First Contact

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Re: First Contact

Postby Xah » Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:14 am

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

Progress, some anyway.

The Advocate signalled the source of the communications; "Coordinates received and understood. Shuttle inbound. Estimated time for arrival, fifteen minutes. Thank you for your invitation." (OOC: insert locally used time period)

The Advocate moved to a smaller landing craft which detached from the Envoy vessel and, without any signs of a reaction based drive, accelerated quickly towards the planet and the coordinates given. Its entry into the atmosphere of Phorcys was a little undramatic, with a slight colouring of the field surrounding it as it interacted with the molecules forced out of its way. Inside, the Advocate was still communicating with the rest of the Owners within the Nexus. This first contact feed had spread like a virus within the virtual world, with most Owners now devoting at least part of their consciousness to keeping a track of events. A full session of the Nexus Contact Board was going on, with some serious considerations being given to amending the methods used for contact, and advise and guidance being given to the Advocate. For its own part, the Advocate was both mortified and resolute. This contact situation was going to raise its profile significantly; if all went well, it would be considered a diplomatic success and lauded with many advantages, if it failed, then it may as well retire to the memory archives in disgrace.

The Owner shuttle hurtled through the air and then stopped, suddenly, about five kilometres above the provided coordinates, descending more measuredly towards the ground. Just before the stepped pyramid base touched the surface, it halted, and a ramp extended out, although the dome remained sealed, but transparent, until a welcoming committee approached. The Advocate took in a virtual deep breath and quietened the comms chatter, devoting almost all of its primary awareness to the task at hand.

Inside the Nexus, another Envoy vessel was being prepared to transport the willing clients through the Gate. "The Nexus appreciates your willingness to accept the risk," the Owner said. "This is turning out to be a non-conformist potential Client, with extraordinary parameters. One hopes that its thoroughness and caution in our first contact translates into similar behaviour once confirmed as a Client. It would be a shame to sequester this universe and its potential."
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NS Nation: The Morthanveld Polity of Xah
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Client Tech Level: A2
Client Leader: Ancient One
Client Councillor: Speaker
Client Species: Morthanveld

Re: First Contact

Postby Phorcys » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:48 am

secret research base, the Equatorial Meridian, 600 miles from Habitat-Vault 01

2204873-Aerovoid-Technician reflexively winds and unwinds his limbs into a defensive lattice. They ripple with hydrostatic tension, ready to spring into a flailing offensive at the slightest touch. There are far too many unrelated oizys trapped in far too small a space down here, cramped together in the narrow, lightless confines of this forbidden tunnel-network. He is hundreds of miles from civilisation, at an undisclosed, unmonitored location, alone with hateful, mate-hungry oizys from every rival corner of the Confederation. They all are. It is unsuprising that the stagnant, filtrated air lies thick and heavy with the raw pheromonal signature of fear. Fear of the unknown alien agency descending even now to Phorcys - but more fear of each other. Every ovipositor in the chamber stirs in its sheath at the titillating scent. The mission is too important to fail, and at the command of the Confederal Consensus itself the entire contact-taskgroup, irrespective of rank, are all threatened with death should any mating-violence occur. But in the heat of the moment, what threat can stop the glistening frenzy from taking hold? Particularly among blood-crazed Meridians, 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician reflects fearfully, struggling to control his anxiety lest it excite the others even more. He barely survived the mass-mating at Air-Void Control only a cycle ago, and having escaped at the cost of many valued kinguards, he has no desire to die down here the very next day.

He clicks nervously at 0992904-Interlocutor, the Vault 01 oizys the Meridian Hierarchies have sent as their representative. He feels the echoed reverberations through 0992904’s dermis, through his powerful organs - and suffice to say 2204873 is not surprised the Meridian genographers selected him. He is the largest oizys 2204873 has ever encountered, fully three metres across from limb to limb, an exoskeleton almost as thick as the ceramic shielding on a landshuttle, and a cuticle that sounds almost as tough. His own wiry East-Continental build makes 2204873 feel like an unformed spawnling again - and just as acutely vulnerable. He coils a pereiopod nervously round the handle of the mono-blade strapped to one arm - but 0992904 could probably tear the arm off with a single lunge. The sole surviving kinguard that stands between him and the Meridian, electromitter clasped tightly in two pereiopods, would probably fare no better - but better his kinguard as the first line of defence than himself-

“Request valued-ally-friend lower-discards his weapon,” 0992904 stridulates sharply, having taken no less notice of the tension. He raises a pereiopod - as though about to strike out and disarm the kinguard himself.

"This one cannot. Have orders". The Meridan looms threateningly and his kinguard backs away - but remains resolute in his loyalty.

"If we mate-fight, weapon will not save you”.

"But valued-adept-friend is an easy target" his kinguard responds in kind, eliciting a low and angered chitter-

“- Hold-desist!” 0409334-Biologer interjects, positioning himself between the aggressing oizys, limbs outstretched to keep them apart, “hold-desist, valued-adept-friends. Magnitude of task is too great, we cannot fail the Swarms. Taskgroup cannot fight-kill each other before aliens even arrive! Can fight-kill after when task is done"

0992904 trills his anger - “In 01 must fight-kill any oizys that points weapon. It is a challenge. This one is true Meridian. This one cannot deny mating-challenge-”

“-Does not matter. Have orders. We are requisitioned by Confederal Consensus itself - you will obey”

Spiracles and cloacae flared with aggression, ovipositor engorged, 0992904-Interlocutor seems to take a minute to parse the biologer’s logic - but he does, backing down with a menacing chitter. The others shudder with relief, and keep their distance from him - or as much as they can in the cramped terminal-chamber. All except 0409334-Biologer. Alone among the contact-taskgroup, 0409334 stands next to the hulking Meridian, steady and composed.

“Good, valued-mission-asset performs well”, the biologer stridulates, whether to himself or 0992904 is unclear. “Control. Obedience. Valued-exemplar-specimen exhibits excellent mental adaptations in addition to peak physical supremacy”-

“This one is not your kin”, 0992904-Interlocutor interrupts, baring only contempt and incomprehension at this praise. “You are not even Meridian. Mission-critical-asset may live in 01 but you are not spawned there. You cannot wash stink of East Isthmus from your pores”.

“We may not be kin, but mutual ability-quality of Confederal specimens is of benefit to mission and supremacy of Confederation”

0992904 emits a dismissive pop from his cloaca. “You do not command this mission. Why praise unkin ability unless it serves your purpose? This one does not serve-obey you”.

“This one’s interests are identical-aligned with those of Confederation and Consensus”. 0409334-Biologer replies carefully, deciding not to explicate that in consequence and effect 992904 serves his purposes full well. He is attempting to reduce the tension, after all, not antagonise 992904 further. What the Meridian cannot know or comprehend is that 0409334 considers all Confederal oizys his children, for as Head Eugenicist of the Confederation his dictates have shaped them all. The Confederation is his Swarm, and all the Swarms his mind-kin. This way of thinking is considered unoizys, and certainly unmeridian - so he will not explain it to 0992904-Interlocutor. No matter, it is not the place of this specimen to understand his higher purpose, only to act on it.

“Maintain defence-distance from this aggressor,” 3100441-Emissary chirps a warning from the far-end of the chamber, where the luxury-softened, dysgenic weakling presumably hopes to stay out of harm’s reach. “This one considers valued-knowledge-keeper most critical to mission” he clicks condescendingly.

0409334-Biologer does not move. He does not scuttle away in shameful terror. In fact he derives considerable gratification from the fear the others display at the presence of 0992904, particularly that decadent limp-limbed Westerner. 0992904 is a masterwork, an epitome-embodiment of the twenty-five orbital periods 0409334 has dedicated to the genetic perfection of the Confederal races. Even if violence were to occur, he does not fear fatality at the ovipositor of such an excellent specimen. By the principles of natural selection he will then have been rightfully bested, and even in death his nourishing organs will still serve the Confederation in the corpse nurseries. He is not afraid because unlike the others he has a goal beyond merely his own satisfaction and survival. His mind is focused on the mission ahead, the culmination of his work. He has given his lifespan to the enhancement of the oizys species, and they will not be out-competed now by foreign predators from beyond the sky. Whatever these aliens are, he will observe them. He will discern their weaknesses. And he will find a way to kill them. The undisciplined hunger of these oizys will not be allowed to detract from this goal.

