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Hive Society

Hive Society

To describe a single society and call this the template to all would be highly inaccurate. There are probably dozens of distinct hive cultures within the Peripheries. Here therefore is described the most common. This is one which has a single laying queen tended to by workers forming a macro-life form called a colony.

Hive within the colony come in all sizes known as castes, ranging from a few kilograms to a hundred or more. The nature of the caste is determined during its egg and larval stage. At these stages its egg is rubbed in ‘substance’ and it is fed ‘substance’ after hatching. Generally speaking, within a crèche area there will be a range of castes being raised together for the first few months. After this they will be separated into caste training areas for the next few years until they reach maturity.

Their swift maturation is however countered by their short life-span, rarely more than a couple of decades and often less than a decade in the case of castes assigned to hazardous tasks.


Substance
‘Substance’ is the generic term for a wide range of pheromones and complex volatile organic molecules produced naturally by various castes of the hive colony. The blending of these compounds produces such variations to be considered an entire language unique to each hive colony.

Collective Consciousness
There is a lot of myth surrounding collective consciousness. It is presumed that not being pre-occupied by finding a mate, raising children, attaining self-aggrandisement should mean that hive societies are incredibly efficient. This however is far from the truth.

Individual hive are raised to do certain tasks and will do them, though for only a few hours a day or when the task is presented. This means that for a lot of the time, a hive member is otherwise unemployed. If a crèche chamber for example is without eggs and larvae to tend, those assigned to the area will simply do nothing until being directed to another crèche by caste member responsible for assigning job locations.
In many respects a hive society can be similar to others in that the individuals outside of a ‘work environment’ have their own interests, though for hive, these interests tend to be quite narrow. It is a full spectrum effect with the highly self-aware mediators at one end of the spectrum through the warrior caste at the other. A group of crèche workers (somewhere in the middle of the spectrum) for example may also socialise together, seeking the same entertainment. This may be following the same set media operas set in crèches or eating at the same locations and gossiping. They will have routines such as who is responsible for which chores within their group. The main difference is that while they are all within the collective due to the pheromones, they have little interest beyond this narrow area. A crèche minder for example will not be interested in astronomy, electrical engineering or for that matter gardening. Warriors and regurgitators (larvae feeders) at the other end of spectrum may simply spend their down time sleeping and eating, both of which they do in prodigious amounts.

Queens
The queens for most hive species have very low self-awareness, content to be pampered and produce eggs. They have all their needs taken care of. They are often fed so much ‘substance’ that they do not even resist their own murders.

There are exceptions with some queens showing astute intellects. When this happens, the hive can show surprising capability to advance as a species. These events have historically been associated with hive invasions or off-world spawning events.

It is thought that the first of these queens may well have started the first hive affiliations, specifically producing hive that were immune to ‘substance’ as a means of developing self-awareness within the species.

The Brains of the Colony
There are within the society mediators. These are hive that deal with the running of the colony. They carry around the ‘substance’ feeding small amounts to the other hive but also passing on general requirements such as increase crèche facilities, expanding food production or even closing down areas. These have to be much more self-aware, rationalising situations and discussing the issues with other mediators. Generally speaking when important matters arise, chambers become filled with these, buzzing their opinions and garnering support from other mediators. Eventually decisions are carried by the majority vote, though under some situations where there are no obvious solutions, the entire colony can stagnate for days.

Hive Eggs
While other species have civilians that can be transported from one world to another in order to colonise it, the hive cannot do this. Removing individuals from the collective, removes them from it permanently. They cannot function as a society.

As a typical colony will only reach its population of 50-70,000 individuals over the course of a couple of decades, colonisation of a world will often be achieved through artificial means, i.e. hive eggs will be given to an existing hive colony. This is because eggs can be stored and will remain in stasis for months; even years until they are triggered into hatching through the use of ‘substance’. As this is only produced by an active colony they cannot be hatched within a base. The eggs are turned over to the civilian hive colony for hatching and maturation.

Outside Interaction
These mediators are the ones that are generally sent out to deal with other species and interact with starbase merchandising, though they will often be accompanied by other castes bases on the nature of the interaction, for example a few mediators will be accompanied by purser castes when it comes to dealing with purchases of food trade items or by warriors when discussing possible conflict. They are also the ones that have the highest tolerance to ‘substance’ (smallest receptors) and for this reason a drop in ‘substance’ production by the queen is first noticed by them, causing them to start the process of re-queening. It also means that these are the caste most likely to leave a colony of their own volition in order to seek employment by a starbase.

