Unnatural Philosophy

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Shroom Man 777
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Unnatural Philosophy

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Wed Dec 24, 2014 6:58 pm

The leviathan loomed in the distance, its silhouette resembling a small island moving against the current. The visible mass of barnacle-encrusted flesh gave a mere hint of the creature’s true size, most of it hidden beneath the waves like a living iceberg wandering the seas, siphoning the minute fauna drifting near the water’s surface.

Seeing that it was docile, Darian Montague lowered his spyglass as the crew rowed the vessel on its final approach. The creature slowed and exhaled, sending water spraying up into the air like a geyser.The crew cheered at the sight, it was a good omen, a sign that the giant had welcomed them.

“Every year she comes,” said Mareva, the captain. She was beside Darian, watching the leviathan with her own spyglass. “She brings a bountiful harvest with her. Fish, sharks and turtles accompany her, living on the reefs growing on her. They are abundant, though we take only what we need.”

“I understand that it is very important for your people,” Darian replied.

“Yes. Our ancestors followed the leviathan across the seas to settle in distant islands. That is why we celebrate their arrival,” she turned to Darian and he saw the elegant tattoos lining the side of her face, framed by hair bleached brown from a life spent under the harsh tropical sun. She smiled. “You came at a good time.”

“I’m glad I could make it. To observe such a mysterious creature is a great privilege.”

“Ah, you natural philosophers and your pursuit of knowledge,” Mareva clucked her tongue. “For you, they are rare animals to study, but for us they are so much more.”

Darian thought about the others back home and how they would give an arm and a leg for this opportunity. It was also a safer and more pleasant expedition than his previous adventures. He looked at the gentle giant before him, which was growing larger and larger as they neared.

They arrived and moored the boat on the leviathan’s flank, where bamboo poles had been tied to a coral outcrop to fashion a small makeshift harbour. They clambered up a rickety ladder and used ropes to pull several of Darian’s chests off the boat.

“Philosophical equipment,” Darian explained to the crewmen as he rechecked the chests’ contents and joined the rest as they explored the massive creature.

He steadied himself on his walking staff and gasped at the sight before him. The surface was living flesh, dark purple in color and coated in barnacles, corals, seaweed, sponges and all manner of growths and protrusions, making for a bizarre amphibian terrain that rose and shuddered with each breath. Anemones the size of children grew along with strange bulbous polypoids sprouting moss and algae. Amidst them, crabs skittered about, pursued by betentacled air-breathing molluscs the likes of which Darian had never seen before.

The natural philosopher was severely tempted to rush back to his crates to get a pair of tongs and specimen bottles, but he resisted the urge and continued on with Mareva and her crew. Nevertheless, he committed every sight, each a potential breakthrough, to memory.

“We go to the shrine to pay our respects. Along the way, we will check if all is well, if she is healthy and if she has not been harmed by whalers,” the captain glanced at Darian as he spoke. He felt a pang of guilt at the mention of the whalers, many of whom were his countrymen. His discomfort must have shown, since Mareva smiled and went on to say, “The leviathan itself is sacred, but the creatures on it aren’t. Including us, heh.”

Darian nodded and when no one was looking, he put on his gloves and pulled a leather specimen bag from his pocket. He found one of the amphibious invertebrates and stuffed it in the sack like a greedy child stealing from a fruit vendor. A thought then occurred to him.

“By the way, Mareva, how much time do we have until the leviathan submerges?” he asked.

“Until sundown. She basks during the day to sustain the life that grows on her,” she replied. “Come, we’re nearing the shrine. After we’re done here, we can return to the village and you’ll see how fisherfolk and islanders celebra-”

A chilling cry rang out. The captain and the philosopher ran towards its source and saw a crewman reeling.

“The shrine!” the man pointed at what had once been an arrangement of elegantly carved wooden totems, now defaced and broken, replaced by a towering array of steel scaffolding. At its center was a gleaming metal cylinder that reached down and –

“Sacrilege!” Mareva hissed. Darian saw it and nearly retched.

