by Max Barry

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Talons of the Archailect: The Grag Yiadai (WIP)

It was a force spoken of only in whispers, armed with weapons as incomprehensible as its master-in-chief, alleged to have been honed to near-perfection against the stuff of nightmares.

The only time we are certain it was employed in realspace prior to 8475 was in 4176, when Hahoalki put down the Grand Rebellion. If the Holo-Annals of the Karigai are to be believed, a single convocation of the Grag Yiadai annihilated 4 clusters of Rebel warships at the Battle of Iafem. To put it in human terms, this feat would be equivalent to a single division doing the same to about fifty army groups.

Since first contact with the Alliance, human historians have believed that Hahoalki allowed legends to accrete around some kernel of truth lost in the mists of time, perhaps to cement eir superiority to the rest of the Higher Minds in the eyes of eir subjects. Now that footage of the exploits of the Armageddon Squad has gone viral, and the first reports of the Krakatoa War are filtering back from Brane Designation FT-27, it has become clear that the legends may have had more truth to them than we thought.

This is a compilation of all the publicly accessible knowledge about the Grag Yiadai, patched together from about two hundred separate recorded interviews with Avatars of Hahoalki regarding the status of operations on Skrag's Vindication, and the military and political situation in the polity known as Ziotor.

Of necessity, this document must focus on the state of the Grag Yiadai as of 8475. Armament and organization in the Grand Rebellion period, or during the Peace of the States, must forever remain a matter of speculation.

Based on the number of contacts with extradimensional species that have resulted in violence, there is a worrying possibility that the Grag Yiadai may be called upon to defend the holdings of the Allied States in realspace. Let us all pray to the ONE that this will not be the case.

Strategic Situation

This is the subject Hahoalki has been most guarded about. There are, in fact, only three real clues to the nature of the conflict for which the Grag Yiadai were designed.

The first is the fact that Hahoalki consistently refers to them as eir "Immune System," implying that they have a defensive role of some kind.

The second is that, of the over two hundred recordings analyzed, in three cases, each of which involve interviewers pressing questions about the history of the Grag Yiadai, Hahoalki responds with a vague reference to beings called "Bulk Hunters."

The third is that in one interview, Hahoalki reveals that the "nickname" for cluster 9.2.9.9 of battlegroup Sword of Righteous Fury - "Godslayers" - is not, in fact, a moniker for the cluster (as commonly asserted across the net), but rather the name of a decoration that formation has received - indeed, one that almost every cluster in the battlegroup has earned.

There are many ways these facts could fit together into a larger picture. But the most logical inference, at least to the author's mind, would be that Hahoalki's nesting series of basement universes has caught the attention of beings that e has called "Bulk Hunters," and that the power of these beings is so great that even our pious Archailect is forced to compare them to gods. To defend emself from the depredations of these beings, Hahoalki forged the fighting force that we know as the Grag Yiadai.

But the reader, of course, is permitted to draw per own conclusions.

Troops

The backbone of the Grag Yiadai are the Plii Anakalai - the so-called "many-souled ones." This name arises from the fact that they make use of so-called "cognitive backup" technology.

Now, as every citizen of the Allied States knows, a cognitive backup does not preserve identity. It only means that one's family can comfort themselves by building an individual who looks and acts exactly like oneself. The spark of consciousness is kindled anew in one's doppelganger, not carried over from one's original self. In this sense, one could come to have "many souls" in sequence. And this is precisely what occurs among the Plii Anakalai.

It appears to be at once a means of preserving combat experience and allowing for edits to be made to those Plii Anakalai whose failure to survive the battle was due to some cognitive bias. But to them, it is also a familial tie.

There are two fundamental kinds of familial relation among the Plii Anakalai. The first is forkhood, when a mindstate has proven so successful that it is worth instantiating more than once, and is analogous to the sibling relation. The second, and by far the more common, is descent, which occurs when a Plii Anakal dies in battle, and their mindstate is reinstantiated. So it is that most of the Plii Anakalai view themselves as the scions of a long line of soldiers, with subjective aeons of family legacy to uphold.

As for the individual Plii Anakal, pe isn't obviously different from the average Ultimate. They are relatively humanoid, compared to the locust-like appearance of the "standard" Ultimate, but the overall scheme - blank face, four manipulating limbs (two for motions of strength, two for motions of finesse), two legs, and radiators - remains the same. Unlike the "standard" Ultimate, whose radiator extends down the length of per tail, a Plii Anakal has a pair of sharply angled "wings" emerging from per back. These cannot be used for flight, being exclusively for heat rejection.

The real differences between the Ultimates and the Plii Anakalai are psychological. War is traumatic. Most of the time, only the sociopathic can withstand it for long. Even Ultimates are only allowed a 337 year (by the human calendar) term of duty, of which no more than 28 years (by the human calendar) may be spent serving in an actual war zone, because a longer term would result in combat stress building up to unacceptable levels, both in terms of detriment to performance and in terms of likelihood of suffering PTSD.

