The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

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Phorcys
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The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Phorcys » Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:13 am


The Eudaemonia, in orbit above Uozo

A team of EVA engineers perform pre-flight checks on the shuttles and the docking modules. They clamber across the vessel, like pinpricks against the structural vastness of the spine. Beneath them hangs the great orb of Uozo, crested by the sunrise, orange and blue and whorled in silent, flowing white. The majesty of the sight aches in every human heart onboard, and for the EVA crews most of all. From space their world had once looked like this, a garden-home of shining colours, before the comet rendered it an ash-shrouded tomb.

“Like Earth”, one engineer whispers over the comms.

“Like Earth”, echoes another.

They had all lived terrestrial lives that to them seemed only decades ago, not the near-millennium it was in truth. From the perspective of their current selves they’d had the neuroscan and in the blink of an eye been transposed 800 years into the future, to be told they were dead and the planet dead with them. Reborn not into the paradise the Church had promised, but a horizonless world of pressurised habs on airless moons. The planet beneath them now was a dream restored.

“Rejoice then brothers,” their Vested-level supervisor calls out, “for this virgin paradise shall be yours”

“Praise the Progenitors!” the cry goes up, and like a wave of raw emotion takes them all.

"Praise the Progenitors! Praise the Progenitors!"


“Praise the Progenitors!” Expedition Commander Jannik Strohmeier greets each brother as they are deposited still steaming from the resurrection tanks. As Commander he had been decanted first, reborn a couple of hours ago. Now he watches the nano-styli weave muscle fibre and knit bone, as quantum-computed molecular algorithims reassemble his crew out of raw organics. Incredible; when Strohmeier was first resurrected on Callisto almost twenty years ago, the process took over a month. When they departed, it had taken over a week - and over the course of their long voyage the shipboard AI had optimised the process to mere days.

The Eudaemonia had made a journey from the Martian dockyards to the furthest reaches of the solar system, crossed the gateway out in the Oort, traversed the vast Nexus itself and travelled the expanse of the inner Zhuza system. Anyone making it over such unthinkable distances wasn’t just going to go to sleep for the ride. Every gram of mass counted, it was hard enough getting a ship out here in a mere six years without having to pack on enough life-support systems to keep a meat crew alive. Instead, only their neurographs had been stored. The ship had already been in orbit for almost nine months while the drones towed in asteroids, processing the raw minerals and complex organics needed to construct the resurrection module.

The lights switch to green and a res-tank chimes as it finishes its occupant. The fluids drain, the restraints unlock and the glass slides open, and out floats someone Strohmeier had decidedly not been looking forward to seeing on the other side. His second-in-command, and a drooling fanatic, an actual honest-to-goodness believer in alien gods and the secret artefacts.

“Ah, my friend”, Alexis Reza grins inanely, coughing up floating globules of amniotic fluid, “I only wish we had been here for the crossing into the Nexus. Imagine - to behold the work of the First Ones all around us!”

It's impressive, Strohmeier’s forced to admit, how instantly Reza seems to have gotten used to his new body. The Head Mentor kicks off from the tank like an athlete off the poolside, gliding over to the uniform rack with practiced ease. For Strohmeier it took an hour of retching before the tremors stopped and his proprioception was even working properly. It’s like the man’s propelled by the power of his faith alone. Or more likely his dog-like loyalty has won him a couple more gene-tweaks than Strohmeier’s ever been rewarded with.

“How many have been decanted? How soon do we make planetfall?” Reza asks, already having worked his way into a jumpsuit.

“EVA guys are already out and running the checks. Give them a couple more hours and they’ll be done, a couple more and we’ll have everyone done” Strohmeier gestures to the tanks.

The Chief Mentor isn’t really listening. He's drifted over to the porhole, gasping with awe - “Ah, Progenitors above! Alhamdulillah, selamat maju jaya!”

“It is quite something” Strohmeier admits. He can’t pretend the sight doesn’t stir him either. A whole new world. A living world. Back home in the anodyne corridors and capsules of Site Epsilon, Church nanotech can fulfil almost any material desire. Their HHUD’s can project hallucinatory vistas of open skies and rolling fields - but nothing can replicate the things they all remember from Earth - the touch and taste of the open air, the sensation of full g or of breathing soil underfoot. He is among the only humans who will ever experience these things again.

"Luar biasa! I have only seen it for a moment from above, and already I think it will be hard to return, even to the fold of the Church, once our work here is done!"

"The idea of a planet underfoot again..." Strohmeier agrees. No matter how much he loathes the man, at a time such as this his enthusiasm is still infectious. One good thing Reza'll have done for him then. After all this planet will be his home now. The true believers will likely euthanise themselves before the return journey, thinking their spirits will transmigrate to their next bodies. Most of them killed themselves before the voyage, in fact. Certainly Reza did. But Strohmeier never believed in that. Surely the fact there’s still a copy of him living and breathing on Callisto disproves it.

In truth, he’d want to stay even if there was a way to get his consciousness back to the solar system. Out here he's far from the grasp of the Church, from Corinealdi, Ben Abbes and all the rest of that cabal. He’d never been much of an Autologist, his wife had been. She’d only pressured him into getting the scan a few months before the comet came, and well, he wasn’t going to deny her the desperate hope of being reunited in the afterlife. Only turns out it wasn’t so desperate a hope, and he had never truly accepted being reborn into a world where the Church was all that was left.

Trouble is, there are two types of people who volunteered for the missionary voyages. The ones like him who wanted to get away from it. And the ones like Alexis Reza, who love and serve the Church with all their heart and soul. And unlike with Reza, it’s not always easy knowing who is which.

“Join me in a song of praise, brothers!” the Chief Mentor exclaims, trying to keep the newly resurrected distracted from the pain.

As Commander, with all his commanderly responsibilities, Strohmeier can excuse himself from joining in. He pulls up a random data file on his HHUD and moves his eyes conspiciously from left to right, to look like he's actually reading it. But he makes furtive glances at his fellow expeditionaries as they sing, hoping to glean from their facial responses some modicum of insight. He could be surrounded by potential allies in faithlessness, who dare not show themselves, or just as likely by zealots who don’t make such an outward show of it. He wonders if any of them are watching him out of the corner of their eyes, and thinking the same.

Anyone besides Reza, Strohmeier doesn't know so well. He barely met them all before the launch. They’re mostly Practitioner-level believers who’ve been living on the Ark orbitals. The ever-faithful, forgotten masses who the Church bled dry on Earth, but now has no more use for in the afterlife. They doubtless jumped at the chance to serve Autology in any way more meaningful than vegetating on the basic Church regimen of free drugs and HHUD porn.

“Commander, if you have a moment?" someone calls from above. Ah. That's Science Officer Malorie McGowan, so fixated on her terminals he'd hardly noticed her floating overhead, monitoring surface telemetry from the planet below. He got to know her a little better. And she is not like the Arkers.

"Go ahea-"

“-So probes indicate the atmosphere's highly toxic - which, well let's be honest is unsurprising given that it's fucking orange. Not exactly un-breathable, a good amount of oxygen down there, but the concentration of sulphur dioxide's high enough to damage your lungs if you inhale it for more than a couple minutes. Also - how's this for an exotic touch - the air's swirling with vanadium pentoxide dust, so that'll cause severe irritation and inflammation to any exposed skin. Not that you'd be stupid enough to expose any anyway. As for potential biohazard risks, well we'll have to get fauna and flora samples first to analyse native biochemistry"

Despite himself Strohmeier smiles. "Copy that, McGowan"

He could almost bring himself to like her. She brings a touch of levity to proceedings, acts the least culty, the most like a normal human being of anyone he's met in years. Anyone he's met since Earth, he thinks piercingly.

Only trouble is her record says something else. She's a Vested-level believer from Site Lambda. Doesn't mean she's a zealot, you might think, Strohmeier's Ordained-level himself. But then you look at her file. Canadian astrobiologist in her past life, joined the Church after the death of her husband in the anti-Autology riots and quickly climbed the tiers. Almost certainly a true believer then, and with an axe to grind against anyone who isn’t. What else could explain the transfer she requested from her cushy job at Site Epsilon to the rugged Lambda re-education facility on Ganymede?

“Hey, Mtakwenda", she calls out to their sec-officer, "not that we'll know anything much 'bout the natives till we biopsy one, but if we're going by the resilience of terrestrial arthropods to massive tissue damage, you'd better print off some nasty munitions as precaution. Might I suggest a nerve agent?"

Rui Mtakwenda's field stripping a coilgun to check for printing defects. "Eu vou pensar em algo melhor" he replies.

McGowan nods, "o que você quiser".

Strohmeier's not any surer what to think of Mtakwenda than of their Science Officer. File says he was a Brazilian PMC in his past life, now head of the Eudaemonia’s security detail. Only Practitioner-level, but the man has Autologist helixes scarified onto his arms and chest, which he actually specified he didn't want the res-tanks to fix. He wears little icons of Ishimura and Ben Abbes round his neck. Isn’t it all too much for only a mid-tier believer? He's either trying to hide a lack of devotion, or he's an absolute fanatic who just cant pass the courses.

"We haven't come all this way to kill, doctor", Reza reprimands, "we came to teach".

"Yeah well helps to be prepared. And well, whose to say a little positive reinforcement won't help the teaching?"

Mtakwenda laughs. Reza does not, only gives them both a stern look and drifts away. This is the thing. She behaves so flippantly that Strohmeier can't help but hope she's a secret unbeliever. He's seen people sentenced to fates worth than death for less than what she's just said. But why would she have survived all these years, why would she have been selected for the mission, why would Reza not demand to have her shoved back in her tank and disassembled, if she wasn't actually a proven believer through and through? She works at the Ganymede penal colony, for gods sake, probably experimenting and doing god knows what to the non-conformists. The fact she seems so undevout probably means the opposite. But he can't figure her out. He can't figure any of them out yet apart from Reza.

And if he makes the move and decides to trust any of them, Strohmeier can’t really afford to be wrong...



Six years ago, Site Epsilon, surface of Callisto

They were invited into the Chairman’s offices just as he was finishing a sermonstream. In Mandarin, this one, totally different to his bombastic English style that Strohmeier was familiar with. The Chairman didn’t move around or gesticulate towards the heavens, he spoke measuredly towards the camera, punctuating points with simple gestures of resolve and certainty. His accent was unrecognisable. As the stream finished and the studio lights came up, Strohmeier realised there were women splayed over the sofas and on piles of cushions on the floor. They looked drugged out of their minds, faces slack and glazed in expressions of unthinking adoration. So, Strohmeier noted to himself with little surprise. Turned out what they said about him was true.

“Welcome my friends”, Oumar Ben Abbes greeted them with the usual hearty, jovial introduction of his streams, voice booming in that avuncular, quasi-african accent that the Tunisian-born Chairman must have been putting on. “Let me embrace you!" He seemed to have switched back into his English-speaking persona the moment the cameras had stopped rolling. "Come. Come I have the greatest of news for you today.”

“Ch-Chairman I feel blessed to be in your presence” Reza blustered, overcome by emotion, or perhaps by the gripping force of Ben Abbes’ embrace - he was a big man. “It was your videos that brought me to Autology. That saved me! Nobody would help me, I-I walked past the Autology centre in Koja district every day and never imagined it held all the answers, until - until-”

“-It is alright my son. You do not need to praise me. It was you who completed the courses, your strength and your commitment in following the program that brought you here. I only showed you there was a way. But the power-” he placed his hand over Reza’s heart, “was always within you”.

The Chairman withdrew from the embrace, and gestured for them to sit, reclining into an armchair as Reza wiped the tears from his face. “That is the teaching of Autology, and that is why you are both here today” Ben Abbes always raised a didactic finger as he spoke. “The Church has very great need of you, friends, of your talent and ability”.

“What is the Church’s will?” Reza asked, voice trembling with passion.

“Yes, I too am eager to serve” Strohmeier parroted, with what must have been obvious but plausibly deniable insincerity.

He looked Ben Abbes in the eye and mentally dared him to give a sign - just a smile that wasn’t the big dumb smile he always had, or a slight narrowing of the eyes, a slight tilt of his head. But there was no change. Even though he knew that he knew. He must. He must have felt it. That Strohmeier saw through him, knew his secret. That the great Oumar Ben Abbes, the favoured of Ishimura, the second prophet, the beloved of millions, didn’t really believe in a word he said. Didn’t really believe in the Progenitor dimension or the alien artefacts or any of this shit. But he gave no sign.

Instead he simply gestured to one of his followers. “Fadiah…” Ben Abbes said softly to the girl, and wordlessly she came over, and knelt between his thighs. Alexis seemed flustered and looked embarrassedly at his feet, blushing despite the fact that this kind of thing was, in principle, absolutely in accordance with Autologist beliefs. Strohmeier just wondered why Ben Abbes did it. If the Chairman was trying to impress him or establish his dominance it was having no such effect. Strohmeier was married. Being married, in fact, had rather slowed his ascent through the ranks, Autology taking a dim view of commitments to anything besides the Church. But he’d stood by her. If he’d left his wife like Ben Abbes had his, maybe he’d be sitting in his place by now. But unlike the Chairman, climbing to the top of Autology had never been his life's goal. Being a member of this cult at all had never been something he'd asked for.

“The task the Presidium has given you is great, my friends”. Continuing as though nothing in particular was going on, Ben Abbes flicked a finger to share his display, a hallucinatory wall of text and images appearing in front of them on their HHUDs. "This is the report the Outreach Office has put together on the Volzhkerix species. Primitive, these aliens, according to what Owner records we have been permitted to access. Isolated from foreign contact. An optimum candidate for the Church’s very first extrasolar missionary expedition. The first step on our path towards the multiversal ascension, and an eternity of delight for all mindkind” his eyes burned with fake fevour at the words. “I would go myself, forgoing these comforts” he patted Fadiah on the head, “but the faithful need me here to guide them through the sacred tiers of self-understanding-”

“Of course you would, your Autoscience”, Strohmeier couldn’t resist the jibe.

“Please,” Ben Abbes waved a hand dismissively, “call me your brother, as you would any other believer”. If he noticed the slight he still kept up the act and gave no sign. “Or father, whichever you prefer”.

Strohmeier wondered if the Chairman ever came out of character.

“I-It is a great honour, Bapak, to be selected for this glorious undertaking” Reza blurted with obvious excitement, his embarrassment instantly forgotten. “Until now we have heard only rumours of the great ship being constructed. Is it ready? When do we depart?”

“Six weeks my friends! I am glad to say it. Ishimura himself would smile upon such eagerness. Though - you shall not be departing, as such. The great vessel cannot be overburdened on its long journey. Only your neurographs will be taken. If you wish to reach the new world, it will be necessary to release your spirit from its vehicle of flesh - as before on Earth"

Strohmeier barely resisted snorting.

"A second resurrection would be an honour indeed" Reza exclaimed.

'Truly" Ben Abbes tapped on his armrest and Fadiah crawled away. "Should you accept this gracious offer, my brave friends, I promise you that all Autology shall know your names".

Strohmeier sat back pensively. Unlike Alexis Reza he needed to think. If he went then he, or at least a version of him - but one as real as he was himself - would never see his wife again. But then...to be free. To be free of the surveillance, the endless courses, the gnawing indoctrination, all of it - even of her, he guiltily admitted, for she was as much a fanatic as anyone else he was wary of on Callisto. Even if it was not truly himself that would enjoy it - he wasn't going to kill himself after all - perhaps it would give him some comfort to know that somewhere out there, far away from here, he had found peace among the stars. The very thing Autology had promised, but never given him.

