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 Post subject: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:29 am 
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Harpy
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My Lord Inquisitor,

After a lengthy investigation at your behest, I have uncovered some disturbing information about the group of related bioforms known collectively (and somewhat incorrectly) as "Tyranids". My conclusions, although radical, are based on hundreds of dissections, both pre- and post-mortem, as well as first-hand accounts from several of your field agents, and extensive genetic scanning and comparison. I can find no errors with either the consistency of my data or the my logic, so I suggest that my conclusions are inescapable. However, in order to convince you fully, I will begin at the beginning and lead you through the evolution of the Tyranid "race".

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:30 am 
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PRE-HISTORY
The Tyranid race, at least in the gross anatomy that you see in our current conflicts, began in a neighboring galaxy on a single planet. It was a fairly normal six-limbed semi-erect humanoid being of higher-order animal intelligence, most likely a solitary hunting predator or omnivore.

An egg-layer, the creatures would mate and leave their clutch in a protected spot near a food supply, leaving the brood to hatch and devour everything nearby. These juveniles would look very similar to what we would recognize as a Ripper, and the vast majority of them would die in the first days and weeks of their lives, either through predation from other creatures, starvation, or being eaten by others in their brood.

Those that survived and grew would develop more elongated limbs, robust senses, and the beginnings of a hunting instinct as the small animals, insects, and plants of its juvenile food supply became insufficient for its increased size and mass. As they passed through this adolescent stage, they would look essentially like the beast we would recognize as a hormagaunt. As they ended this stage, they would seek out a mate and lay a clutch of eggs to continue the cycle.

Finally, those that survived to adulthood would grow to a much larger size, growing thicker chitin on their skin and more effective natural weapons as their natural speed diminished, allowing them to still hunt and capture prey large enough to satisfy their appetites. At such a point, they would be very similar to the modern Tyranid Warrior in anatomical structure if not mental capabilities.

Eventually, those that continued to be successful as their size and caloric demands increased would continue to grow in size and mass, continuing to slow down but becoming in the process truly fearsome beasts of prey, able to bring down the largest herd animals with their awesome talons and fangs. Such creatures, as I am sure you have gathered, would be the prehistoric equivalent of the Hive Tyrant, differing only in the fairly narrow scope of their genetics, lack of symbiotic weapons or grafts, and only a low animal cunning with no true sentience or intelligence.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:31 am 
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PATHOLOGY
The homeworld of these beasts most likely had a wide diversity of other life-forms, but I postulate that only one other has survived, and this is a tiny being no larger than an amoeba or bacteria. We recognize these life-forms as "phage cells", most often considering them to be part of the Tyranid bio-assimilation machine on the cellular and molecular level. This is not true.

The "phage cells" existed on the Tyranid homeworld in parallel with the proto-Tyranid race, as an airborne infectious agent that lived symbiotically within other life forms. Through evolutionary selection, the cells developed an ability to signal each other, initially with chemical traces allowing those that had found rich sources of food to draw others; the proto-Tyranids must have seen them floating through the atmosphere as clouds of reddish spores drawn towards compatible living beings in the world.

Their "infection", though, was benign and did not kill the host organism; in fact, as the level of infection increased, the chemical signalling between the phage cells became more perceptible to the host, allowing them to sense the presence of other infected beings as well as track them unerringly. This was a tremendous boon to the predatory creatures with the infection, as they could follow the chemical triggers after prey that was beyond the reach of their more mundane senses. Natural selection favored creatures that were more susceptible (or compatible) to the phage infection and they became the apex predators of their world.

At some point, the chemical signalling of the phage cells, both within the bodies of their hosts and between hosts, became complex enough and quick enough that whole populations of billions of phage cells were effectively synchronized, working collectively to increase their numbers by increasing the population of compatible hosts. This collective "intelligence" (although this term is not precise enough to capture the nature of this group-instinct) developed rapidly, creating a shifting miasma of quasi-intelligences tied roughly to the hunting packs of adult proto-tyranids that evolved in parallel with the increased chemical communication of their symbiotic phage cells at closer ranges.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:35 am 
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THE EVENT
The population of proto-tyranids increased exponentially, as did their individual life-spans, as the phage colony's "intelligence" increased. At some critical point, this complex multi-body "being" became sentient and self-aware, passing from raw instinct to the closest sentient equivalent: the desire for continued assurance of perpetual survival.
This single-minded desire created a psychic event similar to (although on a much smaller scale than) the Fall of the Eldar; as it was focused entirely on the infinite perpetuation of life in realspace, it did not manifest as an idealized warp being (or "god"), but as an absence, a manifestation of the desire to remain in the material world eternally, never having to divorce from living existence to transition to the purely spiritual. This manifestation encompassed the entire section of warp-space correlating to the tyranid homeworld, and, had there been a psyker present to sense it, would have looked like a formless uniform black void. This was the first occurrence of the Shadow in the Warp.

