First Contact

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First Contact

Postby Phorcys » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:25 pm

Image


Phorcys from orbit on day 91 of the 65th year of the Confederal Calendar, the date of first contact



The Equatorial Meridian

There is nothing for a hundred miles in any direction but dismal flats of grimy sand and mud, crawling with ragged black moulds. Bubbling springs of hydrochloric acid, and shallow pools of toxic saline water layered with blackish scum. A featureless waste, dark under the shrouded skies of chlorine gas and the half-light of a dim star.

But through the storm-wracked acid clouds of Phorcys, the great dome of the Capital finally emerges. A vast radiation shield kilometres across, protecting the upper levels of the habitat-vault - and the teeming millions scuttling through the darkness within.

Through the gloomy murk of sickly-yellow green fog a hardened landshuttle approaches, its immense wheels churning through the fetid wastes. Its thick ceramic shielding bears the Glyphic mark of Vault 13, from the East Continent.

The ground shifts as an automated hangar-port rises from the sands. The vehicle trundles in. It docks with an elevator platform and there begins its slow descent into the Capital - Habitat-Vault 01, Carrion Harvest, the beating hidden heart of the Confederation.




2204873-Aerovoid-Technician clicks his limb segments with disapproval at the lack of decontamination procedures - but then this is to be expected of Meridians. They relish exposure to the hostile environment. 2204873-Aerospace-Technician believes in the eugenic value of hardship and danger to the oizys race as much as any Confederal official - but he is less of a believer when it concerns his own personal safety.

The comms crackle into life as their hosts pick up their short-ranged receivers.

“Confederal Landshuttle 884-East-13, Vault 01 entry-control demands status clarification. You are expected as part of a convoy with 876-East-13 and 629-East-13”

Their signaller responds, stridulating only two limbs in rapid Standard Code.

“Report 876-East-13 and 629-East-13 were lost to magma subduction surge during maritime transit, at co-ordinates 5° 28' 30.7164'' N · 187° 57' 0.8856'' E. Long-range communication array of 884-East-13 was damaged in eruption, preventing loss-report to Vault 01 Command”

The controller clicks acknowledgement.

“Satellite data confirms subduction surge. Losses noted. 884-East-13 cleared for entry”

The platform carries them deep underground before the ramp opens into the darkness of 01. 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician and his kin-retinue exit the landshuttle warily. A military-caste escort waits at the bottom of the ramp to receive them.

“Welcome valued-adept-friend of Vault 01”, he is greeted in Standard. “Adept-friend is requisitioned at Confederal Air-Void Control”.

These eugenics-fixated Meridian oizys are rope-limbed hulks compared to his wiry east-continental kin. 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician clicks his cloacae and feels the reverberations coming through them - in places their exo-skeletons are almost a decimetre thicker than those of his own party. He coils a pereiopod around the handle of his mono-blade nervously. He is all too familiar with Meridians’ penchant for sudden mating attempts on any they perceive as isolated or vulnerable.

“This one will follow” he replies tersely, wasting no time on formalities.

The escort leader follows suit. "Good".

“Close-watch the soldiers” 2204873 stridulates to his personal kinguards in East Continental. He doubts the escorts understand. They chitter among themselves in Meridian, but at least 2204873 knows their language well.

The East-Continental Party are led down the winding intestinal tunnels of Vault 01, thousands of oizys workers scuttling through the blackness alongside them. Back home there would be separate tunnels, or at least they would be cordoned off from the menial caste by thick-impact glass. But Meridians do not believe in the safety of stratification, 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician knows, they believe all should be exposed to the predation of their fellow oizys. His kinguards spark their electromitters at any rabble who dare get too close, but in the festering confines of the tunnels, proximity is unavoidable.

Without warning the seismic alarms blare. A juddering quake passes through the tunnel and the oizys flatten themselves against the walls until the last of the tremors subside. "Minor tremor" an announcement sounds as the dust clears, "casualties limited, breach contained, all units proceed as normal".

Soon after their party passes a violent scrabble, a cluster of engineers seizing a colleague wounded in a tunnel collapse. They pin him down as they stab their ovipositors deep into his writhing body, chirruping with violent delight. Despite his fear 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician clicks hungrily at the sounds, echo-mapping the entire spectacle as he passes. Their ninth limbs glisten with black fluid as they withdraw, and drones emerge from alcoves in the walls to drag their spasming victim down to the corpse nurseries. He feels his ovipositor stirring in its sheath, and hopes his escorts are not so provoked. 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician has not mated in many cycles now - but perhaps after his performance today that will change.

They are safe at last once they arrive at the passage-lock to Confederal Air-Void Control. A phalanx of feared Meridian shock-troops bar entry to the unauthorised with cutting-edge plasma throwers. A shimmering wall of high-intensity microwave radiation crackles behind them, enough to cook any oizys that dares an attempt - or any of the guards should they dare to retreat. Their escort leader runs through a dozen biometric scans before the microwaves flicker off and the gates disengage, opening up onto a vast circular chamber.

This is the beating heart of the new era. Hundreds of task-stations arranged in a tiered series of concentric rings, thronging with oizys, a raised dais at the centre from where mission control observes proceedings. Delegations from every corner of the Confederation are present, chittering in anticipation. Wealthy industrial backers from the kin-leagues of the West, Master-Engineers of the East Isthmus Fortress-Mines, Commanders of all the Meridian Hierarchies. And then there is his party, specialists bearing the technological secrets of the East Continent. Though diminished by their losses at sea, this does not concern 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician greatly - if anything it means the credit for the mission’s success will be solely his.

“Welcome to Vault 01 valued-knowledge-keeper’, a Meridian mission controller stridulates down to him. “Air-Void Control has awaited your expertise. Reported Valued 2012008 and 2022504 are dead?’

“Valued 2012008 and 2022504 lost with convoy”, 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician replies.

“Unfortunate” the commander clicks.

“Yes. Unfortunate. But this one will perform his utmost”

2204873-Aerovoid-Technician is escorted to the tactoaudio terminal from where he will monitor the launch of the vessel his team have spent three years designing. He only hopes East Isthmus engineering was up to the task of constructing their vision. Alongside him at their many task-stations, oizys monitor the telemetry from orbital probes and satellites over tactographic feed - but today is a new day in the history of the Confederation. Today the first manned ship is sent into the void, and the first oizys will step out into the endless world hidden above the clouds.

"Confederal-Ally-Friends" a Meridian Commander stridulates at a high pitch, audible even over the teeming bustle of the control chamber. "Our species has developed for two million years on Phorcys. Two million years have tested the evolutionary fitness of the oizys to its limits. To endure-expand, the swarms must adapt to a new home in the void" - a quake rocks the chamber as if to punctuate his point - "we are the pinnacle-peak of evolution, and only our Confederation is worthy to reach the new world. This day marks the birth-beginning of the coming race, that will inherit the planets and the stars."

The chamber erupts in triumphal chittering.




1973088-Voidreacher listens to the feed from Air-Void Control. It mocks him. They haven't even lifted off yet from their launch facility on the North-Meridian Plateau, and the ship is already being buffeted by the howling sandstorm outside. They have nothing to celebrate yet.

He reflexively curls and uncurls his limbs in and out of a defensive lattice. He knows the instinct accomplishes nothing, but he can do little else when left helpless against an imminent threat. Getting even a robust unmanned vessel through the atmosphere of Phorcys is far from guaranteed. Getting this fragile pressurised and temperature-controlled capsule into orbit even less so. He is military-caste, he is Meridian, he serves the swarms and fears no danger on the face of Phorcys - but this is a voyage into the unknown reaches of the sky.

"For the race" he clicks to himself, a mantra taught since spawnhood, to steady his nerves. "For the race. For the swarm. For the genome"

"Valued-vessel-crew" Mission Control begins, "launch begins in 10 minutes"

1973091-Voidreacher flexes with anticipation beside him. He is his brood-kin - it would not be wise to cram two oizys unrelated by blood into such close proximity. "When we return-reach Phorcys" 1973091 chitters, "we will be master-heroes of the Confederation. None will challenge our superiority. All will cower. They will pay tribute of mate-slaves and triple-rations to returning void-heroes" He is his spawn-sibling, and his stalwart ally, but he is also a fool.

