Germination: Ancient History
|Germination: Ancient History|
|Date of Cutscene:||13 July 2018|
|Cast of Characters:||Stardust|
In her room at Titans Tower, Stardust sits on the floor, legs crossed, surrounded by photographs of oomycetans in various forms. Her eyelids close, and her breathing slows. After a minute or two she starts fidgeting, catches herself, and tries again to settle down. Meditation isn't something she has a lot of experience at, but there's a good reason for her to try.
The Titans have been sleeping on the mushroom crisis. They have had distractions, but it's past time to do a little digging. Stardust concentrates on her breathing, and with only a dozen more false starts, she slowly starts to fall into a trance. The darkness behind her eyelids fades to white, and slowly images begin to arise out of the formless clouds.
Stardust takes a deep breath, and looks around. Her eyelids are still closed, but she feels as if she's blinking in the bright light surrounding her. The walls are far more distant than her small room at the tower, the ceiling so high it's barely visible. Slender pillars reach up all round her, and everything is translucent milky-white. She stands in a space like a vast and silent cathedral, and can't help thinking this is what the Mines of Moria would have looked like if the dwarves had employed elves as interior decorators. Great windows in the distance look out on a sky filled with pulsating color and strange geometric shapes.
She is alone for a few moments, but then all around her, pale and ghostlike figures start to appear. Virtual representations of the memory engrams of hundreds of previous hosts of the Starstrider Complexus that currently inhabits her mind. Some are clearly humanoid, others very alien. Some are distinct, but the older ones seem vague and blurred, as if the years have faded their memories of who they were.
"HELLO?" Her voice fades into slow echoes that seem to take forever to subside. Drifting forms slow and look towards her. "I'm looking for information," she calls out. "On these mushroom things."
"Concentrate on the images." The speaker is the most clearly defined of all, barely ghostlike. Human, and with a distinct Australian accent. "Though you should leave this to me. Communicating with them is hard. I'll tell you what I find out."
"If you think I need to know. Which you won't," Stardust replies. She does as he suggests though, summoning up the memory of the photos she had surrounding her on the floor.
A sussuration of voices rises into the air as ghosts whisper to Stardust in a hundred alien tongues. "Uh. Do you speak English? Parlez-vous Francais? Utwa Interlac des?" she asks hopefully.
"See what I mean?" the Australian replies. "Also, your Interlac is horrible. You just used a plural form for addressing two people. Study harder, you'll need it one day."
Stardust is about to admit defeat when one of the vaguer shadows drifts towards her and gestures. An image forms in the air in front of it. An alien landscape of purple mountains, a brilliant nebula in the sky, and a vast fungoid tower...
Stardust leans in to the image, studying the tower. "No," she says. "That's not the same." The tower is illuminated with thousands of tiny lights, like a cityscape. She turns to the Australian. "Tell him..."
The shadow form waves its arms again and a flow of geometric shapes passes over the image. "I can't," the Australian replies. "He comes from a long-dead race of natural illusion makers. This is how they talk. I'll need to find someone to translate. Maybe a translator to speak to that translator, and so on. It could take a while.
"No time," Stardust says. She shakes her head at the shadowy form and tries speaking slowly and clearly. "Not. The. Same."
The shadow seems agitated, and the image swirls and zooms in. Stardust watches, fascinated, as the image reveals the tower is indeed a city, a vast bio-engineered structure made from fungus. The image continues to zoom, showing details of what must be residential areas, industrial areas, recreational areas...
"THERE!" Stardust jabs a finger excitedly to one part of the image, where a towering fungal mass grows in a large open space on the side of the fungal city. "That's it! That's the..." she stops as the image grows closer. "No, still not it. The bright colors. And what are those..." Now close enough to see the inhabitants themselves, the image shows several apparently harvesting some kind of fruit growing from the fungal stem, where you might expect to see the egg-shaped growths that form into the fungal 'monsters' "That's not right..." The image pans around, showing more of the aliens, and a small fleet of strange vehicles, dumping something... waste? Into a huge pit at the base of the fungal column. The image swoops dizzyingly around to one side. Amongst several offshoots there, the image zooms into a clutch of smaller growths that look different, egg-bearing, just like the ones flourishing on earth. "I don't understand..."
More geometric shapes flow through the air, and the main image shifts rapidly. It's the same planet, but now the images show scenes of violence. Aircraft drop bombs that release vast clouds of spores over a battlefield. A group of the aliens charge across a war-blasted plain. A city burns in a great column of fire, surrounded by fungal towers feeding and growing fat on the flames of its destruction. Faster and faster the images come, and with each image, the landscape changes. There are fewer of the colorful fungal towers, and more and more of the oomycetans. Several times, images show a large grey-white oomycetan colony towering over a smaller one of the more colorful towers, and spreading into it. After a while the images stop showing the aliens fighting each other, and only show them fighting the oomycetan creatures. Then the image starts to zoom out, showing nothing but one vast, continuous oomycetan colony. Further and further, until the image shows the planetary globe. There are no more great fungal cities. No more lights. Pinpoints of fire arc up into the sky, hundreds of ships coming together to join a great convoy, apparently evacuating the world.
The planet belongs to the oomycetans.
"This... this has to be important." Stardust turns to the Australian ghost. "See if you can find anything more. I need to think about this..."
Stardust's eyes blink open. After the brilliant light of the Archive, the room in Titan's Tower seems almost dark. "...And figure out who to tell," she finishes off, to herself.