► Neurographic Data Manifest
Last edited by Phorcys on Sat Jul 20, 2019 11:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Kyoki Chudoku
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Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Kyoki Chudoku » Tue Jul 09, 2019 12:13 pm

Within the halls of the Supercommunal Council, Viryzhdra struggled to contain her dread. Ever since she’d been invited to the illustrious Supercommunity of Tariat, the international situation had been tense. But things were beginning to grow more dangerous by the day. The so-called Violet Princess struggled to believe that the meeting she had just attended could be real. It was all so...terrible. Viryzhdra stared at the global map, focusing all eighteen eyes on a single marked territory- the Second Offensive.

The world was divided between two large alliances, each in opposition to the other. The western continent was host to the main constituents of the noble Iron Allegiance, an alliance which upheld the righteous ideals of freedom for the princess caste. They had thrown aside the chains of the tyrant-queens and usurped their bloated lessers, who were now reduced to mere egg-bearing livestock. The eastern continent was home of the remnants of this bygone age, of rule by tyranny, of queens oppressing princesses. Their alliance called itself the Crown Sovereignty, but the truth was obvious to all with working brains- the colossal Shoryu Empire had taken advantage of the situation to dominate other tyrannical powers. Most of those powers were restricted to their continent, any conflict demanding a massive movement across the oceans. Viryzdhra was not an expert on war, but even she knew that reality. But there was one exception, one singular outlier that could result in calamity.

The Second Offensive. During the fall of the tyrants, a single power on the eastern side of the western continent had defeated the princess uprising. That power had now termed itself the Second Offensive- so named because of an unveiled intent to retaliate against the Iron Allegiance and bring the princesses back under their control. That single splotch of land controlled by the Shoryu’s little pets was the perfect place from which to begin an attack, and everyone knew as much. There was a reason both sides had dug out trenches and erected walls in the harsh deserts of the former Great Labour Empire. So long as that one power remained, the Sovereignty stood a chance of rapid victory. At first, it had not been an issue. The situation had been tense, yes, but the tyrantborn had too much to lose by pressing the offensive. But in a single instant, that stalemate had come crashing down. That moment had been the arrival of the Farcomers.

They called themselves “Owners”. They had introduced the Tariati to the enigmatic wonder of the Nexus, and the Tariati had introduced their allies. Virzyhdra had seen it with her own eyes as envoy from the Violet Sisterhood. She had been one of the last to witness such a sight. As soon as the rest of Uozo found out about this gate to another world, an international summit had been called. Members of each power had regarded each other with disgust, but it had been agreed- there was to be no monopolisation of this gateway, or the unaligned cowards and the Shoryu and their pets alike would turn against Tariat and bring the age of true, righteous royalty to an end. And so, the Allegiance, backed into a corner, had taken the only route left open- not a single soul was allowed to peer within that gate again. The tyrants could not be given any opportunity to access or exploit the Nexus.

It was despicable. It was pathetic, that the Tariati had been forced into such a position to begin with. Their industrial might was unmatched. Their Supercommunity was a union between the infamous diligence of the Great Labour Empire and the unmatched authority of the Dominion of Chalkoth. The Sisterhood would never have allowed such mistakes to occur within it’s own confines. But then, they were fanatics. They knew the Will of the Cycle. And she, priestess-turned-emissary, knew it even more than most of her compatriots. Nine months ago, there had been an omen- an omen on the dawn of the Day of Triumph. Stargazers across Uozo had verified it- the flash of fire in the sky. It was a sign.

The next time the Day of Triumph came to pass, the reign of the tyrantborn and their mothers would no longer be tolerated. It would be destroyed.

“Majestic mother.” Viryzhdra’s frills rippled in surprise at the sudden sound. It took less than a second for her to recognise the familiar scent of Vir’Kana, greatest of her soldiers. She released a burst of control pherohormone, relaxing her mouth-plates as she took in the way his expression now relaxed. “I have grown concerned about your well-being. But I do not wish to intrude.” Soldiers were so much more intelligent and courteous than drones. Still, her drones were responsible for her royal children- they had a role to play, as did all castes. In the Forelife, Vir’Kana’s soul had proven itself commendable but undeserving of regal authority. Her drones had proven too unworthy to be given a chance at true choice. And all tyrantborn across the world had failed. Their bloated forms, their vicious nature...all was punishment for their pre-born avarice and desire to subjugate their superiors. It was the Will of the Cycle that they be eradicated. They were unnecessary. They were vestigial. Countless Decoders had proved that. From the Sisterhood’s finest metaphysical analysts to Arexthi’s most prestigious anatomist, the same consensus had been reached. The tyrants were obsolete.

“Mother?”

“Forgive me, my child.” Viryzhdra did her best to focus on the world befriend her, at least as long as her thrall was in proximity. He deserved no silence. He only tended to his mother, as all good chosenborn children must. “The current situation is...dreadful. Come with me. Let us see the rest of the dynasty for some time.” She paused. Virzyhdra needed a distraction, a focus that wasn’t as morbid as this consideration of inevitable war. “I’ve reconsidered. Be so kind as to inform Daruzh’Vir that I require pleasure from him within the hour. My drone must serve his purpose once again.”



Within the confines of the facility, Arazulzh examined her subject. It was a remarkable specimen for the offspring of a tyrantborn. She had acquired numerous Taken slaves for this experiment. The breeding stock was suitable- she’d inspected each herself. Indeed, they were contained within this very structure. Such efficiency. The rate of production per individual rivalled even the greatest Taken hatchery. Of course, as an Arexthite, anything less would be a disappointment. It was by the will of the Iron Allegiance that she was permitted to work within Tariat, to handle the great stock of the former Great Labour Empire and its array of well-bred tyrant-slaves. That empire’s legacy needed to live on. War was coming, everybody knew it, and many worried about it. But though she was no solider, Arazulzh was one of the few on Uozo actually seeking to do anything about it.

She wasn’t trying to end it, of course- that would be antithetical to the ideals of the uprising. No, no, she would ensure the end of the tyrants. They had access to certain advantages- a greater egg-laying capacity, a greater strength of pherohormones, and worst of all, the accursed kill-switch pherohormone. Rumours abounded that the queens were seeking to weaponise this control mechanism, to incite entire Allegiance armies to commit suicide against their will. Unacceptable! If they were willing to explore such measures, then Arazulzh would do the same in her own way.

The first project showed more promise. It already had a basis in modern pherogenetic science. By applying enough pherohormones to a soldier, they grew stronger, more intelligent, more dangerous. Perfect for a war. Certainly, their lifespans beyond battle were expected to suffer, but that was of no concern. They were thralls designed to be expended in such service. It was a tragic but inescapable reality. However, Arazulzh’s interest was far more captured by the second project, the one with boundless possibilities if if she could just get it working.

She turned to her workers, then to the observing princess. Ixara, she was called, the so-called “Copper Princess”. Her very brown and cyan hue made the white-and-blue Arazulzh want to turn away. No doubt there was paint involved, an artificial complexion for an egotist of the highest order. Ixara loved her soldiers, to the point that Arazulzh wouldn’t be surprised if she turned out to have an aberrant attraction to them. She, meanwhile, was a princess of more upstanding principles. She gazed upon the tyrantborn everchild suspended within the room’s centre, chained to the ceiling as workers armed their needle-guns and pherosprays. One held her hands against a lever- the designated electrocutor.

“Inject NGPh, forty-eight percent.” The appropriate worker followed her instructions, keeping a close eye on the dial, placing a needle through the skin of the test subject and flooding the eunuch’s veins with neurological growth pherohormone. “Spray PDPh, twenty percent.” The other worker obeyed, carefully spraying an aerosolised mixture containing physical development pherohormone. This entire sequence of experiments was a puzzle, a search for the one correct answer, the right way to go about this. All nymphs of the Volzhkerix polyptated twice before maturity, save for one caste- the everchildren. They never underwent that second metamorphosis. But what if they could? What if enough shock could be induced to force them to? What would result? That was Arazulzh’s passion, and she would devote her entire life to the search if need be.

“Electrocute, fifty-percent, two seconds.”

The lever was thrown, the chains electrified. Under the sudden shock, the eunuch thrashed and flailed, before its body went limp. It was dead. Another failure. Another batch of pherohormones lost. No matter. The search for truth would persevere.

“It is as I said last time, Arexthite,” Ixara muttered. “Everchildren are so named because they never. Grow. Up. I think it will soon be time for my fellow Tariati to be informed of how little your meanderings have accomplished.” She widened the gap between her mouth-plates, releasing pheromones to reveal her state of smug satisfaction, as though her tone alone were not already enough. “Such a small clade. Better mate again soon. I’ll donate a drone if you have none of your own...”

Arazulzh could barely resist the urge to frenzy at these accusations. Did the Cycle intend for her to go mad, locked in a laboratory with this self-righteous pain in the oviduct? “Play with your soldiers and stop wasting your breath. When my project comes to fruition, we will see who is left in disgrace.”



Between the eastern and western mountains surrounding Kazhidrat was lay a jungle.

The great city was home to an unfathomable number of personnel. Countless civilians, thousands of soldiers, great minds from all across the Iron Allegiance. The industrious Tariati, the populous Mhevembi, the warrior-priests of the Violet Sisterhood and the great decoders of the Adrexthites were all united by their alliance, by their common hatred of their deposed tyrant overlords. To some, it made sense to train in those cities. It was safe. It was fast. It worked. But to Mozhkandra, it was not enough. Those areas did reflect the true realities of war.

The jungle was dotted with Uozo’s signature purple soil, patches of yellow sulfur left to the sturdier planets to inhabit. A dust storm was sweeping in the, the dust swirling in the rising winds as distant plant-tendrils swayed. Many of these plants were covered in nematocysts, enough to kill an unfortunate Volzhkerix. It was a perfect environment for a test. The queens had numbers on their side, there was no denying that. But Mozhkandra intended for her forces to reign victorious in the inevitable war. Unless there was a crisis in Kazhidrat, she was free to command her forces wherever she saw fit, as long as it was not too far from the city’s bounds.

Winged creatures glided between stalks, one snatched by a meatflower the moment it tried to perch with its adhesive feet. One mistake was enough to be fatal in war. Sometimes, no mistake was enough. Her forces needed training in all possible environments. The great southern jungles were even more harsh, even more daunting, covered in swamp and with toxic fumes filling the atmosphere from vicious prey hoping to avoid being devoured. Nobody would expect a counter-attack through that region- the very idea was ludicrous. Mozhkandra sought to make the ludicrous reality.

She examined the weapons of her warriors. The standard issue hand-repeaters and hand-cannons, good enough in a fight but conventional as imaginable. The scatter-repeaters, an experimental form of weapon designed to counter close-combat attacks. Then there were the true monsters of war. The fire-streamer, designed to set enemies alight. The chemical weapons. The armoured war machines, too large to fit in the jungle, but nonetheless powerful. Even above there was an innovation- the bloatflyer, a new form of aerial craft equipped with powerful mounted cannons, able to soar above the fray and pick off targets from the sky.

Drones, armed with scatter-repeaters, took flight. They were weak-minded, yes, but agile. Then came the soldiers, with workers handling the machinery. A select few held hand-artillery, designed to puncture armoured targets if it came to it. There were few everchildren, for they were too weak for battle. Princesses stood beside their growing dynasties, countless willbearers and Taken at their command, those belonging to true families given far less dangerous assignments. It was a procession of carnage, or so it Mozhkandra hoped it would be. When the danger of battle presented itself, the Deathbodies of the Iron Allegiance would be prepared. There was no alternative save defeat and death, and that could not be allowed. Any advantage in the coming war needed to be attained, no matter the cost, for there was no greater cost than a tyrantborn victory.

That victory would never come to pass. She would see to it, no matter what temporary price would need to be paid to ensure that those bloated oppressors never restored their tyrannical authority over her kind again.
Volzhkerix | Supercommunity of Tariat | The eusocial jellyfish-bugs stuck in an industrial-tech cold war

Eriaroon | Eriaroon Eugenic Republic | The abyssal cephalopods who believe that reality is the afterlife

Vordekai | Vordekai Continuum | The withering organ-harvesters who seek perfection

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Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Phorcys » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:20 pm


Covert oizys listening post, in orbit above Uozo


Darkly unreflective in the visible spectrum. Burning like a malformed star in infrared. An unravelled torus. A crown of thorns, lying shrouded in the permanent twilight of a synchronous orbit. A grotesque tangle of tunnel-tubes formed from the compressed regolith of Uozo’s outer moons and the cannibalised rubble of the stellar accretion disc, warped into an imitation of the underground structures of Phorcys like a cast of some immense hive. It looks like a contortion of cancers - twenty kilometres across. And in the lightless warrens deep within, hot and black and cloying with the chlorine murk they breathe, the oizys lair.

In the years since they arrived they have observed the planet beneath them with coldly calculated malice. Determining the genetic competitiveness of its dominant species, the threat posed to the supremacy of the Swarms in the evolutionary struggle. Free from the watchful gaze of the Owners they would simply burn the structure into a decaying orbit - eradicating the biosphere in a single cataclysmic impact. But instead the station must remain. A monument to oizys hatred hanging silent above an unsuspecting world. Its existence the opening move of an undeclared state of war.

Not a war that will be logged in the statutes of the Nexus Conflict Board. Not a war fought over demands or conditions, that will be settled with sanctions, negotiations or even surrender. This war is the eternal one of all against all - the imperative biological state of the oizys species. It is waged against their nominal conspecific allies no less than their alien enemies. It will end only with the end of intelligent life. And declared or not, in the Uozo phase of the cosmic struggle first blood has already been drawn.

Huddling in their oxygenated capsules, abducted volzhkerix call on all the legends of old for deliverance. Nematocysts flaring in fear at the tramp of their captors' approach. They come inexorably through the pitch dark, not needing eyes to see. And never without bearing a victim away into their endless night.


Chamber 014 - Station Vivisectory

Looped volzhkerix radio transmissions are played over the holding pens. 3201117-Cipherer suggests an application in calming subjects before processing. If so, efficacy is marginal. 0409334-Biologer theorises reverse-synthesising their chemical emissions will yield greater effects, but even after countless experiments on the alien glandular system they have been unable to replicate the full catalogue of chemotransmitters required. All attempts to deliver artificial molecular analogues - whether through aerosol exposure or injection - have been fatal.

In his taskwork at least, 5406074-Vivisector has become proficient at avoiding that outcome. Scrutinising the specimen's biotelemetry over tactoaudiofeed, 5406074 carefully directs his instruments from the console. Teleoperated blades and biopsy drills probing the still struggling creature hidden beneath the atmospheric enclosure. Personally he considers 3201117 and 0409334's dispute irrelevant. Whatever greater concerns his superiors may have for pacifying the species as a whole, 5406074 does not care whether his vivisections resist - it has little bearing on the task once they have been properly amputated and restrained.

