Undead Army of Dan Sanders, The

Image from Bernd Helfert

One of the quirkier legends in the Terragen sphere. An exploratory expedition launched from a minor (nearbaseline) local polity in the Middle Sphere mysteriously disappeared in the region of the PCSC17562 system. Another exploratory relativistic craft was sent to investigate, this time accompanied by a squadron of warships. Upon crossing the heliospheric boundary of the star system the fleet was attacked by three large warships equipped with heavy but primitive weaponry. Strangely the ships were positively ID'd as belonging to the Skorad Empire: an aggressive, expansionistic tweak/splice polity that had been extinct since the sixtieth century AT.

A quick database search revealed that in the fifty-seventh century AT a force of some fifty thousand Skoradian troops had mysteriously disappeared in this region after being sent to crush a minor irritant polity.

The crew of the survey ship were able to record the names and identification markers of the three ships. Unbelievably they belonged to the same fleet that had disappeared over four thousand years ago. The warship squadron followed the trio of ships to the innermost planet of the small sun, determined to learn the identity of their attackers. They truth would be stranger than they imagined: the attacking ships were piloted by sophonts four thousand years dead. Apparently they had been killed and then preserved through nanotechnological means in a state in which they could be reanimated at will. Since they had originally died from vacuum exposure their brains were severely damaged and they were now little more than meat puppets of the nanites programming. It was learned that, apparently, they were the slaves of an SI:1 postsapient named Dan Sanders, who in turn was himself the slave of a far more powerful entity known as Carmen. It would not be long before the full twisted story would become clear.

Dan Sanders had originally been a field commander during the Version War. At some point during the conflict his fleet had been crippled and marooned in the PCS1756 system, which was seemingly devoid of all life. However, he successfully made contact with the mysterious and powerful entity Carmen.

Carmen was originally Carmen Timitz; a (nearbaseline) weapons researcher for a minor, aggressive polity during the break-up of the First Federation. When her planet was destroyed during the collapse of the Federation she fled into unexplored space. According to many versions of the legend, since the loss of her world She had ascended to low SI:4 toposophic level (however most historians and toposophologists are highly sceptical of claims of such an attainment, although that does not prevent fabulists spreading these rumors). Carmen promised to terraform the innermost planet of the system so that Sanders and his men could survive (most of their ships having been damaged beyond repair). She also agreed to ascend Sanders to the first transapient level (SI:1) in exchange for his becoming Her slave (presumably using behavior modifying nanoimplants).

Carmen dutifully terraformed the system's inner planet (including a calculated hit with an asteroid to break its tidal lock on the red dwarf) and a small colony developed. Then in 5622 an emissary arrived from the Skorad Empire, proclaiming the system to be a Skorad territory and demanding servitude and tribute from it. Sanders responded by giving the emissary a destructive download and sending his virch back to the Skorad capital. Outraged the Skorad Empire sent an army of fifty thousand men to crush Sanders, but Carmen destroyed them with transapient-level weaponry. Sanders then created a nanite goo that would "trap the souls" of the dead Skorad and make them his zombie slaves. It is said that Carmen harbors dreams of one day ascending to SI:5 or beyond and total galactic domination, and She may have thought that this zombie army might be useful to that end (or if nothing else to keep meddling interfering types away).

The expedition to PSC17562 barely escaped the wrath of Sanders and his zombie army, but eventually managed to make it back to their home system. Certain versions of the myth involve them neutralising the zombie army by killing Sanders. There are several versions in which they also destroy Carmen by some means, but this is generally dismissed as nothing more than nearbaseline self-aggrandizement.

There was a second expedition to PCS17562, which did not return, leading many to believe that Sanders and his hellish force are all too unalive and well.

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Development Notes
Text by Somes Jung Hallinan
Initially published on 09 July 2004.