Chapter 3435: Indigenous Alien Threats
Casella and Imon Ingvar rarely had the time to get in touch with each other as of late.
Commander Casella Ingvar always had her hands full with running the Living Sentinel.
Even if she had completed her tasks for the day, she still had to allocate a significant amount of time in polishing her piloting skills and developing her relationship with the Quint.
The latter had become especially important to her.
The masterwork copy of the Bright Warrior was a unique and powerful living mech.
Thousands of Larkinson mech pilots dreamed of piloting it, and Casella already figured out that this powerful mech could help her undergo apotheosis.
Her duty to the clan compelled her to try and make the most of her access to the Quint.
If the machine was left dormant all the time, then it would have been better for the clan to assign it to a more active mech pilot.
Besides, she knew that the Quint could grow lonely if left unattended for an extended period of time.
Living mechs had feelings as well.
Since they were made to accompany mech pilots, they always felt empty if they werent being used for their intended purpose.
Casella needed to attend to her personal life as well, though.
Her obligations had taken up so much of her time in the past year that she recognized that she needed to separate herself from her routine.
After receiving the Quints assent to go on a short vacation, she decided to put down her commander hat and go on a simple sightseeing tour with her brother.
One of the first destinations they visited was the Chance Bay Museum of Natural History.
Unlike many other venues at this expensive moon settlement, the museum was located on the ground, which meant it was built to be as accessible as possible.
The price of a standard ticket was more than reasonable.
Despite that, the museum was not too busy.
After all, a lot of information could easily be found on the galactic net.
State-of-the-art projections could give people accurate impressions of many phenomena.
The Museum of Natural History had an advantage, though.
It was one of the few public places in the Vulet Central Star Node where people could get in touch with real aliens.
The Ingvar siblings skipped the boring exhibits that detailed the alien fauna and flora of distinctive alien planets.
They also ignored the exhibits that explained the abnormal and anomalous space environments that were more common in the Red Ocean than normal due to the presence of phasewater.
They went straight to the museum wing where visitors could see and learn about the various sentient alien races that resided in the Red Ocean.
Perhaps their experiences here might become useful in the following years.
Even as the MTA and CFAs warfleets kept sweeping across the dwarf galaxy, wiping out one alien polity after another, remnants of defeated alien empires and fleets always slipped through the net.
Although the Big Two had the assets to hunt these stragglers down, it wasnt cost effective for them to do so.
Instead of diverting hunting fleets to hunt down these annoying rats, it was better to stay on the offensive and break up the remaining alien empires.
As a result, the dirty job of cleaning up the newly-conquered territories of humanity fell on the shoulders of the pioneers.
As the people who wished to take over planets and star systems that used to belong to indigeneous alien races, it should not be a huge burden to wipe out the defeated aliens who attempted to return to their homes.
If pioneers were incapable of dealing with these remnant aliens, then they deserved to get wiped out.
At least that was how the argument went.
There were plenty of other pioneers entering the Red Ocean who were eager to succeed where others failed.
As soon as Casella and Imon entered this area, they became impressed by the interior.
Different sections had been decorated into a myriad of alien structures.
It was as if the museum took out slices of dozens of different alien cities and transplanted them into a single location!
Soon enough, an AI tour guide projected in front of the siblings.
[Welcome to the Sentient Alien Wing, dear guests.] The simulated woman greeted them.
“Here, you can see, learn and even interact with a selection of the many sentient races that populate the Red Ocean… for now.]
The AI led them to a rocky biome that hardly featured any artificial traces.
If not for the odd mounds and spires that were dotting the dry landscape, Casella and Imon would have thought it was populated by a species of unintelligent aliens.
[Let us begin with one of the more common alien threats that humans can encounter in the Red Ocean.
The species colloquially known as the voribugs are not sentient, but their ubiquity throughout this dwarf galaxy label them as a comparable threat.]
The museum systems gave one of the mounds a little jolt, causing a sea of black insects to emerge into the open landscape!
The insects chittered in the air, causing everyone nearby to have the illusion that they were on the cusp of getting engulfed in an alien insect tsunami!
Fortunately, energy shields stopped the carpet of voribugs from swamping the museum visitors.
The insects had no choice but to turn around and spread across the rest of the biome.
Due to convergent evolution, these insects did not differ much from the insects from the ones that could be found in Old Earth.
There were many differences, though.
What caught the attention of the Ingvars was how many legs their bodies possessed.
[The voribugs are characterized by their hard exterior shells, which can become strong enough to resist a small amount of small arms fire.
The exoinsects are resistant to all manner of radiation and energy damage.
They can endure a significant amount of heat exposure and go into hibernation when exposed to extreme cold.
These characteristics have caused them to spread from their native planet and become a pest throughout this dwarf galaxy.]
A couple of attacks rained down from the sky.
A laser beam hit a section of the bug carpet, but only a dozen or so finger-sized specimens lost their lives.