This collective psychic existence, such as it was, also allowed the planetary phage-colony to suplement the "instinctive" pheremonal communications network with a "conscious" quasi-psychic network, instantaneously sharing information over the entire planet.

However, even this planet-wide being was still, essentially, a parasitic bacteria, without any awareness of thinking beings other than itself. As a collective being of single-celled elements distributed over an entire planet, its desire for material immortality inevitably manifested as the need to increase the pool of host beings and prey beings for them to feed on without bound. This presented the nascent intelligence with its first major problem.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:37 am 
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GOING VIRAL
This state of planetary existence, impressive as it was, clearly had bounds. The possibility of self-limitation and planet-wide balance, although obvious to a human observer, must have been completely outside the possible paths for this being, much the same way as you or I would consider voluntarily living in a small box for the rest of our lives, eating our own bodies. As the available prey population decreased, the predators must have begun to feed on each other, leading the phage meta-being to an inevitable choice...in order to expand, new sources of prey must be found.

Another extremely significant development must have occurred about this time. Where previously, the faunae of this world adapted themselves to conform to the beneficial phage infection, and then the phage cells themselves evolved in parallel with their hosts to improve the benefits they offered each other, now the phage cells were sentient, motivated, and had the molecular tools to directly affect the genetic structure of their host creatures. Although essentially perfect for their home environment and biome, they needed a way to expand outside the atmosphere of their home planet.

The phages arrived at the existence of other planets slowly, having no material technology or science (or even the concepts that would lead to them) to theorize their existence. Therefore there must have been another life-bearing planetoid very nearby, perhaps a moon, that had some signs of life; perhaps it was green (or a similar color that signified biomass to the proto-tyranids). Their genetic experiments on the plant and animal life of their homeworld led them to climb ever higher into the atmosphere in an attempt to reach the new source of food, and then to adapt to the freezing void of space. At some point, these bio-towers (similar to the capillary towers seen on assimilated worlds) reached a point where they could not sustain any further height, and the phage-mind, taking the example from the winged creatures of its world, started to experiment with means of flight.

Generations of creatures must have resulted in failure and loss of vital biomass and energy, but eventually it must have created the first bio-ship that could traverse the void between the planet and the moon. The first cargo was likely only the ship itself, contaminated with a vast colony of phage cells, hibernating in a dry spore state. Upon collision with the moon, most were incinerated, but a few survived to spread trough the new biosphere, find compatible host creatures, and expand their population and spread.

Although living at a pre-sentient level for generations, the population eventually reached a density to achieve sentience, and then contact with the parent population on the homeworld. Its experiment validated, the surface of the planet must have bristled with capillary towers, each with a bio-ship perched atop its highest apex. The assimilation of the star system presented the phage-mind with its first experience with agony, as most of the bio-ships reached planets without any biomass at all; in a short time, the phage-mind lost some significant fraction of its multi-body to unrecoverable gas giants and airless rocks. However, the experience gave it a much broader understanding of the structure of solar systems and the signs of life and non-life. After breeding a few generations of creatures with tremendous eyesight and correlating their vision across the surface of the planet, they found stars scattered across the sky that were a perfect match for their own life-giving sun.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:51 am 
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...Excitedly waiting for more. Generally, I avoid fanfic like the plague, and have low expectations of authors I encounter online...

But this is really interesting. Very flavourful and well-thought out. This is very, very good!

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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:14 am 
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sofacoin wrote:
...Excitedly waiting for more. Generally, I avoid fanfic like the plague, and have low expectations of authors I encounter online...

But this is really interesting. Very flavourful and well-thought out. This is very, very good!

Thank you! I meant to complete this yesterday, but real life got in the way. Perhaps by Thursday...only a few paragraphs left.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:57 pm 
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This is absolutely excellent, you could make a profession out of this if GW was hiring.