What does have a bearing - the biometric alarms sound - are these constant interruptions. He raises a cloaca to echosense an oizys approaching through the tunnel walls. He knows who it is. Come to cost him time once again with his baseless theorising. 5406074-Vivisector deals in observable fact, in what his instruments can image and echoscan and extract. Whereas 0409334-Biologer-

“Report-explicate specimen!” his taskmaster's stridulatory tone echoes down into the chamber, the passage-lock opening above as the Biologer clambers through. 5406074's setae bristle at the intrusion of unkin, but more than that they seethe at the aberrance of it. A proud Meridian being made to serve at this inferior's whim. Not even just a foreigner but an old one - cuticle beginning to slough and discolour with age. At a limbspan of almost three metres across 5406074 towers over the weakling isthmusbred dreg, and his ovipositor swells in its sheath for the moment he thinks the Biologer comes alone - before he echosenses another on approach. 0409334’s wiry Kinguard scuttling in after him, pereiopods coiled around the grips of a vicious sonic emitter. Torture device as much as weapon. And while 5406074-Vivisector fears no oizys on Phorcys or beyond, he has learnt to dread the tightbeam's penetrating burn.

“Attempt mate-fight", the enforcer chitters, reading his predictable thoughts, "those will not save-help you”

Choking on a hateful cloacal hiss 5406074 sheaths his multiblades, not even realising he had them drawn. The Kinguard is not wrong. However much the Meridian longs to sink twelve inches of carboplatinum between the Isthmian's ridges, so long as he carries that weapon he is not wrong. The Kinguard needs only prime the tightbeam in warning and even at its lowest setting 5406074 can feel his soft tissues beginning to squirm. Higher settings can cook an oizys from the inside - and he has seen it happen to too many kin. So grinding his gizzards with suppressed hate-lust, he lowers his central mass in submission and does as directed. But he will not stop clicking all the while - probing the Isthmians just as he probes the vivisected volzhkerix - waiting for a moment of weakness in which to strike. He is Meridian, and they have not broken him yet.

“New combatant strain, based on surface observations" he explains, tapping the console and calling up a stream of audiographs. “Eugenically optimised. Gross morphology analogous to prior specimens of straintype. Divergence compositional - enhanced musculature, increased encephalisation quotient. No evidence-indication of direct genomic alteration - proteinic configuration standard-identical. Presume origins of strain natural phenomorphological differentiation. Possible new strain augmented by selective breeding"

0409334-Biologer listens more intently to the audiographics than to him, clicking disinterestedly in response. “Elevated Chemotransmitter levels” the Biologer notes, limbs chattering in sudden agitation. "Marked increases from conspecifics of same straintype. Differential analogous-equivelant in scale to discrepancy between combatant and menial straintypes. Evidences epigenetic manipulation”.

"Possible" 5406074-Vivisector concedes, having learnt better than to provoke him when his Kinguard stands point. "Conjectural" he adds, unwilling to resist anyway. There must be some outlet for the Meridian’s pride, however insufficient. It is all he can do not to rattle his limbs in sheer disdain. For against all evidence his taskmaster refuses to abandon this theory. Yet more proof of the foreigner’s inability to lead this mission - as if any were needed - and if only there was any rightful authority within a hundred lightyears to report it to.

It is true, 5406074 concedes, that the developmental process of strain differentiation is poorly understood. Frustratingly - inexplicably - all their specimens have proven infertile, and until they understand the aliens' reproductive and rearing processes they can know nothing for sure. But the triggers that determine phenomorphology must surely arise during gestation, as in all dimorphic species on Phorcys. It is the more parsimonious explanation. One that does not require conjecturing entirely new models of developmental biology. 0409334-Biologer's claims that the aliens deliberately manipulate strain development possesses no known evolutionary analogue - but then how like the unregulated mind of an unregimented Isthmian to stray into such realms of unlogic.

"Magnitude and specificity of divergence renders natural mutation improbable" 0409334-Biologer chitters. "Even directed."

"Must account-factor instability of cyclohexane nucleic acid" 5406074 retorts - before regretting it, flinching at the angered flare of 0409334’s spiracles, and worse the ripple of hydrostatic force in the Kinguard’s tautening limbs. “But possible” he trills tremblingly. As much with rage as with fear, that he is made to tremble at all in the presence of these dregs.

It is not even his real objection to 0409334's theories. What he no longer dares repeat for fear of immediate ultrasonic punishment is that these creatures are stupid. 0409334 touts them as a nascent threat to the genetic supremacy of the swarms - yet he has not spent nearly as much time dealing directly with the captives as 5406074-Vivisector has. The Volzhkerix may be physically stronger and more resilient than most aliens - the most analogous species yet discovered to the superior oizys form, in fact - but as with all softworlders, their placid environments preclude the evolution of truly advanced, oizys-level intelligence.

“Once chemosynthesis achieved, will create-release epigenetic bio-weapon” 0409334 declares. “Contaminate-disrupt alien developmental processes. Evolutionary threat terminated”.

5406074-Vivisector has accessed 0409334’s designatory records. The Biologer is a survivor of the infamous first contact mating frenzy at Confederal Air-Void Control. The fear of the unknown that so gripped the Confederation’s leadership in those first frantic cycles must have left a lasting impact, for that he considers the creature dying in the surgical enclosure before them a threat to the oizys species indicts an irrational phobia of the alien. After all, in the orbital periods since confederation with the Nexus, every scientific expedition, every client contact, has only made the inferiority of softworlder life more evident. And none so clearly as these Volzhkerix specimens - listless, aimless, barely resisting - possessing the most feeble intellects of any he has ever studied. Even if 0409334 is correct that newspawn development can be influenced by chemical exposure, it cannot be anything more than a random environmental process, or if deliberate then a hard-coded instinctual behaviour at the utmost. That it could be a rational endeavour, that these pathetic creatures could accomplish what oizys science cannot - is impossible. Paranoiac. Even 5406074’s own conjecture of selective breeding is doubtful - for that these aliens can possess even the rudiments of technological civilisation at all disconcerts and perplexes him.

"Must retrieve master strain specimens" 0409334-Biologer clicks to himself, trawling through chattering audiographs of haemolymph analysis. "Observed strains biologically incapable of producing all recorded chemotransmitters - indication-deduction is existence of higher strains. Synthesis fails because specimen catalogue incomplete".

Another of his taskmaster's irrational convictions - that some superior hidden race is responsible for all the specimen anomalies they have encountered. As far as 5406074-Vivisector is concerned they have no more existence than the delusional non-empirical entities the captives call out to from their pens, and he will believe otherwise when he has one splayed out in the Vivisectory.

“This one will report all findings” 5406074 chitters, fighting the natural instinct to keep a distance - fighting his long-suffering pride - so that he can he part his limbs, exposing his flank in the dangerous oizys gesture of deference and servility. Long orbital periods of pain it took for him to submit to such a display, to unlearn his Meridian conditioning that to make it before unkin was death. But if it makes the Isthmians leave him be to his far worthier duties so be it. A calculated risk.

One that does not have the desired effect.

“Insufficient!” 0409334 rattles, looming forwards with limbs poised and outstretched. “This one tires of your apathetic-inadequate performance. In six orbital periods your reports have only repeated prior-established findings. 0292801-Taskgroup-Commander assure-claimed 5406074 was optimal-unparalleled candidate - but perhaps Western-traitor-degenerate only desired to placate Meridian Hierarchies?" 5406074’s ridges clench tight in learned fear, every pain receptor expecting the imminent blare of the tightbeam - but instead the Biologer lashes out a pereiopod to jab at his cuticle in an impulsive burst of mingled frustration and lust. A critical mistake -

-for it is 5406074's opening. He lashes out a pereiopod in turn. Gripping the weakling's overconfident limb like cabling wound round frail cord. The Kinguard swivels his emitter in defence of his master but it is too late by the time the attacker's movement even registers - a Meridian's reflexes are second to nothing that lives.

A lesser oizys might have resisted the killing urge. Considered that he was going up unarmed against his superior in the chain of command and the most effective terror weapon ever conceived by oizys ingenuity. But shaped by generations of selective breeding and the harshest eugenics regimens on Phorcys, 5406074's nervous system is too refined, too parsimonious to burden itself with the hesitancy of conscious thought. In the time the Kinguard takes to raise his weapon - in the time a mammalian nervous impulse would have made it halfway from head to shoulder 5406074's periopods have already engorged - his limbs contorted - and the oizys hurled himself bodily at the Isthmian scum. Bursting the hydrostats in the Biologer's captured arm in a single jerk as he wrests himself across the distance between them.

In the same motion he latches on to his taskmaster's cuticle with four powerful limbs, winding them round the Isthmian's to cripple the foe's defences. And with rippling, darting pereiopods pries the Biologer’s exoskeletal ridges apart. Exposing the soft tissue - and at an echoglance the gamete sac pulsating just underneath. The screeching Isthmian fights back, struggling desperately to shake the frenzied oizys off - but 5406074 is a Meridian in his prime and the stronger by far. His grapple cannot be broken by all the Isthmian’s scrabbling. Tasting victory in the intoxicating pheromonal terror of his prey 5406074 unsheaths his ovipositor - almost a foot from base to barb, swelling, glistening, triumphant - and draws his ninth limb back for the fatal plunge-

-when the Kinguard fires-

-and 5406074's cuticle snaps shut in instinctive response. An involuntary muscular contraction. Shielding his audiophores from the deafening wave - but trapping him echoblind beneath his own exoskeleton. He lashes the poised ovipositor out in directionless desperation - and the barb embeds itself only in regolith. And all 5406074's superior strength does does nothing to stop the utter agony flaring in every hydrostat, his fluids vibrating, bladders beginning to tear and distend as the tightbeam does its work. While his Meridian limbs can still tear any of theirs bodily off they cannot risk the mating blow - but with each second his musculature degrades under the sonic assault. He bears the agony for as long as he can. Unwilling to give in to the inferiors. Unwilling to die bearing Isthmian spawn in his body-

-before a burst of crackling energy sends his attackers floundering back. A disciplinary drone settles between the parted oizys, baring its electromitters from its armoured shell. 'All units requisitioned at Control' the station's constructed intelligence announces, and if 5406074 could neurologically conceive of the idea of divinity and its intervention he would believe it. 'Emergency procedures enacted. All units to report to Taskgroup-Commander'

The Isthmians lash their limbs in bitter frustration. The last non-essential personnel were mated almost two months ago - and since then there has been no release. The station intelligence is watching now for any breaches of discipline, and punishment during a covert operation is merciless.

"To think this one waste-committed so many orbital periods to the honing of your race" the Biologer clicks with bitter yet cold contempt, already re-composed from the shock of the mating struggle. "Foolish. Could not predict-preempt paradigm-shift. Your cortically-underconnected kind condemned to supersession-extinction".

“You survive this cycle, dysgenic-weakling-wretch” 5406074 stridulates with high-pitched menace as he staggers back to his pereiopods, chittering sharply as he can with still spasming limbs. "Drones not always here to save Isthmian from own slow, cortically-compromised reactions" the Meridian retorts. An attempt to recover some modicum of dominance. But it is a hollow threat. The drones have saved him. Not all his strength. Not all his speed or skill. And his every Meridian virtue cultivated by years of hardship and struggle - affirmed in a hundred evolutionary fitness examinations and neuroquotient tests - earns only pain in this perverse place. And 5406074 can only wonder as his tormentors scuttle from the Vivisectory - was this what the Meridian Hierarchies won the contact war for? Was the West crushed and the allies put in their place so the Meridian's finest could be reduced to chattel by dysgenic scum?

And an unfamiliar sensation settles in the hollows of his cuticle, like the rot of one of the countless diseases Meridians are inured to. For this is an enemy he has never had to face before. He cannot even recognise it as despair.


They detected it from 200 million kilometres out - the moment it crossed the Nexus gate, the immense flare of a deceleration burn lighting it up from half a system away. A vessel. Another advanced client, enroute to stake their claim to the world below. Inbound in just an orbital period.

The arrival presented an unprecedented threat to their secrecy. If the aliens pointed any scopes their way the station's waste heat would be impossible to hide. The Confederation of Swarm's presence above Uozo was a covert operation, in violation of just about every Nexus law. Detection was unacceptable. Even if they kept their lives - unlikely - none would be spared their ovipositors if they failed their Masters' charge.

So using only jets of natural gas from harvested asteroids to minimise conspicuousness - painstakingly inefficient - they had manoeuvred slowly into synchronous orbit over the planet's opposite hemisphere.

They appeared to have been fortunate. For nine months after arrival, the alien craft - clearly unmanned according to preliminary telemetry - had given no indication it was aware of their presence. Yet what exactly it was building with the endless stream of asteroids its drones towed in was a disturbing unknown.

Oizys do not tolerate unknowns - but investigation was impossible without abandoning secrecy. They had considered sending self-destructing probes for a rapid flyby - conceding their presence in-system, but at least not their location-

-But it seemed their questions had been answered for them. The aliens had constructed a smaller craft, a shuttle of some kind, and only the previous orbital rotation - judging by what could still be discerned from the remains of its atmospheric contrails - it had descended to the surface. Carrying unknown cargo. Or perhaps hitherto undetected passengers?

Whatever the case, non-interference is no longer an option. Relentlessly 0409334-Biologer has impressed the total necessity of hindering Volzhkerix technological advancement upon 0292801-Taskgroup-Commander - and the contravention of their isolation by an alien power threatens precisely such.



"Surface expeditions command-authorised" 0292801 dictates from the command platform, protected behind thick reinforced impact glass, flanked by Kinguard and hovering defence-drones controlled by the Station Intelligence. On Phorcys the Confederation of Swarms encourages violence and competition across the chain of command, as the eugenicist ideals of the politically ascendant Meridian demand - but on a covert mission in the depths of foreign clientspace, standard protocol has been grudgingly recognised as impractical.

"Direct specimen retrieval authorised?" 0409334-Biologer chitters with barely concealed agitation.

"Authorised. Intervention of voidfaring alien power forces our own. Cannot permit 'k'k'i'x" - he approximates a pronunciation of Volzhkerix as best he can - "to acquire transorbital capabilities. 0409334 deems species' competitive threat materially significant-sufficient if voidfaring technology acquired. Nexus populated enough with alien-threat-enemies. Cannot permit-concede another".

"Course of action?" 0409334-Biologer inquires. "Identity of foreign-alien voidfaring client unknown. Direct engagement risk unknowable-unacceptable"

"Spectroscopic-telemetric analysis of alien construct suggests superior propulsive technology to Confederal craft" 5506083-Aerovoid-Technician stridulates. "Concur with 0409334". He punctuates his admission with a guttural cloacal pop, to make it clear his agreement does not signal accord with the oizys that attacked 5406074, his kin-sibling. It wounds the Vivisector's broken pride all the same. Not even him. Nothing is lower than faithless brood-kin.

0292801-Taskgroup-Commander confers with his Kinguards in Western, unintelligible to the others, and clacks his limbs together in thought. "Must make direct contact" he decides. "Covert operations unsustainable. Make transmission to Owners - Confederation of Swarms initiate-establishes contact-relations with 'k'k'i'x polities. Provides cover for interaction".

"Objective-goal?" 5406074-Vivisector asks.

"3201117-Cipherer has identified polities rival-inimical to one voidfarers have contact-contaminated. Possible rival polities can be convince-coerced to exterminate technologically contaminated 'k'k'i'x"

"Much remains to be decode-discerned" 3201117 interjects, explaining himself. "Presume many translation difficulties will persist-remain irreconcilable. As with all aliens".