0992904-Interlocutor, the object of his admiration, is not thinking about such abstract things as the implications of alien contact or the fate of the oizys species. It is uncommon for oizys to do so. 0992904 is thinking of mating, and the triple-rations he has been promised as reward for this mission. He relishes the prospect of a new test of his skills - what every true Meridian lives for as he sees it - but most of all he contemplates the power of his new position, and the bounty that awaits him back at 01. It is difficult, knowing that Under-Command will never allow him to return to his brood-kin, that 0992904 will never rest easy again in the presence of sibling-allies - but the advantages of compliance, he has decided, far outweigh this loss. Besides, if he as skilled-superior to all other oizys as he believes, and has always been told, what need does 0992904 have for the protection of kin?

Misgivings do not trouble 0992904 much. He is a creature of action and dynamism, his thought always in the future not the past. It is the waiting he cannot stand. He knows the alien approach is imminent, but he has lived his life at Complex Systems Instability Response Control at a frenetic pace for two orbital periods, and even a moment not engaged in physical regimen, taskwork or combat training feels wasted. He hopes the aliens arrive soon. The one thing he has in common with 0409334-Biologer is that whatever strange things the void-creatures are, he hopes he will have the chance to kill them. The waiting is making him frustrated, volatile, forceful. The urge for violence rises in him, and he is surrounded by so many unkin to vent his frustration on…

“This one close-watches you”, 3100441-Emissary unwisely clicks, as 0992904 restlessly paces too near. The Westerner is flanked by power-armoured kin-guards and a meat shield of mindless nerve-broken cover-slaves - and still the weakling is afraid.

“Close-watch will not help you”, 0992904 chitters defiantly. “Your mind-ruined slaves are slow. Your soft-lived kin are weak”

“Vat-slaves are spawn-grown to die”, the decadent Westerner retorts, “and this is purpose-reason for power-armour”. He is not even ashamed to admit it.

“This one strong-superior to your technology! This one tears these weakling contraptions apart”

The Westerner responds cooly, barely deigning to lift his limbs to speak - “take pride-arrogance in your kind’s over-grown bodies for now, Meridian. When next war comes and this Confederation ends, Kin-Leagues will cease all agri-shipments to your Swarms, and your proud-strong limbs will wither”.

“Treason! Treason!” 0409334-Biologer rattles, his composure shattered, limbs bristling with hostility. “Weak-western-degenerates all traitors, this one always knows, and now this one hears! You dare predict break-betrayal of pact of Confederation?”

3100441-Emissary’s cloacae contract and hiss, but he says nothing. He must not let the stress of confinement with these brutish unkin push him to divulge too much truth. Meridian, East Isthmus, East Continental, all will be slaves to the Kin-Leagues of the West in time. But he is ambassador to Habitat-Vault 01 and the Meridian Hierarchies, and he cannot overstep his role, for now.

“Westerner would be kill-euthanised if born in 01” 0992904-Interlocutor trills sharply, jabbing a pereiopod at the dead dermis 3100441’s cuticle has flaked onto the tunnel floor.

3100441-Emissary is sure he would be. How typically wasteful of Meridian ideology, to execute an oizys over a trivial dermatological condition. “Does valued-adept-friend want to know what else 01 Under-Command could have this one kill-executed for?”, he asks. He lets the question hang in the air, feels the outrage ripple through their limbs and is certain they already know what he is about to do. They must all hear the rumours. They must all bitterly hope too, that it is false - more out of envy than principle, whatever they believe. So he will appease their curiosity. With an idle, nonchalant click of two arms a lobotomised slave lowers itself before him in mindless supplication.

“Westerner does not dare!" 0409334-Biologer stridulates stutteringly, aghast. But the slave parts its limbs and exposes its bare cuticle as though it were nothing. The others click on in gawping horror. There is nothing to stop him. 3100441 raises his ninth arm high in mocking anticipation, savouring the spectacle, ovipositor fully exposed in a flagrant threat display.

"This one will fight-kill if you try!" the Meridian trills in horror. "He will!" the biologer feebly chimes in. All suspected that the upper echelons of the Kin-Leagues committed the abominable act of consensual mating - but to behold it with their own senses, to witness the Westerner flaunting his dysgenic deviance -

“Kill this one, even harm-hinder this one, and agri-embargo begins this cycle. Your swarms falter-starve,” 3100441 chirrups triumphantly. “Praise your genome all you will, but power is power”. He jerks back his ovipositor as though about to plunge - then clacks his limbs together again, and the slave scrabbles to its pereiopods and scuttles away into the darkness. His display is complete. 3100441 will not push things too far. “That one saved for later” he chitters with open contempt. “Or perhaps for East-Continental ally-friend?”

“Request-repeat?” 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician judders, disbelieving of what he has just heard.

“Valued-adept-friend not so fixated with natural selective principles,” the Westerner obliges him, “this one humbly offers mate-use of slave at your will-pleasure”.

2204873 squirms under the sudden attention that the huge Meridian turns towards him. The offer is tempting, and his cloacae tighten with frustration. From the moment he arrived at 01 he has been surrounded by constant setae-bristling, sheath-stirring violence, and infuriatingly committed none of it. Yet the offer is so transparently intended to exploit the divisions within the taskgroup - and he has little doubt the Meridian will tear him limb from limb if he tries-

-without a word 0992904-Interlocutor springs forward suddenly, too fast to pre-empt, clasping hold of the slave-offering and dragging it to the centre of the chamber.

"Hold-wait, this one must consider", 2204873 chitters feebly, but the Meridian already has his thick limbs wound round the slave’s feeble, malnourished arms, and pulls. The sound of its cuticle cracking, of muscles and segmentae tearing fills the tunnel, along with its thrashing squeals.

“Enough!” 3100441-Emissary scrambles forward, pushing past his bewildered kin-guards to stand before the huge Meridian. He looks like a spawnling next to an adult oizys, but the Westerner stands his ground regardless, confident 0992904 will not harm him for all his bluster. “Slave is property of our Kin-League. Cannot be damage-harmed.”

“If it is?” 0992904 clicks

“This one must assume hostile intent of Vault 01 and Meridian Hierarchies. Possible outcome: Kin-Leagues determine war necessary for preservation-defence of agri-territories”

2204873-Aerovoid-Technician wonders fitfully if he is the only oizys present that doesn’t want to start this war, or to die in a bloodbath in this wretched warren a thousand miles from home. But if he is going to die, he hopes he finally gets a chance at that slave before he does...

-that is when the alarms blare throughout the tunnel. The alien envoy is detected. Their mutual annihilation momentarily postponed the oizys scramble to their stations, their enmity trumped by raw terror of something worse even than each other- the Owner craft descending through the broiling acid clouds of Phorcys, gliding effortlessly through a continent-spanning storm of burning sand and volcanic ejecta that would tear apart the most hardened Confederal drone in seconds.

The telemetry is transmitted by satellite and radar to the research base, relayed over audiostream in rapid-fire nav-code. Only 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician can interpret it, and for a moment the tension dissipates as the others cluster behind him to await his report.

But 2204873 only clacks his limbs in disconcertion.

“Alien is approaching?” 0992904 inquires eagerly.

“Telemetry-data anomalous-improbable”, 2204873 replies, frantically re-running the code logs. “Atmospheric conditions far exceeding acceptable-expedient risk parameters for crewed flight. But descent turbulence nonextant”.

As the Owner vessel descends it comes into visual range of the surface cameras. The facility’s computers translate the optical data into audial rendering, and all oizys present behold the craft’s seemingly frictionless passage through the raging clouds. The swirling ejecta seems to part and disperse around the construct, allowing it to drift down as gently as if it travelled through pure vacuum.

“This one sent to observe-deduce functionality of alien construct-craft”, 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician trills tremblingly in confusion and fear, “but nothing deducible. Report not possible. Even basic propulsion method of construct-craft unknown”

“Alien is on Phorcys” 3100441-Emissary declares, attempting to take charge in the panic, “what can be known, valued-adept-friend reports later. First initiate contact”. His kinguard unpack and assemble experimental micro-fusion based plasma throwers like those 2204873 saw at Air-Void Control. This does little to ease his terror. 2204873 also remembers how many of them exploded when the military attempted to open fire on the frenzied maters, causing a structural collapse that brought down the entire chamber. Or is this some newer design the Westerners have been keeping secret? Which is more terrifying?

