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 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.

Future Fluff: The Broogh: Giant Alien Badassery on the Run

This post is written to provide a mostly game-mechanic free but quantifiable description of one of my alien species, the dinosaurine Broogh, to enable their use in SF roleplaying games if so desired. They are mostly presented here as antagonists. Some descriptions of their technology are included as well. This post supersedes everything previously written about them on this or any of my other blogs.

From the galaxy’s far side come the vast swarm fleets of the Broogh Flow. The species has mastered gravity in its multi-million year sublight journey, destroying whole civilizations in endless war through their most horrifying weapons, the dreaded collapsar bomb. They’ve been at war for so long that they know no way but war and constant death, all for precious survival.

Broogh are split into three major castes; at the top are the God-Thegns, brilliant military strategists, but arrogant and vain, basking in the adulation of others of their species. They are also the source of life of the species, enormous bioreactors frantically mass-producing eggs that hatch into those of the other two castes, Technics and the gigantic Warriors. A typical God-Thegn is about 30 yards long, bloated like a queen termite, and immobile, embedded into the very structure of their gargantuan swarm base, a starship designed to house them, a tiny portion of their billions of offspring, and gravity pulse cannons that can ignore conventional Kurtz-Dunar shielding and batter a planet into molten slag in a matter of minutes.

Each swarm base holds its resident God-Thegn, 50 million Technics, and 5 million Warriors who defend it from close-range assaults and serve as an honor guard for the God-Thegn.

Most Warriors are in cold sleep and under microgravity conditions until needed, while those active are in continual combat and equipment practice. At any time, there are about 500,000 Warriors active and combat-ready at the behest of their Lord and Parent (God-Thegns are self-fertilizing, genetically self-diversifying, oviparous hermaphrodites). A typical God-Thegn masses about 500 to 1,000 tons, and spawns a number of eggs equal to its mass in tons multiplied by 200 every 24 hours, or 2000 times its mass in a wartime situation with heavy casualties being incurred against a rival Broogh fleet or alien species. Each Broogh fleet consists of about 4 million vessels or more, with about 600,000 as a comparatively tiny figure, that usually being the case for a young and inexperienced God-Thegn with as yet few resources. God-Thegns can produce eggs for any of the three castes as needed, subject to the above limits. Each soft-shelled egg is then suspended in a microgravity-condition nutrient pool, which feeds the developing embryo until it hatches as a fully grown adult.

Even the smallest Broogh ships are still enormous, at about seven miles in length, while the swarm base of the fleet is 150 miles across at its largest dimension. They are large enough to have their own ecosystems and climates. The swarm base serves as the manufacturing plant for starships, these “grown” from raw materials in enormous microgravity pools filled with fluid and nanobots, and the resulting craft have a heavily seamless, almost biological appearance when complete. Raw materials for ship construction and food production are supplied from plundered star systems and destroyed rival Broogh fleets.

A God-Thegn sometimes spawns another God-Thegn to continue the swarm fleet’s leadership should it grow old or ill, and that young one must defeat and kill its parent to assume the mantle of control. Once in place, the new leader works to increase its holdings and power, leading the fleet to a new solar system, which is systematically stripped of resources, its depleted worlds treated to a spectacular light show as the local stellar primary is detonated into a hypernova by way of collapsar bombs, the newly constructed fleet riding the outer edge of the shockwave on solar sails from the system’s Oort cloud.

Technics are small, only somewhat larger than humans, at about 2 yards in length, tiny compared with the Brobdingnagian Warriors or huge God-Thegn, but nimble and intelligent. They have six thin legs and two pairs of arms with a high manual dexterity for all, and a nearly photographic memory, though still subject to any species-wide cognitive and perceptual biases. These biases and heuristics, in the form of various sorts of mental disadvantages , are comparable to those of humans. Warriors are about 15 yards long, and stand 11 yards tall, with long, sauropod-like necks, small heads, six trunk-like legs, two powerful and thickly muscled arms for carrying and using massive cannon-like weaponry, and a tail that serves as a defensive weapon against attacks coming from the rear. Warriors have limited intelligence in most areas, but are otherwise tactical geniuses and quick to adapt. Technics have few physical defenses other than worn protection, but warriors have thick, elephantine hides that can provide good defense versus low-caliber conventional rounds.

Technics and Warriors are sometimes telepathic, and these are usually killed when found out by their species, for telepathic Broogh are susceptible to control by their ancient enemy, mentioned below. Worse, telepaths spread its influence when infected. Think of witches in Middle Ages Europe. Telepaths are considered to be a threat, and may be forced to escape and seek asylum with other species to survive. Most player-character Broogh would be telepaths, and likely Technics. ‘Normal’ members of the species would have little reason to peacefully interact with other beings. While Warriors tend to have a low general intelligence, They have a talent for tactical and weaponry skills. They learn from mistakes quickly, and it is unwise to reuse even successful tactics, as they will catch on fast.

