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Snake People (Descendants of the Worms)

The scorching sun eventually cooled down, and life flooded back to the surface from her subterranean stronghold. As animals of all kinds exploded into the terrestrial niches that had been left vacant for millennia, so did the descendants of the worms. On the surface, they found new opportunities as entire assemblages of serpentine grazers, swimmers, predators…

…and people. One form, descended from tree-climbing mammalian snakes, re-evolved the human intelligence that had lain dormant for so long. They observed, contemplated and philosophized with novel, spirally coiled brains and handled the world with a singular pelvic “hand”, borne out from the remnants of their ancestors’ feet.

They looked nothing at all like their distant human ancestors, but their social development followed a similar path; several agricultural world empires, followed by industrial revolutions, social experiments, world wars, civil wars and globalization. But then again, socio-political parallelism in history did not necessarily imply a similar, or even recognizably human world.

Modern cities of the global Snake world were tangles of pipe like “roads”, branching, three dimensional railroads and windowless, hole-like buildings. Though their knotted architecture differed from region to region, these settlements generally looked like kilometer-wide balls of glass, metal, plastic and cloth, wrapped so tightly that a human of today would find it impossible to move inside them. Plazas and open areas were totally absent, as they presented navigational obstacles and areas of insecurity. Their evolutionary background in the trees had made the Snake People into borderline agoraphobes.

None of these, of course, was unusual to the Snakes in any way. Their relatively “alien” lifestyle was as particular to them as ours is to us. All across their world, the arterial cities throbbed with people, each with their own joys, sorrows and chores, living out lives as human as any other intelligent beings’.

A Snake person at home, enjoying a book while smoking and “listening” to vibrational ground-music. Through the open door can be seen the chaotic tangle of the city.


Killer Folk (Descendants of the Human Predators)

The carnivores also rebounded into civilization. Their journey involved a series of changes during which they lost the adaptations that had allowed them to endure as the top predators of their world. The saber teeth, once used for slashing through sinew and trachea, became fragile and thin, useful only as organs of social display. The hook-like thumb claws were also reduced, but not deleted. In their place, the last two digits rotated perpendicularly to become newfangled graspers. All this gracility, however, did not mean weakness. Although they were no longer specialized for hunting, the Killer Folk could still kill with their bare hands, but only if they really wanted to. What enormous claws and teeth could not do, they could easily achieve with bow, arrow, flintlock repeater or gas rifle.

Their descent from predators gave the Killer Folk a unique social profile. Almost all of their religions had rituals allowing for periods of completely natural, animalistic hunts and duels. This necessity of venting these atavistic urges also led to the formation of religious “hunter nobilities”; privileged warriors who were skilled in the arts of hunting, war and murder. Entire societies were assembled underneath these ruling classes; orderly communities that erupted once every year into an orgy of death, sex, and prayer. For thousands of years nomadic warriors, together with their vast herds of once-human livestock, chased and battled each other across a chessboard of continents.

All of this chaos was to be swept apart with the advent of modernity. In a development comparable to an industrial revolution, one nation-pack of Killers devised methods of settled, intensive factory farming. Organized state structure, secularism and technological leap-frogging were quick to follow.

Needless to say, such developments polarized the world into bands of progressive, developed “factory herders” and increasingly fanatical “hunting states.” While one side condemned their old, animal ways, the other side embraced them with blind zealotry. This was their crisis of modernity; the balkanization of the progressive and conservative factions on the road to global unity. Fortunately, the Killers managed to pull themselves through, even after drifting dangerously close to global conflict at certain points.

A young male Killer tours one of the myriad ruined fortresses in his country, testimony of their species’ bloody, protean history. The planet of the Killer Folk is an archaeologists’ paradise. It has more buried dark ages, ruined cultures and fallen kingdoms than any other world.


Tool Breeders (Descendants of the Swimmers)

They used to be simple creatures, descendants of a battered people that had taken to the sea. Their remote sapiens ancestors would have given such beings no chance of a sentient comeback, for they thought that technological advances were impossible in the fluid medium of the oceans. But the Swimmers disproved such predictions by founding one of the most advanced and most outrageously alien cultures of the entire human lineage.

Fire, the cornerstone of industrial engineering, was almost impossible to sustain and use underwater. But the Breeders simply choose another path when complex toolmaking proved impracticable. They began to breed their tools and machines for them.

It had started long before the species was even intelligent. In the endless variety of life in the seas, the Swimmers always adopted and controlled the organisms that were useful in some way. Once domesticated, these creatures were willingly or unintentionally modified through artificial selection and conditioning. The process was slow, but once underway, its effects were formidable.

