Here's how I see it.
You have a brain.
This brain creates a certain pattern.
This pattern is called the "mind," and this "mind," just by virtue of existing as that pattern, has a signal to detect of various potential degrees of strength, which changes not with the physical energy pumped through that pattern, but with the form and scale of the pattern itself.
You cannot both alter and not alter the pattern. If you want to alter the signal, you must alter the mind. A given mind will produce a signal of a certain strength; an Umiak mind, if it remains in the same pattern as an Umiak mind, will produce an Umiak signal.
If you can alter the mind to create a pattern resistant to telepathy, then… the mind has been altered. It isn't the same anymore.
You sound as though you are assuming that the Umiak brain can necessarily and in all circumstances
both be altered to a completely different form that would be immune to telepathy, and maintain the original pattern.
It is plausible that creating a bio-engineered form of lotai based on the known phenomenon of lotai among the Loroi, then you would need to preserve the pattern of that modified Loroi
And that pattern--that mind--would either already be an Umiak mind in every meaningful sense, or it might never be an Umiak mind. But in either case it doesn't need an Umiak body to be or not be according to its nature.
You are describing a race that constantly alters their body type and physical capabilities through artificial means as though their racial identity were inherent to the shape of their limbs. In my view, if an Umiak-created organism cannot be an Umiak on two legs, it could never be an Umiak on four; it seems to me that a race as heavily into cybernetics and extreme body modification as the Umiak should derive all of their notions of personal identity from social role and the mind and not at all the body, which is a constant flux of flesh and cybernetics. The social role of lotai-enabled creatures is clear; to fight the Loroi. That leaves the mind. Which you have just altered into a different pattern to produce lotai.
You seem to believe that this alternation can necessarily
be carried out in essentially consequence-free ways, that it is necessarily
true that nothing that makes an Umiak mind truly Umiak rather than Morat or Nissek or Loroi be lost in the process.
The idea that this is a logical necessity does not make any sense to me.
If you were to make bioengineered lotai from pre-existing Loroi lotai, you would do so through careful, precise, painstakingly slow and gradual modification of the Loroi brain. This would be even more careful and meticulous than our own modern neurological studies, because we
don't have to worry about accidentally creating a brain that can rip a space station in half.
But that will still be a matter of gradual modification of a non-Umiak brain in order to understand and enhance the desired effect.
I acknowledge that it is possible that after going through such process, one could apply its lessons with great ease to a handful of simple modifications to the Umiak brain, retaining its fundamentally Umiak nature. However, for all we know, making lotai work on an Umiak mind might require that not one synapse be laid as it was before. It might not be possible
to have an Umiak mind emerge from such a brain.
And if it is
an Umiak brain that emerges from such a meticulous study of the Loroi brain, then the first generation would naturally be an Umiak brain developed from and within modified Loroi subjects, through that aforementioned long and slow process. Forcing this Umiak mind into a body that requires cyberneticization in order to function on the worlds where it is most likely to see combat is pointless when you already have it in a body that does not--whether or not ground combat actually occurs over the remainder of the war is beside this point, whether or not you minimize the cost of maintaining the utility
to engage in groundside combat is not. Forcing this Umiak mind into a bulky, two meter tall by three meter long form before you haul it across the galaxy is pointless. The Umiak body ceased to be any sort of standard requirement the moment they decided they could make do with robot bits; if it is an Umiak mind, then it will exist in a purpose-built body, as a purpose-built tool for the Umiak Hierarchy, no different in any meaningful sense than any of the other purpose-built living tools of the Hierarchy.
If the brain you have developed capable of lotai is Umiak, then it is Umiak regardless of form, just as the cybernetic hardtroops are Umiak, just as the spacebound fleet Umiak are Umiak, just as the tireless laborers of a dozen worlds are Umiak.