"If we return", he reminds his brood-kin. 1973088 knows he has been assigned to this mission because of his failed mating attempt on 2992001-Military-Logistician, who as his scars remind him he should probably not have double-crossed, and he doubts 2992001 would have had him shortlisted for this mission had he believed there was any great likelihood of his return. He is corpse-fodder. A test subject, just as much as the slaves in the cargo-hold.

"This is 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician, running pre-launch checks and diagnostics" - unfamiliar east-continental vocals buzz over the comms. He shudders to think his life is in the hands of a racial inferior. He has never trusted that secretive breed. And he does not trust their ship. "All systems optimal. Beginning launch sequence"

1973088-Voidreacher clenches his cloacae as the ship begins to judder like a collapsing tunnel. The reaction wheels scream as they torque to keep the ship upright in the winds. Red warning lights glare in eyespots unaccustomed to anything brighter than perpetual cloud-wreathed twilight. The tactofeed drums a litany of dire projections against his cuticle and the audiostream chatters rapid nav-code, charting a turbulent and unstable ascent. They have liftoff.

"For the race. For the swarm. For the genome" he and his brood-kin intone, both of them now coiling their pereiopods tightly around the supports.

"Ascent turbulence within acceptable parameters" the aerovoid-technician drones over the comms, and 1973088 would mate-murder the foreigner right now if he was with them in this shaking canister.

Just when it feels the vessel will break apart into a screaming mid-air conflagration - the tension suddenly levels out. The voidreachers begin to float. "Praise the race", 1973088 chitters, his cuticle swelling with over-powering pride as he realises where they are.

"Mission control", he reports, "we have reach-ascended orbit".




1010873-Mission-Controller monitors an audio-frequency rendering of the vessel's orbital trajectory. He clicks rapidly in thanks - he dreads to think how failure would have been punished. Now the ship burns a course to dock with the Confederation's prototype space-habitat. Constructed years ago by drone-probes, it will soon receive its first occupants.

Yet celebration is muted in Air-Void Control. The danger is not quite over yet. The habitat's orbit hugs the night-side of Phorcys to protect it from surges of stellar radiation, but a surge before the vessel can reach it and the crew will not survive.

-When they do, most can only manage breathless relief. "Our race has reached the stars" 1010873-Mission-Controller stridulates to all the chamber. "Praise the swarms".

The crew clamber onboard. For several hours they test the habitat's scanners and the instruments. Then they suit up for EVA. The free-born crew that is. 1010873-Mission-Controller's cloaca palpitate with distaste. Three of the first five oizys to tread the stars are Western slave-stock. Castrated from birth, and implanted with docility-inducing nerve-breakers - detrimental practices utterly counter to the natural selective principles of the Confederation.

But then, he supposes, if there’s anything westerners are good for, it's seeing what happens when you throw them out of an airlock.

"Begin vacuum exposure test" he transmits to the crew.

A naked thrashing oizys is ejected into the void. Specialised implants transmit its wildly spiking bio-telemetry as it dies. Its hydrostatic segments swell and burst. Its fluids boil. Its death is quick and - as the neurographics show - very, very painful.

Air-Void Control's chief biologer chirrups with satisfaction. "Void-exposure reaction within theorised parameters. No anomalous readings"

1973088 and 1973091 emerge from the airlock shortly after in bulky exo-suits, propelling themselves towards the floating slave-corpse with controlled bursts from their suit-thrusters. They carry biopsy equipment to retrieve tissue samples from the body. 1010873-Mission-Controller marvels at the suits in action. Oizys echolocation is useless in vacuum, and so high-resolution cameras are fixed across their chassis, in-suit computers converting optical input into audiodata. The voidreachers navigate in zero-gravity vacuum seamlessly. The technicians of Vault 13 delivered on their promise.

"Repeat test" 1010873-Mission-Controller transmits again.

The voidreachers expend another of their slave-cargo, ready with tissue-extractors as soon as their victim stops convulsing.

"Repeat test"

"Wait!" a research aide sends audio-telemetry to his terminal from the habitat's now activated long-range scanners.

1010873-Mission-Controller does not like this data. It doesn't make at any sense to him at all. It is certainly not within mission parameters to deal with such an event.

"Gravitational wave readings severely anomalous, master-controller", the aide informs him. "A distortion, growing in diameter, 100 metres - 150 metres - 200 metres - 300m -"

"-Crew! Postpone testing. Return to habitat immediately!" he stridulates rapidly in Meridian, a panicked reflex. "An anomaly has been detected. Danger unknown. Orders are to monitor this phenomenon. Return to surface cancelled. Access to lander vessel is prohibited pending observation of anomaly"

Something truly inexplicable is happening only fifty-thousand kilometres from low-Phorcys orbit.

Not an oizys present has any idea what it is.
Last edited by Phorcys on Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The oizys species of the Confederation of Swarms

The Church of Autology and the fate of the Earth
Phorcys
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Client Leader: Confederal Consensus
Client Councillor: 0992904-Interlocutor
Client Species: Oizys

Re: First Contact

Postby Wuufu » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:07 pm

The viewing port to the unopen gate offered very little as to what was going to be found beyond it. Having been to a number of the Nexus opening events in the past, Cassie Ekin had been witness to many a species emerging from the other side of a gate, and many a differing reaction to the gate's appearance. It always surprised her that given some of the reactions she had seen, just how mild the Mitakan's had been in their approach to the gate.

The head of the Nexus Council representatives, Sotaro Govan, stood next to her. A little taller than she was, and over one hundred years older, he was a much studied diplomat and had been around at the pivotal moment of Mitakan history as a young underling of a now deceased diplomat who lead the formation of the Mitaku Federation. His insight in Mitakan culture, and his skill with handling delicate and cross-national issues had made him a fine candidate for cross-client ones.

"Think we'll see an aggressive response today?" he asked.

"You know as well as I do we won't know until the gate opens," Cassie responded jibely.

And that left their third member, and the newest member of the Nexus Council representatives. While Cassie herself didn't participate directly on the Council, overseeing the Guild as a whole and managing the Enclave they ran was more than enough paperwork, she was responsible for picking those who became members on it. And Tami Rozen, a little older than Cassie by some seventy years, was an unusual choice.

That was because Tami, while being a force of nature in her own personality, was a scientist. A biologist and cultural specialist, specialising in alien species, in fact. As such, she was a valued member of the diplomatic team as an advisor to the nature of the clients they dealt with on a day to day basis, helping to ensure the rules they put in place, and the facilities that were needed to be organised, were tailored to the biological needs of the species they met.

"I dunno," Tami leaned against the wall of the ship hovering a respectful distance from the gate. "My bet is on a species diplomatically oriented. Perhaps an economic powerhouse."

Cassie shook her head as her two Mitaku behind her shook hands. "You two and your bets. Can't you just take the moment as it is; a momentous one of exploration and a way to further our species knowledge of those outside our area of space?"

"Well, when you put it like that," Sotaro smirked. "I guess we could."

"Good," Cassie motioned. "As I think they've just finished their initial incursion and are about to open the gate fully."

The shimmer of the gate coming to existence at a size big enough to be visible, instead of their microscopic initial stage and their secondary slightly bigger scouting stage, drew the attention of all three Mitaku, as they stood forward to watch the process of first contact take place.

Not Roleplay
Apologies for the delay on this; the weekend eats my time. I was determined this went out today!
Wuufu, Councillor of Security, Interim Councillor of Foreign Affairs and Interim Councillor of World Assembly Affairs in the Council of Brilliance, and Grand Master of The Cynosure Order.
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Re: First Contact

Postby Xah » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:20 am

Gate 8748
Location 514,24,108
Nexus


+ Re-establishing link with reality
++ Contact made
+++ Gate location secure
++++ Enlarging aperture

The Envoy ship hovered above the dimple in the surface of the Nexus as the Gate beneath it widened and held at around 300 meters in diameter. Final checks regarding the stability and destination were made and once the proper reassurances were received, the craft slowly passed through the opening and into the newly contacted universe.