The cylinder reached down and punctured into the leviathan, boring a bloody hole through its hide, through its flesh. Blood oozed, slowly seeping out with each enormous heartbeat. An expanding circle of slowly coagulating gore formed around the steel construct.

Nauseous from the sight and smell, Darian looked away. Perhaps due to his instincts as a natural philosopher, he looked around and observed their surroundings. The broken totems had fresh markings, “I” symbols that only added to his unease.

“I’ve seen these before,” he said quietly.

The captain threw him an outraged glare, but he didn’t notice. He looked away from the totems and turned his attention to several large clumps of kelp and seaweed surrounding the shrine. They had moved closer.

“No. It can’t be-”

Things hidden under the vegetation rose, discarding their camouflage and revealing themselves. Black-clad figures wearing masks and holding glinting blades and spear shooters.

Mareva’s crew brandished their own sharktooth cutlasses and stingray tridents as they charged the desecrators. A spear flew and impaled a crewman in the throat. He fell, clutching his neck, gurgling blood and dying. Several others were similarly skewered before the distance was closed.

A masked form emerged from a kelp bush beside Darian. He saw the attacker was decisively human with something decisively sharp in his hands. He parried the incoming falchion with his staff and tried to backstep before his foot landed on a sea urchin. He screamed and staggered before his staff was struck from his hands.

It clattered on the corals. The masked man brought his blade up for the finishing blow.

“Oh, bollocks!” Darian pulled out his specimen bag and threw the mollusc within at the man’s face. It gave him enough time to pick up his staff and swing it as hard as he could, smearing its weighted end with blood and bone fragments.

Meanwhile, Mareva was sliding a sharktooth dagger across a man’s throat as her crew swarmed the remaining attackers. Just then, another thought occurred to Darian.

“Wait, leave some alive! We need to ask-”

It was too late. Before he could finish, the last of their mysterious assailants was finished off with a sharpened oar. Then they removed the dead men’s masks. The cadavers did not resemble the seafaring natives at all.

“They look like your countrymen.” Mareva observed. She was smeared in someone else’s blood, which seemed to flow with the fluid lines of her tattoos.

“I think so,” the natural philosopher concurred.

“Who are they? Why did they do this?” the captain gestured at the profane structure they had erected, unable to describe it.

“The marks they left on your shrine belong to a cult. They are the Internecivus, a group dedicated to corrupting living things in pursuit of their unnatural philosophy. I’ve met them before. I barely escaped alive then,” Darian went to examine the construct. Mareva and her crew reluctantly followed.

“Corrupting living things?” the captain looked at the pulsating gash.

“They want to manufacture corrupted creatures under their control. They turn them into weapons or machines for their industries,” Darian continued as they went around the construct and found several canisters bearing the “I” symbols. All were empty saved one. Inside it was a thick black liquid. “Ichor.”

This confirmed his suspicions.

“The substance they use to deform life,” he said as he wore his gloves and walked to a coral formation. He plucked a mollusc and asked a crewman to lend him a drinking cup. He used it to scoop a small amount of ichor from the canister. Then he placed the mollusc on a large wooden dish meant for shrine offerings and poured the foul fluid on the hapless thing.

The cephalopod’s rudimentary lungs uttered a painful shriek as it convulsed. Its skin blackened and hardened, the ichor coagulating into chitinous carapace as spines stabbed out from under the mollusc’s skin and the suckers on its tentacles morphed into grotesquely serrated hooks. The pupils of its eyes narrowed into reptilian slits as its flesh absorbed the remaining ichor. It grew larger and –

Darian produced a vial from his coat and emptied it on the malformed thing. Liquid silver drenched it and it shrieked one last time as it began burning. Seconds later, only a shrivelled husk remained,

Mareva and the crewmen looked at him, their faces pale from shock.

“The elders had a story, a legend, that the leviathan’s children would be stolen from her and turned into monstrous beasts that would consume everything in the sea,” the captain said quietly. “I never thought that it would come true.”

