Mongo Fiction: The Recognition

I recognized it instantly, the face unforgettable. It was once my friend, now made monstrous yet with unmistakeable resemblance to the human being it once was.

Tentacular limbs sprouted from its neck and torso, and its mouth gaped open and shut as though a fish passing water through its gills.

But friend though it once was, it seemed not to recognize me, and its dull eyes bulged outward, clearly resembling more those of a goat than anything human.

Then those eyes suddenly fixated on me, and suddenly its mouth stopped gaping as its lips moved. It seemed to know once again who I was, in a horrid instance of clarity, as it tried to form words, mouthing something . . .

And then it spoke my name as it pulled itself toward me along the basalt floor, as a tear formed from one of its eyes while the mouth opened its many jaws to feed.


Mongo Fiction: Transfiguration

There was something wrong with his skin, seriously wrong. Oh, not its shade, as his usual olive tones were the same as always, and no signs of his allergy were apparent

The wrongness came instead from its structure.

He stared disbelievingly at the thick, spiky hairs which had apparently grown from his arms overnight, like those of some monstrous insect. He had thought back to the drug ampule he had been stabbed with only the night before. It contained a new nano-drug using DNA taken from beetles, designed to transpose with human DNA and enact the changes not only genetically, but in phenotypical trait-expression as well.

It restructured his body over time with its army of injected nano-bots, like a sadistic horde of tiny surgeons with instructions to alter him completely, or put another way, to rebuild an engine while it ran.

And it wasn’t just the hairs, but the increasing hardness of his skin, as he was growing a chitinous shell from his fingertips, already beginning to spread across his hands and wrists, with no end in sight. It grew even as he looked at it in horror.

He looked desperately about, to try to bandage his hands and arms to hide his deformity. But the room was empty. They had locked him in a cell, he suddenly realized. They knew this would happen, and were using him as a guinea pig! They knew!

He looked about and struggled to his feet. He screwed up the courage to look at himself in the mirror at the other end of his cell. Oddly, his vision had fragmented into something grainy, with multiple images, and as it continued, he looked closer, trying to focus.

And so looking, he saw himself in full. And he screamed.

Mongo Fiction: The Simian

He said little in response, only a deep grunt to express his distaste for my slight human physique, not properly hand-walking as he, nor as hairy, and definitely not as muscled as he, this silverback just escaped from his torturers.

But distaste or not, he offered me a tuber that he had foraged from the rainforest floor, and motioned to the lake nearby as though instructing me to wash it before eating, a behavior he had picked up from the other, more wild gorillas, after he was freed.

Later, I helped him start a fire in a secluded spot. So I could teach him how to cook what he foraged.

As a primatologist I was required to keep tabs on him while he acclimated to the wild. The criminal sect that boosted his intelligence and tried to exploit his strength for their own purposes would still be looking for him, and me. So I kept watch over him, armed and ready, looking out for poachers.

This gorilla was almost unique, different to his wild fellows, and quite intelligent by even the prejudiced standards of humans.

He would be one of the harbingers of a new species, he, among the first of his kind.

And it was my job to ensure his survival.

Gods of Terra | How to Reason with Broogh and Not Be Crushed Like a Fly

Magrithal71, scion of Dolpra566, was angry. For the first time in ten generations of Its line of descent, the Swarm had encountered another of its kind. Two mighty God- Thegns of the glorious Broogh race had met in the same target system, in inevitably rival fleets. The presence of each rankled the ego of the other, and this was intolerable. No two leaders could lay claim to the same system prior to plundering it for resources, as per ancient tradition as old as the Flow itself. Yet, they did. The arrogant interloper in Its territory was shameless, having already begun dismantling the outer system’s larger cometary bodies after being told — no, commanded — to leave at once. Their troops had already skirmished, and seemed equally matched. Surely, it was this fleet’s warriors who exemplified the might of the species, and Its leadership without peer! How could it possibly be that they be stalemated? Unacceptable! The rival Fortress craft faced each other in orbit around the target world, swarming with tiny craft each still the size of a human city. The rival God-Thegns sat immobile, each sequestered deep within their own Cathedral of Bones. Orders were formulated and relayed, ships maneuvered into position, and weapons primed. Each felt utterly convinced that they must destroy their rival, purge the defeated Swarm, and lay final claim to the system!

