Siccaria 2

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

The planet Siccaria (Zazhar III) was terraformed (as has been
previously told) in that time that would be known on Earth someday as
the Permian. It was always a borderline-candidate for terraformation,
even by the standards of the Eldren, who undertook the project to some
degree simply as an experiment in planetology.

Their efforts succeeded in transforming a world that was well on its
way to becoming a mild version of Venus into a very hot version of
Terra. It was also on the dry side, for a terraformed world, with
broad but shallow seas holding far less water than the vast oceans of
worlds such as Earth or Eosia. The climate was moderated and sustained
by a biosphere, which maintained Siccaria _just_ inside a stability
envelope. The 'infra-sinks' around the rotational poles drained off
just enough excess heat to make the planet a viable biological
environment.

The Eldren had plans to 'fine-tune' their work on Siccaria, making it
more stable and more clement, but at just about that time, NEMESIS
launched its great assault that brought about the end-Permian
extinctions all over the Greater Milky Way. This plus the aftermath of
that struggle kept the Eldren fully occupied for millions of years, and
Siccaria was pushed to the side-lines. Ironically, one of the reasons
Siccaria was shuffled down the priority queue was that it was one of
the handful of worlds NEMESIS entirely overlooked in its great assault.
The local biosphere came through the Permian Extinction untouched.

Despite the fact that Siccaria's biosphere was perpetually on the edge
of the stability envelope, it endured with remarkable tenacity for a
very, very long time. However, two things worked against that
stability.

One was the slow, steady increase in energy output of Zazhar, which
grew more intense with time in the natural evolution of Main Sequence
stars. This tended to make Siccaria hotter, and to place greater and
greater strain on the biospheric ability to moderate the climate. The
other was the half-terraformation of the planet. It lacked many of the
features of fully-transformed worlds, especially in its tectonic
regime.

As Zazhar grew hotter, Siccaria began to lose small but steadily
increasing water to space by photodissociation. Siccaria did not have
any large excess of water to spare. Bit by bit, over millions of
years, the shallow seas began to evaporate, and the total planetary
water budget began to fall.

The biosphere strained to adapt, and succeeded for a long long time,
but it was fundamentally a losing struggle. Around the year 50,000,000
BC, give or take a few hundred millennia, some critical point was
passed and the rate of environmental collapse began to accelerate
sharply. The shallow seas began to evaporate rapidly, leaving vast
salt plains in their wake. The water vapor content in the atmosphere
rose sharply, producing a greenhouse effect that further raised the
temperature. Siccaria was perilously close to a runaway greenhouse
which would have left the planet in something like its original natural
state: a 'mild Venus'.

It was around the year 20,000,000 BC that the Eldren finally took
notice of how close their experiment here was to total collapse.
However, it was still a low priority, and the handful of Familiar
Eldren assigned to deal with it took something of a brute-force
approach, increasing the efficiency of the polar 'infra-sinks' to
reduce the planetary average temperature, and adjusting the atmospheric
composition just a bit. It worked, in that it stopped the runaway
temperature increase, and caused the remaining seas of the planet to
mostly cease evaporating.

After that, Siccaria was mostly ignored by the Eldren for quiet some
time, which proved to be unfortunate for the planet, because the 'quick
and dirty' adjustments proved to be a little _too_ quick and dirty.
The infra-sinks had been made a little _too_ efficient, the poles were
colder than was ideal for the situation. Without a single planetary
ocean like that of Earth or Eosia, heat-flow was inefficient, so the
equator remained hotter than the Eldren had planned, the poles colder.
The net effect was that water began to accumulate at the poles in the
form of ice.

As ice began to accumulate at the poles, the increased albedo added to
the polar cooling. Meanwhile, the hotter-than-intended low-latitude
temperatures encouraged evaporation, accelerating the transfer of water
from the low-latitudes to the growing polar icecaps. Heat transfer was
mediated primarily by the atmosphere and crustal conduction, since
ocean currents were non-existent.

As the seas dried up, the continents became barren. Rain slowed, and
finally essentially stopped. The formerly fertile continental
highlands became trackless, eroded desert. The former seabeds retained
some moisture, but much of the land area that had been seabed was now a
vast stretch of salt plain or basalt. However, erosion began to
transfer soil from the highlands into the new lowland plains, gradually
producing regions where the remaining moisture and the new soil could
sustain a thin but viable biota. Siccaria, which had escaped the
Permian Extinction ages earlier, now experienced a comparable mass
extinction as the local life adjusted to the radically transformed
planet.