“Are you saying that this leviathan isn’t even an adult?” Darian asked. The idea that the creature could grow even larger was unsettling.

“You misunderstand. The leviathans come to these waters to spawn. The warm currents are better for their young than the cold northern seas,” Mareva pointed at the ruins of the shrine. “To celebrate this, our ancestors built the shrines over their wombs.”

“So the cultist drilled into the leviathan’s uterus to inject the ichor and infest its unborn young,” Darian said to himself, noting that they must have used incredibly powerful ether or other chymicals to dull the pain or else it would have submerged. “As for the leviathan itself... I think, I hope the ichor they used isn’t enough to corrupt something so massive. The canisters are probably only enough for the embryos.”

“And if they are born...” Mareva trailed off.

“It may not even get the chance to give birth. The ichor accelerates growth, as you saw. The corrupted foetuses might eat their way out of the womb, killing the leviathan.

“We have to tell the elders. We must do something,” Mareva looked at him desperately.

“I know.” Darian nodded. “I have a plan.”

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kZ_ ... sp=sharing

"Sometimes Shroomy I wonder if your imagination actually counts as some sort of war crime." - FROD

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Shroom Man 777
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Re: Philosophical Matters (steampunk)

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Thu Jan 01, 2015 1:44 pm

They kept the boat close by the leviathan. With fewer crewmembers at the oars, rowing was more difficult and even Mareva joined them while Darian rummaged through his chests of philosophical gear.

“We will be waiting for you,” the captain reassured him.

“If I don’t make it back?” Darian asked as he suited up.

“We will leave you and go back to the village. We’ll tell the elders, get more boats and come back.”

“But not for me.”

“We will perform the rituals of grief, for you and for her,” Mareva replied. “Then we will surround the leviathan.”

“And kill it? Darian felt guilty, as though he had somehow brought this upon the natives.

“We will follow the leviathan. If and when the corrupted spawn emerge, we will kill them,” Mareva’s face was expressionless. “If her flesh shows signs of corruption... we will do what we have to do. May we be forgiven.”

Darian looked at the leviathan sadly before grabbing his brass diving helmet.

“This will allow you to survive underwater?” the captain regarded his apparatus curiously.

“Yes, the helmet and the suit contain Aronnax fungi that will produce breathable air,” Darian gestured to each component as he explained. “This lamp contains bioluminescent Ruhmkorff slugs and will light my way.”

“And this?” Mareva handed him the final piece.

“This harpoon has a hypodermic tip for injecting liquid metal poison. The same substance I used on that mollusc.” Darian accepted the weapon. “Hopefully it can pierce the foetuses, or else their first meal might be on me.” He smiled wryly.

“You have done this before.” It wasn’t a question.

“I’ve had to face things and do things that were... against my natural philosophy,” Darian answered. “I thought by coming here, I could avoid...”

“You don’t have to explain yourself,” Mareva replied. “I understand.”

The natural philosopher thanked her. Then he wore the diving helmet and checked its seals. Satisfied, he brandished the hypodermic harpoon and took the plunge.

The natural philosopher pried his way into the leviathan. The clear turquoise water was replaced by purulent fluids as he entered the dark, fleshy canal. His chest-mounted Ruhmkorff slugs casted a sickly purple-green glow on the mucous membranes lining the giant’s nethers. Harpoon slung over his back, he explored the cervical catacomb, which pulsated in response to his intrusion, secreting thick slime to impede his path. He slipped on the slick substances, fell, clambered back up only to struggle with each footstep as the slime had adhered to his boots.

Unslinging his harpoon, he used its blunt end to force himself forward. The quicksilver poison wasn’t loaded into the weapon’s injection chamber but still he exercised care in handling it. He dragged himself in, deeper and deeper, until he was short on breath. Remembering the finite air supply of his fungal breathing apparatus, he stopped momentarily to slow his pulse and recompose himself in the solitude of the leviathan’s reproductive tract.

