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Voidbrood

The voidbrood are spaceborn parasites from a long-dead universe, though they are mostly known by the appearance of their host species, engineered by them for just that purpose.

Basic Information

Anatomy & Morphology

While attached to its host, the only visible parts of the parasite are part of its head and back, and the three pairs of tentacles.  

Space Adaptation

While they have since undergone significant genetic engineering, both voidbrood and their hosts are entirely capable of living in the vacuum of space. They don't need to breathe (though their hosts have lungs so they can speak and make use of various atmospheric gases), and are completely immune to extreme temperatures and massive amounts of radiation.  

High Gravity Adaptation

Voidbrood hosts are adapted to high gravity, and their soldiers routinely train at 3 g, and can survive up to 20 g for a limited time. They have thick and heavy bones, both to carry their weight in those conditions and to prevent fractures.  

Skin

Both voidbrood and their hosts have thick, sometimes scaly, skin that protects them from small space debris, making them essentially bulletproof. That said, large caliber rounds will cause some serious bruising, and their skin offers little protection from armor-piercing rounds.   Their skin is black or dark gray due to high amounts of melanin, which helps them metabolize gamma radiation.  

Wings

Voidbrood hosts have a second pair of arms that look similar to wings, however they're not made for flying.  
Voidbrood Wing Concept 1
by Ira Black

Genetics and Reproduction

Voidbrood have one primary reproductive caste, the Queens. But since they're hermaphrodites, that caste also includes drones. The only difference between them is their role and the amount of genetic material they transmit to their offspring.   Who becomes a queen and who a drone is decided in the courtship ritual. The strongest is usually the queen, as she will have to carry and give birth to the young. It's not uncommon for older drones to leave a queen's harem and found their own swarm as queens.   The other castes are usually infertile, but if a swarm loses its queens and no close relative of the queen caste is around, members of another caste may take the job as queens (drones are always members of unrelated swarms).

Dietary Needs and Habits

Voidbrood are partly autotrophic, using ionizing radiation as an energy source, but also require organic food in order to keep their hosts' body mass.

Biological Cycle

Voidbrood are the closest thing to immortal any known sapient species has ever come. That's not a result of genetic engineering, but trait they had long before that.   As a result of their extreme longevity, they reproduce fairly rarely--at least they did until they acquired the ability to go planetside, where food is abundant. That led the species to quickly increase in numbers, and subsequently spread across many regions of space they hadn't been to before. Since their exodus, they're keeping their population growth low, as there is limited space shipside.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Voidbrood are eusocial. They live in swarms led by hivequeens (or occasionally, drone kings).   All members of a swarm share a hivemind, however the amount of control the common consciousness has over its members is limited.   Ferals are those born outside an established swarm, often to young queens, or former hivequeens who have been kicked out by a rival.

Facial characteristics

Voidbrood Concepts 01
by Ira Black
 

Jaws and Teeth

Voidbrood hosts have skull-like faces with a pair of needle-like lower canines. Those are venom fangs, complemented by rows of several more in the mouth, kept folded up against the palate until needed. The rest of their teeth are triangular, sharp, and very strong. They also have a second, pharyngeal pair of jaws, used to hold on to uncooperative food.  

Eyes

Their eyes are black, without a distinct pupil, as the iris opacity changes to regulate the amount of incoming light. They have a third, transparent eyelid to protect their eyes without having to close them.  

Horns and Hair

Most voidbrood hosts have horns of various shapes and sizes. While predominantly ornamental, they're very surdy and can be used to inflict damage. They also have a shaggy mane, and many like to dye it or decorate it.  

Wing Skulls

Scourge caste hosts' wings each have a skull-like head located at the top of the largest blade. The only working sensory organs are the eyes.  