The surviving life forms adapted to a dry new existence. Plants
developed the ability to store water with amazing efficiency. Animals
evolved capable of finding water in the most obscure places.
Eventually, too, the planet reached a new state of semi-equilibrium.
The remaining seas (really huge highly saline lakes) stabilized, and an
oscillating cycle emerged in which the climate shifted back a warmer,
slightly wetter state in which some of the polar ice melted, and the
deeper dry seabeds partly refilled, and a colder, drier state in which
the water again gathered at the poles as ice and permafrost. [1][2]

So matters stood around ~73,000 BC.

Shermanlee


[1] Though it seems counterintuitive that a planet always rather hotter
than Earth was dry because it was not warm enough, but Siccaria was a
peculiar special case because of the Eldren manipulations.

[2] The cycle derived from subtleties in the 'infra-sinks' around the
poles, and from the combination of variations in Siccaria's orbit,
Zazhar's intensity (it was very slightly variable over long periods),
and a few other factors too.
12 answers Last reply
More about siccaria
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    >
    > The surviving life forms adapted to a dry new existence. Plants
    > developed the ability to store water with amazing efficiency.
    Animals
    > evolved capable of finding water in the most obscure places.
    > Eventually, too, the planet reached a new state of semi-equilibrium.
    > The remaining seas (really huge highly saline lakes) stabilized, and
    an
    > oscillating cycle emerged in which the climate shifted back a warmer,
    > slightly wetter state in which some of the polar ice melted, and the
    > deeper dry seabeds partly refilled, and a colder, drier state in
    which
    > the water again gathered at the poles as ice and permafrost. [1][2]
    >
    > So matters stood around ~73,000 BC.
    >
    > Shermanlee

    It so happened that in that period, Siccaria was in one of its 'warm,
    wet' phases. The cyclic oscillation between warm and cool mainly
    affected the polar regions, the lower latitudes changed less,
    temperature wise. The ice buildup at the poles was reduced, and some
    of the lowlands were underwater again. The shallow seas so produced
    were only a shadow of what had existed in Siccaria's ancient past, but
    they did make for a relatively clement environment compared to the 'dry
    phase'. There was even some rainfall in some areas, and rivers flowed
    into the lowland seas.

    It was at this point in history that the Familiar Eldren were
    evacuating the newly-discovered Homosentients from their Terran
    homeland to the new colonies, and it was at this point that the
    interference from a Rival faction of Eldren led to the disastrous final
    stage of that effort. What had been intended to be a carefully planned
    resettlement went totally wrong, and the Familiar Eldren found
    themselves scrambling to deposit their stasis-bound involuntary
    passengers anywhere they could that could support life at all.

    One such stasis-sphere came to rest on Siccaria. It was meant to be a
    temporary expedient while the Familiar Eldren regained control of the
    entire debacle, but when it was over, the Watcher and some of the other
    leaders of the Familiar Eldren were trapped in semi-consciousness on
    Earth, along with the Rival and a few of its associates, and all the
    rest of the squabbling Eldren had been commanded by a Celestial Eldren
    to cease and desist their struggle and to stand down.

    Thus, the Homosentients who had been deposited on Siccaria remained
    there.

    They had been deposited on one of the most clement places on Siccaria,
    near the equator on the shores of a shallow sea, where several rivers
    converged. To the immediate east, the land rose steadily toward a
    former continental highland, providing a topographical rise that caused
    water evaporating from the shallow sea to their west to fall as rain.

    The stasis-globe that came to rest on Siccaria contained several
    species, including _H. sapiens_. However, unusually for a
    mixed-species colony, _H. sapiens started out as a small percentage of
    the total, four other species were also present, all of them in greater
    numbers than the few hundred _H. sapiens_.

    Just as was happening on Eosia, from the POV of the new 'colonists', it
    was as if one moment they had been in their familiar world on Earth, in
    places scattered across Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in the blink of
    an eye they found themselves...elsewhere.


    The magnitude of the change is hard to convey, for people of a TL0
    background. Lacking the background to conceive of 'other' worlds, all
    they could perceive was that 'the' world had transformed around them.
    The air tasted different, the soil and the wind were different, the
    waters tasted different, it was hot in a way Earth never was. Where
    the sky had been blue, now it was bluish-green, with a faint metallic
    shimmer at times. [1]

    Altogether, perhaps 50,000 people were brought to Siccaria in that
    stasis sphere. In the first few nightmarish years, over half of them
    died. Siccaria, even in its 'warm wet' phase was a far less welcoming
    world than Eosia, especially at TL0. Enough did survive, however, to
    establish a viable breeding pool for each species, and by 200 Terran
    years after their arrival, they had grown to a population of 100,000.