Don't rush yourself though, this is worth the wait!

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what's wrong, didn't want to invest in 1,000 magnets?

"So Mr. Shoggoth, what's the reason for this loan?"
"To maximize variations capability of the alien invasion of Terra"
"Come again?"


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:09 pm 
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INFINITY, AND BEYOND
One lesson the phage-mind learned well from the abortive conquest of its own solar system was the dearth of susceptible life forms on most planets. An expansion using only dry spores would clearly not work reliably, as even planets with a viable biosphere might yield organisms that could not be infected, and would therefore never sustain a sufficient population to achieve sentience and therefore communication with the parent-source-phage on the homeworld. Remember that the phage-mind had (and likely still has) no concept of multiple independent sentient entities; the possibility of starting distant colonies without ultimately intending them to rejoin with the collective was utterly beyond its conception.

With that in "mind"*, it "realized" the need to create bioships that could survive with their cargo intact for arbitrary periods of time**. The Tyranid host-organisms, unlike the phage cells, could not be conveniently reproduced from a dry spore-form (although this alternative was almost certainly attempted), so a way to transport the host creatures was required. Mass and energy conservation requirements made the transportation of whole creatures an unlikely evolutionary path; very quickly, the minimalist solution of a single host-creature with an extensive phage infestation (sufficient to remain in psychic synchronicity with the gestalt phage-mind).

In order to minimize the energy requirements of this creature over the long transit, it had to have a maximum fraction of its body dedicated to brain and neuralogical structure (the infection nodes of the phage cells), with a minimum of other physiological requirements; no mobility, no gastric structure (having its whole food supply either incorporated into its body or directly injected into its body fluids by subordinate creatures), and a minimum of skeletal, carapace, musculature, and circulatory needs. As a creature intended to spend its entire life in a zero or microgravity environment, it was likely little more than an enormous brain suspended in a nutrient-fluid-filled sac, using molecular diffusion in place of any circulatory network. Although numerous generations created gradual refinement of the design, the result was the unseen but speculated "holy grail" of the Tyranid Hive Fleets: the Norn Queen.

The secondary requirement of the Norn Queen was the ability to gestate and birth Tyranid host-creatures; each ship would necessarily have to have a massive supply of genetically diverse fertilized Tyranid host-creature egg cells and a quantity of stable biomass as raw materials with which to spawn these hosts upon arrival to a new planet; after the initial planetfall and establishment of a stable, sentient phage-population on the new world, the Norn Queen and the bio-ship would depart to the next candidate planet to start the process again, continuing until the ship ran out of biomass for the Norn Queen to feed and generate hosts, at which point it would die and drift in the void.



* I hesitate to use anthropomorphisms like these when discussing the "thought-process" of such a fundamentally different sentience, but human language does not permit such descriptions easily; as such, my word-choice will be necessarily imprecise. I ask your indulgence in avoiding false inductions about the Tyranid problem and its potential solutions based on these imprecisions. I will summarize my conclusions and potential solutions at the end of this letter.

** It is unclear whether the Phage experiences time in a way that we can understand; very likely it understands such passage only relative to its own biological processes, reproduction cycle, and those of its host creatures; it may also perhaps have a more traditional sense of time based on diurnal and seasonal cycles, through the senses and biorhythms of its host-creatures. It is clear that regardless of how it senses time, its "immortal" perspective gives it the advantage of virtually infinite patience and tolerance for repeated failure.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:24 am 
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IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED
Evolutionary processes are inherently inefficient; for every hundred random mutations, ninety-nine of them will likely be non-viable or regressions. Only after generations of wasteful trials can the population climb the gradient towards optimality, while fighting against changing conditions and limited resources.

I say this to preface the likely result of the first wave of bio-ships that departed into the galaxy. The first iteration plan was flawed in several sigificant ways and almost certainly resulted in massive attrition due to insufficient nutrition to survive the trip, non-viable methods of getting host-creatures to planetfall, and inability to find life-bearing planets to consume.

The most significant "discovery" of this first wave was that even verdant foreign biospheres were extremely unlikely to have creatures susceptible enough to the phage-infection to be able to support a sentient planetary population; incompatible neurological structure, hostile antigens, predatory bacterial agents, and a host of other unforeseen problems resulted in a very small number of successful planetary infestations. There were some, though, and the information gathered from these allowed the now galactic-scale phage-mind to refine its genetic designs to accomodate a much broader diversity of target planets, as well as choose its candidate systems with much greater efficiency.

