Дневник на английском, переводить я его не собираюсь.
Во избежание вероятного срача в комментах комментарии предусмотрительно отключены...
1/40 - Xonxt's Journal
Point of View features a journal element that catalogues your character Xonxt's thoughts throughout his journey. This is so that those of you who simply want to play through the game and not have to stop to deal with scrolling text or long cutscenes are more than free to. If you're interested in the full story, however, and want to hear an alien's take on everything, then this feature is for you.
There are 40 entries total, this counting as the first one. All of the entries are triggered near their subject matter, but not all are on your immediate path. Look around a bit for some of the more elusive ones. Don't worry; none are out and out hidden. See if you can find all 40. If you want to get the full story, you'll have to.
Every new entry will be indicated with a story icon in the upper right corner; hit the story key to read what Xonxt has to say. The icon will remain as long as there are unread segments, each of which has an asterisk by its title. Now go on, have some fun playing as an alien, and remember: it's all a matter of perspective.
2/40 – Introductions
I am the one known as Xonxt, child, citizen, and follower of the great Nihilanth. In outward appearance I seem to be a mere worker, but such deception is part of my design. Through the blessing of my father, my leader, my master, I was chosen to be amongst the gifted: a super worker. I am smarter, stronger, and faster than most of my kind.
I exist as I do because of the Great Invasion. As it dawned the great Nihilanth turned to the ancient prophecies, and found a passage indicating the invaders' own strength could be turned against them. The inhabitants of the borderworld, these so-called 'humans,' had broken the natural order by adapting the environment to their needs instead of evolving. They achieve this unnatural effect through 'technology.'
While the overseer caste is traditionally the most intelligent one, technology is so radically different from our own evolutionary path that no existing Xenizen was capable of grasping it. So the great Nihilanth turned to the birthing incubators and channeled his wisdom, his will, and his power into the creation of a new sub-caste of extraordinarily gifted Xenizens. It is in our very nature to be malleable.
3/40 - Research Associates
Those suspension fields up ahead are holding a pair of native creatures known as Spheres. In addition to holding the Spheres aloft, the suspension fields supply energy to an engineered organism enveloping the Spheres that keep them drugged and nourished. This is a necessary precaution due to the fact that Spheres can build up and fire an electric charge with great rapidity.
These creatures unique defensive method was in fact the basis of many of our castes' weaponry, including my own. By taking the appropriate genetic material and mixing it with a base form Xenizen, the great Nihilanth bestowed upon us the same ability. Something was lost in the transition, however, and as such we lack the Spheres' impressive rate of fire. Spheres are additionally capable of gravity-independent movement, coated in a metallic carapace, and become explosive upon dying.
This makes them curiously similar to much of human technology, and is the primary reason why I keep them here. This facility is, in part, my lab. The half dozen other super workers that exist are stationed at each of the other production facilities hidden around Xen, where they too are researching the creation of XTBU's: Xen Techno Biologic Units. Just up ahead lays my own experiment, accordingly known as the Xen Techno Biologic Sphere.
4/40 - Slight Problem
No, no, no!!! Humans have somehow infiltrated the facility, and they've stolen the XTBS! I must retrieve it or my life is forfeit. See what happened to the workers who failed to stop the humans, struck down by the overseers. They were lucky death embraced them as quickly as it did. If the XTBS, the sole reason I exist, falls into the hands of our enemy, I will have more to fear than death: once informed, the great Nihilanth will reach out with his mind and quell me.
The collars that we wear are actually living symbiotes that are capable of controlling the chemicals in our bodies. Overseers and the great Nihilanth can command them to blot out pain when we are hurt, make us happy when we help the Cause, and make us sad when we don't do our part, among many other abilities. Simple-minded creatures, they bow without question to these telepathic wishes.
If a worker gives in to his rebellious urges, or fails the Cause in any substantial way, the great Nihilanth alone can instruct the collar to overload our bioelectric organs, an act known as quelling. While we are resistant to a great deal of voltage we are not completely immune, and a quelled worker will quickly find himself writhing in agony as his organs melt and his flesh burns. I cannot let these humans escape, or I may find myself suffering such a fate.
5/40 - Prodigy Progeny
It appears that the humans have taken the XTBS aboard that transport. I must go after it, even if it means leaving the relative safety of the facility behind. Luckily, I possess a decided edge in combat that will be most useful in this situation. One of the unique abilities that the great Nihilanth gifted us super workers with was the ability to heal ourselves via our electrical attack.
Technically speaking, we do not fling the charged energy at our targets but form a connection with them. Two beams are created, one from us and one from them, each meeting halfway faster than our eyes can perceive. Both are actually shocked as a result, but we can resist it whereas the humans cannot. The key to all of this is that energy is transferred through the beams.
Normally such energy merely dissipates, but we have been created with a special organ that absorbs this energy, converts it into a useable form, and puts it towards healing our wounds. This breakthrough is so recent that only super workers possess these organs; warrior workers, while relatively new as well, began to incubate shortly before the discovery and thus, in my mind at least, are somewhat inferior.