    Over the course of the next 10,000 Terran years, the new arrivals
    reproduced, their population growing relatively slowly (even the
    humans) because of the harsh environment and limited resources of food
    and water. They adapted to the local environments, and by ~60,000 BC
    they had begun to spread across the lowlands of Siccaria. By ~50,000
    BC, there were Homosentients living, and sometimes thriving, across the
    lowlands between 30 degrees N and 35 degrees S latitude, and a smaller
    population north and south of those lines. [2]

    A long period of near-stability in social, technological, and cultural
    matters set in, until about ~32,000 BC. This was the period when the
    Eosian Hegemony was enjoying its 'golden age', spreading from star to
    star and achieving an existence literally incomprehensible to the
    people of Siccaria at that time, who were at TL0. That incomprehension
    hardly mattered, however, since the Zazhar System was far beyond the
    further edges of the spaces the Hegemony explored.

    At just about the time that Koalidi Byth-Kormadois was creating his
    race of monsters on Maladara, the first TL1 culture arose on Siccaria,
    around the shores of the R'kartyan Sea. Over the next 2000 Terran
    years, this culture became the seed of a group of cultures, much like
    ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia on Earth would, far later. By ~30,000 BC,
    the Siccarians had developed a regional culture at TL3, verging on TL4.
    With such a technical/industrial edge, these cultures naturally began
    to expand across Siccaria, displacing and/or absorbing more primitive
    peoples as they did.

    By ~29,000 BC, a global culture was emerging on Siccaria. The societal
    tech level was about TL6, at least for some of the Siccarians.

    The culture that emerged as dominant was not a human one.

    The species that controlled the most advanced culture on Siccaria would
    come to be known to Terrans, far later, as _Homo siccaris_, named for
    the planet on which they were discovered. Originally, tens of
    thousands of years earlier, the major breeding population of _H.
    siccaris_ had lived in the hot desert regions of Eurasia and Africa,
    and this had given them a head start on Siccaria. The vagaries of
    cultural evolution on Siccaria led to each species (as a rule) forming
    its own set of cultures. They certainly interacted, in war and peace,
    they certainly traded, but they didn't merge into single cultures until
    very late, and even then a strong species-based sense of separation was
    retained. [3]

    The _H. siccaris_ society was TL6, the subordinate cultures of the
    other races tended to be TL5 at that time. One of the great advantages
    of the _H. siccaris_ was that they unified, as a species, while their
    fellow species were still engaged in fratricidal struggles. The _H.
    siccaris_ were able to hang onto this sense of species-wide unity for
    ages, it became ingrained into their psyches.

    None too soon did the new technological civilization emerge on
    Siccaria, because luck was running against the Siccarians. It so
    happened that the Eldren had deposited their ancestors on Siccaria near
    the end of the 'warm wet' phase. At the time of their arrival, the
    planet was already well along the way toward the 'cold dry' stage, and
    that tendency was accelerating throughout the time since the arrival.

    Now it was becoming clear to those who studied the planet that the
    retreat of the seas and the growth of the polar ice was only going to
    continue, and indeed accelerate. A critical point was approaching,
    according to their models, at which the process would accelerate, and
    much of the vast lowland of Siccaria would desiccate. The models
    suggested that it might be as long as 100,000 to 500,000 Terran yeas
    before the process began to reverse.

    Already, lands that had been steppe or dry grassland (there were
    grasses on Siccaria, introduced by the Eldren on a whim) only centuries
    earlier were changing. The characteristic terrain of the lowlands far
    from the seas was advancing toward the seashores, and the seas were
    retreating slowly but steadily. Grasses were replaced by the dry-land
    plants that throve during the dry phase. The always small woodlands
    were turning into grassland.

    By ~28,500 BC, the _H. siccaris_ had achieved a full TL9 tech level,
    and had sent manned expeditions through most of the Zazhar System.
    They had sent ships all the way to Oceanus, discovering to their shock
    the vast rich oceanic biosphere present there. With that discovery
    came the shock that clearly related species were to be found on the
    separate worlds. The common biochemical and cellular basis of life on
    both worlds presented the usual shock for the bioscientists of the
    Siccarians.

    The major problem facing the Siccarians never changed, though. Their
    world was dying. They did have a theoretically habitable world
    available in their star system to voyage to, but Oceanus was clearly
    ill-suited to maintaining a technical civilization, lacking any dry
    land. Coming as they did from a world that was mostly dry land (even
    at the height of the 'warm wet' phase), it seemed even more forbidding.

    Eventually, a plan emerged to stave off disaster as the planet moved
    toward the 'cold dry' phase. It involved the greatest single
    coordinated mega-engineering project in Siccarian history. Indeed, it
    would prove to be one of the greatest planetary engineering projects
    ever undertaken by Homosentients, though they had no idea that there
    were other Homosentients in the Galaxy.

    The project required the bulk of the attention, resources, technical
    skill, and labor that the _H. siccaris_ civilization could spare, and
    then some. At times, the society was strained near the breaking point
    by its requirements, but the work got done. Over the course of a
    period of nearly 3,000 Terran years, the great canal system that would
    one day fascinate the Oceanans was designed and implemented.