The few planets that did have compatible life-forms demonstrated to the phage-mind an eternal truth; the native Tyranids that it had evolved with were unmatched in their usefulness as hosts; without millions of years of co-evolution, the likelihhood of finding another creature with the phage-compatibility of a its native hosts was virtually nil. The few creatures incorporated into the hive fleet's genetic library were modified as mindless sub-creatures to be used as living weapons by the "true" Tyranids. We know these creatures today as the fleshborer beetle, the devourer worm, the barbed strangler pod, the deathspitter acid-beetle, the spore mine, and the assemblage of creatures collectively known as the "venom cannon" (likely descended from three creatures: one that grew metallic crystals, likely for self-defense; another that generated an extremely potent metal-based toxin, and a third that could create a massive bio-electric pulse). In addition, useful genetic features of non-viable host creatures could still be extracted, reduced, and incorporated into the Tyranids' genetic diversity. Most of the biological mutations seen in the Hive Fleets today were extracted from this first wave of conquests; the tick-like toxin parasites, the external adrenal glands, and the regeneration symbiote are only a few examples.

The most significant side-effect of this first expansion, however, was almost certainly a complete accident. Between the tiny minority of planets with and susceptible biospheres and the completely non-viable barren planets were a broad set of planets with only barely compatible life forms. Such planets could not be incorporated in the tradition method of massive phage contamination and domination of the biome by host-predators; ultimately, they could only be useful as raw biomass, its lifeforms destroyed, reduced to raw materials, and piped back up to the orbiting bio-ships through the well-refined genetic design of the capillary tower. This planetary predation pattern, although a distant second preference for the Phage-mind, formed a necessary majority of the planets touched, and are what we consider the "standard" pattern of a Tyranid invasion.

After perhaps tens of thousands of years, a third and final infection pattern became apparent to the phage-mind, first as a related but immature psychic contact; although similar to the connection of a newly-sentient phage population, it was muted and dysfunctional, the cry of a hungry newborn rather than the greeting of a sister. The phage-mind was unable to "comprehend" this identical but incomplete mind; after the call continued and strengthened for thousands of years, a second bio-ship arrived to investigate and found a curiousity; the original bio-ship had entered the system nearly dead and had crash-landed on the planet, unable to establish a stable orbit with its nearly-exhausted resources. The Norn Queen and foetal host creatures all perished during re-entry, leaving only a scattering of dry phage-spores to spread across the planet. To further complicate matters, the native life forms of this planet were susceptible to phage-infection, but only just barely; the phage population was held in check by the resistive mechanisms and limited pool of compatible creatures, spreading only by direct injection from creature to creature. The resultant sub-sentient phage population could only affect its hosts instinctive reactions and was solely motivated by natural biological survival adaptations; however, after several generations of host creatures passing on the phage-infection to their offspring (and reinforcing the symbiosis genetically by mate-pairing reinforcement), the populations of infected host creatures became genetically distinct from their parent species much in the same way as the original Tyranids, albeit to a much lesser degree. One universal adaptation in the genetically modified hosts was a refined ability to implant other compatible creatures with a large phage-cell bolus using a modified tongue or tail-stinger.

As you may have guessed, my Lord Inquisitor, this pattern of dysfunctional phage-infection is one we have also witnessed in our galaxy, as humans are one of those lifeforms that are only barely susceptible to the phage cells. The eventual result of these sub-sentient infestations is a psychic birth of sorts, but not on the same level as a "true" biome compromise; the resultant psychic force is not a whole entity, just a raw outpouring of instinctive devouring need into the warp. Unfortunately, when a bio-ship with a Norn Queen within arrives at one of these semi-compromised planets and connects the restricted planet-bound phage population with the larger mind, it immediately participates in the collective and takes over the instincts of the host creatures; the planet is then stripped just like one without compatible hosts, using the infected minority-creatures as the first wave of shock troops. Although the form of these native phage-hybrids varies dramatically, they can all be placed in the convenient category of Genestealer.