“But this one initiates first contact” 0992904-Interlocutor steps forward, “by order-designation of Consensus. This one official-authorised representative of all Confederation”.

“-and all oizys”, 0409334-Biologer adds, “by spawnright of genetic optimality".

"And training" 0992904 adds. "Meridian oizys submit to mandatory surface-exposure trials to determine evolutionary fitness in event of Confederal-civilisational collapse. This one has survived 300 hours on open ground” he boasts. “This one will go”

“Very well, if honoured-mission-asset insists”, 3100441-Emissary agrees perhaps too wholeheartedly, more than happy to concede the dubious honour of exposure. "We will prepare defences in time remaining"

"This one will observe any deception-scheme", 0409334-Biologer assures a now suspicious 0992904. "You initiate-begin direct contact"

After a minute of clicking apprehensively at the nonchalant Westerner, 0992904 chirrups accord. "This one goes"

The hangar-port rises up from under the desolate sands, its hydraulic jaws yawning open to disgorge a solitary landshuttle. The storm-sands buffet the hardened vehicle as its titanic wheels churn through the bubbling, acid-spewing mud. Fragments of hurtling rock kicked up by eruptions along the Western range lacerate its ceramic shielding. Yet like all oizys technology designed to function on open ground, the tried and tested landshuttle is robustly engineered to the point of miracle. It presses its way on through metres-deep mud and quicksand, over unstable, fissuring ground and jetting geysers of acid, all in zero visibility with hurricane winds and the burning ejecta of a mass eruption battering against its hull.

Forging through the hell of Phorcys, it arrives before the hovering alien craft. With a slow turn the landshuttle orients itself against the direction of the wind before the ramp lowers, providing 0992904-Interlocutor some measure of protection as he emerges, digging his pereiopods into the ground for stability. His hardened, acid-weathered cuticle is scoured by the ash and the whipping sands, gouged deep by flying fragments. But he is Meridian, drilled since birth to traverse the surface, and to admit no weakness and no pain. He does not even wear a respirator harness, trained to carefully and consciously control his breathing to survive on the insufficiently concentrated chlorine of the open air. Even in such conditions it would take him hours to asphyxiate. With immense effort he claws himself towards the foot of the alien craft, looking up to where the advocate awaits him, the eery light of its glowing eyespots visible even through the swirling murk of chlorine gas.

But he does not need to see it to sense from here it is a profoundly unnatural thing. He clicks in its direction, and the echoes he receives raise every setae on his cuticle, engorge every limb with surging fluid. Its insides sound so wrong. It feels more like a part of the ship it descends from than a living thing. Oizys are deeply attuned to similarity, to marks of kin identification - similar cuticle colouration, exoskeletal morphology, pheromonal signatures, stridulatory ranges - and every single thing about this imposter screams aberrance and abomination.

Yet he must invite it back to shelter with him.

If it were up to him he would have this imposter torn limb from limb. But it is not. Suppressing the urge to chirrup a battle-cry and charge the profane thing, 0992904 forces himself to greet it. “Welcome to the Confederation of Swarms, honoured-emissary-friend!” he stridulates out at a high pitch, audible even over the screaming winds. Apparently these creatures understand Standard - the idea is deeply disturbing. 0992904 jabs a pereiopod in the direction the landshuttle came from, though nothing is visible beyond a few shrouded feet. “Emissary-friend is requisitioned at Confederal facility. Request emissary-friend enters transport”. 0992904 turns slowly, and begins to drag his way back towards the ramp of the landshuttle. His challenge is succeeded, his task complete. Now he can get away. He does not look back to see if the alien follows. He rather hopes it does not.
The oizys species of the Confederation of Swarms

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Client Councillor: 0992904-Interlocutor
Client Species: Oizys

Re: First Contact

Postby Xah » Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:54 am

Warning: atmospheric conditions: extreme: potential for Client harm

The Advocate acknowledged the warning and registered it with the Nexus Survey Board; it appeared that the atmospheric conditions on this world were marginal, even for its most successful sentient species. This in itself portrayed the deep potential in this species as a Client. Violent confrontation aside, this could be quite the lucrative endeavour for both this species, and other Clients. In itself, the Advocate was not afraid of violence; its form was temporary at best and its constant sub-space link to the Nexus ensured its own personal loss was not at risk. Even if the oizys could damage its physical form, which would be a remarkable occurrence, its mindstate would be safe. In the thousands of years of recorded history, only three physical forms had been lost due to Client actions, and all of them had been accidental events involving nova-scale releases of energy. Occasionally, a Client (almost always primitive ones) attempted to keep an Advocate prisoner, but the nanoscale construction of its form was almost impossible to contain.

"I am honoured to be received as a guest," it replied to the oizys sent to meet it; an impressive specimen, for sure. "I recognise the extraordinary nature of my visit, and acknowledge the difficulties the sudden knowledge of our existence must be causing. I am willing to go wherever you guide."

Feeling marginally perturbed by the dismissive nature of its host after that initial greeting, the Advocate did the mental equivalent of a shrug, and boarded the transport behind it.
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Re: First Contact

Postby Phorcys » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:00 pm

The imposter boards the landshuttle and the ramp closes behind them, shutting out even what little of the Phorcyn half-light penetrates the howling gloom. The oizys and the advocate are trapped together in the dark confines of the transport - dark save for the painfully bright glow glaring from where the imposter’s eyespots should be. 0992904-Interlocutor recoils at the harsh, unnatural light, covering his eyespots with his pereiopods. This puts him at an unacceptable disadvantage.

“Distance, honoured-emissary-friend” he stridulates, sharp and high pitched - an aggressive warning for the alien to keep back, no matter the diplomatic form of address. There is little space in the cramped passenger compartment of the landshuttle, and even coiled into a defensive posture in the opposite corner, an oizys as huge as 0992904 cannot avoid being too close for comfort.

“I am honoured to be received as a guest”, the alien thing clicks coldly, displaying no natural signs of aggression at the proximity.

The Advocate does not realise that such inexplicable calm only provokes 0992904 further - in such close quarters the stench of lymphfluid oozing from his exposure wounds should drive any unkin into a frenzy. Yet instead the imposter remains placidly in its corner, in unresisting compliance with 0992904’s demand. Why? Surely if it is so powerful it does not need to. And 0992904 knows it is. He watched it calmly traverse from its void-craft to the landshuttle without sustaining even a single scratch. The hurtling ejecta which gouged his own decimetres-thick storm-hardened cuticle deep down to the connective tissue didn’t even seem to slow it down. Whatever it is made from, whatever it really is, it possesses an unnatural, unknowable resilience beyond even the limits of an oizys body - and yet it shows only the shame-marks of weakness, submissively obeying his will. This is an attempted deception - it can only be deception - and 0992904-Interlocutor has not dominated his peers from corpse nursery to brood warren by being unable to perceive deception.

“I recognise the extraordinary nature of my visit”, the alien continues in its bizarre rendition of Standard, “and acknowledge the difficulties the sudden knowledge of our existence must be causing. I am willing to go wherever you guide”

The difficulty that troubles 0992904 is where he’ll even stab his ovipositor when the violence breaks out. He ranges his clicks over high and low frequencies, probing for weakness. He feels them reverberate through the imposter’s pseudo-cuticle, and senses no recognisable structures underneath. No vulnerable organs, no pierceable trachae, not even the gamete sac itself. Nothing oizys. Only an unsettling homogenous sensation, a lifeless internal medium where an endostructure should be. 0992904 had wondered at first if the thing was some abducted oizys of bizarre, foreign racial physiognomy, further altered by alien cybernetics. But no - this thing could never have been alive. 0992904 fears no oizys, for not even trained and battle-bred soldiers are his match - but this thing makes his setae bristle and his cloacae contract with violent force. It is unmistakably a machine, a drone of some kind, driven either by an advanced constructed intelligence, or teleoperated by an unseen alien presence above.