    It was far more, of course, than just a network of gravity-powered
    channels for water. It was a world-wide and very sophisticated system,
    designed to be as robust as the designers knew how to make it. Deep
    core taps were created to draw on geothermal heat to melt the ice at
    the poles, (in addition to the normal spring/summer melting brought on
    by Siccaria's axial tilt). They could have used nuclear power, or
    solar power, but geothermal power was regarded as more reliable on the
    long term, requiring the least maintenance.

    The canals were not mere channels. They were lined with a specially
    made synthetic material, both incredibly durable, and highly porous.
    Nanomachines were used to alter the rock and soil around the canals on
    either side and to some depth, to maximize the efficiency of the
    aquifers they were creating. Vast settling pools were designed into
    the system to keep sedimentation under control.

    Constructed periodically along the edges of the major canals were
    vapor-condensers, machines which captured water vapor from the air and
    returned it to the canal. These played a major role in keep
    evaporation from draining the water from the canals before it reached
    the lower latitudes. These machines were powered mostly by solar
    power, sometimes by geothermal power, occasionally by the force of the
    water flowing in the canals through hydrogenerators. Nuclear fission,
    usually the mainstay of high TL societies, was avoided where possible,
    because for all its advantages on most scales, it required too much
    maintenance and too much refueling on a scale of centuries and
    millennia.

    The system was designed not to merely send water flooding down the
    canals, but to create saturated aquifers along the length of the
    canals, with the canals replenishing only the water lost, rather than
    refilling the entire aquifer year after year. A significant percentage
    of the water that would otherwise have remained frozen at the poles was
    to be transferred to the new artificial aquifers. Calculations showed
    that it would take many years for the canals to 'charge' the aquifers,
    but if all went well they would then only have to replenish losses.

    Massive programs of genetic engineering were used to modify various
    plant forms for various roles in the project. Plants were bread that
    would hold soil in place against erosive winds, that would trap water
    in the soil and restrain evaporation, that would actually store water
    in hollows in their structures.

    Where possible, always with an eye for robustness and minimum
    maintenance, the Canal Makers designed their canals to operate from the
    force of gravity alone. In places, though, where water _had_ to be
    sent uphill, pumping stations were installed. In each case, robustness
    was the ruling design consideration. Geothermal power was the
    preferred source of energy, being nearly inexhaustible and relatively
    simple to implement (at TL9/10, anyway). Where that was not workable,
    solar power was the next preferred
    choice. Sometimes wind power was
    useful. In a few cases, they had to fall back on fission, and hope for
    the best. [4]

    MORE LATER.

    Shermanlee


    [1] That occasional 'metallic' look to the sky had a specific reason
    behind it, as we shall see.

    [2] It so happened that most of the lowest of the lowlands were in the
    equatorial zone, so that when the 'warm wet' phase began, that is
    where the seas reformed and conditions were most clement.

    [3] This was not a universal pattern. On many worlds, societies
    emerged where the various sp
    ecies intermixed freely.

    [4] Siccaria was rich in fissionables, and had received more than the
    usual share of potassium-40 during its formation. This meant that it
    was geologically active, and geothermal power sources were quite viable
    in many regions.
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Johnny1a wrote:

    >
    > By ~28,500 BC, the _H. siccaris_ had achieved a full TL9 tech level,
    > and had sent manned expeditions through most of the Zazhar System.

    Slight error correction, that should be 27,000 BC.
  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Johnny1a wrote:
    > >
    >
    > Where possible, always with an eye for robustness and minimum
    > maintenance, the Canal Makers designed their canals to operate from
    the
    > force of gravity alone. In places, though, where water _had_ to be
    > sent uphill, pumping stations were installed. In each case,
    robustness
    > was the ruling design consideration. Geothermal power was the
    > preferred source of energy, being nearly inexhaustible and relatively
    > simple to implement (at TL9/10, anyway). Where that was not
    workable,
    > solar power was the next preferred
    > choice. Sometimes wind power was
    > useful. In a few cases, they had to fall back on fission, and hope
    for
    > the best. [4]
    >
    > MORE LATER.
    >
    > Shermanlee

    There was no one single 'activation day' for the system, of course.
    The core of the network was operating long before the outskirts of it
    were completed, and even after the basic canal network was up and
    running, there were countless secondary waterways to excavate and
    prepare. Since the work involved altering the soil substructures and
    producing enormous amounts of synthetics for linings, it was inherently
    slow work.

    As the new artificial aquifers filled, life began to spread up and down
    the length of the enormous Grand Canals. The new aquifers were tens of
    miles wide, sometimes more, and the altered soil could store water to a
    considerable depth. Once the aquifers were fully 'charged', the canals
    could have ceased working entirely for some years at a time, and
    agriculture would still have been possible for a while. The canals had
    only to make up the loss year-to-year, large amounts of water remained
    in the ground from year to year.