6/40 - Battlefield Xen
As I suspected, the humans-upon discovering this invaluable production facility-are staging a large-scale offensive. The overseers are marshaling our forces in through teleportation, however, so there will be some fierce fighting ahead. With the overseers busy coordinating the battle they won't yet be able to tell the great Nihilanth that the XTBS has been stolen. That buys me some time. Is this transport here the one I'm after? No... but it did pass through here...
Unlike regular workers I possess some telepathic abilities with which I can track the XTBS and perceive many things beyond our normal senses. For instance, I can tell that there are many stukabats roosting in these caves. These creatures were an old experiment of ours that modified the native mantas-harmless creatures that congregate in flocks-and combined them with the Spheres' explosive chemicals. The result was an animal that could powerfully detonate itself at will.
Stukabats can be used as weapons if knocked from their perches. Most of the time they'll be stunned by the blow so one can quickly claim them for personal use, but occasionally they'll retain their consciousness and kamikaze any living form nearby. Otherwise they retain the docility of the mantas from which they originated. Caution must be used in angering and turning them loose, however, for if no target is in sight they will then turn back on their caster.
7/40 - Advantage: Xen
Healing pools are a miraculous natural occurrence here in Xen. A rare microscopic organism settles in a freestanding pool such as this one. While it waits for the arrival of other, more sophisticated life forms, it reproduces asexually until its habitat is brimming with its genetic twins, feeding on whatever other microscopic life can be found in the pool.
As soon as a visiting creature exposes itself to the liquid the organisms go to work, eating away at wasted materials such as dead skin, dried blood, and so forth. In exchange for the food, the organisms repair damaged areas by excreting antibiotics, painkillers, and many other useful chemicals that accelerate our natural healing properties. A quick dip in a healing pool can repair damage that would otherwise have taken days to naturally mend.
It is these microscopic organisms that are found throughout the bodies of super workers. The special organ we have converts captured energy from our electrical attack into a form instantly absorbed by the organisms, which in turn go into a healing frenzy. The amount of damage they repair in such a short time is remarkable.
8/40 - Still Life
Damn this accursed technology. These soulless sentries spring to unholy life the second they detect our movement. Devilry, devilry, devilry. What's worse, I cannot tap them for any energy; only a connection with an organic entity produces the right kind of free energy to convert into health. Nor is any of our sentient weaponry smart enough to realize to attack them. A different tactic will be required for such abominations.
*deep telepathic inhalation* Yes, this was the transport that held the XTBS. The interior is rich with its signature. Unfortunately, the trail leads inside this human facility. Not only is the entrance blocked by a material far too strong for me to break down, but I highly doubt I will be able to benefit from the help of my fellow Xenizens once I step within. There must be some way to get inside...
The XTBS would not normally give off a signature strong enough to sense over the kind of distance I'm tracking it from, but when I began my experimentation I decided to risk nothing. Just in case, I designed the organism encasing the XTBS to amplify its signature. Seeing as how the humans miraculously found our facility and made stealing the XTBS their top priority, however, leads me to believe I inadvertently clued the humans in to its location. I can only hope that this thought does not occur to anyone else...
9/40 - Sibling Rivalry
These blue symbiote humans are much more rare than their orange counterparts; odd to see such a large number of them together like this. They're only encountered within human facilities, and seem to be used primarily for defensive purposes. Their superiority in combat over their orange brethren but fewer numbers makes them similar in many regards to our newly born warrior workers.
The worker caste grows the fastest in the birthing incubators because of our similarity to the base form: the fewer the improvements necessary, the shorter the development time. Because of the urgency of our conflict with the humans, this is why super workers aren't based off of overseers and warrior workers aren't based off of warriors. It was deemed more efficient to go the faster route than risk any further delay.
Warrior workers can be distinguished from regular workers by their magenta skin tone and improved rate of fire. The coloration change comes from mixing in a little chumtoad genetic material, the purpose of which is to transfer the chumtoads' legendary tempers. Because all workers have the occasional rebellious urge (a genetic fluke we've yet to solve), overseers keep an especially close eye on warrior workers. Super workers needn't be monitored so closely. Coupled with our superior intelligence and ability to heal, we are far more self-sufficient than those castes below us.
10/40 - Dark Designs
The dark symbiote-less one possesses teleportation abilities! While we knew humans had figured out how to open portals, our scouts had reported of areas dominated by massive devices that take some time to generate a gateway. The fact that a single human can focus one where and as it wishes is simply remarkable. Is its brain more advanced than the others, or is this yet another example of what technology can do?
This human is obviously a leader of some kind. While most of the humans look roughly similar, we believe that the colors of the devices they wear reflect their caste. Unfortunately whatever caste system they have isn't similar to our own, and thus defies simple categorization. We have never, though, come across these dark humans before. The symbiote-less one is more powerful than we thought possible, and all the other dark ones seemed to emanate violence.
