(Image: A Health Blog/Flickr)
Last post in this series, I gave an overview of what hypershards are capable of, at least from the examples of some of the Gods of Terra setting’s iconic characters, the Fractus, the Mirus, the Magna, and the Tempest.
But I also mentioned that their ‘supernormal powers’ were secondary to their original function as communications devices by some ancient, inscrutable design. I’ll get to that in this post, and then, I want to discuss the better-known abilities that these relics grant to their users, to aid in writing them up, doing the number-crunching, for roleplaying rules.
Three of these devices have been refitted by the Kai’Siri race of humanity, co-opted to cause extinction-level events, though of course physically blowing planets up is beyond their repeatable operating limits, and these relics are unique and priceless. They are referred to from here on as the Kai’Siric Hypershards.
The fundamental communication function involves the relic’s tapping into whatever passes for the language-centers of a being’s brain, copying for the ‘shard’s use whatever languages that being knows and storing these, to be accessible to the user when needed, and simulating that language exactly and clearly in whatever form is required to convey meaning idiomatically; auditory, visual, olfactory, etc, etc, by a member of the target species.
Sometimes this involves the generation of scents for smell-based languages, holograms and other imagery for visually-oriented beings, even using simulated gestures for non-humanoid forms of sign-based language, and of course, auditory speech, even that based on non-human vocal equipment, perhaps using musical notes or stranger things yet for speech.
This is the closest in the Gods of Terra setting to a universal translator, though sometimes even it cannot bridge a communication gap with species so alien, say, without a recognizable intelligence or anything we would call one. This problem also applies to beings so far above us in intelligence that meaningful dialogue is impossible. Even hypershards cannot bridge such radical cognitive and conceptual gaps in communication.
Communications are further transmitted, spoken, beamcast, broadcast, etc, by a variety of media, like neutrino, maser, and variations in local electrical potential, for the more unusual ones. These relics can both transmit and receive in a variety of spectra and bandwidths, and this leads up to another near-universality for hypershards, their use as sensory instrumentation, on the very same exotic channels they use to communicate…
Hypershards have the curious property of existing in eleven spacetime dimensions, and this existence gives them very powerful means of extending the senses of the host beyond the usual three. Wavetouched have the most suitable brain-architecture for this use by an accident of evolution and of course, a little trans-temporal peeking into the current era of humanity by the King of Shards.
Normal human brains can become quickly overwhelmed by the neural feedback caused by perceiving in more than three dimensions, and Wavetouched brains have structures, most of these in the temporal and occipital lobes, but some in the frontal lobes and limbic system, that mesh well with the interface points of the ‘shards in their brains, allowing them to more effectively screen out stimulation, and focus on what they need to notice.
This appears to the ‘shard’s host to be a sort of diagram or overlay onto the visual field, a sort of virtual Heads Up Display, of whatever sensory modality is appropriate and most useful at the time. The overlay allows optionally blocking out excess data that may be distracting, or in some cases, maddening to a human. This gives Wavetouched a sort of augmented reality, as tags, labels, menus, and various indicator signs of whatever languages are known can be superimposed over the sensory field at will, even for non-visual data.
What about other “standardized” abilities of the four Gods of Terra?
For the three Kai’Siric ‘shards, there are settings initially tweaked in each device to allow powerful life-saving medical functions, and a glitch in this at one point has resulted in the Magna being “gifted” with an extra pair of fully functional arms after an incident early in her career in the extinction-level event industry, an incident that nearly killed her during a mission. It wasn’t just life-saving, but life-altering as well. She sees herself variously as a goddess or a monster, either presiding over death and destruction.
The Mirus and Fractus have so far been relatively unchanged by any such malfunctions, though the Mirus was nearly killed in his first encounter with Dasaelos Gurao, and to save him, his hypershard was forced to reboot and reset its weaponry and combat functions to something less frightening—but he doesn’t need anyone finding out about that, though, as that would adversely impact his fearsome reputation!
Another function is the use of the Kurtz-Dunar effect for both protection and life support via the probability field the shard generates, and the use of the same effect to ride a gravity well, effectively a form of personal flight without apparent support or use of a vehicle. This works in microgravity too, since gravity exists everywhere in the universe, even without apparent weight in space. These uses result from Kai’Siri reprogramming of the relics.
As for the Tempest, her shard, given to her by her patron, It who Scratches at the Gates, is more “pure” in its functions, and allows personal, non-vehicular travel by teleporting anywhere and anywhen in spacetime, and also to and through nearly any reality in the multiverse. She, like the Mirus, retains the communicative function which the Fractus and the Magna lack, and this serves her well on her travels.
Her spacetime travel permits her to carry objects or people with her if she wishes, and she need not touch them to do it, though they must be within a distance of six meters of her. Anything only partly within this radius is simply unaffected; she cannot slice people or things up by accident or as a form of attack. The Tempest retains the sensory enhancement of a typical hypershard, and her patron has also adjusted the coding to allow similar medical and life support functions as the Kai’Siric ’shards, but no flight.
Finally, the Mirus has a nasty twist to his ‘shard; it has a predatory side that emerges when he expends a lot of its energy in too short a time, and that makes it hungry and want to quickly refuel by devouring nearby matter, usually choosing whomever the Mirus is fighting, and using direct mass-to-energy conversion to do this, storing the fuel in a unique pocket universe accessible only by that ‘shard, and tapping it as needed.
Most other ‘shards, Kai’Siric as well as ordinary, and the Tempest’s as well, tap energy by randomly scanning for and selecting a suitable young universe upon first booting up, linking up to it, and accessing it to fuel their Myria, as their “powers” are also known. This ability was uniquely lost to the Mirus’s ‘shard after his first battle with Dasaelos and the relic’s first reboot.
Further, when the Mirus’s ‘shard decides that it’s hungry, its intelligence merges with his more compassionate human personality into a darker persona calling itself the Magnus, who possesses an entirely different set of combat capabilities.
More on that in a future post.
When I came up with the Mirus as a character, I wanted to make him more than just a comic book character with “mad sooper-powerz” who vanquishes his opponents in a quick blaze of pyrotechnic glory.
He’s a rationalist, but with a dark, terrible past as a killer of worlds, and his own darker alter ego. I wanted him to be able to talk to people, to reason with them in ways they can understand no matter the species or culture, not just kill them.
But his past isn’t going to go away. It’s why he terrifies people still, on every world he visits.