Robonaut (Malosian)

Robonaut trooper

Malosian Heavy Trooper

The Malosians, more commonly known as Robonauts, evolved from intelligent jellyfish-like creatures on the planet Malos. 'Robonaut' means 'robot sailor' and was a name given to them before it was realized that an organic being exists within their armored skin. Not only their appearance but also their behavior gave the impression on first contact that they were robots. Their gelatinous ancestors were well-adapted to their planet's cold oceans. However, their star (an F4 class yellow-white dwarf) was short-lived (with half the lifespan of the Sun) and when it entered the red giant stage the oceans of Malos rapidly evaporated. The Malosians adapted their biology, through genetic engineering, to survive on land. Their tentacles developed into limbs - indeed remove the gauntlet of a Malosian and you will find four tentacle-like digits, each terminating in a mouth. They also developed exoskeletons to assist their movement on land and to resist the hot and dry conditions. Urgently they took to the stars to escape their dying world. Unfortunately, however, the Malosians have no empathy at all and few feelings. Born from a desperate situation they act with paranoia toward all sentient life and, although not evil as such, they are a warlike conquering race.

The firearm on the trooper's right arm is capable of launching plasma balls or laser beams, depending upon fire mode. The manipulator on the trooper's left arm is a power manipulator designed for strength and for crushing. However, it can change shape to perform more delicate tasks. A wide range of tools can replace the firearm and manipulator.

These Robonaut beings are total drones, doing whatever is required to further their own species, and viewing other life-forms with paranoid contempt - considering all other life a potential threat to their own existence. Their entire militant industry is devoted to the singular purpose of gaining domination and exterminating all other life-forms. Driven by logic and apparently devoid of all emotion, they form a formidable and extremely dangerous 'machine' society.

The exoskeletal armour is photoreactive and so can change colour and pattern to match the environ and so camouflage the trooper. It also has the ability to dissipate laser beams and can protect from intense heat as well as the coldness and vacuum of space. The armour can confer invisibility over a narrow band of wavelengths by causing light to flow around the trooper without reflection, absorption or refraction. The armour is an intelligent composite material that can repair itself to some degree, though damaged modules are easily replaced. The armour has a nanostructure that not even Erfavlin technology has yet been able to duplicate and contains a superheavy element that has yet to be produced on Earth.

This trooper can ruin twice as fast as a human without tiring. Its reactions are much faster than those of most humans and it is as strong as the strongest man. Its brain is programmed with weapons skills, tactics and essential technical skills.

Above: Malos as it once was - a vibrant ocean planet with sub-zero oceans. Its original name, given to it by the Robonaut ancestors, is unknown.

Malos today

Above: Malos as it is now - a blasted desert world orbiting a dying star. Malos, meaning 'bad' or 'ill' was the name given to this planet by Federation explorers. The Malosians simply designate Malos as planet 0001 and their own name for their species is unwritable, but in our language they have adopted the title given to them and call themselves Robonauts - meaning robotocised space beings.

Excessive stellar heating caused this world to lose its liquid hydrosphere - its atmosphere dried and thinned and its oceans evaporated, exposing a desert core. Once a paradisal world supporting a vast range of ocean life, including the intelligent 'Malosians', its struggling inhabitants became militarized, fighting over diminishing resources. In the end, one overlord emerged, a ruthless tyrant and psychopath, who genetically engineered the inhabitants and transformed them into an obedient race, with the overlord as the first Robonaut 'Emperor'. They developed armoured exoskeletons to protect them from their harsh environment and dispensed with their emotions.

