Sorry it's the size of a small fic, I've kinda been toying with it for a week or two now.
So yeah, a species of invasive parasites, that are the backbone of a stellar empire, but AREN'T evil by default. thats new, huh?Character Name: Kobor and Talya Vight
Color: yellow-orange and reddish-orange.
Type: Main (two character in one, in kind of a Ironman=Tony+Jarvis/Friday setup)
Species/Breed: Kaal colony within a heavily mutated cephalopod host wearing a very weird looking semi-autonomous hardsuit.
Age: they split off from their parent colony approximately 43 Terran orbital cycles prior.
Neighborhood: beacon of hope
Starting point: Will crash-land somewhere nearby during a future surface operation.
Kobor (STR) Expert grapler: when you have 16 (slightly sticky if out of the suit) limbs you are REALLY good at grabbing things, and holding onto them. And Kobor can squeeze quite hard, enough to crack armor and pulverize bones.
Kobor (END+PWR) Absurd durability: Kobor's body doesn't feel pain, He doesn't fear dying as long as he has Talya since through her part of him will survive, his body can't loose consciousness, and he can force his body to keep moving until every last muscle has necrotized. Even after the host body is dead, the colony can survive for weeks by cannibalizing it and using it as shelter, before needing to move to a new one. Assuming they don't just infest something dumb enough to try to eat it. making him insanely hard to kill permanently.
In short, both Kobor's powers come from the fact that he views his body as a disposable tool, and can push it WAY past it's normal biological limits.
Talya (PER) Active scanning: Talya's shell has a full suite of active and passive sensors, both EM and Harmonic, if the majority of her processing power is on them, she can use them to track unseen foes, prioritize targets, and assist in long range accuracy.
Talya (INT+PWR) Living supercomputer: As the suit's computer, Talya has gotten used to thinking like a machine, and can use the suit to plug into other machines and hack them as if she were an AI with a full cyberwarfare suite. And given Kali are literally made of neurons, can arrange themselves into clusters that process in parallel to each-other, and there are several million of her, that's a lot of processing power. She however can not do both efficiently at the same time.
Both (PWR) Telepathic/Technopathic immunity: Because Kali are not one being, but tens of millions of nerve-sized parasites operating in parallel, A telepath trying to read one wouldn't get a single sentient mind, they would get an information overload of several million separate but hive-linked pre-sentient minds, organized into two sentient 'biological server cluster' analogs. Commanding or deciphering that mess externally in real time, would be flat-out impossible for a tier 5 or below telepath, and a serious challenge for a 6 or 7. And while Kobor might not realize what's happening, Talya's sharper mind and senses would definitely detect the one spying on them.
Debilitated immune system: Being a parasite, it is necessary for their survival that they suppress the host's immune response. Certain virum can also jump the species barrier from host to parasite, if the infection lasts long enough. Infecting the parasite itself is one of the few ways to kill Kobor permanently.
Heavy Weapons Guy syndrome: a powerhouse that moves SOOOOOOO SLOOOOOOOOOOWWW... (unless they're in the water, they are a cephalopod after all)
Vulnerable separately: Without a host, Kali are vulnerable to the elements and not very mobile. Once converted into a host, the body they take no longer has a nervous system (or CPU, and main-board in Talya's case) and will shut down immediately if they are not there to act as a substitute. This also applies to the twins themselves psychologically, they don't function well if kept apart for too long, Kobor gradually becoming Catatonic, and Talya Psychotic as the experience can potentially cause them to flash-back to their traumatic first forced separation.
A mass of pinkish orange tentacles, operating a mechanized, hermetically sealed suit. There are regularly sterilized protein and waste cylinders in the backpack that need to be changed daily. On either side of the backpack are four ports with segmented armored tendrils hanging from them. the tendrils have no mechanical parts, they're just armor worn over eight of the creature's tentacles. There is no discernible head to the suit, nor distinct shoulders, the arms just seem to hang from the sides, and sensor nodes are scattered around seemingly randomly. (they're actually placed deliberately to give the twins 360* vision) The chest juts forward, and has had a shark-face painted onto it like the nose of a plane. The hub for the legs is directly below where the chest and backpack meet. there are six two-fingered arms, that condense into two "General Grievous (Starwars) style" compound arms, save for having four major joints instead of three (downward bending double wrist that reminds some of a praying mantis). the suit has four crablike legs spaced 90* apart. The entirety of Kobor, save tentacles is actually inside the chest, with each limb being controlled from within via tentacle. Outside the suit, Kobor looks like the mutated offspring of a squid, a cuttlefish, some kind of spiny reptile, and a piranha, that somehow evolved three-fingered hand-ish-things on the ends of ALL of it's tentacles, (when the fingers are closed, it just looks like a teardrop shaped fin, when they're apart they're kinda stubby, they seem to be able to change thickness by stretching, kinda like how your tongue does) using it's four longest and thickest ones as legs.