A modern city of the Breeders was a sight to behold. Huge, heart-like creatures pumped out nutritious fluids to a network of self-repairing, living conduits. This was their equivalent of a power grid, and it reached every single one of the Breeders’ huge, exoskeletal dwellings; “powering” bioluminescent lights, flickering cephalopod skin-televisions, medicinal sea-squirts and countless other devices that had been bred from living creatures. The advances in biology had risen exponentially, until genetic engineering was completely mastered. Modern Breeders did not even need to use animals; a simple manipulation of cultured tissues and stem-cells could give solutions to any problem at hand.

The mastery of genetics had conquered many obstacles. The yawning ocean depths, as well as the Planet’s few tiny landmasses were now firmly within the Breeders’ grasp. However, they were not contempt with mere planetary dreams. New forms and bizarre creatures were still being developed, in daring attempts to conquer the one realm that was most hostile to life.

Sealed in their living ships, the Breeders wished to return to the stars.

A Breeder huntress on a garden reef. Living tools are an indispensable part of these beings’ daily lives; she manages to breathe underwater through an oxygen-filtering crustacean fitted over her blowhole. She holds a mollusk-derived rifle that shoots out specially-modified fish teeth, and her companion is a brain-augmented fish that has been hardwired to return kills. Buildings made from calcified shells glitter in the background, ablaze with bioluminescence.


Saurosapients (Livestock of the Lizard Herders)

One of humanity’s eventual inheritors was not even human. They came from the reptilian stock that had proliferated during the demise of the Lizard Herders.

Theirs was a true case of a world turned upside down. As the humans degenerated into witless animals, the cold-blooded reptiles prospered in the tropical climate of their planet. Millennia passed and they began to produce increasingly smarter forms, one of which, distantly resembling featherless versions of the predatory dinosaurs of the past, actually crossed over the threshold of sentience and built up a series civilizations.

These fledgling cultures were quick to understand the true origin of the monstrous ruins littering their planet, ruins that until then had been considered natural aberrations or timeless memorabilia of gods. Now, however, they saw the intermingled ruins of the Qu and the Star People for what they really were. It was through this understanding that the biologically unrelated Sauros’ took up the cultural identity of humanity.

In their archaeological efforts, the Sauros began to understand that the animals they used for food and labor were descended from the founders of their very existence. And somewhere in the stars lurked the forces that malformed them, forces greater than the Star People, dark forces that might someday return. The human animals served as a remainder, just as Panderavis had, that if the Saurosapients wanted to assure their continued existence in the cosmos, they had to be watchful.

The pressure of such a reality put their cultures under enormous stress. Some factions turned to made-up religions and remained ignorant under an umbrella of comforting fantasies. Others acknowledged the threats of the galaxy, but reverted to a paranoid rhetoric of conservationism. The galaxy had scared them greatly. Finally, there were those who saw the galactic redoubt and acted to face the odds, however great they might be. Conflicts and even wars were not uncommon between these three factions.

In the end, the centuries-long dispute began to resolve in the progressive factions’ favor. As they expanded their spheres of knowledge, influence and activity, the Saurosapients became as “human” as any other civilization opening up to the galaxy.


Modular People (Descendants of the Colonials)

The blind workings of evolution followed the unlikeliest paths, made use of the most fleeting opportunities. The very existence of the Modular People was testimony to this fact. Their ancestors, the Colonials, would’ve been seen as hopeless cripples by almost any observer; they lacked coherent organs and their existence was limited to carpeting water shores like mats of algae. But as degenerate as they were, the Colonials were resilient survivors, able to hold on to life in the harshest of conditions.

As time passed, they began to organize themselves in differentiated colonies instead of homogenous mats. In the colonies, each human “cell” could perform a singular function and benefit from the union of others. Thus began the great age of organization, during which different colonies competed with each other by developing specialized human-cells that would give them an edge in the struggle for life. Some colonies grew enormous tap-roots that were able to siphon resources from far away. Others abandoned roots altogether and began to move themselves on starfish-like foot segments. Some colonies came up with units equipped with claws and poisons, taking competition to a brand-new, deadly level. Others responded to the threat with armor-plating, or watcher-cells equipped with enormous eyes.

The eventual winner of this Colonial arms race was a sentient colony; organized around hyperspecialized units whose entire purpose was to direct the others. These colonies spread around the planet as they adapted the parts of their rivals to function within themselves. Thus were the Modular People born.

Living in fully-industrialized megalopoli, they came in an indescribable variation of shapes and sizes. Anything from castle-like guardian forests to diminutive, scuttling couriers was a member of the Modular whole. They could combine with each other and split up, or exchange parts as needs presented themselves. The only thing constant in all of their protean existence was their mental and cultural unity.

Due to their biological structure, these people had managed the impossible. They were actually living in a world of peace and utopian equality, where everybody was happy to be parts of greater, united wholes.

A modular colony treats a specialized digester unit with sprays of anti-ulcer medication produced by the medical drone held in its “hands”. Note the differing segments, each of them mutated human beings in themselves.


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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