Shameless Plug Post

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/649736

To quote the blurb:

Death, dismemberment and degradation awaits a village when a gleaner’s nest is discovered nearby. Fearful of becoming prey, the villagers decide something must be done. When Monolith, a giant of a man, arrives, they desperately turn to him for deliverance with renewed hope and courage; hope that the gleaners can be defeated and courage to prevail against indomitable adversity.

Reproduction and Interbreeding

There are so many types of being upon the planet, the means by which they breed have not only altered, but become more varied. For the most part, creatures reproduce the same way humans have always done so. Yet some have their own way. Beings will do whatever works in order to survive. This will often limit interbreeding, and that has other problems as well, but it still happens.

An important topic to initially deal with is who can interbreed with who. Humans can breed with each other, obviously, but also mutants, who are simply altered humans. This has led to many interesting mixes, as has breeding between types of mutants – some of them are improved beings created scientifically, others are naturally misshapen due to various pollution. Machines cannot interbreed with anything else. Cyborgs can make more of their own as living beings. The cybernetic aspects to a new creation will be added over time. As for monsters, not only is it the case that humans and mutants cannot breed with them, but the types of the supernatural race don’t mix either.

To elaborate on this point, harbingers cannot breed with brutes, nor devil-beasts with gleaners, etc. There are many practical reasons, in terms of varying sizes and differing ways of reproduction. However, some could, and there are certain theories about why it doesn’t work. Many will claim monsters cannot breed with humans or mutants because they were originally from another plane of existence. They will add that monsters may be deemed a collective by humans, yet they are very different creatures, so there is no reason why they should be expected to be able to interbreed.

But there is a tale among many that the humans made a wish early on. They saw these new creatures and feared not only what they were doing, but what they could do to transform the human race. They feared being replaced by hybrids. They also feared hybrids of the monsters themselves – new and improved versions of harbingers, vandals and writhers, for example. So someone or someones used a magi and made a wish that monsters couldn’t breed with others. Only their own. Another thing to add to this is that dragons seemed not to be able to reproduce at all. Being creatures much more attuned with magic and the Shadow World, they found they couldn’t bring new life into this world. That is, apart from the infamous Havoc, half human, half dragon warrior of legend. Perhaps this is a major part of why the dragons returned to the Shadow World.

It has to also be noted that monsters have different ways of reproducing. For instance, gleaners and denizens lay eggs. The difference between them is a gleaner queen will lay many, whereas a denizen will lay one egg and raise it alone, imprinting all the knowledge and skills available. Writhers also lay eggs, which is normal in a way, seeing as they are basically snake-people. Dragons did lay eggs, as least legends say so, but none hatched, as previously mentioned.

Deemi have their own unique way of reproducing. They may look like voluptuous women, but in truth they are hermaphrodites. To make another life, they need the souls/life energy of living beings. They gather them, feed on them, and this creates a new life within them. Every deemi is born by a mother and raised to become another magical predator, set to continue their race. Wraiths, however, remain a mystery. They can become physical beings and tales are told of how they gather, become solid and mate to make new wraiths, but only they know how they reproduce. Wraiths have human shapes but remain hooded and cloaked figures, even when solid, so to think they have human physical attributes is an assumption.

Apart from these mentioned, the monsters tend to reproduce sexually, with males and females coming together, and then females giving birth to the offspring. They have differing ways of rearing these children, but that is for another time. The only thing left to be said regarding monsters is that magi remain the most elusive and mysterious type. They can take many forms so sexual reproduction could be possible, but no one knows if magi need to create new life, let alone if they have. Magi might be immortal and sterile.

Turning to machines for a moment, they can reproduce too. On the one hand they recycle often. Droids that are damaged or even destroyed can be broken down and used to make new ones. On the other hand, more can be manufactured with gathered resources and simple programming. Robotic armies will always swell over time and are much harder to wear down than living beings. Anything highly complex is unlikely to reproduce, however. Creations like that tend to see themselves as the ultimate goal, so making another would either be pointless or perhaps a threat.