What we need to do is capture a variety of humans and study them in detail. The prefabricated facilities below in which the white humans were located would make perfect natural habitats. We could observe them with a much higher chance of unaltered behavior. Once I retrieve the XTBS I will recommend we take this complex by force. If we're lucky, we may even snag one of the rare dark humans with it.
11/40 - Opposing Forces
Not again!!! Just as I find the XTBS in a secure location it's uprooted. I don't understand, I had thought these dark humans were working with the others but instead they're slaughtering everyone. None of the others appear to have committed any grievous acts, so this doesn't seem to be anything similar to a justifiable quelling. The dark ones simply appear to want the XTBS as badly as I do.
Now that I think about it, these darks one may very well be the equivalent of our own native enemies. Those of the one eye and four arms wouldn't be above doing such an act to us, and to the humans it would probably appear as confusing as this is to me. Very well then, if they are like our native enemies then I will slaughter them like our native enemies. Despite their desire for the XTBS, they fail to understand that it belongs to me. I will educate them.
This puts a definite wrinkle in things, though. The dark ones are much more vicious, and apparently more skilled in combat as well. Additionally, the organism keeping the XTBS unconscious requires a force field for energy. Without one it can go several hours before weakening to the point where it can no longer contain the XTBS, but that's assuming it goes undisturbed. If the humans are poking and prodding the organism then the amount of time may drop drastically. I must hurry.
12/40 - Old Chums
Chumtoads are the only other natural creatures of Xen that have developed the ability to explode in self-defense. Unlike the Spheres, which mix two reactive chemicals upon death, chumtoads contain a liquid within their bodies that is combustible at high temperatures. The angrier a chumtoad gets, the hotter its internal temperature becomes. Males are naturally more aggressive than females, and will often charge with little provocation.
Since females are responsible for the safety of the young, exploding is a last resort only. They are docile enough to pick up, and can be used as organic weapons by squeezing them before releasing. The compression from all sides simulates being devoured, which will send her into a blind rage towards the first living thing she sees. Like most biological weapons, caution must be used lest she turn back on her caster.
Snarks, which are much more numerous and common than chumtoads, are social creatures that will explode to protect their birthing sacs. They are not natural, however, but another of our experiments in which we combined our own base form genetic material with that of the chumtoad. The result was a faster albeit weaker creature that proliferates at a rate more similar to us than chumtoads.
13/40 - Malice in Wonderland
What have we here? A hidden entrance, heavy defenses, and a structure that looks to be more entrenched than the last one? These dark humans appear to have been here much longer than the others. Much longer, in fact, than we believed any humans had been here. This facility must have taken a very long time and a great deal of effort to create. How could something like this happen without alerting us?
While I don't care for humans much beyond a scientific respect, I most certainly do no like these dark ones. The... treachery all this seems to imply is absolutely sickening. Not only do they manage to hide under our noses in a spectacular fashion, but also they slaughter other members of their own species for little reason. Why they would be so interested in the XTBS is beyond me, but I won't let them keep it long enough to sate that interest.
*shudder* Despite the malleability of our species we cannot simply change instantaneously. It has been some time since I've encountered any overseers to tell my symbiote to reward my diligence. As such, I'm beginning to feel the first effects of a longing for approval. This is not like the sadness that can be instituted on us, but a deeper feeling, a void that desperately needs to be filled. The sooner this is over the better.
14/40 - Hell Bound
We've always known that the humans have been capturing and studying our kind, just as they know we've been capturing and studying theirs. It's only natural to be curious about your enemy, and we generally accept it as a consequence of war. But this... to see my fellow Xenizens in the hands of the dark humans, knowing what they're capable of doing to their own kind...
And what of this enormous transport I find myself on? The endeavor required to create a tunnel of this size boggles the mind. My earlier estimates of when these dark humans first came to our world appear to be too recent. Assuming that this tunnel leads to another well-established facility, I fear that these dark humans may have been here long before we even knew the Great Invasion was upon us.
It is no stretch of the imagination to suspect that there are more of my kind held hostage at our destination. While I do not know if I can save them, I will certainly enjoy wreaking as much havoc as possible on the dark humans who have imprisoned them. The dark humans have probably never seen a super worker before, nor had the offensive taken against them in their own facility... the look soon to be frozen on their dead faces will be priceless.
15/40 - All Change
The dark leader again... how does it breathe in our environment when the others so obviously must rely on their technological symbiotes? My dislike and fear of this human continues to grow with each encounter. What else can it do? It seems that every time it appears it has a new trick up its sleeve, some new ability to shatter everything we thought we knew these humans were capable of...
I wonder if the dark leader's respiratory system is at all similar to our own. We have been designed to naturally accomplish what the humans' symbiotes perform. The breathing tubes on either side of our heads act as filters capable of blocking most harmful aerosols. As such we can respire in almost any environment. The only atmospheres we can't breathe are those made of liquid, but this hasn't become a large enough issue to bother implementing yet.