Raising a handheld device he plays a series of intermittently translated excerpts from intercepted communications. It is the unaltered Volzhkerix words that stand out, mysterious and alien-

'-tyrant'

'oppression-'

'-birthright'

'justice-'

"There are no meaningful translations for these terms" 3201117 concedes. "But this one has discern-distinguished existence of two pre-eminent power blocs on world". The handheld transmits an audiograhic echodisplay to the command chambers' main audioprojector. A 3D rendition of the planet, two areas of landmass depth-highlighted.

'-Shoryu' a volzhkerix vocalisation is played.

"Alien term designates pre-eminent of rival polities"

"Our target" 0292801-Taskgroup-Commander confirms.



Multifrequency radio transmission to settled sites identified across Shoryu territory



An echoaudio rendering of a carved symbol is transmitted - 'Confederation of Swarms' etched in Glyphic.

Communication to Shoryu Swarm
Confederal Contact Taskgroup [Identities Confirmed]
Timestamp 68.24.11|104.123

Message start_
+++|This transmission is from farcomers| Farcomers designated Confederation of Swarms|Confederation of Swarms requests dialogue with authorised agents of paramount volzhkerix power|Confederation desires informational-artefactory exchange for mutual furtherance of interests|Arrival of Confederal agents imminent|Prepare+++

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Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Phorcys » Sun Jul 14, 2019 2:08 am


The first humans explore the surface of Uozo, 3088 CE


Expedition Commander Jannik Strohmeier is the first one off the ramp and the sun glares with the baleful strength of all his memories. So almost like the sun. And in that moment he understands that whatever else he is or has not been - he is the first human in all of a thousand years to behold the vista of an open sky. To feel breathing soil underfoot and the natural weight of his body anchoring him to blissful, solid ground. He feels as though all mankind weighs on him to say something. Some words of moment for human posterity. Like Armstrong. Like Ishimura himself. But all he can do is to sink to his knees in some nameless emotion more powerful than any he ever felt - something like wonder and something like joy. An overpowering euphoria colliding with a crippling nausea, gripping a body that had almost forgotten the sensations of its first life. Somehow only the more life affirming for the pain.

And when Alexis Reza steps into the light and within seconds starts bleating out the songs of praise it feels like a profanation of something wordlessly and godlessly sacred that all Reza's piety could never imitate - or the man ever understand.

"Alhamdulillah!" the Chief Mentor cries in breathtaken passion, tears fogging up his visor as Strohmeier stares silent and blank as the perfect sky. "Alhamdulillah!" Reza exclaims again with opened arms, lifting his hands in trembling rapture to the rising sun. "Behold the gift of the First Ones my brothers and sisters! My brothers and sisters all!"

And yet he has no idea.

The dawn's light is cast over a bleak and sparing kind of beauty. Who knows what hues the baroque flora offers to alien receptors? To human vision its purples and yellows are muted and cold. But it is the beauty left to mankind and it is beauty all the same and they will cherish it.

Malorie McGowan staggers out next, shading her visor from the glare with both hands. Her hands drop. Without so much as an exclamation she falls next to him to her knees - and Jannik wonders if she could be sharing in these same sensations. Pure. Free. Feeling something untouched and unclaimed by the dogma and the lies. He wonders if there isn't someone out here all this way from dead home who still doesn't believe after all.

But that's when she whispers, barely audible over the helmet feed - until she begins to say it louder and faster, a mantra that hollows all of it from the moment he makes it out -

"Progenitors be praised, Progenitors be praised, Progenitors be praised, Progenitors-"

-and as Strohmeier slumps in his suit out off the ramp jumps Rui Mtakwenda. Who scans the horizon in a single motion left to right - then drops to a crouch to field check his rifle. When the Security Officer eventually looks up again with his squinting, impassive glare Strohmeier wonders - with a sudden emptiness heavy in his chest - what even the would-be wonders of Autology could hold for a man who doesn't see anything worth lingering over out there.

Malorie, at least, is taken enough that she's - she's taking off her glove -

"McGowa- Malorie! Are you insane!" he rushes to his feet to stop her. "You warned us yourself abou-"

-but Strohmeier freezes when he sees the beatific smile on her face. Their supposed science officer is scooping up a fistful of alien earth in her bare exposed hand, rubbing it between blistering fingers that turn red then black as it blows away in the wind. The skin begins to slough like tissue paper - but still she smiles in an abject joy that can only be as utterly unalike his own as Reza's.

"So what, Commander?" she laughs through wincing. "What's the worst it can do, kill me? Worth it I'd think"

Reza nods in approval, smiling with her. "With strange aeons, death has died"



“We are farcomers, do not be afraid of our arrival. We greet you as friends of all peoples and nations. Our mission has come to bring you joyous news from afar. A great discovery! We wish only to share it with all of Uozo, for what we have learnt is of the profoundest significance to all mindkind, mighty or humble, wealthy or poor, ruler or ruled"

The broadcast was looped, transmitted continuously from the Eudaemonia as the shuttle descended to the surface. Every Volzhkerix for a hundred miles would have seen it as it parted the clouds like a comet burning up in reverse - its tail the plume of its thrusters firing retrograde. Aerobraking it coasted over Kazhidrat, gliding to settle miles further in between the eastern and western mountains.

Trekking over harsh, swampy ground the party of eight forge a slow path towards where from higher ground they saw distant city lights. Mtakwenda and Squadmen Abdulayev and Luiz in the vanguard, visorguards down, surveying the terrain ahead in lurid false colour through their suit-cameras. Commander Strohmeier and the Mentor entourage following behind - Reza, Hammond and Hyo. And Science Officer McGowan trailing even further, injury slowing down her fieldwork as she extracts samples from the native flora. At least, to Strohmeier's relief, she admits getting carried away with what she did to her hand - and now her whole right arm, the medview on their linked HHUDs worryingly shows. Her suit's autodoc is slowly repairing the exposure damage, but maybe not fast enough.

"I thought you said the atmosphere'd cause irritation and inflammation" Strohmeier quotes, monitoring the medview with growing concern. "McGowan, it's killing you."

"Well no way I could have known for sure until we found out the hard way. You should thank me. I'm sparing any of you the first field test. Just shoot me, or whatever, if I'm slowing you down too much"

She means it, Strohmeier thinks grimly.

She gets her wish when one of the plants she's poking at rears up like a provoked animal - and stabs her right through the torso with a metre-long stinger. It unsheathed from a harmless looking frond like an oizys ovipositor. Striking without warning. The suit's autosealant clots the perforation in seconds but it can't repair the gaping hole in her anywhere close to fast enough. She's properly dying now. Sure as anything.

Mtakwenda hauls out the uplink equipment from its cases and carefully sets up the hyperload array, while McGowan lies immobilised and haemorrhaging in the dirt. Her helmet will take the neurograph, the array just provides the bandwidth to transmit the atomic data.

"Quebrar o galho?" she asks once the upload's done, voice trembling with pain. Rui comes over, and nods. Holds her hand. And fires a magnetically accelerated slug directly through her temple.

"We'll see her soon" Reza says as nonchalantly as if she'd left a room. McGowan's body slumps over the roots of the thing that killed her, eyes staring up at it wide and open.
Last edited by Phorcys on Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:35 am, edited 3 times in total.
The Oizys of the Confederation of Swarms
A dysfunctional kratocracy of hyper-sexual hermaphrodites

Post-Humanity and the Church of Autology
A transhumanist cult of precursor worshipping evangelists

The Great Ones of the Cryojovian Volume
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A post-apocalyptic bronze-age tribe plagued by the resurrected monsters that haunt their DNA

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Kyoki Chudoku
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Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:29 pm
NS Nation (Prefix): Conflicting Clusters of
Nexus Client: Tariat
Client Tech Level: I3
Client Leader: Ilzkat
Client Councillor: Ro
Client Species: Volzhkerix
Location: Australia
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Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Kyoki Chudoku » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:06 am

Within her chamber, Viryzhdra cannot help but feel insignificant. It is a fleeting feeling, she is aware, a meaningless emotion. But all the same, it penetrates her. She has done much for the cause of the Revisionist faith. She is entrusted to serve as emissary between the Sisterhood and Tariat, privileged to witness sessions of the Supercommunal Council as they progress, and yet...all she has done for the Cycle since her arrival is interpret signs and recite the same lectures, same sermons, time and time again.

They are important. That is not in doubt. The young royals, freshly emerged from their polyps, must appreciate the interaction between Forelife, Life, and Afterlife. The Forelife shapes their caste. Their Life shapes their legacy. Their Afterlife shapes their eternal future. They must be made to understand the importance of the ancestors. They must be made to despise the avarice of the queens, the sin that brings them into this world in their hideous forms. The tyrants must be punished. And they must follow the Will of the Cycle.

So long ago, there was a sign. She does not dismiss it now. But doubt lingers. Permeates her. Dissolves her conviction. Is it truly a portent the war to come? Fire in the sky, no, amidst the stars. Fire destroys souls. But which souls will it burn next? Tariati? Shoryu? That is why she doubts. She is an interpreter of the Cycle. She must divine its will. But at times, it is inscrutable.

Perhaps this is a fleeting sadness, as it always is. For all her efforts, all her praise, she is often accused of shifting without warning between satisfaction and misery. Others do not understand it. She is alone. Or at least, she is alone amongst her royal comrades. Her own children, the soldiers among them...they appear to understand. She cannot escape this by seeking the comfort of her drones forever. Perhaps she should seek the comfort of her soldiers instead.

“Vir’Kana.” The soldier tilts his head, a sign of attention. “Tell me something. Why is it that, surrounded by so many of Tariat’s royalty, I find you the most compelling and intelligent company?”

“I cannot say,” he replies, “and I cannot believe that is true. Majestic mother, I appreciate your compliments, but you are my dynast. You are wiser than I. You know full well that soldiers such as myself are worthless without the direction of a princess. Without your command, my life would be forfeit to a purposeless existence.”

“Perhaps you are correct,” she says, “but you are not the only one capable of feeling purposeless.” Her frills become downcast as she turns away. “I confess I struggle with much the same myself. I know it will not last, but even so...I can only find distraction at the end of an ovipositor for so long.”

“Another bout of sadness, mother?” She says nothing, but he knows. She knows he knows. He always knows. Perhaps it is the pherohormones. Perhaps it is her expression. Perhaps it is the Will of the Cycle, for this to be. She doesn’t not know why. She only knows that it is. “I would not worry yet. Soon enough, there will be-“

A sound echoes throughout the room. Viryzhdra looks out of the open window, and cannot believe what she sees. Fire in the sky. A sign! Another sign! Cycle be blessed! She has found another sign! The fire stretches onwards, and she hears crackling from the nearby radio. She twists the dial, and hears it.

A message. A message from beyond! She listens to each distorted word, each unusual phrase or strange tone only adding to the ethereal atmosphere of the experience. Farcomers! Farcomers who come to bring revelation to Uozo! In all her life, she had never felt so overwhelmed, so in awe, so joyous! The Cycle has spoken! She is delivered from her sadness by the arrival of the unprecedented! Without a moment’s hesitation, she rushes from her chamber, clambering across the ground to reach the nearest radio transmitter. The Sisterhood must know! Tariat must know! All of the Allegiance must know of this tremendous event!

With the fervour of a fanatic, Viryzhdra storms the communication room, dialling the radio, readying the telegraph, calling upon her children to come to her aid. The word must be spread. The message must be delivered. This omen must be known, and must be acted upon. Revelation has come. And the time had come to receive it.



After the progress of this exercise, Mozhkandra has come to believe that the harshness of the jungle is unparalleled on Uozo. Everything smells wrong, a miasma of spores and mild toxins from nearby foliage making it harder to identify and project pherohormones. Even vision can be difficult, Zhusu’s light often blokced by the thick canopy above. Taskmasters force their willbearers onward, several Taken soldiers sacrificed to the whims of nature. One Taken of the worker caste approaches a plant, searching for signs of danger, only to be stabbed in the head seconds later. The wound isn’t fatal, but the poison will be. The Volzhkerix have adapted to many poisons, but Uozo’s life is in a constant arms race to overcome such protection, leading to plants covered with nematocysts and animals shielded by powerful armour or incredible reflexes.

As they push onward through the harsh terrain, another Taken steps into a small pool of muck- only to gripped by the firm jaws of an undersnatcher. Pink haemolymph flows from the wound, worm-like larvae pouring into the opening from tiny burrows in the ground. The soldier is useless now, soon to be devoured from within- but there is no sense in wasting ammunition on him. He is tyrantborn. To end is suffering is not worth a single shot. Within this environment, no moment can be wasted, no action mistaken- or it might cost one their life. The soldier stumbles, one of his legs trapped, entering a desperate frenzy from the pain. He claws and stings and bites and flailing at nothing, unable to do anything but scream as his flesh becomes more and more gelatinous, his nerves shutting down as the poison overwhelms him.

The further they venture towards the swampland ahead, the murkier everything becomes. Small patches are dotted with yellow-green fog in the undergrowth. Not even the princesss are secure. An impaler worm emerges from above, the lower half of its segmented body attached firmly to the branch of a tall plant. It extends its mouth, a fierce barb designed to draw blood with a single strike, but it doesn’t get the chance. One of Mozhkandra’s guards blasts the creature with a scatter-repeater shot, the impact sending its innards flying across the canopy. For all that nature may throw at them, Mozhkandra’s troops will conquer it. She can see it now, the surprise of the oversized grubs that are this world’s oppressors as an army of Tariati and Mhevembite troops emerge from impassable jungle. They could never counterattack. Their bloated bodies could not go five seconds without triggering an undersnatcher or being impaled from the treeline.

“It is remarkable,” ponders a princess besides her, “that so many horrors can exist in one place.” It is the voice of Azara, one of the Arexthi observers of this expedition. “But our designs will overcome all that this world can produce.” As if to punctuate her point, there is a distant scream from above- a flight of spingliders passing overhead. “Even gravity cannot constrain us. Arexthite engineers designed the first of those machines. Even the bloatflyer-“ before she can continue, the light armoured engine beside them rumbles, revving its engine loudly as its trends begin to sink into the mud, the metallic shell surrounding the machine covered in graze marks from brushing against barbfronds or being assaulted by impalers.

A nearby princess smashes her mouth-plates together repeatedly in mockery. “Arexthi engineering is nothing without tenacity. The Sisterhood teaches us devotion. Pride in bloodshed. Our frenziers are unmatched.” Mozhkandra pictures the legendary frenziers of the Violet Sisterhood. A terrifying force, correct. Vicious in battle. Using drugs and self-injury to incite ferocious frenzy before combat. But they have a severe limitation-

“Your frenziers survive a single battle, if that. Our machines may last many encounters.”