This was an interesting Gate for the Owners; Gates that opened in the vicinity of life-bearing worlds were rare enough (the Owners suspected most universes had life within them, but hardly ever within the easily accessible hundred thousand lightyears of the first test Gates), but this world had some of the most extreme naturally occurring conditions yet encountered that not only had allowed life to flourish, but intelligent, technology-using life. They had advertised the presence of this universe unusually well before the official opening, assuming that quite a few Clients would be interested in the new scientific data that could be gathered and, true to form, quite a few of the more Involved Clients had shown up to the opening.

The Envoy craft was now fully on the far side; that usual visual sight of seeing a 'hole' open into space. It moved to 100 kilometres from the Gate and broadcast the typical Nexus greeting to the world before it:

<image of a oizys with a skin coloured deep red and back-lit green eyes>

"Greetings to the people of Phorcys, from the Owners of the Nexus. We come to you with peaceful intentions and wish to offer you participation in the Nexus, a multi-versal community of many races, species and civilisations. If you wish to discuss further, please decide who you wish to represent you and communicate on this frequency. Your chosen representative is cordially invited to visit the Nexus and see what is on offer. This offer is not time limited, and we will remain here until directed otherwise.

Once again, welcome to the Nexus."




On the other side of the Gate, the Owner representative hosting the Client audience, a matt-silver elliptoid with no other features chimed gently. "First messages have been sent to the potential clients," it said. "Visual signals of an apparent orbital habitat in place, along with attentant vessel are being shared. Given the apparent level of technology, along with the resources and cooperation required for such an endevour, we do not envisage a lengthy delay in first contact."
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Re: First Contact

Postby Phorcys » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:33 pm

Convulsive cloacal clicking ripples through the darkness, panic gripping the chamber. The inexplicable nature of the anomaly had been disturbing enough, but now tactoaudio renderings from the orbital telescopic array reveal something far worse - an object of immense size, somehow emerging from the rift.

“Mission control, anomalous readings transmitted’. The panicked chittering from the vessel-crew only adds to the tension. “Permission-request Phorcys re-entry?”

“Return-permission denied” 1010873-Mission-Controller stridulates immediately, without a second thought. The crew’s survival is secondary, tertiary even to further observation of this phenomenon. “Continue data acquisition. Attempt to return to Phorcys will be punished with summary execution”.

1010873 grinds his gizzards in frustration and fear. This day was meant to be the glory-height of his achievement. The first oizys had reached the void. A great propaganda victory for the Confederation. Footage of the exposure tests was to be broadcast to every rival swarm-alliance on Phorcys as a show of power, and telecasted execution by void exposure declared the terrifying new punishment for untruth-dissemination and resource-misallocation. All of it now cut short - and instead of reporting his absolute success to Under-Command, he will instead have to explain the inexplicable. And questions will be asked about how Air-Void Control - with all their backing and resources from across the Confederation - still failed to predict or protect against this. Questions will be asked about 1010873's fitness for leadership-

“Divert probes to intercept object”, he trills, “there must be an explanation. There will be” - he stridulates a sharp chord, a note of menace to those that would fail him.

His culpability for this situation makes him vulnerable - around the chamber he echo-senses ovipositors stirring in their sheaths. At a raw, phenomenal level his anxiety stirs arousal, makes him desirable mate-prey for restless subordinates. The situation has every oizys on edge - and the chamber is thick with the titillating scent. With a flick of his pereiopods he signals for his military-caste attendants to encircle him. But should a mating frenzy descend and the guards lose control as well...He has only four brood-siblings in Air-Void Control, not enough to protect each other from the mass-

“-Master-Controller, further readings transmitted” 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician ticks tentatively, as though he fears to be the bearer of bad news. No doubt even the duller senses of an East Continental can detect the promise of violence in the air. "Spatio-telemetry and spectrum readings suggest-indicate anomalous object is of intelligent design”

“Intelligent design? Clarify” He turns to the Easterner, the foreigner coiling his arms in cringing deference, his entourage of tech-aides chittering nervously behind him.

“This one and our party concur. Structural morphology and electromagnetic-thermal emissions - in conjunction with current trajectory - indicate the object is a vessel-construct”

Aliens.

“Impossible” 1010873 declares. Theoretical models made in the last sixty years since the discovery of the void had long suggested the possibility of extrapandyssian life - and in keeping with their mandate Air-Void Control had factored those models into their proceedings. But it had been determined that even if other sentients existed, the vastness of interstellar distances would preclude any contact. Whatever aliens were out there should have been safely far away. Early proposals for a defence system on the orbital habitat had never even made it to the prototype stage. Their lack of foresight would surely be punished now - and perhaps not only by his Commanders, but by the alien menace too.

“Master-Controller” the Master-Signaller, a keen-sensed north Meridian oizys reports, “Electromagnetic emissions from the object appear-seem to be structured intelligently. Possible attempt at communication detected"

“Re-analyse readings" 1010873 clicks. "This must be confirmed”

“Confirmed. The object is transmitting coherent audio-visual data. It is a signal, Master-Controller”

+++Greetings to the people of Phorcys, from the Owners of the Nexus. We come to you with peaceful intentions and wish to offer you participation in the Nexus, a multi-versal community of many races, species and civilisations. If you wish to discuss further, please decide who you wish to represent you and communicate on this frequency. Your chosen representative is cordially invited to visit the Nexus and see what is on offer. This offer is not time limited, and we will remain here until directed otherwise+++


"By the swarms..." 1010873 is lost for vocals.

The alien communication is rendered in protocol-perfect Standard - they have obviously been monitoring Confederal comm-traffic from afar. For how long? The use of the language is intelligent and flexible. Many of the terms - ‘cordially’, ‘community’ - are unfamiliar compound-constructions, not native to the language, but the meaning is intelligible all the same. How much do the aliens already know?

Perhaps not enough, as it happens. The Owners may have been surveying Phorcys for some time, but they did not yet understand enough to know they had made a mistake. Visual data has been transmitted as well. Primitive oizys eyespots cannot make out much of the image besides the vague shape of a conspecific and unnatural colours, but the terminals convert the data into an audio-echo rendering-

-and Air-Void Control erupts in violent chirruping.

The sight of an oizys of such bizarre, unidentifiable racial physiognomy is an instinctual threat display.




Communication to Under-Command|Vault 01
1010873-Mission-Controller [Identity Confirmed]
Timestamp 52.48.9|91.65

Message start_
+++Voidborne construct of alien origin located 50,000 kilometres from Phorcys orbit|Alien entity requesting dialogue with oizys species|Mating-violence broken out in Air-Void Control facility|This one is wounded|Security Contingent attempting to re-establish control but contact currently lost with orbital crew|Cannot observe alien construct|Magnitude of situation too great|Deferring authority|Air-Void Control requests convening of Confederal Consensus+++



Communication to Air-Void Control|Vault 01
0031169-Under-Commander [Identity Confirmed]
Timestamp 07.51.9|91.65

Message start_
+++Confederal Consensus alerted|Session beginning|1010873 to report to Medical|Then to report to Under-Command for interrogation and fitness-ascertainment|Failure to prepare for current eventuality unacceptable|Loss of control over subordinates unacceptable|Prepare for punishment+++





The Confederal Consensus has been called upon.

The dread kratocracy of the Confederation of Swarms.They assemble over the comm-net, too important to risk either their time or their lives in long distance travel. They do not even sleep - a regimen of metabolism-altering drugs and neural augmentation having banished that weakness forever.

Fourteen representatives from the fourteen habitats.The four Supremacists, all-powerful commanders of the Meridian Hierarchies, proud and imperious and assured of their place at the Confederal Military's head.The five Executors, appointed by the Kin-Leagues of the West, cool and commanding, assured of their agricultural stranglehold over their Confederal peers.The three Co-ordinators, who between them hold the mineral wealth of the East Isthmus Consortium in their grasp. And the two Autarchivists of the East Continent Technarchies, the last member-swarms to join the Confederation - humble, reserved, biding their time. Long awaiting the day the Confederation finally tuns to them and their technological secrets in need. Perhaps it has come?