To calm himself he indulged his philosophical instincts. He made mental notations of where he was relative to the rest of the beast, speculated on the proportions of the rest of its incredible anatomy, noted the purulent viscosity of its saturated secretions, which implied a reaction to the ichor’s effects as much as his foreign presence. The tissues were rejecting, fighting the corruptive chymical as there were no signs of greater, more malignant alterations... but would the unborn young be as resistant?

Eventually, he noticed that he wasn’t alone. Undulating, slithering on the floor and walls of the birth canal were pythonic worms, which reared up and exposed their circular, jawless, fang-rimmed maws.

“Good lord!” Darian exclaimed at the sight of the oversized lamprey. “Parasites!”

Cutting his internal scientific monologue short, the philosopher met the parasites’ lunge and stabbed the nearest ones, thrusting his hypodermic harpoon at them again and again. The injection chamber was still filled with air, so during the first impalement, the lamprey’s head swelled up and exploded like an overripe wart.

As he worked on the others, one of them slithered down the upper wall and wrapped itself around his neck and head. The creature’s body, composed of pure invertebrate muscle, began constricting the brass helmet and collar of his suit, with pressures threatening their integrity. Darian struggled blindly and tried to pry the grotesque thing off, but to no avail. He could hear the metal creaking as the creature squeezed, he heard its teeth rake against his helm as it sought a source of blood to drain.

If he stood still, any other remaining lampreys would start wrapping themselves around him, so in desperation, he slammed his head against the reproductive tract’s walls and ran as fast as he could deeper into the leviathan’s inner expanse, hoping the mucous secretions would repulse the parasite, or that the friction would force it off.

Panicked, without sight and sense, he could not tell the distance he covered. The claustrophobic canal widened, the walls were no longer pressing against him, and he fell with the lamprey still around his metal-encapsulated head. He tried to remove it by hand, and then he realized something utterly horrifying.

He had lost the harpoon!

Darian fought the urge to scream and consume precious air. It was a futile feat, the lamprey would break the seals of his helm, either the gaskets would give way or the glass visor would shatter, water would rush in, displacing the air, and then he would drown if he was lucky, or the creature’s constricting motions would pull the diving apparatus off his head, enabling it to feast on his brain –

He was most suddenly and viciously seized and jerked and slammed as something tore the lamprey off his helmet. Blood filled the fluid expanse, along with chunks of lamprey-meat.

The cloud of gore dissipated, like a sanguineous curtain revealing the fanged sneer of the leviathan’s dark young. Snake-eyes started at Darian, malicious orbs set in an elongated skull resembling that of a barracuda or a moray. Its half-open mouth gulped amniotic fluid, filtering it through gills lining its neck. The rest of its body was a streamlined yet muscular mass of chitinous scales. Its foremost flippers were elongated, forming clawed rudimentary forelimbs. A withered placeta hanged from an umbilical cord attached to its abdomen.

The corruption had transformed it into a completely different creature from its parent. They regarded each other, the abomination and the natural philosopher. It watched him with intelligent eyes, narrowing at the glow of his slug lamp. He saw his harpoon, nearby on the uterus floor and slowly inched towards it. The amniotic womb fluids around them churned, betraying the presence of the dark young’s kin. The one before Darian was distracting him while the others closed in.

Before they struck, the philosopher twisted a knob on his lamp and shutters concealed the slugs’ illumination. The leviathan’s uterus was once more shrouded in darkness, allowing him to jump away from the attacking beasts. He tumbled in frustratingly slow aquatic motion, but breathed a sigh of relief when the chitinous masses overshot him. He heard their echo-shrieks of frustration.

He deduced that they were pack predators, navigating by sight and hearing. The sudden darkness would only delay them while leaving him blind. So he closed one of his eyes to better acclimate to sudden changes in illumination and reopened his lamp. The unexpected influx of light again blinded the corrupt young just as they adapted to the darkness. Darian ran, circling the curvature of the uterus as though it was a fighting pit. He retrieved his harpoon, loaded a quicksilver vial and gauged his surroundings.

