Back when I started developing my SF universe, Gods of Terra, there was a lot of influence from several sources. One was the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, another was an SF game known as Traveller, still another was Star Wars. But the one that influenced the back-story of the setting was the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, with his tales of horrific monstrosities of terrible power and awful intentions that sleep, awaiting release to devour the world.
I came up with a group of beings known as the Nine who are One, and the first one I developed in some detail was the King of Shards, the Artificer, who created through uplift technology the alien Suthidruu, and their rivals, the Tathladi, and afterwards constructing the first hypershards, the four Prime ‘shards. This group of powerful beings, the Nine, are all the last survivors of their species and a few didn’t even start out as sapient biological entities. The Nine who are One ruled over a vast empire of galaxies for over a billion years, which fell apart from the falling out and wars among the Nine. Here I go in depth on the personality, origin story, a few abilities, and the relation of the King to the other eight of the Nine.
The King of Shards – its name is pronounced as a series of musical tones ranging from a bass rumble and well into the ultrasonic range – is a hyperdimensional being – it exists not just in the 3+1 dimensions we know as spacetime, but in further dimensions of reality as well, and in fact most of the King’s existence extends into these other axial dimensions of the multiverse.
This means that the King can exist anywhere and anywhen it decides to. Its thought-processes, its perceptions, and its notions of causality are affected by this circumstance. The King’s mind could be described as a sort of Boltzmann brain, capable of existing disembodied but which is normally housed in a body made of matter extruded from hyperspace. This substance, known as hyperplasm, serves mostly as a means of interfacing with the physical world without requiring the direct use of psi-powers.
It allows the King to expend minimal effort to pick up and manipulate ordinary objects and to interact with beings in mere 3+1 spacetime in a meaningful way, and makes it effectively immortal.
The King began as something very much like a human being, and is the most humanlike of the Nine in terms of personality and thinking processes, using a similar sort of logic, though powerful and refined. It ascended to the status of a hyperdimensional being by uploading its mind-print into a synthetic Boltzmann brain, the creation of which involved as a side-effect the unfortunate demise of its own body
Its species of origin, like most of the other eight of the Nine, was one of the first to arise in the universe in the wake of the Big Bang.
Once ascended, the King sustained itself and maintained its status by farming herds of low-intelligence psionic B-brains and tapping their energy whenever hungry. Only later did it employ the Tathladi to harvest the minds of intelligent beings once the resources to construct new B-brains had evaporated.
In its role as the Artificer, the King of Shards built things, from sapient races, to technological artifacts, to new and unusual ways of doing things. It was the the creative genius of the Nine who are One.
But its genius had limits. It was often unable to see fatal flaws in its labors where its works were concerned.
There is the insanity of the Suthidruu, a genetic snowball effect from a mistake in encoding their genome that got progressively worse over eons; there is the utter pessimism of the Tathladi, from their complete lack of cognitive bias and illusion; and there is, for artifacts, the “back door” in the programming of three of the four Prime hypershards that allowed them to be utilized as weapons of war by the Kai’Siri race of exohumans. In each case, something of surpassing elegance has been crafted, which later results in disastrous effects in collateral damage to any bystanders when things go awry.
But while the King of Shards sometimes errs, it is also fully capable of knowing where and when it goes wrong and correcting itself. It is a scientist, after all, as well as an artist. Its eagerness to execute a new technique or create a new and beautiful piece of art, living or technological, can be troublesome when assessing consequences, but its intellectual honesty permits it to be comfortable with ambiguity, to tell itself “I don’t know yet, but let’s see if I can find out anyway.”
None of the Nine who are One were truly gods, despite most of them being objects of worship, but they were powerful, and possessed of technological capacities almost unmatched in the usual timeframe of the setting.
Their empire lasted more than an eon before shattering from the effects of both time and war, but it was the King of Shards who allowed their legacy, for good or ill to survive to the present day in our highly speculative and indeed, unlikely future in Gods of Terra.
