A recognizable enemy can be very useful. It drives the plotline of a story, provides conflict, and motivates the heroes.
But what if that enemy isn’t recognizable, until it is far, far too late to notice?
I thought it would be fun to put one species, my elder race the Suthidruu, up against a rival species, called the Tathladi – never mind trying to pronounce it accurately, human vocal chords can’t manage it, so says me, so there – another species engineered to sapience by the Nine who are One, specifically a being known as the King of Shards, who created them to counter the aggressive, psychotic fanaticism of the Suthidruu when interpersonal splits among the Nine occurred.
No major spoilers here, but what does a Tathladum (singular of Tathladi) look like?
I imagine them as an unlikely-looking combination of pill bug, trilobite, squid, and crinoid, and descended from their world’s equivalent of porpoises…obviously an aquatic race…who, due to details of their uplift, innately lack the capacity for irrational belief based on little or no evidence, and with a handful of other traits genetically instilled and culturally inculcated are the ultimate rational counterbalance to their insane zealot brethren.
They are also utterly pessimistic, being comparatively devoid of subjective illusion and bias to rosetint their view of the universe.
Tathladi serve the King of Shards out of gratitude from the gifts of sapience and civilization, and serve as the harvesters of the King’s sustenance, the neurological energy of sapient beings, like humans. They currently deal with human agents who serve the King’s avatar, the Star-faced Rani, and work to manipulate through alliance and then harvest the mental reserves of the entire human species, much to humanity’s detriment.
Tathladi and Suthidruu have traditionally been trying to expunge each other from the cosmic stage, and each has so far only managed to check the other, without any conclusive victory for their troubles. And while they struggle, other species have suffered collateral damage.
That will change when both species encounter humanity for the first time, and our species’ lineal descendants, the hominin Wavetouched…