Archives

Gods of Terra | In Hiding


The Fractus held his hand to his forehead, feeling the pain of an oncoming stress headache.

In his world at the edge of the universe, closed off from conventional spacetime, he sat at his workspace, ready to do his task of creating a new universe from a tiny fraction of the old.

He was anxious at the danger posed by his actions, not in themselves, but in the attention they would draw.

The Kai’Siri were still looking for him, as their most dangerous foe, for the death of the starship’s crew on the vessel where he was deployed for his first and last mission on their behalf.

He was afraid that they would gain control of him once again. He feared enslavement. He meant to avoid it at all cost, save that of the death of his universe of birth.

So he hid, and to this day, he hides still. And he waits.

Advertisements

Gods of Terra | Paradoxed! Pt. 2


Sarusammog tied its arms in Gordian knots, the equivalent for its species of folding them impatiently as the human fought to suppress signs of fear.

“I, I, I…” The thief stammered, beads of sweat forming on his troubled brow. “Awfully conceited to refer to yourself three times in a row, don’t you think?” Saru growled, ears folding further back. “Well, I’m waiting! Answer for yourself!” Its rear pseudo-legs were tapping the floor with annoyance.

The human finally mastered his terror, enough to speak coherently and to not soil himself. “I’ve got family I need to support. My children are sick, really sick, so I came here to get something that my clients will pay enough for me to afford a cure for them. They mentioned this collection. So I went through channels to get what I needed to come here. Please! My kids are dying! They need help!”

The Tempest suddenly teleported into the chamber on summons from Saru, initially annoyed, until Sarusammog told her what was said. Saru had done a quick brain scan of the would-be thief. Everything checked out. The human was telling the truth to all indications, a fact related to the Tempest on her arrival.

Tempest avoided eye contact as she read the human’s body language, feeling his fear almost as her own when in a bad spot. There was the time she had taken a friend, the Mirus, back in time to the end of the Permian era on Earth, to meet aliens intent on averting the extinction- level event that would come, to prevent the rise of humanity hundreds of millions of years later.

They survived, but Tempest had not foreseen the environment at the time, and was almost killed by the atmospheric chemistry and heat exhaustion until the Mirus coached her in turning on her hypershard’s life support fields. Long story short: the mass-extinction happened as it should have, while the aliens were destroyed, and the two returned to their respective times.

“Well, I have an idea. Don’t delete him . . . not just yet, you big fluffy!” She whispered something in Sarusammog’s ear, and its face lit up with an absurdly wide grin, this time genuinely amused.

“Oh, my! That’s capital . . . an absolutely capital idea! Do it, girl, and I’ll be ready to hear your story about it when you’ve returned for lunch!” Saru was beaming as the Tempest stood by the human and said, “Drop the comics. Just drop them. You won’t need them to pay for anything. Here’s what Saru and I are going to do, for you, not to you! You’ll never need to have gotten into this mess in the first place. Your children are as good as cured, better even!”

“Okay big guy, paradox us both when I loop back in time. I’ve already figured out the coordinates to the right time and location. Logged in and locked on target!”

Sarusammog touched a stud on his Paradox harness as Tempest and the human vanished from sight.

This would be an interesting tale to hear when she returned from that node of the space-time manifold. He sighed as he put back the graphic novels with meticulous care, still in their dust- jackets, and turned to leave the library, no longer angry, and proud of the ingenuity of the Children of Terra.

He had chosen a Herald in the Tempest well, and wisely!

The End.

Gods of Terra | Paradoxed! Pt. 1


The alarm sounded. From the ship’s library, it cried, more than a billion automated voices screaming an alert in over a billion languages at once. It was as meant to be heard by one triggering it as by the ship’s master, Sarusammog of the Gates.

It roused from a sleep filled with dreams of concerts and hours upon billions of hours of perusing its massive book collection in research. For that contained books from all over the universe, from nearly every age of history. And somehow, a thief had gotten in and put his grubby mitts on some of them.