“If they can reach the war to begin with-“

“Both of you,” says Mozhkandra. “You each have a point. But I suggest you focus on your kin. Their lives depend on your command, remember? Focus! Concentrate! Observe, as you are meant to!” Her tone is not harsh, but they obey nonetheless. Argument and debate has a place, but the battlefield is not it. At very least, not this battlefield, which is rapidly becoming a graveyard of unvenerated dead. They most focus carefully. See the barbs before they are pierced. Smell the toxins and move before it is too late. Hear the-

A distant sound emerges. Bizarre. Unknowable. Unnatural. The instinct is immediate. Soldiers flood forward, weapons loaded and armed, to confront the source. Hostile spies!? Unknown creatures!? What is going on!? Mozhkandra is amongst the princesses that rush forth to the clearing, surrounded by their warriors, drones hovering above. As if to punctuate the moment, a squadron of spingliders passes overhead. Within the clearing is an enigmatic sight. The workers and soldiers show their agitation with shrill shrieks, crushing their plates together to create vicious scraping sounds- a precursor to aggression. A group of strange beings stands beside them, each with only a pair of legs to their name. They are covered in armour, or are themselves machines- there is no way to be sure from here. Strangers. Unknown enemies. And then she realises it.

Farcomers!

“Aim! Aim! Hold fire!” she shouts in frantic Tariatimn. “Farcomers! Hold fire! Await signal! Azara, contact Deathbody command immediately! Unknown farcomers! Here!” She turns her attention towards them. Some of them seemed armed with weapons she’s never seen the likes of before. But there is no doubt from their posture- they are weapons. “You! Farcomers! Comply with my instructions! Explain yourself! Immediately! Explain!” The panic of the situation makes her words sharp, focused, fast. There is no time for formality here. They must determine whether this threat is a hostile one and if so, eliminate it. “Explain, or die!”



Surrounded by great walls and statues of the lost, a gargantuan mound rises from Uozo’s soil. Once a mountain, the structure has been carved out, an extensive network of tunnels and catacombs containing the venerated ancestors, wrapped in worker’s silk and left preserved in silver coffins. But it is not the dead that now chitter and clamber within the candle-lit depths of central chamber. It is those who continue the legacy of the Shoryu. Within the room, workers and soldiers scamper and hold still beside their mothers. Armed guards of the soldier caste keep watch, personal droneguards perched on the overhangs that cross the upper level of the mound. The moment they are called, they may inject their ovipositors into their parents, their owners. A select few princesses stalk the outskirts, bound to their progenitors in mind and soul, submitting without question- as they should. And between the lesser castes, upon podiums built into warm springs, rest the masters of this domain, true royalty, the High Queens of the Shoryu Empire.

At first glance, one would scarcely believe they are Volzhkerix. They are thrice the size of even a soldier, bloated, ponderous. All that remains of their limbs are frills brimming with nematocysts and the withered remains of vestigial tendrils, writhing like flagella as their bodies expand and contract. Even their tails are little more than a single segment of chitinous armour, ending in a glistening egg-layer. Six trios of pheromone emitters emerge from each lumbering mass, six trios of eyes resting between them. Upon the top of their forms is the oviductor, pulsing with each breath, and before it is a long tendril stretching beyond the edge of each queen’s mouth- the nematocyst injector, able to kill with a single strike, able to incite self-destruction with a single touch.

A crowd emerges from the chamber’s uppermost door. A battalion of soldiers carries a platform holding another queen down the gold-coated ramp that leads to her podium, the throne of the Shoryu Empire. One of her drones smashes an instrument on the overhang. At the sound, all becomes quiet. Workers rush to sides of their queens, spreading their legs and bowing their heads in reverence. The queens retract their injectors in their own gesture of submission. For upon that podium now rests Eiet, High Queen of All, supreme empress of the Shoryu and their kin. For all their respect of her, the high queen’s presence inspires terror in those closest to her. It is no secret that Eiet has risen to such ranks not solely because of heritage or responsibility. She possesses the slaver trait, the ability for her control pherohormones to affect even fellow royalty, to bring even queens into a state of contented subservience.

Her injector points to one of her workers, holding an tape-container. The child places it within the room’s tapereading machine, located beside the podium. A distorted sound plays, indecipherable, before the messages proper begins. “This transmission is from farcomers” comes a voice. Bizarre. Wrong. Yet spoken in intelligible Shoryu’at. But is not the sound’s quality that causes each queen in attendance to writhe in discomfort, to shift her body in place, to bare her injector out of paranoid dread. It is the revelation. Farcomers! They know little of what the Tariati spoke of when the gate first emerged, but they know that entryway should be in disuse. Yet here and now, farcomers have emerged! “Farcomers designated Confederation of Swarms.” An unknown entity. Do the usurper states know of them!? “Confederation of Swarms requests dialogue with authorised agents of paramount volzhkerix power.” They are recognised as the paramount power of their world! And yet, for all these revelations, it remains unsettling. They wish to speak? They wish to meet? “Confederation desires informational-artefactory exchange for mutual furtherance of interests. Arrival of Confederal agents imminent. Prepare.”

The transmission ends, leaving the room in stunned silence. Before anyone can begin mumbling, the High Queen of All speaks up, her voice echoing throughout the vast chamber. “This transmission was sent to many Shoryu clusters simultaneously. For years, the usurpers have deprived us of knowledge of the farcomers! By our will, their connection was vanquished! By our will, their advantage was removed! Yet now, more farcomers venture to Uozo! They seek us out!” For a moment, she relishes this triumph. It takes only a guttural snarl and the harsh grinding of her mouth-plates together to bring cold fear back into the room. “Why? Why now? Why at all? Why do they come to us, not the usurpers like other farcomers? Why, and how?” On their own, those words would be neutral. But Eiet bares her injector. She is on the edge of frenzy now, and her children feel the pherohormones she releases, bringing them closer and closer to relentless violence. It is an inescapable urge to them, a chemical command they have no choice but to obey.

“Calm! Calm!” shouts Dara, one of the lesser queens to receive the honour of inhabiting the central chamber. “They recognise our superiority! The Shoryu Empire commands a seventh of the world alone! We have the largest population! The greatest legacy! The most territory! The most powerful alliance! They know we will crush the usurper states, and wish to align with us early! These farcomers are wise.”

“Is that correct?” asks Eiet, scanning the room with her injector. They know that she can force their children to turn against them. They know that she can overcome their minds and force them to destroy themselves, if she can get close enough. Her own children are the most numerous in the room. Defiance will be punished. She knows, too, that Dara is arrogant, presumptuous. She always has been, but her speed in answering proves it all the more. She didn’t think. She blurted out what made sense to her out of terror, out of desperation. A poor ruler. She is fortunate to be here at all. “Is Dara correct? There seems to be little agreement.”

One queen- Orit- slides forward. A daring move. But a sign of action at last. “Dara’s theory is unlikely,” she claims. “There is most likely another stimulus for their emergence here. The farcomers, perhaps, do not approve of Tariati enslavement of royalty.” Mentioning that common practice puts everyone on edge. It’s a truth, a harsh reality, that Tariat and its allies often enslave royalty like animals, stealing their children and killing them when their supply of eggs is exhausted. But to mention it so brazenly, without even a preface of warning- such a lack of etiquette! “Perhaps they are unsuitable candidates for such an exchange-“

“Imperial majesty!” shouts Rana, emissary between the Shoryu and their western allies. Her skin is albino, like that of much of the Regency’s higher classes, a side effect of their habit of inbreeding with closely related drones. “New information! Reports of second transmission! Regency Network transmitting copy now!” Seconds later, a drone carrying another tape-container flutters down from above, buzzing wings the only sound in a room now filled once more with these silence. The drone stands before Eiet, who gestures with her injector- approval for his next action. The previous tape is ejected, and a new one played throughout the room.

“We are farcomers, do not be afraid of our arrival.” The voice is different, off, yet in a different way to the past transmission. It had been too harsh, too precise. This voice is too soft. “We greet you as friends of all peoples and nations. Our mission has come to bring you joyous news from afar. A great discovery!” New technology? A revelation about the Cycle- no, farcomers do not believe in such things. That would be impossible. “We wish only to share it with all of Uozo, for what we have learned is of the profoundest significance to all mankind, mighty or humble, wealthy or poor, ruler or ruled.” Share? What did they come to share? The transmission begins to repeat, but the drone shuts it off at Eiet’s instruction.

“Radio-leaping takes time,” Rana mutters. Her voice is now quiet, but the room is so attentive that it does not matter in the least. “First reports occurred longer ago than now. The message appears to have been sent a short time before the Confederation of Swarms transmission.” A princess beside her began to speak in her native language. “Additionally, there are reports of fire in the sky. Details confirmed by a multitude of witnesses. There is doubtlessly a relation between these events.”

The room is filled with mutters of agreement. These events must be a correlation- such proximity in time cannot be coincidence. Eiet emits a snarl, all attention returned to her. “Where did these farcomers come from? Have the Tariati accessed the gateway? Have the farcomers emerged from their domain?”

“They would not dare!” shouts Dara. “They know we would crush them as soon as we discovered it! Even usurpers are not so without minds as to risk such destruction!”

“If this is their doing, we will make it their undoing.” Eiet revels in the possibility, of finally avenging her western kin. The irony of the Tariati and their allies was that by exterminating and enslaving so-called “tyrants”, they had united what remained of the rational world under the Shoryu banner. They would soon prove the architects of their own demise. And if this could prove the justification, the final affront, an unforgivable treachery...

“That is uncertain.” Orit turns her mouth towards Dara, bulbous mass pulsing as she respirates, injector now coiled back. “Perhaps this is a deception. Is there any chance of Confederation of Swarms communication to the usurper states?”

“It is possible,” Rana concedes. “We have no way to know. They have begun using new codes we are unable to decrypt so far. It appears that the mindkind farcomers cared little for secrecy. Swarm farcomers sent direct transmissions. Different focuses. Different offers. But we can only act on one. The Iron Allegiance controls the west. There is no way to access the mindkind farcomers in person.”

“Do the usurper states know we know of this offer?” Eiet’s tone becomes calculating, rational- she is no longer on the edge of fear, terror or frenzy. She is always at her most dangerous when thinking clearly, considering every obstacle in her way and how to eliminate it.

“Likely. But unlikely they know of the other offer.”

“Then we have another advantage.” The High Queen of All recoils further back into her podium, injector retracting, mouth-plates smashing together in the Volzhkerix equivalent of laughter. “Rana. You are the most sensible of this chamber. You are to determine suitable coordinates for our exchange with the Swarm farcomers.”

“I am honoured,” Rana says, “but there remains a concern. What if both farcomer arrivals are related? Competing enemies? Cooperating arrivals? Coincidence is doubtful, as we have already established.”

“More information is needed,” Orit unhelpfully chimes in. “The only way to be certain is through dialogue.”

“Then so it shall be.” Eiet examines those before her. The smell of it. The distant aromas of scented candles, the pherohormones in the air, the scents of fear and frenzy and control- she is one of those few who can truly appreciate it. She doubts the farcomers can. All reported farcomers so far have been solitary species, asocial creatures- there is no reason to think these will be any different. “I await your success, Rana. May your choice not prove regretful.”


Transmission: Shoryu Empire —> Confederation of Swarms
Radio-band #2889965

Your offer is accepted. Our emissary will meet you at the following coordinates:

50° 23’ 12.442” N —— 108° 34’ 15.323” E

Shoryu forces will be armed for purpose of security. We await your arrival.


The Aiobi desert stretches across the northernmost clusters of the Shoryu Empire. It is a desert by the narrowest stretch of the definition- arid, cold, yet plentiful in life. Much of it resides below the open ground, avoiding the patches of sulfuric dust that come from the eruption zones that dot the area. Those very eruptions lead to fertile soil in an arid wasteland. Those plants which can survive the dust storms, the occasional sulfuric rain, can thrive here. The animals which have adapted to the environment can prosper. And among those animals, though above them all, is the Volzhkerix, for this is the ancestral homeland of their kind.

Zadrit had always respected the variety of life on Uozo. From the brutal jungles to the lush floodplains to the shimmering oceans, it existed, continued, expanded. Many saw little to gain from these creatures, save the occasional exotic item or piece of food. They were blind. Farcomers were different, bizarre, strange- but they were life. They had anatomy. They had analogues. They could be studied. And even now, in an era when farcomers seemed ever more distant, she knew that this world alone contained a variety of aliens of its own right. She assumed that was all she would get, and all she would need.

Now, she rests upon a wheeled platform in the middle of the Aiobi, awaiting the arrival of emissaries from another world. Precautions have been taken. Around her is a personal droneguard of eight, each armed with a hand-cannon. The platform she rests upon mounts a fixed repeater. Soldiers stand beside her, along with two unarmed drones. Workers surround the outside of the vehicle. They do not wish to give away their most advanced technology, but neither can they risk their own uncontested destruction should things go awry. Zadrit’s mind, however, lingers nor on her immediate surroundings. She is focused on the farcomers.

She knows not what form they will take, and the possibilities excite her. Something as simple as movement has so much variety! Will they slide across the terrain like the impaler worms of the western jungles, darting between the canyons and precipices like such a creature leaps from frond to frond? Will they stride above the ground, like a stiltwalker that roams the land-reef, carrying its vital organs high above the surface? Will they jump on four feet like scythehoppers, vicious predators of the eastern mountains, clambering up cliffs with ease?

That is just their locomotion. What of psychology? It seems unlikely that they will be eusocial, like the Volzhkerix. Farcomers tend instead to be asocial. Of course, it is also impossible for them to be violently self-destructive. No such species could form society, civilisation. Still, they will lack the biological division that allows Volzhkerix society to function. How known farcomers even developed civilisation with such asocial biology remains a mystery. Most disconcerting of all, however, is their enigmatic motives. These Swarm farcomers are offering a technological exchange, and yet...they cannot determine why. Zadrit knows it is beyond her concern. She is to conduct diplomacy, not an interrogation. But even so, it gnaws at her. She coils her injector, scraping it gently against her flesh, impatient. So many possibilities await her…

“Zad’Itra,” she calls. One of the unarmed drones answers. She cannot help but admire his form. The long receptors on his head, the wings on his back, the extensive ovipositor...like all, his kind was forged in the Forelife for a purpose. Drones were lesser incarnations, almost mindless. Soldiers and workers were higher, greater, more worthy. And above them all were the queens, and among them, the gifted, those with the incredible slaver trait- how she envies them! Those souls were forged to be the pinnacle of society- and how they showed it! Zadrit turns away from her drone, exposing her ovipositor. Perhaps it is an indulgence to do this now. But to settle this unease...there is no better way than for each to fulfil their purposes. As she releases her pherohormones, the drone cannot resist. He takes flight, hovering above her, before injecting the ovipositor.

For a moment, there is euphoria.

Calmness follows.

Her mind cleared, Zadrit returns her focus to the desert. In the distance, a sandstorm is brewing. Vanadium pentoxide dust swirls with sulfur. Beside her is a ruined temple, a monument to ancestors fallen, many of their number still contained within subterranean tombs. Pillars rise from the rocky ground, portions eroded away by sulfuric rain. These fragments of an ancient civilisation have been preserved by the Shoryu to respect their legacy. The usurpers do not appreciate history the way they do. They would see ruins such as this pillaged, built over, destroyed. They claim to respect ancestors, but they do not. They desecrate their own mothers, enslaving them in cages, stealing their children. Traitors. Monsters.

That is why she has devoted herself to this. Whatever their intentions, the farcomers may offer the potential to eradicate the usurpers, to restore balance to this corrupted world, to avenge the ancestors. In the Afterlife, their legacy will tower above that of those who betrayed them. In time, those monsters will be forgotten, buried in the sulfur pits that devour flesh, or burnt alive so their souls may not progress to the final stage of their existence. All of that could well depend on how she performs today.