The Broogh are an alien species in flight, a fugitive race flowing across the galaxy in sublight-velocity craft for millions of years, destroying all they encounter and plundering conquered systems for resources to sustain their own existence. For the species, there is no concept of peace within their culture, and no need for a word for war. The Broogh think war to be synonymous with life itself, and the language reflects this. Broogh society is set up as an absolute authoritarian military dictatorship in which the ruling class, the gigantic, ingenious, and incredibly vainglorious God-Thegns, sit immobile in immense fortress vessels, surrounded by a Swarm fleet of comparably tiny starships, these still enormous by the standards of the Local Galaxy. Once, they knew of peace, and remained at peace, until the time of the Great Terror and the flight from their homeworld on the other side of the galaxy. And they’ve been on the run ever since, constantly fighting, dying, and knowing no other life but constant war.

This has given them certain values that make it possible to reason with them. These values if appealed to by action and argumentation can make attempts at diplomacy much easier. Broogh respect authentic shows of strength, but they also respect courage, for in their view, false displays of strength without courage are mere bullying, and that they find contemptible. They especially respect strength and courage in species smaller in size than they, as Small Ones in their tiny craft willing and able to effectively face them in battle are particularly impressive. Note here that Broogh are unimpressed by mere rhetoric unsupported by actions. Actions must come first, then argument to follow.

Prior to engaging an enemy, Broogh initially treat their foes casually, especially rivals of their own species. Long-duration fights with any foe will garner a sense of respect, for that means a tenacious opponent who will not die easily. Tenacity in battle will get you either a quick, painless death once defeated (a form of Broogh mercy), or if a stalemate or victorious, then an audience with the God-Thegn’s chief alien liaison officer. God- Thegns always deal with aliens through go-betweens, never directly. God-Thegn egos won’t allow it, as they find aliens insufferable and hubristic.

It’s also possible to garner respect from Broogh by showing them mercy, by assisting them in life and death situations, or by sparing their lives if they are at a distinct strategic, tactical, or situational disadvantage from a superior force. Broogh warriors are considered expendable, and left for dead on the battlefield if gravely wounded. A being who saves a dying broogh’s life, especially if considered a lesser species (nearly

everyone but Broogh), may be the recipient of a bond of honor and considered a comrade in battle by the one saved. This tends to happen when the warrior is left for dead by its own Swarm fleet, and no longer has any social ties to its own kind. It’s the closest a warrior will come to befriending an alien.

Broogh also value intelligence and good reasoning ability, as these make for good strategy and tactics in war. Even the Warrior class has some measure of these, though Warriors lean heavily toward being tactical savants rather than generally intelligent in comparison with the average human. Displaying good tactical and strategic skills will get you bonus points with Broogh leadership, including the Officer corps, and may make them open to negotiations, if not outright peace, then for a ceasefire or an alliance for the time being.

Broogh hate rival fleets, as some few might be infected by an alien intelligence called the Transcendent Meme, a sort of living idea, and others are simply Broogh Swarms competing for the same resources. There is also a personal dislike between God- Thegns, more a mutual clash of egos than anything else. So, if caught between rival Swarm fleets, it’s a good idea to align yourself with what looks like the stronger force.

Broogh are an intelligent and reasonable if alien species. So these methods of appealing to their inclinations may serve well to get you out of a tight spot with them, and can make them valuable allies if you do it right!

Flash Fiction | Gr’ozz on the Hinterlands

The Centaurs cantered out of the forest’s tree line and went to a full gallop across the open plain. Their lead archer had spotted the probable location of an intruder to their territory, a being of a sort not seen here before.

It was big, this one, something like a man, something like a dragon, and standing some three meters tall. It had horns; a long, heavy tail swayed back and forth behind it. Its left arm ended in a tip that looked all the world like a mace of sculpted bone. It looked like it had more muscle than it knew what to do with, and it strode confidently over to them as they galloped closer, longbows ready and arrows nocked.

It raised its right arm as if to greet them, and said something in a language oddly out of place for its vocal equipment, yet they understood the gravelly, resonating tones.

“Me, Gr’ozz want to talk! Gr’ozz have news of coming of Bad Men! They carry weapons to hurt while they hunt and hound Gr’ozz!” The creature said, sounding more toddler than adult in speech patterns, yet looked serious enough for the Centaurs to slow down and listen.

“Gr’ozz being hunted by Bad Men. Bad Men look like Gr’ozz, but short, shorter than Half-Horses, shorter even than humans, but not as handsome or smart as Gr’ozz! Bad Men will hurt Half-Horses too! Gr’ozz want to stop them.”

The Centaurs lowered their longbows. This creature, whatever it was, seemed dull of mind, or perhaps merely speech-impaired, but of good heart and would do them no harm.

“Me, Gr’ozz always wanted to say this, so here go . . . Take me to your leader!”

To be continued

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.

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.