“They wish to make-form confederation with us?” 5790219-Co-Ordinator trills in disbelief.

“All known is that Phorcys is surveyed by an unknown agency. How long is not known" 0326444-Supremacist responds grimly.

"Their communication is non-aggressive" an Executor notes.

"This is true" 0326444 continues, "but their emissary takes hostile-foreign form of oizys unalike to any kin-type or race-group known by Confederal biologers. Possible interpretation: they wish to intimidate the swarms into submission to their 'Nexus' collective"

"It is the consensus that the alien cannot be trusted?" 5790219-Co-ordinator raises the motion.

All click affirmative.

"Consensus confirmed"

"Valued-Autarchivist-Allies, what is known of the alien construct?" 0326444 asks, "what threat does it pose?"

1142933-Autarchivist pulls up telemetry analysis of the construct on the Consensus Interface -"If alien intent was destruction-extermination of Phorcys or oizys species, they could easily destroy the planet with void-borne projectiles. Possible their intent is conquest or subdual of species. Their creation of a traversable spatio-temporal rift indicates technological capabilities far beyond Confederal power. It is unclear to what extent we would be able to resist. If at all."

"Mass evacuation to deepest levels underway in Habitat-Vault 03", 1613839-Supremacist chitters. "Corpse nurseries and surge shelters can hold all essential oizys. Recommend this course of action for all habitats. Consensus?"

"Consensus confirmed" the others click.

"Regardless of threat Confederation must respond" 0055217-Executor motions. "They have requested dialogue with a sole representative of the oizys species. Intention behind request unknown, true, but if any enemy swarm-alliance responds first and sends an observer, they will gain critical knowledge-advantage of the aliens. Lack of knowledge threatens survival of Confederation"

There is hostile chirruping in response. The logic is sound, but it is a bold suggestion all the same, and bolder still coming from a Westerner. The other habitats do not trust the decadent kin-leagues of the West, whose dependence on cybernetic modification so violates the bio-supremacist and natural selective principles of the Confederation. It would not surprise any if this motion was a ploy to goad the other habitats into a critical mistake.

"We cannot send an oizys into their grasp" 0326444-Supremacist chirps aggressively, "providing the alien with knowledge of oizys anatomy and weaknesses unacceptable"

"There are oizys in orbit the alien can abduct. Better to pre-empt hostile action with conciliatory move" 0055217 responds emotionlessly.

"Send a message" - 5790219-Co-Ordinator interjects before a typical Westerner-Meridian dispute breaks out - "But not an emissary. Request clarification from aliens. Request clarification of presence and strength in orbit. Query their intentions. Query from where they have come. Extract all possible information. So far alien is willing to communicate, even if they intend deception. Confederation of Swarms must establish itself as sole interlocutor between the aliens and the oizys race"

"Even if this only buys time to prepare a defence, this course of action gives the Confederation control, not an enemy swarm" 4958530-Supremacist admits."Intelligence warns intercepted communications from Southern Swarm-States suggest our enemies will attempt to respond"

"We must pre-empt" - 1142933-Autarchivist makes a rare assertion.

A tense silence. But in these strange times, he is listened to.

"Consensus confirmed"



Image
A 3D echo-audio rendering of a carved symbol is transmitted - 'Confederation of Swarms' etched in Glyphic. A grainy image of the stone script-tablet is sent as well, the aliens' primary sense being unknown.


Communication to [REDACTED]|[LOCATION REDACTED]
Confederal Consensus [Identities Confirmed]
Timestamp 53.27.15|91.65

Message start_
+++|This transmission is from the Confederation of Swarms|Requesting dialogue with agents that formed spatio-temporal rift in near-Phorcys voidspace|Confederation of Swarms is largest population and resource bloc on Phorcys|Supreme race of the oizys species|Sole architects of the constructs in low-orbit|Confederation is only worthy representative of the planet|Disregard communications from other swarms|Dialogue requested before invitation and further contact acceptable|Request alien craft maintains current distance from Phorcys+++



Last edited by Phorcys on Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The oizys species of the Confederation of Swarms

The Church of Autology and the fate of the Earth
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Client Councillor: 0992904-Interlocutor
Client Species: Oizys

Re: First Contact

Postby Wuufu » Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:50 pm

A little time had passed since the Nexus had sent down its all too familiar welcome message. When the reply from the Confederation of Swarms came back, snacks had been requested from the Owners and were being consumed.

"Oh my," Sotaro leaned forward on the chair he was sitting on. "Supreme race. Swarms. There's some interesting terms thrown in there."

"Not really," Tami responded. "Nearly all species at one time or another saw themselves as the centre of the universe, the god-given creation. And I know quite a few Client's who would consider themselves... swarm-like."

Sotaro waved his hand in dismissal. "I know that. Just trying to wage the odds of winning the bet."

A groan came from Cassie at the front. Tami just shook her head in mock disbelief.

"What?" Sotaro grinned. "I'm sure they are a lovely species."

"Sssh," Cassie hissed in slight annoyance. "I don't want to miss the reply from the Owner's."
Wuufu, Councillor of Security, Interim Councillor of Foreign Affairs and Interim Councillor of World Assembly Affairs in the Council of Brilliance, and Grand Master of The Cynosure Order.
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Re: First Contact

Postby Xah » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:14 am

Gate 8748
Location 514,24,108
In-universe


+++|This transmission is from the Confederation of Swarms|Requesting dialogue with agents that formed spatio-temporal rift in near-Phorcys voidspace|Confederation of Swarms is largest population and resource bloc on Phorcys|Supreme race of the oizys species|Sole architects of the constructs in low-orbit|Confederation is only worthy representative of the planet|Disregard communications from other swarms|Dialogue requested before invitation and further contact acceptable|Request alien craft maintains current distance from Phorcys+++


The Owners prided themselves on being as diplomatic and as generally inoffensive as anyone they had ever met. Their thousands of years of experience in contacting civilisations and species of every conceivable type had, in their own opinion, given them a good working knowledge of how best to approach new worlds, to deal with new cultures and, above all, present themselves as non-hostile, trustworthy and benevolent. That their tried and tested techniques, including the presentation of a form similar to, but substantially different to, a potential Client, would be perceived as a threat in itself, never occurred to them. Still blissfully unaware of the scale of the turmoil their arrival, and their method of contact, had caused, the Envoy craft hung stationary in space relative to the planet and the Gate opening some 100 km behind it.

A few milli-seconds of conferring took place between the Advocate and the Nexus Contact Board regarding the message and its tone. Some conjecture was given that the species involved may lack substantial visual senses, and the continued broadcast of a visual stream may be unnecessary, but this was disregarded as being irrelevant. This was the standard message type, and it had served well so far, including contact with non-visual species. The reply was parsed to its utmost, trying to glean as much information from it as possible, and a suitable reply crafted for the Advocate to reply with.

"As the appointed Advocate to Phorcys on behalf of the Owners and the Nexus, you may engage in dialogue with myself, and is encouraged and welcomed. Our craft will remain in its present location until permission given for approach. We mean no harm and only wish to offer participation in the Nexus."

The Advocate broadcast its message and waited. A tiny glimmer of doubt hung its mind; a niggling feeling that this wasn't a typical contact situation, but the Threat Assessment of the civilisation involved was considered low, so if it went wrong, the Advocate was sure of its ability to withdraw safely. Protocol had been followed exactly, and if sense prevailed down on that world, then they would surely see the benefits on offer.




The Owner in the Client auditorium paused for almost a second after the reply from Phorcys came through. Its lack of features gave nothing away, but if a featureless sphere could look non-plussed, it managed it. "Reply to initial contact sent, awaiting permission and further dialogue," it said. "This may take longer than originally envisaged."

A few of the more boisterous Clients laughed at that; it was always amusing to watch the seemingly omnipotent Owners flustered, even if just a little.
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Re: First Contact

Postby Phorcys » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:00 pm

Air-Void Control has been silent for hours. They are alone in the void - with whatever has come out of that thing 50,000km out.