_________________
"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:26 pm 
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GUNS. LOTS OF GUNS
At some point after the incorporation of one or more of the sub-creatures (fleshborer beetles, devourer worms, etc), a bio-ship discovered a planet populated with a sentient, technological species that was still in the pre-atomic phase of development; able to field weapons of significant potential in ground combat, being to being, but not yet able to destroy entire armies or launch missiles into orbit*.

The bio-assimilation of this planet initially followed a normal pattern, but as the apex predator population was incorporated and began to hunt down the native species, the intelligent population responded, perhaps even pre-emptively, to preserve their home planet. The ensuing conflict was, doubtlessly, a bloodbath of epic proportions; the tyranids, limited to using their normally-effective natural weapons, were slaughtered in untold thousands, struck down by arrows, bullets, explosives, missiles, or whatever else this unknown species had to deal with them at a distance. The only significantly useful creatures in this clash were, paradoxically, the tiny sub-creatures; their small size and high speed made them virtually immune to gunfire, allowing them to make it to the front lines and do what they do best.

These sub-creatures, being distinct from the Tyranid genetic structure, were not bred in the same way. The phage-mind had adapted their natural gestative processes into living host-nests which could be spawned and spread over the planet, allowing these carnivorous insects and worms to suppress the native population without any assistance from the larger Tyranids. These host-nests would typically latch onto a food source, perhaps a plant or slow-moving animal, as a non-lethal symbiote; this would allow it to breed and disperse an endless number of fleshborer beetles (for example) as the animal wandered, using the host's metabolic processes to power its own.

In the battle against firearms and cannon, saltative evolutionary processes favored Tyranids that happened to be near creatures with these host-nests, as the fleshborer beetles would present a lethal distraction in a wide radius. It was only natural that at some point a host-nest would implant in a Tyranid creature through some accident, and the resultant improvement in that creature's survivability was enough to shift the evolutionary processes in favor of nest-favorable adaptations and an instinctive desire to attach them.

As the conflict continued, a small percentage of sport mutations in these insect-host Tyranids allowed them to excite the sub-creatures with a release of bio-chemical injections, electrical pulses, or raw physical force (through muscle spasms, release of compressed air, or eventually the electrical-magnetic-metal propulsion seen in the Venom Cannon). These mutations were wildly successful relative to the passive "cloud of bugs" seen in the basic host-nest Tyranids, as they projected the sub-creatures a short distance before they calmed themselves enough to revert to normal insect-like behavior. The the end of this first conflict, which must have been ultimately successful for the Tyranid and the Phage-mind, the majority of proto-Tyranid creatures had symbiote host-nests that could be stimulated with nearly-lethal electrical shocks or injections of adrenaline-analog, enough to hurl a worm or beetle to tactically significant distances before it died in a frenzy of chemically induced destructiveness.

This pattern was certainly repeated and refined during the subjugation of numerous pre-atomic cultures, and resulted in the widespread use of the symbiote weapons we see today: the fleshborer, devourer, spinefist, venom cannon; the whole panoply of Tyranid bio-weapons.





* To be clear: this did, in all likelihood, happen as well. Since the bio-ships involved in these events were obliterated, their experience was not incorporated into the evolution of the larger Phage mind. As such, they can be effectively ignored.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:10 pm 
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WARP FIVE...ENGAGE
Although known by many names, the principle of diffusion is universal. Chemicals flow from places of high concentration to those that are lower, mass falls to areas of lower gravitational potential, electricity flows along the path of least resistance, from high voltage to ground; essentially all of science is dependent on these and similar principles.

The Empyrean, although not subject to the laws of science by definition, does follow this principle to a certain extent. It is constantly pressing in upon Realspace, eager to find any niche or crevice to force its way through and contaminate the galaxy with its presence. Adepts have developed a scale to rate the "force" of warp and psychic power that varies by location, source, and a host of other less-understandable variables.

Such considerations would seem to be irrelevant to the Phage Mind, as the Shadow is a repulsive void, a nadir of entropy in the normally wild and uncontained Warp; it can be thought of as analogous to a high mountain; warp energy and beings will never naturally scale it when there are plentiful alternatives in the low valleys (represented by the warp-space corresponding to the naturally psychic races such as humans).

Tyranid with high phage-concentrations frequently manifest un-natural powers that would normally be interpreted as those of a psyker; in many cases, these are natural off-shoots of the unique anti-psychic Shadow manipulated in a very specific way. The normal result, for a being with a Warp presence (however slight) in having their connection to the Empyrean violently cut off can range from paralyzing panic to severe disruptions in their sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, even to the point of death. Similarly, through the phage-mind communication system such creatures are able to take over the systems of the lesser Tyranid beings at close range, granting them superior resistance to damage and pain, or the ability to move through exhaustion.