This is going pretty far into fanfiction territory, but from my perspective, what it is to be Umiak is not to walk in a certain way or to have certain appendages, but to live for the Hierarchy, to know that you exist for the Hierarchy's purpose and to breathe for that purpose and accept it as your own, though how you execute that purpose is sometimes a more flexible matter. If this brain does that, then you do not need to redevelop it all over again for a more traditional Umiak body. If this brain does not do that, then you might not be able
to create a brain that can. If you have hit a middle ground wherein you have a non-Umiak brain in your modified Loroi test subjects, but also have gained the ability to easily produce an equally lotai-capable but entirely different and unquestionably Umiak brain in Umiak subjects, then by all means produce the modified Umiak. But there is no guarantee whatsoever that that is even possible. There is no anti-telepathy gland or lobe, but rather, the form of the totality of the pattern produced by the brain.
Given that telepathy is tied directly to communication in the Loroi, it is entirely possible that the social center of the brain necessarily must
be reformatted in its entirety to alter a mind's telepathic properties. The result of a brain with an altered social awareness may be slight, or it may be significant. If slight, there is no reason to require it conform to a non-existent body standard. If significant, it is potentially dangerous and disruptive to do so. All that we know is that the pattern of the mind is at issue.
This pattern can be dampened or enhanced by technological means; we have seen as much with amplifiers. I believe that it is therefore with technology that the secret of Umiak lotai most likely lies, rather than reverse-engineering telepathic powers. Should it become apparent to the Loroi that humanity is not an artifice of the enemy, I believe that they will believe this as well.
You don't see this as a sign that there are fundamental differences in how those species think? What sort of mind their minds are?
Who says they necessarily know how to make it from scratch? They've had worlds full of Loroi to experiment on for (I think about) 21 years, that's perhaps enough time to be able to make it from templates
with gradual and meticulous modification
passed down across multiple manipulated gene lines, each successor manipulated as little as possible in order to proceed further. Even something as seemingly irrelevant as Alex's red blood might have been the minor alteration that unlocked the secret to creating his brain with his supreme lotai. I have said nothing about scratch,
and that notion seems absurd; if they understood lotai well enough to do that,
then it seems likely they could reasonably be expected to know everything there is to know about any and all of the patterns forming any and all psionic powers, and you no longer simply have to worry about Umiak lotai, but also Umiak Farseers, Umiak Teidar, Umiak Mizol, and Umiak sanzai, all as genetically perfected as Umiak lotai has been.
I do not think they have come so far.
Alex seems to have gotten pretty far, looking the way he does.
Got within spitting distance of the Storm Witch on his first day there, that's pretty decent.
Maybe he'll be in a better position to do some real damage than you imagine.
They either are Umiak, or aren't. But I do not think that has to do with how many arms they have, as a little thing like that varies between the existing Umiak already, much less a new breed meant for a new purpose.
Whether they are or are not Umiak, though, does not mean that it is possible to make an Umiak that is their match. No more than the current Umiak fleet lotai means it is possible for the Umiak to make themselves into Farseers.
It is conceivable they have run against limits to what is physically possible. It is also conceivable that they are running out of time, and that even their resources are not so limitless as to fully perfect their knowledge of telepathy over the course of a mere 50 years since first contact with the Loroi.
You already know that I do not believe that the Umiak have actually created humanity. Therefore I can only assume that you understand that I have attempted to speak on behalf of the voiced, in-comic belief of certain Loroi that that is what has happened.
I would not call the Loroi stupid to believe that Alex and humanity may have been created by their enemy, nor would I consider them illogical and unreasonable to consider him a good explanation for the unexpected Umiak fleet lotai. I think that was a perfectly sound and reasonable stance to take from their limited information, and that it still is to a great extent. I do not think that Stillstorm is thinking overly irrationally; her name and her actions in battle suggest that she keeps herself collected better than most. I think Stillstorm is quite possibly a great thinker, it's just that she and others are thinking in the wrong terms. I believe she is great at analyzing and understanding enemies, and that it is because of this analytical ability rather than in spite of it that she distrusts Alex. I think that there was good reasoning underlying her categorizing Alex as an enemy initially, and remains insufficient evidence to entirely remove him from that category. That in evaluating him as an enemy she started from a false, but understandable, premise. I think she sees an enemy where one was not; you argue that she has seen an enemy where one could not be.
This is the difference between jumping at shadows in the night, and lighting yourself on fire because you believe your skin is turning into scorpions. The one is something we can all understand and sympathize with, the other, the act of a lunatic.