Little detail is available about Malos, except for the beamed log of the first explorers to land upon it. Their ship, the explorer Quason-7 was one of a flotilla commissioned by the Symbraxis Corp to explore the great GCN-7401 nebula for potential resources. Their ship crash-landed on Malos, a planet on the far-side of the nebula, following steering system failure. Marooned, the survivors discovered a hostile and peculiar world. The terrain consisted almost entirely of hot desert sand dunes blasted by intense stellar radiation and stellar storms.  At first the explorers found no Robonauts. (The only Robonaut Malosian presence on the planet was a handful of science facilities and military camps with shuttles delivering supplies and troops.) However, they made contact with a cyborg species, the Cephalotrons, hostile initially, these creatures became allies to the stranded explorers. Apparently these beings, consisting of little more than tentacled brains, were an off-shoot of early genetic experiments by the Malosians on their own cells. This form escaped from its laboratory and multiplied at a phenomenal rate, utilizing technology that the Malosians had left on Malos. The Cephalotrons possessed genius intellects, a legacy of their genetically engineered progenitors. The explorers learned that the planet was infested by several colonies of Ankaragi insectoids, themselves marooned following a previous space battle. These insectoids were being attacked and eliminated by the planet's other indigenous population - the Robonauts, who had already largely left the planet and colonized certain neighboring systems. The stranded Ankaragi, despite their rapid reproduction rate, were seemingly unable to prevail as their technological resources were limited. Indeed, in the fullness of time the Robonauts reverse-engineered Ankaragian technology and this was another impetus to their rapid development.

The Cephalotrons had a total resentment of the Robonauts and the two species had previously engaged in total war - a war which saw Malos sterilized almost completely. By the time that the crew of the Quason made contact with them, the Cephalotrons were reduced to a handful in number, but still they strove to sabotage the Robonaut's experiments. The crew of the Quason never left Malos - they all perished there, one-by-one. Shortly after the final log transmission (sent by Engineer Stahl, the last crew survivor) Malos underwent a second sterilization event as it became enveloped in neutron radiation. Speculation has it that the last Cephalotrons sacrificed themselves as they annihilated a Robonaut invasion fleet that according to the log had landed to exterminate the Cephalotrons. Apparently they activated some sort of doomsday device of unknown origin (possibly a relic of earlier Malosian civilization). [The Cephalotrons were so-called because of their massive cerebral development and are not unlike the Cephalodomes (see below) who were developed from the same genetic stock, with modifications to ensure their obedience to the Robonaut cause.]

The Malosians are currently at war with the UGA (United Galactic Alliance) and their industrial capacity and speed of technological development pose great problems for the UGA. Malosians are totally loyal to the cause of their empire and strive constantly to secure their future survival by attempting to eliminate all sentient life-forms that may be potential competition. This 'paranoia' motivates the Malosians to engage in constant warfare. However, survival is their primary aim, rather than war itself. It is not clear how such a technological and intelligent race became so bent on warfare. Perhaps this mentality is a result of their extensive genetic engineering of their own genotype. With their highly advanced technology, the Malosians represent the biggest threat currently in the known galaxy. Initially it was thought that they were simply carrying out the orders of their psychopathic Overlord or Emperor, who immortalized his mind in their central computer system, replacing old and worn out bodies like avatars of its consciousness. However, it is now understood that having passed through a computer system, the Overlord's mind did not emerge unchanged and it is truer to say that the Robonauts are slaves to a certain computerized logic centered on unquestionable assumptions. Their command structure resolves any conflicts in decision-making, but ultimately all Robonauts strive towards the same goal according to the same basic rules.

Malosian troopers are formidable opponents in battle, but it is in space where wars are lost and won. Control space and you have won the war as planet after planet can be besieged at will. The Malosian warfleets excel in combat. They have superb gunnery and fire control and they have miniaturized many starship systems, allowing their warships to carry a formidable array of weapons. They are also experts in developing armored hulls. In short, their spacefleets are formidable. The Malosian Black-Fire class dreadnoughts are the backbone of the Malosian warfleets. These ships are more than a match for anything that the UGA has.

Malosian evolution

The picture below shows one of the Malosian ancestral forms - a tentacled jellyfish like creature which lived in the ammonia oceans that once covered Malos. These creatures later adapted to life on land, their brains enlarged and the tentacles fused into two pairs of limbs, except at the distal ends where the tentacles remained free, forming the digits. It is not known for certain how far they evolved by natural means until their own genetic engineering took over. The Malosians today are experts at genetic engineering and organism design and manufacture (synthetic biology or synbio). They have produced several morphological variants of their own species. Some individuals still resemble the creature below somewhat, and are used as brains to control cybernetic appliances, including heavy war-borgs.

Malosian ancestor

Below: a Malosian greeting: they used gestures and bioluminescence to supplementrapuid sequences of binary sounds when communicating.