Very specific beings, though, demonstrate abilities that are clearly beyond these facile explanations; I am speaking, of course, about the Zoanthrope sub-genus and their powers of direct warp-field manipulation, both for offence and defense. Such abilities are puzzling for a race that is founded completely on negation of the warp, and doubly so for specific creatures that are also nodes for the Phage Mind and the Shadow.

I take you back, again, to the distant past of the Tyranids' assimilation of their home galaxy. At some point, they encountered a race that was both strongly psychic and semi-susceptible to phage infestation. This race was subjugated with frightening speed, as the Shadow of the Warp smothered their planet almost immediately and prevented their psykers from using their powers to defend themselves or communicate to coordinate a more traditional defense.

The first incidence of genetic psykers that were also threshold phage carriers were almost certainly lethal for the hapless subjects; the tremendous psychic stress caused by the Warp and the Shadow fighting for supremacy within a mortal mind was, without doubt, gruesomely lethal. With an entire planet worth of subjects, though, at least one survived due to a random genetic ability to handle both forces; the result was an outpouring of raw power rarely seen.

Again I return you the analogy of the mountain and the plain; the power of the Warp would be like rocks thrown down into deep holes in the ground (the various warpspace/realspace interfaces, or the minds of psykers). How much more force would result from throwing these rocks from the heights of a mountain? The inherent tension between the Shadow and the Empyrean allows superlative releases of this energy.

The end result was a Tyranid sport mutation, the Zoanthrope; it necessarily had to have a very high percentage of phage-susceptible body mass (that is, an extremely large brain and extensive nervous system as well as an atrophied body structure). The tremendous powers at work within their minds were dangerous and frequently lethal, but as mass-produced Tyranid creatures they could easily be replaced when necessary. The immediate advantages on the field of battle were obvious, as purely biological processes could never match the vast amounts of raw energy these mutants could produce.

Even more significant was that the Phage Mind could now perceive and manipulate the Warp, albeit through select intermediary creatures. These powers were not subtle and could not match the fine senses and control of an Imperial Astropath or a Navigator, but they could open up the ability to breach the Warp and use it for long-ranged galactic travel, shielded from the depredations of warp creatures by the Shadow (as the sole Warp-focus of such a warp-translation would be the mutant neurological structure of the Zoanthrope creatures).

Once the Zoanthrope mutants were used to create increasingly stable Warp-effects, the assimilation of the Tyranid's home galaxy accelerated exponentially as the dormant time required to traverse space was reduced to a fraction. Similarly, planets with significant warp or phage-signatures (such as planets already subject to a genestealer infestation) were trivial to find even from within the Warp and were therefore easily overwhelmed by coordinated assaults. Planets with non-sentient or non-psychic populations still had to be found essentially at random, as a bio-ship in the warp would be unable to track them even if the direction and approximate distance were known through more traditional sensors; the confusion of space and time inherent in the warp still prevents accurate translation of real-space coordinates.

As such, the "easy path" for the Phage-mind's spread through their galaxy began to follow the pattern that we have seen in our own; the first targets are those that the fastest (warp capable) bioships are capable of finding; first, those with significant genestealer infestations, and second, those with massive sentient populations (and therefore a higher incidence of psychic presence). In addition to this "quick wave" assault, a slower but more inevitable seeding swarm of non-warp bio-ships traveled through realspace at sub-luminal speeds, heading for the visual signs of nearby candidate-stars.

And since each planet that falls can and does produce both types of bio-ships for the next stage of assimilation, each planet that is stripped can be seen as the center-point of a new Tyranid expansion; the closest young main-sequence stars visible in the night sky of the doomed planet are most likely the targets of the next wave, even if it is hundreds or thousands of years in the future.

