Brood

In the murky swamps of the south the Brood Mere has spent centuries watching the development of her children. Now they find themselves at war, drawn into a conflict she has long planned but could never prepare for: The Creator Gods have returned, and they have come to bring death to her offspring. Already the Forked-Tongue River is choked with the corpses of her children and the Creator Gods a like, and yet it there seems to be no end to the waves of invaders pouring in from the north. Ever planning, however, the Brood Mere readies her children to cross into the Greenbelt in force- to strike against the heart of the adversaries that would destroy them. She has seen the face of her gods and with her children she has renounced them. The Creator Gods seek only their death, and so they shall return the threat in kind.

Models

History

History of the United Worlds The tale of the Brood is as sad as it is incredible, spanning centuries and bridging the previous Age on Samaria—from the days of the United Worlds—to the present day. The genesis of this unnatural and enigmatic race was, like most other things humans have wrought on this world, greed.

Invotsroysket Belvonkrastonmyor Clenvisteri, usually referred to as IBC, was one of the largest corporations in the United Worlds, and one of the first to set up a facility on the planet they knew as 23A-Q4. The spread of humanity throughout the galaxy had taken its businesses with it, particularly the ones centered on scientific pursuits. Interaction with other races and study of alien flora and fauna had catapulted a small human corporation, called Far Frontiers Laboratories, into a vast interplanetary conglomerate. The new information they gathered from the alien genetic strains combined with unprecedented ideas and practices caused a new Renaissance in genetic research and engineering. Founded on geneticists’ ideals, the company’s philosophy became: to include as many different elements as possible into the mix in order to produce the most likely chance of a winning combination. They absorbed every alien and foreign element they encountered into their corporate culture, taking the best traits they could find in each. Before long, they had become an interplanetary melting pot in the truest sense, always searching for innovative or alien ideals to further their chances of a bold new discovery.

The first incursions of corporate espionage began a shift in the corporation. Whether from outright theft, defecting employees, or simple terrorist tactics, Far Frontiers was suffering losses from less inventive companies. Again, their innovative tactics proved the key to their success. The company took on advisors from a variety of alien cultures and recruited from their competitors. They underwent a whirlwind restructuring of their directives and policies, and became a completely different corporation. Offering proprietary access to some research findings, they negotiated rights to make their property sovereign and give them legal autonomy within their own compounds. They began moving most of their truly sensitive experiments into high-security facilities, and the mass construction of corporate arcologies began. The company formed its own language and required the study of it by all employees; from that point forward, research began being documented only in this language, and the corporation formally changed its name to Invotsroysket Belvonkrastonmyor Clenvisteri, the meaning of which is unknown outside of IBC itself.

Corporate “security” forces became paramilitary in nature, expanded in size and capabilities. In an amazingly short period, IBC had almost entirely closed itself off from the rest of the United Worlds. It treated its employees exceedingly well, but many lived their entire lives completely within the arcologies, having no contact with anyone outside the corporation. Meanwhile its exploratory teams continued to branch out further and further, collecting new specimens to fuel the massive growth of the company. IBC pulled its research resources close to its heart and hid them behind massive barriers of security and corporate insulation. Speaking their own language, living comfortable and peaceful lives with all their needs provided for, the citizen-employees of IBC continued to break new ground in genetic research and engineering. Inevitably, this expansive knowledge reached into a realm with which humanity has long been uncomfortable. After nearly a hundred years of interplanetary expansion, IBC was one of the largest corporations in the galaxy. It spanned dozens of planets, employed millions of people, and earned revenues that bordered on the mythical. In order to continue growth, they took the next step in genetic engineering; they began to experiment on the human genome.

