There’s a powerful and ancient civilization in the Gods of Terra setting, descendants of terrestrial prehumanity , and belonging to their own hominin genus: Meganthropus tokmolosensis, the gigantic Mokthraga, and a somewhat shorter species, Meganthropus mentis, the Miithrok, both looking something like massively-built, impossibly tall and well-muscled humans.
Mokthraga average about 4 meters tall and mass an average of 800 kilograms; Miithrok average 3 meters tall and mass about 450 kg, not exactly beings you want to get angry with you. The frightening thing is that these are not low gravity species, but natives of a 1.3 gravity world, rich even in the planetary crust and oceans with heavy metal concentrations toxic to Terran life, but exotic only in this regard – most life is still carbon-based, just with a higher tolerance for heavy metals, particularly titanium, which takes the place of calcium in the bones of most vertebrate analogs, and the exoskeletons and shells of invertebrates, for example, the local analogs of beetles and molluskoids.
This, and factors of the Giants’ anatomy deviating from the human baseline are what make them possible, keeping them from collapsing of their own weight due to the implications of the square/cube law.
First, it’s almost impossible to mistake them for humans in good lighting, even at a distance. They don’t look exactly human in proportion. They’re too broad in build. Think of the incredible Hulk, then scale that up a bit. The Giants are literally built to support their mass, using titanium in their skeletons in place of the calcium that their ancestors used before the ‘Great Experiment’ of the Strangers, an unidentified, hypothetical civilization with a penchant for biological meddling that resulted in the divergent evolution of transplanted human offshoot populations on dozens of worlds.
The bones, muscles and the connective tissues of the Giants, including cardiac muscle, ligaments and tendons, are all thicker and denser, with much more tensile strength than those of baseline humans, adding to their massive builds and giving them the tremendous strength they need to live comfortably in their native gravity.
This helped keep them from suffering more than their due from the medical problems related to heavy gravity living. That, in turn, relieved selective pressures toward a reduction in size and mass exceeding that of the Miithrok. At first, these were genetically engineered into them by the Strangers, in giving them the necessary adaptations for survival on their home, and these were built upon by natural selection once the population was fully transplanted and underwent breeding.
Whatever they were when first brought to Tokmolos from ancient Earth, they are now so unlike us biologically that only their DNA and fundamental chemistry speaks of Terran ancestry. Even the foods they eat would be toxic to humans, which makes setting up interspecies restaurants difficult – food items must be labelled for edibility by species, as some Tokmolosian delicacies are poisonous to beings such as humans.
As I said, they’re an old race for one descended from early Terran hominins, becoming a technological civilization about 50 millennia ago, brought to Tokmolos as live specimens and genetic samples much earlier before the rise of anatomically modern Homo sapiens.
The Giants have a conservative streak; not in the political or ideological sense, of course, but they’ve grown old as a species and are slow to change. There is a certain degree of contentment in the now, with a patience and tolerance of difference that makes them amiable enough with other beings, but slow to react to threats. They are no longer as curious as they were in their youth as a species, when much of their scientific and technological innovation occurred. Oh, they still do science, but not as much.
They’ve turned inward, and stopped looking at the universe outside their sphere of colony worlds, systems cut off from contact by massive Dyson spheres and Cryswell structures built around their stars.
This could mean their end, despite their status as a Kardashev scale Type II civilization. A young and aggressive race, the Kai’Siri, are encroaching on their ancient borders, and have discovered a frightful new weapon to counter the powerful but archaic technology of the Giants: Humans, or something very much like them, ‘Wavetouched,’ implanted with the powerful quasi-matter hypershard relics; weaponized soldiers empowered to single-handedly cause planetary extinction-level events.
Will the Children of Tokmolos survive? Or will their Elder civilization be wiped from the skies forever by enslaved doomsday weapons that kill every world they’ve ever been sent against?
We’ll see…Time and luck are of the essence.
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.
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…
Two bodies lay motionless in the room, the scorchmarks of a hand laser marking their foreheads like macabre bindi, looks of utter surprise frozen on their features as a team of paramedics prepared them for spacing. In the burial traditions of my people, the dead are jettisoned into the local stellar primary, necessary to utterly destroy the bodies to the molecular level, and prevent the return of their troublesome spirits to the world of the living.
Silly that even a rationalist society as my own still has superstitions.
The woman was lucky. She died in less than a second as coherent light drilled a hole through her brain. The man a bit longer when he tried to avoid my aim, but to no avail. He lived just long enough to prolong the pain as the light burned a half-second longer through the thicker part of his skull, the steam of vaporized cerebral fluids escaping through the hole.
