You can’t have a story about war without an enemy. So let’s start with the primary antagonists of A Galaxy Gone Mad, The Drankmastarain Empire.
This evil interplanetary empire is based on an idea that I have had rattling around in my head for awhile. There is a BBC series from 1985 called Edge of Darkness which I highly recommend. If you haven’t seen it and care about spoilers stop reading this and go watch it immediately. If you don’t give a crap about that sort of thing then suffice it to say the story has many dramatic twists and turns but it winds up in a place that I was not expecting at all. Since I can’t find the clip of the relevant scene on YouTube anymore I will have to use an excerpt from Wikipedia instead. The depiction here is a bit dry, especially compared to Joe Don Bakers characters triumphant final act of defiance against a system seduced by the promise of unlimited power.
“Craven and Jedburgh escape Northmoor but both are dying from radiation poisoning. Jedburgh makes for the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, which is hosting a NATO conference on directed energy weapons. Also present at the conference is Grogan who announces that the British government has approved the purchase of IIF and speaks with cold passion of harnessing the power of the atom to conquer the galaxy. The audience of military and civilian officials applauds but Jedburgh in U.S. uniform takes the dais to denounce nuclear proliferation and a vainglorious crusade amongst the stars. He finishes by bringing together two bars of plutonium he has removed from Northmoor, causing a criticality accident and irradiating himself and the nearby Grogan.”
In terms of organization the Drankmastarains are the United States interstellar empire. The Drankmastarains themselves are a race of humans who had the misfortune to be dropped on a particularly unpleasant planet. This planet changed their body chemistry into something rather different from a baseline human. They became incredibly strong, tough, absurdly aggressive and unreasonable. They then sought to spread these traits far and wide. Though they were not the most advanced faction of humanity that emerged out of the human diaspora across the stars. They were the most militant and combative. So by determination and brute force they emerged triumphant over the other branches of humanity.
On their lack of technological development over the past few millennia. In the universe of the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 mankind is in a similar state of stasis. However this doesn’t make any sense to me for one simple reason. There is an unending state of war. In war technologies relating to killing advance. If they don’t advance then your side loses the war. Though the Drankmastarains are a highly militaristic people they haven’t had an opponent to test their abilities in space combat for millennia. And since their military is sucking away all the extra resources of the planets they rule then there is little to no incentive for their civilian population to advance either. Incentive is the essential element for technological advancement. Which is a far more difficult thing than many people believe it to be. The developed western world has numerous technologies and more technologies coming out every day. This continuous cycle of advancement is not seen in most of the rest of this planet. Why would a galaxy full of people be different?
The lizard people.
Initially included for one reason. Reptilians from beyond the stars conspiracy theories. If you haven’t heard of these theories then you have lived a very sheltered life. I find the idea of regal reptilians secretly ruling the Earth to be absurd for several reasons. The big one being that lizards are not as smart as mammals. There are a few lizards that can do relatively intelligent things like Komodo Dragons. But it is highly unlikely that a lizard is ever going to outsmart a rat. Let alone all of humanity. So the idea of a bunch of them secretly driving the entire course of human history and flying around in spaceships is utterly absurd to me. The lizard people in AGGM are basically what I imagine an actual species of lizard people would be like. Not very smart, perhaps strong and talented fighters. But not something that is ever going to establish their own interstellar empire without deep fundamental changes to what they are.
Which brings me to one other point. There are no lizard/human hybrids. Or hybrids of any other alien species in this story. The closest thing to a hybrid in this story is Linda Hammond. Whose mothers body was specifically built to be compatible with earthling human biology. I did not include hybrids because I never liked the idea of alien/human hybrids. Humans cannot reproduce with any other creature on this planet. Do you honestly believe that we could do so with beings from other worlds barring the intervention of science which would be indistinguishable from magic?
The Blue Furies.
The Furies are a combination of several ideas. Biologically they are a silicon based life form. In all their forms they have protective shells of metallic and ceramic elements. Their ability to change into new forms is essentially limitless.