This final step, the sacred cow of genetic research, presented a barrier to IBC in the form of public opinion. Few organizations, whether corporate or political, were willing to support their research publicly. Many, inspired by either competitors or their own legitimate ideals, called for a halt to such research and sanctions against IBC if they insisted on pursuing it. It was at this point that the exploratory teams showed their true worth. IBC’s close ties with governmental agencies allowed them to send their exploratory teams along with official United Worlds charting vessels. The vast majority of planets that the charting vessels encountered were totally uninhabitable; Gas giants and airless rocks alike received a cursory entry before moving on. The charting vessels were on a constant search for habitable planets for colonization. They concentrated on planets that could support human life. Upon discovery of one worthy of immediate colonization, the discovery teams sent missives to the United Worlds Ministry of Colonization. Others, although capable of sustaining human life were not well suited to it, these they classified as “contingency” worlds; It was this group of planets that interested IBC. Publicly, it retreated from research projects that bordered on “playing God” and issued statements that it would abandon such experiments in the interests of humanitarian concerns. Privately, the corporation felt that the possible salvation of humanity and the ability to unlock all of its potential lay trapped in the mystery of its genes.

Following on the heels of the United Worlds exploration ships, IBC began constructing research facilities on outlying planets of little interest to the government. Through clandestine inquiries, IBC found that it still had plenty of clients interested in their controversial research, including some governmental agencies that lay outside the public eye. Their research charged onward. A planet called ATTR 23A-Q4 was one of the worlds on which IBC built a facility. Far on the very edge of human exploration, its atmosphere was perfectly suitable for humans, even if its climate was not. IBC was not alone in its pursuit of research facilities far from prying eyes. A tense coalition formed with a half dozen of the first and largest companies, pooling their resources in order to construct a spaceport for easier access to the planet. Soon, construction began all over the world. Following in the trend of its arcologies, IBC decided to construct a compound on 23A-Q4 that would be entirely self-sufficient. As suspicious of competitor interference as ever, even on this backwater world, the corporation built its new laboratory facility far to the South of any other human development. A broad expanse of many kilometers of swampland sat hundreds of klicks south of the growing star port city that was the center of human life on 23A-Q4.

Deep in the center of this swamp, dubbed the Blackmire, IBC built one of its finest research laboratories on any world. Specifically designed to be as self-sufficient as possible, the Blackmire compound was virtually autonomous.

Solar converters and methane harvesters collected vast amounts of energy from the environment, and high-efficiency filtration and reclamation systems made certain that every possible resource would yield its maximum value. All necessary systems were included as a part of the plant’s design, including extensive emergency food stores, multiple redundant systems for power, safety, security, and even a huge electronic resource library. Teaming with life, the inhospitable environment of the swamp would keep them from being discovered indefinitely. The hot, moist climate was the ideal setting for the creation of new life, and the compound’s location deep inside the swamp put it in a perfect position to harvest its own samples of indigenous plant and animal life while pursuing its ongoing research projects. The murky location proved to be a riot of new genetic samples, the hearty and diverse swampland organisms turned out to be most useful in their type of experimentation. The sole purpose of the Blackmire facility was to unravel the most elusive puzzle in all of genetics—the human genome. Human DNA still mystified most geneticists, largely because of the slew of legal restrictions placed on its investigation for centuries. The handful of sentient alien species that man had encountered had given some insight into parts of the DNA puzzle; most intelligent species carried some striking similarities that had raised new theories and questions ever since their discovery.

The legal consequences and political barriers present, however, had limited science’s ability to investigate these new conundrums. In the secluded confines of the Blackmire, however, there were no limits and no restraints. IBC purchased entire ship loads of human test subjects for their experiments. At that time in the United Worlds, corrupt prison officials would sell human prisoners for the right price. Most were convicts found guilty of capital crimes, but others were simply in the wrong transport ship at the wrong time. Working feverishly to solve the puzzle of human genetics, the elite cadre of researchers in the Blackmire compound unceremoniously dumped hundreds of corpses and horribly disfigured mutants into the swamps. The capital needed to establish the Blackmire lab was astronomical; IBC had offset the expense by soliciting secret contributions from anonymous government agencies and private companies. These investors wanted to see the possible military applications of mastery of human and humanoid DNA. As a result, many of the experiments that stemmed from the findings of the researchers began to aim towards practical military applications. Increased strength, speed, and stamina were frequent goals, as well as enhancing natural defense mechanisms. Unlocking the small clues to the mystery of their goal, the geneticists slowly made progress. Some experiments began manipulating systems of a more exoteric nature, altering brain functions in an effort to increase intelligence, tactical capability, and even communication vectors. Feasible combat units began to develop, slowly but surely. The gene fodder of hundreds of species, intelligent and otherwise, was sifted and delineated in an attempt to glean the most useful characteristics from each DNA chain.