As for an individual Kaal, it's too small to see with the naked eye being around 50 micrometers long, and consisting of less than 20 cells. made of an unusually compact neuron cluster of 3-5 cells, with myelin and muscle cells wrapped around them, clustered unusually densely like cancerous tissue (which they would be mistaken for if a host were given a body-scan), and a 2-4 copper/silicon rich bone cells jutting out. They are able to mimic a nerve or neuron of another species, or arrange themselves into circuits by connecting the bones. Giving them the ability to infest both living and machine bodies. collectively they look like blue-green goop that likes to arrange itself into strings, if outside a body. The best comparison visually would probably be a pile of very thin severed jellyfish tendrils.
A massive nerd, particularly fond of human scifi, superheroes, and mecha anime from 1980-2250. (why do you think his body rides around in a machine?) Talya isn't much better, having originally been half of her brother's mind, and has been known to jokingly answer to 'Friday' as if she's Tony Stark's AI assistant on occasion.
if they were a single Kaal that split off from another colony they would see each other as parent and child, but because they're even halves, they refer to each other as twins. When they're not insisting on still being one being anyway. Kobor is far more inventive than Talya, and talya far more logical, this is likely due to how their mind was distributed prior to being forcibly split. That said, Kobor, while having more emotional expression, also has more control over them, with Talya sometimes going a bit crazy if her brother isn't there to calm her down.
Talya refers to the half of the colony that is infesting the suit itself in place of an on-board computer. The two still see themselves as a single colony (Ie: Person), despite their hive-link having broken years ago when the suit was briefly confiscated by pirates that had captured their survey ship. (they didn't bother to lock the suit up, because they didn't expect it to 'wake up' and start killing everyone while looking for it's owner.) This has advantages and disadvantages, advantages in that the suit knows how it's occupant thinks, and can function somewhat autonomously, allowing for better response times and more intuitive control, disadvantages in that she's starting to develop her own personality, and it happens to be both quite independent and rather clingy towards her brother/other half. This results in the twins bickering as often as they get along. Talya is also more violent than Kobor is, though that likely has to do with the circumstances of her birth. Their shuttle's on-board computer is programmed to be subordinate to her when they're connected to it, and would probably treat a hive drone with a compatible interface socket the same way.
While Kobor really likes aquatic life, and frequently picks hosts of that type, Talya has taken a liking to beetles recently, and will probably pick one as her next host when the shell wears out in a few years. She would probably rig it with cybernetics, too; it would be just like being in her shell.
Kobor works as a stellar surveyor, tasked with blind jumping to unknown sectors, mapping any systems and planets found, and dropping a nav beacon at the best site to plant an orbital gateway, before returning to his employers. It's a risky job since you never know more than rudimentary information of what's in a sector before you jump, leading to more than one instance of having to fight his way free of a black hole's gravity well that nobody knew about. Or dodge pirated that thought nobody would find their base. Even without that a single assignment can take months in some cases, and surveyors have been known to get a bit unhinged due to the isolation. But he was spawned specifically for this, and has been doing it since less than a month after taking his first host, so he's used to it. Besides, he's not alone now since he has Talya, he gets to see the stars and strange new worlds up close in a suit specifically designed for exploring hazardous environments, so the perks outweigh the risks. As for how he got to Beacon, apparently activating your rift drive while trapped within the event horizon of a newly discovered type of singularity can have weird effects.
Kaal=Single parasite, or the species as a whole.
Kali=A group and/or colony of Kaal.
(Spoilered section below is details about how Kaal biology effects their romantic behavior (or more precisely, makes it cease to exist), and the infestation process. Spoiler and warning since some people aren't going to want to read about that.)
