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Pterosapiens (Descendants of the Flyers)

The flyersí supercharged hearts had given them an evolutionary winning hand, and they diversified to fill up the heavens. It was only a time before the competition in the skies got too intense, even for their souped-up metabolisms.

Some lineages gave up their wings and returned to the ground, living as differing sorts of predators, herbivores and even swimmers. Their aerial adaptations gave them an edge on the ground and they produced forms of stupendous size and agility. There were wonderful beings, but no sentience came out of the terrestrial sky-beasts. Instead, civilization flowered in the skies. One species, from a line of wading, stork-like predators, evolved a brain that was large enough to imagine and act upon the world. Their feet, already versatile to catch slippery, swamp-dwelling prey, got even more articulate and assumed the role of hands. As a compensation they lost some of their aerial streamlining, but what they could not do with their bodies, they were more than able to make up with their minds.

Their power of flight made the Pterosapiens a global folk, before they could invent nations and borders. With such an inherent ease of travel, ideas and individuals diffused too fast for social differences to ossify. Acting with a planetary awareness, they farmed their gigantic, terrestrial relatives, raised cities of perches and fluting towers, harnessed the atom and began to gaze up to the stars, without having to compensate (too much) from the average individualís welfare, and without dividing up into quarrelsome factions.

As egalitarian as their life seemed, they paid a stunting, inevitable price. Their hearts, even in their boosted state, had trouble supporting their power of flight and grotesquely large brains at the same time. As a consequence, they had an ephemeral lifespan. A Pterosapien was sexually mature at two, middle-aged by sixteen and usually dead by twenty-three years of our time. This grim cycle caused them to appreciate every moment of their existence dearly, and they pondered upon it with feverish intensity. A shelf of scrolls by Pterosapien philosophers wouldíve been the envy of every human library. In their cities, life blazed away with unreal speed, rushing past to meet fleeting deadlines.

As a species, the angelic flyers were victims of heart disease.

A Pterosapien poses by the bizarre buildings of a seaside resort. At ten days long, this will be the only holiday in her ephemeral life.


Asymmetric People (Descendants of the Lopsiders)

Although contorted by gravity, the Lopsiders managed to regain their sentience, and develop a civilization in a short few million years. Squat, pancake-like buildings spread all over their planet. These constructs looked like squashed bunkers, and they were never more than a few meters high. They did not seem like much, but such structures were entrances to underground homes, schools, hospitals, temples, universities but also embassies, prisons, asylums, command centers and arsenals. They lived strange lives, but the Lopsiders were human in all of their virtues and evils. Thus, it was only natural for them to expand outwards and look for new frontiers to colonize. Fortunately, their solar system harbored other planets, similar to the Lopsider homeworld in almost all respects, all respects except gravity. But they werenít willing to let such trivial details stop them.

Throughout their history, humans had always risked changing themselves to preserve their future. It was a risky gamble, but it had paid off since the days of the Martian-Americans. But reengineering the flattened Lopsider body for a benign gravity was a monumental task indeed. Suffice it say that the experiments took millennia to achieve even limited success. After countless attempts, the Asymmetric People were born, or rather made. Their bodies were changed considerably; what had been shovel-like toes to slither through the high-gravity dirt had become centipedal legs, and the singular, grasping hand was elongated to an extreme degree. Their grotesque faces had been inverted and turned upside-down after reverting from a flounder-like existence. Twisted as they were, members of this new race enjoyed tremendous advantages over their flattened forefathers.

Their social development also parallelled that of the bygone Martian-Americans. Once again there was a golden age, followed by increasing tensions and interplanetary war. But unlike the Martians, the Asymmetrics ruthlessly exterminated their parent race and went on to rule the solar system alone. On the way, they stumbled across the remains of the Qu and the Star People and advanced immensely. Triumphant on their own realm, they turned to the heavens for further exploits.

An Asymmetric nobleman poses nude to reveal his bizarre anatomy. Normally, these creatures dress up in elaborate garments that resemble heaps of interconnected, enlarged stockings.


Symbiotes (Descendants of the Parasites)

As time passed, the relationships between the parasites and their hosts got connected to such a degree that it began to involve a co-operation of the individuals. These were no longer single-sided relationships; in exchange for the hostsí nutritious blood, the parasites offered their heightened senses as early warning against predators and other hazards.

A great ďarms raceĒ of symbiotic relationships thus commenced. Certain Ďparasitesí offered their hosts larger eyes, others sharper senses of smell, hearing or even additional defensive weapons in the shape of venomous saliva, malodorant sprays or an extra bite. The hosts returned the favor with longer running legs, stronger bodies, and specialized, ergonomic nesting sites rich in blood vessels and covered in insulating fur. Different complexes of parasite and host species evolved, compatible only amongst themselves.