“This one fear-flees nothing, alien-drone-machine” he warns, pulling out the electrocauteriser from the overhead med compartment and scorching his deep wounds shut in demonstration. He lets out nothing more than a low hiss of discomfort. If it is a constructed intelligence intimation will have no effect, but if it is controlled remotely perhaps the operator will be averse to risking its hardware against such an oizys as him.

That is when the juddering turbulence stops. The landshuttle has pulled into the hangar-port, and the klaxons chime as it docks with the elevator-platform. With a lurch they begin their descent into the facility.

“Know confederal contact team will be ready-armed, alien-drone-machine" 0992904 jabs a pereiopod at the thing. "No sudden-unpredictable motion. Raise-point limbs to speak only if-when permitted - and slow-carefully. If abnormal-significant electromagnetic emission from drone-corpus detected, you will be destroyed. Now follow”.

The ramp opens again, and 0992904-Interlocutor leads the advocate down into the darkness of the warrens.

The facility had been a secret vivisectory lab only the 39 hours of a Phorcyn day ago, and lymphfluid and gamete-spill still dries on the tunnel walls. But everything else has been stripped out, all on-site technology burnt and destroyed, all prisoners liquidated, their remains sent either to the larders or shipped back to feed the corpse nurseries of 01. By the command of the Confederal Consensus the aliens' exposure to oizys technology must be minimised as strictly as possible. None know what surveillance these technologically advanced aliens are capable of, and their supposed emissary is certainly a spy as well.

The advocate is led past laboratory-chambers stripped down to the bare bedrock, caved-in passage locks where they could not be disassembled in time, and endless rows of empty holding cells ringing the tunnel walls. Finally they arrive at the still-functioning passage-lock to the deepmost chamber. Even the biometric scanners and microwave barrier-emitters have been torn out. The gates are set to disengage by a simple motion sensor.

The advocate enters a spherical chamber, the walls studded with sensors, cameras and microphones, all covered in nodules of thick ceramic shielding save for tiny instrument ports. The contact team are to conceal as much of their equipment as they can, while learning as much as they can of the intruder. This is why the Confederation demanded to meet on their own ground.

The contacters are lined up to observe the emissary as it enters. Their kinguards hang from the ceiling and the walls, low-tech kinetic weapons fixed on the Owner from every angle, and even these sheathed in insulating ceramics. But in a hidden chamber newly excavated below lies the true defence - 3100441-Emissary's team of power-armoured kinguards, armed to the cutting edge with advanced microfusion plasma-throwers of unique East-Continental make - supplied to the Westerners in secret and against Confederal command...

Should negotiation prove impossible, or the spy disobey its instructions, the hidden passage-lock will be disengaged and the soldiers released upon the alien. But they have other orders too - and at the signal of 3100441 they are just as ready to turn on the other oizys instead. For there are great plans in motion. The Western Kin-Leagues and the Technarchies of the East have common cause in their hatred of the Meridian swarms that dominate the Confederation, and little desire to share control of the clientship with them. In their ideological blindness the Meridian Hierarchies and their Isthmus allies have foolishly convinced themselves that resistance against this alien foe might be possible - and overlooked the potential benefits of peaceful submission. But the West and the East know better. And should it come to it, 3100441-Emissary will not let Meridian folly or the treaties of the Confederation stand in the way of an advantageous first contact...

"Alien cannot be trusted" 0992904-Interlocutor stridulates to the others in Meridian - as far as they know the aliens have not decoded that local language yet. "Alien-drone-device is powerful. Undamaged by surface-exposure, same as alien construct-craft. Compliance-humility of powerful alien entity can only denote deception-concealment of true intention"

"This one concurs" 0409334-Biologer chitters, cloacae gaping in horror at the advocate's form, the fusion of utter alienness and distorted familiarity. "Alien-aberrance-abhorrence is threat-danger to us all. 2204873 will monitor instruments close-carefully"

"This one will perform his utmost" 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician replies, limbs snaking in uncontrollable revulsion.

Tentatively 0409334-Biologer approaches the advocate. It is as he feared. The theory of the Confederal Consensus is correct. These supposed alien emissaries are nothing but the tools of some higher, unseen power lurking beyond their spatio-temporal rift. He has no function here - there is no biology to analyse, nothing he can learn to save the Swarms in the coming struggle.

“Constructed intelligence” 0409334 addresses it in Standard, stridulating slowly and clearly as if to oizys vocal-recognition technology, “you will expose-reveal true morphology-form. If none exists, constructed intelligence will change-assume unoizys morphology-appearance. You will answer all inquiry-requests - only then does Confederal Consensus consider-debate terms of confederation with your Nexus collective"

"We should destroy it" 0992904-Interlocutor interjects urgently in Meridian. "Drone-machine must have learnt too much already!"

"No anomalous electromagnetic spikes" 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician reports. "It is not surveying our facility, yet".

"Then we do not destroy it - yet" 0409334-Biologer responds. He notices as he does the dysgenic-Western-weakling twitching oddly at the mention of the alien's destruction. 0409334 finds it suspicious. He will be sure to watch 3100441-Emissary closely for the rest of this proceeding.

Turning his attention back to the advocate he switches to Standard. "First inquiry - what and where are your constructors? At present information-exchange unequal. Alien agency that sends you knows of our morphology, but Confederation of Swarms knows nothing of your makers".

"Second inquiry-" 0992904-Interlocutor interjects again, in Standard this time, "what is possible motive-intent behind alien negotiation? If alien technology-power so great, what purpose-use are oizys to your masters? Confederal Consensus does not trust your treaty-offer. This one does not trust your treaty-offer! Cannot discern mutual benefit. Negotiation inexplicable".

"Confederal Consensus demands further explanation of possible Confederal role-function in confederation with Nexus" 0409334-Biologer corroborates.

3100441-Emissary has been silent so far, observing the alien with strange nonchalance - but the tele-tactofeed he wears on one arm drums out a furious stream of information from his Western masters. "Kin-Leagues concur" he finally speaks. "Further informational exchange required. Third inquiry - if alien purpose-intention truly mutual co-operation, technological trade-exchange surely possible?"

"Fourth inquiry" 0409334-Biologer clicks sharply, "Initial alien communication-broadcast suggest-indicates presence of client-species of Nexus collective aboard orbital construct-craft. Initial communication-broadcast offers direct contact with representatives of client-species. Where are these representatives? Oizys before you represent all swarm-blocs of Confederation - this one is East Isthmus, and these oizys are Meridian, Western, East-Continental" he points a pereiopod at each. "All swarm-states are equal-valued-allies in Confederation of Swarms. All speak together. Appears your collective does not. Where are your clients, and do your masters trust-permit them to speak for themselves?"

0409334 doubts the Nexus Constructors will reveal their true biology if they have gone to such lengths to conceal it, but perhaps they will sacrifice the morphological secrecy of their subject races. Any knowledge is better than none, and to behold anything that the oizys can outcompete and kill would reassure 0409334 that his lifespan's work to perfect the species has not been for nothing.

"Has bearing on Confederal trust-compliance", 0992904-Interlocutor agrees. "These are Confederal inquiry-demands"

Fortress-Vault Tidereach, capital of the Southern Swarm States, the South Meridian

In a vast natural cavern overhanging an abyss of roaring magma, the Diarchs of the Southern Swarm States hold court, presiding over the gathering of their Castellan-Commanders from obsidian thrones draped with the flayed cuticles of their enemies. Today a new supplicant comes before them, an oizys of a kind that has never before come to these tunnels and left alive.

The packed ranks of oizys roil with chittering anger as the secret Western ambassador to the South passes though them. "Confederate-spawn-meat!" the trilling chant goes up, a thousand ovipositors engorged and spasming with rage, all pointed at him. "Confederate-spawn-meat!" The Southerners were defeated by the Confederation of Swarms in the last great resource war, and though a generation has passed not an iota of their unremitting hatred has. "Confederate-spawn-meat!" His kinguard struggle to form a protective formation around him as the enraged Southerners press in-

-Yet the Diarchs lift a pereiopod each and the trilling stops, the chamber falls silent. The ambassador and his kinguard entourage continue to the foot of the great thrones unmolested. Led up by another contingent of kinguard a vast chain-bound train of slaves enters the chamber and follows behind, cloacae voiding in terror, squealing in misery.

