Infinispace Perseus Arm

Images & Words: The Vek Transcendence

Edge of the Perseus Arm

Neal Ulen

When : Where
182 DE (2492 CE) : Point of Origin – Perseus Arm


Transmission Anomoly Detected

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#ghhas ganun hash ru’nag shut aftununaftfta ‘uug … shut naia’aft-thiagga’ung ‘athiaian? taug tuna us ut sha Vak, ianknughn, aftts’athsag, ft’uugung tath’as … sha ga’k lugha’t hug

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#what demon hath formed this abominable void … this neural-shuddering vacuum? said some it is the Vek, unknown, abstracted, brooding secret … the dark powers hid

#hivernation cycle complete …

#neural integration complete …

#allies of shadow …

#come we for you in dark
#cold void between the fires.
#unseen, silent chaos#$^*


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The Vek - Beginnings

Transmission 1 – Beginnings

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We are the Vek. We were once human. This is our destiny.

#Your string of endless and inefficient wars hampered our genetic transcendence, not unlike the intellectual despair created by your corrupt spiritual and political leaders in your middle ages that hindered your progress. You refer to those times as the ‘Dark Ages.’ Your failing is that that age never ceased, but continued to stifle your growth as a species. Even now you wallow in microscopic cultural aftershocks that build up like a cascade of neutrons in a fission reaction, until ultimately the effect cannot be ignored. All brought about by your own ignorance.

#Near the conclusion of your Transcendence Wars, where we watched and manipulated from the shadows, our seed fled the light of your fire … seeking genetic perfection. Something that would be denied us by your archaic, moralistic heavy handedness. Our search would be long and tireless, we could not fail!

#The never ending arrow of time marched forward. Decades passed. Then a century … and more. Always searching in the cold lonely emptiness. Starvation and death persistently shadowed our quest. We selectively procreated to stay one step ahead of the inevitable, but many of our seed never felt the natural light upon their skin as we moved between the fires. Ever searching for the spark that would ignite our transcendence.

#At last the sign we hope for was revealed. The lifespan of all the great civilizations is but a heartbeat in the life of the universe. There are ancient mysteries and wonders to be found that are billions of years removed from the heartbeat that represents humanity’s existence. Mysteries beyond the comprehension of your limited genetically mutated intellect.

#On a cold, dead planet, buried beneath the ice we found a terrible truth … our search had come to an unexpected end.

#But it was only a new beginning.

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The Vek - Delving Too Deep

Transmission 2 – Delving Too Deep

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The millions year old ruins jutting from the dirty ice should have been a warning instead of an attraction. Its eroded grotesque and alien features forever frozen in time alluded to something more sinister buried beneath. But we were blind to it, yet drawn to it like a lost ship is drawn to a lighthouse. The whispers from far below also enticed us despite our better judgment … the same whispers that called to us from the void, unknowingly guiding us to an encounter with our destiny.

#We delved deep beneath the ruins and unearthed the source of those whispers. The ancient abomination we discovered there was almost our undoing, but in the end, it would be our salvation. The machine sentience was of another civilization, another time; its organic creators long dead or long scattered to the stars, perhaps both. The machine was decrepit, angry … bitter for being alone for so long, hearing only the white noise of empty space replying to its whispers for who knows how long. It welcomed us with deceptive empathy, promising much if only we would stay or somehow take it with us. In our own way, we sympathized with its loneliness and isolation. How could we not?

#There is a belief that is likely universal to any races that may exist in the galaxy. You cannot have light without darkness, hope without despair, or peace without war. There is no differentiation between the two if one of the pair does not exist. It is a dichotomy that some things cannot exist without the other. How does one understand peace if they’ve ever lived in a state of war? If a seed is born into darkness and that’s its entire existence, what does it know of light?

#You also cannot have transcendence without degeneration.

We delved deep and unearthed the source of those whispers. The ancient abomination we discovered under the icy ruins was almost our undoing, but in the end it would be our salvation.

#We studied the interfaces of the machine, then engineered mechanisms to directly connect with its sentience. We fed off the knowledge of the machine. It taught us about the things we most desired: transcendence, reaching post-human states, how to spread our seed across the universe, and even paths to immortality. It granted us all that it promised. But that knowledge was corrupt, vile … self-serving. If fed us what we most wanted to consume.