As you may have gathered, the ability to traverse the Warp also presented the Phage Mind with an entirely new avenue of expansion; it was no longer bound to its own galaxy.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:19 pm 
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Author's Note: I am deliberately ignoring the current Tyranid background material about Narvhals and gravitometric spacial compression. This dissertation should be seen as an alternative viewpoint, or even a deliberate effort by one particularly ambitious Magos to disprove the established canon.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:05 pm 
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AND SO IT BEGINS
The problem of selecting a galaxy for follow-on expansion was the next order of business for the Hive Mind; although its vast fleet of bio-ships spread throughout its own galaxy (now fully subjugated) were capable of super-luminal travel by using the warp, there were clearly no Phage-mind appendages with any further spread, and launching warp ships in random directions was doomed to failure. Similarly, sub-light travel to galactic distances was an endeavor that would take eons, and possibly be mechanically impossible (based on certain assumptions about the rate of universal expansion). Therefore, only a galaxy with a massive psychic signature could provide the homing signal necessary to launch the bio-ships with any chance of successfully arriving at the desired end-point.

And while "pondering" this problem, possibly for millenia, our galaxy produced the Astronomican.

Then, some thousands of years later, the Eye of Terror opened and started pouring raw Warp Energy into realspace.

To the psychic senses of the billions of Zoanthropes, networked through the entire Phage-mind, these signatures were unmistakable and precisely located signs of psychic life, which implied the presence of living biomass and (even possibly) Phage-compatible life forms. The first wave of bio-ships must have departed almost immediately from all parts of the Tyranids' galaxy, entering deeply into the warp in clusters to take maximum advantage of the interlinked sensoria of the Zoanthropes onboard.

The first wave of invaders were almost certainly tiny fleets from the Tyranid galactic rim, consisting of only a handful of bio-ships. Such miniature fleets were able to travel more swiftly because of their composition; without a Norn Queen or sigificant biomass to transport, they were able to use more efficient (and potentially destructive) warp distortions. The cargo of these ships were reminiscent of the very first bio-ships; aside from the single zoanthrope propelling and guiding the vessel, it only contained dormant, dry phage spores.

As these ships entered the warp-correlate of our galaxy and passed by populated planets, they were able to detect their psychic presences over that of the Astronomican; the descent of a single "meteor" would be barely noticed on most Imperial planets, and small quantity of spore distribution would lead to only a very gradual infestation of the biome. The inevitable result, especially for only slightly Phage-compatible species like Humans, Orks, and Eldar, was a barely-noticeable rash of insurrections and political changes indicative, in hindsight, of genestealer infestation.

The rest of the galactic pattern can be easily inferred. With dozens of genestealer cult Phage beacons blaring into the warp, on top of the various Warp space interfaces and (greatest of all) the blistering "light" of the Astronomican, it was only a matter of chance where the first sigificant Hive Fleet would arrive; the Tyran system (perhaps by virtue of the Telepathica Matrix) provided the nearest psychically active target for the first and fastest Hive Fleet.

Since they are traveling through the deep portions of the warp for their transit between galaxies, the entry point of each Hive Fleet is nearly random (as we have already seen in the assaults from nearly all available directions including below the galactic disc), making it essentially impossible to trace their starting point. This removes any possibility of directing our forces to a "barrier defense" against the invasion, as it can and will occur from all possible entry vectors.

We have seen only four major Hive Fleets thus far; in my mind, the evidence is unmistakable that the total solar energy output (as extracted by photosynthesis) and usable biomass of billions of compromised worlds in their home galaxy are entirely devoted to the expansion of the Phage Mind; this should result in an irregular but constant stream of increasingly powerful Hive Fleets into our galaxy in perpetuity, or at least until all of the stars in the Tyranids' galaxy burn out and they have no more energy to feed their Norn Queens.

Needless to say, this is not a pleasant prospect, and will require the Adeptus to direct certain measures to both oppose and avoid the attention of the invaders if the Imperium or indeed the human race is to survive the next millenium.

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"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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 Post subject: Re: =][= Tyranid Pre-History =][=
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:55 pm 
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A MODEST PROPOSAL
The prognosis for our race is grim. Nevertheless, through this intimate knowledge of our enemy, there are certain steps that the Imperium can take to minimize damage and maximize our ability to survive through these uncertain times. Some of these proposals are necessarily radical and may verge on treason, but are, in my opinion, utterly necessary. The alternative is disastrous extinction.

Some basic realizations:

* All Tyranids are essentially “genestealers”, although of a higher level of development and sympathy with the symbiotic infestation. The true enemies are not the gargantuan monsters or devouring worms but the microscopic Phage infestation that provides the motive and sentience behind them. Any solution to the Tyranid problem must be directed at this threat.

