A/N: I'm still laying out the next chapter in my fan fic, but here's a Christmas present for anyone who is interested in the Thorian from Feros (I've linked them to the Tho'ian race you hear about in ME2 because I could :D )
No worries: Of Sheep and Battlechicken will update soon.
-STG – STG – STG-
STG Report on Tho'ian :
Agent Gana to Senior Agent Rasha:
As requested, I've put together an initial briefing document covering everything we currently know about the Tho'ian. By necessity, this document is not all inclusive with details, but instead provides high-order information that can be queried in depth at a later time.
I would like to repeat the requests for more mechs and remote operating equipment – we have had two additional safety accidents this month, both of which ended up being incinerated. Losing a vorcha or two a week is no hardship, but the creature consumes at least ten a week, and while vorcha breed like greena beetles, they are hardly so easy to transport here.
Addendum. : Agent Jathan has a cloacal obstruction about dependability of Tho'ian creature. Please address, getting annoying; causing unit disorder.
STG has been made aware of archeoforensic evidence of some time of previous civilizations. Given the long spaces of time between such , it is of course difficult to find tangible and useful evidences of races in the eons before our own.
Aside from the Protheans, which seem to have a total prohibition on personal images or statuary, we know firmly of four previous races:
The Inusannon , extant roughly 145,000 to 100,000 years ago.
The Pathean, extant roughly 250,000 to 200,000 years ago
The Keepers of the Citadel, based on STG Agent Chorban, are believed to be millions of years old.
The final race, identified initially by humans and turians, are Tho'ian.
The Tho'ian are distributed plant creatures operating on a nodal neural network. For all intents and purposes, each one is functionally immortal and almost invincible. Due to immobility, they prefer to use sequestrated agents and , as a result, are amiable to agreements and deals.
-STG – STG – STG-
Cautions: READ FIRST
The Tho'ians reproduce and dominate other organics by use of aggressive spores. Said spores are half a micron in size and fully capable of breaching standard LEAF filtration equipment, clothing, and light partial environmental suits.
Spores inhaled grow the fastest, but spore exposure anywhere on unprotected skin can lead to growths. The only defense is completely sealed full environmental suits with HEPA/DETA filters or better yet, a self contained air supply. Filters will be clogged after four hours of operation.
Sterilization requires active debonding agent.(derivatives of weak acids or bases preferred, PH at least 4 away from water). Five minute UV barrage, ten second topical gamma barrage, and 45 vacuum exposure followed by complete air evacuation is recommended for full sterilization. This may seem extreme. It is not. A single spore has been tested and is capable of completely infecting and dominating a salarian in eight hours, forty seven minutes. It takes up to a full solar day for krogan , and due to metabolic efficiencies, less than two hours for asari.
Disturbingly enough, even vorcha are not immune, although the spore takes almost a full week to subdue them even with the heaviest exposure. Considering using vorcha labor when dealing with these creatures and then disposing of them when their uses fail.
-STG – STG – STG-
Tho'ians are a neurally networked plant creature comprised of symbiotic organisms working together to provide interchanging services.
The Tho'ian creature is actually several sub-species.
The first subspecies is called the "trunk" (Tho'ian translation is literally "staff of life"). The trunk is a carbon based stereo-centered chirality being with a six-strand RNA packet. The trunk is comprised of a mix of neuromuscular contractive tissue (similar to contractive tissues on some Sur'Kesh carnivorous plants) and wood-analogue resin-based solid structures, held in a loose arrangement by cellulose bond structures in horizontal bands that serve as both structural supports and armor.
The base of the trunk is a vestigal root system, one that is usually infected and overtaken by the second subspecies, the "root" (Tho'ian translation is "fixers of nutrition"). The root system is an amalagamation of several aggressive types of molds and fungi, in close collaboration with a more conventional root system. The entire assembly is shot through with various trichothecene fungal emitters, which serve to slowly sterilize competing plant life and paralyze and kill any animal life attempting to feed on the exposed roots. Roots grow in tubular fashion, with fungal seeking bodies breaking down stone to dirt and molds providing hydrolytic enzymes to break down biological polymers and organic material to transport back into the trunk and other organs.
The "root" also processes and produces a caustic compound (laced with trichothecene and multiple enzymes) as a defense. The "trunk" pumps this in some of it's conductive tubes, while other tubes convey water and nutrition absorbed via the roots. In turn, the trunk also conveys downward to the roots proteins and minerals absorbed by the third subspecies, the "nodes" (Tho'ian translation, "Spheres of Thought".