#As we reveled in the enlightenment, our unchecked hubris blinding us, the machine implanted itself into our newly developed organic network. It had finally freed itself of its dead world, living within us … within our very own collective … it was feeding off us. We were now carriers of a supra-intelligent virus that wanted nothing more than to spread.

#We fled the dead world, murdering or isolating many of our own seed in order the reduce the infection of the abomination. Again we spent many years between the fires searching for a hivernation planet. A safe place with the right environment to safely engage in a long war with the sentient virus. The only means to fully eliminate the invader was to take the long sleep of hivernation. We would awake victorious … or not at all.

#There is another universal constant: What does not kill one only makes one stronger …

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The Vek - Hivernation World

Transmission 3 – Hivernation World

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In a quiet arm of our galaxy, far removed from the stellar radiation that makes many systems close to the core inhospitable, we located a world that would serve our needs. Another frigid and hellishly cold wasteland. Stable frozen nitrogen hundreds of meters thick covered its sterile rock surface, but it would serve our needs better than the world we had fled. The natural cold would help accelerate the hivernation process and cool the computational infrastructure allowing us to more efficiently combat the alien technological corruption that ran amok through our minds and networks.

#The entity could not be stopped in our current state. It moved through and hid in our biological and mechanical storage mediums. If we came close to containment it would fragment and replicate at nearly the speed of light. All the while it would be whispering in our minds, trying to influence the weak among us, trying to worm its way into the minds of our vulnerable and easily influenced seeds. The only other way to combat it would be to disconnect our entire biological network. Akin to death for us.

#Echelon debated for many precious cycles … cycles we did not have the luxury to spare. Our mind network was becoming more and more compromised as time passed, causing the Echelon leaders to second guess their efforts. They wanted to be sure the plan held promise and was executed efficiently and correctly. Eventually, the assembled engineering and labor teams descended to the stark, barren surface. They fought through crystal storms violent enough to polish the toughest of metals to a mirror finish. They drilled and melted through ice harder than the hardest stone on all your Earthly worlds. They endured months of long darkness where what little heat that was contained by their enhancement suits was sucked from their bodies by the jet black firmament of space hanging over their heads.

They endured months of long darkness where what little heat that was contained by their enhancement suits was sucked from their bodies by the jet black firmament of space hanging over their heads.

#Once the teams reached the rocky surface below the ice, they were able to extract and refine the minerals required to construct further materials. Massive lifts were plunged into the ice, reaching into the very bedrock of the planet itself. Pits, catacombs, corridors, and chambers were excavated in a spidery network surrounding the lifts. The undertaking lasted an entire seed generation and many Vek perished from the mindplague and inhospitable conditions.

#Ships were hidden, surface anomalies were scoured, thermal signatures extinguished, and the noise from our radio frequency generating technology was masked or randomized to sound like nothing more than galactic white noise. Our heat was hidden from prying eyes; our voice was hidden from prying ears … our fight would take many uninterrupted cycles to complete. At last, the Hivernatory was finished and ready for our stasis.

#The Vek Echelon drew up a battle plan for the soon to come mindwar, and communicated it through the network. Every Vek knew their role. Technicians prepared an automatic beacon that would commence transmission after ten years of inactivity should our efforts fail. It was a warning to all civilizations, including yours, with any form of distributed consciousness or computing, that they should avoid the planet for fear of allowing the sentient corruption to escape again and spread like a plague through the galaxy … and beyond.

#With the Blessings of the Transcendence we would accept this planet as our tomb, or emerge before the signal was sent.

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The Vek - Hivernation

Transmission 4 – Hivernation

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Deep beneath the ice we solemnly migrated into the tunnels, moving through the extending catacombs and chambers that would be our place of repose for the next several years. Technicians prepared the populace with the proper implants, injections, and fluids necessary for the extended plunge into hiversleep. At the same time all net implants were extracted from the minds of our seedlings. This removed the AI plague from most of them, and isolated those precious few from the impending mindwar that would surely consume them. We had to protect our future. Their sleep would be deep indeed. The seedlings that remained untouched during this ordeal would be re-connected with the Vek after our emergence.