"This one prostrate-presents himself before the honoured-master-leaders of the Southern Swarms" the Westerner proclaims, "and brings tribute-satisfaction to prove alliance-friendship. Shipments of food-sustenance from our most fecund agri-territories. Weapons from the East Continent. And slaves! From Meridian Hierarchies, from East Isthmus - fifty oizys from every Swarm that dare-defy-disgraced your armies in the Resource Wars. Slaves unaltered - they will suffer as any oizys. This day, the Kin-Leagues grant-give you revenge!"

A great chittering of vengeance and lust fills the immensity of the chamber. Only when the Diarchs raise their limbs again for silence does it abate, and they rise from their obsidian thrones to speak. They step forward - not far, for a tangled network of cables wired directly into their nervous systems integrates them to their very thrones - and conjoins them to each other. They are the masters of all the oizys they survey - and their prisoners too. Bound to their seats of power, sacrificed to the office of the Diarchy for the greater good of the Southern Swarms. Slaves, in all but name, as much as the tribute offered in chains.

"These ones" the mind-bonded oizys introduce themselves, stridulating in eery unison, "accept-recognise all tribute-offerings, honoured-emissary-friend. By vengeance-blood of our enemies, this treaty-pact is sealed. Is it made on behalf of all Kin-Leagues of the West?"

"All kin-leagues, honoured-master-leaders. This one declares before you and all the South, that the West is traitor to the Confederation, enemy to Meridian Hierarchies and East Isthmus Consortium. Former alliance temporary. Confederation of Swarms no longer serves our purposes. Our true friendship-loyalty is to the South, our natural-geopolitical ally. This one declares that East Continent ready-prepared to join us in rebellion. Without food shipments from West, and technology of East, Confederation will starve-falter. It is inevitable".

The Diarchs wait this time for the triumphal chirruping to finish.

"All agri-tribute due to Confederation will be share-distributed equally among our Swarms and yours, for mutual benefit-furtherance of war-effort and survival" they proclaim.

This is a negotiation, but it is hard to disagree with these terms when surrounded by thousand hateful, hungry oizys.

"Kin-Leagues shall provide for all. Will be no hunger in South" the ambassador dutifully replies, lowering his central mass in a show of submission - and suppressing an inward chitter of contempt. The food-pact will obviously be broken, the Southerners know it full well. But the mass-eruptions of the Western chain have choked what little agri-land they had in ash. They are starving, they are desperate. Once the war is won by the West, they too will be slaves.

"Then we proceed-progress to plan-preparation" the Diarchs trill, stridulating each other's limbs. Bizarre. Disgusting. The Western ambassador's cloacae tighten in disdain. Only twisted Southerners would think to make leaders of their mutilated slaves.

"In the void - the new world above the sky" the secret ambassador explains, "Confederation has created habitat-lab. You have heard this in Confederal broadcast of last cycle. What Southern Swarms do not know is this void-constuct not only for testing-experimentation on oizys. Void-construct contains experimental energy-source of unprecedented power, now improvise-repurposed into secret weapon against alien presence. Confederation attempting to stall-negotiate, but at our command Kin-League agents in Confedral Air-Void Control will transmit orders to voidreachers aboard construct-habitat to attack. Kin-Leagues and Technarchies secede from Confederation of Swarms in protest-denial of this aggression-folly, and alien power commences hostilities against only our enemies. New, stronger Confederation of West, East and South will become client instead. Meridians exterminated. Isthmus exterminated. All power to our swarms."

"Truly honoured-ally-friend has fulfilled all promise-pacts. These ones are pleased" the slave-rulers chirrup their accord. "We shall forge-shape new Confederation over all Phorcys, and grow strong on flesh of all that oppose! We ascertain treaty-assurance with blood-breeding of enemy!"

At this cry the rigid rows of the Castellan-Commanders and their kin break rank, swarming over the chained slaves in a living tide of striking, stabbing limbs. Torn flesh and spurting lymphfluids spray into the air as the frenzy sets in. The ambassador needs not watch, for his desires are always sated - there are unresisting nerve-broken slaves awaiting him in his personal chambers. But he observes with quiet, bemused contempt as the Diarchs' atrophied ninth limbs twitch slightly at the spectacle, their ovipositors barely extending from their sheaths. His attention is finally drawn when a few slaves manage to break their bonds as even the chains are rent in the violence. This is something exciting for a change. He watches as they scrabble for an escape that does not exist - most leaping into the chasm of magma below rather than face the thousand ovipositors coming for them.Their screeches as they fall bring a gurgle of satisfaction from his cloacae

It is done. The fools have accepted. Soon the Southerners will be the cannon-fodder of the coming war. And he will see this scene repeated, not just with a few hundred Confederal slaves but ten thousand, and all the fool leadership of these Swarm States with them. He trills with pleasure. What, he daydreams pleasantly to himself, will it sound like when they tear those implants from their slave-rulers' cerebrums?

Last edited by Phorcys on Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
The oizys species of the Confederation of Swarms

The Church of Autology and the fate of the Earth
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:53 pm
Location: United Kingdom
NS Nation: The Confederation of Swarms
NS Region: Cynosure
Nexus Client: The Confederation of Swarms
Client Tech Level: A1
Client Leader: Confederal Consensus
Client Councillor: 0992904-Interlocutor
Client Species: Oizys

Re: First Contact

Postby Xah » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:30 am

The Advocate looked around in slightly bemused interest at the surroundings as it was taken deeper into the oizys habitat, or whatever it was they termed this underground structure. It noted the clear markings that this area had been recently changed, probably for the very purpose of this meeting, and given the overt paranoia and suspicion shown so far, the Advocate had no doubt that, should the oizys feel threatened, there were probably weapons of some sort ready to engage against it. The biggest concern was not its own destruction; unless the oizys had access to levels of technology higher by orders of magnitude shown thus far, its physical form was under no threat, but it could affect Nexus/Client relations. This species was unique in its survival against adversity, and fully deserved its place in the Nexus, if only this could be communicated. The lack of appropriate words within the language was the biggest problem.

The assembled individuals, clearly some level of authority more than its escort so far, had a discussion in a language that the Owners had not yet translated directly. The Advocate fed the unfamiliar words back to the Nexus and requested urgent translation work. Based on the limited use of the new language so far, it would be at least a little while before comprehension was possible. Never mind, the Advocate thought, we'll get there in the end.

“Constructed intelligence you will expose-reveal true morphology-form. If none exists, constructed intelligence will change-assume unoizys morphology-appearance. You will answer all inquiry-requests - only then does Confederal Consensus consider-debate terms of confederation with your Nexus collective"

A slight pause from the Advocate as it thought of a way to best respond, but then more questions followed.

"First inquiry - what and where are your constructors? At present information-exchange unequal. Alien agency that sends you knows of our morphology, but Confederation of Swarms knows nothing of your makers.

"Second inquiry - what is possible motive-intent behind alien negotiation? If alien technology-power so great, what purpose-use are oizys to your masters? Confederal Consensus does not trust your treaty-offer. This one does not trust your treaty-offer! Cannot discern mutual benefit. Negotiation inexplicable.

"Third inquiry - if alien purpose-intention truly mutual co-operation, technological trade-exchange surely possible?

"Fourth inquiry. Initial alien communication-broadcast suggest-indicates presence of client-species of Nexus collective aboard orbital construct-craft. Initial communication-broadcast offers direct contact with representatives of client-species. Where are these representatives? Oizys before you represent all swarm-blocs of Confederation - this one is East Isthmus, and these oizys are Meridian, Western, East-Continental. All swarm-states are equal-valued-allies in Confederation of Swarms. All speak together. Appears your collective does not. Where are your clients, and do your masters trust-permit them to speak for themselves?"

Quite the interrogation. The questions weren't unusual, most new clients asked similar things, but usually in the environment of the Nexus, after being awed by the Owners resources. This was a different setting entirely. The Advocate compiled a reply, as best as it could.