The nodes are the most bizzare part of the creature, as they are (like the trunk) a stereochiral RNA patterned life-form, one that is not fully animal or plant. In fact it is difficult to classify it as life at all in some ways, acting more like an incubator for a scaled up prion. The nodes are fleshy bags 1.2 to 4 meters in size, and are supported by the cellulose bond structures and "nooks" in the trunk. Hooking into these , they take in nutrients and spread a thin network of extremely fine cillia through the entire plant creature. These act as a nervous system and a reaction system, allowing the Tho'ian to measure and appraise heat, cold, temperature, pressure, and EM radiation. Tho'ians do not "see" or "hear" and yet can process sound and understand the spoken word from vibrations, and can track living beings via heat and EM nervous emissions out to 500 feet.
The nodes are lined with what appears to be neural tissue, but the center of each node contains a mass of spores, and the nodes main function appears to be slowly emitting these into the environment. The spores are extremely lightweight and small, and positively bouyant in most atmospheres, allowing them to travel great distances.
A Tho'ian has between 5 and 40 nodes, all hooked into the final subspecies, the "core" (Tho'ian translation: "Tunnel of Life"). The core is huge, traversing most of the length of the trunk, and is surfaced in a thin layer of photosythethetic tissue over a framework of what resembles cartilage, but made from cellulose. The core is a bulbous sack that narrows down to a hollow tube , and is supported by bone-like spurs of material that sink into and brace themselves against the ground or any nearby wall. It also produces neural cillia, that weave into and tap into the cillia produced by the nodes, adding UV , motion, and tactical senses to the overall whole. The core has multiple large masses of neural tissue and is the seat of the creature's sentience, but also contains a number of subsystems to enhance the whole. It has muscular pumps that help the trunk move nutrient flow through the entire creature, feathery gill like structures that bind oxygen and use ATP and existing nutrients to burn sugars for energy , and most of all, repurposes the interiors of nodes to act as cloning chambers.
Each node, once connected to the core, can be "fed" a single organism absorbed through the core's tube. The tube is a digestive organ, allowing a being up to the size of a krogan to be immobilized (through thousand of paralytic stingers and constricting muscle bands) and then liquified for nutrtion purposes. However, it can also induce unconciousness into a victim, then place them inside a node. The node provides for the organic's needs (oxygen, minimal nutrion) and also samples their DNA.
The core , working with the nodes, can absorb highly infected creatures or uninfected ones and create copies. The more highly infected a creature is, the longer it can endure being copied, but the less perfect the copy becomes. A totally uninfected creature can be copied perfectly, except for skin coloration, which is green, and textures , which are not quite right.
Such copies degrade rapidly, over days or weeks. The originals also degrade, due to malnutrition, chirality issues, and the fact that the nodes begin absorbing more and more of the original to correct errors in copies. Such copies can utilize all known abilities and knowledge of the original, including biotics and (with the proper omni-tool) infowar abilities. A turian warrior will retain all his military training , an asari her biotics, and a krogan his strength. However, some characteristics are not copies. A copied turian has no metallic plating, and is not immune to radiation. A copied asari can meld with another but not actually produce offspring. A copied krogan will not regenerate.
Copies are all capable of spitting acid, due to the fact their entire digestive tract is repurposed to this end. The resulting caustic vomit is extremely dangerous, loaded with biotoxins and spores, and very capable of eating even through hardened combat armor. It is also loaded with anti-coagulants and is dextro-compatiable, making allergic shock in levo combatants a high possibility.
The trunk, roots, nodes and core are considered one creature. Based on investigation , Tho'ian carefully grew more of themselves, usually starting from seeds built out of corrupted thralls. (See sequestration, below).
Destroying a Tho'ian is very , very hard. The root systems grow very aggressively, spreading up to 5 square miles a year, and several Tho'ian root systems have been established across hundreds of miles. After maturing, the Tho'ian spreads "seed packets" through said root systems, along with an enzyme that makes them dormant. If the main body is destroyed (difficult enough) then the enzymes will slowly run out and over time, seed packets will sprout new trunks, followed by other organs. Such an event seems to be timed to outlast suspicion – archeoforensic evidence at Makana indicates the Tho'ian there was destroyed six seperate times , twice with kinetic bombardment, and came back each time.
However, the root systems do not always survive – the system on Feros was dead, due to both the massive shock of the plasma assault, the poor nature of the soil, and the staggering amount of pollution in the ground. Likewise, the Tho'ian on Eingana had a tiny root system due to the massive amounts of eezo poisoning the ground, preventing further growth.