All types of life seeks to survive and that means reproducing and doing so in greater numbers than any rivals. Typically, the more ferocious the lifestyle, the more in number they need to be. Gleaners, for instance, aim to produce generation after generation, filling each nest until a new one needs to be created. At the same time, aquatics live with more security in the sea, and with this and much more space, they have grown to considerable number as well.

This is all true of mutants on land as well. Super-soldiers were originally designed and born in labs to fight and prevail. Some still are, but most are born from their parents in more natural ways. Natural procreation has helped to overcome many of the original constraints and flaws placed in their genetic make-up. Not always, but for the most part. It can be that a super-soldier is born from parents who have normal life spans to only live 20 or 30 years. By and large super-soldiers remain instinctive fighters, yet some can be different. Once formed by careful planning, mutants are now subject to the more chaotic laws of nature.

An ugly side of reproduction needs to be brought up, which especially applies when it comes to lesser mutants. It has been known for mutants to have taken humans to forcibly breed with in order to try and remove the deformities and difficulties their kind struggle with. They sought to ease the burden on their descendants, and mostly felt fully justified, seeing as the humans made them this way. At least, this was their view. Mutants made to be superior are clearly less likely to want to breed with anyone or anything lesser than them, yet it does happen. In these instances, it can be attributed to simple lust or rare love. Those born from a super-soldier and human coupling could end up much like one parent or a mix of both. The same is obviously true of breeding with other types. Those who choose this path of reproduction are taking a risk with their future, so it does not happen too often. But it does, even now.

An aspect of all of this is control. In more open, free domains, individuals follow their passions and needs to make more of their own. As simple and true as ever. But when a group is in an enclosed space or living on few resources, or perhaps they have more to fear, then reproduction is under the direction of the collective. In underground bases, people will need to ask permission to have a child and prove themselves capable. In the stricter cyborg sects, reproduction is more like a production line of future members to improve their strength. Among some, people have a duty to make more of their kind, possibly even under duress. Arrangements can be made, compatible partners can be placed together, all to better the community. A good example is the aegis. This race of monsters has fought long and hard to prevent humanity and themselves from being destroyed by enemies. By now, they are not many. To some, this means they must find each other and have children, and then raise those children correctly. Their line cannot end. The world needs them.

In a harsh world, reproduction is just as vital a part of life as ever, if not more so. Life exists in far more varying forms, with different cultures and methods. In many places, you keep to your own. In a few, variety is sought out. Experiments go on, just as the Brainers once created the ultras. Uniqueness exists. As always, there are laws to be obeyed and guidelines to be followed, to give us all an understanding of how life endures. But there are exceptions to the rules and, now and again, those rules get broken.

What am I?

Another blog post to give information, background and general knowledge on the post-apocalyptic world featured in Sojourners in Shadow:

So a number of the defining aspects to being a person either no longer apply or are much harder to categorise in this post-apoc world, filled with creatures and creations. Things such as nationality, race, ethnicity and more have become muddled, forgotten about, changed, and yet to some still remain very important. There are no labels that work worldwide, although it could very strongly be claimed those don’t fit now. But this world is far more fractured, with some parts of it having no idea what even exists beyond the horizon. Genealogy is something many cannot trace back beyond a few generations. Racial and cultural history has no meaning for them, sometimes by choice, mostly by ignorance. The present is all that matters. Whatever group that is your group is everything you need to care about and all you need to care about. You don’t get to fuss about differences when your survival is dependent on people helping each other out.

Displacement has occurred in many places around the world, with people fleeing homes centuries ago and now residing in lands once thought far away. In Australia, you have Brits, Americans and Japanese co-existing in their respective colonies, alongside their hosts. Still, because of this, these all define themselves by their nationality, and the three white races have their issues with the single non-white race, and vice versa. In central Asia, many ethnicities have merged as the humans sought to survive, now forming a plethora of settlements across the plains. To these people, the idea of referring to anyone as ‘Asian’ is absurd, as they are all from there, yet four main racial groups do exist and generalised terms such as Arabian and Caucasian are now the norm. Some will define themselves more specifically, such as the famous Tsunami, who is purely Japanese, but most won’t bother – they have more important issues to deal with and they also know few others will care.

