Saturday, November 11, 2017

Manhattan

South of central park, all of Manhattan is enclosed in glass, a carefully maintained habitable environment, spring 365 days a year. A glass roof is supported by the tops of smaller buildings and fills the gaps between taller ones. Cars are forbidden with the enclosure, as air pollution has nowhere to go, and much of the subway system is flooded. There is an electric bus service, bicycling is encouraged, and many streets have been converted to pedestrian only walkways and "open-air" markets.

Outside of the enclosure, things are dicier. The giant squatter cities of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Survivors focused on getting through the day, and preparing for increasingly difficult winters. Although they hate it, much of their economy is based on the Manhattan Enclosure, either in service positions or making hand-crafted goods to sell there on weekends.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

London

An airtanker arrives, every day, to dump white powder over the city. The drops focus on Hyde Park, ground zero for the infection. 25 tons of powder per day adds up, blowing about the city and piling into drifts. When it rains the mixture foams and bubbles, and bleaches the stone as it drains towards the Thames. The river is as dead as the city, but with the population of Great Britain dead or evacuated, no one complains. Nature has grown strong enough and weird enough to look after itself anyway.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Footsteps

Based on a prompt

“Did you hear that?”

“Something in cargo fell over maybe. Get back to work man, we’re almost done.”

“No, it sounded like it came from the hull.”

“So maybe we got winged by a micrometeorite. We’re almost done man, I want to get back to my pod.”

“…Okay, that time it definitely came from outside!”

“Yeah, I heard it, lets…”

“…”

“…”

“Are those…”

“…footsteps?”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wendigo

Based on a prompt

We all wanted to serve so desperately. We were unfit, but given an option. This unit only takes volunteers, and your lame leg or poor vision won’t matter.

A wendigo has no body of its own. It needs a vessel. It needs a host.

The first host had been Smith. He’d been nervous, but eager. I think he was curious about how the officers would live up to their promise to make him strong. The next time I saw him was D-Day. He had his own landing craft, slightly ahead of the others. When the ramp dropped a long-limbed thing burst out, rushing up the beach, impossibly fast. It wrenched itself into a bunker and then there were screams and an explosion.

The second in line had been Martin. One of the officers showed him into the bunker. There was a lot of shouting, and we were all pulled away by the rest of the officers. I didn’t seem him again until Caen.

We were pinned down by machine guns, and the officers had brought forward an armored truck. Martin scrambled out as soon as they opened it, and this time I got a close look. Every part of him was emaciated except his belly. The skin on his limbs and head was drawn tight, outlining his bones, but his belly bulged. He appeared to have been gnawing on his wrists.

Then he rushed forward, leaping from the ground through a third story window. It sounded like he was bursting through the walls of the old houses, and we saw him pounce on one of the machine gun teams from behind. He killed at least thirty before a lucky hit from a Pak 38 cored him like an apple.

After that was Taylor, who tore the head from a tank commander, dove through the hatch headfirst and tore apart the crew inside. A Sherman had hit the tank seconds later, making mincemeat of him. Treblawny sprinted through a trench, killing as he ran, killing several dozen men before falling to sheer blood loss. Smith had dodged sniper fire until he got close enough to leap and knock the sniper from his tree, falling on top of him and burrowing into his chest with his fingernails. Smith had killed only two of the snipers who had ambushed us when he stepped on a landmine and lost his legs.

Now it was my turn. The officers took me to the chunks of bone and gristle that had been Smith. They reminded me, you wanted this, you volunteered for this.

I tore out a piece of his leg and began to chew.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Great War

Once there had been Kings. Men with shining armor, riding griffons and winged horses into battle. Birth right and divine right had been the sources of power.

Now magic is the source of power, and is power. Rule by those who can because they can and no one can stop them. Apprentices at the front lines, journeymen casting from the back, and masters ruling far from battle.

The wind shifts, there is movement along the enemy line, and they wait for the diviners to make the call.

“MEN!” and they grab their firearms and spring up to the parapet of their trench, firing on the shapes they see slogging through the mud. Thirty seconds of shooting, black silhouettes in gray fog coming closer, before fireballs begin to fall and the enemy withdraws.