And there! The XTBS! I hadn't actually seen it for so long that I was beginning to worry. I would imagine that the battle at the production facility has ended by now, so the overseers must have informed the great Nihilanth about the XTBS. It seems he has decided to spare me-for now. I have no reason to believe he will do so indefinitely. It is good, then, that the XTBS is almost within my grasp... *shudder*
16/40 - One by One
*sniff* This area seems... familiar to me. In fact the entire layout of this facility teases me, like the most insubstantial of ethers caressing me as it drifts through the vast reaches of Xen. Distant memories buried in half-forgotten portions of my mind bloom to life ever so briefly, fading once their message has been imparted. Memories of our heritage, the species we once were... eons ago.
We were a social order of life forms focused around a single reproductive female. We lived underground, digging out tunnels and communicating via chemical signals. We consisted of a square body held perpendicular to the ground, four simple legs supporting it. A fifth limb, design for grasping, lay centered on the bottom while a blind head on a flexible neck rested on top. Like this place I find myself in now, we would stockpile our foodstuffs in specific chambers for later consumption.
One day our ancestors figured out we could share our minds through more advanced chemical communication. By combining all the members of a hive into one large cell, we essentially could form a single complex brain. Their priority became procreation-The Cause-so that the brain could grow and grow, and this ultimately led to the development of telepathic ability. From there came telepathic genetic manipulation-our malleability-first for the development of lungs so we could grow large enough to be telepathic individually, then to the creation of the great Nihilanth, and ultimately to the rest of us.
17/40 - Rat Race
Regardless of what similarities our two species may share, this place is an absolute maze to me. Every section is the same prefabricated chunk, all interconnected as needed. Most of the entryways don't even open; they've been sealed shut to contain each area even further. How the humans can possibly navigate such a place without the aid of chemical communication or telepathy is beyond me.
It reminds me of the human facility I was in earlier, but taken to a much more drastic extent. Prefabrication seems to be the driving force behind their constructive efforts, an unusual development but to be expected from creatures that broke with the natural order. Our facilities are built around the strengths and weaknesses of each particular area, and as such are much more structurally sound. We can adapt because we are malleable, unlike humans.
Little good my malleability does me now, though. I cannot even rely on following the XTBS' trail; the humans possessing it took a completely different route. All I have is a vague sense that they're moving quickly, trying to slip away from me. Hmm... it appears that these colored marks on the walls dictate a clear path through this complex. If I follow these, maybe I can get out of here and get on with my task.
18/40 – Ambition
Thornet hives... so the dark humans are stockpiling the weapons of our warrior caste. Symbiotically bound though they are, warriors and thornet hives are not as attached, so to speak, as workers and their symbiotes are. Inside the palm of a warrior's hand is a small gland that secretes supersaturated honeydew that thornets love. Warriors, possessing little in the way of natural weaponry, get in return a very potent combat ally.
To attack an enemy, the warrior simply opens his hive. The thornets inside, conditioned to recognize this as a threat to their colony, fly out and zero in on any opposition. Just as they reach their target, they explode and propel their spiked carapaces into their victim (a little improvement of ours). The queen thornet, meanwhile, simply produces more eggs, giving the warrior wielding the hive a potentially unlimited supply. The only downside is that thornets are very protective of their honeydew; if the warrior were to attempt to wield two hives at once the thornets of each hive would attack one another.
While the honeydew stimulates the hive into acting more aggressively, the thornets can live without it and still function as a weapon that anyone can use... even me. Though it is frowned upon for workers to take up the arms of their superior warrior brethren, I myself am superior to warriors. As such, I feel no compunction for taking this one now. Since I do not secrete the honeydew that turns hive against hive, I could conceivably wield two if I were to come across another.
19/40 - Cuff Links
I'm definitely on the right trail now. Though the dark human in possession of the XTBS traversed the compound above with a different route, we're on the same path now, and I'm right behind it. It's only natural to try to hide deep underground, beyond all the defenses, just as my research was supposedly well hidden. Like then, however, they will find that no matter how deep they go, their enemies can still reach them.
If, however, this gets ugly, I can only hope that other Xenizens can learn from all of this. I don't mean that in any general sense, but quite literally being able to study my journey in detail. This is because super workers like myself are capable of leaving our thoughts behind after our passing. Though this advancement wasn't originally conceived of for this end-it is primarily for research purposes-it does allow us to leave a legacy.
I'm speaking of our wrist symbiotes. Unlike our collars, wrist symbiotes are only designed as foci for our electrical attacks. In super workers, wrist symbiotes additionally serve as external storage units where we can record our thoughts. Everything that has occurred to me so far is imbedded in these two symbiotes, and I will continue to do so until this ordeal is over... one way or the other. *shudder*
20/40 - Surprise Surprise
Whew! I just made it through before they shut it down. Tricky little devils, trying to shake me by jumping to some other part of Xe...wait. The air here is much more sterile... and the gravity is heavier. No... I'm in the borderworld! This portal has taken me into the human realm itself! Well that's just great...