Fracturing has had a huge impact too. Nations dissolved, empires rose and then were thrown down. Russia split and soon many people deemed themselves to be Siberian. The U.S.A. slowly stretched and strayed, until the Pacific States and the Atlantic States were rivals, trading with different parts of the world. The United Kingdom ceased to exist and the Oligarchs ascended to command in Central Europe. When the Shadow World came and made so much worse, it also changed the Middle East, which became a battleground as humans who followed Islam, Judaism and Christianity united to defend it against those powerful monsters that sought to ravage these sacred lands and break their faith.

Religion itself has less hold of people’s identities while remaining a vital part of their lives. There are no central authorities to dictate how people should worship. No international figures to inspire or instruct. People keep their own faith and small communities tend to worship together, if at all. The main difference is among mutants. While many worship the gods of the humans, a significant number worship the mutant god, Gilgamesh. They await their saviour, believing he will one day hand the world over to them. Seeing as he is a incredibly powerful mutant currently contained in a dormant state, this may well happen.

Mutants have impacted on the racial identities too. Many designed mutants were created not to look the same as their creators or the community they were made to defend. People wanted different looking super soldiers – partly to prevent too much unity, partly because diversity was often seen as necessary. But also, some authorities wanted a force that felt detached from those around them, so that it could be turned on them if need be. Therefore a number of created mutants were soon walking the earth, part of a certain race and yet having no real lasting ties to that race or its past which defines it.

So in many ways defining someone racially or ethnically is really only done to help describe someone. Usually physically, but perhaps wishing to give some kind of insight into who and what they are as well, and how they may behave or see certain things. Racism still exists, of course, but it has much less meaning and more often is contained in ignorant comments. If one racial group dominates, then there tends to be some casual contempt or distrust for those who look different, but it rarely goes beyond that unless they feel threatened as well. In the Octagon State, where eight underground bases have survived and most of their inhabitants are white, there is a sense of being better than those not white, yet such is their dominance and such is their vicious war with super-soldiers, that there is rarely persecution. In the Northern Federation, where cities have prevailed amidst the magically-charged jungles of Africa, everyone is black, and yet some may have a slightly lighter tone to their skin, suggesting an ancestor or two from another race. This is never a cause for outright contempt, yet it may raise some notice and perhaps some jokes, as Ensign Ali finds from his low ranking crewmates, Chisel and Wrench.

Nationality is perhaps the weakest label to remain. People will often refer to themselves as coming from a place, but that is all the name means to them. Being British means you live in the British Isles or in New Britannia, in Australasia, and while the latter has more sense of identity and history, the inhabitants of the once United Kingdom are more defined by what village they live in or what master or guardian they answer to. Even with the colony in Australasia, many Britons move around, especially spreading further into the central and wilder area, as do the Americans and Australians, so nationalism makes way for new and more independent identities.

The ways of the world before the collapse, before the Shadow World, have little meaning to those who live in it. Most of them have no knowledge of what went before them. Nations and races can have a degree of importance for many, but it rarely keeps people from uniting to survive when they have to. Monsters work together and so do the various types of mutants. The numerous threats to humanity means it cannot afford the luxury of bigotry. Hate people for any reason you want, but save your utmost hatred for those trying to kill you.

So how do people define themselves? Cyborgs do so by sect. Monsters by tribe or clan or pack, etc. Even then, there are always those exceptions to the rule. For most humans, if they have to declare a racial identity, it is usually whatever they mostly are. If three grandparents are from Argentina and one is from Yemen, then typically you forgo specific locations and degrees of heritage and simply say you are Hispanic. Even then, many around the world would have no idea what that meant, let alone the differences that can create between people. Perhaps you wouldn’t either. The truth is many people around the world can’t say for sure if they are 100% anything, even if they look it. They may use national, racial, ethnic and cultural labels, but rarely is anything an undisputed fact in this world.

