Ongleon

Yeah, I remember Ar'rusa, fuck Ar'rusa
— Uncredited Ongleon Eradicator Veteran (Age 86)
  An ongleon is a partially-hiveminded colonial organism designed and created by the Apple of Hedonism to wipe out colonies by spreading tactically through its population and wildlife and integrating them into itself as quickly and intelligently as can be pre-programmed.   It has some learning capabilities, and can self-modify.   Most planets infected with ongleon are considered lost, even after the ongleon presence has been eradicated. They are quarantined just in case any part of the ongleon remains in dormancy.  

Mission Log 4

We're on Ar’rusa, the site of the ongleon infestation.

The drop was a little rough and it's cold as fuck here.The surviving 18 of the original 400 settlers have been evacuated to a quarantined location for monitoring. There's a betting pool that all the survivors are going to mysteriously disappear, but I bet the under and said at least 5 will be allowed to walk away, maybe they'll even be offered recruitment into the program since they now have ongleon experience.

— Private Agnar, 02:43 2-31-21787
 

Reproduction

Ongleon reproduce via spores inspired by and engineered after cordyceps, a type of fungus which grows on the jungles of Earth and which has parallels on Jhoutai. Cordyceps will invade the mind of a host, overriding their instincts to further itself.   Once an ongleon spore finds a physical host it will trigger a series of changes in the following order:
  1. The host will begin to produce a distinct, sickly sweet scent.
  2. The host will demonstrate an increasingly acute case of fasciculation—their muscles will visibly move under the surface of their skin and they will summarily tremble, twitch, and stumble.
  3. The host will have the urge to find warm, damp, private places.
  4. The host will be overcome with the urge to eat.
  Once the host has settled into a cycle of gorging, the spore gauges if it is in the presence of other ongleon. Typically it does this by having the host smell for and approach the distinct ongleon scent, but it also has a mild psionic field it can use to detect fellow ongleon units within several feet. How it reacts depends on what it finds:
  • If it discovers it is alone but doesn't have enough mass, it will turn the host into a sporophyte.
  • If it discovers it isn't alone and is in a predator, it will become a soldier.
  • If it discovers it is alone and is in prey, it will become a gatherer.
  • If it discovers it is alone and has enough mass (as judged by how many creatures are larger than itself and the level of clarity of thought of its host, it will begin to develop into an egregongleon.
 

Mission Log 13

Welp, Private Arnoi is dead. He gets to take the medal for first place at dying. He was one of the newbies, so no real surprise there. Most of the newbies bite it on their first ongleon mission.

...to be fair a lot of the veterans bit it, too. This is my 3rd ongleon hunt and if I survive it they're promoting me right up to captain, so I guess that says plenty about the survival rate.

Bet you boys up top are knocking glasses right now, congratulating yourself for having the education to not have to be on this end of the shitstick. Well... don't get too excited, last drop I was on the operators got wiped out first. Now that was a shitshow.

Anyway, I'm not sure when Arnoi got spored but I saw him stumbling around and a noticed he stank like rotten oranges. I figured it was 50/50 that he was either infected or had brought some homemade rum, so I told the Captain.

Captain walked up, asked him some questions, and put a knife right through his eye. Didn't take long for the spore to start to wiggle out of his chest. We doused him in napalm and barbecued him.

As a personal note to Arnoi's family, should these records ever be made public: he had it coming. He kept straggling. You should've hit him more as a kid or something.

— Private Agnar, 03:25 2-31-21787
 

Stages of Growth

Spore

Spores are the primary vector of the ongleon. They are centipedal creatures some 25cm in length, with strong jaws that end in sharpened beaks and which are lined with razor-sharp spiney ridges. A spore's only instinct is to find and invade an organic host, which they do by spearing their beaks into the soft flesh of the host, crawling inside, and releasing cocktails of hormones to numbs and calm the host before invading their mind with membranous feelers.   Spores usually try to find prey at least twice their size so they can turn them into sporophytes. For more information on ongleon reproduction read farther on.

Mission Log 25

Finally saw some of the spores. Nasty fuckers. Last couple ongleon I saw had spores a bit like worms or snakes, but these are closer to bugs. We learned that if you're not wearing plate they can punch right through your armor, and if you are wearing plate you better have rigging otherwise you're too slow for your own good and they'll just catch up with you and find a soft spot to dig into. Little bastards dropped right from the roof, rained down on our forward guard. That's three more dead.