    The completion (more or less) of the planetary reengineering project
    left the _H. siccaris_ society with seriously strained resources, but
    their success also encouraged further confidence. On the other hand,
    just as their planetelogical models had predicted, Siccaria reached and
    passed the forecast critical point during this period, and the seas
    began to dry out in earnest. Agriculture and other civilized
    activities became highly dependent on the canals and their related
    aquifers.

    Had events continued on that path, the _H. siccaris_ society might have
    been able to move on to new heights, since their planetary engineering
    project enabled their society to function in the 'cold dry' period.
    Unfortunately for them, fate had other plans.

    Those plans manifested themselves in 23,853 BC, by Terran reckoning.
    That manifestation took the physical form of the arrival of a starship
    from outside the Zazhar System, a starship crewed by entities unlike
    anything in the experience of the Siccarians...a starship that crashed
    in the remote desert lowlands far from the fertile Canal Zones, a
    starship that carried a crew of monsters.

    MORE LATER.

    Shermanlee
  4. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Johnny1a wrote:

    > Those plans manifested themselves in 23,853 BC, by Terran reckoning.
    > That manifestation took the physical form of the arrival of a starship
    > from outside the Zazhar System, a starship crewed by entities unlike
    > anything in the experience of the Siccarians...a starship that crashed
    > in the remote desert lowlands far from the fertile Canal Zones, a
    > starship that carried a crew of monsters.

    ??? Beasties, or something new? If new, why haven't we heard of them
    before now? ("Because I just made them up" is a valid reason."

    Jefferson
    http://www.picotech.net/~jeff_wilson63/rpg/
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Johnny1a wrote:
    > Those plans manifested themselves in 23,853 BC, by Terran reckoning.
    > That manifestation took the physical form of the arrival of a starship
    > from outside the Zazhar System, a starship crewed by entities unlike
    > anything in the experience of the Siccarians...a starship that crashed
    > in the remote desert lowlands far from the fertile Canal Zones, a
    > starship that carried a crew of monsters.
    >

    I was wondering why, if the planet developed a robust tl9 civilization,
    that the oceanius colonists didn't find them, or visa versa.

    Oh me oh my, after all that work to run _away_ from the beasties, the
    poor oceanians find them, again, right in their backyard ....

    -- Pat
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Patrick Spinler wrote:
    > Johnny1a wrote:
    > > Those plans manifested themselves in 23,853 BC, by Terran
    reckoning.
    > > That manifestation took the physical form of the arrival of a
    starship
    > > from outside the Zazhar System, a starship crewed by entities
    unlike
    > > anything in the experience of the Siccarians...a starship that
    crashed
    > > in the remote desert lowlands far from the fertile Canal Zones, a
    > > starship that carried a crew of monsters.
    > >
    >
    > I was wondering why, if the planet developed a robust tl9
    civilization,
    > that the oceanius colonists didn't find them, or visa versa.
    >
    > Oh me oh my, after all that work to run _away_ from the beasties, the

    > poor oceanians find them, again, right in their backyard ....
    >
    > -- Pat

    Well, sort of, remember that the Oceanans haven't reached the Zazhar
    System at this point yet. (Which is interesting in itself, and
    peculiar, if you think about it.)

    As for why they didn't find them, the Siccarians had no orichalcum, and
    at TL9 you can't do FTL travel without it. They didn't even know that
    orichalcum _could_ exist. They were confined to the Zazhar System.
    Ironically, there _was_ a little of the miracle-material on Siccaria,
    it's one of the tiny handful of habitable worlds where some can be
    found in the crust, but they hadn't discovered it.
    Shermanlee
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Johnny1a wrote:
    >
    > Those plans manifested themselves in 23,853 BC, by Terran reckoning.
    > That manifestation took the physical form of the arrival of a
    starship
    > from outside the Zazhar System, a starship crewed by entities unlike
    > anything in the experience of the Siccarians...a starship that
    crashed
    > in the remote desert lowlands far from the fertile Canal Zones, a
    > starship that carried a crew of monsters.
    >
    > MORE LATER.
    >
    > Shermanlee

    The starship came crashing to the surface, and crashing was the right
    word. The vessel retained sufficient power and control to make a
    _controlled_ crash, but contrary to the old saying, there is a
    difference between a controlled crash and a landing.

    The vessel was heavily damaged, limping, its main drive damaged and its
    secondary engines not much better. The entire bow was misshapen,
    having partly melted and then resolidified after an encounter with a
    hundred gigawatts of hostile ultraviolet laser light. Even through the
    ship's main shield, that flood of energy had been devastating.