The essential truth is most people around the world will see another person’s differences, may even be suspicious of them, but typically they will wonder if this is someone that can harm them or if they will be the victor, and what could be gained by killing this individual. If nothing, then perhaps an alliance is in order. It’s true that keeping to your own is the safer bet, yet someone’s own has become redefined by the standards of the time and even then, sometimes you will have to take a risk.

May 30, 2016: New-look Android! New cast members!

Really looking forward to this show coming back

Josephmallozzi's Weblog

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Interesting.  I came across this photo of our lovable Android over on Syfy.com. Among the other goodies, the site offers a breakdown of the season 2 cast and Raza crew including…

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Melanie’s Liburd’s Nyx Harper and…

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Shaun Sipos’ young medic, Devon.

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In addition, there’s are new pics of some familiar faces accompanied by character descriptions and a little background on each cast member.  Check it out!

http://www.syfy.com/darkmatter/cast/2

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 7.16.18 AM

In addition, there’s a season 1 refresher – but only for those who have already seen it.

http://www.syfy.com/darkmatter/photos/season-one-101

For everyone else, there’s still time to binge Dark Matter’s first season on Netflix or over on Syfy.com!

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 7.12.26 AMFinally, while on the Syfy site, you can also peruse this rundown of The Raza crew – and what we know about them…

http://www.syfy.com/darkmatter/photos/character-gallery

Meanwhile, @AdamSquareOne offers his own Dark Matter fan primer:

Hang in there!  Approximately one month to our Dark Matter season 2 premiere!

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Who Knows What in Trade Island

The city of Trade Island is a pool of chaos to those who don’t understand it. Within its limits, gangs war through the streets, business families corrupt and manipulate, and various other factions either fully engage in these same activities, or simply try to sneak by their opponents.

If the Medici family don’t have you assassinated, the Draculas might have you impaled as a warning to others. If the Spartans don’t hit you head on and destroy your organisation using both physical and financial warfare, then the Tudors could simply buy you out completely. You might end up caught between Leopold’s gang and the Hussars, who they overcame to take top rank in the city. You could cross path with the Pagans, wielding magic and weaponry to repay any wrong. If you’re really unfortunate you’ll be out walking around under a full moon and hear the maddened howl of Chimera nearby. Then again, maybe you need to hire mercenaries, in which case you might need advice from a veteran merc like Roadblock, or have to deal with Stonewall Scummer, seeing as so many of them frequent his Rough House. Need weaponry? See Warlock. Need a place to stay? Try the Picket Pocket, but bear in mind it is run by hobgoblins.

The Enchantress runs many things, more than most know, and is the power behind Mayor Phil. The Demon King resides outside yet has a lot of influence in the city as members of his court visit on a daily basis. A large gleaner nest is not too far away, yet Ravenous and a collection of his vile people have dug out a smaller home in Trade Island, trying to fit in by offering their services as killers. The Graveyard is where bodies are disposed of, and where ghouls reside, while the Docks are showing promise as trade with far off places across the sea begins to develop. Don’t forget there is a machine nation residing to the north that keeps its distance even as it trades with them. Also, perhaps most importantly, there is a large mutant population, descendants of those who once drove the humans onto the island en masse. They have a president, yet power truly resides with General Bracken and the army, which leads to some fleeing to Trade Island. Former soldiers often end up joining the Ronin and earning their livelihood as mercenaries.

This is skimming over the surface when it comes to Trade Island. No mention has yet been made of the Ottomans, the Raptors, Red Benedict, Bulldozer, the Buccaneers, Spook, Loki, the Peelers, Gunman, Brubaker, the Accursed, Guile, the Vault, Rose, Calculus, the Khans, Scaloni, the Kusonokis, Steiss, Demetrius. There are thieves, mercs, assassins, traders, spies, hunters, bodyguards, warriors, tricksters, crafters, schemers. Some are mutants, others monsters, most human or something like it, and one cyborg and one robot. That is, as far as any know.