The development of such creatures was in a way reminiscent of the great Modular colonies, thriving on their own world light-years away. But unlike the Modulars, the components of the Symbiotes belonged to different species, instead of modified variations of the same basic organism. In eventuality, both relationships led to the same point: Sentience.

In the secluded forests of a certain continent, a new parasitic species developed. They did not have the ballistic poison sprays, infectious stings or the grossly hypertrophied arm-claws of their relatives. Instead, these parasites offered a simpler bargain; an ability to think in return of total submission. Initially this relationship was more like a horse and its rider, but after a few hundred thousand years the Symbiotes could manipulate their hosts like puppets through a combination of tactile and olfactory signals.

A few more millennia and these combined beings developed an order not unlike our own, complete with countries, politics and even war, albeit reduced in the newly globalizing world-culture. In this age technology filled most functions of the hosts, but a thriving husbandry of these creatures still remained due to tradition and simple efficiency. An average Symbiote would begin the day on his business host, and move onto a more comfortable domestic one when he returned home after work.

And perhaps, on the olfactory television, he would smell news of the excavations of the million-year-old Qu ruins, of the marvelous discoveries salvaged from the Star Men wrecks, or of the enormous radio arrays that rose everywhere to listen to the stars.

It was a pattern that was being repeated all over.

A Symbiote poses on one of his several hosts. In the background can be seen some of their rural housing, with man-sized doors for the mindless hosts, and the smaller holes for their intelligent patrons.


Sail People (Descendants of the Finger Fishers)

The Finger Fishers were already among the most divergent of the post-human races. With harpoon-like digits and almost crocodilian muzzles, they looked nothing like their parental stock. But even this form would look conservative to their sentient descendants. With many small, scattered islands, isolated sub-continents and differentiated niches, their homeworld was an evolutionary cauldron where isolated members of certain species could, under the right circumstances, evolve into wildly different forms. This condition was similar to the island-realms of Madagascar, Galapagos, or Hawaii on old Earth, except that this time, it was on a global scale.

Some descendants of the Fishers, trapped on lonely islands, grew smaller and developed their fishing claws into graceful wings. Others took directly to the sea and became the analogues of whales, dolphins and mosasaurs. Within this evolutionary bubbling, one particular lineage gave rise to the ancestral Sail People.

They too elongated their fingers into wings, but these were not used for flight. Instead, they became sails that drove them effortlessly across the oceans. With fingers turned into sails, they used their mouths and extended tongues to catch their pelagic prey. These organs eventually assumed the role of the Fishersí long atrophied, dexterous hands. The need to better navigate the endless seas put an inevitable pressure on their memories, and the Sailorsí brains grew correspondingly. It was only a matter of time until one of these navigators became smart enough to think.

Even when sentient, the Sail People still needed a long time to achieve any sort of social stability. Their scattered world made for a tremendous diversity of cultures, which competed and fought just as resiliently. Across generations, untold flotillas of tribal warriors battled each other in epoch-spanning, pointless conflicts. Nomadic warriors and pirate societies inevitably came into being, prolonging the uncontrollable cycle of violence.

Only when a certain warrior tribe developed warfare on an industrial scale, and the state society needed to support it, and then, only when this notion of modernity gave rise to an idea of peace did the Sail People finally manage to unify. Generations of blood had stained the oceans for far too long.

A Sailor goes hunting with his harpoon-wielding companion in the background. Extremely violent by nature, these people frequently resort to savage hunting campaigns to quell their bloodlust in modern life. Notice their tongue-derived Ďhands,í and the accompanying flying creature, actually one of the Sail Peoplesí distant cousins.


Satyriacs (Descendants of the Hedonists)

Their pleasure-drenched existence, locked between their static paradise world and their inherently slow pace of evolution, seemed immune to change. Perhaps this was true for a million years or so. But on larger scales, complete stasis was a fable.

During a particular era, geologic upheavals threw up huge masses of land over the shallow oceans of their world. The Hedonists, until then trapped on a singular island no bigger than todayís Iceland, were not late to colonize these new pastures. This was more of a necessary exodus, since the events that raised the new lands had also thrown up enormous clouds of ash that smothered the atmosphere and blocked out the sun. Their innocence finally spoilt, most of the Hedonists died out, unable to adapt. The only survivors were fast-breeding freaks who had abandoned the reproductive quirks of their ancestors. It was these forms that colonized the newborn continent and gave rise to a multitude of species which included the Satyriacs, sentient heirs to the Hedonists.