"Mission Control, permission-request Phorcys re-entry. Is Control receiving?" 1973088-Voidreacher stridulates pleadingly with four arms in rapid panicked trills. "Vessel-crew requests re-entry clearance. Mission Control? Recieving? Permission-request Phorcys re-entry-"

"There is no purpose-use" his brood-sibling clicks coldly. 1973091-Voidreacher drifts down the spine of the habitat, checking and re-checking the chlorinators and the pressure pumps, steadying his nerves with the routine. “Contact is lost. Mission Control not recieving-listening”

“Fool" 1973088 clicks. "They hear us. They have left us to die up here”

"Not known. Possible quake has damaged surface communications array?"

"Possible", 1973088 concedes, stridulating a rough tone of annoyance. "Also possible thing from anomaly-rift so terrible they know not to tell us. They know we would flee. So they tell nothing and we remain at posts transmitting data until it is too late to escape”

"You mean that we should? Return to surface-safety without permission and they kill-execute us!"

"Yes. And what is out there, that could be worse?"

1973091 chitters uncomfortably. "Not known. Does not matter. Have orders. Go check fuel-lines, this one will monitor anomaly. This one is not afraid"

"You should be" 1973088 clicks, pushing off towards the reactor bay.

It is then that the comms panel finally lights up - "Vessel-Crew, respond. New orders. Respond".

1973088 scrambles desperately back. "1973088-Voidreacher receiving Mission Control-"

“-1010873-Mission-Controller has been found wanting" comes the response, and 1973088 realises he does not recognise these vocals. "This is 0031169-Under-Commander. You answer to Vault 01 Under-Command now. These orders come directly from the Confederal Consensus. You will obey ”

Under-Command. The Consensus itself. All anger at being abandoned in the void dissipates instantly. Cold fear takes its place. Both of the superior he speaks to now and whatever it is that is severe enough to have drawn their dread attention.

"This one obeys" 1973091 chirrups immediately.

"This one obeys" 1973088-Voidreacher stridulates stutteringly, his limbs trembling with the awe of being honoured by their direct command, and fear of the same.

“1973088 and 1973091 will listen close-carefully to what is said. Upon habitat-arrival you will have noted sealed quarantine module in research segment. This module contains experimental anti-matter factory. Compact prototype model can only produce and contain minute quantities, but still enough to destroy habitat in event of containment failure. For this reason module possesses emergency thrusters to clear habitat from blast radius".

"Containment is failing? Vessel-crew must launch module?"

"Negative. Containment stable. Air-Void Control can trigger emergency launch, but manual control of module only possible from habitat. You have access-clearance to launch system now. Manual control necessary for orders"

"They want us to destroy the anomaly" 1973091 whispers, realising. "It must be vessel-craft of enemy swarm - we will win glory-reward! Victors of first void-combat in all history-"

The truth of course is more dire than 1973091's perennially optimistic predictions.

"-The anomalous object has been determined to be an artificial construct of alien origin. It is believed the alien is hostile. All Phorcys threatened. Confederation possesses no weapons capable of reaching alien vessel-craft - but anti-matter module may suffice. Confederal Consensus currently communicating with the alien to stall their approach and prepare surface defences, but should negotiations deteriorate you will be signalled. You will launch module and guide it on course to impact enemy construct. You have one westerner-slave remaining - you will have it board module and Consensus will tell aliens it is an emissary. This should prevent module being targeted en-route, but as module continues high-speed approach they will realise. There is only one chance. You must not fail"

The transmission cuts off. The oizys are left floating in stunned silence.

Only for a moment.

"Enemy contact" 1973088 clicks, his fear vanishing as his military mind sets into a familiar course. No more unknown terror lurking 50,000 km away. Now the anomaly is an enemy threat. There is a plan to neutralise it. This he knows. "Sibling-ally, run launch commands" he clicks, pushing off from the terminal towards the research segment, "this one will trigger manual over-ride"

"Copy. Running commands", his sibling chitters, arms striking like snakes at a dozen control panels as he preps the module for its flight. 1973088 pulls himself into the spine and crawls down to the passage-lock of the research section. As he leaves he senses 1973091's ovipositor stirring in his ninth arm - if they were not kin he would prepare to defend himself - but he knows his sibling is hungry only for the reward that awaits them back on Phorcys-

-At least should they suceed. If not, there may not be a Phorcys to return to.

"For the race. For the swarm. For the genome" he chitters determinedly. No oizys has ever undertaken a duty of such magnitude, and 1973088-Voidreacher will not fail the Confederation in its most vital hour. The enemy will be destroyed.





"Will it work?"

"Impossible to predict. Alien capabilities not known" 1142933-Autarchivist responds to the Consensus' query. "We must prepare for eventuality that anti-matter strike does not neutralise target"

"Or that there will be reinforcements" 5790219-Co-ordinator trills.

"All Confederal habitats are evacuating to lower levels" 1613839-Supremacist pulls progress reports onto the Consensus interface. "In five hours all essential-superior personnel in Meridian habitat-vaults will be secure. Nuclear charges have been prepared to destroy surface tunnels. We will deny the alien entry-access if we must. Independent food-reserves in habitats 01 through 04 can last another nine month-cycles if worker-caste rations reduced and slaves harvested"

"Defence domes deployed across Confederation-vital agri-territories", 0055217-Executor informs the Consensus. "However surface agri-assets most vulnerable to alien attack. Requesting priority defence of Western territories. Request resurface-deployment of all marine reserves to West Continent "

Disturbed chittering echoes over the comm-links. It is quite a request for the reviled Westerners to make of the Confederal Military, dominated as it is by the forces of their bitter Meridian rivals. The chitters are all the more surprised when 0326444-Supremacist, ruler of 01 and first among equals, clicks his accord-

"Kin-Leagues must not be defeated. If the West is lost, Confederation starve-falls. This one authorises resurface-deployment of all sub-marine force-carriers within 39 hours of agri-territories"

"The East Isthmus Consortium will shift all platform-habitats deeper into the fissures, as far as can be manage-sustained" 5790219-Co-Ordinator chirps, "This one trusts in geological hostility of the Isthmus to protect us from invasion, as it always has"

"The East Continent will retreat all essential personnel into progenitor ruins" 1142933-Autarchivist chirrups, clearly enjoying having such a card to play at last, "The technology of the ancients will protect us".

"All preparations are being made", 3102335-Co-Ordinator chirps. "But we must continue to stall the alien until all defences are ready."

All click in accord.

"Consensus confirmed"

"We will make further dialogue-exchange" 0326444 assures the Consensus.

"Good. However if aliens prove hostile and all defensive measures fail..." 0055217-Executor draws another round of agitated chittering as he pronounces the unthinkable, "...we must be prepared to negotiate terms of our confederation in their 'Nexus' collective. Possible resistance-survival is otherwise impossible. We must appoint Representative as instructed"

Cloacae tighten and gizzards grind at the notion. But all heed the Autarchavists' warnings. The aliens' power is unknown.

"Who will be sent?" 5790219-Co-Ordinator asks, "how can a single representative of all Confederal swarms be agreed upon?"

"Aliens must be shown evolutionary peak of our species", 0326444-Supremacist chirrups, "Vault 01 Under-Command will search the gene-banks for optimum candidate. We will find a true oizys to speak for the supreme race. Other habitats may provide attendant personnel, but the aliens demand one representative and 01 shall provide it."

What might before have the expected outcry from the Western Executors at such presumption does not arise.

"Consensus confirmed"

In such dire times, the internal conflicts of the Confederation seem unimportant next to the shared need for survival. Which swarm is evolutionary master of Phorcys matters little now, for not just the Meridian or the Western or the Eastern race but the entire oizys species has competition now, from unknown organisms from beyond the stars.