So who knows this? Who knows the difference between hiring Ronin from hiring a bunch of fighters at the Rough House? Who can tell you who to speak to when dealing with a business family, or to seriously avoid in a gang? Who knows what is going on, being sold, being stolen, being planned, being carried out?

Well, there are a select few who have their finger on the pulse of Trade Island. It could come as a surprise, but none of them are from among the rich and powerful. No, it is those who live and walk the streets of the city, who talk to people and listen to conversations, that have enough awareness of the whirling, fluctuating ways of the island.

One of these we have mentioned and that’s Stonewall Scummer. He grew up on the streets of Trade Island and claims to know everything going on everywhere. This could well be true. He has spent so long with his ear to the ground – metaphorically speaking only of course – that he has come to understand the city like few others. He built the Rough House so mercs and assassins could hang out together. It was such a simple and obvious move that it surprised others no one had thought of it before, but no one had. Hired killers still loiter on street corners and can be found at taverns they reside in, but the Rough House has come to be the prime place to be. There is even a pecking order, with the top ranked mercs sitting on the upper floor. Scummer has made himself a valuable middle-man, who can pick out the best to hire for various jobs. He also will hold back work or hand out high paying jobs for a reward in return. Scummer is in no way to be trusted. But he is pretty upfront with this, so much so people tend to sigh and shake their heads rather than get angry. Scummer represents Trade Island, in many ways. If you have a use, work is there, but if you can be used and cast aside, get ready for the fall. You need to keep your wits sharp and your skills honed. Scummer does. He knows information others want kept secret. He knows deals people are making. He is despised but respected, detested but tolerated, and mistrusted and yet one of the first people go to in order to find out what the hell is really going on.

But he isn’t the only one. Warlock is another we have mentioned and he also has his insider information. He is a cyborg but he was a child here too. He ended up being sold to a sect and converted, and later, after his sect had been destroyed, he returned to his home, ready to make weapons. There was a lot of suspicion when a cyborg came into the city, many calling him a spy, yet his history with the place and his craftsmanship meant that soon need outweighed distrust. If there is one thing always in demand in Trade Island, it is weaponry. The best suppliers are the business families, but their products are expensive. Warlock makes his weapons with care and skill, and a creator’s love for creating, therefore he gives his products out at much lower cost. Many mercs, gangsters and others want him as a friend. Warlock values people. This could be an act as he spies on the inhabitants, yet his past suggests he is sincere. He admires courage, honesty and integrity, and he always enjoys seeing his work in the hands of skilled fighters. If people want to kill each other, that’s their business. Warlock won’t judge, he also doesn’t gossip. So people let things slip around him. Sometimes he can read the signs, such as an increase of sales to certain people is a warning that a fight is on the way. Warlock has been known to alert people on his good side, but he can also be talked into revealing a little info if a deal can be made. Money isn’t his thing, but even a lone cyborg understands the importance of favours.

We have also hinted at someone but not named him. Previously, the Picked Pocket was brought up, and the fact it is run by hobgoblins. The hobgoblin in charge is Grabbit. It is he and his family that run the establishment, with others of their kind coming and going, working and stealing. Hobgoblins are everywhere in the city. No, they really are. So much so they become part of the background. They are infamous thieves and mischief makers, and many don’t take them seriously. This is a mistake, especially with Grabbit. If a hobgoblin wants to work at his place – which means earning some money, likely stealing from customers, and possibly hearing some interesting information – then they have to tell him something. People think hobgoblins don’t pay attention. Well, they don’t much, but when there’s so many scampering here and there, they will pick up the odd useful whisper. Grabbit wants these. Anything heard in his place is reported in too. He may be a hobgoblin, but he’s no fool. He is more calm, more composed, more sure of himself. So to those who consider him, Grabbit is a very useful source of knowledge, although he isn’t cheap and he’ll know if you cheat him.