These beings resembled their ancestors to a great degree, except that they now sported enormous ďtailsĒ; boneless organs of balance woven out of extended pelvic muscles and fat. Along this appendage, their entire bodies were re-oriented in horizontal, almost dinosaurian postures. Although they had abandoned the frantic reproductive strategies of their ancestors, their social lives still retained a delightful tint of casual promiscuity.

The Satyriac civilization was quick to establish itself globally, for even with the additional landmasses, the terrestrial domain of their world remained no larger than Australia. For a while three and then two land empires competed each other, before dissolving into a myriad smaller nations and finally re-unifying into a coherent world order. From this point on, the Satyriac world once again became a Valhalla of pleasure, with festivals, concerts and ritualized orgies punctuating every working week. This time, however, it could all be savored by true intelligence.

Satyriac audience goes wild as the performer hits the climax of his song. Such events are an everyday part of the Satyriac life.


Bug Facers (Descendants of the Insectophagi)

Over time, their insectivorous ancestors came to resemble their prey. Hardened, leathery faceplates, once used for defense against stings and bites, ossified and became integrated into the jaw structure. Their hands and feet, with reduced numbers of fingers and toes, developed into pincer-like affairs. Even their metabolism reverted partially into ectothermy in the balmy, lazy climate of their planet.

But it was none of those adaptations that gave them the edge in survival. Simply put, a congenital defect allowed them to regain their sentience. Even after the smothering by the Qu, the genes of the Star People remained dormant in their cells. Through pure coincidence, one lineage of the Insectophagi developed an atavistic throwback, resulting in larger brains. Which just happened to be useful in cracking open insect nests with crude stone tools.

It was easy ride from there on. Although millennia-long in itself, the development from stone ax to spaceship was an eyeblink in geological time. Like many other species, the Bug Facers passed through consecutive cycles as agrarian (in their case hive-farming) empires, colonial endeavors, industrialization, massive world wars and finally, globalized world-states. But there was one thing that set their development apart from all other post-human species.

They faced another alien invasion.

History does not record much about the invaders, except that unlike the Qu, theirs was a singular effort and it was beaten off in an intense cycle of orbital and terrestrial wars. Although vanquished, the invaders did succeed in leaving behind their traces. They introduced their own flora and fauna, which flourished on the Bug Facer home planet long after they departed. More importantly, they imbibed the poor Bug Facers with a pathological inter-species xenophobia, to the point that they were fearful even of their post-human cousins on other stars.

Through an ironic twist of fate, their fears would be more than justified, though not just yet. The Bug Facers still had time.

A Bug Face celebrity, arguably the most beautiful girl on their planet, poses before a coastal village. In the distance can be seen gasbag-like tree creatures, relics left over from the mysterious alien invaders.


Asteromorphs (Descendants of the Spacers)

Initially refugees, the Spacers were quick to master the vastness of interstellar space. Their isolated space arks joined together and multiplied to form a gigantic, interlocked artifact that was large enough to contain entire worlds. But no planets lay inside the Asteromorph capital; only cavernous, gravity-free bubbles where the inhabitants could finally develop to their fullest.

Freed from the constraints of weight, their bodies grew spindly and insectile, with individual digits extending into multitudes of thin, versatile limbs. Other than these, the only developed organs were their derived jet sphincters; which went on to become the principal means of locomotion. But above all were their brains, their bulging, swollen brains.

With no hindrance from gravity, the human brain could grow into unprecedented sizes. Each generation devised experiments that produced offspring with greater cranial capacity, giving rise to beings who went through their everyday lives thinking in concepts and structures scarcely comprehensible to people of today. The physiological limitations of the human mind had been long since debated. Now, it was established that these limits were indeed real, and individuals who could break them would likewise conquer new grounds in philosophy, art and science. Everything changed.

Yet some aspects of humanity, such as the basic desire to expand, remained. To this end the Asteromorphs built great fleets of globular sub-arks and spread their influence across the heavens, into every stellar cluster and every star system. Within less than a thousand years, the galaxy was straddled by a new and far more alien Empire of Man.

Strangely enough, its dominion included none of the newly emerging post-human species, for its masters had completely lost interest in planets; those stunting, gravity-chained balls of dirt and ice. The newborn arks settled comfortably in the outer rims of star systems, quietly observing the lives of their struggling relatives.

For the first time in history, there were actual Gods in the myriad human skies. They were silent and werenít even noticed for most of the time, but their watchfulness was ultimately going to pay off.


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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