Parasite Features

The voidbrood parasites have the same black eyes, and a mouth full of backward-pointing teeth.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Originally from the universe posthumously referred to as Abyss, the voidbrood have traveled five other universes and are currently residing at the edge of Terran Space.   They control a number of star systems:

  1. Lich (PSR B1257+12), a pulsar in Virgo
  2. Black Widow (PSR B1957+20), a pulsar and brown dwarf binary in Sagitta
  3. Corpselight (PSR J0108-1431), a pulsar in Cetus and one of the closest to Sol
  4. Midnight (A0620-00), a stellar black hole and orange star binary in Monoceros
  Since 2740 TCE, they're also occupying Algol (Beta Persei).   The Gemini Protectorate is under JNF protection, and while inhabited primarily by Carcosans, it is home to a JNF embassy and base.

Average Intelligence

Voidbrood are very smart, not least because they have access to a hivemind, allowing them to pool the mental processing of many individuals. Higher ranks and specialists also carry a slaved non-sentient AI that augments their mental abilities.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Sound

Voidbrood can neither speak nor hear, as sound doesn't travel in space. Their hosts however have excellent hearing, including near infrasound (down to ca. 10 Hz). They can move their ears independently to locate the source of a sound.  

Telepathy and Hivemind

Voidbrood are telepaths, and each swarm shares a common mind. The line between this hivemind and the individuals sharing it are blurry. Ferals are the odd ones out, as they're not part of a known swarm.   They're ability to communicate telepathically with other species is very limited, as they simply don't speak the same language. However, it's not uncommon for them to pick up occasional mental images and similar cues even from individuals with only very latent telepathic ability, if they're linked to particularly strong emotions.

Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms

While the voidbrood are parasites--or in most cases, parasitoids, as they usually end up killing their hosts--they live in a beneficial symbiotic relationship with their engineered hosts. In fact, those hosts cannot survive without their voidbrood symbiont after reaching maturity.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Most voidbrood have no personal name and go by their caste name (eg. Queen, Drone, Warrior, Soldier, Engineer, Worker, Scourge, Feral) and their swarm name, eg. Engineer Guards-their-Thoughts.   Some voidbrood earn a personal name and maybe even a title. Personal names are usually based on some quality or particular feature associated with them, eg. Wrath Sings-to-the-Void, Kinslayer Devourer-of-Souls. In formal setting, it's also common to add the swarm alliance, eg. Hunger Harbinger-of-Blight of the Plaguestar League.   Voidbrood translate their names to whatever foreign language they're using at the time. Not all concepts match perfectly, and they will choose a local one that's similar enough.  

Titles

  • Sovereign (hivequeen / drone king)
  • Deathbringer (elite warrior)
  • Technomancer (elite engineer)
  • Archivist (occupational title)
  • Peacekeeper (occupational title)
 

Swarms

"Feral" indicates the name the respective swarm alliance gives their ferals. These voidbrood aren't usually related.
"Shadow" refers to the members of the eponymous species the Blackreach voidbrood work with. They adopted the voidbrood naming pattern early on, and are considered members of the Pact.  
  1. Blackreach Pact
    1. Devourer-of-Souls
    2. Sings-to-the-Void (feral)
    3. Spirit-of-Malice (shadow)
    4. Visions-of-the-Future
  2. Chimera Cabal
    1. Paints-Dreams-in-Blood
    2. Spawn-of-the-Forsaken (feral)
  3. Dead Sun Alliance
    1. Child-of-the-Stars (feral)
    2. Echoes-of-Times-Past
    3. Grace-of-Mind
  4. The Coalition
    1. Guards-Their-Thoughts
    2. Nameless-Hunter (feral)
  5. Plaguestar League
    1. Harbinger-of-Blight
    2. Last-of-the-Rotten (feral)
 

Spaceship Names

Like their owners, most voidbrood spaceships and stations have no name until they earn one, and then it's usually a long and telling name. These names are also translated into local languages.   Examples  
  • JNFMPC Exceptionally Large Amounts Of Feathers is a Megafreighter-class multi-purpose cargo hauler, and her name is the result of a particularly odd entry on a cargo manifest.
  • JNFGHP Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly is an Atom Chaser-class gas harvester, and she was named after a major mishap that saw her almost blown apart.
  • JNFAS WTF Humans?! is one of the Trailblazer-class auto-scouts that explored Terran Space. Go figure.
  • JNFD Questionable Lifestyle Choices is the Drift-class station that serves as homebase for the Blackreach Pact, and her name says it all.
  • JNFV A Shadow Beneath A Nameless Sun is a Destroyer of Worlds-class dreadnought, a former derelict discovered, named, and since owned by Wrath Sings-to-the-Void. The Shadow carries two Skybreaker-class attack corvettes, JNFV Don't Touch That and JNFV I Told You So.