Malosian ancestor

Much of what we know about these ancestral forms comes from historic records retrieved by explorers from Malos and also by observations of their own generation plants and genetic make-up. Today, Malosians reproduce by artificial means, using temporal accelerators when sufficient power is available, to speed up development, and they are seen to pass through several embryonic stages thought to be recapitulations of their evolutionary ancestry (much as human embryos pass through a stage possessing pharyngeal slits, which are thought to be ancestral gill slits). One such embryonic form resembles the one above, but lacks tentacles and detaches discs from the conical column of discs underneath the bell, with each disc developing into a complete individual (a process known as polyembryony). Malosians have combined the genetic material from both genders into each individual (their cells are binucleate tetraploid). The ancestral forms soon became social creatures, using a combination of tentacle movements and bioluminescence to communicate, in addition to very low pitched infrasounds (below the threshold of human hearing).

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Proof that the Malosians evolved from jellyfish-like ancestors became apparent on the planet Tau-Draco 5. A small colony of Malosians arrived on the planet, but shortly afterwards they began to notice the strange effect of degeneration - they began to slowly evolve backwards. They attempted to ensure their survival by constructing temporal stasis fields around their base camp, with limited success. They located the source as an alien device on the planet, which was generating a sophisticated chronon-field that caused genetic material to revert to its primordial state. Attempts to use Malosian androids to deactivate the field were eventually successful, but by this point all that remained of the colonists were blobs of jelly that did not survive long on this desert planet.

Click here to view a Malosian timeline

Early Malosian trooper

Above: an early form of Malosian soldier caste. Having evolved into bipedal amphibious creatures, as the Malosian oceans slowly shrank, these troopers were genetically modified and bear lethal stinging tentacles. Some think their main role was in controlling the lower castes.

Malosians completed their adaptation to dry land and finally outer space by a combination of biological and cybernetic engineering. With the aid of their armored exoskeletons, which earned them the name of Robonaut, they are even able to survive for prolonged periods in the vacuum of space. (Malosian tissues contain extensive deposits of silver in the form of Ag2+ organic complexes which can act as the final electron acceptor in respiration without oxygen, before eventually requiring oxygen to replenish them). They have also undergone certain biological adaptations, strengthening the skeleton, the original gelatinous/cartilaginous structures have been replaced by secreted carbon polymers in a semi-crystalline array, producing somewhat translucent plastic-like skeletal supports. Strengthened muscles are attached to this skeleton, especially the back muscles which have been strengthened for use on dry land. The limb muscles consist of complex spirally arranged contractile fibers. However, they are still vulnerable without their exoskeletal armor, which enhances their toughness, speed and strength (and can be modified with additional synthetic-muscle packs for increased athleticism). This armor is almost totally impervious to super high-velocity rifle rounds and gyrojet rockets and most kinetic energy weapons. It also has the ability to reflect, absorb and dissipate laser energy. Recently, better protection against proton beam weapons has been incorporated, though such weapons are still moderately effective against this armor.

Additional synthetic muscles are provided by the exoskeleton, consisting of contractile polymers. The exoskeleton is continuous at the joints and flexes according to electric currents flowing through it, changing state between soft and pliable and rigid. Armored joint capsules protect these electrosensitive areas. The exoskeleton is equipped with a tactile sensor network and interfaces directly with the brain by electromagnetic signals. The outer layers of the skeleton are well insulated against electrical charges, giving protection to the sensitive circuitry inside. A network of unpolymerised liquid extends around the exoskeleton through special fibers such that the armor is capable of repairing and remodeling itself as needed (to some degree). Additional armor packs can also be attached. A special polymer layer absorbs most radiation. The color of the armor can be modified adaptively, allowing the Robonaut to blend in to its environment. Inside the exoskeleton resides a still somewhat gelatinous and translucent organism, reminiscent of its jellyfish ancestry.

