Gods of Terra | Fiction: The Trial of the Magna


Agni looked about her, surrounded by hostile glances in the vast courtroom, presided over by a stern judge with a reputation for merciless convictions on the homeworld of the Kai’Siri, Sirug.

She was not happy with the current turn of events, as the jury, most definitely NOT her peers, had just ruled her guilty of the charge of high treason against the Exarchate.

She had only recently spared the giant planet Bruticus from being destroyed by a black hole in a literal change of mind from her prior avid patriotism for Empire, Exarchs, and People. This was completely unsuspected, as was her sudden shift of from Enforcer Prime to Agni the Earthwoman.

The judge was ready to pass sentence, decerebration resulting in death, when a sudden loud ‘Pop’ filled the chamber, and a strange figure appeared, along with another.

It was Sarusammog of the Gates, along with Agni’s adopted sibling, the Tempest, whose ginger hair, freckled complexion, and a strong, determined face even an Alien* would be intimated by, appeared in front of the judge’s podium.

“I hereby sentence you, Lady Magna, to…” His voice trailed off with confusion at the sudden appearance of the two figures.

The defendant spoke up, “I told you before, I am not that person. I am now addressed as Bhadromohila Agni Bose, and you will refer to me as such! I’m not the avatara of death you wished me to be. I stand for life and freedom for all peoples, not the heinous warcrimes of the Exarchs!”

The judge caught his composure and was about to finish sentencing her, when his face suddenly went grey and his eyes blank, to slump forward on the podium unconscious as though on cue.

Agni looked at Sarusammog and the Tempest with a knowing glance. There was an indicator light shining from beneath the fur over the Paradox harness that Sarusammog wore. He and the Tempest nodded to her.

“Well, alrighty then!” Sarusammog crowed, trilling to Agni, “That’ll teach those humans to put brain control implants in people! You’ll find out soon enough dearie that the terrible past they gave you never happened, and it’s the judge who was given the implant as a sedative for crippling tremors! Come along, girls, We’ve a universe to explore, and books to collect! That, and I’ve just composed an instrumental piece you’ll love!”

He smiled, purring, his overly wide grin nearly splitting his felinoid face as he pulled a set of drums out of thin air. The trio then vanished, and the courtroom emptied, a confused jury, bailiffs, and attendees wondering why on Sirug they were there to begin with!

*1970s Movie by Ridley Scott Reference, Hint, Hint…

Gods of Terra | Digmas Tassuula: The Cult of Kai’Siri Nationalism


Digmas Tassuula is an ancient faith, though to maintain its longevity it has adapted in an almost Darwinian fashion to the needs and selective pressures of the times. It, like Kai’Siri society as a whole, is the sum of its history, and trends over time in the culture.

It is the basis for Kai’Siri nationalism, the force behind their drive for empire. Ethnic Kai’Siri alone are permitted as members, whether converts or through upbringing. Digmas Tassuula’s prime dictum is this:

Spread the culture of our species to the stars, to all peoples, to all worlds, but the Faith of our people is ours and ours alone. None but we may lay claim to it.

It would be foolish for this religion not to have a means of perpetuating itself. It does so mainly through its promotion of pride in a national identity binding the Kai’Siri race together.

Digmas Tassuula has no gods, no beings that are prayed to, invoked, or worshipped, unlike some prominent Terran religions originating on that world’s Eastern Hemisphere. It does, however, have a mythology that describes ancient beings it calls the Strangers, who are said to have brought humans from Terra to Sirug long ago, and taught them the basis of civilization and high culture, enjoining them to spread these across the galaxy.

Digmas Tassuula requires no belief in any sort of supernaturalism, and postulates no such entities or miraculous events as historically or factually true. Kai’Siri are a critically thinking culture, and know the dangers of oversimplification, reification and literalism in one’s belief structure.

The early history of the religion was not always so rationalist in its outlook, and it was largely the social consequences of this which led to its current state. The most recent reaction was several millennia back, just following the Third Sirugian Dark Age, when planetary war and human dieback from repressive social policies instituted by religious authorities nearly destroyed civilization and spurred massive reforms by the survivors.

