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Worms

Their world lay under a scorching sun, its intensity made monstrous through the interventions of the bygone Qu. The surface lay littered with husks of dead cities, baking endlessly like shattered statues in a derelict oven.

Yet life remained on this unforgiving place. Forests of crystalline ďplantsĒ blanketed the surface, recycling oxygen for the animal life that teemed underground. One such species, barely longer than the arms of their ancestors, was the sole surviving vertebrate. Furthermore, it was that planetís last heir of the star people.

Distorted beyond recognition by genetic modification, they looked for all the word like pale, overgrown worms. Tiny, feeble feet and hands modified for digging were all that betrayed their noble heritage. Aside from these organs, all was simplified for the life underground. Their eyes were pinpricks, they lacked teeth, external ears and the better half of their nervous system.

The lives of these ersatz people did not extend beyond digging aimlessly. If they encountered food, they devoured it. If they encountered others of their kind, they sometimes devoured them too. But mostly they mated and multiplied, and managed to preserve a single shred of their humanity in their genes. In time, it would do them good.

Two Worm parents with their young.


Titans

On the endless savannah of a long-extinguished colonial outpost, enormous beasts roamed supreme. More than forty meters long by terrestrial measurements, these behemoths were actually the transmuted offspring of the Star People.

Several features betrayed their human ancestry. They still retained stubby thumbs on their elephantine front feet, now useless for any sort of precise manipulation except for uprooting trees. They compensated this loss by developing their lower lip into a muscular, trunk like organ that echoed the elephants of Earthís past.

As bestial as they seemed, the Titans were among the smartest of the reduced sub-men that remained in the galaxy. Their hulking stance allowed for a developed brain and gradually, sentience re-emerged. With their lip-trunks they fashioned ornate wood carvings, erected hangar-like dwellings and even began a form of primitive agriculture. With settled life came the inevitable flood of language and literature; myths and legends of the bygone, half-remembered past were told in booming voices across the vast plains.

It was easy to see that, within a few hundred thousand years, Humanity could start again with these titanic primitives. Sadly, as a catastrophic ice-age took over the Titansí homeworld the gentle giants disappeared, never to return.


Predators and Prey

Devolved predators were common among humanityís feral worlds. Most of the time they resembled the vampires, werewolves and goblins of bygone lore; hunting equally sub-human prey with a combination of derived weaponry. Some had enormous heads with large, killing teeth. Others tore their victims apart with talon-like feet. But the most common kinds bore modified fingers and thumbs, bristling with razor-sharp claws.

The most efficient of these predators lived on one of mankindís first off-world colonies. In addition to paw-like hands with switchblade thumbs they also had gaping, tooth studded jaws on disproportionate heads with large, sensitive ears. All of these served to make them the dominant predators on their home planet.

They ran the prairies, stalked the forests and ranged through the mountains in pursuit of different people; herbivorous saltators with bird-like legs. While their prey lapsed into complete animosity, the hunters managed to keep the spark of intelligence alive in their evolutionary honing.


Mantelopes

Not all devolved people lapsed into complete bestiality. Some held on to their minds, while losing all of their physiological advantages to the genetic meddling of the Qu.

A singular species was a prime exemplar. They had been bred as singers and memoryretainers, acting much like living recorders during the reign of Qu. When their masters left they barely survived, reverting into a quadrupedal stance and occupying a niche as grazing herd animals. This change was so abrupt that the newly evolved Mantelopes endured only due to the forgiving sterility of their artificial biosphere.

The Mantelopes, equipped with full (if slightly numbed) Human minds and completely disabled animal bodies, lived agonizing lives. They could see and understand the world around them, but due to their bodies they could do nothing to change it. For centuries, mournful herds roamed the plains, singing songs of desperation and loss. Entire religions and oral traditions were woven around this crippling racial disability, as dramatic and detailed as any on bygone Earth.

Fortunately, the selective forces of evolution made their agony a short-lived one. Simply put, a brain was not advantageous to develop if it could not be put into good use. A dim-witted, half minded Mantelope grew up faster than a smart one, and grazed just as efficiently. The Mantelopesí animal children overtook them in less than a hundred thousand years, and their melancholic world fell silent for good. Nothing was sacred in the evolutionary process.


Swimmers

Perhaps because their life cycle involved an aquatic larval stage, the Qu had transmuted a large number of their human subjects into a bewildering array of aquatic creatures. Taken care of by specially-bred attendants, these post-human water babies came in every shape and size imaginable. There were limbless, ribbon like varieties of eel-people, huge, whale like behemoths, decorative people who swam by squirting water out of their hypertrophied mouths and horrifying multitudes of brainless wallowers that served as food stock.

All of them were perfectly domesticated. All of them went extinct when their masters left. All save a few lightly mutated, generalized forms. These swimmers still resembled their human ancestors to a large degree; they had no artificial gills, their hands were still visible through their front flippers, their feet were splayed affairs that functioned like a pair of tail flukes. Recognizably human eyes peeked through their blubbery eyelids and they spoke to each other, though not in words and never in sentient understanding.

For millennia they swam the oceans of their ecologically stunted world, feeding on diversifying kinds of fish and crustaceans; survivors of the food stock originally imported from Earth. With the intervention of the Qu gone, natural selection resumed. The swimmers became more streamlined to better catch their fast prey. The prey responded by getting even faster, or evolving defensive countermeasures such as armor, spikes or poison. Their evolution back on track, the swimmers drifted further and further away from their sentient ancestry. They would wait for a long time indeed to taste that blessing again.