“BEASTS!” and they grab their pikes and spring up to the parapet of their trench, thrusting the points forward to become a wall of spikes. Once beasts had meant manticores, hydras, and wyverns. Now they were the products of magically quickened breeding, hybrids of every predator that could be found, confused amalgamations which rage and charge and shake themselves to pieces when they die.

“FIRE!” and they rush to their designated bunkers, keep their heads down and try not to look at the second suns falling from the sky.

Worst of all is when no call comes, when the diviners begin to babble and all unburied corpses join them. Someone has become desperate, a breakthrough is needed, a curse is on the wind. Hold your sacred trinkets tight and pray.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Scavenger

Based on a prompt

“Thank you Remy, good job.” Mrs. Templeton adjusted her glasses and looked out at the class. “Would anyone like to volunteer to go next? No? In that case… Jerry, your turn.”

Jerry looked up in surprise at hearing his name, and after taking a breath began dragging his presentation to the front of the class. He lifted it up onto the table and they could see it was a rectangular piece of wood, with a large rusty square attached to a tight spring.

“My dad dug this out of the yard, it doesn’t look like much, cause its all rusty, but the book says they used to use these things to kill ‘vermin’, but it didn’t say what those were.”

Mrs. White narrowed her eyes and looked like she was about to speak, but at that moment the strange old device sprung to life, the metal square slamming from one side of the board to the other, narrowly missing Jerry’s paw.

Once the class had calmed down and stopped chittering, Mrs. White turned to Jerry, who was now nervously holding his tail with both paws.

“Jerry... I’m going to need to have another meeting with your parents.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oops

Based on a prompt

“We’re doing this for a reason.” the young man said, strapping a helmet of wires and magnets to my head.

“It’s for your own good. I can promise you that.” the old man agreed, still looking at the monitor.

The metal of the helmet was cold and sharp against my scalp. I’d started shaving my head last month, but had that been my idea, or was that something they’d arranged for their own convenience?

I sought eye-contact with the young man. “I’ve already figured out how to prevent myself from retroactively preventing my own existence, my anti-paradox algorithm is air-tight. Besides, there are worse ways to go then not having ever existed, right?” I forced a laugh.

They made eye-contact. The old man suddenly seemed very, very old, and the young man seemed scared. The young man held a pleading look for a moment, but dropped his eyes, and the old man looked back to his monitor with grim determination.

The young man looked apologetic. “It’s not about what you will erase. It’s about what you will create.”

“Us.” said the old man.

“Us.” said the young man “There are, indeed, much worse things than to never exist. That is why we choose our own erasure, despite the cost. I’m sorry.”

The old man put one finger on the ENTER key. “Don’t worry” he said, “You won’t feel a thing.”

He started the program.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Supers

Based on a prompt

"I was so scared!" I sobbed into her shoulder. "I didn't want to go with them, but they were going to take me!"

"There, there" she said, stroking my head. "I would never let them take you anywhere."

What was left of them was scattered across the alley. Stray limbs, crushed torsos, blood pooling.

Some of the patches they had been wearing were still unstained. The flags of the old nations. They were one of the groups who wanted to bring back the old world. A world ruled by mere humans. Who knows what they would have done with me.

The smell of her hair calmed me down, as it always did. She stared into me with shining eyes.

"I don't know where I'd find another like you. An aquiline nose, perfect skin, and no wisdom teeth? Your children will be the start of something beautiful."

She kissed my forehead.

"Now lets get you back home."

I held on tight as she leapt into the sky. She smelled so good. I was so happy.

Scout

Based on a prompt

The rumble of the engine rattled the delicate prayer beads my father had hung from the ceiling. It fluttered the tapestries my mother had tied to non-essential scaffolding, images of old-earth for luck.

It shook my bones. I took a swig of kefir and returned my focus to the monitors.