Communication to [REDACTED]|[LOCATION REDACTED]
Confederal Consensus [Identities Confirmed]
Timestamp 24.49.21|91.65

Message start_
+++|Confederation of Swarms requests information exchange before further negotiations|Request knowledge of where spatio-temporal rift leads|Request knowledge of alien technological capability|Request alien agents reveal their true morphology|Request clarification of terms of oizys confederation with 'Nexus' Collective|Request further explication on nature of 'Nexus' Collective|Alien vessel-craft will then be cleared for approach| Per instruction Confederal Consensus will appoint representative to make direct contact pending satisfaction of information requests+++



The oizys species of the Confederation of Swarms

The Church of Autology and the fate of the Earth
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Client Leader: Confederal Consensus
Client Councillor: 0992904-Interlocutor
Client Species: Oizys

Re: First Contact

Postby Xah » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:03 am

Gate 8748
Location 514,24,108
In-universe


+++|Confederation of Swarms requests information exchange before further negotiations|Request knowledge of where spatio-temporal rift leads|Request knowledge of alien technological capability|Request alien agents reveal their true morphology|Request clarification of terms of oizys confederation with 'Nexus' Collective|Request further explication on nature of 'Nexus' Collective|Alien vessel-craft will then be cleared for approach| Per instruction Confederal Consensus will appoint representative to make direct contact pending satisfaction of information requests+++



The apparent suspicion of the newly contacted civilisation wasn't unique to the Oizys, and certainly wasn't the first time the Owners had contacted a species with such an initial resistance to their contact. It was usually primitive cultures however, who often responded with religious or xenophobic sentiments, linked to deep seated cultural mores. To have such a level of suspicion from a relatively advanced civilisation was certainly quite unusual; usually, space faring groups had reconciled themselves to contact with other cultures, and often looked forwards to it.

However, the Owners were nothing if not adaptable, and they knew their sudden presence was often what was termed an Outside Context Problem - the kind of event a civilisation encounters once, in the same way that a sentence encountered a period. It changed them, but hopefully for the better. The Advocate considered the new message and there was some more back-and-forth with the Owner collective. The information requested wasn't confidential, but was usually given over time, to prevent overwhelming culture shock, and often presented in person. People, of all species, tended to only truly accept what they saw, not what were told. A consensus was reached and a reply crafted, made more difficult by having to translate terms and concepts to a language clearly not ready for it.

"The spatio-temporal rift leads to the Nexus; an inter-dimensional corridor that accesses other universes. That we can construct and maintain such a phenomena should be adequate indication of our technological capabilities. Our presence here is purely benevolent; we only seek to spread contact and cooperation between species and civilisations." There is a slight pause in the communication. "As your appointed Advocate, the form chosen to be presented to you was considered the most empathic; physical forms of Owners are generally chosen to meet the needs of a task. If you wish another form, then your request will be considered. As a contacted Client species, the terms offered will be the same as offered to all Clients; access rights to the Nexus in exchange for compliance with Nexus Law, as attached. If you wish to know of and meet other Clients of the Nexus, then this can be arranged."




In the Client auditorium on the other side of the Gate, the Owner present waited for the broadcast to the Oizys to finish. "If this newly contacted Client wishes to meet some other Clients ahead of schedule, within their own universe, would anyone be willing to do that?" it asked. "There might be minimal risk, but we are confident of our capabilties to ensure safety."
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Re: First Contact

Postby Phorcys » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:09 pm

While the alien approach is stalled through dialogue, the habitat-vaults of the Confederation go into lockdown across Phorcys. Hundreds of thousands of essential personnel are evacuated into the deepest sanctums, while mass military mobilisation swarms the upper levels. The domes bristle with missile batteries and anti-air emplacements as vast shoals of hardened fighter-drones take off from hangar-ports rising from the wasteland sands. All the Confederation prepares for a war like no other, a fight to the death against an impossible foe.

High in orbit, 1973088 and 1973091 bundle a docile lobotomised slave into the antimatter lab, and prepare the module for launch. They eagerly await the command from Phorcys, arms rippling with hydrostatic tension as they imagine the glory-reward that awaits them.

And far below, the Confederal Consensus plans its next move.



The spatio-temporal rift leads to the Nexus; an inter-dimensional corridor that accesses other universes. That we can construct and maintain such a phenomena should be adequate indication of our technological capabilities. Our presence here is purely benevolent; we only seek to spread contact and cooperation between species and civilisations. As your appointed Advocate, the form chosen to be presented to you was considered the most empathic; physical forms of Owners are generally chosen to meet the needs of a task. If you wish another form, then your request will be considered. As a contacted Client species, the terms offered will be the same as offered to all Clients; access rights to the Nexus in exchange for compliance with Nexus Law, as attached. If you wish to know of and meet other Clients of the Nexus, then this can be arranged


The alien communication is played back again, its unnervingly realistic synthesis of Standard never failing to draw agitated trills and the hisses of tightening cloacae from its audience. It is dense with highly interpretable information, of disturbing and unknowable significance. The aliens use yet more unfamiliar compound-constructions - 'benevolent' - 'empathic' - there are no meaningful translations for these terms. 'Co-operation' the oizys understand - but not the motive. Oizys co-operate to attain what they cannot on their own. If these beings from beyond the sky are so powerful, so advanced, what do they need the co-operation of the Confederation for?

"It persists in its obfuscation."

"This one concurs. Negotiation cannot continue. Alien still conceals true form - Confederal terms not met. If it conceals morphological weaknesses, intent must be hostile."

0326444-Supremacist's deduction is met with a round of affirmative chittering - but 1142933-Autarchivist protests.

"Miscommunication possible. Possible that absence of true morphology is not deception. Possible absence of fixed morphology suggest-indicates alien is advanced form of constructed intelligence, not analogous evolutionary life."

"A constructed intelligence?" 4958530-Supremacist clicks perturbedly, "impossible". The Meridian leadership have long imposed a moratorium on further development of that science. They consider over-reliance on technology to be the dysgenic cancer eating away at the supremacy of the Confederation. That the terror hanging above them might be void-faring unlife of inconceivable power - is inconceivable.

"Possible" the Autarchivist responds cooly. "Projections predict-estimate paradigmatic change in capabilities of constructed intelligences within twenty orbits. In unknown range of orbital periods alien has existed for, possible constructed intelligence has advance-progressed far beyond Confederal understanding, even to equivalence with biological nervous structures".

There is uneasy silence, save for low disconcerted chirruping. None of the representatives of the older member-swarms are happy about this newfound authority with which the East-Continentals speak. But in such uncertain times as these, none know where else to turn but to their knowledge.

"If so," 0020191-Executor begins, implicitly conceding the point, "then 'Owners' serve unknown purpose of still unknown-unseen agency. Situation worse than believed. Any attempt to infer alien motive now impossible if alien is motiveless non-biological entity"

"Then information exchange has only rendered our lack of knowledge more acute" 3102335-Co-Ordinator surmises grimly. "Information-intelligence must be acquired. Directly"

"Options exhausted" 0326444-Supremacist finally concedes, having opposed the idea of sending a representative for hours. "Alien 'advocate' prove-confirms alien possesses knowledge of oizys morphology. Confederation does not possess knowledge of theirs. Intolerable".

"Consensus confirmed" all chitter accord.

"01 Under-Command has identified genetically optimum candidate" 0326444 assures the Consensus, "he will be requisitioned, briefed and re-designated immediately".




0992904-Complex-Systems-Controller has rarely felt fear in all his fifteen years of life. Born the strongest of his brood, he dominated the local hierarchy from the day he tore out of his gestator's body and strangled the first spawnling that dared come close. For some spawnhood was a daily struggle to survive - for 0992904 the corpse-nurseries were a hunting ground. Once he was an orbital period old and his kinmasters placed him in a taskgroup, he steadily rose through the ranks, out-performing all expectation, valued and respected by his kin and superiors, hated and feared by subordinates and peers. He had mated six times and never suffered more than a gouge from a rival ovipositor. He had the eye of 01 Under-Command, it was jealously whispered, and he would be taskgroup-commander one day soon-

-and all those ambitions seem to disappear behind him as power-armoured guards haul 0992904 down a tunnel he hadn't known existed. His terrified mind races to find some explanation. What has he done? Has some envious brood-runt framed him? Are his superiors too afraid of his prowess? Maybe; he can smell his jailers' fear - stronger than his own. Even clad in power-suits they strain to control his powerful limbs. 0992904 snakes his arms round their hydraulics and attempts to tear out the exposed joint mechanisms. A crunch and a pealing squeal of pain rewards him, and he attempts to jerk out of the wounded soldier's grip - but a burst from the other's electromitter subdues him first.