From an earlier and now defunct character concept comes the Magna, the current Enforcer Prime of the Kai’Siri, who like her counterparts the Mirus and the insanely awesome Fractus, is a member of a hominin daughter species of humanity, the Wavetouched, Homo mirus mirabilis, and in her own right, as powerful and dangerous as the other two Gods of Terra. There is a Fourth, the Tempest, to be described later in depth, the herald of It who Scratches at the Gates.
What does the Magna look like? Well, mostly human, if you ignore the extra pair of fully functional arms, very much in the arrangement of a mythological being’s, and her fiery orange glowing eyes which shine like the sun when she’s angry. She’s a bit on the attractive side, with an indeterminate South Asian ethnicity apparent in her features, and she keeps herself fit and healthy, with a lithe, well-muscled figure.
She speaks no terrestrial languages, and knows only Old High Kai’Siri so as to communicate in strict formality with her masters.
With her Wavetouched physiology and a regular diet and exercise regimen, she’s stronger then most Baseline men of her height and weight, and she is unrivalled in terms of her powers of mass destruction and planetary mass extinction, though the Mirus has her beat in close range combat powers.
The Magna loves her job, maybe a little too much, and is fiercely loyal to the Kai’Siri despite numerous opportunities to break ranks and escape – she’s the perfect soldier, and a valuable investment for the humans of Sirug.
If ever there was any memory of a life other than that of service to the Kai’Siri, none remains.
She does have an ego, though, and tends to regard her masters in a sort of patronizing way, as being perhaps children in need of her protection. This is her Wavetouched psychology showing through a veneer of formality, but ignored by the Kai’Siri because of her tractability and proven record of loyal service.
The dynamic between servant and masters is a bit unusual in this case. She does not even have to be controlled when sent on missions, as her conditioning is more complete than those of either the Fractus or the Mirus, and techniques have improved since then.
She is neither particularly evil nor insane, but she has her duty to perform, and Gods of Terra help anyone who tries to stop her once she’s been sent after a world.
Her sense of detachment when causing an extinction-level event is a testament to her conditioning and her Wavetouched mentality. Despite her sense of loyalty, it is only matter of time before she must choose between identity as a member of her own species, and continued service to human species Homo ferox.
In future experiments in flash fiction, I want to go into her history and role in the setting in more detail, starting with her first deployment in a high-stakes combat zone. That should be fun.
The Kai’Siri, humans of Sirug, are relatives of Terran humans, evolved for a carnivorous diet and aggressive temperament in parallel to their Terran sister species. Classified as species Homo ferox, their ancestors were taken from Earth millennia ago by the mysterious Strangers and genetically modified for their adopted homeworld in an isolated region of the Sagittarius spiral arm of the galaxy. They are powerful, violent, and technologically advanced, and, most dangerously, they’ve learned to regulate and channel their aggressive nature to promote, not endanger, their own survival as a species…
The Kai’Siri are the default alien race in my Gods of Terra setting; they are the standard by which other species are measured, and their language is used as the primary naming convention for the other aliens. Theirs is a civilization predating our own, having accelerated to its current state of development by war, conquest, the struggle for dominance with the alien predators native to Sirug, and the harsh conditions found there.
But while they are innately aggressive, they are also wise to a degree, for they’ve learned to get along with each other, and sometimes, with their former enemies. While the Kai’Siri could be characterized as a warrior-race, this is too simplistic a description. They have many other aptitudes besides fighting and conquest, and their aggression and drive sees vent in a number of fields, including sublimation in the sciences, the arts, and oddly, diplomacy.
They have developed social mechanisms to prevent self-extinction.
The Kai’Siri are the former employers of the Mirus, in the latter’s role as Enforcer Prime. Former employers.
On the Kai’Siri homeworld, most of the vegetation has certain biochemical quirks in the nutrients, like the native starches and sugars, making them inedible to humans – often causing severe toxicity and allergic reactions if eaten directly – but the native animal life is, with a little cooking skill, readily edible, the animals having already metabolized the dangerous vegetable toxins into substances fit for human consumption.
This has led to the humans, then newly transplanted to Sirug, to evolve into a carnivorous species and to make best use of the available native food supply.