Strangely mutated creatures, vaguely humanoid, were being created that were faster, stronger, and larger than the genetic stock from whence they came. Some had natural weaponry such as rigid claws or multiple rows of razor sharp teeth. Some produced poisons and toxins worse than any biological weapon as a part of their metabolism. Still others grew protective mechanisms: from redundant organs, boosted regenerative abilities, chitinous armorlike shell plates, to acidic blood. All were undeniably monstrous, and all were encouraging developments for combat purposes.

IBC’s clients and financiers were very pleased; across the galaxy, many of the prototype units immediately began to see field combat tests of their effectiveness as the next, more ambitious, generation of prototypes went into production. Two new prototypes developed as the heralds of the next generation, a strategist and a warrior. The prototypes designated HLX and MJB, respectively. HLX, nicknamed Helexa by the staff, was not particularly forbidding physically, but its mind was tremendous. Possessing an augmentation to the area of the brain devoted to intuitive thought, her synaptic responses were quicker and had greater redundancy. Helexa could analyze and respond to situations more quickly and accurately than any human could. MJB, jokingly referred to as Mean Jelly Bean, was a prime physical specimen. He had been created from the genetic stock of some of the most fearsome fighters in the animal kingdom, with ferocious instincts and incredible tenacity. Created in concert, both were designed as part of a larger experiment with the final test subject, HM1. Though engineered simultaneously, HM1 was far more ambitious and complicated, thus it was left to mature in its tank while the others were developed. The final specimen of the trio was a theoretical field commander that would reduce the necessity of valuable human leaders in dangerous battlefield situations. Designed to wield this command through psychic communication vectors that approached full mental control, it was a feat never yet successfully accomplished. Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean had been designed specifically to be receptive to this communication, but the researchers were never able to perform their scheduled testing on the subject.

The Chaos Factor

It was at this time that the United Worlds government collapsed. With the crumble of the governmental infrastructure, the economy faltered, retreating into a far narrower market—one that was based much closer to the center of human civilization. Forced to cut costs and incapable of regular transportation or even maintaining communication to a planet as far-flung as 23A-q4, IBC was forced to leave the Blackmire facility and pull their staff back under the watchful eye of human society. They were only able to take raw data and the most successful of the research specimens, abandoning all else. On the off chance that some governmental authority would come through the system, the staff discarded most of the physical evidence in the facility that could incriminate them. Most physical works in progress, including any specimen not thoroughly tested and all raw biological base material, were flushed en masse into the surrounding swamps. Dumped as the scientists rushed to prepare for their evacuation, bodies, half-living engineered freaks, and hundreds of deciliters of crude organic matter mingled together in a vast pool of viscous sludge. One of the untested experimental creations proved to be far more viable than the staff had known, and their ignorance would prove to be historic for the Blackmire and the whole planet.

The psychic communication worked as designed; HM1 had been in communication with Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean since its genesis. In order to allow it to understand military technology and battlefield strategies, it was gifted with a higherorder of thought, enhanced psychological attributes, and an increased freedom of will. Sadly, the engineers that had produced it would never know how successful their ambitious project was. All of the characteristics that they tried to imbue into HM1 had in fact come to realization. Its androgynous body was a shamble of random limbs, virtually crippled and horribly malformed beyond being even remotely humanoid. What they had not anticipated was the emotional development that the creature would have in a very short time. Through its limited psychic interaction with its two counterparts, HM1 developed a mothering instinct for them, and they had succumbed to that same instinct through its psychic mental control. When the Blackmire staff expunged the holding tanks, releasing HM1 into the swamp with the genetic dross, they never expected it to survive the hour. They went about preparing the other two specimens for travel along with their established prototypes and vast data stores. The unleashed HM1, however, did survive. In fact, it crept, slithered, and crawled with its various limbs and appendages through the primeval terrain, circling the loading docks and following the psychic beacons that were Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean. In the confusion surrounding the emergency preparations, none of the IBC personnel noticed as HM1 stole the cryo-tanks of its “children” and retreated into the Blackmire with them. By the time the scientists noticed that the specimens were missing, they were days from the planet with no intention of returning.