The nervous system consists of the large brain, with a helical cortex divided into four main sectors or lobes. The cortical area is considerable due to extensive folding. Four nerve cords extend from the brain into the torso and to the four limbs, which are modified tentacles. Each limb terminates in four tentacular digits. The forelimbs retain a mouth at the end of each digit, which opens into an esophageal canal. The four canals quickly fuse and travel along the core of the arm, to the torso and abdomen where they enter the gut. The gut is reduced to a single chamber, a four-lobed chamber with motile villi. This chamber appears to secrete no enzymes, but simply absorbs the nutrients that are supplied in pre-digested form. Amino acid broth is the synthetic food source and this is taken into the mouths by suction. The mouths in the hindlimb digits are vestigial as this pair of tentacles no longer plays any role in feeding. Alternatively, a port positioned in the back armor allows nutrient broth to be directly injected.

Sensors are arranged in a sensory ring around the head. These include eight indistinct eyes, arranged in 4 pairs around the ring, and vibration sensors. The exoskeleton possesses a computerized ring overlying this region which enhances the biological senses. Although vision is through 360 degrees, it appears that only one pair of eyes at a time can be given detailed processing from the brain, which is able to switch its attention between the eyes.

Robonaut blood contains a manganese-based pigment and varies from purple to pale-pink in color. Robonauts no longer require oxygen or oxygen-containing nitrogen species for respiration, rather they contain an energy-storing organ that occupies much of the thorax and which can drive the redox reactions of the cells directly via the manganese-pigment which changes oxidation state. As already mentioned, Ag2+-complexes can function as final electron acceptors in respiration. This organ requires periodic recharging and stores tremendous amounts of energy that can power some weapon systems, such as the laser sidearm that troopers and drones frequently carry. Power belts can provide additional power if needed. Malosian tissues have a high content of ammonia, which was originally the main nitrogenous excretory product, initially secreted into solution and then released as gas when the Malosians adapted to life on dry land. They have taken this further, minimizing the inconvenience of excretion, and now excrete solid crystalline waste which is accumulated into large crystals in a special gland. Digestive waste is minimal or non-existent since they generally ingest nutritive broth only.

drone

Above: these automated drones were encountered on Malos by the crew of the Quason. They are formidable opponents. They typically drilled into the sands of Malos and then emerged to attack without warning! They were armed with a 360-degree laser torus capable of firing in up to four different directions simultaneously and two heavy laser turrets, mechano-plasma drills, an anti-personnel defense screen, dust-storm generators, radiation screens and reflective hulls.

Alien facility

Above: a Robonaut facility infiltrated by a stealth probe. The giant vessel contains a modified Malosian which is little more that a giant tentacled brain (left). The facility is being run by Cephalodomes (see below).

Alien brain

Alien brain animation

Robonaut society is purely functional. They appear to have no feelings or emotions, being driven only by logical neural circuits. They do not even feel pain as most sentient beings do, they are simply aware of a prioritized response to take action to avoid damage. Their logic is based on the flawed assumption that all other life-forms are potential threats, either now or in the future, and must therefore be eliminated or at least controlled. Each 'individual' is totally devoted to the Robonaut cause, with a distinct hierarchical command structure. Their commitment to industry is unsurpassed, and their industry base is constantly expanding exponentially (apart from set-backs from fighting so many wars with other life-forms).

How did this race develop in this way? What went wrong? As already explained, they came from the dying world Malos. In its prime this planet supported a highly sophisticated and well-developed society, with aesthetic principles and an appreciation of life, both their own and that of others. However, when the crisis of their dying world reached a critical phase, a small group of very wealthy individuals unleashed an obedience virus. This virus genetically reprogrammed the populace for obedience to the ruling clique and their supreme emperor or overlord. Those individuals who escaped the virus by natural means (by fate or by natural immunity) were systematically destroyed in a civil war. This takeover was facilitated by the commercialization of the planet - all science research facilities and educational establishments were at one time privatized. This meant that they worked for the sole service of the large corporations whose trade secrets meant that science now became a subject only for the selected esoteric few. Over time only a few large corporations dominated, and their leaders formed the ruling clique, with access to all available knowledge. When the virus was unleashed, the populace had no detailed understanding of what was causing the change in their behavior, not understanding the nature of viruses or genetic manipulation, and so were unable to combat it, they simply lacked access to medical research facilities and scientific knowledge. Once subjugated, the populace was subjected to more extensive genetic manipulation and cloning.