An odd individual is Thumbs. He is a low ranking human criminal and is also locked up in prison. There are several of these squat, solid buildings, and they are pretty full due to a constant rotation. Crime is common place, so the police barely put an effort into stopping it. After all, they could get killed. However, some sense of order has to be kept, so the lowest of the low in the crime world often get picked up and banged up. More important ones get nabbed from time to time as well, yet merely as a show. For instance, one of Leopold’s main killers is Mueller, a psychotic super-soldier, and his antics have meant the gang boss handed him over to be detained for a time – partly to keep a lid on things, partly to stop his lackey from causing more trouble. Hobgoblins get arrested and put in too, yet no human has an idea if they ever catch the right one and often they walk out as they please. Grabbit has done time and let another take his place after he got bored. But Thumbs, he went into prison a nobody and became a king. He runs his prison, wearing his necklace of thumbs taken from opponents. Whether his sentence is up or not is unknown as he has no intention of leaving his home. Other criminals come and go, and he talks to most, and sometimes they are angry enough or fed up enough to blab more than they should. Thumbs knows things, and he knows how to get things out of people too. He may be just a human, but humans, mutts and lesser monsters are what frequent the prisons, so he has enough viciousness to intimidate those in his realm. If the word cannot be found on the streets of Trade Island, then the prisons are a good bet, and Thumbs has been in his one long enough to establish a ring of contacts.

Finally, there is Bulldozer. A mutant with big hands and a mighty punch. He is a simple gangster and not even a challenger to Leopold. No, he is on the bottom rung in fact, yet he is the emperor of the bottom rungs. His gang is many, made up of mostly poor humans and other mutts, and he has many low level gangs too small to stand alone as affiliates. The top gangs – Leopold’s, Red Benedict’s, Chimera’s, the Hussars, the Raptors, etc – have powerful beings to make them a serious threat. Bulldozer relies on sheer numbers. Officially, the Hussars are the biggest gang, but then no one takes the mob at the bottom seriously. Bulldozer has dozens of people who grew up in Trade Island under his command, and from all over the city. They will have relatives who work in taverns or warehouses. Some will know members of the police. Some will even have jobs themselves, perhaps at the Docks or possibly the Vault, although the only bank in Trade Island has high levels of security and scrutiny. Still, Bulldozer knows that plans are made high up, but they still need grunts and goons at the lowest level to get things done. He may seem to be a simple but strong thug, and yet little is going on within the city that he won’t get at least some hint of.

Stonewall Scummer, Warlock, Grabbit, Thumbs and Bulldozer all live at the bottom end of society in Trade Island, and that’s why they know what is going on. Mercs converse, either in the Rough House or when buying tools for a job. Hobgoblins go unnoticed. Humans and mutts witness the daily goings on and report in. Obviously there is much even they cannot know. The Enchantress has schemes underway few have an idea on. The Pagans have their own inner strife that no one beyond their ranks has even a clue about. Secrets can be kept. But when you need to know something, your best bet is to go and ask one of these five. Be careful, they’re all dangerous and some are outright treacherous, but if one of them doesn’t know the answer, then another most likely will.

In the highly rare event that not one of them has any info on a certain activity, group or person, then you don’t need to worry because you will be dead soon. You just stumbled onto something incredibly top secret and chances are one of them sold you out. Expect a visit from a top assassin any moment. Most likely Spook. If you’re lucky, you won’t know about it until she glides through the wall and shoots you twice in the head. Many never do.

Females with Aspergers Syndrome Checklist by Samantha Craft

My wife showed me this, citing it as highly revealing about herself and her Aspergers. I think that it deserves sharing around for that alone.

Everyday Aspie

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Females with Asperger’s Syndrome Unofficial Checklist 

This is an unofficial checklist created by an adult female with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) who has a son with Asperger’s Syndrome. Samantha Craft has a Masters Degree in Education. Samantha Craft does not hold a doctorate in Psychiatry or Psychology. She has a life-credential as a result of being a female with Asperger’s Syndrome and being a parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. She has created this list in an effort to assist health professionals in recognizing Asperger’s Syndrome in females—for in-depth information regarding females with AS refer to Craft’s upcoming book Everyday AspergersTen Traits of Aspergers can be found here.