    The ship came shooting across the dry seabeds of the eastern hemisphere
    of the planet, using aerobraking to shed speed, melting away much of
    the hull and the already-uninhabitable bow in the process. It passed
    across a dozen Canal Zones like a meteorite, before it finally came to
    rest in the deep desert, over 500 miles from the nearest Canal Zone
    edge and digging a trench in the sand four miles long. Most of the
    surviving crew were killed by the impact, but in the shielded,
    cushioned, liquid-supported emergency shelter within the heart of the
    vessel, a few of them survived, alive, sane, and intact.

    The ship had been detected, of course. This was the glory days, the
    height, of the _H. siccaris_ civilization, which was TL10/11 in most
    areas. Their limited resources and lack orichalcum prevented them from
    reaching out to the stars, but otherwise their technology was generally
    equal to that of the Eosian Hegemony before its fall, and in some areas
    they were actually ahead, especially in robotics and planetary
    engineering.

    By the time anyone reached the crash site, though, the surviving
    monsters had made their escape. The investigating teams that arrived
    found the half-molten, twisted, broken rubble of the vessel, and they
    found the corpses of the Beastie crew, for it had indeed been a Beastie
    ship.

    Not, of course, that any Homosentient on Siccaria had any idea what the
    creatures were, what they had been, or the danger they represented.
    More importantly, they had no way to know that an even two dozen
    Beasties had made their escape, carrying some basic weapons and
    equipment, enough water to survive for a while...and one more item,
    possibly the most dangerous single thing a Beastie starship could have
    brought to Siccaria.

    Two dozen Beasties...in the middle of a vast desert of rock and sand
    and salt, equipped only with some basic weapons and equipment, on an
    unfamiliar world. By all odds they should not have lasted a month.
    Indeed, seven of them were dead within the first two weeks.

    But the long-dead Koalidi Byth-Kormadois had done his deranged, evil
    work well. The Beasties were supremely adaptable, and dangerously
    cunning, and these were veteran, experienced Beastie warriors and
    spacers. Beasties as a species averaged slightly less intelligent than
    Homosentients, but these were the elite of the species, smart and fast
    and experienced. By two months after their arrival, they had stolen
    transportation from the investigating teams who were pouring over the
    crash site, making it look as if accident had claimed their first
    victims.

    (In actuality, the original operators of the stolen vehicles were
    eaten.)

    Using their stolen vehicles, the surviving Beasties made their way to
    the well-watered, life-rich environs of a Canal Zone. Far too canny to
    risk going to the nearest such area, they instead travelled to one over
    1000 miles from the crash site, probably the sixth closest. They had
    access to some space-based observations of the planet to work with, and
    some maps and other information raided from the investigating teams.

    By six months after their arrival, the surviving 17 Beasties had become
    30 Beasties. They had chosen a region of a Canal Zone far from any
    population center, feeding on local animal and plant life, and
    reproducing. They also selected a site for their special item, the
    thing they had brought from their crashed vessel that carried such
    peril for the natives of Siccaria.

    They chose a site about a mile from the edge of a Canal, a place where
    the soil was deep and rich, well-watered and where plant and animal
    life was common. In that soil, the surviving Beasties planted their
    one and only surviving broodwyrm egg.

    MORE LATER.

    Shermanlee
  8. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Johnny1a wrote:

    >
    > They chose a site about a mile from the edge of a Canal, a place
    where
    > the soil was deep and rich, well-watered and where plant and animal
    > life was common. In that soil, the surviving Beasties planted their
    > one and only surviving broodwyrm egg.
    >
    > MORE LATER.
    >
    > Shermanlee

    The Beastie starship that had limped its way to its spectacular
    crash-landing had carried an even eight of broodwyrm 'eggs', each an
    unexploded bomb of disastrous potentials, wrapped in a scaly hide. To
    the great good fortune of Siccaria, seven of the eight were destroyed
    either by the original damage to the ship, subsequent exposure to heat,
    cold, and ionizing radiation, or the final crash itself. [1]

    Unfortunately, even one viable 'egg' had the potential to bring
    disaster to Siccaria.

    The Beasties themselves had long since lost their initial tremendous
    reproductive ability, their fertility reduced to a lower level by
    factors unknown to them. Still, they remained relatively swift
    reproducers, and given time the initial few survivors could have bred a
    dangerous number of Beasties, but that would have taken decades,
    perhaps a century or two, with a concomitant risk of discovery by the
    Homosentients who vastly outnumbered them. [2]

    The broodwyrm changed that equation. The Beasties chose a superb
    location, far from Homosentients, but rich in nutrients and watered by
    two intersecting Canals. The broodwyrm grew rapidly in its new
    environment, its 'roots' spreading through the rich soil and all the
    way, eventually, to the sweet waters of the Canal itself. The
    surviving Beasties kept it well fed with hunted fauna and after it was
    solidly rooted, it began to photosynthesize.