A planetoid, a good one. Traces of radioactives, nickel-iron, platinum-group metals, and best of all, water ice. Another bonus, the Empire had also recognized the planetoid’s value, and allowed some of its servants to build an outpost. Wide-eyed, squat things. The Empire wouldn’t have granted one of the auxiliary species a full garrison. A chance to make a wound, however small.

The Horde would be glad to glut itself on water, and the Khan would be glad to harm the Empire. As she had decreed, so would it be, a thousand planets ravaged in payment for the murder of Earth, a hundred alien lives in restitution for each of our own. As the Emperor had sown, so would he reap.

I set a course for my rendezvous with a happy heart.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Malignant Machine

These are the facts.

It has all the advantages of biology and machines. It grows, reproduces, and evolves like something alive. It has suffused itself into the biosphere, and not living thing remains uninfected. It is specialized and powerful like something mechanical. It has suffused itself into all human technology, and no machine is uninfected.

The closer you get to the equator, the more solar energy is available to feed its intensive processes. Here everything is part of one system, constantly adapting, improving, and integrating.  It incorporates everything into itself, growing its own interfaces.  There is less distinction between machines, animals, and humans every day.

The farther you get from the equator, the less solar energy is available and the slower it grows. Up here, there are still humans. They are infected just like everything else, but able to pick up a wrench without gaining a wrench-hand. Nothing is uninfected, but those last humans have the luxury of choosing how human to be.

Notes: How about an RPG where your inventory levels up instead of your character.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What Do Children Do

The best time to overhaul a brain is during puberty. An FDA approved retrovirus can deliver a standardized mix of improved genes. Better working memory, better concentration, better creativity and 20 points to your IQ, guaranteed. You won't be able to compete in today's market without it.

Dramatic changes to your brain don't come without side-effects. A fission will occur, between your per-pubescent and adult selves. Your memories of childhood will become distant, scattershot, and difficult to recall. You are a new you, after all.

No childhood memories means teaching children is a waste of time. Education is for adulthood, once it will actually stick. You should make sure your kids don't kill themselves, but otherwise they can be left to their own devices. You see them, running in packs, speaking strange words, playing strange games, conducting strange rituals. I wonder what you might have done.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Order of the Horn

The guards were unhappy, grumbling to each other when out of the caravan master's earshot, and glaring at him when he wasn't looking. They would soon be passing through the land of an infamous robber baron, and allowing a sad old man on a sad old mule to join them would slow them down.

They glared at the old man whether he was looking or not, finding reasons to dislike him. His face was dour, and he brought down the mood of the whole caravan. His tunic bore a sigil like that of a knightly order, but not any order they had ever heard of, so he was surely some sort of charlatan. He had around his belt a strange old horn with strange old carvings; a pagan artifact, perhaps, sure to bring them bad luck.

The caravan master had said that the old man reminded him of his own grandfather, and that it would be a good deed to let him travel with them, even if inconvenient, and that was that. The guards would have to satisfy themselves with grumbling.

Although unfair, the fears of the guard were not unfounded. They were unable to make it through the robber baron's land during daylight, and as the sun set, they were attacked. A volley of arrows flew out from the brush on both sides of the road, landing in a circle around the caravan. They all got the message.

The sad old man hardly seemed to notice the arrows, but as the baron's men emerged and surrounded the wagons, he frowned. He let out a deep sigh, and lifted the strange old horn to his lips. The sound boomed like the echo of thunder, and reverberated as if in a great hall. Both guards and bandits started at movement on the edges of their vision; movement that soon resolved itself into ghostly figures.

Each figure was armored, although the only uniform feature was that the armor was battered and nicked. They held weapons of a style that no men now bore, but that farmers sometimes dug up from their fields. Their shields and banners bore the sigil like that of a knightly order, not one that any of the guards had heard of, but that matched the one on the tunic of the sad old man.

They fought like great knights, swinging their translucent weapons through bandits and felling them in single blows, although no wounds appeared. The sad old man watched watched the knights, no longer dour, with light in his eyes. When the last bandit fell, the knights turned to the old man and saluted him, then faded and disappeared.