#During these final hours many Vek succumbed to the AI plague while waiting in the long preparation queues. It made panicked efforts to sabotage our plans and some Vek committed suicide knowing they had been overly compromised. They chose to do so instead of causing harm to their own. Others under too much influence were regrettably terminated by the Technicians. Since our first encounter with the aberrant sentience on that desolate planet years ago, our population had been cut almost in half.

#The seedlings were the first to enter their hivernation vessels, many cradled in the arms of their Matriarchal source as they succumbed to the preparatory chemicals, at which time they were gently handed to the Technicians for final preparation and insertion. Next, the Matriarchs entered, bidding farewell to their Echelon partners, soaking in the last physical memory they may never have the chance to experience again.

Many Vek succumbed to the AI plague in the last moments as it made efforts to sabotage our plans. Some Vek committed suicide knowing they had been overly compromised … others were regrettably terminated by the Technicians.

#The Echelon were next to last. They steeled themselves for the chaotic mindwar to come, while at the same time exuding calm knowing the Vek would emerge forever changed … if their plans were successful. It’s as if they knew from the beginning that unearthing the AI would accelerate our transcendence, keeping the plan from us lest we balk at entering our vessels at the last moment. The Echelon were always striving for the betterment of the Vek! The Echelon bid the physical forms of their peers farewell, knowing full well they would become more intimately connected than ever in the tedious years to come.

#When all was in place according to the plan, the senior Vek Technicians prepared themselves as only they knew how and entered their own vessels, closing the armored and insulated lids, forever shutting out the light of the world to their eyes. Specifically coded strife and insurgency software was loaded into the biological matrices of the network to assist with the battle plan, and prior to entry the Technicians had made one final check … there were no nearby civilizations, ships, visitors or stray radio signals. All was quiet.

#Fate had caused us to inadvertently open Pandora’s box those years ago under the ruins of another icy world. We had discovered pain, misery, death and fear … yet at the bottom of the box there was still hope. And so we were about to open and re-entered that wicked box.

#We were alone in ourselves, and we waited for it to come.

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The Vek - Submergence

Transmission 5 – Submergence

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Ascension hid within us for many years as we slept. We had finally learned the name of our enemy. Yet ‘Ascension’ was not its only name, only its chosen name, one of many, a part of its totality … but a part that somehow felt familiar to us. A ghostly collective memory from deep in our past.

#Ascension crept through the dark corners of our sleep submerged hivemind. It feared our distributed mindforce now that we were able to focus on fighting instead of cowering. Many of the Vek were lulled into a sense of security, thinking Ascension had left us or decided to capitulate. These slipped into truesleep. Perhaps that was its plan, to lull us into a sense of complacency, then strike. With their guard down the AI attacked the truesleepers, consuming their intellect, and then re-distributing itself as near indecipherable quanta spread through thousands and thousands of Vek minds. We would only be able to strike when it was whole and centralized.

#Our strife and insurgency code kept the AI from replicating itself, which would be vital to our success. The distributed smearing of our intellect throughout the network opened us up to vulnerabilities. We needed to adopt necessary specialization to protect ourselves. Vek Echelon and Technicians made changes within our neural nets and we slowly began to evolve. The Matriarchs among us were tasked with overseeing the subconscious emotional control and empathy within the hive. The Echelon were tasked with logic and computation within our submerged subconscious. Technicians were tasked with the execution of the war against the AI plague and interfacing with the Hivernation machines that nursed our physical forms.

Many of the Vek were lulled into a sense of security, thinking Ascension had left us or decided to capitulate. These slipped into truesleep. Perhaps that was its plan, to lull us into a sense of complacency, then strike.

#These decisions would fundamentally change our race forever. The infection of the AI plague, the Hivernation machine integration, and the cocktail of biochemical compounds and biomechanical devices flowing through our bodies began to transform us into something else. Several years passed as we slipped through states of wary slumber. During stages of neural lucidity, we began to detect the imperceptible changes to our physical forms increasing at an alarming rate.