What of its future? Well, at the moment it shares the landscape of belief with several other less practiced and more secretive mystery religions, including the Hidden Order of the Orugruuta, an extreme nationalist sect responsible for the project that created three of the four wielders of the near-legendary Prime Shards; the Mirus, the Fractus, and the Magna, beings of formidable power. One day, it could be eclipsed by that one or some other, even more extreme sect.

But for now, Digmas Tassuula is the main player where religion is concerned, and where the majority of Kai’Siri direct their faith and ideological fervor, a tricky thing to balance with their rationalism. Then again, Kai’Siri are humans, so that shouldn’t be surprising.

Gods of Terra | Who are the Wavetouched?


gods_of_terra_1Even today, in our world, humans continue to evolve. How we turn out tens of thousands of years from now is anyone’s guess, as we are a species in continual transition. But humans in the Gods of Terra setting live side by side with a recently emerged daughter-species, the Wavetouched, also known as Homo mirus, the Myrad race.

But these are no supermen, or superwomen, merely divergent from H. sapiens in some interesting ways.

Wavetouched differ genetically from baseline humans by less than one percent, and these genetic differences spell out the code for a slightly different brain structure. The architecture of their brains gives them an early built-in baloney-detector, operating below the threshold of consciousness and making them, to varying degrees, natural rationalists. At the very least, these allow a particular talent for structured logical thought an easier time than baselines with mastering the mental toolkit of critical thinking, and generally quick studies in learning how to apply it in context.

Not that they are completely immune to errors, but they are more prone to catching themselves in the act of reasoning poorly, engaging in motivated reasoning, or applying critical thinking out of context. They are humans, after all.

This varies, like any human trait, along a statistical bell-curve, with more or less skilled or talented being outliers along the far ends of the curve.

This variant brain architecture also has one other effect:

It protects them from the neurological and psychiatric dangers of harboring a hypershard in one’s brain. They may use these relics and access their potent effects in ways that would burn out baseline human brains, if, of course, they have one, and some few actually do.

Wavetouched came to prominence mostly through Kai’Siri meddling in Terran affairs in search of subjects to become walking doomsday weapons using three of the four Prime shards, the first three being implanted in the Mirus, the Fractus, and the Magna, with the fourth, undiscovered by the Kai’Siri, residing within the head of the Herald of It Who Scratches at the Gates, the Tempest.

It was the public actions and deeds of these four, known across the Local Galaxy, that first brought the species to the public’s attention. The Wavetouched were at first quite indistinguishable from baseline humans to most, save for the occasions they were brain scanned due to the need to diagnose injury or the occasional neurological condition that any genetically diverse population might be subject to. You’d be surprised how easy it is to miss something as subtle as seemingly minor differences in brain structure, especially using early technology, and the errors in perception of those performing the scans even with better tech. Humans are good at pattern recognition, but limited, often failing to see what’s right in front of us even if not imposing false patterns on what we see. Early on, Myrads were  thought just quirky outliers along a bell-curve, until recognized as a species in their own right some centuries later.

Where did Wavetouched come from? From sinister but failed plans to create superhumans, to an escaped virus from a lab infecting the human genome, to a natural transition of the species over time, and other ideas, there is much speculation on their origin.

But for now, the Children of the Great Ripple, are here, ready to take their place on the galactic stage as the heirs of humanity’s legacy among the stars.

And for good or ill, they will not be denied.

Gods of Terra | Lethal Emissions: Anti-Hypershard Countermeasures


gods_of_terra_1

Gods of Terra as a setting is more of a cycle than a saga, as far as fiction goes. The stories taking place in it are only loosely connected, and one need not think that any particular story ‘really’ happened as part of any ‘official’ narrative or metaplot. In this sense, the setting is sort of a backdrop of a mythology, a mythology of the far future in a universe of powerful, threatening, and often horrific alien forces.

One element of that setting is a species of humanity, newly evolved, only now establishing their place in the universe, the Wavetouched, the Children of the Galactic Ripple.

After the one of the Wavetouched, the Mirus, escaped servitude at the hands of the Kai’Siri, he revealed to the Local Galaxy the nature, and a crude understanding of the physics, of hypershards, ancient relics of tremendous power. This allowed effective countermeasures to be developed for the technology. They’ve prevented the success of radicalized Wavetouched with these devices seeking to supplant or dominate the majority population of baseline humans through violent revolution or terror.