"If my form is not acceptable, then that is something that can be changed," the Advocate said. "It is standard practice to assume a form that affects empathy with potential Clients. Typically, this is a form similar to the Client. One moment." There is a slight pause, then the Advocate's form shifted to a matt metallic colour and reformed into a featureless sphere. "I hope this form is sufficiently neutral.

"The makers of the Owners of the Nexus are unknown," The Advocates admits. "We have records of the Nexus stretching back eighteen thousand years, but even then we were the form as we are now. It offers little satisfaction to form conjecture based on no evidence, so we do not. Owners take on forms suitable for the task given, or reside entirely in virtual form. At a certain level of advancement, fixed morphology becomes undesirable.

"We seek to contact and engage with other lifeforms over the entire multiverse." The Advocate said. "Encounters with what we term 'hegemonising swarms', self-replicating nano-machines, have shown them to be a threat to independent existence, so by extending our friendship across universes, we can ensure such threats do not cause the cessation of sentient existence. Besides this, we enjoy meeting new intelligences and learning and sharing knowledge."

The Advocate inwardly smiled at the third inquiry. Sooner or later, every Client asked that one. "Exchange of technologies is permissible between Clients, subject to the mutual cooperation of Clients and whatever conditions are placed upon new Clients by assigned Mentors. As a potential Client with relatively advanced levels of technology, exchange should be permissible with few restrictions. This is at the discretion of the third-party Client assigned to guide your culture through the complexities of Nexus procedures however.

"Within the Nexus are a number of other Clients. Such gatherings are normal for the opening of new Gates. Should the universe within be uninhabited in the vicinity of the Gate, auctions for the contents of the universe are normal. These Clients are free to speak for themselves, but we must safe-guard them, and ensure that you, as a potential Client, are not exposed to anything before you accede. A meeting between representatives of yourselves and them can be arranged as soon as you choose. Although, given the hostile nature of your world's atmosphere, a meeting in orbit or within the Nexus would be advised."

Acutely aware that not all the words would translate properly, but satisfied that the meaning was given across, even if the subtleties were not, the Advocate waited for the reply; either more questions or hostility. Given the visit so far, either were likely.
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NS Nation: The Morthanveld Polity of Xah
NS Region: Cynosure
Client Tech Level: A2
Client Leader: Ancient One
Client Councillor: Speaker
Client Species: Morthanveld

Re: First Contact

Postby Phorcys » Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:12 am

Cloacae retract and limbs go flaccid with relief as the alien drone finally sheds its imitation, assuming an unthreatening, inanimate-seeming form.

“Satisfactory” 0409334-Biologer clicks, acknowledging the change tersely. His kinguards lower their aim. Even if the advocate’s explanation for why this deception is ‘standard practice’ makes little sense, at least they aren’t being confronted with an active threat display anymore.

But then it answers their inquiries - “the makers of the Owners of the nexus are unknown…’ the advocate begins, and its replies grow only more bewildering and terrifying from there, every response dense with highly interpretable information - of which all can be certain is its graveness and significance.

“How can these tools not know of their user-constructors?” 0409334-Biologer trills to the others in high-pitched outrage. “Self-directing constructed intelligence? This is impossible!” He remembers to switch to Meridian only mid-outburst - “how can non-biological entity speak of enjoyment, desires, motives? These are evolutionary-selectional mechanisms”

“Constructed intelligence extant for forty five thousand orbital periods” 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician stridulates in stuttering Meridian, limbs quivering in spasmodic awe. “Possible self-iterating system develops exponential complexity. Process evolutionary-analogous, only system cycles and physical retrofitting exponentially faster-efficient than biological mutation. Autarchavists hypothesise-predict this as future of constructed intelligence on Phorcys”

“This cannot be true” 0409334-Biologer chitters high and rapid, struggling to cohere his mental framework with the sheer scope of these revelations. The cosmos as oizyskind knew it is being upended by the second. If what 2204873 suggests is true - that this constructed intelligence is capable of such activity - then how is biological competition possible? Is his field worthless? His work for nothing? Is the universe beyond Phorcys only an arid emptiness, destined for the proliferation of self-replicating, self-directing machines?

“You will find way to destroy-defeat them” 0409334 demands. “When contact made with client species, this one will discern-detect how to kill them”

“This one hopes so” 2204873-Aerovoid-Technician chitters in response, but without conviction, for in truth he cannot see how. He is the Confederation’s pre-eminent specialist on void-travel and orbital engineering, sent here to observe the alien’s technology and discern its workings - and yet he has nothing to report. Their construct-craft, their drone-emissary - both are being analysed by every instrument the Confederation can point at them, and yet they remain as inscrutable as the eldritch distortion in space-time that bore them. Not even such elementary insights as their method of propulsion or their power source are determinable.

“Our supremacy is eternal-manifest, valued-ally-friends. Know this. The flesh is truth”. 0409334-Biologer begins to chatter babblingly, almost more to himself than to the others. “The race is all, the swarm is all”, he repeats, "the genome is all", clinging to the the reassuring mantras of spawnhood.

“We cannot assume-teach so anymore”. 2204873 clicks, not unaware of the effect he is having on 0409334, but unwilling to sweeten the truth. “All is changed. Phenomena we have witnessed, phenomena alien describes, none are comprehensible by physical laws as known. Alien possesses developmental advantage of forty five thousand orbital periods. Their technology-power magnitudinal orders beyond our own.”

Eighteen thousand years. That is what terrifies 2204873. Their enemy has traversed the void for eighteen thousand years, and his setae bristle with incomprehension at the terror of such an inconceivable span of time. The first Confederal probes breached the cloud-layer only sixty years ago. And that was considered distant history! Three generations of scientists have struggled since to understand the mysteries of the immensity beyond, and yet oizyskind has still barely begun to comprehend the first intimations of its nature. The Confederation’s most advanced unmanned craft have barely scratched its surface, reaching no further from Phorcys than their own two moons. The only oizys ever to enter the void and live are in orbit above them even now. They have been there for mere hours - their enemy for epochs. What power must be theirs...

“Fear-response irrelevant" 0992904-Interlocutor reproaches the Biologer and the East Continental both, clicking clear and precise in pointed contrast to their quavering trills. "Theoretical implications irrelevant. Our task-purpose to protect Confederation. Determine immediate threats. This one believes alien threaten-coerces Confederation with warning of nanite swarms. Possible nanites are weapon develop-deployed by Owners to dominate-subdue species.”

More concerned with the concrete and immediate than the others, as ever, this is what disturbs 0992904 - the Owners' thinly veiled threat that only under their dominion will life on Phorcys be safe. During his assignment at Complex Systems Instability Response Control he witnessed 01 Under-Command's prototype nanite technology in action - and he fully believes the advocate's warning of what it can do, if nothing else the deceiver claims. He recalls how nanite-infused structure gel was to be used to rapidly seal habitat breaches, and canisters of the viscous black fluid were installed at a dozen major tunnel-junctions. He recalls that they were designed to crack open under seismic pressure, and how the gel was released when the next major quake inevitably came - and worked, as intended. But within days vast masses of the stuff had been scraped off the walls by dissidents and traitors. likely Western agents operating under cover of the repair and rescue taskgroups. Whoever was responsible, all they knew was that vast quantities of the deadly substance were re-programmed to attack the habitat, not preserve it. The result - entire structural levels collapsed, vital tunnel-networks lost, and tens of thousands dead. An orbital period later Habitat-Vault 01 has still not recovered, neither in population nor genetic diversity. Deployed on a large enough scale, 0992904-Interlocutor can well believe such a weapon is capable of wiping out a world.

“Even if so,” 3100441-Emissary interjects, “it is irrelevant. Listen to 2204873. Resistance-survival impossible if alien hostile. Does not matter if alien lies. Changes nothing. This stalling-hesitation serves no purpose-use. We must sue-implore terms of confederation with Nexus immediately, before we are forced.”

“Enough of your treasons and misconstruals" 0409334-Biologer clicks, "Must communicate with client species to discern more of the nature of Nexus Collective, else beneficial-advantageous terms impossible.”