Of the ruling clique, they are now all almost certainly no more. The last to perish was the Emperor, who was destroyed in the recent UGA-Robonaut war (although it is thought that the last emperor was a genetic clone of the original). It is now realized that the 'Emperor' was merely an avatar for the mind of the original overlord imprinted into the central computer system, and ultimately, an avatar of the computer system itself. This avatar has been replaced, but we know understand that Robonauts today have a distributed command structure, in which the local commanders act largely independently, since Robonauts now all have the same core mindset they have little need of an actual leader, they automatically work together with computer brains to facilitate in decision-making. Leaders function primarily to resolve computational dilemmas and indecision, otherwise they seem to agree easily on a course of action. However, recent intelligence reports suggest that the mind of the last Emperor was again uploaded to a central computer system/network and that his consciousness is now effectively interminable, but fused with that of the core computer brains as a composite consciousness. The emperor physically destroyed in the last conflict may have simply been a local copy. In any case, his destruction did not achieve the desired results of disrupting Malosian command and integration.

Update

Computer memory chips recently retrieved from the ruins of Malos have shed more light on Robonaut evolution. The ruling clique that brought about the final revolution was the Gralixin Tech Corp and its political associates. Prior to the obedience virus, they used mind-scanning techniques, microchip implants, surveillance and draconian laws to gain control under the pretense of benevolence and maintaining law and order. They encouraged sacrifice for the 'greater good' from the masses whilst giving less than they took for themselves. Despite these measures, discontent grew within the populace. It was at this stage that they unleashed the obedience virus. This virus not only induced obedience in those infected, but also induced developmental defects in which emotion was eradicated. All that remained was to introduce a set of logical ideals, a set of rules that governed all thought within the populace. The ruling clique then proceeded to plot against itself and one-by-one each was eliminated, until only one individual remained as supreme ruler of the Robonaut race.

This leader was to become Robonaut Emperor as the Malosians spread throughout space. He (we refer to this individual as masculine for convenience, although by this point gender was irrelevant as all Robonauts were produced by synthetic means and bioengineered for various functions) arranged for his own effective immortality, by uploading his mind into the Robonaut central computer net, allowing his continual 'reincarnation' by downloading his mind-print into replacement bodies. However, we now know that all did not go exactly as planned. The computer net corrupted his psyche with the logical code of conduct and after several download cycles the Emperor ceased to have emotions of his own and also became a slave to the same computerized logic that enslaved the minds of the Malosian race. Now this logical code is the true ruler of the Robonauts, who can continue to function in the absence of a bodily emperor - they have a hierarchy of command intended to resolve indecision, but otherwise all Robonauts have the same driving motives and this binds them together as a selfless machine. Their emperor is now simply a computer AI or avatar.

What are these 'logical' ideals? Put simply: to ensure the survival of the Robonaut race at all costs, in particular by eradicating, when possible, other life forms that pose a potential threat in the present or in the potential future. Their programmed but powerful minds housed within advanced bioengineered brains strive relentlessly towards this goal.

Robonaut Battle Tactics

So, what should one do if being attacked by Robonaut troopers? Fighting a pitched battle in the open is usually the worst course of action, unless one is protected by a field of anti-proton mines or accompanied by a force of the latest battle droids with lightning reactions. However, unless you have rapid transportation then it is unlikely you shall outrun them. Robonauts will usually send in probes to ascertain an opponent's strengths and then, if they perceive their foe to be readily beatable, they will charge at very high speed, using their agility, armour, shields and remarkable reaction speed to overwhelm enemy positions, assisted by a variety of particle-beam weapons. If the enemy is perceived to be in too strong a defensive position then they will launch micro-satellites to bombard enemy positions from high altitude with particle beam weapons and they may send in sacrificial shatter-droids. These automated mobile weapon platforms may move by means of mechanical legs or anti-gravitation and are designed to deliver very intensive but short-lived bursts of firepower, whilst employing sonic devices and other psychological weapons designed to disorient the electric or neural circuitry of opponents.