Kobor's father is the twins sole biological parent.
Kaal don't actually have genders, the colony just takes the one their host body had for ease of conversation. Kali colonies in machine bodies usually refer to themselves as female, something they picked up from the Human tendency to refer to machines in feminine terms. A conversation Kobor once had about the nature of identities revealed that 'It' would probably be a more accurate descriptor for both siblings, and for most Kali in general, but He's gotten used to being referred to as male and changing now 'sounds weird'.
Kaal don't reproduce sexually, and their understanding of romance mis-constructs it as a purely social activity, rather than a bonding activity for courting mates. As a result any relationship will be platonic at it's core, rather than romantic or physical, even Kali who are 'married' will still view their spouse this way, and physical mating is avoided entirely because A) that's an infestation vector, and B) they have no drive for it because that's not how they reproduce.
Kaal get into a host's bloodstream mainly by infecting an open wound or being ingested, though there are other vectors, and then proceed to seek out, eat, and replace said host's nervous system, multiplying as needed. By the end of it, the host is functionally brain-dead and entirely dependent on their parasitic counterpart. Unless they mutate the host body during infestation, it is indistinguishable from a healthy one, save for a deep-tissue scan revealing what appears to be cancerous growths all through the nervous system. Infestation takes 16-24 hours, and only requires about 2ml of healthy Kali to get started. Mutation allows the Kali to apply genes and traits from any previous host to their current one during the infestation process, though it slows it down considerably. Without the ability to mutate, Kobor's third (current) body, would be a 43cm cuttlefish, not a 3.5m collection of walking nightmare fuel.
Kaal refuse to infest hosts that are already sentient, as doing so previously sparked a war that nearly wiped them out. They weren't intentionally hostile to the other species or anything, they just really liked those bodies because they learned how to develop sapient minds by infesting them. The reptilian species they belonged to though, saw a parasite that can infest anything, likes to infest THEM, and can hide from detection as a MASSIVE threat to their survival. During the Exodus war, they learned how to infest machines, making their opponent that much more paranoid. To this day, hundreds of years later, there are still what humans would call regular 'inquisitions' and 'witch hunts' on their home world because their old foe isn't convinced they actually left the system. The two species will shoot on sight if they encounter each other in space, and the Ghrakk are known to attack and purge entire colony and home worlds of ANY species that they suspect has had contact with the Kaal. which to date has resulted in the genocide of two species who had nothing to do with either faction. Thankfully they're mostly just in Triangulum. The Kaal on the other hand are the backbone of a multi-species alliance spanning 40% of the local galactic cluster, with the insectoid Roka playing almost as big a role as the Kaal, their slower but portable Rift Drives being traded for the faster but stationary Gateways Kaal build resulting in the dual-FTL structure described below. Apparently when you're used to operating as a hive/colony collaborating with others comes pretty easily. Humanity is one of the newer members of the alliance being the milky way's primary space-faring species, and earth-based host species are becoming increasingly popular. Particularly mammals, analogs to which are rare outside human colony worlds. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the Ghrakk's rampant paranoia making them isolationists. This has considerably slowed the Ghrakk's advance and protected thousands of of worlds from their aggression.
Said empire probably would have collapsed by now if it weren't for their FTL technology being a mix of dimensional shifting and space-folding that allows instant travel between any two points with gates, or instantly blind-jumping a fixed distance in any general direction. Making the trip between any two star systems no longer than traveling out to the edge of the system and charging up the orbital gate, or flying to your planet's surface gate and connecting to another surface gate. Even going the long way (blind jumping) can get from Andromeda to Pegasus in about a week (you have to stop and recharge the drive between jumps).
S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats: (Kobor)
- Strength: 9
- Perception: 6
- Endurance: 10
- Charisma: 4
- Intelligence: 5
- Agility: 3
- Luck: 5
- Power: 6
S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats: (Talya)
- Strength: 5
- Perception: 10
- Endurance: 6
- Charisma: 4
- Intelligence: 9
- Agility: 3
- Luck: 5
- Power: 6
EDIT: In hindsight, my timing could have been better... Didn't actually notice Lego's duo...
EDIT II:though now that I've had a chance to read it, the only thing the pairs actually have in common is the 'two-in-one character' bit.