0992904 spasms uncontrollably, as consciousness slips away.




The cycle had started like any other. A spray of ice-cold water and an electrical shock from the automitters above their sleepspaces wakes 0992904 and his brood-siblings at 03. They perform the morning physical regimen, and the warren-master extols to the others how 0992904 has exceeded them in each and every exercise, as always. At 04 they perform daily mating training - 0992904 almost effortlessly grapples his partner into a deadlock, his sibling thrashing futilely under his dense exoskeletal bulk.

"Kin-sibling last-resisted fifteen seconds longer than yesterday", 0992904 chirrups in mock praise.

"This one superior! You trick-feint!"

"Unkin will trick-feint too", 0992904 relaxes his grapple and lets 0992882 scrabble back onto his pereiopods. "Must watch enemy's rearmost arm. Keep track of own. No flailing. Must have every arm engaged or in defensive posture - in this way", he positions his siblings limbs in the correct stance.

"This one is in error", 0992882 concedes, calming himself, lowering his central mass in a show of submission, "this one will improve".

"Good. Must improve or die".

As his sibling bows away 0992904-Complex-Systems-Controller is conscious of the warren-master watching him approvingly. His strategy has worked. Any oizys, 0992904 knows, could best his sibling in practice and merely gloat over his victory. But the sort of oizys who bests his kin to instruct them and improve their efficacy, is the sort that gains the eye of his superiors and is groomed for leadership. 0992904 will be warren-master next.

At 05 the passage-lock opens and the brood swarms out into the tunnels, in a dense clustered formation. Tens of thousands of oizys from a hundred kin groups jostle and lash at each other as they teem through the transitways. Inevitably, some will not survive the daily commute, trampled or seized upon or else losing their grip on the tunnel walls in a frantic attempt to escape. To be cut off from one's kin group is to be doomed. 0992904 takes the vanguard, his sheer size and visible strength dissuading most opportunists, and giving the edge over any oizys that would dare make an attempt.

A host of biometric scanners grant 0992904 and his siblings access through the passage-lock to Vault 01 Complex Systems Instability Response Control, where he has been assigned as a high-level responder for the past two orbital periods. He reaches his workstation, and tests his reflexes and fast recall skills on a mandatory pre-shift examination. Above him he hears the telltale trilling of someone failing the assessment. A minute later guards escort the quivering oizys back to the passage-lock, to be cast without designation into the tunnels. A thrill of satisfaction courses through 0992904. One by one, his savant kin-group are coming to dominate the Control Centre hierarchy. It is inevitable. A manifest destiny. They are simply the genetic superiors of the competition.

The shift commences. His task, among the most important in the Confederation, is to keep the complex and interconnected life support systems of the Habitat-Vault functioning, and to contain the dozens of habitat breaches that occur every cycle and manage the response. Constructed intelligences can perform simple emergency measures - sealing a passage-lock, scrambling engineering drones - all in an instant, much faster than an oizys operator could respond. But when a rad-flare is coming and it must be decided in minutes which personnel will have evacuation priority, or when a quake threatens an entire sector with collapse and only some can be saved, there has to be an oizys to make the call.

0992904 is the most efficient and parsimonious responder. There is not an oizys more expert than him in all Habitat-Vault 01. But not even he is ready for the task the tactofeed drums onto his cuticle after only half an hour at his station-

total evacuation|relocate all essentials to corpse nurseries and rad shelters|prioritise genetic value


Trills of panic sound across the chamber.

An oizys lesser than 0992904-Complex-Systems-Controller would freeze at the immensity of such a task. Complex Systems Instability Response Control has been called upon to quarantine pandemics, rebellions, evacuate entire levels - but never to relocate millions of oizys immediately. Not even the simulations for total war with the Southern Swarm-States call for this. But 0992904 is superior to all competitors, and he does not hesitate. He does as he is ordered, lashing at the console controls with six pereiopods at once, each limb darting almost too fast to see.

Hours of unprecedented intensity follow. He begins to tremble from the mental strain. 0992904 is so consumed with his orders he does not notice the rapid panicked clicks of his kin behind him. He does not even notice the soldiers tramping towards him in powered-armour. Not until they coil their limbs round his, and wrench him from the console.




"No fear, valued-adept-friend"

He hears an unfamiliar stridulatory tone.

"No fear"

0992904 has woken in a narrow, sealed chamber. An oizys with the scarification-marks of Under-Command is speaking to him.

"This one pleads" 0992904 prepares to beg for his life, or what they will leave of it. "This one does not know what is wanted"

"This not interrogation-execution. No fear. You are to be redesignated. Secrecy necessary for new orders. This one beg-orders forgiveness for necessary conditions of your abduction. You are valued-honoured-asset of 01 Under-Command".

0992904 shudders with relief. He will not be executed - this is his long-awaited glory-reward! Sure enough the Under-Command agent keys at a data console, chirping to himself approvingly. "Your examination records and genetic testing results are exemplary-superior to all oizys in your local cluster. Gene Banks flagged valued-adept-friend three orbital periods ago. Under-Command has been watching you since. Now Under-Command has purpose-use for you"

"This one obeys" 0992904 chirrups.

The agent clicks his cloaca discerningly at him, limbs stock still in thought, clearly sensing his internals. "Excellent organ function". He prods his cuticle and arms. "Strong. Tensile. An excellent specimen. You have mated six times?"

"Six"

"Good. The Swarm is benefited"

"How will this one serve the Swarm further?"

"Information secret", the agent begins darkly, stridulating a sharp cord of menace, "Assignment secret. Valued-adept-friend not allow-permitted to return to brood. Information quarantine in effect. Unauthorised knowledge of assignment punished with death. Valued-adept-friend must never be in contact with brood or kin again".

0992904 struggles to restrain a peal of dismay. This is not the reward he anticipated. To be cut off from all kin? To be surrounded by enemies, forever?

"Confederation in contact with extra-planetary agency believed alien in origin. Foreign agency requests direct contact with Confederal emissary. Confederation must show alien genetic-evolutionary supremacy of oizys species and Meridian race. You are chosen-selected. You are determined genetically optimal oizys"

0992904's cuticle swells with a potent mixture of pride and fear. What is surely the greatest task in all the Confederation falls to him. Terrifying, true. But 01 Under-Command, perhaps even the Confederal Consensus itself has identified him as the living embodiment of the species, the most perfect specimen in the gene banks. What oizys ever earned greater recognition? What oizys less superior than himself could be evolutionarily fit for the challenge?

"This one is true Meridian. This one does not know weakness. This one does not fail".

"Under-Command knows. Why you are here" the agent chitters. "You are redesignated 0992904-Interlocutor. Valued-interlocutor-specimen requisitioned at 01 Under-Command immediately"

The passage-lock opens. 0992904-Interlocutor rises onto his pereiopods reborn.




In a secluded private chamber far from the teeming transit-tunnels, 3100441-Emissary luxuriates in a hot chlorine bath, attendant slaves picking dead dermis from his softened cuticle. In the eugenics-obsessed Meridian Swarms such decadent, softening luxury is punishable by death - but 3100441 is no Meridian. He is the ambassador of the Western Kin-Leagues, the wealthy and invaluable agri-masters of the Confederation, and however much they despise him the Hierarchy of Vault 01 has no choice but to turn a blind eye. Even the dermatological condition his slaves are currently attending to is grounds for summary euthanasia here. But if they harm so much as a setae on his cuticle, it could be grounds for an agricultural embargo which would starve out the Meridian Hierarchies in months. So they are forced to suffer his impure presence and his relentless enjoyments, and always will be.