— Private Agnar, 03:25 2-31-21787

Mission Log 26

Oop, gunshot. Make that four more. Captain caught someone trying to pretend the gaping hole in his armor wasn't caused by a spore. I'm starting to hate the barbecue smell.

— Private Agnar, 03:26 2-31-21787

Sporophyte

Sporophytes are the main producers of spores. When a host becomes sporophyte they develop incubation tumors over the course of the first 10 hours, after which those tumors spawn pairs of spores at a rate of 1 pair approximately every 20 hours. The number of incubation tumors are dependent on the mass of the host, but the average amount is 1 per 15 kilos of body weight.   This process will continue for as long as the host and continue to sustain the caloric and material intake required to sustain the production. In order to prolong the usefulness of the host, certain tumors may enter dormancy if the host cannot provide the required material; this dormancy is only temporary, and ultimately the tumors will resuscitate and consume the host if no other material is provided.   Scans of sporophyte brains, and attempt to establish a metalink with them, suggest that while the host outwardly demonstrates only moderate pain, fear, and discomfort, they process is internally agonizing and terrifying.   Once the host has deceased their material will be added to the main ongleon mass via either consumption or absorption.

Infline-Species-Ongleon-Owned-5
Ongleon Sporophyte by Ademal

Mission Log 37

We found the colony school. We also found a bunch of phytes. No points for guessing the phytes were kid. They were all huddled around a heating vent in their cafeteria, gorging themselves on the mixed contents of a vendyman and the remnants of some dead phytes.

Alright. I think I've held up pretty good until now but this is fucking with me. Why the kids? Must be because they aren't strong enough for anything else, or may Hedon coded that in for the psyche warfare aspect.

It's horrible either way, you can still see a little bit of humanity in their eyes before you snuff em. They've got hope that you're there to save them.

More barbecue.
Heh...
...baby back ribs anyone?

— Private Agnar, 04:12 2-31-21787

Mission Log 38

This fucking sucks, but you know what makes me feel better? The fact that you bastards topside have to listen to me going on about it all. Sucks to be you! Someone keep track of how many times you all puke.

— Private Agnar, 04:13 2-31-21787

Soldier

Soldiers are the primary offensive and scouting force of the ongleon. They typically have the traits of multiple predators grafted onto their mass to make them particularly deadly, as well as a small hive of spores (either hitchikers or produced by sporophytes within the host) which they can use to quickly convert organic targets into fresh hosts.

Soldiers are very aggressive and very strong, and will stop at nothing once they have spotted their prey. Their greatest danger, however, comes not from their tirelessness or their dedication, but from the fact that at first all of their traits may be hidden from view, waiting for an opportune moment to explode out and attack their prey.

Mission Log 51

We're onto soldiers now, we must be headed in the right direction. There's no real wildlife to speak of so the soldiers look mostly like people, which of course makes things a little tricky because well, we're people and it's dark in here.

— Private Agnar, 04:41 2-31-21787

Mission Log 53

Motherfucker.

The Captain got spored at some point and we realized it too late. He walked right up to Private Dunnigan, bowled her over, and pinned her down. His lower jaw fell clean off and he puked spores all over her. I liked her, too.

She's swiss cheese now. BBQ'd swiss cheese.

— Private Agnar, 04:47 2-31-21787

Mission Log 54

Alright that last log was pretty bad. I stopped to have a puke. The image of the spores boring into her face is stuck in my fucking head.

— Private Agnar, 04:48 2-31-21787

Gatherer


Gatherers come in a variety of forms but have a single drive: consume, assimilate, or capture biomass, and return to the egregongleon to be assimilated that biomass into the main body.   This process may involve the gatherer feeding the biomass to the egregongleon, passing the biomass off to a Grafter, or the Gatherer allowing itself to be consumed.

Mission Log 62

The ongleon definitely knows we're here. Half the paths towards the 'ponics labs are stacked with furniture and grown over with Graft, leaving only one or two viable paths.

Instead of risking a dead end we're gonna stalk some Gatherers. Maybe they've got ways down to 'ponics. Because that can't go south at all.

— Private Agnar, 05:30 2-31-21787

Grafter

Grafters are the builders and modifiers of the ongleon. They leverage their host's metaphysical capabilities for therianthropy to absorb traits from other species, code them into the egregongleon, and sculpt those traits into hosts.   Grafters also stretch membranes of biomass (flesh, fungus, etc) over surfaces near egregongleon and over key points of the ongleon's region. These membranes transport biomass, energy, and nerve signals between points, increasing the range of egregongleon awareness and control.   Rather than coming from spores, grafters are produced by egregongleon once they've acquired enough biomass from gatherers to begin production of most customized life-forms.