The three orphaned creations of IBC hid deep in the Blackmire for weeks, afraid of the return of their creators or the possibility that some had remained in ambush. Eventually, though, they returned to the facility, finally assured that it was empty. They quickly acclimated to life in the swamp, developing a savage streak and survivalist sense even beyond that of their original engineering. Upon reentering the compound, they found it still largely functional. The design of the Blackmire facility had been so efficient that even without any support staff, the autonomic functions kept it operational. The multiple redundancies and alternate energy supplies were enough to maintain its state, particularly with large sections of its laboratory resources lying dormant.

Homecoming

The returning creatures explored their vacant home largely as infants. They were operating primarily on instinct, but they did possess some inherent ability to comprehend technology and complex systems. Designed to be flexible and adaptable, they had the physiological development of adults, even if their experiences were as newborns. In a matter of days, they had located the food reserve; a hardware warehouse left half full, and most importantly, the data library. Like all infants, the three were insatiably curious, and they devoured knowledge eagerly. With brains intentionally augmented by aggressive experimentation, they were learning at an incredible rate. Using their intuition to activate the library’s systems, they dove headlong into the information available to them. It took mere days for them to learn written language, after which they began devouring massive selections of raw data. No rhyme or reason accompanied their studies; they chose varied and disjointed subjects, filling their minds with massive blocks of esoteric knowledge. For months, they were obsessed with their selfeducation, communicating with one another silently and spending nearly every waking moment consuming information. Only rarely did they even leave the walls of the compound, until the day that HM1 felt a psychic stirring in the swamp.

The environment of the swamp had reacted favorably to the discarded bio-matter dumped into it. Instead of immediately dying, it thrived instead, mostly due to the resilience of the highly regenerative tissue discarded with the rest. Like a natural Petri dish, the environment had introduced the elements necessary to encourage life. The raw biological matter and the half-formed experimental subjects had found the perfect balance of conditions in which to fester and grow. In the heart of the swamp, a spawning pool was forming. The genetic cocktail had fused with a variety of bacteria, amoebic life forms, and even plant matter, creating entirely new entities. The basest forms of living things, they were born with a crude and rudimentary intelligence and a very base genetic memory of their human engineers, a design feature intended to ensure their obedience. This diluted racial memory had an unexpected effect in its new environment. HM1, designed specifically to have an affinity for creatures spawned from IBC’s labs, picked up on these new creatures as soon as the spark of life animated them. A tiny beacon of awareness flared to life somewhere within the mind of the great, deformed beast, something that told it that nearby was new life.

That same bond between HM1, Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean tugged at its maternal instinct for these unknown, unnamed things being born in the swamp. HM1 felt the same ties to these new creatures, a sense of responsibility and empathy. The spawning pool itself was emitting a psychic hum as if it teemed with burgeoning life, and the psychic node in HM1 was a receptor for all of that energy. The new life forms growing outside were shaping themselves from genetic instructions, blueprints built into the discarded biological matter that had swirled and melded together in the pool.

Foreign elements from the swamp and from combined different experiments were tampering with the instructions, causing uncontrolled variations in the growth of the new creatures. Many were fundamentally humanoid, as much of the raw bio-matter was human in origin, but many others were not even vaguely human, and the spawning pool seemed driven by some need of its own to overproduce new creations at an incredible rate. A full palette of things that swam, crawled, flew, and walked emerged from the roiling biological stew. Few were anything more than shambling hulks, not products of true evolution or natural selection, and most died in hours. HM1 did not react well to this development. Its sensitivity to the creatures brought her the feelings of each new birth and agonizing death— not a healthy set of experiences for a beast that was essentially an infant. HM1 began to feel frantically obligated to protect these endlessly spawning monstrosities, to save them somehow. With a burning need for a solution, the desperate creature fled to the library in an attempt to learn how to save its “children.”