What defines their existence is power. Their home world is continuously drenched in a torrent of powerful cosmic energies. Humans on Earth have taken the energy provided by the relatively gentle combination of cosmic circumstances. Our even tempered sun and the magnetosphere which shrouds our planet and built some amazing things. The Blue Furies had only two options. Thrive or die. On their bleak, blasted home world they were doused with so much energy that they had to adapt or go extinct. So they adapted and they built. They focused their energies into great underground cities and self guiding their evolution into an unimaginable diversity of shapes and sizes. When the Blue Furies decide that they need a job done they simply build a new form of themselves to do that job. They are not a hive mind though. They are as freedom minded a species as you will find in this fictional universe.
Yes I admit it, The Horde was inspired by the Replicators from Stargate SG1. However I think I added a few important tweaks to the concept and let’s be clear that the idea of out of control robots or an all enveloping nanotech gray goo isn’t exactly an uncommon idea in sci fi as of late. However as revealed in the later chapters there is more to The Horde than a mindless tide of unstoppable machines. They do serve a productive purpose. Even if they go about said purpose in a somewhat impolite way to biological lifeforms.
Neil deGrasse Tyson has said that something that irritates him about modern science fiction is that aliens are usually just humans with skin problems. That there is an incredible diversity of life forms on this planet and that if there is life out there in the universe it should be even more diverse than what we have here. I tried to make the alien life in my story as diverse as possible and the Tripods are a reflection of this. Even though they are one of the more humanoid races, who organize their societies on human like lines no one could ever mistake them for a human with their three legs, completely different faces and radically different anatomy. The closest thing in fiction I can think to this species is the character of Pleakly from Lilo and Stitch, pictured above. Although Pleakly and my Tripods are different in some rather important ways. The main difference being that the Tripods are much bigger, meaner and more heavily armed than Pleakly’s race.
The Singers, sorry, no image available. If you would like to make some fan art please leave a comment after reading the provided description.
Seeing as how they became such a vital part of the story I feel that I have said enough about them for now. Anything else I would say about them would be inappropriate, I think, as I was not their inventor. I will instead include the original document describing The Singers by their creator Reg Steiner. Written in the fashion of an after action report from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Reg has been working on more stories about The Singers. Rotating around a conflict between them and a real nasty enemy. Have seen some preliminary notes on this story and I like what I have seen. However since Reg has a significantly different mindset from mine his stories of The Singers go in a very different direction from mine.
Intelligence Report: Xenos Species locally called: The Singers. (Translated by codename: Toomanyguns, and Reg Steiner)
Location: Mining planet, Orodwaith. Southern Galactic Arm, outer rim world.
Background: I have interviewed the surviving Eldar who was instrumental in providing this background, as well as the reason our office was contacted for information on the subject Xenos species. Additionally, I have been to the wind-swept ridges where the species being called “The Singers” are still holding position, ‘singing’. I fully understand the awe the local miners show for this species. They seem nearly indifferent to our own species, yet the music that fills the wind from the many vibrating extensions of this Xenos is nothing short of entrancing.
Description: Each of the species is about the size of a Terra species bull. Each has five appendages that serve as both arms and legs at different times. The active members of the species are multi-colored, visions of diamond reflecting light. The slightly elongated torso can unfold, as do the ‘arm’ and ‘leg’ extensions, into fern or fan-like structures along all the edges. This gives the individuals a feathery appearance. Feathers made of diamonds. These thin ‘feathers’ are in many different sizes and descriptions. Each vibrates in the winds at a different frequency. This creates the music we humans hear. According to the Eldar that had been marooned on this planet, this vibration is why the ‘Singers’ come to these planets. The many vibrations each individual experiences is an experience of ecstasy to this Xenos. They travel the cosmos looking for the many worlds with many different atmospheres to enjoy the many different ecstatic pleasures to be found in each different environment. The Eldar person says that these creatures of silicon never die.