With a click of his limbs he summons forward a near-mindless nerve-broken slave, the speciality of his homeland. His un-altered Meridian chattel look on in horror as it prostrates itself unthinkingly, parting its limbs and baring its vulnerable flank without resistance. Stirred as ever by the gratifying display of absolute submission, 3100441 plunges his ovipositor deep into its gamete sac. It squeals and writhes in agony but still offers no resistance. Finally it collapses, quivering as the paralysis begins to set in. 3100441 withdraws his ninth limb glistening black, another slave rushes forward to towel it clean. He sinks back into the bubbling water with satisfaction. What he has just done is so illegal the Meridians might finally lose their temper and execute him if they found out. If there was one thing it could be said they despised about Westerners most of all, it was their dysgenic practice of mating without struggle, mating without natural selection, 'polluting the gene pool with weakness'. 3100441 had been stationed in 01 for nine orbital periods and heard it all before, but he cared little for their ridiculous ideology. Power, it seemed to him, was what mattered in the end, and if he and his kin had the power to make lesser oizys yield their bodies before them, why should they resist?

His reverie is irritatingly interrupted as the tele-tactofeed he wears round one arm starts into life and drums out a litany of information - at least it is an update on the considerably interesting situation playing out 50,000 kilometres from Phorcys. Wait. No there are Orders. Orders from home.

A member of his kinguard scuttles into the chamber, "kin-master, you are requisitioned by-by-" the musk of the mated corpse distracts him momentarily, but he composes himself, "-by the Meridians. By 01 Under-Command".

"This one knows", 3100441 clicks. "This one has received orders from the Executors. Kin-Leagues demand Western representative-presence on contact mission. This one is already in Vault 01 - so this one chosen-selected", he chitters annoyance. "This one more fit for mission than thick-cuticled Meridian fool Supremacists have chosen. But mission is unwelcome interruption to this one's affairs".

3100441 rises from the waters and slaves towel him down, bringing him his electromitter and his ceremonial mono-blade of office.

"Escort this one to Under-Command"




0409334-Biologer is displeased. He has dedicated the last twenty-five orbital periods - more than half his probable lifespan - to his position as Head Eugenicist of the Confederation. Over twenty-five periods he has perfected the oizys of the Confederation into the first and foremost of swarms. Superior races, unrivalled on Phorcys. Though he and his kin hail from the East-Isthmus, he considers all the oizys of the Confederation his children - for his command has shaped them all.

And now an unknown variable had been introduced. Rival swarms are no longer the only competitors for survival. All his life he has thought the Confederal Swarms the pinnacle of evolution - but as he has been unpleasantly reminded, in evolution complacency is punished. All along, he realises, the oizys have been like endemic organisms on an isolated island chain, lording their superiority over what they thought was the world until predators washed up on their shores.

Such species have all been driven to extinction on Phorcys. Such a fate cannot befall the Swarms, and with what orbital periods 0409334-Biologer has left he swears he will find out what he can about these aliens. He is perhaps the only volunteer for the mission. Despite reservations about replacing him in his duties, the Hierarchy of 01 have granted his request. Though he has not returned home since he earned his designation, by blood he satisfies the East-Isthmus Consortium's desire for representation, a useful political piece then, for his true loyalties lie only with his own kin and the Meridians who support his research.

For now in the reserve laboratories deep within the deep-most rad-shelters he continues his work. Constructed intelligence conjures a simulation of a hypothetical alien autopsy. He studies it intently. None can know what unforeseen biology they will encounter up above. All eventualities must be prepared for. The Confederation must learn what they are. They must learn how to kill them.




2204873-Aerovoid-Technician trills in pain as he places weight on the wounded pereiopod. The Meridian medics chitter in contempt at his weakness - but easy for them to do so, their cuticle is denser and thicker, their limbs almost twice as thick as those of an East-Continental like himself. It's a miracle he survived the chaos at Air-Void Control at all, trapped with hundreds of rampaging Meridian fallen into mating-frenzy. A miracle, for which most of his kin-guard paid with their lives. At least the Mission-Controller was executed for allowing such folly to break out under his command.

"Silence!" he chirps at the medics. "This one will order-command castration!" That stops their chittering. It's unlikely he could have them punished - but they don't know that. However little respect they have for him, they know he is an important foreign official.

He clicks curses to himself in East-Continental. This day was supposed to be the height of his glory! Where was his reward? Was it to be chittered at by Meridian dregs? Even worse, he somehow failed to make so much as a single kill in the whole melee, not even that wounded oizys trapped under a corpse - all the opportunity gained him was the deep wound in his flank. His ovipositor twitches with dissatisfaction. He wonders if he could get away with kill-mating one of the medics by surprise-

"Valued-knowledge-keeper" an agent of Under-Command crawls into the chamber from the vertical passage-lock above. The medics scatter from his side in fear. 2204873 would trill with frustration if he wasn't just as afraid himself.

"This one is ready for command" he props himself up, trying his best to ignore the pain.

"Valued-knowledge-keeper assigned to contact mission. After disorder at Air-Void Control valued-knowledge-keeper most certified. No time for recovery. You will be fitted with exo-braces to assist movement. Painful, but valued-mission-asset will endure. Orders are to observe-deduce functionality of alien construct-craft and technology"

He lifts his limbs to speak but orderlies hoist him off the medspace before he even has time to stridulate a question.

"Valued-mission-asset requisitioned immediately"



Communication to [REDACTED]|[LOCATION REDACTED]
Confederal Consensus [Identities Confirmed]
Timestamp 39.15.27|91.65

Message start_
+++|Information exchange accepted|Direct contact acceptable|Alien craft cleared for approach|Request direct contact occur on Phorcys surface|Alien emissary cleared for entry into Confederal airspace|Transmitting co-ordinates of research facility|Contact must occur at specified co-ordinates+++


"A test. If terms refused, hostile motive-intent must be assumed" 0326444-Supremacist warns the Consensus. "Then only remaining action-course to attempt deception. Agree to orbital contact and initiate anti-matter strike under cover of lab-module as envoy-craft"

"If anti-matter strike fails then Confederation initiates all measures for resistance-survival on surface", 0020191-Executor continues grimly.

1142933-Autarchivist clicks affirmation. "Terms must be absolute. Confederal emissaries cannot make contact on alien terms. Capabilities of alien technology unknown. Risk of conceding vital information. Alien must be observed by oizys in environment under Confederal control"

"Consensus Confirmed"




Far from the relative safety of 01, a convoy of hardened land-shuttles churns through the desolation of the acid wastes. Every vital member of the contact team travels in a seperate vehicle, in case any are lost en-route. The boiling corrosive clouds eat away at the thick ceramic shielding, the unstable ground shifts and and heaves underneath, testing Confederal engineering and the resilience of the crew to breaking point. Ahead, barely visible through the toxic murk is a facility unmarked on the maps, a hangar-port rising up from its submerged lair beneath the sands. First contact must take place in utmost secrecy, far from the eyespots and cloacae of the world.
The oizys species of the Confederation of Swarms

The Church of Autology and the fate of the Earth
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NS Nation: The Confederation of Swarms
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Client Tech Level: A1
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Client Councillor: 0992904-Interlocutor
Client Species: Oizys

Re: First Contact

Postby Wuufu » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:48 am

In the Client auditorium on the other side of the Gate, the Owner present waited for the broadcast to the Oizys to finish. "If this newly contacted Client wishes to meet some other Clients ahead of schedule, within their own universe, would anyone be willing to do that?" it asked. "There might be minimal risk, but we are confident of our capabilties to ensure safety."


Cassie turned to her two colleagues standing behind her. "What do you think?"

Sotaro smirked. "It's what we came here for, right? Meeting new civilisations?"

Tami nodded. "I wouldn't miss it for the world," she replied. "And we know the Owner's well enough to safely say that there really isn't anything that would bother them to any degree."

"Then we are in agreement," Cassie turned back towards the viewport, raising her voice to communicate with the Owner's representative. "We are also confident in your capabilities and would be willing to meet with this Client."
Wuufu, Councillor of Security, Interim Councillor of Foreign Affairs and Interim Councillor of World Assembly Affairs in the Council of Brilliance, and Grand Master of The Cynosure Order.
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Wuufu
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NS Nation: The Grand Master of The Cynosure Temple
NS Region: Cynosure
Nexus Client: The Mitaku Federation
Client Tech Level: A1
Client Leader: Federal Council
Client Councillor: Cassie Ekin
Client Species: Mitaku


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