Kai’Siri have certain ‘ethnic’ features Terran humans may find strange; subtly pointed ears, those being a bit flatter against the sides of the head; canine teeth slightly pointed and sharper than in Homo sapiens, just short enough not to protrude over the lips, but obvious when smiling – for this species a threat gesture, and rude in polite company; eye shades unusual for humans, but here common – ruby, violet, gold – and all the typical eye-colors of Terran humanity, with those being less common; Hair and skin tones tend to be darker shades, due to the high ultraviolet output of Sirug’s stellar primary, Emulael Enza; Facial features tend to resemble those common to South Asia and Southeast Asia on Terra, with about 50% of the population having epicanthic folds in the eyelids; Thorough genetic intermixing between regions and populations have resulted in a good blend of dominant traits and a robust species.
Some terms in their language follow, with phonetic spelling to aid in pronunciation:
Digmas Binigarul (DÏĝⅿəś bĭｎĭgəŕool) – (noun) “Way of the Exarchs” A powerful and ancient Kai’Siri religion which worships the Strangers as creators of the Kai’Siri race and the teachers of civilization – recently, a secular movement has arisen that criticizes the precepts of this religion as baseless, superstitious and insulting to human dignity and ingenuity. They are not well-loved by believers.
Dinat Aru-Tasuul (DÏnät Əroo-Təsool) – (noun) “Null-Dancers” trained assassin/warrior/MMA performers trained to hunt down and destroy dangerous, powerful, psionic, and highly intelligent prey, and look damn good doing it on live holographic vidcast. Their ‘hits’ are often netcast live to millions of online viewers.
Talotaa frang (Təlōtə-Fräng) – Typical spoken Kai’Siri greeting, often but not always spoken both upon meeting and upon parting. It means “Be strong and well, be brilliant as the stars.” and is spoken with a slightly tongue-in-cheek raising of the lip over the tips of the upper canine teeth in a mock threat gesture, implying the one seeing it is expected to fear no threat.
Much more needs to be done to develop this species, and further will be posted on them. As the standard by which all other species are assessed, they require more coverage than I’ve given here, and that shall be forthcoming, including information of the bestial ferals, the product of Kai’Siri genetic engineering gone horribly wrong.
For good SF, like most works of fiction, there needs to be a source of conflict, and there’s no better source of conflict than a recognizable villain.
The problem with villains is that plausibly, they shouldn’t think of themselves as villainous: I’m sure the Daleks of Doctor Who are just plain mean-n-nasty pieces of work, but they don’t see themselves as evil, just doing whatever it is that their species does to survive and flourish – at the expense of everyone else.
It’s important to have bad guys who don’t sound like something out of silly 1980s animated toy commercials.
This time around, I’ll discuss one of my species of antagonists, a horrific elder race that for lack of a humanly pronounceable name for themselves, I’ll use a corruption of it instead – Suthidruu – an innately insane species consumed by love – a twisted, murderous love that drives them to bring the gift of merciful extinction to every intelligent species they come across.
Suthidruu are essentially a priestly species, who worship a group of remote, godlike entities known in their theology as the Nine who are One, who artificially evolved, or uplifted them, from worm-like colony organisms billions of years ago into intelligent beings to serve as priests and enforcers of the ancient and now defunct Grand Civilization and Empire.
Suthidruu physiology is based on the number nine as is their religious symbology: with three sets of nine tentacular limbs: 9 limbs for eating and speaking, 9 limbs with sensory clusters for smell, sight and hearing, and 9 limbs to serve variously as arms or legs depending on posture and whim.
Having been uplifted as clergy, the species has a strong tendency for fanaticism, and for most purposes possesses only the emotion of love.
A perverse, inhuman, psychotic love for all the universe’s creatures.
Suthidruu see the universe as a place of unending misery and sorrow, and see it as their holy mission to send all other species to paradise in acts of mass mercy-killing, one planet-buster bomb or nova-trigger at a time.
They generally make no attempt to communicate with the doomed species, until conducting last rites before their victims’ home star explodes and their planet is vaporized.
Why not kill themselves?
Because they don’t see themselves as worthy of eternal bliss until they send everyone else in the universe there first, only then will they have ‘earned’ it, and only then will they bring about their own extinction, in a single orgy of species-wide suicide.
NOT extermination — THAT would be Daleks!