|Be Smart And Help Save Our Bees, Larry Wright|
(Note: Part 1 of this post can be found here.)
When the spores awaken, one gives birth to a larvae that will eventually turn into a queen. This proto-queen then emits a signal, as only one queen is created at a time. The rest develop into the beginning of the colony, namely workers and warriors. The queens are born pregnant, but they require a certain mass before they can produce offspring. Because of this, the spores that develop after the Queen are a huge help as they defend her and gather food. On average, the more spores a potential colony is contaminated with, the faster a colony establishes itself. When spores are spread over a large area, it is possible that multiple Queens emerge. This is the seed of a new super-colony.
A queen’s mass is only restricted by the space and food available to her and the larger her mass, the larger and the more complex her offspring. As a result, the towering leviathans are found more often planets with their fauna and flora. That is not to say that spacedwellers never have large Bugs or that planetdwellers never lack them.
It was assumed that the Queen played a pivotal role in the direction of the swarm. Cut off the head and the body will flounder. Unfortunately this proved untrue as discovered by a regiment of troopers who believed killing the Queen would result in chaotic infighting in the Colony. In truth, it only slowed the Bugs down. By feeding a hormone to an egg ready to hatch, a new Queen is created. This newborn needs a little time to grow, but there is little time before the breeding cycle is fully restored.
One needs to kill both the queen and destroy all the eggs. And even then, it does not reduce the effectiveness of the warriors.
A Queen does not only produce eggs to grow her army. Once the Colony reaches a certain size, the workers will start building a tower above ground. As the tower rises higher, the Queen will grow upward within it until eventually the tower peaks above the atmosphere. It is in this huge final form that she starts seeding the cosmos with her spores with the tower to protect her. She will launch them towards the signals of other Queens within the super-colony or towards human and alien radiosignals. If there's no signal to launch towards, the queens launch towards or away from the sun in the system's orbital plane. In this form only a planet-cracking orbital bombardment can be relied on to kill her.
The Queen is also the way the Bugs communicate with other Queens in the super-colony. She sends and receives radio signals using chains of workers which serve as an antenna. These radio signals serve as the EM-Spectrum equivalent of the pheromone trails that ants leave. A scout finds something to eat, so he does a few trips back and forth leaving a chemical trail. Pretty soon that attracts another ant, who makes the trail stronger. Eventually, if the food source isn't consumed, they'll attract more and more ants to the trail until the source runs out. So when the Space-Bug Queen is well-fed, she "chirps". The chirps convince another queen in the system to 'launch' her eggs in that direction. If some time passes and the chirping gets stronger, more queens will launch more eggs towards the 'food' signal. Until the planet/orbital in question is crawling with the things. A human listening in on a Bug transmission will only hear nonsensical, multi-layered radio clicks.
When Bugs from two different super-colonies meet, the signals they emit start to intermingle. Depending on the size of the super-colony, the signal grows in size as well. When a large colony and a small colony meet, the smaller colony's signal is drowned out and they are integrated into the larger colony, again boosting the signal. When two signals are roughly the same strength, the Bugs go to war until the gap between the two grows large enough.
The Bug Cult And The Seeding Of Terra
The first mentions of the Bug Cult date back to the contamination of the planet Mahalanobis. Even less was known back then. Mahalanobis was a backwater planet filled with pious citizens of the human empire. A newly founded community still with low population levels. Exactly how the colony gained its first foothold there is unknown and, frankly, irrelevant. What is relevant is that the colony passed through its first fase quickly and started to make its presence known. In the wilderness around the colony at first. Later in the towns as well.
There were monsters lurking in the shadows. People disappeared and abruptly ended screams in the night started to become common. The people are afraid and tension mounts. People started seeing mimicers walking around with warriors. The illusion isn’t very good, but it was dark and fear clouded their vision. They didn’t see just Bugs, but Bugs with human conspirators. Some went beyond that. They saw what they wanted to see deep down. They saw a neighbor they hate, the guy at work who looked down on them.
Accusations started flying around and a witch-hunt was unleashed. The good people of Mahalanobis tore themselves apart and the Bugs moved in to claim the leftovers. In the end, the Knights launched a full-scale war and killed everybody.
This is the start of the stand-alone complex. Some might have already heard of this. A stand-alone complex can be compared to the emergent copycat behavior that often occurs after incidents such as serial murders or terrorist attacks. An incident catches the public's attention and certain types of people "get on the bandwagon" so to speak.
What separates the stand-alone complex from normal copycat behavior is that there is no real originator of the copied action, but merely a rumor or an illusion that supposedly performed the copied action. There may be real people who are labeled as the originator, but in reality, no one started the original behavior. And in stand-alone complex, the facade just has to exist in the minds of the public. In other words, a potential copycat just has to believe the copied behavior happened from an originator - when it really did not. The result is an epidemic of copied behavior. One could say that the stand alone complex is mass hysteria over nothing - yet causing an overall change in social structure.
Thus, the Bug Cult was born. Filled with people disillusioned by the constraints of the Church, people who worship the true unity and purpose of the Bugs, some deranged unfortunates who listen to the voices. Hell, even the odd Colseran wanting to play cultist.
It is a member of the last category that made the most daring action of the Bug Cult to date (as one would expect). When visiting the orbital shrine where people go to gaze up to dried husk that remains of Terra this temporary cultist just could not understand what all the fuss was about. It was all so grey and dreary, you could look at space rocks anywhere! She decided it needed to be… livened up a little bit.
The Bugs are here. They spread. And so far we have been unable to kill them off. But we will endure as we always have. By our blood the tide will be turned. By our lives the Empire will remain steadfast. By the Pontifex Prophetae, we will be the hammer that strikes this plague down!