* Even a full military mobilization of the entire adult human population of the Imperium would, in all likelihood, be insufficient to oppose the Tyranid incursions; even if such a force could be assembled, trained, equipped, and fed, it would cause the entire economy of the Imperium to collapse utterly, resulting in massive starvation and unrest on a scale comparable to the devastation that would be caused by the Tyranids themselves.

* Long-term Alliance with the other major races of the galaxy (specifically, the Orks, Eldar, and Tau) for the purpose of defending against the Tyranids are, unfortunately, extremely impractical and unlikely to work for anything other than local ad hoc arrangements between battle commanders.

* As mentioned previously, there is no known means to determine the source of the Tyranid Hive Fleets and almost certainly no way to travel there with any significant force, so direct offensive against the Phage Mind is essentially impossible.

* Due to the vagaries of Warp travel, Hive Fleets may assault this galaxy from any direction, requiring any military response to be mobile (and therefore subject to the long delays involved with such movements, including the fundamental difficulty in determining if an incursion is happening at all, and where its spearhead is located).


The combination of these factors absolutely requires that any race wishing to survive should be attempting to disguise its existence from the senses of the Phage Mind, to avoid being the target of warp-capable bio-ships; specifically efforts to minimize the psychic signature of human-occupied planets. Therefore, I propose the following steps to be taken immediately:

1) All non-productive citizens, especially on high population density worlds (e.g. Hive Worlds), must be forcibly relocated to low-population worlds. Where relocation is impossible or logistically non-viable, population culling may be necessary.

2) All efforts of the Ordo Xenos must be dedicated to the detection and destruction of any suspected genestealer cults, to the exclusion of all other concerns. Although the threat of heresy and mutation remain significant problems, they can be dealt with once the threat of human extinction is past.

3) All chapters of the Space Marines must be placed under direct Inquisition control, to better facilitate massing them as quickly as possible at the sites of Tyranid infestation; the sooner the Phage Mind is destroyed (by Exterminatus, if necessary), the fewer bio-ships will be released upon the nearby stars.

4) The Ordos Hereticus and Malleus must devote all efforts (to the point of exhausting all available resources and personnel) on expunging all uncontrolled psykers within the Imperial sphere; each one is a potential beacon for Tyranid bio-ships traversing the Warp. I recommend mandatory sterilization for all Imperial citizens with even borderline psychic potential or family history of psykers, hopefully to reduce the psychic signature of the human race over the course of the next several centuries. Although the loss of potential Primaris Psykers and Librarians is regrettable, the potential reduction in psychic signature of Imperial planets is significant and may well spell out the difference between a Hive Fleet invasion and a near-miss.

5) All efforts of the Magos Biologis must be devoted to a counter-agent to the Phage, essentially some inoculant that marks a planetary biosphere as both unusable as a host for the Phage cells themselves and useless as biomass for creation of new Tyranid hosts. Although I don’t have the skills to even speculate on the nature of such an agent or procedure, I suspect that research into Necrontyr technology may provide some avenues of investigation, as the Hive Fleets appear to deliberately avoid their Tomb Worlds. A similar cloak of protection around Imperial planets would not only save untold billions of human lives, it would also have the beneficial side effect of focusing the Tyranids’ efforts against the other sentient races in the galaxy. Used as a political tool, access to such a counter-agent or procedure could be used to compel subservience in otherwise hostile peer-competitor species such as the Eldar, or deliberately withheld to allow their extermination.

6) As an ultimate last resort, the Adepts must be ready to silence the Astronomican, possibly permanently. Although this would effectively end the galactic influence of the Imperium, it would prevent the Hive Fleets from finding Holy Terra or the stronghold of Mars except by the vagaries of chance. Even in that case, such a gambit would buy the Adepts of earth the vital commodity of time.


Ultimately, I expect that the strength of this summary and the attached supporting documentation will be sufficient to allow immediate implementation of the measures above.

The Emperor Protects.

Signed,
//s//
Doric Urlth
Magus Biologis
(Xenobiologica)

P.S. As an addendum, I attach this postulated genetic descent tree for the Tyranid host-species observed thus far. This may assist in properly cataloguing future variants of these creatures for more precise scientific organization.

http://album.warpshadow.com/d/63310-1/Tyranid+Taxonomy.pdf

_________________
"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death


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