Thursday, April 3, 2014

Brother to Dragons

by David Lewis Johnson
The kuath are a near baseline human people in the territory of the Vokun Empire. The kuath live at an essential neolithic level in coastal settlements. What is most interesting about them is the symbiotic relationship they have with marine invertebrate collective intelligences that the kuath know as Naga Ma--Dragon Mothers.

Vokun probes had suggested a primitive planet with little to offer beyond resources to be stripped away. When their attempts to move the small native population to reservations was resisted by humanoid monsters rising out of the seas, they realized their was something more going on. Destructive scanning of the brains of captive kuath revealed the existence of the Dragon Mothers.

Vokun submarine attacks proved unable to bring the Dragon Mothers to heel. Only the threat of mass driver bombardment finally effected their surrender. The terms of their capitulation was to be paid in slave warriors: bio-armored soldiers.

Appearance & Biology: The kuath are dark-skinned, typically dark-haired, humans with endosymbiotic projections of the Dragon Mothers. (Among other places, these appear to stimulate areas of the brain associated with religious awe.)

The Dragon Mothers themselves are self-organizing colonies (perhaps superorganisms) of single cellular organisms capable of differentiating into a variety of forms. Colonies may extend for kilometers. Their intelligence is vast, but their thought "slower" than humans', and alien. There are numerous "factories" within their mass where they experiment with independent drones and probes of various morphologies.

Place in the Empire: The kuath serve as shock troops for the vokun. The Dragon Mothers found adolescents were best both psychologically and neurologically for serving as soldiers in their armored suits. (The Dragon Mothers appear to care for the kuath deeply, if in an alien way, but do not conceptualize human life as much different than their other creations, except that human's are more independent and therefore interesting.) They reluctantly agreed to provide a quota of soldiers to the vokun to save their world and synthesized a mix of psychoative chemicals for the kuath, both to ensure they fulfilled their role and to minimize their physical and psychological suffering.

Stats: Kuath have ability scores in the human range. Their bio-armor is equivalent to assault armor, but can only be used as a vacuum suit for up to 2 hours, unless specially modified (in which case it increases to 6). The bio-armor requires a dip in a special nutrient bath for at least 2 hours out of every 24 to be at maximum efficiency.


Francis Lee said...

I really like the story behind these, very usable.

John Till said...

They feel very original, with a hint of some of the classic creations of SF, such as the Silurians and the Pattern Jugglers.

Trey said...

Thanks guys!

@John - While there's probably a stew of things feeding into this (including the things you mention), what's was most on my mind was the description of a marine biocomputer in (I beleive) Diaspora and the pentapods from 2300AD.

garrisonjames said...

Cool. These would make a perfect foil or rival culture for the Tcho-Tchoids. Or not. Actually, I prefer these Kuath...

Chris C. said...

I really like the "superorganism" idea.