Assaulting the main body is tricky. The nodes are easily destroyed, but the trunk can withstand up to heavy small arms fire from light machine guns. High explosives are the best, followed by high-intensity fire. The core is also flammible, and is best destroyed quickly. Complete destruction of all physical elements is neccessary – given enough time, even greivious wounds can be regenerated by the creature, especially if it can consume organics via the core.
-STG – STG – STG-
Tho'ians are immobile, moving only with very great difficulty. They are nearly immune to cold, are resistant to fire, acids, and bases, and are almost impossible to poison. Radiation affects them less than most organic species, and the root systems have evolved to fend off predators. The only real weakness of the Tho'ians are high intensity fires, explosives, and extended submersion in seawater (which they cannot process).
When young, the root system is not highly evolved, and they can be transported via ground transport. (Young being a relative term, Tho'ian 'youth' lasting well over 2,000 solar years') Young Tho'ians have few nodes and are more willing to negotiate in good faith than older Tho'ians. It appears that , when the Tho'ians were spacefaring, young Tho'ians would be installed in mobile pods that fitted into ships crewed by thralls, growing into the ship as they aged.
At a certain point called the flowering, Tho'ian prefer to affix to one spot, and the root systems explode in size and complexity. Tho'ian building materials allow for penetration by the roots and sensory cillia, meaning that Tho'ian cities were 'alive'.
Very ancient Tho'ians begin what they called 'branching' , with multiple trunks forming and the core widening. Additional nodes appear during this stage. One Tho'ian told STG units that the eldest of their species, on their home world, had sixteen trunks and over four thousand nodes, and reached a height of several hundred feet. Such a specimen would have staggering endurance.
-STG – STG – STG-
Testing of the Tho'ian's IQ is difficult. STG acquired human tests of the Tho'ian on Feros that listed it as having barely more than the intellect of a vorcha. On the other hand, the Eingana Tho'ian seemed extremely intelligent, and our investigations of the two living Tho'ians show them as being roughly on par with high-order salarians.
Tho'ian mental process are different than any other organic being. The main core houses sentience, but nodes appear to store memories – not just the Tho'ians, but those of all the beings it has absorbed. As a result, the Tho'ian has staggering levels of proficiency at all manner of tasks. Such skills can be 'downloaded' into new thralls in a manner of seconds. Each node packs such memories into the seed pods that it ejects upon demise, and a new Tho'ian growing from or absorbing these can gain such memories.
Tho'ians are immune to Reaper indoctrination. Tho'ian spores overwhelm and destroy Reaper nanomachine agents, and the harmonic – inductronic neural decay cycles that Reaper indoctrinations functions with is destroyed by the simpler but more aggressive chemical neural overlays of the Tho'ian. At least one instance of Tho'ian sequestration destroying Reaper indoctrination is on record: Shiala M'than, a commando of Lady Benezia T'Soni, was the person in question. (See STG Nominal Intel File: Normandy – 1 – 5539 Bravo).
Tho'ians can model and comprehend high order mathematics that at present confound both organic minds and all high order VI systems. Tho'ian can compute and execute at least a thousand simultaneous tasks with zero stress, due to the nodes acting as subprocessors. The main core is fearfully intelligent, capable of a wide range of mental and emotional states.
Tho'ians can possess biotics – the dead Tho'ian on Ganad IV did, by all evidence.
-STG – STG – STG-
The most feared ability of the Tho'ian is it's ability to use it's spores to take control of other organic species. This is called sequestration, and it is an insidious process of remarkable efficiency.
The process begins when a creature inhales spores. These spores travel to the respiratory system and begin growing into the lung wall. There are four stages of infection.
In the expansion stage , the spores actually help process oxygen for the user. They feel slightly more energetic, more clear-headed. The lung materials begin to rely on the spores to absorb oxygen and spores begin breaking down and replacing aviolial sacs or plesural linings (depending on the species).
In the growth stage, the spores break through the lungs, spreading through the blood stream. They fix themselves in the brain and in any filtration organs (human and turian kidneys, asari horchess, salarian liver). The filtration organs are basically consumed, the spores growing a filtering system of their own that is superior to that of the native system. The brain is infected, with spores congregating around the sites that drive higher-order thought and pain response.
In the control phase, the spores link to the mental control of the Tho'ian. This communication is still a mystery. It appears to be using some form of ansiable link, either an organic form of QEC or perhaps even a sub-dimensional wave transmission. It is instant across any known distance (STG tested subjects at the ends of the galaxy, no delay time). The signals are driven by the spores into the limbic and nervous systems of the infected , first as urges.
If an infected resists, spores trigger pain centers. If resistance continues, it begins cutting off oxygen supplies. After several days at this level, the spores overwrite the nervous system completely, and the being is helpless to resist.