Major Organizations

While several fleets left their native universe, the Joint Nomad Fleet (JNF) is no longer in contact with any of them.   The JNF itself consists of five swarm alliances, the Dead Sun Alliance, Blackreach Pact, Chimera Cabal, Plaguestar League, and the Coalition. Each of these alliances in turn consists of multiple swarms.

Gender Ideals

Voidbrood have no social concept of gender the way humans do. They do use it in order to provide some kind of explanation to non-voidbrood. In human terms, queens are considered female (she/her) and drones male (he/him), and the rest agender (they/them). However, none of them has to ID as the respective default gender if it doesn't fit them, nor use the associated pronouns.   The following list thus provides the ideals for each caste instead:

  • The primary job of a Hivequeen is twofold: Give birth to her swarm, and rule that swarm. She is the central mind in her swarm's hivemind. Larger swarms often have multiple queens, usually sisters, who share a harem of drones. Young single queens are simply called Queens, as opposed to Hivequeens.
  • Drones provide only a third of the genetic material for any offspring they have with their Hivequeen, and their primary job is to protect and care for her. And those who do their job best often become favorites.
  • The Engineers and Workers are the builders. They have perhaps the widest range of careers available to them, but are also expected to be smart, hard-working and diligent. Workers are simply young Engineers who have yet to choose a career and get the respective training.
  • Warriors and Soldiers are the fighting caste. The majority of the JNF's armed forces is made up of Warriors, and they're expected to be ruthless in battle and willing to sacrifice themselves for their swarm, should the need arise. Soldiers are young Warriors with little training or experience.
  • The Scourge are a strange caste, made up of misfits and mutants. They don't really fit in anywhere else, but that's also their advantage--and they're expected to seize it: They have options the other castes don't in terms of career choice, assuming they bring the necessary skills.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

Voidbrood are telepaths; that is their natural form of communication along with bioluminescence.   They don't have a native spoken language, but since they came into contact with other species, they devised a spoken (and written) trade language used for communication with other species, record-keeping, and information display.   Since the exile, the JNF made it a rule to use local languages when communicating with other species rather than their own trade language.

Common Etiquette Rules

The common greeting among voidbrood is "clear skies".

Culture and Cultural Heritage

Voidbrood culture is centered around two primary goals:

  1. To gather all the knowledge, preferrably before the locals find out they're there.
  2. To establish themselves as the ultimate killing machines in any area they decide to set up camp.
  The hierarchy of these goals is debated, but the order of fulfilling them is perfectly clear.   Voidbrood do have a sense of humor, and can be rather playful, though it's very rare for them to admit the latter.  

Catch!

by Ira Black

History

The origins of the voidbrood are unknown. There is speculation that they were engineered as a bioweapon by an even more ancient species, but the veracity of that has been lost to time and the death of their native universe.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Voidbrood are fully aware of their superiority to most species to the point of arrogance, and in fact aspire to be the ultimate killing machines. That, along with their appearance, means they tend to be met with fear and suspicion.   However, as a species, they're not usually aggressive unless given a good reason to.

Voidbrood

by Ira Black

Lifespan
potentially indefinite
Average Height
host: 2.1 - 2.7 m
Average Length
parasite: 0.9 - 1.4 m, tentacle span: 1.2 - 3.5 m
Average Physique
host: muscular / bulky
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Voidbrood have black or dark gray skin and patterns of light organs running the length of their torso.
Related Ethnicities

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Articles under Voidbrood



Cover image: by Ira Black

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