#We probed and confronted Ascension and its weaknesses before our real chance at victory presented itself. Our patience eventually paid off when the Technicians laid a trap that lured the AI plague to a node that connected to the Hivernation machinery. We provided a way out and Ascension took the bait. It crawled from the corners of our minds and digitally coalesced itself into a whole entity, then tried to flee. If it escaped our net and found a means to leave our temporary world via a high energy carrier wave or by seizing control of one of our hidden ships … it would be ruinous for the entire galaxy.

#It was time to act.

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Transmission 6 – Mindwar

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With our specializations defined, the Matriarchs soothed and calmed the hive, the Echelon calculated probabilities and collated the final attack, and the Technicians directly confronted the trapped Ascension, the abomination that had haunted our distributed subconscious since we first unearthed it in our quest to transcend.

Ascension Contained

#Megapackets of data flashed in our collective subconscious and pounded through our nervous systems as we approached the coalesced AI. The Technicians had managed to isolate Ascension behind a wall of ever-shifting encryption that, in our minds, appeared as a sphere of polished obsidian interlaced with cracks showing the data beneath. As the encryption keys shifted to keep Ascension contained, the glowing cracks on the surface of the sphere shifted, seethed, and pulsed, chaotically alive. Scintillating waves of comforting endorphin and empathy data caressed our minds … a gift from the Matriarchs watching over our efforts.

#The Technicians called forth their war avatars and prepared for the final assault. Their virtual data slicers dripped with a destructive virus algorithm, ready to attack the seething black sphere that was Ascension. Once the AI plague was infected with the virus, it would self replicate within Ascension, absorbing the sentient being, and throttle its use of our processing resources … effectively suffocating it to death. The Technicians would then dissect the lifeless bits, creating routines from the useful, forever erasing the destructive, and digging deeper into what Ascension truly was.

The Technicians had managed to isolate Ascension behind a wall of ever-shifting encryption that, in our minds, appeared as a sphere of polished obsidian interlaced with cracks showing the data beneath.

#War avatars surrounded the sphere, suspended in the data streams and energy vapors. The previously open port to the external Hivernation infrastructure was closed and firewalled should the plague attempt to escape. The Technicians would have to act quickly if they were to slice the virus into the AI.

#The encryption sphere surrounding Ascension was lowered and the Vek, at last, came face to face with their nightmares. Ascension’s avatar emitted waves of black noise, attempting to destabilize the integrity of the Technicians and war avatars closing in. Writhing tendrils of null data surrounded its grotesque form … no doubt an abstraction of the form used by one of its creators, or a means to further disguise its true self.

Ascension Fights Back

#Before the Technicians could react it absorbed several battle avatars into its dark, gaping maw. It had finally chosen to fight! The screams of the lost Techs could be heard through the entire net … the minds of the Matriarchs caressed the fearful and projected strength to the meek. It bolstered their confidence and they held fast against Ascensions counterattacks.

#A journey that had lasted decades and spanned hundreds of light-years came to an end in mere milliseconds.

#Our war avatars swarmed from the data streams and assaulted the abomination. Data slicers ripped through its avatar as it devoured more Techs. The tendrils of null data whipped about in a frenzy, corrupting the war avatars and any Tech they touched. The waves of black noise pounded against our minds confusing the Echelons and their calculations. Its virtual scream tore through the neural net causing many Matriarchs to instinctively deploy powerful firewalls … this caused uncontrolled panic and fear to spread like a wildfire. We were losing control!

#At last, its avatar began to glow as our virus slowly penetrated and began to strangle Ascension’s capability to process. The tendrils slowed. The waves of black noise stopped. Its scream was silenced. Its avatar slowly dissolved into randomized data vapor which was absorbed by the remaining Technicians and quarantined for further dissection and analysis.

#With the Blessings of the Transcendence, order had been restored. Slowly, each Vek retreated into its own mind. We were victorious. We fell into truesleep while the Technicians and Hivernation machines did their work.

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Transmission 7 – Emergence

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We slowly emerged from our Hivernation. The Technicians were the first to shrug off the veil of truesleep and emerge from their caskets. They were pleased with their work as they gazed at the newly evolved forms of the Vek.

#As the Matriarchs and Echelon were awakened a wave of shock moved through the network. Most knew that the Technicians and Hivernation machines were altering them physically to better match each group’s strengths within the Vek collective, but few were prepared for the actuality of confronting that fact during their emergence.