Hypershards are alien technology, sort of like cybernetic brain implants, originally created by a now-dead civilization, and exist mostly in the fourth and higher dimensions of eleven-dimensional spacetime.

Hypershards exploit features of certain interpretations of Superstring theory, and are composed of hyperspatial matter. They’re created, or rather, grown, to generate powerful effects mimicking supernormal abilities by curling and uncurling, folding and unfolding their constituent spacetime dimensions.

This process alters local spacetime geometries, momentarily adjusting physical laws and constants and  exploiting loopholes in those same laws and constants. All of this is done, however, in complete obedience to fundamental conservation laws observed in all Worlds across the multiverse.

They bend, and sometimes fold, spindle, twist, or mutilate, rather than break, physical laws.

They have a real but tenuous existence in the first three dimensions of spacetime, and thus are nearly intangible to ordinary matter, but not quite. They interact slightly on the electromagnetic spectrum in these three dimensions. When functions are active, these implants radiate brightly in the terahertz band, non-ionizing radiation in a region of the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and infrared.

This near-ghostly existence in three-dimensional space lets them pass with minimal resistance through the skull and brain of those implanted with them. They lock into position once in place by low-energy electrical fields generated at contact points on the device that link them to specific brain regions, from which they receive commands for their functions.

An active hypershard radiates strongly in the terahertz band, and they are easily detectable by technology picking up this band. Thus they may be tracked by the conventional technology of the setting.

Understanding of the basic hypershard technology using even badly reverse-engineered knockoffs has allowed the development of a sort of cloaking device. This permits hiding from the extended sensory functions of a hypershard, the extension of the user’s perceptions into higher dimensions of spacetime. This means that any such augmented Wavetouched is now limited to their basic perceptions as defined by their senses and unaugmented central nervous system, and gains no sensory advantages over baseline humans.

The technology is limited from a combination of the energy needs of the system and current engineering constraints. But it is effective, and used for special operations teams in anti-insurgent actions involving rogue Wavetouched. As standard operating procedure, this is combined with terahertz-wavelength tracking and targeting systems.

So hypershards have their uses. As weapons they are unparalleled, but they may be tracked and blinded. So their users can be thus vulnerable to conventional weapons that evade their own detection and tactical systems, while rendering them obvious targets for sensors operated by the squads equiped to handle them.

Wavetouched can be powerful, but they are hardly invincible. That’s a lesson to us all, especially the mighty.

13 Word Story | War Sucks.


Saluur2

Saluur2 strode forth, flutecaster ready at tentacles, battlesuit smartly congealed. Then, tragedy… Headshot!

The late Carl Sagan once said, “War is murder writ large.” While it is true that not every nation on Earth is friendly with every other, given geopolitics and the existence of rogue states, war, I feel, is a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless.

What other human activity produces death and suffering, much of it gratuitous, on the same scale of armed and armored military conflict with modern weaponry?

In nearly every war, regardless of what we call it, like “pacification campaign” or “police action,” or any number of other weasel-words we choose, innocents have suffered.

The lives of soldiers, however bravely lived and fought, however good their training or competent their leaders, have been needlessly wasted, and even survivors traumatized however lucky they were in somehow escaping permanent physical injury.

The youngest son of a friend of mine lost his legs during a mission in Iraq, and some years afterward took his own life. I was there to see his final post on Facebook just before he ended himself.

I shall never forget.

How much more tragic would warfare be in future eras, with battlefield weaponry unknown to current science, far beyond the reach of current technology? With each advance in combat weaponry and armor, combat efficiency goes up, and so do casualties, including combatants themselves.

But not only civilian casualties of war, my sympathies also lie with those who do the grunt work combat, those young people, our best and brightest, soldiers, pilots, sailors, whose lives are tossed away carelessly by uncaring, cowardly, and incompetent political leaders, lives full of promise cast aside for a moment of, to paraphrase Carl Sagan this time, ‘fleeting dominion of a fraction of a fraction of a dot.’

As with current-day humanity, so it likely is with any other species engaged in warfare unencumbered by the niceties of truces, cease-fires, honorable conduct, scrupulous avoidance of ‘collateral damage,’ and diplomacy.

Games, Poetry, Skepticism & the Power of Words

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