This certainly complicates things. Now not only must I find the XTBS, but I must also locate a Xenizen attack force so I can find a portal to take me home. At the moment, however, it appears that I am stuck here. I cannot merely sit around and wait for the humans to amass an attack force to wipe me out. No, I'm going to have to figure out some way of breaking out of here...
While chemical communication was abandoned long ago, a strong sense of smell is an ability that has been continually passed down over the generations. Right now I'm picking up something that could be useful: this gas here, jetting out of the wall, smells flammable. Perhaps, with enough bombardment, I can ignite it and blow my way out of this mess.
21/40 - Bright Eyes
*sigh* I can't say that this looks promising. The only conclusion I can reach for it to be dark down here is so the humans can ambush me. We know they aren't naturally attuned to see in the dark, so it can't simply be because they like it this way. The real problem is that my primary attack will show the humans exactly where I am, considering that whenever I use it I light up like... well, a bolt of lightning.
The good news is I can see in the dark... somewhat. Workers possess six different eyes: one large primary eye, one small primary eye, and four secondary eyes. These secondary eyes possess a sort of night vision. In areas where light is insufficient, we can focus through our secondary eyes for limited periods of time before the strain becomes too great. The secondary eyes pick up and amplify whatever meager light there is in a very short-range, particularly light of the red spectrum.
Truthfully, eyes are not a natural occurrence for our species. When we were crawling around in tunnels we had little use for them since chemical communication was far superior. After our evolution, however, we needed something better suited to living above ground. After giving it serious thought and studying other native creatures, we decided that eyes would be the most rational choice.
22/40 - Looking Down
*growl* This dark leader and its cruel tricks... thinking it can just let its troops handle me while it waits safely above. The condescension with which it brushed off my attack like it was nothing special is infuriating. *shudder* No matter how powerful it is, it's not invincible. You hear me? You're not invincible! You are no doubt responsible for the theft of the XTBS, and so help me you will answer for your crime!
It's a shame the humans cannot speak our language, because if they could I would have some choice words for the dark leader. Since only overseers and the great Nihilanth can telepathically project their thoughts, vocal communication is a must for our species. Our spoken language is very rich in comparison to the relatively simple human version, and even if they could grasp the depth of it their vocal chords are not designed to speak it.
Our vocal chords, on the other hand, are more advanced than theirs. This allows us to say the few human words that we've managed to learn. In practice, though, we mostly just insult them. I'm sure there are a few words the humans have that are much more foul than those we currently know. I would gladly seize upon an opportunity to learn these so that I could let the dark leader know just how I feel about it. *shudder*
23/40 - Falling Down
Damn these dark humans! Damn all of them!!! *shudder* They are slaughtering their fellow humans for no fathomable reason. The yellow humans appear to be mostly defenseless, having to rely on whatever meager weaponry they can scrounge up. The poor souls, I can't help but pity them. Oddly enough, they remind me of our own worker caste...
*shudder* I am not so naive that I do not see the parallels between what is happening here and what happens to those who fail the Cause. The crucial difference, of course, is that these humans don't appear to have done anything wrong. They are being slaughtered by the dark humans simply because the dark humans appear to enjoy it. I wonder, though, if the overseers enjoy killing our own failures...
What am I saying? *shudder* Now is not the time to let my rebellious genetic glitch get the better of me. We are the good guys, and the humans are the bad guys. Well... the dark humans are the bad guys, at least... *sigh* I need to find an overseer soon. So much time without symbiotic stimulation is beginning to take its toll on me. I feel wrung out and shaky, short of breath and not thinking clearly.
24/40 - So Close
This tunnel system is rich with the XTBS' signature. Very recently it has been taken through here, though I cannot fathom why they would take this route. This is the shoddiest tunnel I have ever seen. *shudder* It looks like it could collapse at any moment. Perhaps that is the reason why they took this route; who in their right mind would look for them within? Unfortunately for them, they do not seem to realize I can track the XTBS telepathically.
*shudder* I must quicken my pace. The XTBS is just ahead, the dark human carrying it perhaps slowing down now that it thinks it's lost me. If I can retrieve it here I can journey back up to the surface and regroup with some of Xenizens I passed. No borderworld operation takes place without some retrieval point somewhere nearby, a portal that the task force can use to return to Xen.
One of these task forces is sure to know where and when a portal is scheduled to appear. Then it's simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. With the XTBS safely in my hands again the overseers will be able to let the great Nihilanth know that all is well, and then I will be rewarded for all my diligence and hard work. *violent shudder*
25/40 - One Step Closer
Dammit!!! No, no, no! I fell right into their trap. I knew there was something wrong about them taking the XTBS into that tunnel system, but I didn't think it through. My mind's been too muddled as of late. I don't understand it... the dark leader is obviously in control of the dark ones, but here it hands me over to the white humans, the very same humans that the dark ones were killing. Why?