The Plii Anakalai are different. While they have a well-developed sense of right and wrong, they do not appear to experience war as traumatic. At all. Cluster 9.2.9.9 of battlegroup Sword of Righteous Fury has, according to Hahoalki, contained the same 4.5 million lineages for over 1.72 trillion subjective years, including 28.4 million years of actual combat duty. All of them appear to be grizzled, well-adjusted, and ready for whatever the multiverse can throw at them.

The Pli Anakal mind is so resilient, that it appears to be capable of being merged into tribeminds, at least for relatively brief periods. These appear to involve a totally-secure system based on quantum encryption with regular quantum teleportation of new "keys," allowing an arbitrarily large portion of the Grag Yiadai to see and act as one. Most sophonts seem to go mad when allowed that level of access to the mind of another. By contrast, the Plii Anakalai appear to have been designed for precisely this purpose. They even have a name for the experience: The Battlemeld.

Platforms

There are a variety of systems in use by the Grag Yiadai, some by the Plii Anakalai, others by higher toposophic entities, and a few by Hahoalki emself. Here, we provide an overview of the majority of those that have been revealed to us.

Warsuit

The Warsuit is standard issue equipment for the Plii Anakalai. Unlike the Hexa, it can be utilized in confined spaces, being only 4.5 cubits (~2.5 m) in height, and 2 cubits (~1.1 m) in breadth. The armor plating masses 108 daseri, the manipulator system 6 daseri, the externally-coupled Jenner array 108 daseri, the effector grid 30 daseri, the C2ISTA suite 18 daseri, and the Q-battery power core and distribution system 180 daseri, for a total of 450 daseri, or just over 4,200 kg. It is considerably denser than it looks, due to a number of femtomatter components. Each subsystem has a purpose.

The armor consists of an outer layer of diamond nanorods, functionally graded into a bi- or tricrystalline knot of ferrous superalloy (threaded throughout with diamond nanorods and graphene ribbons), which in turn is functionally graded into a graphene weave spall liner.

The manipulator system is a set of reconfigurable smart matter blobs made of Ultimate material, with 2.5 daseri assigned to each "heavy" hand, and half a daseri assigned to each "finesse" hand. These systems appear to be fully integrated with the effector grid, and are capable of applying and withstanding forces beyond even what Ultimate material should be able to. These can manifest as hands, claws, or even weapons ranging from clubs to blades, depending on need.

The externally coupled Jenner array is a set of miniaturized Jenner Drives rated for subluminal velocities only, magnetically coupled to a solenoid. Upon activation, the drives apply forces to the solenoid surrounding them, allowing for reactionless motion. Each "node" in the array consists of six such drives, and each joint in the warsuit is associated with between four and six such nodes. The array is used to reduce the effective weight of the warsuit (by applying force in a direction opposite to local gravity), to enhance strength to the very limits imposed by the effector grid, and (of course) to allow reactionless flight at exceptional speeds.

The effector grid (which usually has the Langston configuration when operating in FT-36, though it is typically modified to take advantage of local physics in other branes) is a shield, sensor suite, radiator, and signature management system. It also enables the user to produce the illusion of telekinesis. Essentially, it allows for the transfer of immense quantities of energy, momentum, and information at a distance, allowing it to produce a wide variety of physical effects.

The computation, communications, information, surveillance, and target acquisition suite is exactly what it says on the tin: a system of systems that integrates and analyzes every piece of information in the environment - electromagnetic emissions, effector backreaction, particle radiation, pressure fluctuations, and chemo receptor firings - before presenting it to the Battlemeld for synthesis and decision-making. It may also be sentient, as the few Plii Anakalai allowed to speak to the press directly have described Warsuit operation as being analogous to "riding a Kroskra" - a rhinoceros-like dinosauroid that is to the Karigai what the horse is to mankind.

As for the power system, it is a fairly simple affair. A triplet of fully-charged baryonic Q-batteries, hooked up to a femtomatter distribution grid. This stores 2.35E24 J of energy, and has a peak output of approximately 1.06E18 W. Typical output is closer to 8.75E15 W, most of which is consumed by the micro-Jenners.

Hexa

The Hexa appears to be the Grag Yiadai's answer to the tank. It derives its name from the fact that it has six "legs."

Hoverfort

Aerospace Combat Vehicle

Assault Cruiser

Dreadnought

Hyperdreadnought

Battle Orb

Angel of Death

Pocketstar

Weapons

Disruptor

Hellbore

Fusion Eradicator

Raser

Breacher Blaster

Spitfire

Bouncing Breacher

Breacher Missile

Q-Bomb

Inflation Weapon

Compactification Bomb

Hypometric Thunderbolt

Organization

Feather

Talon

Wing

Eyrie

Flame

Convocation

Host Stellar

Host Trinary

Host Novum

Subcluster

Cluster

Supercluster

Task Element

Task Force

Battle Group

Report