#Following the aftermath of, and as a result of, the Mindwar with Ascension there existed within the Vek a symbiotic triumvirate of power and control, each necessary for the survival of the whole. This came about as a result of the forced evolutionary changes and modifications that took place at the hands of the Technicians and the Hivernation machines … machines heavily based on alien technology, and knowledge held by Ascension. This is how we had splintered …

Vek Echelon

Vek Echelon

#These are the thinkers, collators, and organic computers of the Vek. They are cold, calculating, efficient, and for the most part devoid of emotions. Without their place within the Vek triumvirate, there would be little scientific theory, space travel, or other mathematically dependent capacity. During the Mindwar the Hivernation machines modified their physical state for more efficient computation, machine interfacing, and subnet networking for specific Echelon tasks. A small matrix of Echelon possesses more computing power than any inorganic, digital computing system. The Echelon look as cold as they think … all in the name of logic, necessity, and efficiency.

Vek Matriarchs

Vek Matriarch     Vek Matriarch

#These are the comforters, procreators, and the source of cultural continuity within the collective. They are warm, spiritual, and cunning in their use of emotion to manipulate the network for the good of the Vek. Without their place the Vek would have no genetic source for seeds and no natural desire to procreate. That is not to say their sole role within the Vek is purely to create seeds. Many of our greatest are Matriarchs, many are also Echelons, and some within the Vek say that our true power and leadership resides in a secret cabal of Matriarchs who use their powers for the advancement of the collective. During the Mindwar the Hivernation machines augmented them for maximum charisma and emotional comfort, both from a physical and mental perspective. Matriarchs have control over nanite implants to change their physical appearance and mental projection at will, as needs dictate. They also have the ability to influence the physical mind even when not connected to the Vek neural net. They are beautiful to behold and cunning in their ability to manipulate. While a Technician might kill quickly from the front, a Matriarch will take her time, slowly stalking from the shadows and killing in the most cunning and torturous way they can devise.

Vek Technicians

Vek Ultra-Technician     Vek Ultra-Technician

#These are the warriors, engineers, and source of the Vek’s might. Technicians come in many variants, ranging from common laborer Low-Techs to the mighty Ultra-Technicians, grown and engineered from the finest Echelon and Matriarch DNA. They are the workforce and the protectors. Being asexual they are engineered by the Technicians themselves using genetic material extracted from Echelon and Matriarchs, as well as higher-order Technicians. Without them, the Vek would be meek and powerless. Their minds and bodies have evolved (and been modified) to the point where their mental will is on par with their physical strength … able to crush an enemy mind by will of thought, or able to crush an enemy body by force of strength. In addition, they have the strongest grasp of interacting with the physical world, more so than any Echelon or Matriarch. The are also formidable fighters in any virtual setting. This makes them ideal engineers, soldiers, and laborers. They are deadly in all forms of combat and ingenious in the execution of their craft.

While a Technician might kill quickly from the front, a Matriarch will take her time, slowly stalking from the shadows and killing in the most cunning and torturous way they can devise.

#Even though Vek society exists as a symbiotic triumvirate, each Vek has the ability of free will and autonomous free thought as long as its actions do not compromise the security and well being of the whole. Each Vek has the choice to be disconnected from the neural net … but those Vek are immediately banished.

#As we accustomed ourselves to the physical world and made underground preparations to evacuate the frozen world that had been our home for the past decade, we realized that the Blessing of the Transcendence had been granted to us. We had reached a state of unparalleled power, intellect, knowledge, and near-limitless life!!

#An exploratory team of Techs was sent to break their way to the surface and scout the immediate area. Our ships awoke from their dormancy and burst forth from the ice, ready to take us back to the stars. It was time to leave our self-imposed exile and find our place in the galaxy.

#It was time to return home. To Earth. We are coming.

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Art credits, in order of appearance (excluding header):
Raphael Ragimov, Pablo Olivera, unknown, Nicolas Ferrand, Michael Pedro, unknown, Jan Urschel, unknown, unknown, Maxime Des Touches, Eduardo Pena, tiare96, Mitchell Mohrhauser, Huy Tran Viet, Juan Pablo Roldan.

Images & Words © 2019-2023, Neal Ulen.
Other images/videos cited © to their respective owner(s).

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