Far back in the legends of the Kai’Siri people, originating in an ancient war fought before Second Age of Consolidation, lies the planet Bruticus, its Terran name, a gigantic world with extreme gravity and home to a diminutive but hardy intelligent species.
The Kai’Siri, or course, forbid the naming of this world in their own language, such is its reputation.
Bruticus is an interdicted world in a forbidden area of what was part of the First Exarchate, as the Kai’Siri had never been able to fully conquer the natives, and this fact sat poorly with them.
It’s partly for religious reasons that Kai’Siri were originally driven to conquer, from the dictum to spread the Kai’Siri culture across the stars.
Kai’Siri religion is odd. It is not an evangelical faith; only ethnic Kai’Siri may be members of it, usually inculcated in childhood with some adult conversions.
Worship is mostly directed to familial gods, not national or regional gods, but the central core of the faith binds the Kai’Siri as a people and in the past drove its militarization.
“Spread the culture, but the faith belongs to us alone.”
Bruticus handed the Kai’Siri perhaps their worst defeat in a war lasting almost a hundred years, when the natives made use of the planet’s strong gravity and multiple large moons, routing the humans of Sirug and resulting in the death by suicide of all of the defeated army, too shamed to return home and live with their defeat.
The Second Exarchate has scant records of the war, given the destruction of the Second Age of Consolidation and its attendant wars. So Bruticus remains isolated by time, location, and oddly enough for a rationalist culture like the Kai’Siri, a hint of superstitious dread, the inhabitants shrouded in mystery.
It is only with the development of Kurtz-Dunar technology for riding gravity wells in the Second Exarchate that contact between natives and Kai’Siri has become possible again.
But what of fact?
Bruticus is a super-Terran world, more rocky than gaseous, though with a thick atmosphere rich in hydrogen, methane, and ammonia fairly far from its star but warm enough to allow for life using complex hydrocarbons and reductive metabolisms using respiration of hydrogen.
Bruticans, who call themselves Phlaathaq, are much like large Terran sand-fleas in shape and built low to the ground to avoid dangerous short-distance falls in the strong gravity well.
Bruticus has a slightly ovoid shape because of its spin, with stronger gravity near the poles and lighter at the equator, about 12 Terran gravities on average.
Phlaathaq have a clever sort of biotechnology at their disposal, using stock from native organisms bred to specific functions, and often engineered to purpose using other organisms bred for that function.
Case in point are the ballistic dendromorphs, tentacled, ambulatory, tree-like mollusk analogs whose central body cavities are largely filled with a biochemical solid rocket propellant based on the combustion of chlorine and hydrogen. These serve as a means of travel off of Bruticus, and produce enough thrust to reach an impressive escape velocity and in less than three days reach the outermost of the five moons.
Think of something that looks like a cross between the recent Orion system spacecraft, an outsized California redwood, and a Lovecraftian Dark Young.
Other organisms, symbiotes, can cling to and serve as payload attachments to the dendromorphs, whether as explosive warheads, piloted capsules with life-support and acceleration couches, and there are organisms attached to these to serve as bio-avionic systems for the dendromorphs in flight.
Such launches are limited to the equatorial regions where gravity is lightest, and the dendromorphs are optimized for the climate there, even being resistant to the floods of the ammonia seas in the cold season and frequent massive storms of the warmer season when the oceans evaporate.
The effectiveness of this biology-based approach to technology in warfare has earned the planet-moons system of Bruticus an evil reputation among those familiar with Kai’Siri lore, but as more information comes to light and peaceful contact becomes possible, more of this massive world’s secrets will be laid bare, in future installments of this post, and in fiction.