Zadrit does not know how this encounter will proceed, but she is certain one one thing. Whether or not she is venerated as a legend for generations to come, or cursed each time someone mutters her name, will depend upon this day.
Volzhkerix | Supercommunity of Tariat | The eusocial jellyfish-bugs stuck in an industrial-tech cold war

Eriaroon | Eriaroon Eugenic Republic | The abyssal cephalopods who believe that reality is the afterlife

Vordekai | Vordekai Continuum | The withering organ-harvesters who seek perfection

Hekkathi | The symbiotic misotheistic pacifists at the end of a rogue world’s lifespan

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Phorcys
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Nexus Client: The Confederation of Swarms
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Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Phorcys » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:19 pm


'Pilgrim’ mk. IV multipurpose exosuit (visorguard down) w. force-amplifying reactive power harness.
Autosealant safety system, integrated medical AI and emergency neuroscanner equipped as standard.



“Come, my friend”

A gloved hand rests on Strohmeier's shoulder

“Do not linger over an empty vessel. Inshalaliha she is already returned to us above”.

Above, maybe. But here lies the ultimate mystery of Autology. Slumped in the new world's dirt, face blistered and burned by vanadium pentoxide. Right here is the only question in the whole wide dogma that ever really mattered. Is what will wake in orbit the same as what looked through those blood-swollen eyes?

"Commander?"

Oh the Church has its answers, of course. Strohmeier could turn to Reza right now if they would bring any comfort. "Quantum entanglement" he would say, voice trembling with esoteric wonder. "Waveform collapse" he would promise, invoking the names of the theories like sacred mantras. As if they were written in the sky or carved in cuneiform on the mountains - instead of highly technical scientific terms he only dimly understands. As if the technology of the resurrection was not entirely conceived and constructed by AI. Their most brilliant scientists really any better than witch doctors dancing with rattles and beads.

But he's never been so sure. So Strohmeier doesn't ask. Only wonders, as they cover her face in a scattering of dirt and underbrush - the most the Chief Mentor would allow - if this isn’t the last he’ll ever see of Malorie McGowan. The one that was breathing seconds ago, if not the one he’ll greet on the next shuttle down. He wonders if his own consciousness was born only yesterday, and never lived through the life that it remembers. He wonders-

"The men are ready"

Reza waits patiently of course, giving away neither concern nor frustration. But Strohmeier doesn’t budge. Why should he? Why should he listen? Out here there isn’t anyone the Chief Mentor can report him to. No secret police to haul him away in the night. Ben Abbes chose the wrong man to lead this expedition, because he isn’t afraid to spare a moment over a dead friend anymore.

Or if not a friend, then the closest thing he has all these lightyears from home.

“Brother”, the Chief Mentor urges yet again, still careful to sound duly deferential. “There are many miles to go - and it is best we make the settlement by nightfall. For the sake of those under our command-"

Our command?

"-I truly must insi-"

“Bury her”

"What?" Reza only stares at him blankly. "But what can you mean, brother?"

“We’re burying her. Come on."

To Autologists of course there is nothing sacred about the body. Only the neurograph - the divine imprint of the soul. Either cowards or true believers the others steer scrupulously clear, as if the Chief Mentor could have them shipped to Site Lambda just for looking at her. But if there’s even a chance she wasn’t really a fanatic through and through - that being buried’s the closest thing to rebellion she’ll ever have - then Strohmeier will damn well give it to her.

He heads back to rejoin the team, about to raise his voice for spare hands -

-"Lá!" when Mtakwenda raises a fist for them to halt. "Ter cuidado!" He sounds panicked.

"What is it?" Strohmeier asks - snapped suddenly to attention. It's the first emotion he's ever heard in their Security Officer's voice, and that can't be good. Has the sound of the coilgun drawn some kind of patrol? He scans the underbrush. If so, he can't make it out. Nothing stirs through the jungle’s purple-yellow gloom. Of course that foliage is deadly enough itself, as they've seen.

"Where, Mtakewnda? I cant-"

”-infravermelho"

Even sealed in his suit his voice is dropped to a whisper. So Strohmeier supposes there must be something out there. Pulling down his visorguard he switches to false colour and-

-oh gods.

In infrared the jungle lights up like a city block.

From every direction there rises a noise like a sea of scraping teeth - like nothing any human ear was ever subjected to before - and boiling suddenly out from the twisted undergrowth is a frenzied tide of alien creatures, masticating the awful war-cry with a hundred grinding face-plates. Unmistakably the volzherkix. Brandishing what are even more clearly weapons in far too many frantic, jerking limbs. Before the security detail can even take position to cover their flanks winged ambushers appear from the floratops - darting overhead and cutting off the last escape routes in all the seconds they had left.

Strohmeier struggles to stay calm. This was not how he imagined first contact. They had expected to be intercepted, he reminds himself - that was the purpose of their message after all - but they did not expect to blunder into an army on the warpath-

"Do not be afraid my brothers!" the Chief Mentor smiles, stepping out towards the volzhkerix with outstretched arms. “This is the beginning of our sacred work! Drop your weapons. We are here to bring peace, not profane their world with acts of war!”

"Belay that!" Strohmeier orders. The aliens look about ready to tear them apart. "Be afraid! Be very afraid and keep those guns pointed! Reza - stop where you are! Nobody moves!” The Commander can't be as nonchalant about his imminent death as a true believer. The question is who the others will listen to.

"Capitão, eles não vão entender!"

"I know" Strohmeier winces as the volzhkerix discover McGowan. "I know". Perhaps they could have covered her up more if Reza had allowed it - but then volzhkerix olfaction is sharp. Alien claws drag her from the undergrowth like so much meat, and they chitter over the remains with what could be fear or curiosity. Strohmeier forces himself to watch as they pry out the native stinger embedded in her torso. Because it matters greatly which. Because he thinks they're peering into her suit visor too. At the neat hole blown straight through it, the bloody shattered mess of her cranium underneath.

How can they say 'we come in peace' now they've seen that? Who knows if they could understand the concept of a mercy killing?

But that's not even their biggest problem right now. Saying anything to get them out of this mess is impossible while their suit AIs aren't translating, still busy trying to decipher a hundred aliens' simultaneous speech. And if the many gesticulating claws pointed directly their way are anything to go by, their lack of communication could prove fatal very soon. So with a neural impulse Strohmeier tells the suits to stop bothering. His command override focuses all their distributed intelligence on what can only be the leader. The tallest alien, with the strange frond-like extremities sprouting like a fungal infestation from its back. And-

'You! Farcomers!'

The suit renders its backlog in seconds, synthesised voice incongruously calm.

'Comply with my instructions! Explain yourself! Immediately! Explain!'

This party clearly haven't received their transmission - that's not good.

'Explain, or die!'

Strohmeier swallows. He opens his visorguard in the vain hope that revealing his face might be seen as a placatory gesture. "We are not intruders!" he declares - and his suit's external speakers chime out a synthesised rendition of Tariatimn. Translation is instant now. His response is halting only because he searches for words that won't cause more alarm. "We are...messengers". He goes for clarity. Consistency with the transmission. But this is not his forte. "Reza?" he switches back to their internal channel, "could you, uh, do the honours?” Strohmeier's last hope is that the bastard can at least do what he was sent here to do and get them out of this alive.

"Of course, my friend!” comes the immediate, overjoyed reply, and a chime as he switches to open broadcast too. "There is joyous news!" the Chief Mentor announces to the volzhkerix - and his whole body begins to visibly tremble. Not with fear - but in rapture. His is the honour, is all Alexis Reza thinks, of speaking the first words of the missionary creed ever revealed to an alien intelligence. "We have come to your world" he cries out in breathless exhilaration, "only because we wish to share this news with all!"
The Oizys of the Confederation of Swarms
A dysfunctional kratocracy of hyper-sexual hermaphrodites

Post-Humanity and the Church of Autology
A transhumanist cult of precursor worshipping evangelists

The Great Ones of the Cryojovian Volume
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Kyoki Chudoku
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Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Kyoki Chudoku » Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:29 am

A pair of workers drags the lifeless body of one of the farcomers from Uozo’s soil, armour stained with muck. The body had barely been buried- how dim-witted and desperate were these comers from afar, think that a small sprinkling of dirt and brush would conceal the body? One of workers- an enslaved tyrantborn, it seems- twists her body to face Mozhkandra, holding out the expended remnant of a barbfrond stinger. That, however, was not the ultimate cause of death. Red fluid pours from a cavity in the fallen farcomer’s face, leaking through a circular gap in the armour. That is no natural wound. The farcomers have shot their own follower. Was this one some mere willbearer, some equivalent of a tyrantborn put to use as a sacrifice to the wildlife? Was this a kill out of mercy or out of cold ruthlessness?

“We are not intruders!” comes a voice in synthetic Tariatimn, to Mozhkandra’s surprise. She can make out the distant words now that her forces have become quieter, the occasional chitter or scrape coming through as they stare down these intruders- for as much as they claim otherwise, they fit the definition. “We are...messengers!” Her nematocysts flare at the thought of it. Messengers!? These farcomers could arrive here from another world in armour more complex than any she’s seen before, and yet couldn’t figure out radio!? She’ll believe that when the Arexthite comes back with direct word from Deathbody command to let these trespassers through, and not a moment before. Yet if they somehow missed a communication...could this be genuine? It seems absurd, and yet-

“There is joyous news!” One of them is seemingly unfazed by the multitude of weapons pointed at him by the army of Tariati troops. By now, the flanks have been pushed forward, a full encirclement underway to prevent any chance of hostile escape- she will take no risks on this. Mozhkandra can smell the sea of pherohormones, glimpsing the agitation of her compatriots, their growing desire to succumb to frenzy and eliminate this threat before these invaders can bring in any unpleasant surprises. What if this is a mere scouting party, stalling for time, waiting for their reinforcements to arrive? Even if so, she need only examine their bodies to see at least some of them shift in place, uncertain, conflicting as solitaries such as this inevitably do.

The bravest among the farcomers begins shuddering like a diseased animal. Is it paralysed by a yet unseen sting? Infected with a foreign illness? Uozo cannot be contaminated with such filth. It is all the more reason to kill them all now, or to at very least hold them prisoner. The longer they remain trapped here, the more likely it becomes that nature will interfere with them. The jungle hasn’t ceased being a dangerous place just because their legs are still. The farcomer speaks again, voice as distorted as that of the last. “We have come to your world,” he cries out, “only because we wish to share this news with all!”

Not a second passes by before the first shot is let loose, the thunderous sound of a hand-cannon echoing throughout the clearing. Mozhkandra turns upward see a charging frenzier of the Sisterhood. This one is a member of the drone caste, but his ovipositor ends in a strapped-on metallic drill bit, and pink lymph drips down from the sky as his wings buzz in frantic, stumbling flight. He’s eviscerated his belly with his own weapon to incite a frenzy! Another pair of frenziers- these ones soldiers- charge forward, wielding not firearms but vicious hand-guillotines designed to exploit the speed of Volzhkerix clawing motions with brutal efficiency. One princess of the Sisterhood expeditionary force must have panicked and let loose her thralls! Worse still, the self-mutilation and spreading frenzy pherohormone has brought the army nearby closer and closer to the breaking point. She needs to regain control, now, or this encirclement will turn into a stampede!

“Cease! Cease fire! Cease fire, or die!” But they’re too far gone. Even the princess responsible, who now stumbles forward with her remaining, frenzying kin, is consumed by panic, and that panic now threatens to spread like a wildlife throughout the group. Those kin lunge towards the farcomers, unleashing hand-cannons a d even one scatter-repeater. Desperately, Mozhkandra points her own hand-cannon at the assembled forces. Before she can order her children to follow her lead, she hears another sound- the eerie noise of farcomer weapons, the intruders attempting to hold back the tide. The drone grips the front-most farcomer- who seems not to resist, not to even struggle while being attacked- with four legs, jabbing with a metal-tipped ovipositor before being shot. Downed, the frenzier spends his last moments desperately trying to stab the weapon at his target. The soldiers too are shot at, but the sight inspires others to begin their own charge, their own stampede, halted only by Tariati troops firing warning rounds at their own allies. Those who have not caused themselves harm to more easily go berserk take pause at the threat of death by the hand-cannons of their compatriots, and reason seems to spread amongst them.

The same cannot be said of the carnage ahead.

“Restrain the feral ones! Restrain, or kill!” A group of Taken, intended as meat-shields for the more professional forces, rush forward, grabbing the final remaining frenziers and holding them back, even as their stingers flail like impaler worms, seeking their targets even as they are dragged away, surrounded by the mind-dampening influence of control pherohormone. By the time the final frenzier is captured, four farcomers lie dead on the ground, bodies lifeless, crimson flowing from cracks in their broken armour. Of the survivors, one retains a weapon, the other pair unarmed. They were saved not by skill, but by distance.

Mozhkandra steps forward. It is a risky move, given the situation, but it may be all she can do to salvage something from this bout of pandemonium. She does her best to sound calm, but knows that her sharply punctuated tone gives away a level of frustration, of her own panic. “I am sorry that this happened.” She points her weapon at the Sisterhood’s observer, as though to make a point. “It will not happen again. You. Surviving messengers. You will come with us.”

Azara, who had been absent during the fighting but had no doubt heard it in the distance, finally returns to the front, radio in hand. She holds it out, a transmission playing in synthetic Tariatimn. ”-ruled. “We are farcomers, do not be afraid of our arrival. We greet you as friends of all peoples and nations. Our mission has come to bring you joyous news from afar. A great discovery! We wish only to share it with all of Uozo, for what we have learnt is of the profoundest significance to all mindkind, mighty or humble, wealthy or poor, ruler or ruled. We are farcomers-“ The next loop is cut off prematurely, and Mozhkandra takes in the meaning of all this. This is a farcomer transmission- and it too proclaims this “joyous news”, whatever it is supposed to be. If only they’d known before, before this madness, before this disaster-

“I have received word from your command,” Azara goes on, “that the Deathbody of Tariat wishes for the capture and examination of all farcomers encountered.”

“Then Deathbody command will be delivered what remains.” Mozhkandra’s voice carries a tinge of regret, but there is nothing that can be done now. Death is final. Life has come to an end, and the Afterlife will begin for the farcomer souls, should their bodies possess any- a topic of continued debate within the Cyclic faiths. “Assemble workers to carry the dead. Farcomer and Volzhkerix. Entomb them now, or the jungle will make them rot.”

Volzhkerix workers- Tariati, Sisterhood, Arexthite, Taken alike- drag the fallen bodies back amidst the ranks, seeking the driest soil they can find within this marshland. They then begin to encircle the corpses, spinnerets releasing gelatinous silk, princesses coordinating the affair as the workers continue wrapping the bodies within the protective layer, in the traditional ritual of the Cyclic religions. The journey was treacherous enough without needing to deal with farcomers, but there is no choice now but to continue onward until they leave this dangerous terrain behind them. Then it will be safe to perform a proper examination, without risk of wild animals attempting to kill both them and their captives.

