Mucoid Empire

mucoid colony worms2
Image from Steve Bowers
The Mucoid colony worms form a hive mind bound together by thread-filled mucus.



The secretive Solipsist Panvirtual cluster ak##~#~ that arrived at Kappa Cassiopeiae in 7002 began to exploit the fabulously energetic star almost immediately, extracting mass and energy at the equator and poles by starlifting, and slowing down the evolution of the star (which had been a few thousand years from becoming a natural supernova). Mass extracted from the star was arranged into computronium nodes with many different recipes in a series of orbits out to 80 AU, and the Panvirt cluster ak##~#~ blossomed into a myriad secretive virtual universes about which little is known.

A Negentropist Institute Probe of Information Conservation (the Dewey Decimal) arrived in the star's Oort cloud in 10344 and negotiated a certain amount of data exchange with the ak##~#~ cluster. Very little of what was exchanged has yet been decoded, but the most interesting body of information relates to an entire virtual civilisation which the ak##~#~ cluster are maintaining in their isolated virtual cybercosm, developed from the discovery of a single icebound relativist ship of an unknown species of alien in interstellar space at 3000 ly from Sol.

The alien ship was completely inactive, but the data within was mostly viable, so a virtual representation of the ship and its crew were created, together with a virtual solar system for the aliens to colonise. It is believed that the simulation has been running for three hundred years, but the subjective speed of the simulation was at first much faster and the unknown alien species now occupy a virtual cybercosm many times larger than the Terragen bubble.

The information obtained by the Dewey Decimal indicates that the unknown aliens, nicknamed Mucoids, are soil-dwelling wormlike organisms that form collective superorganisms by secreting thread-filled mucus when in close proximity, and have developed a diverse space-faring civilisation with swarm-like properties.

No information is available about the location of the Mucoid's home empire, as they have eradicated that information from their own databases for an unknown reason. However the species appears to be highly territorial and competitive, and if the ship has travelled many thousands of light years it is possible or likely that the Mucoid Empire may have advanced much further in the intervening period.

As the Mucoids are beginning to develop virtual cybercosmoi and star lifting projects of their own, the simulation has had to be slowed down. Rather than running faster than real life it is now simulating a civilisation of such complexity that the ak##~#~ can only simulate the entire Mucoid complex at a much slower speed than real life, with long periods of time when the simulation is closed down completely for detailed assessment.

Although they do not say so directly, the ak##~#~ appear to be asking (in an elliptical fashion) for assistance from the Negentropist institutes to successfully continue with the simulation. Commercial simulation nodes within the Technorapture Hypernation and the NoCoZo are also believed to be interested in bidding for this cosmos, although a few Discwusitan commentators think the Mucoid empire simulation might be nothing more than a hoax, some kind of complicated joke by the Panvirts at the expense of the Negentropists.

Biology

If the Mucoid Hive-worms are in fact real, rather than a fiction created by the Panvituality, they are a particularly unusual xenosophont species. Apparently evolved from tube-worms which live in estuarine mud and damp soil, they extrude long silicate tubes filled with mucus which contain several worms and can extend for many kilometers over land on search of food and minerals. Within the tubes the wormlike individuals communicate by means of temporary thread-like links, which allow the relatively primitive minds of the individual worms to combine to become a much larger processing entity.

The worms can process and refine certain metals by biological means within their bodies, and deposit these metals within the structure of the tube itself, creating additional processing and memory capacity outside of their own bodies. In this way the tube itself becomes a part of the collective superorganism and its culture.

Tubes belonging to different hive minds often encounter each other on the surface of their worlds and compete for territory, and this competition seems to have been the trigger for the evolution of sentience in this species. These tubes are more successful when they cooperate, however, and form larger hive minds which construct strangely shaped silicate towers on the surface filled with communicating worms and threads.

Working together the tiny worms can build complex artifacts, starting by depositing metals into complex shapes; using these artifacts more and more complex tools can be made, eventually leading to the construction of a planet-girdling civilisation and interplanetary and interstellar capabilities.

 
Articles
  • Hive Mind  - Text by Steve Bowers
    A single consciousness occupying many bodies; can be temporary or permanent.
  • Xenobiont  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic term for alien (non-terragen) lifeform. May be animal-like, plant-like, protistan, exotic chemistry, or any other possibility. Does not have to be sophont. In fact just as on Earth, very few alien species ever evolve any measure of cognitive intelligence.
 
Related Topics
 
Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 11 October 2002.