The guards now regarded the old man cautiously, and were startled when he spoke. He asked about the lord of these lands, and how he could allow such bandits on an important road. They explained that the bandits worked for the lord, and sadness slowly settled on the old man once more.

The caravan master took charge of his caravan once again, ordering that they should get as far from this battlefield as they can before the sun fully set. As they got underway, one guard noticed the old man had left the group, and was moving slowly, but with determination, towards the castle of the robber baron.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anchorite Suit

Out on the moon on Titan, they have knights, like the old days. Titan don't have any large proper settlements, right? Just small towns all over. And every bandit king in the belt sees them as good targets, pick em off one by one, and there's no big united army that'll come after you. But on Titan they got these knights.

Big suits of armor. Old mining exos, fitted with military kit. Big fuck off armor plates riveted on. They paint em, old style. Religious. Images of the pilot and his deeds. Iconography.

Its a holy thing. Like a sacrifice, not that they're savages, they're mostly Orthodox out there, but its like a sacrifice. When a man's got nothing left, when a man starts feeling useless, when he's slowly dyin', when he just wants to feel strong again, town elders make an offer. Take his limbs, wire up the stumps to the armor, and hook up the blood too cause he can't eat or breathe no more cause he can never get out.

Aint nobody fight like a man in powered armor, aint nobody fight like a man's not afraid of death, and aint nobody at all fight like a man's got both.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Hunted

The sky was greens and yellows, the treeline was black, and the snow reflected the sky. The air was sharp and vision crisp despite the dim. The footprints dodged left and right towards a gully. When they caught up there would be meat and fat and only bones would be left for the wolves.

He clenched his spear in his hand. The prey was gaining ground. His youngest pointed her own spear at a lone pine on a rise. Perhaps from there she could catch a glimpse of him.

She called out. She could see the trail. It ended suddenly in an open field.

There was a sound like a rushing wind, and the aurora flared. A flurry of needles fell.

She never came down from that tree.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Household Monsters

Large farms will often build small stone dens, hoping to attract a hydra-tortoise. A distant relative of hydras, hydra-tortoises have shells approximately the size of a human hand, from which emerge three snake-like heads. They are voracious predators, and will take a noticeable chunk out of the population of mice and small birds.

The small cousins of owl-bears and the terror of small towns, bandit birds are half screech owl and half racoon  They skilled climbers and gliders, and have an almost supernatural ability to find there way into your pantry. Their countryside counterpart is the powl, half barn owl, half possum.

Low-griffons are a common sight in some cities. Half pigeon, half rat, and invariably hated by residents, low-griffons harass cats and will steal food right out of your hands.

The ghosts of goats are a countryside pest. They eat the souls of grass, creating patches of dirt, but just as annoying is their habit of screaming at the moon.

 God-toads can create small rain showers. They never stop and must be relocated to avoid flooding.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Cockroach the Barbarian

The old world had killed itself with mighty weapons, or great and terrible plagues had been unleashed, or a meteor had struck the Earth, or something something aliens. The important points are, almost everyone is dead, everyone who lives is a mutant, and I had been granted eternal life and was enjoying every second of it.

Except this one.

The woman was as beautiful as they said. Limbs in all the right places (not something you can take for granted), eyes that shone (figuratively, not radioactively or hunts-in-the-dark-ly), and skin that was merely splotchy (instead of pock-marked, a bit green, or coming off).

And it turned out she was a laser-witch.

“Why?” I attempted to growl past the gag.

“Because it’s the right thing to do..”

“So?” I managed.

“So you could change the world for the better. Why wouldn’t you want that?” I should have known. I threw her across the room, dove out the window, and began running.

I could judge how close she was by the brightness of the blue light following me.

At some point her skin had turned translucent and what was beneath had a sickly glow. Perhaps her eyes had been shining radioactively after all.

“EARTH HANGS IN THE BALANCE!” she yelled, right in my face.

Her second mistake. I headbutted her.

Then the street collapsed, and I was face-to-eyestalk with a man-shrimp.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Scholomance Class Catalog

The Scholomance was founded by the devil, and has been Europe's premier school of magic for millennia. The school teaches through attrition. The only way to fail is to die, and the only way to graduate is to be the sole survivor (although you can withdraw by fleeing). Even in class death is possible, although the professors have a low tolerance for interruptions.