Mozhkandra steps over to the nearest survivor of the farcomer force. “Once we exit the jungle, we will return to Kazhidrat. You, farcomer. Your kind claims joyous news to bring Uozo. You will explain the meaning of this, immediately.” Is she being overly harsh, on intelligent beings who have just witnessed Volzhkerix attack her compatriots? But these solitary creatures do not feel the same kinship a mother does to her children. They do not understand compassion, not truly. They only present it as a front to achieve their own ends, to manipulate and coerce each other, because it is the only way they can live. It is the only theory that makes sense. Without the natural order forged in the Forelife, without the difference in form that their castes provides, true unity will forever remain impossible for these farcomers. No matter how advanced their technology, no matter how joyous their message, they are each alone.
Volzhkerix | Supercommunity of Tariat | The eusocial jellyfish-bugs stuck in an industrial-tech cold war

Eriaroon | Eriaroon Eugenic Republic | The abyssal cephalopods who believe that reality is the afterlife

Vordekai | Vordekai Continuum | The withering organ-harvesters who seek perfection

Hekkathi | The symbiotic misotheistic pacifists at the end of a rogue world’s lifespan

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Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Phorcys » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:22 pm


Asteroid repurposed into covert oizys lander, on approach to Uozo


Silent and cold it had drifted the outer reaches of the Zhuza system. An artefact older than those reaches themselves. Ancient when its planets were young, undisturbed in its elliptic orbit since before their molten crusts had cooled. When Uozo was a coalescence of dust it had accreted in the disc of a distant star. Cast out under the power of primordial impacts and flung across the interstellar gulf, it had spiralled three billion lightless years before capture at the periphery of distant Zhuzu's sun. The first farcomer to grace Uozo's newly forming skies. Companion to the first volzhkerix stargazers, who eons later tracked its wanderings across the firmament of night. A tiny piece of their species' history. An interstellar relic from the birth of worldkind. And a tool - to the oizys that claimed it. Condemned from the moment their probes alighted on its ancient crust, and drilled in their malign claws.

Now it hurtles towards the surface of Uozo at twenty kilometres a second, festooned with optical antennae and spectrometer arrays, a crew capsule and an intelligent guidance core buried at its eldritch heart. A trajectory rapidly calculated in the seconds before hitting atmosphere is all that ensures its course - entry blinding it - burning away the sensors in a conflagration that stains the clouds crimson with vaporised iron.

It incandesces through the stratosphere a planet killer, still travelling fast enough to pulverise the crust and boil the seas. To flash the skies into tenuous exosphere. But a controlled disintegration slows its descent, millions of tons of trapped gases expelled as thrust. Vast quantities of toxic cyanogen will be dispersed across the hemisphere - but that is not the oizys' concern. Their purpose is to be undetectable to their voidfaring rivals. The iron haze will dissipate within the hour, and no conspicuous engine contrails are left in their wake.

By the time the asteroid reaches the surface only a small and solid iron core remains, blazing white-hot like a second sun as it smashes into the Aiobi desert - forging the crater that will scar the ancestral heartland of the volzhkerix for a million years.

From the ground the Shoryu will have seen the clouds falling.

Then a blinding light.

Last the wall of superheated dust kicked up by the flash - a hundred feet high and surging towards them with the power of the fiercest storm as the ground quakes beneath their feet.



They writhe out of bubbling cocoons of shock absorbent gel, viscous slime still scalding from the force of the impact sloughing off their hardened cuticles, dripping like the scraps of half-digested meat that cling to newtorn spawn. Limbs ripple with muscular contractions as they shake off the rigor vitae of their gelatinous internment. Airtight cuticles unclench and open like tarmac cracking in heat. Cloacae convulse, spewing regurgitated immersion fluids, and the ground swims like a corpse nursery's with blackened ooze. A perverse imitation of a second spawning. And just as merciless-

"Disembark!" 5406074-Vivisector trills. The Biologer may be their operating superior but he is their superior in fact - the first one to recover, to clamber to his pereiopods while the others still spasm in rearticulatory throes. In orbit the foreigner's weapons and drones keep him leashed. But back on solid ground a Meridian’s physical supremacy cannot be denied. The others scramble for their suits as 5406074 tramps over to the escape hatch, utterly uncaring of their recovery. A clear message that weakness will not be accounted for now that he has taken charge.

"Launch-firing" the Vivisector chitters and whether the rest are ready or not plunges a periopod into the biometric socket. The console chimes recognition, and with a rippling detonation of charges a chunk of the bolide core explodes outwards, blowing a passage into the open air.

If the volzhkerix have recovered from the force of the impact, they will see a sudden fissure split the surface of the fallen star. A billowing fog of noxious chlorine seeping from it. Then the oizys themselves - rippling black masses of viciously barbed metal. Contorted limbs and stabbing periopods. Monsters birthed from a terrible egg, emerging under a sky now streaked across with the colour of dried volzhkerix lymph.



The landing site is far - but the oizys can close the distance with terrifying speed. They bound across the sulphurous wastes in a way nothing so large should be able to, physiques evolved for scaling cavern walls under double Uozo's gravity propelling them off their pereiopods with each loping stride. They almost float with sheer velocity, and they must dig them into the arid earth to slow themselves down on the approach, dragging their massive bodies to a halt before the ragged, broken ranks of the dust-scoured Shoryu...

...and not even splayed out beneath his instruments has 5406074-Vivisector ever beheld softworlders so pitifully arrayed. At first he conceives the creatures’ wriggling to be some form of gesticulatory warning or threat. It takes a long half-second to realise. They are trying to scrape the burning debris from their bodies. They are writhing in pain. And these - the conspecifics closest to the impact site - are cooked dead in their shells like oizys exposed to a magma surge. And at exposure to mere dust. Were they exposed to the open air of Phorcys instead, the ejecta winds would scour the soft tissue from their very endostructures - if those were not melted to cartilaginous slurry first.

Those few that survive scrabble to reform themselves into some semblance of what 5406074 can only interpret as a dominance display. Futile. Pathetic. How little they understand. Scrambling jerkily across the burning sand, clustering around - what? An unknown specimen, stranded in the midst of their would-be delegation like a beached tidecrawler. Is this supposed to be the superior strain 0409334 hypothesises? It does not look so fearsome wallowing in the dirt like a helpless animal, the others struggling to heave its bulk atop an overturned platform. Extrapolating from their behaviour it can only be their taskgroup's leader - the emissary the alien message spoke of, and yet how - immobile, deformed, defenceless - can such an organism even survive let alone exert authority?

The Vivisector clicks at the being in cold contempt, feeling the echoed reverberations through its thin dermis, the engorged reproductive apparatus - sensing the electricity thrumming in its overgrown, encysted hulk of cephalised nervous tissue. Its evident fertility betrays its function as a developmentally dimorphic gestator, that much is certain. An adaption not seen in gendered species on Phorcys - but first contact with the Mitaku has well established the concept. It must be a valuable commodity, 5406074 infers, given the endemic infertility afflicting the species. A more plausible explanation for the aliens' desperate defence, except that what it cannot explain is why the gestator is here at all, instead of cloistered deep within their settlements like an oizys corpse nursery. Softworlders' overconnected nervous systems invariably lead to all manner of dysgenic behavioural dysfunctions, that much every alien contact has made clear - but unless this species is even more maladaptively unintelligent than 5406074 already believed, there is no other deducible explanation for the gestator's presence than that it somehow claims command over them.

Perhaps this proves the theory of chemotransmittor influence correct. 5406074 considers it. Perhaps this creature's morphological divergences do in fact hold the secrets the Biologer seeks. But what of it? That is what the Isthmian so inanely does not see. That is the real question. Of all the alien threats across the known void, all the technological competitors that could annihilate Phorcys in an instant, why are 5406074's orbital periods being wasted developing a weapon to exterminate mere pests?

The baselessness of his Master's fears is only made more evident as the Isthmian stamps forwards himself, trampling cooked softworlder bodies underpod. Even so small a breed still towers over any volzhkerix.

"This one commands surface expedition" 0409334-Biologer clicks in cold greeting to the aliens, grooves ridged into his armour mimicking the stridulatory segments of the naked limb. “Represent-enacts authority of Taskgroup-Command and Confederation of Swarms. Confederation extends recognition to alien-asset-polity. Acknowledges valued-asset-emissaries".

A capture drone hovering at the Biologer's side serves as translator. Its vocoders are designed to synthesise volzhkerix speech to lure in unsuspecting specimens - but with a brief reconfiguration it serves a more innocent purpose this day. A sinister presence to the volzhkerix nonetheless. Built for Uozo it is constructed in unsettling imitation of their own forms, flickering instruments probing like antennae at the alien air, gyrorotors whirring where a drone's wings would emerge. Only the vicious biopsy claws have been removed, and the abdominal electromitter carefully sheathed away for the introduction.

"Request informational exchange" 0409334-Biologer continues, delivering the overture precisely as 0292801-Taskgroup-Commander has instructed. "Mutual benefit-furtherance of interests assured" he lies brazenly, "but first explicate authority-permissions. If insufficient, request audience-dialogue with superior authority"

A standard greeting. Unobtrusive, as ordered. But only for now. Only while 0409334 considers the ramifications of simply unleashing the drone and seizing the survivors immediately. Because there - there is the quarry he seeks.

"Highstrain" he taps sub-audibly to himself, limbs trembling in eagerness.

A living vindication of his theories. And living reproach of their insightless Vivisector, who however skilled with his tools is incapable of deducing what is not put in front of him. Unsurprising of course, from a Meridian. Incapable of true metacognition. But if none other has the foresight to comprehend the threat posed by these aliens - then he will see to it himself that they are exterminated, no matter the cost. For the future of evolution is at stake. The cancer of the volzhkerix anomaly cannot be allowed to spread into the stars. He will cut it out.

"Even if Isthmian's speculations correct" 5406074-Vivisector clicks with vehement dismissal, precisely as 0409334 expected, "what is threat-significance? Species inferior. Confederal intervention will neuter-contain technological advancement. This one's ability-expertise misdirected. Resource misallocation punishable"

“Meridian does not comprehend ramifications" he reproves with a contemptuously rapid chitter.

"Correct. Cannot comprehend-perceive evolutionary threat" The Meridian retorts uncowed.

"Threat not definite-overt. Species represents predictive unknown. If theory correct, no models extant for resultant evolutionary processes. Processes violate all known selective principles - as 5406074 observes”

“This one observes” the Vivisector grudgingly grinds accord at that, limbs flickering uneasily at the distended highstrain. Almost as if starting to understand.

Perhaps the Meridian fool's brute speed and muscle mass can be of use to 0409334 after all, and not only a constant threat to his survival. For to disobey his orders and seize the highstrain, then not the Meridian but the Westerner must be dealt with first. 204911-Kinguard. Who clicks at the others with restless suspicion. Flexing his limbs like an oizys poised for the kill. The chain of command may make 0409334-Biologer his operating superior, but 204911 is sibling to the Taskgroup-Commander, and the true representative of his authority above. Decadent Westerner the oizys may be, but their treacherous kind invariably attempt to circumvent their inferiority with implanted cybernetics. It takes only an echoglance to know this one is no exception. Every limb save the ninth is reinforced. Carboplatinum structural bracing and chemosynthetic musculature, by the texture of the sound. This Westerner will be no easy prey.

'...com̵mand͞-̷c͘o͏nt́r͡o͘ls̨...su̶r͠f̢ac͟ȩ...e͞xpedi̴ţi͡on'

But however tensions rise, first 0409334 must wait, while their drone manufactures the volzhkerix's interminable language. It would be foolish to strike without knowing what might be gleaned through simple dialogue first - the ever-present frustration - and at this moment the danger of dealings with aliens. Such is the superiority of the oizys metabolic and nervous systems that producing their language at a parseable speed is a gruelling test of nerve and patience. A mere difficulty in orbit. But on a planetary surface - agonising. Shielded from ambient radiation the drive begins to rise precipitously. They have been less than an hour underneath a terrestrial atmosphere, and already there is a wetness spreading in his glove-segment. 0409334 clenches his cuticle, clamping down on the urge. He tries lashing his ninth limb in a futile attempt to shake it off. But there is no escaping, no outrunning the brute fact of a magnetosphere. It clouds his judgement - and when the Biologer makes his move it must be at the precise and optimum moment. This is a foreign environment. And a dangerous foe. A miscalculation of even a half-second would be a half-second too long to survive.

The Westerner stamps and gurgles in agitation - clearly not unaffected himself. But that brings no advantage. The echosense of a rival ovipositor stirring in its sheath - the sound of its glistening - only brings the cusp of irrational frenzy nearer. 0409334 coils his ninth limb involuntarily, as if to restrict the flow of lymph - an instinctive reflex - but a cruel mistake. It only increases the sensation of bursting pressure. Makes the need for release bite deeper.

All these displays of irrepressible aggression can hardly lend themselves to diplomacy.

Yet at this point that is far from the the oizys' greatest concern. Setae bristle on every cuticle. Cloacae convulse in hyper-vigilant display. Every instinct screams to make the first strike and every rational thought recedes with each second into the hormonal haze. It is not a matter of if violence breaks out - it is a matter of who breaks under the pressure of a million years of evolution first.
The Oizys of the Confederation of Swarms
A dysfunctional kratocracy of hyper-sexual hermaphrodites

Post-Humanity and the Church of Autology
A transhumanist cult of precursor worshipping evangelists

The Great Ones of the Cryojovian Volume
An advanced post-civilisational race of solitary space nomads

The Ecdysite of the Heterarchy
A post-apocalyptic bronze-age tribe plagued by the resurrected monsters that haunt their DNA

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Kyoki Chudoku
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Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Kyoki Chudoku » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:38 am

Dust blows like a golden wind in the midst of the Aiobi. Upon the platform, Zadrit pulsates with irritation. She had hoped to meet these farcomers in better visibility. That hope is now as lost as the sunlight in the windswept dirt that circles in the air, festering in a sandy haze. Specks of sulfur tinge the stirred sediment yellow, harsher winds roaring into the cold and arid expanse. It is unfortunate, but far from the worst outcome- no lightning flashes, no thunder sounds, and Zadrit is used to weather such as this becoming an interference. It may annoy her, but she can persist through the storm for as long as she must. What she cannot endure so easily is her impatience.

They wish to come to this world. To the Shoryu. They offer an exchange of artefacts and information- and yet, where are they? How much longer must she stare at this dust storm, bear her growing dread that this will end in calamity after all? Is she truly ready for this responsibility? She must be. She was assigned this task, and so Zadrit will carry it out. To do otherwise is to die in agony, that much she knows. But it gnaws at her. These farcomers...what do they need the Shoryu for? The uncertainty is frustrating, and she wants to call upon a drone to relieve her once again. But she must focus. A blissful distraction is just that- a temporary non-solution.

It is then that she beholds it.

A fire in the sky, blazing like a second sun, storming towards the ground. The shining light begins to scatter as the object descends, closer and closer- close enough, she realises, to kill them if it does not slow. Yet there is not enough time to move, not enough protection to withstand whatever hurtles towards Uozo’s surface. Is this the greeting the farcomers have chosen- the eradication of the Shoryu emissary in a fatal inferno? Though she cannot bear to look at it without being blinded, she still catches glimpses of its approach, unstoppable. As it falls, she takes note of the mist forming behind it. Crimson, the colour of dried haemolymph, as the fire in the sky breaks through the dusty clouds-

For a moment, light stronger than any other.

Then, chaos.

