Friday, August 28, 2020

The Saturn System, Devils, Demons, and the Titan:

The ex-posthumans of the Jupiter system solved their problem in two ways. The first became the engels, emulating a higher godmind piece by piece. The second group chose to sever any possibility of regaining their posthuman selves, and instead became a race of “merely” advanced transhumans. Driven out by their engel kin for what they and their godminds saw as the ultimate sin, they were forced to move to the Saturn system.

They found a realm not unlike the one they had left, if colder. The ruins here were more extensive, without any survivors or remnant godtech that the Jupiter system held. The environments were harsher, but they still could rebuild. The local network of Gates linked moons and stations, except one. Eager to expand, they eventually found a Key to the lost Gate, and a small group passed through.

They never returned, and the Key was lost. For a while, there was confusion. Whatever had happened, must have occurred quickly. Defeating even a small group of transhumans was no laughing matter. 

Then another Gate opened, and they learnt the answer. The lost Gate led to Titan, and there was something in there. Whether native life, an experiment run wild after the Fall, or a perfectly-function godweapon, they didn’t know.

All they knew is that it was hungry, and it wanted out. Most of Titan it seemed had been consumed by it, and so they eventually simply referred to it as “The Titan”. Whether through accident or intent, it had found how to use the Key to link to other Gates in the Saturn system, if only briefly. Each time, it sent though fragments of itself, protoplasmic constructs that mimicked a dozen different DNA samples, and even non-organic components. 

Each was unique, and terrible, and took a toll to put down before they could begin to feed and grow. Any thought of rebuilding a society fell apart under the attacks, and the once-cousins to the engels had to adapt to survive.

In the modern age, the war between demon and devil has raged through all recorded history. The demons, twisted beasts serving some great hidden master, were ravenous, mad, and powerful. But opposing them, the broken remnants of a better age reforged themselves.

Devils share some resemblance to their engel kin, though neither race would appreciate the comparison. Unable to use a godmind to hack their nanoware, devils rely only on its base functions that grants them enhanced regeneration and adaptability. The constant warfare, harsh conditions of the Saturn system, and perhaps even that original sin of selfishness that broke them from any hope of their higher selves, marks the devils.

Each devil is selfish, and pragmatic. They are almost completely amoral, and value individual survival over all else. Like the engels, they do not breed, and each wants to live forever.

They are, however, better than humans, as any devil will tell you. Each devil has a certain train of logic.

  1. I must survive.

  2. The individual survives best with allies.

  3. Devils are better than any other race.

  4. Alliances with other devils are best.

  5. I can’t trust those twisty bastards one nanometer, so we better write down some rules.

The apparent lawfulness and tightly-knit communities of the devils are born from pure self-interest and pragmatism. Each law is argued and enforced strictly, each designed to weld them together into a force capable of defeating demonic incursions.

In addition, the long attrition of war led the devils to another discovery. Repeated attempts at healing the same bodypart caused the interior nanoware to try to reinforce or protect it. Constant stress and wounds were making the devils stronger. From this was born perhaps the most unsettling aspect of their culture to outsiders: ritualised mutilation. A devil that wants talons will have its fingernails ripped off, over and over again for years until they harden and sharpen. This is hardly the most extreme.

The next thing most outsiders know about devils is their deals. Wherever possible, devils try to avoid doing work themselves. They do not use slaves, because that might result in uprisings and violence, but happily use indentured labour. Devils might not be as powerful as engels, but unlike their shining cousins, will share and use godtech with humans for a price. A contract is always upheld by the devil simply as good praxis. Devils are good at long term thinking, and a reputation for dishonesty does not serve them. 

A contract with a devil is sealed by the devil placing a glyph on the other’s body, usually the back of the hand. This glyph is unique to each devil, and contains encoded information about the nature of the contract. When the contract is done, the glyph is removed, and the individual free. However, breaking or running from a contract ensures the glyph will never come off. Any devil can tell a broken contract glyph from an active one, and react to either return the escapee, or discipline them. After all, they’d want the same if they lost an employee.

For those who run far from the Saturn system’s reach, devils also hire bounty hunters. These are the only deals devils make that don’t involve glyphs, simply payment, and so are more popular with the squeamish or intelligent.

Devil enclaves are scattered throughout the moons of the Saturn system, but the largest by far is the Confederacy of Dis. Dis is a series of strongly allied regions along the equatorial ridge of the moon Iapetus. The ridge runs almost completely straight, with some segments being almost 200km long, with some peaks reaching 20km high. The harsh terrain suites the devils, and provides protection against demonic incursions. Isolated fortresses dot random peaks, and tunnels link them to larger townships carved out of mountain tops.

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