    The great danger of this monster, of course, was that once it was
    firmly established, it could begin growing Beasties in huge numbers.
    Every broodwyrm contains the necessary genetic templates to create
    hordes of Beasties, this one was no exception. The surviving Beasties
    remained carefully hidden for two Terran years, which was long enough
    for their broodwyrm to grow large enough to begin 'manufacturing' more
    of their kind.

    It was far from fully grown at that point, and at this size (and given
    the available supplies of nutrients) it could grow no more than 100
    Beasties at a time. It could do this, however, once a Terran month or
    so. Thus, a year after the broodwyrm reached minimum operating
    maturity, the 30 Beasties who planted the broodwyrm 'egg' were joined
    by over 1200 new Beasties. They were new and untrained, but that was a
    temporary impediment. With more Beasties to feed the creature, the
    creature could grow faster, as well. By the time they reached the
    fourth anniversary (by Terran reckoning) of their crash landing on
    Siccaria, the 17 surviving Beasties had become the leaders of a small
    horde of over 4000 monsters, and the broodwyrm was still swelling their
    numbers.


    The Siccarians were about to be faced with a threat out of their worst
    nightmares, though as yet they had no idea that anything or anyone had
    survived the crash of the starship a few years before, a ship that was
    still the wonder and joy of their science community.

    As the unsuspected menace swelled in the shadows, the clock was ticking
    for the _H. siccaris_ civilization. About this...MORE LATER.

    Shermanlee


    [1]As a minor aside, Beasties generally tended to use base-8 math, and
    thus their tendency to do things in sets of 8.

    [2]Recall that the Helialisks had secretly engineered this precipitous
    decline in Beastie fertility, during the great Beastie Wars that had
    wrecked the Eosian Hegemony.
  9. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Johnny1a wrote:
    > As the unsuspected menace swelled in the shadows, the clock was ticking
    > for the _H. siccaris_ civilization. About this...MORE LATER.

    Waiting on tenterhooks for the next installment.

    -- Pat

    p.s. total aside, but here's a neat entymology for "tenterhooks":
    http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ont1.htm
  10. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    Johnny1a wrote:

    >
    > The Siccarians were about to be faced with a threat out of their
    worst
    > nightmares, though as yet they had no idea that anything or anyone
    had
    > survived the crash of the starship a few years before, a ship that
    was
    > still the wonder and joy of their science community.
    >
    > As the unsuspected menace swelled in the shadows, the clock was
    ticking
    > for the _H. siccaris_ civilization. About this...MORE LATER.
    >
    > Shermanlee

    The original Beasties from the crashed starship had to juggle several
    conflicting requirements as they prepared for their attack on the local
    Homosentient population. They were vastly outnumbered by a
    high-technology enemy, who had 'home team advantage' in terms of
    knowledge of the planet, the situation, and available resources. Thus,
    the more Beasties their broodwyrm manufactured (no other word seems to
    fit) before they launched their attack, the better.

    On the other hand, the longer they waited, and the greater their
    numbers became, the higher the odds that the local Homosentients would
    discover their existence by accident. Greater numbers increased the
    odds of accidental discovery, which meant that time was of the essence.
    Yet if they struck before they were ready, the odds of success fell
    enormously.

    The broodwyrm could grow more Beasties (and other living things too if
    necessary), but they also needed weapons and vehicles and fuel and
    other resources. The broodwyrm could grow a Beastie, but not an
    energizer or the uranium to fuel it, not a battlemecha or the
    nanoprocessors to control it. [1]

    The only source for the resources they needed was the Homosentient
    civilization they opposed. They would have to seize resources from the
    enemy almost at the same time they attacked. This promised to be a
    challenge, to put it mildly. Fortunately for them, and unfortunately
    for the Siccarians, one of the Beasties who survived the initial crash
    was the Beastie version of a military genius.

    One thing was apparent from the start: the canal system was the key to
    the whole business.

    In the few thousand years since the Canal System had been completed,
    Siccaria had dried out considerably, the planet having passed the
    tipping point in its slide toward the 'cold dry' state. Already, the
    Canals and their related aquifers and other systems were absolutely
    vital to maintaining a civilized culture on the planet. The Beasties
    knew that they would need that canal network just as badly if they won
    their war against the Siccarians, they dared not seriously damage it.

    By the same token, though, the Homosentients would not dare risk
    damaging it, either, if they were rational, and the Beasties could see
    that. They had already intercepted enough information, stolen enough
    data, to grasp the basics of the climatalogical situation on Siccaria.