The embers of the flame envelope her, burning cinders pressing against her body, a waft of air roaring with such power that her platform is sent careening backward, her own body caught in the simmering blast of heat and dust. Nothing is visible as she flails in the air, briefly suspended in a mockery of flight before crashing into the sand below. The desert is hot now, and she squirms from the agony of it all. She’s melting alive, boiling, trapped, unable to see from the dust in her eyes, emitters shaking wildly, injector grasping desperately as she tries to scrape her mouth-plates together without swallowing the blistering sand. She hears the buzzing of fluttering drones, and feels their pull, the pull of countless thralls desperate to drag her out of this desolate tomb. At last, she can see again, can move again, as she is dropped with gentle caution onto the toppled platform. Only then does she see them- the farcomers- but she is focused on the carnage before her.

Three of the droneguard- two her own children, one loaned from her sister- lie buried and cooked alive by the storm of superheated dust. Their wings still spasm on involuntary reflex as the monstrous tendril of the creature before her crushes their glistening membrane. Four workers are unaccounted for, dead or dying. A fallen soldier twitches under a pile of scorching sand. Her children, dead. Her dynasty, dying. Her body, damaged. Pained. The need festers within her. The need to frenzy. She is wounded, gel-tissue scalding in the lymph-stained air, her kin fallen, the urge surging and surging. Zadrit scrapes her injector gently against her scalded flesh, trying to hold back from lashing out at the demonic farcomers who have brought this death. Only the knowledge that even the most ferocious thrust may not penetrate their glistening black bodies keeps her wrath at bay, the knowledge that the memory of her thralls is not worth sacrificing this entire mission, the knowledge that the same drones that now surround will be made to tear her apart by the High Queen’s command should she somehow survive the failure that such an act would incur.

Her eyes focus upon their monstrous forms. Tendrils grasp at the ground and flail in the air. The largest among them is a beast among beasts, a colossal body that towers above her even on her platform, covered by armour she cannot tell is natural or artificial. The most evocative descriptions of the old Mythic legends cannot compare to the presence of these abominations. Their every moment seems powered by hatred, their every convulsion a gesture of spite. They edge on their own frenzy even as they tumble towards her, even as they smack their limbs together and thrash their tendrils like skittish planulae. Then comes the illusion, the imitation of her kind, a Volzhkerix- but not. A metallic creature, close yet far from their form- at a distance, she’d mistake it for her own kind, but here? There could be no such error.

One of the titans- neither largest or smallest- scrapes its metallic limbs, chirping in a rapid series of clicks. The machine begins to talk in Shoryu’at. The voice is close, far too close for comfort, but the phrases and the situation make it all too clear that these farcomers cannot or will not communicate in a way entirely comprehensible to her. [ij"This one commands surface expedition. Represent-enacts authority of Taskgroup-Command and Confederation of Swarms. Confederation extends recognition to alien-asset-polity. Acknowledges valued-asset-emissaries".[/i] For all its words of recognition, however, there remains not a single sign of respect, not a semblance of sorrow for the dust-coated graveyard its arrival has created. Does it even care? Does it even know?

It is then she notices the disparity. They are no longer “speaking”- their limbs do not connect, instead squirming in what she can only interpret as restless agony. If they are injured, she cannot help but feel a surge of sadistic pleasure, though it is soon buried once again in terror as she realises that she is their mostly target should they lash out. Is that...impatience? Or is this all a display to intimidate her into submission? But they’ve already proven their point- one fallen star is all that it would take to tear this whole world asunder, given enough acceleration. They need her, or else she’d already have been killed, and her entire civilisation along with her.

"Request informational exchange. Mutual benefit-furtherance of interests assured, but first explicate authority-permissions. If insufficient, request audience-dialogue with superior authority". It takes Zadrit a second to process their meaning, their overcomplicated words parsed in a synthetic tone by their disturbing machine. The emissary has been granted permission to deal with this however she feels is necessary- but full responsibility will also be placed upon her. Before she can speak, there is a crack- the firing of a hand-cannon! In an instant a tendril lashes out at the culprit, impaling half-cooked drone in a single, swift motion. The monster seems not even to notice its kill, or even that it is shot- all that is left is a miniscule, rapidly vanishing dent in its armour. It does not even confront her, yet she can tell from its movement that it is getting closer and closer to violence. What is going on, that they despise her so yet will not attack?

“I am permitted to speak on behalf of the High Queen of All,” she answers at last, failing to conceal the spite in her tone, “and by extension, the Shoryu Empire. We welcome you to Uozo’s soil, but remain curious as to what you desire from us.” There is no room for extensive flattery here- they are cold creatures, and though she dare not risk causing them harm, she will take whatever opportunity she can get the tiniest snippets of revenge against these farcomer butchers. Even so, it is a dangerous game. She does not doubt that one tendril is all it would take to kill her, and death at the hands of these things would be the merciful path to the Afterlife should this end in calamity.
Volzhkerix | Supercommunity of Tariat | The eusocial jellyfish-bugs stuck in an industrial-tech cold war

Eriaroon | Eriaroon Eugenic Republic | The abyssal cephalopods who believe that reality is the afterlife

Vordekai | Vordekai Continuum | The withering organ-harvesters who seek perfection

Hekkathi | The symbiotic misotheistic pacifists at the end of a rogue world’s lifespan

User avatar
Phorcys
Level 6.2
Level 6.2
Posts: 43
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:53 pm
Nexus Client: The Confederation of Swarms
Client Tech Level: A1
Client Leader: Confederal Consensus
Client Councillor: 0992904-Interlocutor
Client Species: Oizys
Location: United Kingdom
Been thanked: 1 time
Contact:

Re: The 1st Extrasolar Missionary Expedition

Post by Phorcys » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:20 am

Image
Expeditionary pattern kinetic slugger, assembled in situ from lunar regolith and asteroid mining


Cuticle clenches - an adaption to maximise protective coverage - but the sensation is of straining ever tighter to contain the mounting pressure of the urge. No matter how 5406074-Vivisector lashes and coils it his ovipositor burns, fully extruded, barb no longer leaking but spewing sizzling penetrant with each pulsing contraction - corroding the suit seals - scalding soft tissue as it seeps between his segment ridges. Even the tracheae tighten at this intensity, restricting metabolic function for non-reproductive ends. Vision darkens. Thought clouds over like the chlorine murk broiling in his suit. Hearing sharpens to unbearable extremes, the echoes glinting off impossibly precise topology-

-and when a half-cauterised combatant-strain staggers upright - levelling a primitive weapon in its weak, spasmodic grip - the motion barely registers. Almost nothing does. Nothing save for the just perceptible swell of his conspecifics’ gamete sacs, pulsing ripe beneath tight, weathered cuticles. A kinetic projectile penetrates the Meridian's pressure suit and fragments against his own, but a long half second passes before a pereiopod even remembers to lash out in unconscious instinct. Carboplatinum-tipped gauntlet impaling the volzhkerix in a motion too fast for it to even know what killed it.

Autosealant plugs the breach, but 5406074 cannot register the swollen lymph-bladders painfully contusing where the bullet ruptured the pressure seal. Much less the crackling monotony of the capture drone's translation, or the diminutive scuttling creatures to which he is nominally an emissary.

...permitted...to...speak

The clicks synthesised by the drone are almost too slow to understand - each must be parsed one by one in isolation and connected to the next - rather than simply understood in the natural split-second rattle of oizys limbs. It would be an effort for even an intently listening oizys to follow, and with each passing instant 5406074-Vivisector grows increasingly incapable of either the will or the mental function necessary to do so.

“…on….behalf…of…the…High…Queen...of…All-”

“Not our Master!” 5406074-Vivisector stridulates, cloacal contractiles snapping in impatience at how much time has been wasted to interpret a delusional claim.

It is the last coherent statement the Meridian makes. He raises his limbs again - but not to speak. They coil and writhe as his entire body is wracked by muscular spasms - hydrostats pumping lymph, priming for explosive speed.

0409334-Biologer senses the inevitable coming - it is all he can perceive as the frenzy takes hold of him no less. He torques his limbs into a defensive posture as best he can, but he is well past his prime and half the Meridian’s speed - and the easily telegraphed motion only kicks the Vivisector over the edge of frenzy into instinctive action.

With a sweep of one forwardmost limb 5406074 winds round and wrests aside four of the Biologer’s, pereiopods plaintively squirming in his lymph throttling grip.

Unconsciously his ninth limb dives for the gamete sac, but ovipositor encased in its gauntlet it does nothing but tear through the prey’s suit and gouge his cuticle deep.

Raw instinct bucks against reality as a second strike scores only the inside of his armour again, and in a fleeting instant of clarity 5406074-Vivisector wheels round the weapon he had kept - as was their protocol - concealed from the aliens behind him. Looses a burst from his kinetic slugger at near point blank range.

Built for the Confederation's largest breed even a small-arm kicks with recoil that would pulverise a volzhkerix exoskeleton. Massive calibre polycarbide rounds punch fist sized holes into 0409334's suit - high pressure chlorine gas spraying in every direction as he writhes. Viscous lymph spurts from where slugs have impacted between cuticle ridges and driven fragments into the vulnerable tissues below. The Isthmian’s limbs spasm in high-pitched trills of pain - costing him the time he could have brought his sonic gun to bear before the Meridian strikes it away into the scalding sand.

But 204911-Kinguard has an even more infamous weapon jammed against the aggressor’s cuticle just a half-second sooner. 204911 - sibling of the Taskgroup-Commander and dread representative of his authority above - restores order down the barrel of the gun that some say single-handedly spared the Western Kin-Leagues from total extermination. At the crackling sound of its ignition sequence - and the ionised glow of its ill-contained radiation leakage - the Meridian is dragged from the grip of the lust-frenzy as abruptly as 0409334 had thrust him into it.

Such is the power of the micro-fusion thrower. The West's murderous salvation in the final days of the failed contact rebellion. Few Meridians live today who did not learn to associate that sound, or that crackling, numbing sensation with the agonised death rattles of many kin, and 5406074 is firmly among them.

"Dysgenic-traitor-wretch" the Vivisector rasps low in utter hatred. "Westerner" he rattles with more venom yet. Refusing to give even the satisfaction of flinching as the pressed barrel brands his cuticle through his exosuit.

“Hold-desist” the Kin-Leaguer clicks coldly. “Taskgroup-Commander demands”.

The Meridian only presses himself harder against the barrel in defiance, emitting not so much as a chitter as the venting waste heat cauterises his flesh.

“Desist!”

For a single moment 5406074-Vivisector appears to relent - twisting back his poised limbs and backing down. It is only a feint to allow him to whip up a locomotory pereiopod and try wrench the terrible weapon aside before the inferior reflexes of the Westerner can even make the shot.

Under any other circumstances a Meridian in his prime would have always succeeded. But the radiation glare has taken the edge off his frenzy - dulled the singularity of his focus - and 5406074 explodes in a superheated conflagration brighter than the lander’s impact.

A twitching cross-section of an oizys, remainder charred and vaporised into an ashen haze, spills boiling black lymph across the desert sand.

0409334-Biologer observes it for a moment, cloacae gurgling with contempt. Such are the fruits of Meridian 'supremacy'. Futile destruction. And failure. He lists slightly from the wounds the wretch inflicted, more severe than he can afford to let on - but the Biologer will endure the pain until they return to the safety of the lander. 0409334 will not show weakness before the foe.

“Weapons demonstration” he pronounces to the volzhkerix, salvaging the disruption. “Technological exchange offered”.

The intense discharge of radiation has bathed the surviving two oizys in balming Phorcys norms, and their faculties rapidly return to them as the urge subsides. The oizys segue back into their diplomatic overtures as if nothing had happened. The surviving Shoryu will not be so fortunate. The effects of radiation sickness will afflict them soon - the drones in minutes, the larger Queen, maybe longer. Most will not survive the initial bout, and those that do will not survive the relapse once the phase of false recovery has passed in a few more weeks. The Vivisector might have warned that his specimens exhibit poor tolerance for radiation - but such minor anatomical details are far from the Biologer's overriding concerns.

“Scientific Taskgroup” 0409334 gestures a pereiopod at himself, the Westerner, the carcass smouldering on the ground. “Taskgroup imperative study of alien life. Desire to learn. Communicate”.

Since first contact the Confederation has learnt the hard way that most species do not take well to direct requests for live specimen exchange - so the Biologer does not ask. Not for now. But now that he can echosense his highstrain quarry before him he knows that somehow it must be done. Irradiative clarity makes his prior solution - simply killing the Westerner and taking what he seeks - seem foolish. As does the reminder of what a micro-fusion thrower does to oizys flesh. The Meridian was less than half his age, and twice as fast. 0409334's odds are poor. Even in the event of success, is it likely 0292801-Taskgroup-Commander would retrieve him into orbit with his prize after disobeying his orders and murdering his kin? After contravening the foremost imperative of their mission - that there can be no contravention of Nexus protections for the volzhkerix to report to the Owners? Abducted menialstrains go unnoticed. But not the leader of an emissarial delegation. Remembering the punishment they have all been assured in the event of such a lapse overcomes all remaining trace of opportunism in his mind. But - perhaps there is still a way. Perhaps when these Shoryu learn that their enemies consort with aliens too, they will make accord out of necessity...

"Request permission-access to your polity's scientific corpus. Biological data". 0409334 briefly wonders how to make such a demand seem innocuous. "For our reports" he adds, after a measured pause. It is difficult to manipulate aliens. In oizys interactions, the total self-interest and total malice of all parties involved is a given - it is clear what to expect, how to coerce, or with what to tempt. But the alien invariably exhibits all manner of irrational and unpredictable thought processes. Now 0409334-Biologer gambles on the observation that - bizarrely, inscrutably - many client species seem to possess some kind of compulsive desire for scientific discovery - seemingly just for its own sake. Devoid of any fitness-increasing or even implementable purpose-use. The Biologer cannot claim to understand it, but perhaps these volzhkerix will share this pathology, as so many aliens do, and can be brought to believe the oizys share their dysfunction too. Their mission then would justify itself. Its mass-murderous intent indiscernible.

At the alien's inscrutable masticating 204911-Kinguard kicks the kinetic slugger towards the Shoryus' ragged ranks. Drawing their attention to what they stand to gain will perhaps draw it from what they have to concede. "Technology. Weapons. Tools" the Westerner chitters-

'p̷e̕rmissio͠n...a̴cc̀e͟s̶s...t͟o̶...y҉ou̕r͟...p͜o͠lity͏'

-but the drone is still translating their opening demand. As the aliens slowly appear to parse their meaning, 0409334-Biologer finds himself unexpectedly frustrated that they could not have kept the Meridian alive a little longer. Perhaps the Vivisector would have been of some limited purpose-use in gauging the reactions of the Volzhkerix to their offer. And their request. But he must continue - all but deaf to their perception.

"Polity known as-" he chitters a numerical code, and the drone synthesises the unpronounceable alien vocalisation - 'Ta̛ri̴at' - "in contact with other farcomer agency. Purpose-intent not known. Technological strata not known. But Shoryu rational agents. Cannot allow rival-competitors advantage-gain. If enemy possesses farcomer technology - Shoryu surely must".

The Biologer rests his case. Like any oizys overture it does not weigh itself down with nuance or consideration. Only bears the brute facts. And the aliens will either be rational enough to come to the correct conclusion, or else their behavioural dysfunction ranges beyond even pre-empted parameters.
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