Lizard Herders

They were the lucky ones. Instead of unrecognizably distorting them as they had done to most of their subjects, the Qu had merely erased their sentience and stunted the development of their brains.

Distantly resembling their ancient forebears on Earth, the primitives led feral lives for an unnaturally long time. They never regained sentience after the Qu left, despite having every incentive to do so. This was partially due to the total absence of predators on their garden world, resulting in no advantage for intelligence. Furthermore, the Qu had made some small but integral changes to their brains, tweaking with the structure of cerebellum so that certain features associated with heuristic learning could never emerge again. Once again, the reasons for these baffling changes remained known only to the Qu.

The dumb people eventually settled in a symbiosis with some of the other creatures that inhabited their planet. They began to instinctively ďfarmĒ some of the large, herbivorous reptiles, ancestors of which were brought from Earth as pets.

Soon the balance of this mutualism began to tip in the reptilesí favor. The tropical climate of the planet gave them an inherent advantage, and they underwent a spectacular radiation of different species. They encountered no competition from the only large mammals on the planet; the brain-neutered descendants of the starfarers. Faced with a reptilian turnover, the only adaptation the sub-men could muster was to slip quietly into bestial oblivion.

A lizard herder scans the world with blank eyes as his stock grow stronger and smarter. The future does not seem to belong to him.


Temptor

In the Temptorsí case, the remodeling was done with an almost artistic enthusiasm. How they managed to survive in their bizarre form was not clear; their ancestors were used as sessile decoration and through some miracle of adaptation they had endured.

No human would have recognized them as their descendants. The females were beaked cones of flesh some two meters tall, rooted in soil like grotesque carnivorous plants. The males on the other hand, resembled contorted, bipedal monkeys. Unlike their mates they were perfectly ambulatory; dozens of them ran around the femalesí mounds like so many imps. Some would gather food, others would clean the females while others would stand on guard for danger. Although their actions looked purposeful, the males had no will of their own.

In Temptor society, females controlled everything. Using a combination of vocal and phermonal signals, they guided the masculine hordes into any number of menial tasks, while mating with the strongest, the most obedient and the dumbest to produce even better drones. On certain periods they would also give birth to a few precious females, who would be carried away by subservient males to root themselves.

It was a terribly efficient hegemony that would certainly give rise to civilization in a matter of centuries had fate not intervened. As a stray comet obliterated the Temptorsí mound forests, one of Humanityís best chances for re-emergence was cruelly swept away.

A male and female Temptor illustrate the sexual discrepancy that is characteristic to their species. Note the femaleís elongated, pit-like vagina. When mating, the males descend into it like subway commuters.


Contents

To Mars ............................................................................................ 3
The Martian Americans ................................................................. 5
Civil War .......................................................................................... 7
Star People ....................................................................................... 8
Colonization and the Mechanical Oedipi .................................... 10
The Summer of Man ....................................................................... 11
An Early Warning ........................................................................... 13
Qu ...................................................................................................... 15
Man Extinguished ........................................................................... 17
Worms ............................................................................................. 19
Titans ............................................................................................... 21
Predators and Prey ........................................................................ 23
Mantelopes ...................................................................................... 26
Swimmers ....................................................................................... 28
Lizard Herders .............................................................................. 30
Temptor ........................................................................................... 32

Bone Crusher ................................................................................... 34
Colonials ........................................................................................... 36
Flyers ................................................................................................. 38
Hand Flappers .................................................................................. 40
Blind Folk .......................................................................................... 42
Lopsiders .......................................................................................... 44
Striders .............................................................................................. 46
Parasites ............................................................................................ 48
Finger Fishers ................................................................................... 50
Hedonists .......................................................................................... 52
Insectophagi ..................................................................................... 54
Spacers ............................................................................................... 56
Ruin Haunters ................................................................................... 58
Sentience Reborn ............................................................................. 60
Extinction ........................................................................................... 61
Snake People (Descendants of the Worms) ................................. 63
Killer Folk (Descendants of the Human Predators) ..................... 65
Tool Breeders (Descendants of the Swimmers) .......................... 67
Saurosapients (Livestock of the Lizard Herders) ........................ 69
Modular People (Descendants of the Colonials) ........................ 71
Pterosapiens (Descendants of the Flyers) ................................... 73
Asymmetric People (Descendants of the Lopsiders) ................. 75
Symbiotes (Descendants of the Parasites) .................................. 77
Sail People (Descendants of the Finger Fishers) ........................ 79
Satyriacs (Descendants of the Hedonists) .................................. 81
Bug Facers (Descendants of the Insectophagi) .......................... 83
Asteromorphs (Descendants of the Spacers) .............................. 85
Second Galactic Empire ................................................................... 87
Gravital (Descendants of the Ruin Haunters) .............................. 88
Machine Invasion ............................................................................ 90
When Considering the Invasion .................................................... 92
Subjects (Many descendants of the Bug Facers) ....................... 93
The Other Machines ........................................................................ 96
The Fall of the Machines (Return of the Spacers) ...................... 98
The Post-War Galaxy ...................................................................... 100
The New Machines ......................................................................... 102
Second Contact ............................................................................... 104
Earth Rediscovered ......................................................................... 106
Return ................................................................................................ 108
All Tomorrows ................................................................................. 110


 

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