A world inhabited by extreme heteromorphs who modified themselves to resemble classic virtual monsters

Image from Morgan Heacock
The legends of the Sleepless One who ruled beneath the waves on Nys-eldush were almost certainly wild exaggerations

Data Panel: Nys-eldush

StarJD 6880101
Distance from Sol1712 ly
Diameter12110 km

The Nys-eldush Virch Saga

The epic story called 'The Nys-eldush Saga' was one of the most popular fantasy virch entertainments produced during the Integration. Written by the superbright fabulist Lina Mankell on Danzig, it concerns the struggles of a human baseline living on Old Earth, but an imaginary Earth populated by ancient, eldritch horrors as well as humanity. The heroine of this story gradually comes to realise that she is herself a hybrid with blood flowing in her veins from the Elder Horrors who still lived in the deeps of the oceans and the forgotten places of the world. Her struggles with normal human society as she starts to change into a horror, and with the Horrors who also reject her, are explored in a many-threaded narrative with multiple storylines chosen by the player.

The graphically depicted Elder Horrors in this scenario became very popular in their own right, with heteromorphs of many species choosing to sculpt their physical forms into representations of these (originally computer-generated) creatures. Societies of Nys-eldush fanatics were formed on Danzig, Corona, Bourgatov and elsewhere, small populations of grotesquely misshapen modosophonts often living on the coasts, or beneath the oceans of those worlds. During the Version War the Bourgatov Horrors were exterminated, along with most of the population of that world, but after the war many of these societies were revived with renewed fervour.

One particularly enthusiastic chapter succeeded in chartering a colony mission to a new system, JD 6880101, 1712 ly from Sol in the Cancer sector, a relatively undeveloped region. Unsurprisingly the heteromorphs called their new world Nys-eldush, an Eogaian world which posed no particularly difficult problems during the terraformation process. The only transapient in the system, who called emself Pontas-e-van, was primarily concerned with this project, and once the world was habitable e departed to find new challenges. Left alone in a system which did not yet have a wormhole, the inhabitants of Nys-eldush (who liked to call themselves the Horrors) were isolated and largely uncommunicative, only making occasional contact with extreme heteromorphs in other systems. By 6299 even this contact had dried up.

In 6810 an interstellar trading ship of the Spacefarer's Union visited the system and found the planet deserted. The terraformation was still sound, however, and the planet Nys-eldush was perfectly habitable. For this reason the planet was declared open for colonisation once more, and colony ships brought a new wave of migrants to this maritime planet.

The Second Colony

Before the new colony was ten standard years old rumours of mysterious sightings began to circulate, strange and unidentifiable creatures on the shores, in the deserted hills and in the mountains of the ice-cap continent. Some thought these creatures were part of the inherited biosphere, much of which was found only on this world, and may have been experiments by the long-departed Pontas-e-van. But others thought that these were the ancient Horrors come to reclaim their world, or possibly their ghosts.

Over many decades these strange encounters continued until enough reliable evidence could be collected to prove that these creatures were, in fact, descended from the original heteromorph clade. During this time there were many mistaken sightings of Horrors, many of which were unknown or wrongly identified native animals, and others were deliberate hoaxes. Finally a living Horror was captured and examined, but although an interpreter was found that spoke their antiquated form of Anglic, she refused to answer any questions before committing suicide in some unknown fashion.

Some of the coastal villages of Nys-eldush began to have regular secretive contact with the Horrors, who (it was rumoured) were living in camouflaged cities beneath the ocean surface. Robotic survey craft regularly malfunctioned in many parts of the sea, leaving much of the ocean poorly explored. But after several different sea-dwelling sophont explorers were brought to this world (a team of enhanced Dolphins, a number of different Merpeople types and some sentient submarines) the location of all the Horror cities was established. Still the heteromorphs refused to make contact with anyone except the few chosen towns along the shore, where a fashion for extreme and disturbing bodymorphing was emerging. This developed into a new cult, worshipping the Elder Horrors as if they were indeed the descendants of an age-old xenosophont race.

The inland cities of Nys-eldush resisted the spread of this cult, and looked at the strange behaviour of the cultists with some distaste. Analysis of the few Horrors that were captured determined that their culture had changed radically beneath the waves- (they called it a sea-change), apparently as the result of a failed, or partially successful transcension event. In 7099 a long and inconclusive low-level war broke out between the shore-line settlements and the inland population, with sea-going clades of various kinds fighting beneath the waves against the Horrors in the deep (and sometimes for them).

Finally, by 7189 the rising tide of Horrors cultism in the inland cities, and associated terrorism and sporadic attacks against shipping and aircraft over the oceans led to an escalation of the war; the first attacks using nuclear depth charges led to a brief hot war which led to the near- extinction of the sea-dwelling heteromorphs.

However the arrival of a Metasoft emissary fleet in 7197 prevented the massacre of the last remaining Horrors. The Version Tree were determined to extend their influence in the Cancer Sector to counter the threat of the Hypercorruption Advance. Among the emissaries were a number of transvec humanology specialists who were skilled in memetics, and at length negotiated a peaceful settlement. The transvecs also initiated a program of therapy intended to reverse the effects of the failed transcension event which caused the pathology in the heteromorph society in the first place.

Since that time the undersea settlements and their exotically-shaped inhabitants have become much less secretive and more open to contact with outsiders, apart from occasional lapses into frosty relations with the surface dwellers. The old saga written so long ago by Lina Mankell has been largely forgotten elsewhere in the Terragen Sphere, but many strange tales of covert contact between the seaboard towns and the hidden Horrors are still remembered.

Types of Horrors

Many of the heteromorphs who live on and beneath the oceans of Nys-eldush have adopted forms which are based on creatures from the works of Mankell. The starfish-headed seal-lions and the human-bodied pycnogonids are relatively mild compared to the flying squid-forms and the women-o'-war with their stinging tentacles. But perhaps the strangest are the congereys, formless masses of foam invested with numerous eyes, mouths and other organs. Strangely enough the congereys are the most outgoing of the heteromorph forms, becoming closely associated with a number of off-world clades such as the u-fog entities of Nimbus, all of which are similarly amorphous.
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 14 September 2010.