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The Union of Stars: The Tohrroids

The Union of Stars encompasses many billions of alien species, but none, perhaps, quite so fascinating nor so complex as the Tohrroids. Known colloquially as blobs, smacks, gobblers, or even slops, Tohrroids are semi-intelligent amorphous organisms capable of near-perfect mimicry of both sound, color, and shape. Almost perfect omnivores, they are able to consume all kinds of refuse – even waste hazardous to the Great Races – and therefore have become ubiquitous throughout the Union in their official capacity (waste disposal) and their unofficial one (stubborn vermin).

This Tohrroid is intentionally trying to capture the researcher's attention

This Tohrroid is intentionally trying to capture the researcher’s attention, hence the bright coloration.

Physiology

Tohrroids can range in size from 30cm to a full two meters across. In their “natural” form, they appear to be amorphous blobs, usually of a color best matching the ambient environment. They move through the use of pseudopods which they form to drag themselves along the ground and are capable of surprising strength. They can breathe in most oxygen-based environments but are temperature and humidity sensitive, preferring warm and damp climates. Excessive cold or a lack of moisture can lead to the Tohrroid growing sluggish and even drying out and dying.

The most fascinating aspect of Tohrroid physiology is their outer membrane. This is an enormously complex and flexible system of organs includes striated muscle fibers of the utmost deftness; light, chemical, and electro-sensitive sensory organs; incredibly versatile skin pigmentation; and, perhaps most amazingly, numerous stomas able to produce powerful digestive fluid and take in nutrients. In layman’s terms, the Tohrroid is able to reshape its skin into almost any shape down to alarming detail, it can see and smell and taste with any part of its skin (as well as sense electromagnetic fields), alter its skin pigmentation with an incredible range of color, and eat almost any substance it comes in contact with. This membrane system is the primary reason these organisms have been as successful as they have been.

Inside the Tohrroid is a soup of neural ganglia and fibrous growths that serve as the brain and “skeletal” system, respectively. Most of a Tohrroid is water – far moreso than most other large, complex organisms – but the pH of its internal fluid is very, very low. Most of the Tohrroid’s mass is, essentially, digestive fluid. Things the Tohrroid eats are absorbed by pseudopods and digested inside vacuoles that are part of their outer membrane system – basically a “bubble” inside of themselves. The digestive process is voluntary, too – Tohrroids can absorb an object and carry it around inside a vacuole indefinitely and can even spit those objects out at high velocity (and who hasn’t been pelted by something unsavory from a threatened Tohrroid, right?).

Another function of the fibrous growths inside the Tohrroid’s body is also to facilitate hearing. As vibrations in the air are transmitted through the outer membrane, the vibration of the inner fibers is akin to the aural organs used by other species.

Due to their unusual physiology, Tohrroids possess a very hardy immune system and are very difficult to poison. Though their outer membranes do very little to shield its inner organs from radiation, ionizing radiation does not kill a Tohrroid very easily. Tohrroids that spend time aboard leaky starships have a tendency to be very dangerous, as the amount of radiation their bodies can absorb is very unhealthy for other organisms.

Contrary to popular belief, Tohrroids are not amphibious, though they can swim very, very well and seem to enjoy the water.

Life Cycle

Tohrroids are assexual and reproduce by budding. If a Tohrroid is well fed, it will eventually develop a kind of bulge in its side which, after a time, is discharged and forms into a whole new Tohrroid. Tohrroids do not demonstrate communal behavior, per se, but are often found in one another’s company. Because it is very difficult to identify individual Tohrroids or keep track of them for long periods, their precise lifespan is uncertain. Given their rate of genetic decay, it is theorized they live an average of 4 cycles, or 48 Standard Years.

Habitat and Behavior

Tohrroids are very intelligent and show complex problem solving ability and even a facility for basic language acquisition. While we know little about their original habitat (Tohrroids seem to have been in space as long as there have been starships), it is theorized that they originated on a hot and damp world, probably with relatively little direct sunlight. In the Union, Tohrroids can be found anywhere there is food, and for a Tohrroid that is a very broad definition. Many starships keep them aboard to keep corridors clean and plumbing systems unclogged, and their waste (a kind of nutrient rich slime) has proven to be excellent algae fertilizer, which makes them essentially part of any large ship’s life-support system.  One of the more interesting theories of Tohrroid evolution is that they are not naturally occuring creatures at all, but rather engineered for their useful traits by some Race that predates the founding of the Union.

Tohrroids have been known to learn the rudiments of speech and can develop pet-like relationships with the Great Races, though they are not known to be loyal or particularly affectionate. Rumors of Tohrroids cable to speak as capably as any Dryth and who can flawlessly simulate bipedal forms have little basis in the record, though it is worth noting that any Tohrroid that could perform such feats would be extremely hard to detect in any case.

Furthermore, it can be seen that…

~From Notes on Xenobiology by Khush Moch of Thraador

He With No Name

Demon_Eyes_by_FyrekithkananYou will never see my face. I do not have one.

You will never know my name, because one has never been given me.

I am known as slop, blob, smack, gobbler – a faceless, eyeless, amorphous thing you relegate to trash heaps and waste sites.

I am one of a species you threw away. You think I’m stupid, you think I can’t understand you, that I don’t care what a waste you’ve made of my life.

But I do. I do care.

I understand you, too. There is a certain familiarity you develop when you eat another species’ trash for long enough. I know what you so-called ‘Great Races’ are, how you have succeeded in conquering species like my own. I know why you think yourself great. The Union has made you inviolate; with each cycle you gain more and more, while things like me have less and less.

You may tell yourself that the more you eat, the more scraps there are for the slops that ooze through your sewers (and that’s what we do, isn’t it? Ooze…slink…trickle…it makes you feel better, doesn’t it, to know that the things you grind beneath your heels have no bones?) Yes, we eat better. That might be enough for some.

I, though, am still hungry.

The good thing about having no bones and having natural textural and chromatic control over my skin is that I can really be whatever I want. Me and some other Tohrroids do it. Always have. We don’t ooze; we walk, we stride, we jump. We weave in and out of your fat, contented societies, hidden more by your inability to imagine us doing it than by our own cleverness.

What do we do, then, as we wander through your world? Well, some just want to hide and live the good life, some want to steal from those who have stolen from them. As for me, I want to hurt you. I will hurt you. Think you can stop me? Think again. I am your servant, I am your friend, I am your wife, I am your children. I can look like anything, I can be anywhere. Put up your guard, hire a food-taster, blood check your retainers every night – it won’t matter. I will eat your bones first, and let you suffocate under the weight of your pointless, meaty mass. Then, for the first time, you will hear a gobbler laugh.

I’m coming for you, Dryth. Make peace with your precious Law.