Something moved in the corner of his eye. He turned just as the darkling darted in and barely raised his harpoon in time. The creature convulsed as the metal spike punched through the roof of its wide open mouth. A split second later, a piston in the hypodermic mechanism injected liquid metal into its brain.

Darian had no time to pull his weapon out. The dying darkling’s two remaining siblings encircled him. The nearest one sank its teeth into its convulsing kin, claiming it as a meal, so the other one turned to him, baring its fangs in a mocking smile.

“Bugger off, you bastard!” Darian produced a black tube from a utility pouch. He gave it a good squeeze in the darkling’s direction, squirting squid ink at its face.

The anti-shark spray was meant for reef diving but it proved just as effective in uterine combat with ichor-corrupted abominations. Darian ran past the blinded beast as it thrashed, he went to its sibling, which had grown lethargic from cannibalizing the contaminated corpse. Darian retrieved the harpoon, reloaded it and stabbed the drowsy darkling for good measure. It died quickly and he reloaded his weapon one last time.

The final darkling used its clawed flippers to crawl along the uterine wall. Seeing what the lethal intruder was capable of, it approached him cautiously, snapping at him as it came closer and closer. Darian recoiled from the attacks and countered with his own thrusts, but the exertions drained his air and his attacks became feebler with each attempt. Knowing that he could not outlast his foe, he charged it and stabbed at its face.

The darkling pushed against the amniotic womb fluids with its flippers and moved back just enough to avoid the harpoon. It then bit on the weapon’s tip and, with a jerk of its head, ripped it from Darian’s hands. It tumbled in slow motion behind the fell beast.

The natural philosopher reached for his slug lamp. Another sudden blackout would surprise it and allow him to retrieve-

The dark young lunged forward and sank its serrated teeth into Darian’s brass helmet. Unlike the lampreys before, the impact immediately dented the metal. The philosopher tried to pull himself free, tried to pry the darkling’s jaws open, but the creature just thrashed its head around in a vicious movement that threatened to snap his neck. His head banged against the interior of his helmet, his neck pressed against the metal collar, his body flailed like a rag doll. In desperation, he pulled out a quicksilver vial, but unable to inject it directly into the darkling’s bloodstream, he instead smashed the glass against his helm.

The liquid metal globule blossomed in the amniotic fluid and glittered in the purple-green bioluminescence of the Ruhmkorff slugs. The expanding fluid neared the darkling’s gill slits... and then its density made it sink to the floor of the uterus.

The darkling’s thrashing shattered the lamp and the slugs drowned in the amniotic fluid.

The light died.

The glass of the diving helmet cracked. It echoed in Darian’s ears, louder than the fangs scraping against steel, louder than his body thudding against the inner linings of the uterus. Fluid oozed through the fracture. And then there was another sound, at first he thought it was his neck breaking, but it was the brass helm itself. Liquid was now seeping in from the top and pouring on his head.

The thrashing intensified. He felt a huge pressure around him, as though his entire body was being crushed, not just his head-

The darkling shrieked too.

The uterus contracted. The leviathan’s muscle constricting both predator and prey in rhythmic, repetitive movements that squeezed them out of the womb’s interior. They went with a rushing wave of amniotic fluid and mucous and blood and darkling corpses, exiting the cavity and squeezing through the dilating canal. The darkling had lost its jaw-grip on Darian now that it was being born prematurely.

Darian saw a light at the end of the tunnel and was excreted in an explosion of slime.

"Sometimes Shroomy I wonder if your imagination actually counts as some sort of war crime." - FROD

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Re: Philosophical Matters (steampunk)

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:43 pm

He was drowning. His asphyxiating body instinctively jerked and spasmed as seawater filled the interior of the compromised diving helmet, mixing with the amniotic slime already inside it and displacing what little pockets of air remained. He tried to tug at the quick release lever on his collar, but it was stuck, bent out of shape from the previous struggles. He felt his descent, his feeble attempts at kicking against the water unable to counter the sheer weight of his diving apparatus. In a cruel and ironic twist, the life-sustaining device he relied on was now delivering him to a watery grave.