Classes are practical. Each class focuses on a secret technique. Most professors will sprinkle in theory, philosophy, or history as the mood strikes them. You may take as few or as many classes as you think you can handle.

Its campus is a hidden valley in the southern Carpathian Mountains, containing a town, several villages, small farms, a lake, and thick forest. The valley is littered with dangers, from monsters to artifacts to mysterious phenomena, not to mention the students.

Cannibalism

An old but youthful woman who lives in a hollow log deep in the forest teaches students to take the strengths of those they eat. Her students are feared for their habit of literally poaching talent.

Breeding

Taught by a sphinx, an ancient hybrid created by the originator of the method. Students are taught to breed in strength, speed, and cunning, to combine species, and finally to mix and match traits as they please. Students of the sphinx often build sanctums are usually at the center of labyrinths, patrolled by their pet monsters.

Runes

Both living and non-living things can be augmented by inscribing special signs into them. Taught by a heavily tattooed man who doesn't always bother to dress. This is a popular class, as use of runes is an in-demand skill with many applications.

Dreaming

Students of this man will learn to sneak into the minds of others through dreams. There are few ways to defend yourself from this technique, and its practitioners are distrusted. If you have potential, you will find the teacher in your dreams.

Skinchanging

A talking owl demonstrates the means of becoming animals by wearing ritually prepared skins. As useful for spying as for combat.

Languages

An old, soft-spoken woman teaches the principles of universal language that will allow them to speak to all things. They make good diplomats, although their intense anthropomorphising is off-putting to many.

Possession

Taught by a man in the garb of a monk, covered in prison tattoos. Students allow themselves to be possessed, granting them uncanny powers and exaggerated personalities. Practitioners tend to be unpredictable.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Names

Does your dog know his name, or does he know you want his attention? Does he actually identify himself with "Rex", or has he learned a sound which means you want his attention?

Think, why would an ancient, unknowable being would have a name at all?

Their names don't define them, their names don't give us power over them. Their names are the words we've discovered that draw their attention, and you must be very cautious about drawing their attention.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Magic

Science is the best way to understand a world ruled by unintelligent, perfectly predictable forces. What is the best way to understand a world that is alive and filled with life, in which everything has its own will, and in which reality is a constraint imposed by beings of infinite power? In such a world you must be both a shepherd and a parasite, taking nourishment from the weak, stealing power from the strong, and devising new tricks to use against competitors.

Controlling the weak, attracting the patronage of the strong, and competing always with rivals? These are the behaviors of witches and wizards.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Oracle

The room is dim, only the dull red of neon through the window and pinprick lights blinking on racks of computers. In the center, a corpse, too thoroughly mummified to make out identifying features, in a meditation posture. In the top of its head, a precise hole. A thin bundle of cables emerges through the top of the skull and rises into the ceiling, holding the corpse upright. A tattoo of a small lizard encircles its left wrist.

Behind the teeth sits a small speaker. Ask it a question, and it will answer. The answers given will always be smart, but will not always be right. At least you'll be making a better class of mistake.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Recquisition Request, Accepted

I must have men who are accustomed not only to maintaining electrics and mechanics, but to living in service to a machine, working by its uncompromising schedule and seeing to its unrelenting needs. I am making this request of you because you are a Navy man. My understanding is that the Navy employs many such men, for in the Navy men do not often fight for themselves, but serve great machines which fight.

A bureaucracy is made of parts that follow rules and contribute to the greater whole like a machine, so let us make our bureaucracy a machine. An economy is made of parts that follow rules and contribute to the greater whole like a machine, so let us make our economy a machine. Our society is made of parts that do not follow rules and do not contribute to the greater whole, but they could be made to, so I am going to make our society a machine.

