Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Lupine Masters and their Squibs

The Lupine Masters of Urghilline Omicron, and their Protein Squibs
Noah Stevens

When Jo the Synthoid, Mistress Aarona Vesk and Nimble Nels the Starlord made planetfall on Urghilline Omicron, they were warmly greeted by the Regional Governess of the district in which they crashed.  A tall, lithe, ostensibly female Lupinoid named Hersetskin, the sub-matriarch of her clan, arrived with a small contingent and a horde of pink bipedal protein units, dubbed “Squibs” by their Lupine masters.

Now, at this time in that system’s history, Urghilline was populated entirely by the Lupines; they had conquered the system very early in their development and made great leaps and bounds in science, philosophy, planetary management, and bio- and techno-psionics.  They had refrained from interstellar travel for themselves, as they were a comfortable race.  They had developed the technology to do so, of course, but had shipped off the other sentient races endemic to the system “for their own safety”.  For all their mastery of technology and enlightenment, the Lupines were at root a very bloodthirsty race.  The Sheepeople of their system had at one time been their primary food, as the Lupines were obligate carnivores.  But now, the Sheepeople wandered the stars, trading and interacting prosperously with other sentients; this was the Lupine’s doing and they were the Sheepeoples’ benefactors and patrons.

The Lupines were comfortable; they spent their days disporting and philosophizing, crafting beautiful artworks, planning and building great feats of architecture and tearing them down again.  In the summer they would rut mightily, and none of their race suffered illness, and they lived hundreds of their planetary cycles.  All was well.  Their psionic mastery was such that war had been extinguished from Urghilline and they tolerated neither direct or indirect violence to the fully sentient beings within their purview.

That said, they were lustily bloodthirsty and rapacious still in some ways, and these urges they visited exclusively on the Squibs who were engineered expressly for this purpose.  At the center of Urghilline V, a dense and generally inhospitable world, the Lupines had created a hollowed extra-dimensional space and packed it full of a fleshy giant Ooblek, tended by a sub-class of sedated Lupine worker and a million tiny drone-bots.  The Ooblek had no awareness nor will and was merely a mass of flesh and blood-producing veins, harvested unceasingly without fuss.  Tons of this flesh would be cut off, set adrift in the hollow, pulverized and then formed in molds to give a roughly bipedal shape, and finally invested with a primitive will to move and follow orders.  These Squibs were taught to revere the Lupines as demigods and to give assistance to them until such time that The Red Haze descended upon the Lupines and the Squibs were singled out for Uplifting.  Let us note, here, that the full satisfaction of the Lupine’s obligatory carnivorous urge required a bit of struggle and a great gout of red blood, and (happily) only obtained once per day.  For generation upon generation, millions upon millions of fully sentient beings were spared the senseless slaughter that lack of will and scientific and philosophic motivation had not or would not drive out of the Lupine Masters.  They themselves thought nothing of it, and indeed the Squibs toiled happily at only the most meaningless tasks that were far beneath the notice of their hirsute and powerful overseers – e.g. blood mitigation, robe changing and delivery – these things need not be contemplated.  The previous more sentient victims of the Red Haze were thankful for the Squibs' unflinching sacrifice.

When Aarona Vesk and Nimble Nels arrived, towed through space by Jo Suguru the Synthoid, they crash landed and the impact crater caused by their Sexynth capsules caused little damage.  They had been guided down by graviton emitters and they had been observed for nearly a full parsec by the Lupines’ psidrones and datagobblers.  A small contingent of Lupines was there to greet them most courteously, one of whom – Dorpsillo – was Hersetskin’s re-robing officiant.

“Greetings, star-farers!” intoned Hersetskin, as the trio of adventurers brushed themselves off.  Hersetskin inserted a smooth and comforting underlayer of warm empathy and a telepathic projection of the complete recent history of the Lupine home-system; she noticed almost immediately that a discomfiting presence arrived with the out-worlders.  This is now known to be the influence of Nels’ Krovarion blade.  It was Lupine custom in this part of their history to signal a great string of admiration impulses and tonalities delivered sensorium-wide, registering in the vocal ranges as flattery and in the mental ranges as a mild boost to self-esteem in the recipient.  Vesk and Nels bowed, somewhat disoriented from their removal from the shared-sensorium capsules mere moments previous.  Jo found his hat, and wondered how this innocuous exchange might take a turn for the worse.  He was not worried – such was beyond him – but he was given to planning and proaction.