I am Special Agent Akarmiin Piruuta, and the discovery they made will win this war for us, but these two have been watched for a while, and they had to be eliminated. Silly academics. Sooner or later their sense of ethics would get the better of them. But they had to die. Orders from higher up — from the Exarch himself. As the youngest operative of the Order of Orugruuta on this installation, that duty fell to me. I must prove myself.
Tricking the late Instructor First Rank was easy, tricking his student was even easier, and getting them to take their cargo directly to this base was brilliant if I do say so myself. Scientists are so gullible. Gods of ancient Sirug, never let me be taken so easily! Of course, posing as a research student was the fun part. I’m called into my Coordinator’s office to discuss the new project…
The datacomp that Samdrumani kept her notes on is in my hands now. Easy enough to get the encryption key when you spike someone’s nanocotics.
“Ma’am. The targets have been dealt with, and we are ready to proceed with the next phase. The weapons and all of their data belong to us.” I hand over my dataspike, and my Coordinator inserts it into her handcomp, a hologram tailored to look like a dead Terran philosopher, Ariztotl, or somesuch, projected above the touchpad, looking rather sagely as he goes over the essential points, changing to a hologram of Samdrumani when her journal files are accessed. Damn, that’s creepy, seeing the face and hearing the voice of the woman I’ve just killed, even if it is a recording.
The recording ceases. “Agent Piruuta, I’ve received word from the Exarch, and he sends his congratulations on a mission well done. He wishes to continue with this project, so you are ordered to Sacred Terra to acquire testing subjects, three in number we’ve identified and kept under surveillance, that new species of humans who shall prove perfect for what we have in mind. They will serve as the housing for our weapons,” — she hands me the dosier of a boy barely in his teens, that of a girl just reaching adulthood, and of an older man in his thirties — “Any questions?”
A smile crosses my lips, canines just barely showing in predatory anticipation.
“Only, one, Ma’am….When do I depart?”
To be continued…
On the final leg of our journey from our expedition, we settle into orbit around the Damendas system’s mainworld, used for an orbital military installation for the Exarchate and a munitions testing ground, the perfect place to take our findings.
We’ve discovered ways to better handle the relics, these ‘hypershards’ as Ranan calls them, and to access their control systems, using brain-machine interfaces.
He’s…highly capable…in our more intimate moments, hardly the stuffy academic I first thought him to be. Our relationship has become our little secret, as it would be ethically unacceptable in University circles. But secret it must remain. I’ve already been forced to duel a fellow student, Embael Maaga for threatening to report us, ‘accidentally’ putting her into a coma with a well-placed blow before she could go public with what she found out. That rabid bloodferret had it coming anyway!
I must make sure I show more discretion in future nightly encounters… At least my honor remains unsullied for the time being.
It turned out to be fortuitous, for Embael’s comatose brain proved the perfect interface with the relics after we ran a few tests. Or so we thought. The hypershards ghostly quasi-matter will with little resistance pass through flesh and bone into the brain itself, and we are able to set up a means of controlling the relics remotely, sending signals into a ‘shard which then controls the brain, which then accesses the ‘shard’s functions.
Like weaponry. Whatever these things were meant to do, they make powerful weapons, as we suspected the day we found them. They have incredible defensive and offensive systems, and would be perfectly suited for a new breed of elite soldiers.
“Emisse maatan porangas, Embael Maaga” — “Embael Maaga, in service even in endless sleep”
About an hour into testing, poor Embael’s brain had burned out from apparent sensory overload and a power surge caused by a faulty connection in brain wiring.
Dead because her brain wasn’t so perfect after all… Oh well. At least she still proved useful.
There must be something maddening about getting raw sensory data along ten or more spacetime axes, even in a permanent dreaming state.
Surely there’s a solution…
Our time at the outpost, Warstation 43758, has still been productive, and we’ve learned much of the relics. While we were together last night, I ran the idea past Ranan of using aliens for the ‘shard receptacles, other species of humans, specifically a new daughter species we’ve discovered on Sacred Terra.
A nascent species, on the Motherworld of us All, with just the right brain architecture to handle the relic’s input and energy levels without burning out, according to computer models. There are only three we’ve found and identified, all of them relatively young, and all unaware of their status.
We call them ‘Wavetouched,’ and they are special indeed, for they are what the Terrans may yet evolve into. Not that silly ‘ladder of evolution’ fallacy, just a new sidebranch on the tree of human descent, which may or may not supplant their parent species in time.
They have potential…the potential to become gods…gods of Terra. They must be watched…watched and controlled.
I must close this journal file. Ranan is on his way to see me, he says for something *special* tonight. No one must see what I’ve recorded.
[quantum file encryption complete: eyes-only log saved as ordered]
To be continued…