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Kes

Kes, a female Ocampa in 2371.

The Ocampa are a race who live on the planet Ocampa in the Delta Quadrant. Their early history is shrouded in mystery but their own legends tell of a time when they were capable of great mental feats.

History

Some 500 generations before the 2370s, the Caretaker entity and his race accidentally caused the planet to lose all its nucleogenic particles. As this meant that rain could no longer form, the planet rapidly became a desert. Stricken with guilt over their actions, the Caretaker (and one other) agreed to stay behind to look after the Ocampa. They constructed an underground city near a water source and then sealed the Ocampa in using a force barrier. The pair then resided at the Caretaker's array where they pumped energy into the city's reserves.

By 2371 the Ocampa were a much reduced race. They relied on the Caretaker for all their needs and had lost many of their mental gifts, although they were still able to communicate via telepathy. In that year, their reliance on the Caretaker was forcibly ended by the entity's death and the destruction of the array. They had enough energy in the city's reserves to last until 2376 then they would be forced to return to the planet's surface. (VOY: "Caretaker")

A second group of Ocampa lived on a small array with the Nacene, Suspiria. They went with her in the 21st century and developed their mental talents under her guidance. As well as mastering telekinesis, they increased their lifespan using technology. Sadly they also lost some of the Ocampa's native kindness, becoming arrogant and dangerous.

This is very similar to what happened to Kes as she developed her mental powers implying that perhaps one is a natural result of the other.

Their encounter with the USS Voyager in 2372 did not end well. (VOY: "Cold Fire")

Physiology

The Ocampa are humanoid and resemble humans except for a few folds of skin around their ears, and in their general body size. They age very rapidly, resulting in an average life-span of only nine years. Consequently they develop and learn extremely quickly. Most of their growth takes place in the first six months and by one year old they have reached a young adult stage. They remain in this stage for several years.

At around four years old they become fertile for reproduction. This occurs at only one point during their life, when they pass through the elogium. Ocampan children are birthed from the middle of the mother's back. (VOY: "Elogium", "Before and After")

Kes giving birth

An Ocampan woman giving birth standing

Later episodes (such as VOY: "Before and After") seemed to portray that Ocampa were born in single births. The episode "Elogium" established that fertility occurs only during a limited window, with the further possibility that they implied that only one pregnancy and birth were possible for one fertility. There must be some other (possibly alien) aspect to Ocampa reproduction we are not aware of; simple math based on those assumptions yields a quick explanation for Ocampa population decline: two parents being able to produce only one offspring would halve the population of every subsequent generation.
An alternative idea comes from the fact that Kes refers to an uncle Elrem. This presumably is a half uncle and, coupled with the other information about Ocampa reproduction, implies that there may be more females than males in the Ocampa population and maybe some form of polygamy is in operation. This would slow (although not halt) the decline of the species.
The most likely explanation is simply that most Ocampa women give birth to several children and only a small minority have single births such as Kes. This is likely, as Earth animals with a short lifespan, such as dogs and rabbits, tend to have litters, while the longer-lived ones tend to bear their young one at a time. If multiple births are far more common among Ocampa than humans, their population could theoretically be maintained.

Having remained young looking for a number of years, they reach middle age sometime around their seventh year. Again their aging seems to stop only to rapidly increase near their ninth year with the onset of the Morilogium. At this stage of life the Ocampa move from middle-age to extreme old-age in the space of a few weeks, becoming confused and amnesiac before dying. (VOY: "Before and After")

It is interesting to note that the rapid development and aging is a dominant trait. It is found in half and even quarter-Ocampa. (VOY: "Before and After")

Culture

The Ocampa believe in an immortal soul, called the Comra. They bury their dead, believing that the Comra will move on to the afterlife. (VOY: "Emanations")

People

References

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