The next several months were a testament to the mental capacity of the HM1 prototype. With an all-consuming passion and dedication, it set out to teach itself a way to save the creatures in the spawning pool. It absorbed knowledge at an astronomical rate. With no clue as to how to progress through a learning path, it had no choice but to start with what it knew and dive headlong into life sciences, working from the middle towards an end. Biology, chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, xenology, and further subjects the panicking creature consumed with a voracious hunger for understanding in its quest to make a geneticist of itself. In time, it certainly would have succeeded, but time was running out for the Blackmire facility, and for its education. Despite the high-efficiency systems built into the IBC compound, to operate for over a year on backup systems alone stretched it beyond its design. Days turned into weeks, which slowly became months, and the Blackmire systems truly started shutting down. The reserves of the facility began to fail. Entirely consumed by its search, HM1 utterly failed to notice, but Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean tried to assist their “mother” by doing everything they could to maintain the power supplies. Another system was degrading as well with the passage of time: HM1’s mind was deteriorating at an alarming rate. As it accumulated vaults of knowledge, so its sanity slipped; assaulted with a continuous cycle of new births and rapid deaths of the creatures it thought of as its children. Dozens, hundreds, and then thousands of pale and tiny lives spawned in its mind, each unique and precious to it, only to rapidly gutter and snuff out in less than a day most of the time. While HM1’s mind unhinged, its psychic abilities grew, drawing Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean ever more under its control, but also amplifying the damage done to its psyche by each death. The day that the library’s storage banks consumed the last dregs of the facility’s power reserve, a mother’s vengeful wrath was unleashed on the Blackmire compound.

The misshapen, hulking brute launched into a psychotic rage, roaring insensible cries of denial and madness, its mind completely snapped. Walls were shattered and battered down, equipment annihilated, and the library itself reduced to twisted slag. The episode nearly leveled the library wing, and any resemblance to a laboratory or a library totally eradicated. HM1’s collection of misshapen limbs and its nearly shapeless body was broken and bruised from its fit of rage by the time it fell still. It slept for nearly a day, with Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean anxiously attending to it and awaiting its revival. When it finally awoke, it was with a sinister and wicked calm and a new identity. From that day on, HM1 referred to itself as the Brood Mere, adopting the feminine gender and taking the entire Blackmire as her family. Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean instantly accepted the Brood Mere’s new state; so complete was her psychic control over them. Without a pause, she set off into the swamp, wading directly into the spawning pool with an expression of intense concentration on her horrific face. The total collapse of her sanity had unleashed the full potential of her psychic ability, and she was able to exert full control over the collective genetic memory that lived in the pool. Crying out with effort and desperate need, she brought the endless, pointless birthing to a halt at last. The spawning pool never again created anything without the Brood Mere’s direct instructions. From that point forward, she and the spawning pool were one. At that moment, the Brood was born.

The Brood Mere used her new symbiosis with the spawning pool to coax new life from the Blackmire, but with some direction and some control. It became immediately apparent that her education was glaringly incomplete, and her understanding of her new abilities equally so. The first attempts to create new children, guided utterly by instinct, were dismal failures. She seemed better able to cope with isolated deaths; it is impossible to say whether it was because she knew they were a means to an end, or because she had gone utterly mad. The process was agonizingly slow; years, then decades passed. Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean attended to her whims and needs, but they began to grow old and frail. They had lived far, far longer than had ever been intended. She, through her bond with the spawning pool, was in a continuous state of mutation now, and so her body did not age. Her first children, however, were not so lucky.