Visits to a hive are possible by both other hive and in fact other species. Generally speaking, there will be a designated visitors region with castes matured to deal with ‘aliens’. Going ‘off-road’ is however possible. In these cases, the visitors are continuously surrounded by mediators (and specialist sub-castes), when venturing through all areas not sanctioned for free access.

As soldiers are not present throughout a hive colony, once past the various check points moving around is relatively safe, though the constant stream of mediators moving between the various zones could result in being reported.

Colony Appearance
Hive are rarely ones for art, though it is not unknown, especially around the visitors zone and in the areas dominated by mediators and their sub-castes. They produce music and media though few non-hive would appreciate either. Scratchy noises and infrasound are popular as are shows about daily life of a fungus farmer. These can often be seen and heard throughout the many chambers.

Communal living is the norm with corridors connecting semi-submerged chambers formed plastics, metals, stone, and glass or even in some frontier colonies, packed earth. Under extreme circumstances, the walls may even be made from dead hive, their bodies literally glued together with hardened mucoidal secretions. Lighting is often only present where it is necessary. Sleeping chambers rarely have any form of illumination with hive simply clambering over each other until they find a place to sleep. The same can generally be said for food halls where tactility and smell often serve far more effectively than sight.

The industrial, media, visitor and commerce zones however are illuminated at all times and are generally continuously active. Hive do not take holidays or have a working week but by the same token, it is common to see hive clustered around doing apparently nothing. They will turn up to do a job, find it is not needed and simply hang around until a mediator sends them elsewhere.

Colony Size
A fit and healthy queen can lay around a hundred eggs per week. Presuming that most eggs will mature and hive generally live for just over 15 years, a typical colony will achieve the size of 80k individuals. More often though a colony will stop at around 50k as during this period new queens will be spawned and they will leave with a portion of the adult population in order to create new colonies. In this way a planet will eventually be populated.

In a few cases where the technology of a hive civilisation has advanced, the queen will be subjected to augmentation which increases her ability to lay eggs. This can vastly increase the potential colony size and in the case of Fake (a small hollow moon that was eventually destroyed), a single colony measured in their hundreds of millions, maybe even billions.

The swift maturation and demise of a hive (along with their general inability to reproduce) means that a colony will react to environmental change quite quickly. Resource constraints for example will read to the closing of crèche facilities. Few new crèche workers will be matured and the ones in the closed units will be reassigned. Within a few years the colony will be down to optimum numbers which can be maintained.

Crime
Within a hive colony crime certain occurs, though not in the usual sense.Even though it is the queen that lays eggs, other hive will also lay eggs, passing them off as the queen's. There can be cabals of layers associated with crèche chambers (a common theme in media operas). Mediators may attempt to overthrow a queen in favour of a new one, or instigate the creation of a new colony when one is not needed. Murders, criminal negligence, illegal hoarding are also common. The presence of non-collective gangs within the colony can also play a significant role in criminal activity especially where a colony is very large, measuring in the millions. Theft by nearby colonies is also fairly common.

Conflict
When multiple colonies start to impinge on each other due to restrictions in space, one of two things can occur. Where one colony has a strong queen, the warden caste will liberally spread ‘substance’ along its border and even into the territory of opposing colonies in an attempt to confuse and change the loyalty of hive. This only works against hive currently within a hive collective. Administering ‘substance’ to a hive removed from the collective has no effect as the receptors quickly atrophy when no longer stimulated by regular exposure to ‘substance’.

As the weaker colony quickly loses hive members the mediators may either attempt to re-queen the colony or more often, remove the queen and speed up the integration process. There is rarely conflict in these cases. Generally speaking mediators from both colonies have met and determined the outcome. In these cases, it is often the role of the weaker colony to mature drones as the last act of the old queen, thereby ensuring their legacy is passed on.



Where the two colonies have strong queens and are roughly equally matched a conflict will ensue. This is the only time in which the queens leave their brooding chambers. They will actually sever themselves from the sac and confront each other. The release of pheromones however often leads to conflict between the rest of the hive and with the advance of technology, leads to fairly indiscriminate bloodshed. Such conflicts are however exceptionally rare.

World Government
Mediator sub-castes matured specifically for dealing with other colonies and global affairs may form a government if there is sufficient need for one. They will determine global policy between the hive colonies and produce a list of laws applicable to off-worlders. This said, where there is activity within the confines of a single hive colony or beyond the boundaries of all the hive colonies on a world, it is invariably the case that nobody will care unless there is a direct threat or impact. This is because few hive venture far from the colony. Farmers account for the vast majority of hive that spend more than a single day beyond the bounds of a colony. The reason is hive continually pass ‘substance’ between its members. Some castes are capable of storing the substance for a few weeks (such as scouts) but generally most castes need a near continuous supply.





 
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Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 
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The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic