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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Mappae Solis: Habitats and the Undead

There are many space-born habitats in the solar system that the Gates can reach, ranging from small zero-G satellites to great Stanford tori and O'Neill cylinders. However, the Gates rarely link to them, as the local network does not consider them in its attempts to send travellers to their desired location. Gate Keys can give direct access to these places, but a common trick used by adventurers is to carry a fragment of a Key.

Although rare, they are far more common than intact Keys, and their partial encoding usually serves to confuse a Gate enough to send travellers onwards to strange new locales. High-security installations need their own Key, but many others are accessible this way. 
To travelling adventurers, habitats seem like strange planes or pocket realms with their own rules. Some seem similar to the fields they know, others seem artificial, and many can be seen to literally dwell within the great void. 

They can be hospitable or hostile, have their own lifeforms, and sometimes, unlife.

The undead are quite different from all the other races. They are rare, hidden away in the lost and forgotten places of the worlds, and have no linked or unifying society. Many people do not even believe they exist, for they are rarely seen by any other than the most brave and fool-hardy adventurers.
The undead share a kinship to the engels and the devils. But whereas the original beings of the Jupiter system were able to use their combined power and intellect to survive the fall, even if in a much diminished state, the post-humans scattered through the rest of the system were not so lucky.
In most cases they simply died. The ones who were on planets or in populous areas died almost instantly as the Fall consumed them. It was only in isolated outposts and habitats, where the full strike echoed before it hit, that some posthumans survived.

Or rather, did not completely die. Most of them indeed burned, energy melting their brains, overloading implants, consuming the world around them as well as their own ascended minds. But the merest scraps remained, and eventually their dormant nanoware re-awoke. Bereft of any other instruction, the nanoware attempted to fulfil its primary programming: preserve the life of the host.
In most cases what results is little more than an animate corpse. Although returned to almost full life by the regenerative powers of their nanoware, the brains of these creatures could only be given the facsimile of life. The people they once were are gone, and only the basest instincts flicker within a still-ruined skull. The nanoware’s attempts to fix the unfixable can also distort the body, creating a wide array of odd visual forms and features.

Most undead, even these mindless zombies, are not automatically hostile. They simply resemble strange deformed corpses, tend to occupy ruined or otherwise disturbing and creepy habitats, and tend to move towards living beings with arms outstretched while making snarling and gurgling noises in an attempt to communicate or get help. This is not to say there is intelligence in them, merely that they are lost and alone, and they see someone else. This usually leads to people freaking out and attacking them, or even in slightly less violent encounters, acting in ways that confuse and upset the undead. They almost always react when threatened automatically, with the rudimentary wetware and nanoware taking over for an incapacitated brain to defend, sometimes with extreme prejudice.
Some installations may also have a remnant AI still functioning in some fashion, usually a security system too stupid to die. This system may conscript any remaining hardware that works to it in order to defend the installation, and will include the zombie host in this number.

Source: Kory Cromie

Perhaps the most tragic of the undead though, are the lichs. These are the rare undead who, through either rank, circumstance, or force of will, managed to in some small way fend off the blow of the fall. As a result they merely lost most of their higher capacity for thought, and were only partially killed. Their nanoware still had to revive them like the others, but remnant structures within their brain remained for the nanoware to build on. Lichs are closer to a halfway point between devils and angels in terms of intelligence and ability, but their minds are almost empty. They have an intellect that is beyond human, inside a mind with no memories of self, or the past, which has most likely been alone in the dark for ten thousand years. It goes without saying that most lichs are irreversibly insane. Those who have managed to either keep or regain some sense of self are usually obsessed strongly with something of import to them. This is either someone from their past, a duty they had, or an item. Occasionally, this holds the key to pacifying a lich.

Lichs are smarter than most creatures, but broken. They make confusing mistakes, leave open wide gaps in their defences, and then on occasion, lay brilliant traps and outmanoeuvre people fluidly. The not-quite-destroyed implants in their skull also give them access to minimal nanoware functions, in much the same way an engel’s godmind does. Unlike an engel however, who gains a selection of carefully prepared abilities, lich’s often have a small handful of powers they simply cannot forget, and can use more more fluidly and powerfully than an engel.

Lichs are almost always in charge or in the centre of particularly dangerous or important installations, often surrounded by a horde of zombies, and maybe even with some remnant godtech still working. Although, like their lesser kin, they are not automatically hostile, they are insane, in pain, in fear, and will not hesitate to defend themselves and their home against even a perceived threat.

Source: Vlad Marica

1 comment:

  1. Your post-scifi solar system setting continues to be amazing! I've been impressed by every post about it and always want more!