At some time, each individual will enter hibernation. They become immobile and lose their wonderful colors, becoming translucent. After some years, small, multi-colored crystal growths surround the immobile ‘Singer’. Some several years later, the individual growths have grown larger, and sentient. Each has ALL the knowledge of the parent ‘Singer’, as well as all the knowledge of every ancestor in its ‘family’ tree. Depending on the mineral content of the soils surrounding the immobile Singer, as few as five, or as many as twenty new Singers emerge. Knowing everything the parent knew, the newest additions to their race begin the quest for new experiences on new planets. The process takes an unknown number of years for new individuals to develop, but seems as slow as some kinds of long-lived trees.
History: According to the Eldar I have interviewed, the process of having the ‘Singers’ even notice, and then communicate with the Eldar was a long one. Once accomplished, the communication between the two species took many years. I am only going to provide a summary.
The origin of the ‘Singers’ seems to have been very near the Galaxy’s center. Over eons the silicon based organisms that developed, grew larger and smarter. All knowledge and experiences were passed from one organism to its ‘off-spring’ by the same process that passed some of the genetic code material. Many species and sub-species developed on that home world. Over time, the Singers began to notice the nearby stars. The expanding sentience of the species added ‘curiosity’ to its expanding mind, as well as self-awareness and group social structure. They became masters of light. From that mastery, the Singers expanded their collective knowledge into the full electromagnetic spectrum. From Gamma Radiation, high energy waves, to the very lowest audio frequencies, the Singers learned to understand the properties of sound and light energy waves. Then their curiosity led them to look up, and see the many near-by stars, and planets around those stars. They learned to harness light in the form of what humans call lasers. From the energy of laser focused power, they found a means to reach the stars. They discovered planets with new kinds of atmosphere. More important to them, the Singers discovered the winds on those planets.
They discovered the many kinds of gases, and volumes of atmosphere. Each different mix of gases made different ‘music’ as the winds played over their crystalline bodies. Just like helium makes a human voice high-pitched, the different mixes of nitrogen, oxygen, methane, and all the rest, made the bodies of the Singers vibrate differently. And raising the Singers to new levels of ecstasy. Now the singers travel the stars, seeking new planets, with new sensual experiences for them. The Eldar relaying this information, told me that the original home world is now covered with dormant Singers only. All that species who would leave the home world did so. All that remained were those who would only pass into dormancy, and quiet oblivion.
Military History: The race called the Singers had no need of weapons, at first. They did not notice other life forms on other planets any more than a human notices the grass under his boots. That changed.
A race was encountered that did not want the Singers to seek windy ridges on which to sing. The other species attacked the Singers. Somehow, the other species managed to break the heart-stone within a Singer, with some kind of weapon. The Eldar telling this tale said that the Singers never described the species that first attacked them. Only that the species is extinct. The Singers adapted the lasers that propel their ships, and used those great lasers to melt the entire surface of that alien world.
That was not the only time the Singers have been attacked. Over time, the Singers have learned to equip their ships with the weapon they now use. The Singer species is now more widely scattered, then it was when they melted the surface of a planet. Some few ships travel together. But somehow, when in peril, very many of the Singer ships appear to help those being attacked. The Eldar who has been so helpful also took me to see one Singer space vessel. It took some time to get the use of a hover-craft. The extensive injuries to the Eldar prevented any other means of travel. The human miners were reluctant to allow the use of a hover, because they feared that the Singers still on their mining world would become aroused. At last, their fears were calmed enough to allow me to take the hover. It was quite a journey, even in a hover-craft. But I finally was able to see a small version of a Singer craft.
Space Vessels of the Singers: The first glimpse of a Singer ship was the appearance of a saucer type space ship. However, as we flew nearer, and then circled the ship, its appearance and design became more clear.
The ship is an elongated oval, with a tapered rear section that contains the powerful laser fed engines. The sides of the rounded upper hull curve smoothly down, then flair out into a kind of vessel length wing, which curves back from under this wing shape to again bulge into a lower hull under the length of the ship. The front section of the ship also tapers smoothly into a rounded front section.
