The Arthroid

Description of the intelligent species of arthropods found on the Terrestrial worlds 

Venus, Earth and Mars belong to a biological area originating most probably on Earth, the Terran Biozone. In due time, life on Earth was able to lift itself into space with abaric biology. The greatest of these were of course the molluscoid Giant Space Snails which migrate through space and collect needed ingredients planetside, thus being the main propagator of interspermia on these three planets. There are several other species that have ascended and descended to space at one time or another (mammals are descended from a parasitic life-form that developed on space snails, which is why humans do relatively well in zero-g and radiation environments), but the ones we will consider here are what people erroneously call Bugs.

The Arthroid species of Ven-Tel-Mar are a taxonomically arthropodean family. They are distinctive due to their hard exoskeleton which help them in the vacuum of space as well as in the depths of oceans and on the Venerean lowlands, as do their sophisticated yet robust breathing mechanisms formed out of lungs and oxygen-holding mediums. They are decapedous (they have ten limbs), two pairs of which function as claw-like manipulators, the first and third pairs. They have bizarre mandible-jaw hybrids. They might be likened to resemble giant, ten-footed lobsters. The arthroid are also what might be called "pneumatic" in that they use inert aether for communication purposes, in the same way other hive creatures might use smell, but otherwise the arthroid's aetheric strengths are not great - humans can attain much better aptitude on all levels than an arthroid.

Most arthroid species live in hive-like social structures. A wild hive usually has several queens, workers and soldiers; and drones and maids of a lineage. A civil hive, a hive-city, has in addition to these several kinds of sapioids - thinking hive-members.

The arthroid species has been on an evolutionary brink for tens of millions of years, on the advent of sentience and culture. A wild hive has no history, no structure beyond biological imperative, and can be compared to that of the chimpanzee. But ever since the coming of mankind, hives and lineages of the species have had symbiotic-diplomatic contact with the speaking ape, leading to a kind of diplomatic arms-race for linguistic skills and mind capacity.

Arthroid lineages have attained sentience and language many times. There are about a dozen attested lineages, six of which have died out, and each of which has been guided into intelligence independently of the others. Earth has one such lineage in distant Nova Hibernia, the Saurian Island, where recent contact with polynesian and australian aboriginals lead to a quick breakthrough, while Venus has three ancient lineages and Mars two.

Each of these lineages is unique in its form and function. A member of one lineage will be mentally quite different from another as a biological function of their egerticism (uplifting). These lineages also have different specialities. How is, then, that different hives can have members from different lineages work side-by-side? This is a result of the strange tripartite sexuality of the Arthroid.

Arthroids have three sexes - or two sexes and the queen. An arthroid queen is not, as the name may imply, the ruler and be-all of a hive. The queen is a magnificent idiot-prisoner, naïve and trapped within the hive to server only one purpose and two masters: reproduction of the gentry.

The queen has no will of its own, and it doesn't control itself. Instead there are two Ministerial species; the familiar drone and the maid. These two are the second and third pillars of the arthroid sexual structure. The maid provides the queen with genetic material - ie. the egg - that is its own, and the drone provides seed for the second half. The queen works only as a glorified incubator.

The queen has several modes, which control the resulting phenotype of the given genetic material. There are a few basic types common to all hives, termed Q, D, M, W, H and S, standing for queen, drone, maid, worker, hunter and soldier. There are other modes beyond these; the common T, and more.

This structure also includes what is called the Marriage Migration, or, less formally, the Honey Moon. At this time, after different drones and maids have coupled through the queen and produced offspring of their own, their descendant-members compete with each other. Workers compete, soldiers fight. The drones and maids choose a pair with whom they migrate, and set out to meet other couples outside the hive, taking with them and entourage of their descendant-members. Further ritualised contests and battles ensue outside. Thus drones and maids migrate between hives, spreading their issue and lineage.

With the rise of sentience and thinkers, these members also take part to the migration, and often they are the reason of success. Diplomatic-linguistic members create alliances with humans for trade, and the humans help defeat other migration-trains; in outer-space, Navigator members are important to even survive. Other such members can also be useful - strategic members, and so forth, but most other intelligent ones survive thanks to the success of their siblings, who see their worth to a hive, if not the migration train - though most often such migration-useless ones are not taken on the trail at all.

The sentient drone-maid lineages use the queen-modes that lie beyond the basic set QDMWHS, those that are called T-modes and L-modes, and others. Because drones can only sire their own type of T or L-mode, the sentient lineages have broken their biological reproductive imperatives and band often together to form Civilised Hives - Hive-Cities, where several different sentient lineages are collected to produce different kinds of workers. The resulting phenotypes are different between lineages and perform different chores: the Linguist phenotype is a T-mode of the lineage that also has the Remember phenotype in L-mode - though a variation on the theme of the Linguist is a wide-spread T-phenotype common to most lineages (often termed Linguist-1, Linguist-2 and so forth). Other lineages make different L-mode phenotypes: one lineage produces Breeders, which are members who are specialised in controlling breeding and even investigating genotic structure, and thus are able to form the basis of the viotekhnological form of arthroid culture. One important T-phenotype is the Navigator, a member specialised in the control of inter-planetary and space-nagivation. Navigator-lineages are usually space-based, while Linguist-lineages are human-centric. Furthermore of interest to humans are the very strange and improbable Medicinists, members who are specialised in medicine and even surgery of arthroid anatomy, and who can perform miraculously even on mammals - human - ailments. It is the basis of these Medicinists that has created - and operates out of necessity - the possibility of mechanical and electrical prosthetics!

These lineages usually have also intelligent drones and maids, who then rule over their respective lineages. It is believed that in a few hundred thousand years there will be no more 'wild' lineages, but all lineages will have been replaced by sentient lineages originating from human contact.

There are a very large numbers of different queen-modes available, though, and there are many different wild, and sentient, lineages that result in different kinds of hive-members. One infamous one is the Marionette. The Marionette is a tiny member of a strange lineage whose main-purpose is to attach itself into an animal - or human - host, enter it, travel through the body to the nervous system and brain, and from there control the target. Usually these Marionettes lay dormant until a Puppeteer (a semi-intelligent T-phenotype) communicates with it through inert aether.  They have been linked to several incidents of horrible carnage, as the poor denizens of London discovered in 1835 as a "plague of insanity & cannibalism" led it to a macabre dance of red-toothed death when an infestation of "unknown origin" drove man and woman insanely feral and murderous towards their fellow Londoners, and after which people were said to find Marionettes amongst the wreckage. It is officially unknown why the Marionette was found at the scene, though of course for most people the reason seemed obvious as the light of day.

Regardless of these bad memories, the scientists and people of Europe and Britain are very interested in the arthroid. There are even some, possibly many more, who believe Britain - or France, or especially Austria - should introduce a wild arthroid lineage and egerticise it in their own image, creating British arthroids (or French Republican arthroids). Of course not everyone is willing to listen to the words of such egerticists, but every decade or so it is revealed that some small group or society has attempted - or succeeded in - smuggling a feral arthroid queen and drone-maid pair into Cornwall or Vienna or Île de France, leading to concerns of danger of some sort of repetition of 1835.