Biological construct designed to induce maximal terror in a given individual or species

Image from Steve Bowers
The Nekaht is a deimarc neogen, designed to have features resembling the mantis, human and certain molluscs
Although the design of horrors (teratics) was begun during the interstellar era, it reached new levels during the age of expansion when many Houses delighted in the creation of guard-beasts or other biological paraphernalia intended to contrast with their wealth and power. At the start teratics was mainly a biosculpting business, dominated by firms such as the Atlantean Teratotech Inc, the Ram Aesthetics of Daffy or the Mohomanahy Network in the Klarus system. Eventually hyperturing teratics became available, causing a paradoxical decline in the fashion at the same time as everybody agreed that the deimarcs had reached perfection. The explanation was simply that the hyperturing-designed beings were too hideous for most bionts, offsetting the status of owning one with the total revulsion they caused. During the age of Empires teratics as a major business had become a historical curiosity.

Deimarcs are occasionally created for various purposes - everything from military intervention to revenge to hardening aesthetics. An individually tuned Deimarc is designed to push every possible emotional button of a given individual to provide maximal negative emotions; hence the shapes tend to be extremely individual. Hyperturing-designed deimarcs that have been based on extensive mental research can be so extreme that the target individual breaks down just by encountering them. General deimarcs are instead based on archetypal fears, phobias and disgusts of a target group, such as humanoids or a specific clade. Less instantly mentally disruptive, they are nevertheless highly disturbing and tend to drive away even very motivated beings.

Some Deimarcs have become parts of standard ecologies. The Ghwakka of Labyrios (MPA) was designed in 4354 by the Fyrikaa Party to disturb the local Genen. By exploiting a tendency of Genen of human extraction to focus on small black movable objects in a particular stereotypical saccadic scheme and drawing on extensive simulations, they produced a bat-butterfly derivative that cause Genen notable distress. To most other terragens they appear mainly as somewhat eerie fliers, although their chirping sound is tied to old monkey warning signal frequencies and has been described as the best current rendition of the ancient saying "nails against a blackboard".

A more dangerous Deimarc is the Nekaht of Novoya Bourgatov (NoCoZo outer volumes), where the local aioids sought to discourage bionts from entering their sacred continent. The Nekaht is a carnivore/parasite designed to frighten all terragen mammals, largely based on a combination of preying mantis, human and mollusc. Shapes vary strongly from individual to individual, but they all contain structures specifically intended to activate the amygdala including EEG entraining flickering of the tongue-spikes, disease-pain symbols and a keen sense of phobic feedback. During the Havermassian Conflict in the nearby Kolmani volume the aioids distributed a number of Nekaht to their supporters, who used them in a very successful demoralization coup by releasing them in the capital of Kolmani.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 09 October 2001.