*violent shudder* Clever of the little weaklings to lure me into water like that. The element's conductive ability makes it impossible to use our natural attack while mostly submerged. If I were to be standing in a pool of it I would still be able to channel up enough energy to defend myself, but underwater we must rely on our claws. Trapped like that left me at their mercy.
And now they have me locked up in a container barely large enough to hold me! Argh!!! *violent shudder* I can't take it anymore! I need out of here! I need an overseer! I need it, dammit, I need it! Get me out, get me out, get me out! It hurts! Just let me out! Aaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!
26/40 - Free at Last
I don't believe it! I was in the middle of a long exhaustion-induced rest when the most terrible din awakened me. I don't know exactly what happened, but one of our warriors is releasing the captured Xenizens from their prisons. Now that I'm no longer captive it's time for some payback. They may have taken most of my weapons, but I'm still a potent threat.
I think the worst of my fit has passed. I don't feel better, really, but something's different about me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I don't feel the need for approval as strongly as before. The malleability of our species should never be underestimated. If I can adjust to live without an overseer to reward me, then the now daunting task of retrieving the XTBS can be overcome as well.
I cannot sense the XTBS anymore, but that doesn't mean all hope is lost yet. It is simply beyond my range of detection. I must work my way back above ground where I can make better time, then scout about until I pick up a reading. I would imagine the entity encasing the XTBS has only a few hours or less before it loses control. Let's hope that's enough time for me to find it again.
27/40 - Girl Power
Will wonders never cease? Somehow, the humans have managed to capture one of our super warriors alive. If I could find someway to release him he could clear any human opposition between the surface and me. Super soldiers are quite different genetically from other Xenizens, in that they are the hybrid product of the Xen base form and our natural enemies. While our form is much more malleable, theirs is structurally more powerful. By combining the two and telepathically manipulating its growth we were able to create behemoths such as these.
Our natural enemies are different from us in one other substantial way: they have females. Our species consists entirely of males. The base forms are grown from Nihilanth taking a sample of his own genetic code that is then telepathically reduced to its most basic state. It is then built back up in a similar manner to the form that is desired of it. Thus, in a manner of speaking, Nihilanth is a part of all of us.
The closest things we have to females are our birthing incubators. Though we originated from a gynocracy, it was felt that only Nihilanth should have the ultimate power of creation. Females would be capable of giving birth to both copulated offspring and clones of themselves, were they to exist. Females, then, could pose a threat to the Cause by diluting our line and challenging Nihilanth's rule.
28/40 - Turning the Tables
Stationary human weapons like these we are capable of commandeering for our own purposes. The problem with freestanding weapons is that they kick so violently when fired that we can't use them effectively. We're forced to rely on our own biological means in order to combat the humans. They don't seem to have any trouble, though, turning our own weapons against us.
Odd, when considered in context with the prophecy my entire research is based on: 'The secret of their success will be the instrument of their downfall.' That could easily hold true for the humans as well as us. Of course, with the way things have developed I shouldn't hold any credence in that saying. Ever since I've gotten over my craving for approval I've found myself looking at things differently, even Nihilanth and the Cause itself.
With no overseers around to constantly keep my focus in check, my superior intellect is beginning to wander. I haven't been able to collect all my thoughts yet, but the bits and pieces are so far simultaneously unsettling and fascinating. I will give these thoughts time to gestate and see what develops from them. I feel a paradigm shift may be in the making.
29/40 - Great Expectations
Yes! I never would have believed I would be glad to see how resourceful humans are, but a transport is exactly what I need right now. These creatures were created through a combination of manta and Sphere genetic material, the combination of which is loyal but powerful. If I can figure out a way to release it, as well as a way to reach the surface of this place, I can use the transport to quickly pinpoint the location of the XTBS and drop me off nearby.
I realize I have never recorded just what the XTBS is, and seeing as the clock is ticking down towards the point where I may lose it forever I think now would be a good time to do so. The XTBS combines the Sphere creature with several technologic features. I converted the visual apparatus into a non-specific retinal pattern in order to bypass the anthropomorphic security systems humans are so fond of. Due to rumors of security systems featuring vocal recognition, I also implemented the facilities for speech.
I replicated what is called a 'gun' by crafting a three-pronged, nasute-like structure to the Sphere. A gland, which produces quick solidifying chitin, supplies the projectiles; bioelectrical energy generates power to rotate the biogun; and a pair of glands whose secretions react explosively together provide the propellant. The final product is highly mobile, isn't deterred by security measures, and is powerfully armed. I wonder, however, if I could put it towards a different purpose...
30/40 - Natural Resistance
I don't believe it! Living Spheres, here in the borderworld of all places. They must have slipped through a portal with one of our task forces. I'll have to be careful. Though we are resistant to electricity, Sphere's produce a form that uses a stronger voltage. It cuts right through our natural defenses and damages us like it would anything else. In other words these Spheres can hurt me, and ever since we began studying them, it seems, they've been quite hostile to us.
Our resistance to electricity is one of the primary reasons why any attack force sent in to the borderworld includes workers with it. In case any situation arises in which electricity is preventing further advancement, workers are used to bypass the electrical hazard and figure out a way to eliminate it. Our role in combat would not normally be so significant, but the humans' technology is so dependent on electricity that our unique traits are in high demand.
The flying human transport that crashed before my capture, for example, would stop any attack force in its tracks. Bristling with electricity, only a worker could pass through the wreckage without fear. But now that I think of it, while our role in the Great Invasion has been elevated our caste status has not. Workers are still thought to be the lowest level of Xenizen... interesting...
31/40 - Belly of the Beast
There you are! I wish I could have seen the look on your face the first time you saw I was back on your trail. You thought you could just slip away from me, didn't you? Just because I've developed a whole new outlook on life doesn't mean I've forgotten what you and the rest of your dark kind are like. You can't get away from me this time...
Hey!!! The dark one with the XTBS boarded that transport! I've never seen one like that before. It's bristling with weaponry and a thick type of armor. I don't think I'll be able to do even the slightest damage to it with my current weaponry. It would appear that it is limited to running on that thin path in the middle, so the good news is it can't chase me. The bad news is they won't just let me inside to reclaim the XTBS, either.
Well now what do I do? I can't pry my way into it, that's for sure. I'm just going to have to search for some way to take it out. The first task, though, is to just get past it. Though it has an excessive amount of weaponry, it doesn't appear that they are able to aim them very far in any specific direction. Perhaps I can use that to my advantage.
32/40 - Alien Apart
I've some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I've come to a conclusion based on these new thoughts I've been having: I will no longer serve Nihilanth. There are too many inconsistencies in everything we've been led to believe, too many things that don't make sense for me to just follow blindly.
The bad news is that apparently Nihilanth designed me with a failsafe system. In the event that a worker turns traitorous without the knowledge of the overseers, it seems the symbiote begins to give off a very provocative chemical aerosol. The chemical is designed from a very basic composition that most forms of life in Xen can recognize, even primitive ones. The result is that my fellow Xenizens and even native Xen wildlife will be overwhelmed with the desire to kill me.
While my turncoat intentions are unwavering, I must admit a grudging respect for Nihilanth's failsafe. Despite his foresight, however, his thought process is still based around a system of thinking held since our ancestors. I was designed to think differently, however. If Nihilanth actually believes in the ancient prophecies, then the XTBS is invaluable to him. He would not dare quell me if it would cost him the XTBS. Therefore while my intentions and situation have changed, my goal remains the same: I must claim the XTBS.
33/40 - Sins of the Father
A panthereye... This is one of our most impressive creations. The combination of houndeye and Sphere genetic material produced a creature of great speed and strength, one whose electrical attack shares the Spheres' strong voltage. As such they are a threat even to workers, which means I am going to be in for one hell of a fight. It is a pity that I must kill it...
Long ago, every engineered creature that is now found naturally throughout Xen was contained in a single facility, panthereyes included. One day the workers at the facility, feeling pity for the creatures that had been created only to be used as weapons of war against our natural enemy and fed up with their own lot, violently revolted. The rebellion was ultimately put down, but not before the workers had freed the overseers' experiments.
Every single worker in all of our empire was killed then to prevent further uprising. To insure this never happened again, Nihilanth created our symbiote collars, and every worker and new caste based off the worker form has worn one since. All research was additionally moved to separate facilities. It is the same feeling of pity I feel now that drove them to free these poor creatures, just as it is the same rebellious rage that builds within me at the one responsible for all of this.
34/40 - High Stakes
I have to stay on my toes. Not only can I sense the XTBS nearby (and by extension the transport carrying it), but also I can hear these entrances opening and closing nearby. There's a human running around here somewhere, avoiding contact with me it would seem. What purpose it hopes to accomplish with these tricks I do not know.
I suppose I must proceed ahead, and if I am forced to come back this way I must remember to check these entrances again, twice if necessary. If my suspicions are correct, this human is simply waiting for me to pass instead of looking for a fight. If that is the case, then there's a chance I might be able to go this route at a later time.
I am allowing a more benevolent interpretation of this human's intentions simply because I can no longer believe all that I've been led to. While the dark humans are obviously evil, I do not detect the same level of malevolence from the others. All humans are not, I suspect, our enemies. I have simply yet to meet those who would refrain from trying to kill me.
35/40 - Human Nature
These humans! Can't they keep their hands off anything? They just have to touch it, don't they? *sigh* Let's recap: first the orange ones stole it from us, then the dark ones stole it from the orange ones, and now the white ones are taking it from the dark ones. It would be kind of cute if I didn't have so much riding on getting the XTBS back.
Nor can I simply discount the sudden appearance of the Spheres here as coincidence. I had thought earlier that perhaps they were following our attack forces before the portals closed, but seeing as the Spheres are teleporting in by themselves leads me to only one conclusion: they're killing our attack forces before they even go through, and are following the XTBS.