Suggested Use: Check off all areas that strongly apply to the person. If each area has 75%-80% of the statements checked, or more, then you may want to consider that the female may have Asperger’s Syndrome.

When determining an AS…

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Machines: As Diverse as Their Creators: Part Two

Part Two: Unique Types

When people talk of machines they usually refer to droids and computers, or perhaps cyborgs, seeing as those are the most numerous of the machine types, yet there are much more. There were various groups and some individuals who were intent on making whatever they could once laws and morality were set aside. Some worked for governments in underground bunkers, others worked for their own ends. Whatever the cause, they are long gone, but their creations continue to cause havoc wherever they go. They are works of incredible scientific wonder. Brilliant as well as terrifying.

For instance, doom-rollers are war-machines designed to eradicate any life in a given sector. They are well armoured and covered in weaponry, with renewable energy sources and refined detection equipment. They were perfect for what they were created for, and so when those who controlled them fled or were destroyed, these machines continued their pursuit of any life in order to destroy it. Fortunately, there are not many left. Unfortunately, those few are a threat to homes and bases everywhere.

Zomboids are counted as machines, but are an abomination among all kinds. An attempt to make robots with human minds, they are instead mad, rending people apart and wearing their skin in some desperate, twisted attempt to become the living themselves. Again, they are few, but extremely erratic and dangerous.

Far worse to worry about are Hell-Raisers. Possibly the worst kind of machine to encounter, especially if you are a machine yourself. They are war-droids, impressive at nearly 7 foot tall, with brutal weapons and thick armour. They were made to overpower and crush opposition. But something made them worse. A corruption occurred in their programming. Rather than be the usual efficient and ruthless killing machines, Hell-Raisers are infamous for smashing down and blowing up anything they can, regardless of what it is or who. They kill for no reason, booming out noise to intimidate enemies, all by now heavily scarred from decades of aggression. They are even known to tear their own apart when badly damaged in order to repair or better themselves. No one knows if this warped programming was an accident or done deliberately by a human, perhaps one also insane. But the Hell-Raisers’s madness can be passed on. They act like raging brutes, yet their demented anger can infect other machines, and from there everything can go to hell.

The cyber samurai are a myth to many, a legend passed around, yet they are real. They are machines searching for their masters. Nothing else will do. Those who are not their masters are of no interest to them. Those who would oppose them in any way are destroyed. Machines are normally metal forms, powerful yet rigid to a degree. The cyber samurai are androids, fluid and flexible, yet strong and skilled also. Each wields two katanas, which are not only much stronger and sharper than ordinary blades, but can be energised to unleash arcs of light that cut through most objects. While these creations clearly originated in Japan, they have been sighted in many places around the world, and continue to travel. Only once they have found their creators will they stop. Or if someone can summon the power needed to end them.

As previously stated, most of the more unique types of machine are rare, or else the devastation visited upon the world would be far worse. Still, the entire species is deemed a potent threat to all other life, and one that cannot be dissuaded from its course. At least, so most leaders among humans, mutants and monsters would claim. Machines do have weaknesses, though. Viruses are an obvious weapon. EMP bombs were manufactured long ago to fight the machine armies and worked superbly, although they are rare today. A basic threat is water. Machines are near always designed to operate on land, so the risk of a short circuit due to water is a high one. Not that the sea would have much to offer them either.

No, machines are here to conquer the land. They seek bases of technology and gatherings of enemies. They aim to remove all threats, which means all other life must go. They can be bargained with, yet a deep suspicion of all things machine means few living beings trust them to keep to their deals. Machines know this. Which means they can’t trust the other races. The result is inevitable. Everyone will seek to destroy each other until one powerful force remains. With their ability to reproduce, with their endurance and logic, with their coherent focus, the machines see no reason why they cannot be that remaining force. Even then, which super-computer or unique machine leading its army will be the one to stand alone? No machine has been able to figure that one out. Yet.