Two covered tube-like projections barely extended beyond the nose of the vessel. These I was told, are the weapon tubes even small Singer craft now have. My Eldar escort described how they work. Each is a powerful laser. Except that the laser is not the weapon, but the propulsion for the projectile each tube fires. The laser burns away the rear of the projectile, accelerating it to very near the speed of light, in the vacuum of space. The large, hard projectiles, traveling at such awful velocities, release so much energy on impact that atomic weapons are put to shame. The Eldar claimed that the projectiles are a blending of ceramic and metal types that
can even stand the temperatures of punching through atmosphere, to create fearful releases of energy on a planet’s surface. The Eldar with me further claimed that the Singers can copy voice modulation frequencies, and have learned to speak with the Eldar this way.
The Singers saw no reason why they should not answer the questions of the Eldar the Singers met. And so hid nothing from the Eldar that other races might think a military secret. In this way, the Eldar have learned that some Singer ships are very large, and made of the same smooth opalescent material. Also an elongated oval shape, and with many more of the laser-projector launchers. Only these launchers are larger, and so even more devastating.
Additional Information: The Singers have met humans before. And when not singing, can actually ‘talk’ to humans. It seems that a Singer’s entire body vibrates at the frequencies of a human voice, just as their whole body vibrates while they ‘sing’. This has the peculiar effect of sounding as if a host of voices are all speaking at once, in perfect unison, word for word. It can be rather dismaying, to the human not familiar with that trait. Because Singers have met humans before, the Singers do not trust humans. They seem to be only cautious, not hostile. Unless a Singer is attacked. These creatures only seem to stay on a very few planets, and likely only because it is time for some of them to become dormant, and reproduce. When the young versions of the Singer species are developed enough, a Singer ship arrives and takes the new young Singers aboard.
The Eldar that accompanied me said that some of these Singer species have been observed traveling with a wandering association of several other species, which include humans in their number. That collection of alien ships now numbering Singers among them has a powerful, but reluctant to fight, ally in the Singer ships with them. Should the Singer ships come under attack, newly arriving Singer ships will appear as if they were streaks of enormous Lance energy, that suddenly blur into a Singer ship next to the threatened Singer ship. How the Singer ships travel at such high speeds is unknown. No Singer has been able to explain to any Eldar the means the Singers use to travel at such speeds. The Eldar went on to explain how he was from a planet, not any great space-wandering Craft-world. The planet was visited by the Singers many years ago, and this made possible this Eldar’s knowledge of the Singer species.
About the Eldar: This very helpful Eldar male was marooned on this mining planet by some great accident or attack. He claims he was only just about to land his single-occupant fighter within the large Eldar ship he was traveling on, when a terrific explosion knocked his little craft away from the larger vessel, and rendered him senseless. There had been no warning of any attack, so this Eldar believes it may have been some terrible accident. Whichever it was, this Eldar was badly hurt, and finding himself alone, made for the only planet he could reach before death took him. The human miners saw his ship land, and came to investigate. For some reason, the human miners took pity on the severely injured Eldar, and did as the Eldar asked to assist in saving his life. Now badly crippled from his injuries, this Eldar says his race believes he is lost to them, beyond recovery. He has vowed to repay the humans who helped him. This new species arrival, the ‘Singers’, gave this Eldar his chance to help. Had he not, the human miners may have attacked the strange crystalline forms appearing on the planet, to the destruction of them all.
I personally believe that this Eldar may have been of the Harlequin discipline among Eldar. His build is slighter than most Eldar, yet gives the impression of once graceful, powerful, movements of every atom of his body. I also believe this Eldar has had previous human contact, but in what context, I cannot determine. Too much of what is said, and not said, leads me to this conclusion.
There is however, no denying the facts of the Singer presence on this planet. I believe nearly all the Eldar’s story to me to be true. I think he believes that there is no need to lie about this species. I think this Eldar believes that if we ignore his advice and warnings, then we have only ourselves to blame. Because I believe that these Singers do not compete with any other species for any resource, it would be unnecessary to do more than observe these strange creatures, should any be encountered on any world humans wish to inhabit, or now inhabit.