He looked up through fractured glass, desperately reached for the surface even as he sank. His view was blotted out by a silhouetted form, rapidly approaching him with frantic strokes of its own limbs. It reached him and a human face peered through his ruined visor.

It was Mareva. He reached for the release lever, hoping she would understand. Her hand grasped his and together they pulled. The damaged device snapped open and the diving helmet detached.

Mareva grabbed him and tugged the rope tied around her waist. Her crew began reeling the two of them back to the surface.

As they ascended, Darian exhaled the remaining air in his lungs while his ears popped from the rapid change in depth and pressure. Their trajectory followed that of the air bubbles they expired, and after what seemed like an eternity they breached the water’s surface. Darian took each breath as though it was his last while Mareva secured him on her rope. Though much more buoyant now, he was still hampered by his suit and had to be pulled back to the boat.

The captain clambered on the vessel, as though returning from a routine dive, and assisted the crew in hauling the exhausted natural philosopher out of the water.

Darian emitted a mixture of gasps and coughs as he grabbed Mareva’s arm for support.

“Thers...till.. onmore…” he barely managed to utter. The captain looked at him without comprehending. He paused to literally gather his breath and repeated himself. “There’s still one more!”

His statement was drowned out by the panicked shouts of the crewmembers, who were pointing at the water, where a dorsal fin had emerged.

The last darkling swam with frightening speed towards their vessel and burst out of the water, its jaws open and its claws grasping as it roared with its half-matured lungs. The foremost half of its body landed on the boat, violently rocking it and almost sending the crew into the water. The beast’s reptilian eyes narrowed in the sunlight and caught Darian in its gaze. It dragged itself towards him.

“Why won’t you just die?!” Darian cried in exasperation as he crawled backwards from the darkling while Mareva and her crew hurled whatever they could grab at it, peppering it with nets, hooks, sinkers and lines, partially slowing it down.

Some of them smacked it with their oars while Mareva screamed something in her native tongue and hurled a stingray spear at the darkling’s throat. Another brandished one of the erstwhile cultists’ spear-shooters and fired a bolt at its eye. The darkling shrieked, its thrashings intensified as blood poured into the water.

“Abandon ship!” someone yelled. “We’re gonna capsize!”

“Wait! Look at the water!” Darian pointed at as several silhouettes approached from beneath the waves. Their dorsal fins cut through the water’s surface as they came nearer and nearer.

They followed the blood trail and converged on the darkling. The rear half of the beast was still in the water and it twitched and jerked when the first attacks came. It cried and convulsed violently when the feeding frenzy began, when the water seemingly boiled as more than a dozen carnivores sank their teeth into its flesh. Bile ruptured from its mouth as it wailed and tried to flee, either by crawling on the boat or by diving into the sea, its confused brain knew not.

Darian, Mareva and the crew pushed at the darkling with oars and other implements. Combined with the force of dozens of jaws ripping at its flesh from beneath the surface, the would be superpredator’s struggles proved futile and its form was slowly devoured by the teeming things within the churning whitewater. The frenzy intensified and those aboard the battered boat watched, transfixed for an indeterminate moment, before the fervor waned and gradually ceased.

There was no trace of the violence that had just transpired, just the gentle waves of a calm sea, and a streak of red cast by a setting sun. The blazing orb was halfway beneath the horizon, its dying rays casting a crimson hue on the sea and sky. Darian turned his gaze to the distance and he saw the leviathan moving towards the open ocean, slowly receding into the depths like a disappearing island. It exhaled one more time, sending a column of water spraying into the air.

Soon, it became dark, the leviathan submerged and Darian submerged with it as sheer exhaustion claimed him. He dreamed of the nameless giant waiting for him within the depths.

"Sometimes Shroomy I wonder if your imagination actually counts as some sort of war crime." - FROD

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