on the other hand, loathe being associated with them.
• If one were to mention O-X in conversation with M-4, one would see a rapid shift in their demeanour. From warm to cold, bringing up the O-class is a quick way to see the normally amicable notail turn frosty. Though they still remain polite when they speak of him, it's clear M-4 doesn't enjoy talking about O-X.
No art currently, maybe you can help.