The Squid

The Squid

Initial exploration reveals a pocket or bubble universe (commonly called a “pocket stop”) approximately two miles in diameter. Internal atmosphere, temperature, and gravity are all set to “T-Optimal”. The universe’s sole function seems to be as a garden retreat for a vanished owner, a Tehrmelern known as ‘Hersherk’. It is indeterminate if this is a name or a title. The garden is maintained by a highly-advanced robots, silver ovoids roughly a yard tall. These robots can extrude tools at will, and are capable of conversation.

The universe was named after the central display of the garden, a statue of a squid-like animal twenty feet in length, with coiled tentacles (twelve of them) adding another twenty feet. Preliminary analysis indicates the entire statue is composed of a single diamond, grown and shaped into smooth curves rather than being carved. The interior of the statue contains representations of the internal organs of the creature, each of which is created from a differently colored gem. The purpose may be purely aesthetic, or educational, or even religious.

Attempts to interfere with the garden produce non-lethal attacks by the robots, consisting of a beam that induces deep slumber by as-yet-unknown means. It is possible for targets to resist the beam, which implies it may have been “tuned” to a different race of beings, or it may have weakened over time, or it may be a first-stage attack which can be increased after a certain number of failures.

The robots communicate in the native language of whoever is speaking to them, but have very limited areas of conversation. They seem programmed to cease their duties if asked questions, and are capable of identifying if they are the targets of a request or if others are speaking among themselves. Analysis of the initial reports by experts in machine intelligence indicates the robots have extremely advanced lingustic analysis and interpretation abilities, but lack consciousness or volition.

One of the robots has actually been retrieved from the pocket world; it became inert upon entering the Fringepaths. It is presumed it will resume functionality if removed from the paths; discussions are underway as to the risks of doing so.

While the plants in this universe are undoubtedly of interest to xenobotanists, the current priority in IDET in that area is the “blue slime” plague on Greenhouse

The Squid

Fringeworlds LizardSF