"This will not alter-adjust Confederal-Nexus power-imbalance in any way"

"Does Westerner desire Confederation to remain weak-ignorant?" 0992904-Interlocutor accuses him, spiracles flared with anger. "Your kinguards gone-below. Do not test us"

"Your aggression shames Confederation!" 3100441 retorts. "Step back. Alien will perceive it. Display of disunity weakens all our positions"

The Meridian chitters low and menacing as he backs away. His favourite tactic, 3100441 thinks to himself contemptuously. He has yet to see this self-assured brute take any action beyond brutalising a worthless, defenceless slave. 3100441 does not dignify his threat-display with a response.

He is not afraid of him. Nor is he afraid, unlike the others, of ancient aliens and constructed intelligence and weapons of unimaginable power. These fools belong to uncivilised Swarms, but a Westerner understands the subtleties of negotiation and commerce. A scion of the great Kin-League Phonotaxis, 3100441 was schooled in the high elements of agent theory while these Meridian and Isthmus dregs learnt nothing but the crude violence of their primitive corpse nurseries. 3100441 has worked out what these aliens want. Not conquest or extermination - for that would be easy for them - but exploitation. To make offers they cannot refuse. And 3100441 does not dislike the notion of the Meridian Swarms bled dry by alien treaty, if the accord can be made right.

With that goal in mind, the only thing 3100441-Emissary fears is the advocate's insinuation that any meeting with clients must take place within the Nexus. By the command of the honoured Executors that sent him, his kinguard wait below, armed and armoured and ready to storm the chamber. At his signal they will kill the Meridian hulk and the Biologer, leaving him and 2204873 - his new East-Continental ally - to claim the clientship for their Swarms and divide the spoils of negotiation between them.

That was the plan.

This will not be possible if they enter the Nexus craft. Their orders to conceal their technological capacity from the aliens stands. The Confederal Consensus will never permit for his kinguards' micro-fusion weapons to be taken aboard - and without that advantage, there is no guarantee his kinguards will be victorious against the others...

"Request direct contact with Nexus client species", the Biologer stridulates, switching back to comprehensible Standard.

No. 3100441 must act.

“Further request” he adds, “contact occurs at current site”. It is ridiculous that inter-Swarmbloc politicking has led to there being no clear chain of command on this vital mission - but it does have the benefit that he can speak up and interfere in proceedings whenever he likes.

"This one concurs" 0409334-Biologer clicks to 3100441's surprise - but then again, doubtless the Biologer has no more desire to be trapped on an alien voidcraft than he does.

"I am afraid that we are obligated to ensure the safety of our clients" the advocate responds, "and we cannot guarantee a risk free journey across the surface given the hostile enviromental conditions your world"

"Orders are to remain at this site" 0992904-Interlocutor trills aggressively. "We obey. Will not go"

"That is your choice. But any further contact must take place aboard our vessel"

There is a moment of silence. An impasse. Or at least there should be - but 0409334-Biologer swiftly breaks it.

"Confederal Consensus will decide" he declares - outrageous without consulting the others first. "Decision soon" he assures.

"Fool!" 3100441-Emissary rattles furiously in Meridian, “we cannot expose ourselves to their instruments!”

“Alien can seize oizys aboard orbital habitat - nothing to stop them” the Biologer defends himself. “Gain nothing if we remain. Possible utilisable information gained if contact made. Logic is simple”. He pauses, as though measuring his next words - then adds, “this one thought Westerners trained in agent theory?"

“You dare impugn-slander this one’s proven ability? You are only desperate to remain relevant-purposeful to mission! No biology to dissect here - so you sacrifice greater utility of Confederation for individual glory-gain"

"Western-traitor-degenerate dares speak of greater utility of Confederation!" Even the moderately sized biologer - who has thus far slinked behind his kinguard and Meridian puppet whenever violence broke out - raises his limbs in the poised stance of aggression. "This one’s lifespan committed in each-every aspect to furtherance of the race! While your dysgenic-decadence undermines everything Confederation has built. You dare!”

"All your effort-endeavours futile-vain if we end this negotiation bound in alien vivisectory!"

"Western-traitor-fiend is coward as well?" 0992904-Interlocutor looms towards him again. 3100441 is almost at the end of his patience.

“You do not belong here!” he gesticulates to the brute, using too many limbs to maintain his decorum. “You are muscle-meat! Only qualification is size - unless performance-speed in simple logic-exercises deemed acceptable-sufficient criterion-"

"-This one protect-preserved thousands of resource-lives every cycle!" the Meridian rages, "this one protected the Swarm!" 0992904 physically strikes him, jabbing his cuticle roughly with the pereiopod of a limb adjacent to his ninth - the thinly-coded prelude to a mating attempt. 3100441 has kept his cool thus far - but for the first time begins to fear he has pushed them too far, that the beast will actually rip him apart in front of the alien ambassador. His cloacae tighten. He can signal his kinguard at any moment - but it would take hardly longer than a second for the huge Meridian to make the killing blow...

-It is then, most fortunately for him, that all their tele-tactofeeds go off. A transmission from the Confederal Consensus itself - who have been studying the dismal proceedings through the many cameras and echosensors studding the chamber walls. Less fortunate for 3100441 however is the content of the message.

Communication to Contact Taskgroup|[LOCATION REDACTED]
Confederal Consensus [Identities Confirmed]
Timestamp 33.52.12|92.65

Message start_
+++Taskgroup to cease inter-unit hostilities|Cohesion loss unacceptable|Display of internal conflict unacceptable|Will incur punishment|Taskgroup to continue contact process|Prior orders remain in effect|Ensure no weaponry or personal devices taken aboard alien construct|+++

"Executors could not have confirm-conceded this decision!" 3100441 trills in an outburst of bewilderment. In periods of emergency the Consensus technically has the power to make decisions based on majorities, not unanimity - but this is all but unprecedented even in spite of years of mounting tensions.

"You question will-command of Confederal Consensus now?" 0992904-Interlocutor clicks with cruel satisfaction. "In Meridian territory penalty-deterrence is fitness-ascertainment-trial - by mating-challenge"

"This one questions nothing" 3100441-Emissary responds tactfully, trying to regain his composure. The plan is in jeopardy, but for the love of his Kin and the future of his Swarm he must improvise. With the recriminations and anger that must be flying between the members of the Confederal Consensus, maybe even the war will be ahead of schedule. As they say, no plan survives contact with unkin...

"Taskgroup orders are to comply" 0409334-Biologer informs the alien in Standard. "Taskgroup follows. You lead".

0992904-Interlocutor at least, 3100441 notes to himself, does not seem so eager at this development. He sheds his tele-tactofeed with great reticence. The Biologer is blinded by his desire for alien creatures to examine but the Meridian, true to his kind, is a violent paranoiac. Maybe there is a still way to twist this turn of events to his advantage - if the brute can be goaded into violence onboard the ship he will discredit the Meridian Swarms utterly, and perhaps the whole complex, vulnerable plan of hidden agents and falsified orders will be unnecessary to spark alien hostility after all. Perhaps he will return to the West with even greater honours than he imagined, and not to the castration he has been promised should he return in the disgrace of failure...

The West

The feeble gloomlight of Phorcys' dim star glowers over a landscape a world away and a world apart from the dismal Meridian flats - for this is the West, a miasma-steaming jungle of fetid, black carrion-swamps. The relative geological stability of these lands has made them the greatest surviving concentration of bio-diversity on Phorcys, and its most valuable territory. It is these mulch seas of leathery black fronds that are the primary subsistence crop of the Confederation, the foodstuff upon which millions of lives in far-flung habitats oceans and continents away depend.

Like all ecosystems on Phorcys, this one too is dying - the maddening whine of flesh-stripping parasites fills the toxic air, and roiling shoals of necrophagic worms blot out the acidic waters, devouring all other life. The agri-engineers tend to the needs of the self-destructing environment as best they can, an endless procession of corpse barges churning oizys dead into the mire, while great glass domes above protect the most fecund areas from ash.

This ecological cycle cannot be maintained - but what of it? Oizys lives are short, and no adult alive today will live to see the agri-territories finally die. All that matters is that for now they give the Kin-Leagues that control them the confidence that they can betray the Confederation, and win. The superior armies of the Meridian mean nothing once their food reserves are gone.