After a lengthy rumble of admiration and goodwill, followed by a lengthy pause, the Lupine Hersetskin waited.  She knew that the customs of outworlders would not necessarily mesh with her own, and was prepared for a small flurry of humiliations.  She felt a little peckish and perhaps a snack was in order while the newcomers recovered from their trip.   She signaled to Dorpsillo to offer the welcoming vestments.  Nels’ blade hummed and his half-open eyes wandered groggily as he made some ineffective verbal and somatic gestures at greeting, his voice slurred in his recovery from hypersex stasis.  Psychically, he was as a man who arrives at work in a state of nakedness.

Jo was wide awake and his sensors attuned to manifold wavelengths as he watched the sub-lieutenant offer each of the new arrivals a spotless robe of megasilk.  He had no need of clothes, as such, but knew that the entire planet was warm and that his companions would soon be disrobed again, as fast as they could manage.  Aarona shimmered in the afternoon suns, her mycelium glistening in pseudoperspiration.  Nels yawned, clumsily.

At just this moment, one of the pink Squibs that accompanied Dorpsillo turned and muttered to Aarona thusly: “Mistress, your fronds and their care and upkeep do you great justice for you are quite beautiful.”

Aarona bent and said “Many thanks, my pinkie!  Pray tell, who is this adorable little entity?”.  She looked around expectantly at the assembled host, and patted the friendly Squib’s proteinaceous processor unit.  A wave of confusion broke over the entire assemblage – psionically emanated from Hersetskin who looked disapprovingly at Dorpsillo's sub-entourage.

Dorpsillo, aplomb, hastily and ravenously devoured the squib who had offered the touching compliment.  It was unknown to the trio at that time, but no Squib since their creation thousands of generations in the past had been known to utter a sound without prompting from a Lupine, and even then it was rare for them to say more than a word.  This one was obviously defective, although it did not falter in its duties to squirm and look afraid as Dorpsillo snatched it up and devoured it in great haste and consternation.  A spray of blood, a little bit of a wiggle, and the greeting ceremony continued without missing a further beat.  The blood-drenched robes that were originally offered to the trio were replaced and finer ones brought to them – the new ones woven with mithril instead of duralloy, since Nels’ heritage was recognized at that point.  Altogether gracious.  To comment on such an odd event so early in their acquaintance with the off-worlders would be highly unusual and a serious faux pas.

Further reflection has lead to the conjecture that it was the presence of the Krovarion blade combined with Nels’ natural talents for empathy that prompted this burgeoning free will in that first lone Squib.  Thereafter, wherever the trio went, riotous calamity followed – mostly through no fault of their own.  Squibs of all makes and models became self-aware and recalcitrant, inspired by the physical beauty of Aarona and her innocent demeanor and selflessness.  It was as if her freely unfettered soul was projected onto them, and the natural order of the situation in which the Squibs were unfeeling victims of the Lupine’s merely utilitarian murderous rampages was no longer tolerated.  They ran, struggled loudly, muttered things in discontent, and shouted abuses at their benefactors.  The power dynamics of the planetary and system-wide situation were suddenly laid bare, except now it were as if a hammer screamed torrents and objections at a carpenter for his rough usage.  No Lupine nor third party observer understood precisely what happened, but riots and uprisings became commonplace.  Innocent as she was Aarona recognized - and was coached by Nels and Jo at great length - that her own views on feminism and power had little bearing on this planet and were in fact insulting and dangerous in the given context.  Secretly, she harbored wishes that the whole of Lupinian society be toppled and laid waste by the Squibs.  And thusly the Squibs wished it, also.  At least whilst the wanderers were allowed to visit the planet.

In retrospect, we recognize that the Krovarion blade brought discontent wherever it was carried.  It is revealed to be a Chaotic artifact of the Great Precursors and although Nels finally did master and destroy it in QR 54865, his wanderings and heartache felled many a vast stellar empire wherever he set foot.  Aarona Vesk went on to briefly rule her own galactic empire (as it was foretold), but Nels and Jo had a mighty task evading the Black Gargoyles that the Lupines hired to find them for Aerethean decades afterward.  Eventually, he came to avoid the company of sentient and artificial lifeforms entirely, preferring mindless servitors upon whom his own moods and subconscious desires could not be projected.

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