The remaining insects that had been exposed to damage managed to crawl away with most of their functions intact!
As soon as it became clear that a few of their number had died, the surrounding voribugs quickly swarmed the charred husks and tore them apart in order to claim the nutrients!
The kinetic and explosive attacks yielded better results.
Hundreds of bugs had been wiped out, giving the many surviving insects plenty of food.
These space bugs were difficult to wipe out in their entirety!
The museum subsequently picked out three
[The voribug life cycle is divided into three phases.
They are initially born into the juvenile stage, which are typically the size of a human fingernail.]
The smallest of the three insects did not look like a threat at all, but that also made it troublesome to detect their presence.
[Juvenile voribugs are weak but are born in great quantities.
The problematic issue with juveniles is that they are difficult to detect.
Particularly resilient voribugs can enter the nooks and crannies of starships and survive in hostile space environments for months due to their high degree of environmental tolerance.
However, thorough inspection, scanning and cleaning procedures can adequately remove any hidden juvenile voribugs on any given starship.]
Casella could easily imagine how they became such a pest.
There were many situations where thorough checks simply werent performed, either because the ship was damaged or because their crew grew complacent.
The museum highlighted a larger and tougher bug that was around the size of a human finger.
[When voribugs reach maturity, they are characterized by their extremely high activity levels.
They grow rapidly and their shells grow substantially more resistant to damage.
They spend the majority of the time on feeding and procreation.]
The final specimen the museum highlighted was a larger, head-sized voribug that looked substantially more threatening!
[After voribugs grow old and large enough, they enter the elder phase, where they no longer become as active.
These rare and exceptional specimens are substantially more intelligent.
Scholars even claim that the oldest voribugs are nearly sentient.
Each elder voribug can not only lead a swarm, but can also drill through metal if they have reason to suspect that there are edible organic materials on the other side.]
The elder phase was the real reason why these bugs were so feared! Once an elder emerged among a swarm, it not only became a lot more unified, but the biggest bugs could even eat through mechs and starships if no one performed adequate checks!
“If these bugs are so hard to deal with, why havent they conquered the Red Ocean” Imon asked.
[The voribugs are constrained by three main factors.
They cannot survive in environments with specific atmospheric traits that are toxic to them.
Further, they cannot tolerate heavy gravity.
Finally, they are vulnerable to predation by many predatory exobeasts.
Human biotech companies have already begun to sell pets that excel at tracking and eating juvenile and adult voribugs.]
Both of the Ingvar siblings were interested in the latter.
The Larkinsons loved pets and it shouldnt be a problem to add voribug-hunting cats to the fleet.
After learning all they needed to know from this disturbing but necessary exhibit, the AI tour guide finally gave the Ingvars what they wanted.
They moved over to a neighboring biome which displayed a section of a real alien city.
Dozens of captured anddomesticated sentient alien specimens roamed outside the odd-looking cylindrical structures.
The best way to describe them was that they resembled furry centaurs who were at least twice the height of humans.
Their bushy fur ranged from green to blue.
They possessed five eyes, of which the middle one was dominant while the remaining four were smaller and positioned to the sides.
Their great physical stature made them look intimidating, but from what the Ingvar siblings could tell, the captured aliens were quite docile.
[The nunsers are one of the oldest, most widespread and most respected alien races in the Red Ocean.
This quadruped sentient alien species are characterized by their herbivorous diet, their long history, their formidable technological accumulation and their success in establishing friendly trading relations with most amenable indigenous alien species.]
“So these are merchant aliens, then.” Imon guessed.
[That is a reasonable description of the nunsers.
Throughout their history, they have preferred cooperation over subjugation when contacting other alien races.
Those that are not receptive to their friendly outreach have either been defeated or are unable to hunt down every nunser roaming the Red Ocean.
Throughout the eras, the nunsers have slowly earned the trust of other dominant sentient alien races.]
“How strong is their civilization now” Casella asked the AI.
“Has the Big Two managed to topple their civilization.”
[It is difficult to destroy the nunser civilization without conquering the Red Ocean in its entirety.
This is due to their highly mobile and nomadic life pattern.
As you can see, they live in cylindrical, upright metallic structures.
These constructs function as regular buildings when placed on land, but they are also capable of lifting off into space, where they turn into upright starships that can traverse the stars.]
[Due to this pattern, every nunser city is simultaneously a fleet that has temporarily stopped in a single location.
When faced with any threat or when prompted to leave, hundreds, thousands and even millions of nunser structures can emerge from a surface at the same time.
In most circumstances, they act collectively and with great coordination, turning them into formidable fleets that can overwhelm any human fleet or force by relying on sheer numbers.
Due to the ease of which the nunsers can evacuate entire cities or planets with the help of their technological advances, a large number of nunser fleets still exist in the Red Ocean.]
“Even in human-conquered space”
[There are news articles that confirm that encounters with large and dangerous nunser fleets can still happen in space zones designated as safe and open to human colonization.]
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