Rapid Evolutionary Prototyping

The Brood Mere realized that she would need to master a much more fundamental talent before progressing with her long-term goal. She took blood from both of her children, learning their genetic codes in the process, and set about mastering the art of basic replication—cloning—in order to preserve her two constant companions. She became confident in her abilities only a short two years before Helexa’s death and Mean Jelly Bean’s following shortly thereafter. She had prepared for their demise by taking more samples from each one and incubating new versions of each, so that she would never have to be without their company. Although they were bereft of their progenitors’ memories, they were exact replicas. As the years passed, her only companions were the ensuing generations of these two first children and her fanatical mission to breed a new race. Centuries passed, and as she gradually learned more and more of the craft she practiced, she made slight improvements to their bodies. When she created a new creature with a strong heart that worked properly, she passed it on. When she learned methods of utilizing hormonal effects, she gave it to them. When she discovered how the venom of insects and reptiles was created and operated, she bestowed it to them. With each perfected genetic trick, the Brood Mere engineered it into her two original children, her eternal favorites.

Over hundreds of years, other satisfactory life forms developed as well. The Mere had learned enough about evolution and genetic manipulation to achieve quick success, but advanced strategic thinking and the early need for adaptation to surprising environmental changes had taught her to focus on long-term goals. Following a philosophical mind set concentrating on the development of rapid evolutionary patterns bred for certain goals the individual Brood creatures adapted consequently to what the Mere wanted them to achieve. Slowly, they began to resemble a society, even if it was only a savage and primitive one. The same genetic memory that perpetuated their contact with the Brood Mere, ensuring her control over them, also carried a vague sense of an advanced creator force beyond her. The Brood, as their mother called them, gradually developed a sense that the creator force, the Builders and Shapers who had created the Blackmire facility, were gods of some sort. The Brood Mere saw a way to twist this to her own spiteful ends, and she told them of how the Builders and Shapers had created them only to leave them to die. They were not benevolent gods, she taught, but vengeful and cruel ones. They had tried to destroy the Brood once, and only she, Helexa, and Mean Jelly Bean had survived their gods’ effort to destroy them. They would certainly return one day to destroy the Brood as they had tried to before. The next time, she assured them, they would leave nothing to chance. The principle was firmly lodged into them that they must become greater and more powerful than their gods, so that when they returned, the Brood would be able to replace them, to claim godhood for themselves.

The Brood Today

Different strains created of the Brood become stronger and more effective over time. They spread throughout the Blackmire. Throughout the years, as the Brood Mere felt the continual need to improve on her designs, she continued to spawn new species of the race. One and all, they were warriors, bred and born for a single purpose that she both anticipated and dreaded at once. The Brood Mere will never forgive man for leaving them in the Blackmire and trying to kill her. She hopes, on one hand that she will be given the opportunity to destroy those that tried to destroy her. On the other, she fears the epic battle she knows will come, as she will lose many of her children and perhaps even lose the war. For nearly 500 years, she has lived her continuous mockery of nature, and oblivion still terrifies her after all these centuries. Continuous generations of Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean have trained the Brood. Each has given the most they could of themselves; their silent psychic education honed the skills of the warriors of the freakish race for decade upon decade.

Mean Jelly Bean has taught them numerous forms of combat; his innate martial skill rendered him adept at teaching even newly spawned Brood warriors how to fight with their own natural weaponry. Helexa performed a similar duty in tactics and strategy, showing them the most effective ways to combine their different abilities into effective battlefield results. Helexa grew to the consummate manipulator; able to anticipate an enemy’s reactions long before even they know what they intend to do. She has grown into a focal point of control over the Brood Mere’s progeny, and able to command the Brood alone in battle when necessary. Most recently, a new creation emerged from the spawning pool. Fearing impending war, the Brood Mere created a new elite warrior for her army. Combining many of the finest aspects of both Helexa and Mean Jelly Bean, she created the fiend called Murtros. As proficient in combat as Mean Jelly Bean and as wily as Helexa, Murtros is a truly formidable soldier. The Brood Mere has only just created him, and is not capable of working new developments into his blueprint yet. Even in his standard form, however, Murtros is a terror on the field of battle. With the advent of Saint John’s forces pushing southward, humanity has rediscovered the contents of Blackmire swamp. The Brood Mere has mustered her forces to thrust northward and strike at the new foe. Centuries of training, breeding, and lunatic indoctrination have prepared the Brood for the return of mankind to the Blackmire swamp. The question remains: is mankind prepared for the Brood?


QR Code
QR Code brood (generated for current page)