Technics have fewer hindrances due to their size, a higher general intelligence, and thus may make more suitable player characters, but Warriors may have appeal in heavily combat-oriented games. For those who may wish to play them, in a game like SJGames GURPS™, they typically have incredible ST, high HT, good DX, and Disadvantages like Overconfidence and Soldier’s Code of Honor in addition to the problems posed by their sheer physical size. All Broogh save player-characters will have a Phobia of telepaths, but save for that and the species-wide dread of their ancient enemy, other fear-based Disadvantages are probably inappropriate.

Warriors, like all mobile Broogh, have cloven-hooved feet that make effective close-combat weapons, even for the tiny Technics. Warriors wear powered environmental combat armor; effectively small combat craft equipped with maneuvering thrusters and gravity nullifiers that permit missions in space or on worlds with very heavy gravity, like that of the rocky planet Bruticus at 12 Gs.

Warriors are armed with a variety of weapons, the standard issue being a gravitic railgun which fires hypervelocity transuranic sabot rounds and fragmentation rounds with an explosive radius equal to that of an early 21st century Terran fuel/air explosive. Low ranking officers are warriors. Those of higher rank are Technics and of course the fleet’s God-Thegn.

Fully-suited, warriors are capable of surviving for several days in vacuum without harm, and they suffer no ill effects from lack of atmospheric pressure. These things are damned tough. The armor they wear serves mostly as a means of getting around, a weapons and ammunition harness, and for protection from radiation and enemy weaponry.

Warriors are the most commonly encountered Broogh, as they are the ones who see the most interaction with other species. The Broogh do not win every battle, but they learn quickly from defeat, and are doggedly persistent.

Broogh are a fugitive race, on the run from and terrified of something even more dangerous than they, an enemy which can overpower whole Broogh fleets. This is why Broogh fleets are rivals, not allies, and why the species engages in killing those of their own as well. This is done to purge the contaminated fleets and preserve the species, and why Broogh fleets, each dominated by a single bloodline, must be so large. Attrition is a fact of life for this species, and they must keep their numbers vast just to keep up.

A typical warship, huge as it is, is incapable of travelling through the Maelstrom of hyperspace due to the practical limits of stardrive. Travel through the Maelstrom for such enormous vessels would accumulate too much residual Maelstrom radiation far too quickly, which would decay into high-energy gamma rays, the irradiation resulting in the destruction of the drive and death of the crew. Broogh ships are capable, though, of reasonably efficient sublight travel, at about 10% c, and many use a gravity-propelled plasma stream for propulsion.

Why gravity?

True gravity manipulation through the Kurtz-Dunar effect is currently beyond the civilizations of the Local Galaxy, but the Broogh have had millions of years as a technological civilization to learn its mastery, and the pinnacle of this is their dreaded collapsar bomb, a weapon that uses an artificial gravity field rapidly magnified to create a black hole, the resulting gravity-pulse capable of disrupting and drawing any matter within a light-second into its lethal accretion disc before being either sucked into the event horizon or expelled as a high-energy particle stream at either pole. Broogh ships are built to be capable of themselves serving as such weapons in suicide maneuvers, though they also have ship-borne torpedoes that will serve as well. The species’ mastery of gravity is such that they may selectively adjust its characteristics on their vessels, with some decks being under microgravity conditions and others having a gravity pull equal to that of the long-lost Broogh homeworld. Even the tidal forces generated by such gravity fields may be reduced or screened out, and there are the aforementioned gravity pulse cannons of the massive Swarm Base.

What are the Broogh on the run from? Something far more dangerous than even they. Reports from captured Technics hint at a sort of elder being from billions of years ago, a “transcendent meme,” which forces them to war against even their own species. The Broogh have been at war for so long that they know no other way of life. Will they, though, or can they? Time, and further dealing with and understanding of this ancient and powerful species will tell.

Eldritch Nine: The Transcendent Meme

There are some weird things in the Gods of Terra universe… Thanks to Christopher R. Rice for suggesting this one!

…an undead star that thinks and acts as a conscious being…A hyperdimensional entity that tinkers with the building blocks of the universe…A clockwork computer intent on preventing itself from existing by erasing the universe…

What could possibly be weirder? How about an idea, a meme, that takes on a life and mind of its own through the medium of the beings who spread it? An idea that thinks, and feels…and is spread like a virus through not just verbal, but also telepathic contact!

The Transcendent Meme originated from its “parent,” a species now long extinct, whose identity is lost to even the most ancient lore. Some of this species had borderline psionic ability.