That called for a good paradoxin’ to the offender.

Saru got up, yawned, stretched its six noodlly arms, and caterpillared into the hall on the long trek to the library portal at the end. It wasn’t pressed for time. The library was vast, and labyrinthine, and the would-be book purloiner would easily get lost in it. Only Saru, and its Heralds, the Tempest and the Agni, knew their way around in it. The Tempest especially would spend time, some of it measured in imaginary numbers, all of it interesting. She’d pore over stories written by long extinct species, and those yet to exist in her own relative timespan.

Sarusammog finally reached the portal, and looping through, entered the terrifying and awesome expanse of the library, stretching onward in all directions, and seemingly lit by its own stars.

He is . . . there! It had found the thief, in block C, level চ, shelf Σ. The miscreant was hunched over a reading table, stuffing a small pile of graphic novels from a world gone for three billion years into a sack. Oh, please, comic books? Saru thought to itself, Can’t he even have the good sense to leave those alone. Tempest will go through the bulkhead when she hears of this. Those are all hers. Imbecile.

“Ahem!” it cleared its throats, sounding like pack of asthmatic tigers hacking up giant monster hairballs, and cracked six sets of knuckles as the shocked purloiner suddenly looked up and realized it was there.

“Those just happen to be from my Herald’s private collection, fanboy. Do you mind telling me how you got in here before I pronounce sentence?” It purred menacingly, its far-too wide grin nearly splitting its face as lips curled upward, its teeth showing in a smile clearly not intended to express good will. Its ears were folded back with annoyance, whiskers flush against the face.

The thief was human this time. That was rare. Humans didn’t often have the technology to get in here. Probably indigo market infiltration systems stolen from one of the older surviving species in home-time. Saru upgraded its opinion of the man’s intelligence. Getting hands on stuff like that took brains.

On the other hand, Saru was widely known in the Local Galaxy for deleting those who stole its books from existence, so its assessment rose only slightly. One can be otherwise smart and still be a special species of stupid to try a stunt like this…

To be continued.

Gods of Terra | Chadameer, the Fauns


This post is for a version of the Chadameer species existing in the Gods of Terra setting. I’m also using them in a book collaboration with the prolific Sharmishtha Basu, which will be announced in detail once the book goes live online. Enjoy.

Chadameer (chadəˈmēr)

General Description:

  A species of capriform humanoids, also known as “Fauns” to humanity, conquered and enslaved by the Dalazinnu Sodality as their chief scientists, engineers, technicians and emissaries to other species. Chadameer are bipedal, bimanual, and have an endothermic metabolism with a closed circulatory system and 2 two-chambered hearts. Chadameer are long-lived, having almost twice the lifespan of a human, but mature slowly and have a low birthrate, restricting their numbers and under the present set of circumstances, a factor endangering their survival as a species. The beings are unimpressive, standing an average of 1.45 meters tall and massing less than 40 kilograms. The head is vaguely goatish, though with a large cranium and in both genders adorned with four horns and a short beard. The digitigrade legs end in four-toed hooves and are quite nimble. The arms end in hands with two fingers and two opposable thumbs. The body is covered with short fur ranging from whitish to almost black, generally in neutral tones, and the tail is thin and whiplike, used primarily for communicating emotional states. Chadameer have good hearing, exceptional depth-perception, and an excellent kinesthetic sense useful for climbing and balancing on uneven mountainous terrain. The species has eight lungs, several stomachs, and a unique geodesic rib structure that makes the torso more resistant to injury caused by blunt trauma.

  Some Chadameer are telepathically gifted, and these are often genetically “tagged” with black and grey striped coats and silver beards, but are also frequently prone to recessive genetic traits.

  Faun young are born sexless, but upon maturity assume either a male or female gender, apparently by choice, which they retain throughout their lives.

  Chadameer typically wear robes, tabards, equipment harnesses, or nothing, and use hearing aids tuned to ultrasonic registers to permit them to hear everything their Dalazinnu masters say to them, question or command, to reduce the likelihood of beatings that come when orders are not heard by those spoken to.