    The plan that the Beastie leaders formulated required that the Beasties
    carry out a complicated sequence of related events, with close timing,
    and do so almost without a hitch. It was a plan with a lot of moving
    parts, something military planners hate, but under the circumstances
    they had no real alternatives.

    The plan was for small groups of Beasties, armed with weapons
    constructed from stolen equipment, to attempt to seize and hold key
    pumping stations and junction points in the Canal system, digging in
    and counting on the reluctance of the Homosentients to damage to system
    to protect them from the use of weapons of mass destruction or the
    like. Meanwhile, other Beasties would be doing what they could to
    distract attention elsewhere, and still others would be trying to
    inflict sufficient damage to key infrastructural and communications
    systems to hobble the enemy response.

    They had reasonable amounts of information about their targets, from
    spying, intercepted signals and messages, and interrogation of captured
    prisoners, but there was no such things as 'too much' in such
    situations. They were going out on thin ice, and they knew it. They
    hardly had a choice, however, given their instincts and their
    situation.

    When the time came, some ten years after the starship brought this
    menace to Siccaria, the Beasties were as ready as they were going to
    be. They had concluded that more delay would not help their cause, and
    that their numbers were sufficient if all went well. If things went
    badly wrong, even their broodwyrm could not hope to create an army big
    enough to take on the intact Siccarian civilization on its home ground.

    Thus, in a year that by Gregorian reckoning would be called 28,843 BC,
    on a spring day in the northern hemisphere of Siccaria, the attack
    began. About what followed...MORE LATER.


    Shermanlee

    [1] The term 'battlemecha' is not a reference to a humanoid machine!
  11. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    mike wrote:
    > On a dark an dismal 16 May 2005 21:35:34 -0700, in flickering
    > lamplight "Johnny1a" <shermanlee1@hotmail.com> scribed with phoenix
    > quill:
    >
    > >Johnny1a wrote:
    > <#>
    > >The broodwyrm could grow more Beasties (and other living things too
    if
    > >necessary), but they also needed weapons and vehicles and fuel and
    > >other resources. The broodwyrm could grow a Beastie, but not an
    > >energizer or the uranium to fuel it, not a battlemecha or the
    > >nanoprocessors to control it. [1]
    > <#>
    > >Shermanlee

    > Two questions, if i may.
    > 1. Why did the broodwyrm not make a few more wyrm eggs to boost the
    > rate of beastie production?

    Ah, but remember the circumstances: the Beasties were crashed with
    most of their equipment and tools either destroyed or unavailable,
    since their wrecked vessel was in the hands of the locals. This
    included the pheromonal substances and chemical tools normally used to
    control a broodwyrm.

    This particular broodwyrm was not sapient at that point in time (like
    all broodwyrms, it had the potential for such, but at this stage it was
    mindless), so absent the tools to make it generate such an egg, they
    had to wait for it to do it on its own in its own intinctive rhythm.

    Also, the limiting factor on Beastie production even with just one
    broodwyrm was not capacity, but the need to balance secrecy against
    striking power when the moment came.

    > 2. Nanoprocessors could've been built from organic components, so the
    > broodwyrm should be able to make them. Why can't it?

    Some things just don't work as well with one material as another, you
    can't make full-capacity nanoprocessors out of organics. It could do
    something else, though, and it did do that, as we shall see...

    > I can also see that they'd build an organic version of battlemecha.
    > :-)
    >
    > Were i the Beastie boss, I'd build a few nasties for the natives.
    > How about some flying insects that contain some beastie venom?
    > A few things for the canal system too....

    We shall see... :)

    Shermanlee
  12. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.gurps (More info?)

    On a dark an dismal 16 May 2005 21:35:34 -0700, in flickering
    lamplight "Johnny1a" <shermanlee1@hotmail.com> scribed with phoenix
    quill:

    >Johnny1a wrote:
    <#>
    >The broodwyrm could grow more Beasties (and other living things too if
    >necessary), but they also needed weapons and vehicles and fuel and
    >other resources. The broodwyrm could grow a Beastie, but not an
    >energizer or the uranium to fuel it, not a battlemecha or the
    >nanoprocessors to control it. [1]
    <#>
    >Shermanlee
    >
    >[1] The term 'battlemecha' is not a reference to a humanoid machine!
    >

    Two questions, if i may.
    1. Why did the broodwyrm not make a few more wyrm eggs to boost the
    rate of beastie production?
    2. Nanoprocessors could've been built from organic components, so the
    broodwyrm should be able to make them. Why can't it?
    I can also see that they'd build an organic version of battlemecha.
    :-)

    Were i the Beastie boss, I'd build a few nasties for the natives.
    How about some flying insects that contain some beastie venom?
    A few things for the canal system too....

    I'm really enjoying this ! Keep it Going.

    :-) mik


    --

    mik :-)


    Is the Tower of Pisa a listed building?
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