To defend these vital regions from the alien threat, and by order of the Confederal Consenus, vast numbers of Meridian soldiers are being deployed here in all haste. Still their sub-marine force-carriers continue to arrive, travelling up the rivers of rotting sludge and disgorging their payloads of oizys and weapons onto their slurry banks. Along the waterways and geographic chokepoints they entrench, setting up defensive positions and mobile anti-air defences. Doubtless they did not trust their hosts - but judging from their earnest preparations, not a single commander suspects that the attack will come not from the sky, but from the ones they were sent to protect.

Their imminent terror and confusion once they realise they have have been lured into the killing grounds of a pre-emptive strike are popular topics of conversation among the Western Executors, who eagerly observe the arrival of the 'reinforcements' they requested over tactoaudio feed.

Far beneath the Meridians, in a dark and secret chamber deep within the bowels of Habitat-Vault 05 - amidst luxuries unimaginable anywhere else in the Confederation, steaming with exotic scented vapours and tended to by throngs of slaves serving delicate parcels of near-extinct delicacies - they have convened in person. The first such summoning of every kin-league in three generations. Not since the Resource Wars has such an assembly been called for, and once again, it will mark the outbreak of war.

“Gathered-ally-friends” 0055217-Executor stands, a rare and significant display for an Executor that signifies the most momentous of moments. Though a slight loss of prestige to rise before the others, the gesture draws the valuable attention of his four peers and their kin-entourages successfully. So he begins-

“We have suffer-borne many interest-conflicts and claim-wars between our Kin-Leagues in past times. But still possible to bodily assemble here, unkin from many fleshlines, together, and this prove-attests superiority-harmony of our way of life over destructive eugenic anarchy of Meridian Swarms. In Vault 01, this gathering impossible - we would be mate-fighting. If they confined their barbarisms to themselves, we would tolerate-permit such folly. But this is not their way, for they believe-delude themselves pinnacle-masters of the Confederation, and desire-seek not only senseless destruction of themselves but imposition of their anarchic-defective ideology upon us all”

This judgement earns a round of affirming clicks and hisses.

“This one has received word from our Kin-League’s covert emissary to Southern Swarm States, pact-assuring alliance-assault on Meridian at our signal-command. Calculations prove our combined forces sufficient. This coming war, we will see the end of the followers of the geno-supremacist ideology upon this world!”

Dozens of limbs rattle in rousing approval. It is good oratory.

“However - must consider how plan-disturbance affects our contact-emissary’s mission. All threats and reward-promises have been made to him, yet is it possible to further guarantee his success?”

“3100441-Emissary is our kin” 0020191-Executor, master of Kin-League Sinusoid speaks. “We posses-proclaim total assurance-certainty in his ability”

“No doubts when all according to plan, but now?” The Executor for League Phonotaxis inquires.

“Disruption does not substantially alter-distort predicted proceedings” 0020191 assures. “True, can no longer kill-dispose of Interlocutor and Biologer. Instead our kin-servant will denounce-deny them as aggressor-enemies of Nexus collective, and then deliver proclamation of New East-West Axis as planned. Risk enemy contacters plead mercy and Owners do not immediately detain or terminate - allow-permitting interference with client reassignment negotiation - but risk must be taken. No choice-options. Still highly possible to attain client status for New Axis, and unrecognition of Confederation of Swarms”

“And if your kin fails?”

“We shall administer highest degree of devestment-punishment. 3100441-Emissary castrated-slaved, and cast in shame from our Kin-League. This one trusts punishment satisfactory to all?”

All click their accord.

“Then let us seal-mark pact with slave-fluids!” the Executor of League Sinusoid proclaims enthusiastically.

Not even needing the command, a ring of five nerve-broken slaves arrange themselves at the centre of the chamber. The Executors all rise. The Kin-Leagues are bound in a historically unprecedented unity of will and purpose as the slaves die squealing underneath them.
The oizys species of the Confederation of Swarms

The Church of Autology and the fate of the Earth
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Location: United Kingdom
NS Nation: The Confederation of Swarms
NS Region: Cynosure
Nexus Client: The Confederation of Swarms
Client Tech Level: A1
Client Leader: Confederal Consensus
Client Councillor: 0992904-Interlocutor
Client Species: Oizys

Re: First Contact

Postby Xah » Mon May 20, 2019 8:28 am

The confusion and alarm apparently shown by the Oizys was not a unique response, the Advocate mused. Most Clients at some point expressed concern that the Owners lacked a definitive answer to their origins. More suspicious and militaristic Clients tended to presume the worst case scenarios; that the Owners were being manipulated by hidden, ancient powers, or had overthrown their creators for some nefarious purposes. Clients with a more phlegmatic outlook were less paranoid, but still found it disconcerting that the seemingly omniscient Owners, as an artificial species, lacked this basic knowledge. The Owners themselves were ambivalent; their current functions were neither hindered nor enhanced by their origins, so paid little attention to it.

The feedback from the Nexus was beginning to translate some of the unknown language for the Advocate at this point. Very few languages were created in isolation; root words with others in the same language groups could be determined relatively easily, especially when spoken, and with additional context information and body language, translation of the most basic form could be done in hours, if the need was there. Whilst the Advocate still could not tell what was being said specifically, it didn't take millennia-old machine intelligence to see that the Oizys were perturbed. It also didn't take much intelligence to realise that sharing the fact that their other languages could be interpreted so quickly would not reassure the Oyzys one little bit.

One of the Oizys spoke, "Further request, contact occurs at current site."

"This one concurs," said another.

The Advocate had been fairly compromising up until now; the only one to come into harm's way was itself, but this was another matter. "I am afraid that we are obligated to ensure the safety of our clients." it replied, "And we cannot guarantee a risk free journey across the surface given the hostile environmental conditions your world"

"Orders are to remain at this site. We obey. Will not go" Came the unsurprising response.

"That is your choice. But any further contact must take place aboard our vessel." The Advocate said. A rather heated discussion followed, with much tentacle pointing and apparent bluster and dominance shows, followed by, to the Advocates increasingly weary unsurprise, actual violence, followed by a communication from elsewhere. Hidden superiors most likely. Compliance came soon after.

"Taskgroup orders are to comply," one of the lead oizys said. "Taskgroup follows. You lead".

"Certainly," the Advocate replied. It rose slightly and, taking the lead of the oizys, headed back towards the Envoy vessel. Progress, finally. If the oizys put as much effort into Nexus functioning as they do their internal discussions, they would be a valuable Client. History had taught that the moderating influence of more mature Clients often encouraged newer, more boisterous Clients to perform well. The oizys had been anything but typical so far, but a old client such as the Ghalimi (with whom they shared more than a passing resemblance) should relish the opportunity to mentor them.

As the group arrived at the Envoy craft, the Advocate found itself in the company of one who appeared to as much of a technician or scientist as could be discerned. A string of rapid questions followed, focused on the propulsion manner of the Owner's vessels and its power source. The Advocate was used to this; it was often the first technologies that a Client was exposed to, and the easiest to answer without giving anything away.

"Owner technology is based upon gravitational effects and our vessels use manipulation of gravity fields to move," it replied. "By inducing a gradient from one side of the vessel to the other, we can propel it along. Similarly, adjustment of gravity within the vessel ensures occupants can withstand acceleration or deceleration. Micro wormholes," (the Owner struggled to put that across in oizys language, but felt the meaning came across eventually), "are used within fluid fields such as atmospheres to relocate potential friction-causing substances from one side of the vessel to the other, ensuring minimal turbulence. Power is provided by mainly by quantum resonance from the grid in the Nexus, using similar wormholes to that used for turbulence reduction, with a backup generator based on micro-blackholes if needed. Back-up generators are only required if an Owner vessel travels more than a kilo-lightyear from the Gate, as this is beyond the transfer range of the Nexus grid." The Advocate wasn't sure how much of that was translatable, and had been forced to use words in ways it didn't think were typical, but the concepts seemed to have been put across.

As they boarded the Owner vessel, the Advocate spoke to the group as a whole. "Would you like to continue with sensory awareness of our passage to the waiting craft? Most Clients appreciate the spectacle, but some have been known to experience some form of discomfort at the inertia less form of travel and request accordingly."
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NS Nation: The Morthanveld Polity of Xah
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Client Leader: Ancient One
Client Councillor: Speaker
Client Species: Morthanveld

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