Once positioned strategically, shatter-drones will detonate if and when their fire-power is nearing depletion. Fortified positions may also be fired upon with smart gyrojet projectile weapons - powerful armor-piercing bullets which select and home-in on their targets. Troopers may then storm positions at high-speed, whilst the enemy is still disoriented. If needed, then reinforcements may be brought to the front-line with tremendous speed, for example in transport pods (a pod 10 m by 2 m may carry 16 troopers) which are clocked for invisibility and travel by anti-gravity levitation or, on more difficult terrain, on mechanical legs. The former may reach speeds of about 1000 kph, the latter 400 kph (less on difficult terrain). If heavier firepower is required, then they may deploy heavy battle-robots or firepower from an orbiting starship.

Robonauts are not invincible, however. Any means of slowing down their charging troopers will give the enemy valuable time to react. Corridors and barricades will slow them down, allowing multiple hits against each trooper (most small arms require multiple hits to penetrate Robonaut armor). Inertial force fields have proven effective in this respect. Heavy proton cannons are perhaps the most effective infantry weapon for penetrating Robonaut defensive screens and armor, and if set-up to deliver a crossfire this can be an effective defense.

The Robonauts were defeated in the battle of Taros-Minor by the development of a neural toxin which effected Malosian neurotransmission, however, the Roboanuts have since developed counter-measures to this. The latest war-bots, such as the Cybex warbot 7000 series are effective against Robonauts, but expensive. Fire support from orbiting warships will certainly slow their advance, though Robonaut units are typically equipped with a number of micro-satellites which can be rapidly launched by microwave beams and long-range heavy lasers, but these can not match the firepower of a heavy warship. However, Robonaut warships are formidable and it is best to avoid pitched space battles with them. Robonaut troopers will begin to lose their advantages in a prolonged battle without supplies. Their power-banks and ammunitions will eventually drain, forcing them to rely on more basic weaponry, such as laser blades and electro-knives, though their great strength and agility makes melee with Robonaut troopers extremely dangerous. When their power-banks drain they will also slow down to more modest speeds. Robonauts feel no pain as such (they can sense damage but will react logically towards it) and if damaged then they may retreat or continue fighting as they judge appropriate, until their total destruction if need be, however, they will slow when damaged. Sonic mines and sonic grenades may damage their soft tissues without breaching their armor, although their armor has a damping system to defend against such weaponry however these weapons can be useful in slowing them down.

Will the Robonauts prevail?

Some may question the UGA directives to destroy beings like the Arcturans and Malosians, claiming that makes us no better than them. However, one has to be pragmatic. Robonauts are programmed with the unshakable belief that their ensured ultimate survival depends on destroying all other sentient beings. They may form transient treaties and coexist peaceable with others for a time, but only until they have the advantage. They can not be trusted and can not be reasoned with since their logical processes are poisoned by the single premise that war is the only path to ultimate survival.  Though the UGA never delights in destruction, there is nothing to be gained by sympathizing with the Malosians. Their power must be kept in check. Cronodon is now, of necessity, instrumental in helping to ensure this. Cronodon is reaching out across the galaxies in an attempt to contact new civilizations so as to forge new alliances. Only by such an alliance can the Universe be assured of a future for its many inhabitants. There are those who believe that the Robonauts will one day dominate the known Universe, whilst others are more optimistic: waging war without necessity surely has only one ultimate result - destruction! The Robonaut philosophy is fundamentally flawed. Even if they destroy the UGA, Cronodon and planets like Earth, then others will stand against them. The Universe is too vast to ever be conquered and those who make war on all and sundry will surely find themselves eventually defeated.

Robonaut invasion of Earth?

Attacking a heavily populated planet is never a simple matter, even one as technologically primitive as the Earth. Earth is far away in space, far from the Malosians and it is unlikely they would be interested in such a remote and primitive planet. Had Earth been much closer, then perhaps they would absorb it into the boundaries of their empire by natural colonization. However, let us suppose that the Robonauts saw a future timeline in which Earthlings developed at such a rate that they posed a potential threat, albeit probably small, and decided to nip the problem 'in the bud'.  How might they dispose of Earthlings and how might Earthlings resist? To begin with, such a potential threat would probably be low priority to the Robonauts, and so it is improbable that a spacefleet will arrive to sterilize the surface of the Earth, unless the planet happened to be in their flight path. Instead, they would probably dispatch a single assault scout: a small warship some 30 meters in length, perhaps carrying a hundred troops and 10 warbots. It would be cloaked, so that earth-bound sensors are highly unlikely to detect it. It would have the capacity to manufacture perhaps a hundred more troopers. If a longer mission was planned, then the warship might be accompanied by a small mining craft to mine the Moon for resources to enable more troops and warbots to be manufactured.

