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Ruins of Irridia V, The - SotS

Ruins of Irridia V, The

From SotS

Assembling notes on the history and culture of the Zuul has proven to be difficult, for a variety of reasons. Very few Zuul have been captured alive and taken prisoner. Of those taken captive, only the males can be interrogated at all, and interrogating a male Zuul presents a significant challenge to those without natural psionic defenses.

Nonetheless, some details have emerged from early sessions with the few Zuul patriarchs who have chosen to cooperate with their captors. All sources agree, for example, that Zuul “society”, as such, is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Zuul species is extremely young; the entire race has existed in its current form for less than a hundred years. Since they were first created and unleashed on the unsuspecting inhabitants of the world we call Irridia V, the Zuul have been in a constant state of flux, and only in recent decades have the various coteries of Zuul formed a collective, organized society sharing common ideals and goals. All known Zuul populations are descended from the Zuul of Irridia V. The planet from which the original proto-Zuul organism was taken is presently unknown.

SolForce investigators were given the location of Irridia V by a Zuul presently known by the codename “Deacon”. Irridia is a hot giant star surrounded by dense high–gravity planetary bodies. By the time of their arrival, the ruins on the fifth planet had been abandoned by the Zuul for a number of years, and most of the structures were in a state of weather–beaten disrepair. Nonetheless, with the help and guidance of Deacon, a team of crack xeno–archeologists was able to piece together the tragic history of this world… and to find the remains of its former occupants.

Irridia V was the colonial outpost of an unknown alien species. To date we have no name for this unknown race; SolForce scientists refer to them as “Species X”. Little is known about the physical or social nature of Species X; even the remaining bone fragments left on Irridia V are rarely larger than 20 centimeters in length. But we do know that they were a star–faring race with an unknown means of faster–than–light propulsion. They had settled on Irridia V after traveling a significant distance from their own home world; no other remains of their civilization have been found in neighboring star systems, but they were not native to Irridia V. The remains of Species X have been tested extensively for any resemblance to other life forms on the surface; there are only a handful of plants and animals on the planet that share more than 90% of their genome. It can be safely assumed that these organisms were imported as part of a terraforming project, to make Irridia V more livable.

Examining the structures built by Species X suggests that the colony was a scientific research facility; the majority of resources appear to have been devoted to laboratories and machinery designed for high–energy research, possibly in the field of gravity manipulation. It may have been this research which first attracted the attention of “Species Y” — the creators of the Zuul — or there may have been a pre–existing conflict between the two races. It is impossible at present to say. According to the testimony of “Deacon”, however, the members of Species X did not expect to be attacked in any way, and had made no effort to defend themselves; they may even have believed they were alone in the universe, prior to first contact with another star–faring race.

Regardless, it is clear that when the first infant Zuul appeared in their area, Species X did not immediately recognize the voracious creatures as a deliberate attack; they were mistakenly regarded as an infestation of native pests. Species Y, however, had deliberately and maliciously dropped the first Zuul on Irridia V with the intention of destroying Species X. The remains of the drop–pods they used have been found; these were obviously released from low orbit, filled with live female Rippers that were intended to die on impact with the planet’s surface.

The mass awakening of Zuul infants following this drop must have created an appalling wave of destruction. Mathematically speaking, most of the agricultural resources of the colony would have been wiped out within a few weeks — as well as many members of its civilian population. And despite the efforts of Species X to fight the horde of infant Zuul, a large number of Rippers clearly survived to latter childhood and began to form their first coteries in the undefended perimeter of the colony.

It was here that the original intentions of Species Y may have gone awry. We cannot say precisely what they meant to achieve when they created the Zuul, but it seems unlikely that they realized the full potential of their creation. All we can say for certain is that they dropped the Zuul on the surface of Irridia V and departed the scene; there is no evidence that they ever returned. It seems probable that they expected the savage Zuul to survive only long enough to wipe out Species X — they could not have expected this to take long, as the population of Irridia V was small and not at all prepared to defend itself. Thereafter, it would probably have been logical to assume that the Zuul would quickly die out, exhausting the very limited resources of a bleak, half–terraformed world in very short order. The Zuul, by nature a rapacious and highly aggressive species, should have quickly eaten Irridia V down to the bedrock and then suffocated when the last of its oxygen–producing plants were destroyed.

When the scientists of Species Y were tinkering with the intelligence and psionic capabilities of the Zuul, however, they may not have realized the fascination that male Zuul would have for the minds of potential victims. It is horrifyingly obvious, from the evidence found at Irridia V, that the survivors of Species X were not at all quick in dying; the majority were not eaten until years or even decades after the first generation of Rippers reached adulthood. Instead, these colonists were held captive, enslaved, studied, and “mind–ripped” by the primitive forbears of the modern Zuul, who used the alien scientists and their advanced technical knowledge to build the first ships with which fledgling Rippers would reach the stars.

The length of time that some of the Species X captives remained alive is itself astonishing, and seems to indicate that this race may have had some natural, in–born resistance to psionic invasion or attack. Many decades later, all remaining members of Species X are now long gone; it is impossible even to piece together a partial skeleton from their race. Nonetheless, in a very real sense, both Species X and Species Y were the “parents” of the modern Zuul. In Ripper cosmology, the contributions of both species are regarded as sacred.

Further Discoveries

The following comes from intelligence developed after SolForce contact with the Morrigi:

The creation of the Zuul race as it currently exists was fundamentally an accident of fate. The normal course of Zuul infestation on targeted Morrigi worlds was effective in the earliest phases. The infant and subadult Zuul simply devastated a relatively fragile biosphere, wiped out so much animal and plant life that the Morrigi could not sustain themselves physically, and then devoured the weakened Morrigi as they fell to starvation and thinning atmosphere. The Zuul in such cases destroyed themselves as well as their targets: a world with only a tissue-thin layer of terraforming to make it livable could not support them for long, once that layer was stripped away.

Irridia V was unique in that the both sides of the conflict lived for an extended period of time. The Morrigi survived in a relatively fortified position for long enough for a full generation of Zuul to reach adolescence and then adulthood. As supplies ran out and the Morrigi weakened with hunger and thirst, the highly curious besieging Zuul attacked their defenses both physically and psionically. By the time they had broken down the walls, the Zuul had developed a keen appetite for something other than meat.

A dominating Zuul had emerged from the ranks to lead the others; the Morrigi were taken prisoner rather than killed, and subjected to years of inquisition while the Zuul developed their language, their skill as tool users, and their sense of identity.

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