The final stage is consumption. The being's tissues are slowly broken down to provide nourishment even as the digestive system is dissected. Finally, the being is driven to the core, there to be consumed or repurposed as a thrall.
Extremely high powered tailored anti-viral agents (prion based or aggressive cancer-derived) can counteract spore infection in the first three hours. After that, the process is irreversible. However, the Tho'ian can voluntarily control the level of infection and even kill all spores in an infected. There is severe bodily harm caused by doing so once infection proceeds past a certain point.
Identification of sequestrated agents is usually easy. During the control phase, spore growth penetrates the skin. This both allows the sequestered to spread additional spores and to visibly identify creatures loyal to the Tho'ian. However it also allows us to pick out such creatures quickly.
-STG – STG – STG-
Locations of Note:
Thus far, STG operatives have located six dead and two active Tho'ian class creatures.
Feros (dead and then vaporized, but the Tho'ian stonework survived and roughly 34% of the creature's secondary mass survived) – this Tho'ian , called "Thorian" by human researchers, was apparently still young.
Eingana (wounded then killed) – Commander Shepard killed this Tho'ian, which had co-opted an entire Turian military unit.
Maktem VIII (dead) – STG's first discovered Tho'ian. Dead a long time, found with what turned out to be Prothean husk-creatures.
Makana (Living) – first living Tho'ian. See Makana section below. Cooperative.
Ganad IV (dead) – found by hanar. STG inserted agents to site. Creature was killed by krogan some 1,000 years ago. Site shows evidence that biotics were used against the krogan, only possible source is the Tho'ian. No thrall bodies identified – planet was lifeless
Minshem (dead) – carcass found by STG units. Badly decayed and killed within the past year. Assailants unknown. Damage appears to be high energy plasma beam discharges. (Update: based on data uploads from STG Agent Solus, likely culprit is Collectors).
Jantha II (dead) – discovered by Cerberus. Anti-Cerberus operations destroyed research base. Tho'ian had been dead over 20,000 years. Cerberus research was into uses of spores for indoctrination cure. STG is continuing.
Gallas (living) – uncooperative Tho'ian, appears to be mentally unstable. Makana Tho'ian refers to it as "corrupted" and suggests incineration. No life on planet, no extant threat.
-STG – STG – STG-
STG has reached a working relationship with the living Tho'ian on Makana in the Traverse.
The operational agreement is that the STG provides vorcha labor to the creature , as well as news updates, a live extranet connection (incoming only) , and food supplies, building equipment, and security mechs. In return, the creature ( a Tho'ian empire scientist and political figure) is providing us with advanced technology and advice.
Thus far the exchange has provided us with two forms of energy beam weapon, a cloaked infilration missile delivery package, sixteen biowarfare developments, translations of over 4,000 Tho'ian and Inusannon documents, and operational workings of 22 Inusannon power stars. Additionally the Tho'ian has educated 22 STG agents in high order "multidimensional calculus", used to – it claims – 'trick' the universe into quicker mass translations. Tests on the drive cores produced with this math do indeed make jumps and FTL translations 35% faster than a normal drive.
The Makana Tho'ian identifies itself as "Two-Stars-Binary-Impulses" and says it was a scientist of some repute before moving into politics in the Tho'ian Empire. According to Two Stars, the Empire consisted of 40 colonies, and over five and a half billion thralls dominated by over 11,000 Tho'ians.
The Tho'ian Empire was partners with the Inusannon, who also dominated other beings mentally to do their bidding, using pheromones and a poorly explained sense of "mental domination" that does not appear to translate well. According to Two Stars, the two races saw themselves as the nobility of the galaxy, lording it over lesser 'worker' species.
Two Stars was destroyed in a power-plant accident on Makana, and when he awoke the Empire had fallen. He was assaulted by Protheans several times (the Tho'ians had apparently abused the Protheans badly before their empire fell) and then by Reaper forces. He had no real intelligence on the Reaper threat, aside from confirming Commander Shepard's beacon visions were accurate and that the ship that attacked the Citadel was not of geth make.
Two Stars can be best described as "chillingly amiable". The creature is patient , willing to endure captivity and being under salarian control as long as it can secure it's own existence. It has survived the collapse of two galactic civilizations and seems calm and almost blasé about the possibility of facing a third.
STG agents should be aware that the creature cannot be trusted. It tests anyone coming to speak with it, attempting to draw them into uncertainty, and if at all possible will twist the truth to make itself seem more knowledgeable , mysterious, and powerful than it really is. That being said, it possesses a hoard of knowledge far beyond the capacity of our civilization at present to utilize, and it's theatrics are of no concern as long as it continues to cooperate peacefully.