Mission Log 68

Found a hidden path through a grafted over hallway thanks to a gatherer. Jenkins and Smith, dumbshits, spent a good minute debating what sort of orifice we'd had to crawl through to get through the membrane until teeth sprung from the wall and bit Jenkins in half.

Let the record show, at least, that Jenkins was right... I think.

Oh yeah, Smith died too. We're not sure how, but he took a wrong turn as we were passing through the membrane (is that even the right word? it was about 10 meters thick or so) and his vitals reported flat by the time we noticed.

— Private Agnar, 06:09 2-31-21787

Egregongleon

Egregongleon are the brains of the ongleon. They process all of the information and traits gathered by the other units, make decisions, and design new kinds of trait configurations for the grafters to disseminate across the ongleon. If two egregongleon encounter eachother then the one with the most mass under its control takes charge.

Mission Log 89

After a long radio silence. I'm pretty sure you boys topside have collectively shit your pants and organized an extraction for yourself. Well, we're back. This infestation was worse than we thought and I can comfortably make several statements:

1) There's only two of us left.

2) There were three fucking egregongleon throughout this complex, not one. Get fucked, infosec.

3)The shock is wearing off and I'm pretty fucking scared right now.

4) I think the egregongleon are dead.

5) I've seen so much meat today that I think I'm just going to go vegan now.

I'm ready for extraction, so for the love of fuck I hope someone is still alive up there.

— Private Agnar, 12:42 2-31-21787

 

Ongleon.   You're a fool if your blood doesn't run cold at the name.   They're bioweapons designed by Hedon before the Melancholic Lacuna to assimilate all life within an ecosystem and create something new from it.   In standard Hedon hubris, they created something beyond their control.

Species Info

Sophont Classification

The true awareness of an ongleon is unknown. The organeers who developed it are long dead, and any remaining ongleon units have either been destroyed or are suspected to be hidden by Hedon for future use. Given their behavior it is certain that they are Sentient, possibly even Sapient.

Some Sophontists claim that some reports and stories of ongleon even indicate Sophonce, and that the raw power afforded to them by a hivemind could even result in Sophilect intelligence. This is not a well-received opinion as the implications are disastrous.

  Etymology
Lifespan
Indefinite
Conservation Status

Anyone who encounters an ongleon is advised to vacate the infected region and take measures to eradicate all potentially infected life.

All involved cleanup personnel are advised to neutralize the survivors, as they may bear hibernating spores.

Tech Info

Tech Clade Meta and Orga   Access   Complexity   Manufacturing   Aliases   Parent Technologies Important Instances  

Purpose

Ongleon are used by The Apple of Hedonism foremost as a bioweapon and secondarily as a method of terraforming unstable or hostile worlds. If an ongleon is left to gestate for a timespan of 200+ years after assimilating a world it will usually reach an ecological equilibrium and slow or stop production of ongleon units as the previously created soldiers and gatherers settle into natural reproductive cycles and pred/prey relationships.

The world is still dangerous but it is possible to find and wipe out all egregongleon before they re-awaken.  

Sensory Capabilities

Ongleon have as many methods of communication as exist within their network of assimilated biomass. From most creatures they absorb the standard senses of sight, smell, sound, and so-forth, but if they assimilate creatures with more unique methods of perception, such as creatures with tetrachromatic vision, sensitivity to extreme audio frequencies, psionic capabilities, and so forth, then they will put those perceptive abilities to use at whichever locations they deem to be of the highest tactical usage.   Due to their assimilating nature of the ongleon, there is no upper limit to the number of perceptive methods they can assimilate, reproduce, and demonstrate.


Cover image: Ongleon Wall by Ademal

Comments

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21 Jul, 2018 19:55

This is horrifying.

21 Jul, 2018 19:57

Thank you! Ethnis is how I vent my nightmares to the world!

3 Mar, 2019 16:07

It reminds my of a survival horror game.   Massive flesh walls, everyone needs massive flesh walls.

4 Mar, 2019 20:27

Thank you! I actually am building a survival-horror module for the RPG around the Ongleon, so you're right on the nose.

19 Oct, 2019 02:11

This is very well made. Ship Logs are always a very creepy and entertaining way to explain things

19 Oct, 2019 06:37

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed!

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