Psychology:

Chadameer have eliminated aggressive traits from their psychology by altering their genome, rendering themselves incapable of intentional violence toward intelligent beings. The species has a paralyzing horror of space-flight because of a vague and ancient legend of “death from the stars,” of something that lives “out there, in the void between worlds.” This horror has never been named or otherwise specified, though all Chadameer legends refer to it in tales of those foolish enough to venture beyond the solid ground and skies of their homeworld. Terror of this “death” has been more than sufficient to keep the Fauns on their homeworld, reluctant enough to leave it as to cause them to go into a state of shock when forcibly removed by spacecraft. A few of the Fauns, in particular, those with unusual mental powers, are not afraid of space travel and indeed, are often addicted to the effects of Maelstrom travel, to the point of eagerly volunteering for off-world assignments at the behest of their masters. Such Chadameer are considered insane by their fellows and closely watched for signs of mental aberration. Many of them cannot properly care for themselves, but are still considered useful by the Dalazinnu, as they are frequently employed as interrogators, messengers and diplomatic agents when their masters deem it necessary to question or parley with aliens.

Society:

The Chadameer are children of a dying world, and themselves a dying race, due to their low birthrate, their abuse at the hands of the Dalazinnu, and the poisoning of the ecology by rampant industrialization and their masters’ initial bombardment of the planet before its conquest. The Dalazinnu consider the Fauns to be a disposable commodity, and are even now looking for another technically advanced, militarily vulnerable species to replace them when they become extinct.

  An underground movement has arisen among the Fauns that seeks to reverse this trend, freeing their race from the yoke of their masters by genetically sabotaging the races they have uplifted for them, subtly altering them to turn on the Dalazinnu. This has already begun with such behavioral flaws in slave races as the killing rage of the Maktathuun when losses are taken, the tendency of the Tenebruuta for recklessness when bored, and even attempts to reengineer the genes for aggression back into their genome. So far, the Dalazinnu haven’t caught on just yet, but some of the brighter ones may become suspicious of their servants if the subversives play their hand too soon, which they just might as time for their species grows ever shorter.

Chadameer History:

The Chadameer removed their capacity for violent aggression and lowered their birthrate as a means of making them less likely to commit racial suicide by war or overpopulation. They also lost all desire to explore space, and technology with which to do it in the event that led to the legends of “death from the stars.” At some distant point in the past, they began to explore their home star system, and missions were sent to the other planets and moons. One such mission, however, brought back a strain of lethal microbial life to the homeworld that somehow survived the decontamination protocols, and a deadly plague swept across the planet, nearly destroying the Fauns until an antibiotic was developed to stop it. The social backlash was severe, resulting in a ban on space exploration, and the destruction of the remaining such technology, leading to the legends, and the “fear.” This was reenforced yet again, when their first sentient alien contact, the Dalazinnu, bombarded the planet, and took the Chadameer as a slave race, using them to create more slaves by cloning and uplift, and new weapons technologies to conquer still more territory.

Chadameer Telepaths:

These unusual individuals are considered to be both useful and dangerous. They are afflicted with a rare psychiatric disorder which is genetically cross-linked with such recessive traits as their distinctive grey and black striped coats. The psychotropic drugs used to treat their mental symptoms also serve as the catalyst that triggers and maintains their latent talents, especially telepathic ability, which makes them an asset to their Dalazinnu masters, who use them as go-betweens with aliens, whom the Dalazinnu are psychologically unable to relate to as anything but slaves or enemies in direct personal contact. These Chadameer are the first, and usually the only, Fauns met by most aliens, and are often led by a Dalazinnu master with an unusual gift for self-restraint. Without their drugs, these rare Chadameer are also without their powers as well as subject to rapid swings between fits of aggression and depression. The Dalazinnu use them as their primary interspecies diplomats, when dealing with aliens in a nonviolent manner is absolutely necessary.

 

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.