I had said before how it was curious they became hostile towards us once I began work on my research. Now I see that they were trying to rescue their own kind. This implies a level of intelligence we were unaware of, and a wrath I'd do well to respect. This will complicate my plans somewhat, but by now I'm used to that sort of development.
36/40 - Ancient History
I realize that the blame for all of this lays further back than Nihilanth, but not all the way back to our ancestors. The truly responsible ones were in fact our base forms, the descendents of the ancestors, who possessed lungs and meager telepathic abilities. It was these being who first decided upon the course our species would take, and it was there that the first mistake was made.
Part of the problem was creating a single being from which all genetic heritage and knowledge would come. Since Nihilanth telepathically implants part of his memory in all developing Xenizens so they are born adults, this insures that any false thoughts are passed down through the generations and accepted as intuitive truth.
The other part of the problem is basing a hive mind system off of intelligent beings. If we workers were simple automatons none of this would have happened, but we were granted the ability to think for ourselves. Give a being this ability and then try to forcibly subdue it through such guises as family, fealty, and spirituality, all upheld to a being who himself is conceivably wrong, and you have planted the seed for dissent.
37/40 - Spitting Image
The ultimate irony, however, is the hypocrisy of free will. When the base forms were created, they were the first of their kind to think for themselves instead of unquestioningly serve another. Given this chance, they came up with the ancient prophecies to make sense of the large and frightening new world they had emerged into, and when the time came to choose the course their species would take from then on they reverted to the comfort of a system of procreation.
The hypocrisy is that Nihilanth follows the ancient prophecies as if they were undeniable fact, while any worker who dares think outside of the system is quickly silenced. The very free will our species advanced to is suppressed by the being who thinks he is exercising it. By birthing, leading, and being in all of us like some benevolent deity, he smoothes out most wrinkles by blocking all outlets for our free will.
I had mentioned how workers develop faster than any other caste because of our similarity to the base form. It is for this very same reason that workers are the ones in which rebellious urges surface. It isn't a glitch in our genetic code, deviation from our forefathers that makes us act out as we do. It is similarity to them.
38/40 - Heavy Lifting
How silly of me to think that there wouldn't be some new obstacle between the XTBS and me. Here I was running along, all of these epiphanies flooding over me like a cleansing healing pool, and the humans prove they've still got a trick or two up their sleeve. I admire that.
Whatever this thing is, it is technologically based. That means my electrical attack won't siphon energy from it that I can use for health, and that also means that most of my other weaponry isn't smart enough to know to attack this thing. Luckily for me its very size opens up an avenue of attack to seize upon.
While most organic weaponry does not know to see technology as the enemy, this is because most technology is cool... lifeless, in a manner of speaking. The larger brained creatures, however, such as chumtoads, snarks, and stukabats, have just enough gray matter to realize that if it's warm, kill it. This device, no doubt due to its large size, is sizzling with heat.
39/40 - Slave Trade
While I cannot hold Nihilanth entirely responsible for the state of our species, blame falls fully on him for instituting our collars. No fouler, viler act of outright enslavement could be imagined than to manipulate our very feelings like that. Worse, to make us dependent upon these feelings, so that we cannot help but come crawling back to him induces a feeling of disgust the likes of which I have never felt.
If it weren't for my forced imprisonment I may very well have been driven back to Xen for overseer approval. In doing so, I not only would have risked quelling by failing to retrieve the XTBS, but I would have enamored myself once more to those feelings. I would never have advanced to the state of enlightenment I find myself in now, and probably would have lived out my life in blind subservience to the once great Nihilanth.
*sigh* Euphoria aside, my options now are bleak. Once I have the XTBS I will try to use it as a bargaining tool with Nihilanth. In exchange for removing my collar, I will return the XTBS intact so the Cause may go on as prophesized. If he refuses or tries to quell me, my last act will be to take the XTBS with me. Ironic that after all that I've gone through in pursuit of free will, in the end I have no choice at all.
40/40 - Not So Far After All
Ugh... I had thought I was dead. The blast nearly killed me, and in the process removed my collar. Dare I say it's a miracle? The thought had never crossed my mind that separating the symbiote from my body while simultaneously absorbing energy would kill it but spare me. I wouldn't recommend the method. The collar was responsible for stimulating my telepathic sensory ability; without it I can't track the XTBS. It could be anywhere.
So what happens now? I'm far from home and do not think I have the strength to find my way back in search of a portal. That leaves me with two options. The first is that I could wander about this vast alien world, completely alone, injured, and exhausted, most likely to die a meaningless death out there somewhere. The second is that I could trust my fate to these humans, the first two I have ever seen to not flee or try to kill me. If this question had been posed to me yesterday, I would have taken my chances out there.
So be it. I will go with these blue humans aboard their transport, this pair who looks as injured and weary as I am, and we will see what happens from there. This is an alien world to me, a strange, nearly incomprehensible place, but if I can find safety amongst the company of these humans, I think I can adapt to whatever life has to throw at me. After all, I am malleable.