Britain is a garden, every square yard adjusted by and for its people. Utopia, if its potential is realized. All of the world must become Britain, so that all the world shall become a utopia.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

CIA

The CIA is a mystery cult. Not explicitly, of course, but its organization of successive inner circles possessing increasingly more important secrets mimics the form perfectly. There are even "initiation rites", designed to test candidates for their ability to keep secrets, commonly including gaslighting, imprisonment, interrogations, and even false executions.

The uninitiated maintain mundane intelligence analysis duties. This is the public face of the agency, doing the sorts of work an intelligence agency is expected to do. Their primary concern is suppressing dissidents at home while supporting them abroad, especially in the USSR.

Members of the agency-within-the-agency are self-selected. Especially talented analysts, who, noticing the ways in which official narratives are insufficient, go hunting for their own explanations, and, crucially, find them. These people must be either initiated or killed. This inner circle is concerned with the secret war against the deep ones, know of the Elder Things held by the USSR, and have suspicions about the existence of the Mi-go. They have transcripts of Soviet/Elder Thing interviews, shoggoth samples, and numerous uncategorized anomalies.

The agency goes one level deeper. Inside the inner circle are the true masters, a group of transplants, seeking a Yithian archive, from which they can learn the true and secret history of the world.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hunters

Knight

Let me answer every plea for help. Let me drag every corruption into the light. Let no defeat be final, but let me rise again, always. I place myself between the innocent and horror, let my shield never fail.

Surgeon

Stitching up all the bites and rent flesh felt pointless after a while. I wondered if there wasn't a better way, if I shouldn't double down on prevention. It's like cutting out a tumor, really.

Marksman

No, I don't fight fair. Ideally, I don't fight at all. Its a hunt, not a duel, so blow its head off before it even knows you're there. What is more important, my honor, or the lives that might be lost if I give a monster any chance to slip away?

Inquisitor

Knowledge is power. This is the cliche, but it is wrong. Secrets are power. Secrets that I have and you don't. Secret histories, secret crimes, secret insights, and secrets about you. We are locked in a war of maneuver, and only I can see the terrain.

Werewolf

Use a dog to hunt a wolf, set a monster to catch a monster. I know why they do what they do, and what they'll do next. Besides, you can't really be certain anything is dead unless you've digested it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thunderson & Sons Powered Arms and Armour

"Congratulations on your induction, sir. Many members of the Ironclad Order use our work and are well satisfied."

"We make the "Thunder Child" style of actuated plate, exclusively. Guild-standard titanium alloy and synthetic muscle strong enough to carry its own weight plus an additional 250 lbs. Protection without sacrificing mobility."

"Lets discuss armament. We usually recommend a weapon for soft targets, a weapon for hard targets, and at least one backup."

"For soft targets, you can't go wrong with a half-inch caliber, belt-fed, machine rifle. A bit bland, I will admit, but it will never let you down. Or perhaps you would prefer our gas-fueled flame thrower. Brutal, but undeniably effective."

"For hard targets I usually suggest a 6 inch recoilless rifle. Many swear by it. Its the most powerful armament we make, and we offer a wide range of warheads, giving the weapon a great deal of flexibility. If you are looking for precision, my second son's inch-caliber long-rifle is second-to-none, with an effective accuracy out to mile and enough power to threaten plate."

"For backup, many of our clients swear by my third son's quarter-inch rapid-fire gun. That one can be mounted on the head or wrist. Not a precision weapon but volume of fire can provide its own accuracy. A tear-gas dispenser is another popular option, especially if you are concerned about being mobbed."

"Very good sir. Hail the House of Many Suns."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Flourishing

It is every citizen's final duty to go into the tanks and become one with all the people.
Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, "Ethics for Tomorrow"

Prior to commencement, growth rates were well below replacement. We estimate deployment of 1,000,000 units would be necessary to bring birth rates back up to 2.5. Re-investment of suitable units from each batch can negate need for acquiring "wild" units, but will take 10 years at minimum. Enough variety is present that a genetic bottleneck is not expected to become a problem.

The savings on support costs from the removal of extraneous material, combined with the value of trace elements recovered from said material has reduced upkeep and maintenance costs by 17%. Transplantation of extraneous material also offsets costs. Life support equipment remains our most significant cost.