One day, a member of this species was born (or hatched, or germinated, or whatever…) with fully functional telepathic ability. The ideas that took shape in its mind, catalyzed by telepathic ability, triggered the genesis of the Meme.

This new mental entity spread throughout the species in a single night, psionically leapfrogging from brain to brain and triggering a few latents as it did.

The Meme transcended its parent species as it spread to others that were contacted, and soon a critical mass of active telepaths was reached, minds fully overwhelmed by the power of an Idea. It then surpassed the need for a tangible substrate, as a Boltzmann brain, while simultaneously killing its former hosts as expendable.

But it effected a plan to perpetuate itself should it ever be destroyed. The Meme’s data had been previously recorded in text, in the language of mathematics, and so on, as a sort of backup copy, and hidden, but in places a proper host mind would be likely to look and find it.

It then met the other beings that it would for a time join as the Nine who are One, in the founding of the Grand Civilization and Empire of the Nine. It became involved in the War of the Great Fracture on the side of the King of Shards and Sarussamog of the Gates, as they were useful allies and it had a vested interest in perpetuating itself, as any prudent sentient idea should.

It died in the war, its disembodied but still physical form fatally disrupted by the wrong end of a triggered hypernova’s particle jet. But did it live on? Well, a mind ordinarily needs a brain to exist, or at least to start out, even as an idea, but there are those pesky records left behind. Someone just might come across them on a dig somewhere and read them. Has anyone found them yet? Maybe. Just maybe.

Let’s hope it wasn’t by an active telepath!

Eldritch Nine 0.5: The Rani of Stars

[This article has been updated, revised, and rewritten from the original, cross-posted on the Call of Troythulu.]

“Rani, Rani, how thy visage of stars doth shine most brightly…” ~ verse fragment from an ancient tomb on the abandoned planet Malagol, believed to refer to an avatar of the King of Shards.

What is the Rani of Stars? What are her goals?

She is an avatar of the King of Shards, crafted for the purpose of safely interacting with humans. The pandimensional nature of the King of Shards produces a profound sense of fear and wrongness which is deeply disturbing to the human psyche.

Because dealing with humans and not having them go mad is not possible in the King’s true form, It created an extension of Itself in a more human-looking and feminine form just for this purpose.

The Rani of Stars, also known as Epu’Lar’A’Toq, manifests as a slim, unnaturally tall woman of regal bearing wearing resplendent garb sometimes reminiscent of the classical dress of ancient Terran royalty. Instead of a human face, however, hers is a field of stars against the background of deep space, with at least two stars of roughly equal relative luminosity shining where the eyes should be located.

The appearance of her starfield, as well as her hair style and mode of dress vary with each of her separate manifestations. She may even appear different in each location when interacting simultaneously in multiple places with different groups, her garb often reflecting a slightly alien-looking variation of  the traditional royal costumery of her audience’s national, species, ethnic, or historical ancestry.

The Rani of Stars is fairly benevolent toward humanity, though sometimes her attitude could be characterized as one of benign disinterest, and she is not interested in worship nor in engaging in direct intervention of the divine sort.

But as an avatar of the King of Shards, she is a being of awesome power, and not to be trifled with. She is even more dangerous than the King, as she has a temperamental streak, an imprint from the first human the King used for her personality template.

Do not annoy her by gazing too intently or too long at her visage of stars, as she may randomly transport offenders to other times, other places, and other worlds to protect her modesty, pulling them screaming and shrinking into her starfield to an unpleasant fate.

The fortunate ones will die instantly, randomly popping up inside a planet or star, or transported to a universe of broken symmetry whose physical laws and constants cannot even allow life as we know it. For these lucky ones, the end comes quickly.

Most aren’t so lucky, and wind up in the vacuum of space to die of exposure and suffocation.

Most unlucky of all are those who live to suffer their fate on some barely habitable forsaken planet at the appendages of unfriendly natives, who may be…creatively hostile to strangers.

A being of considerable ability, the Rani has a great capacity to protect or to harm, but her role is usually that of an advisor to humans, not to act on their behalf personally. If attacked personally, she is known to effectively and ruthlessly destroy the offenders with bolts of twisted spacetime, vortices of ripping force against which there is no known defense. All physical defenses are ignored on any targets existing within the same universe as the Rani, and destruction is on the subatomic level as the very nucleons and their quarks are shredded.

The Rani of Stars has overall goals coinciding with those of her pure form, the King of Shards, though how she enacts her plans has a human unpredictability that seems like rash impulsiveness. She has yet to encounter any of the Four Gods; the Fractus, the Magna, the Mirus, or the Tempest, but I’ve plans for giving her a lot of story space and a crucial role in my fiction, including works to be published.