The most successful hormone treatment sped development by an average of 4 weeks, but increased failure rates by 32%, representing an overall reduction in per-year production and is therefore not recommended. Improvements in nutrition and preventative treatments have reduced overall failure rates to 14%.

At this point, our primary problem is the assimilation of batches into the population. Adoption rates are not sufficient to handle more than 1% of each batch. State-run communal care and education is cost-prohibitive. A massive influx of youth will cause demographic instability and the exposure of our project will become inevitable.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Icthyons

Chemistry and materials science are difficult below the waves, breeding is slow but reliable. Breeding has taken the Icthyons from territorial catfish bullying smaller species for food to gracefully whiskered inheritors of a thousand useful creatures, well-bred and good breeders.

Symbiotes for health, parasites for control. Squid for hunting and barracuda for fighting. A good home is made by waste-eating snails. Octopuses as living tools. Everything is alive or was part of something alive.

The Icthyons have not spared themselves from their great breeding projects. Modern Icthyons are healthier, smarter, more ruthless, and have shorter lifespans than their ancestors, changes introduced through generation after generation of careful matchmaking.

It takes eons to breed stock into a new form. Innovation is virtually impossible, iterative improvement virtually inevitable. Icthyon culture prizes links to the past, and incorporates anything new slowly and thoroughly. Over the course 10,000 years, crab-silk was slowly bred from a disposable and temporary string, to sturdy fabric, to a woven sheets rivaling steel, and so over the course of 10,000 years, knotwork became increasingly sophisticated and fell out of favor, silk fashion became increasingly sophisticated and fell out of favor, and now silk armor is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Father Dagon, Mother Hydra

The deep ones are not worshipful, they acknowledge no gods. There are, however, those who they must respect. Mother Hydra, the great conglomeration, feeding tendrils groping upwards from Laurentian Abyss, grabbing some things and releasing others. Father Dagon, the giant, floating along the North Pacific Gyre, eating and growing and demanding more. Sister Echidna, which wanders the arctic, spitting monsters ashore. Brother Koshei, recently recovered from below Lake Baikal and held with caution and foolhardiness by the USSR. These are the subjects of deep one one art, the ones worthy of idolization.

Of course, words like "Father" and "Mother" are the result of a clumsy translation, as neither Dagon, Hydra, nor the deep ones have any sort of sex or gender. They are not family, but they are the closest thing.

The deep ones may have been human once. Ancient corpses, lost at sea, may have drifted into the clutches of an amorphous blob, a massively parallel genetic computer, and ancient meddler in natural history: a shoggoth. Once it had a sample of human DNA a shoggoth could have spent millenia "digesting" it, endlessly mixing and remixing it with all the sealife samples it had gathered before. If a viable combination were found, it would not be hard for the shoggoth to bud off an example of that creature, and release it into the sea.

But although the shoggoths made them, they are uncaring, and the deep ones have spent their whole lives immersed in the dream of Cthulhu.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

COLD DIAMOND

PROPOSAL SUMMARY:

The planet is changing at too great a rate. Our choice is between extinctions. Extinction by plague and privation, or extinction by rapid adaptation: the transformation of humanity into an alien being suited for life on our alien planet. Previous experiments have already established the efficacy of progenitor methods of hypnosis in deep-brain modification. With progenitor assistance, the USSR can finally create a New Man.

PROPOSAL STATUS: ACCEPTED

PHASE 1 COMPLETE
REPORT SUMMARY:

Successful subjects display virtually unlimited pain-tolerance, perfect self-control, and an increase in empathy paired with a decrease in sympathy. Subjects typically experience a degree of dissociation from their pre-treatment lives, which can be advantageous in cementing new identities. 

~65% of subjects suffered a mental breakdown during the process, rendering them unfit as subjects and unable to carry out any other duty. The causes of these breakdowns remain unknown. No pattern has been established.

Loyalty is a problem. Successful subjects cooperate and obey only when incentivized to. In the next stage of the project we will be attempting to induce deference to authority.