It is possible this warship will simply begin a full-scale assault , but alternatively they may simply release neural-control agents to target key leaders. This may require intelligence-gathering, perhaps dispatching a landing-party or probe by stealth to conduct thorough biological analyses of Earthlings in order to understand their biology. Additionally, based upon a detailed computer analysis of intercepted Earth transmissions whilst the warship was approaching from light-years away, key leaders could be identified and their most likely locations ascertained. They may then release small robots, resembling Earth insects, but each capable of injecting an intelligent neural control agent of biological nature. This bioengineered organism would grow as a network around the brain, rewiring itself until it achieved its desired aim of taking control. If successful, then they would simply redirect the future history of Earth development, suppressing technological innovation and keeping Earth trapped in a primitive state. However, there is always the risk that a detailed brain scan may reveal the neural agent.

Let us consider the option of an all-out assault. This may follow a failed attempt to gain control of world leaders, for example, or it may simply be to save time - the longer the warship remains engaged in orbit, the more this resource is detracted from other potential missions. Such an assault may be preceded by an attempt to assassinate world leaders and military generals. Again, insect-like robots or bioengineered organisms would be programmed to identify and locate key leaders. Upon locating a target they would inject a lethal toxin, perhaps a tailor-made neural toxin. Only by retreating beforehand to a bunker, secure enough to stop a cockroach getting in, and staying there for at least a year, might these leaders be safe. Alternatively, the Robonauts may rapidly interrupt communications by destroying all communications satellites (which could be done in about 20 minutes at most) and severing oceanic cables and jamming radars. This strategy is risky as it will raise the alarm and would be timed to coincide with an attacking force.

Troopers would land in shuttles, using invisibility cloaks. One or two troopers may be dispatched to each key government establishment to gain control or destroy them. Likely targets include the White House, the EU Parliament and the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. At the same time, three or four troopers might be dispatched to each key military base, attacking at speed, using invisibility. Even if the invisibility was foiled (such as by broad-spectrum computer-enhanced detection hardware, or simply by using paint bombs) the Robonaut troopers would still be formidable. Moving at great speed and with great agility they would likely over-run most bases within a couple of hours. Heavy machine guns and anti-tank missiles and rockets may subdue a Robonaut trooper, but they would have to be brought to bear en mass. Tank guns could potentially work, but it would be very hard to hit a target moving as fast and with such agility as a Robonaut trooper, which would aim to initially knock out a tank's sensors before delivering multiple blows to the rear, where the tank's armor is weakest.

If a well-equipped base organized itself fast enough and the Robonauts found themselves overwhelmed, then they may utilize one of their warbots. Even if one such warbot was surrounded by a thousand armored units, then it would probably destroy a hundred of these before being overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of fire. Rapid-fire laser bombardment from the mothership in orbit could also rapidly destroy ten or so armored units in a single volley, and within a second of their detection. Attacking aircraft can be similarly dealt with. Attack helicopters could potentially destroy a Robonaut trooper, but again they would probably struggle against such an agile target, but if necessary, warbots or space-ground support would destroy them rapidly. It would take a massive coordinated missile strike to breach a warbot's anti-missile defenses. Robonaut troopers would use proton cannons and warbots to break down any tough defenses, such as the partitioning walls and security doors of the Pentagon.

Realistically, some bases may manage to thwart such an attack. They might simply overwhelm the enemy with vastly superior numbers, or entrap the enemy by means of high explosives or ingenuity. Those that remained a viable threat would be dealt with by shore bombardment from the orbiting warship, but this would take time. If successful in eliminating government offices, communications and key military bases, then the Robonauts would likely give the Earth an ultimatum to surrender or face annihilation. If the earth surrendered then it would be prevented from developing free-thinking science and instead its resources would be funneled into manufacturing equipment for the Robonaut's to secure their position and rapidly reproduce and strengthen their position. Earth people might carry on almost as normal for a time, but sooner or later the entire planet would be subjugated into slavery and maybe the human race would be exterminated when the Robonauts were in sufficient number to accomplish this with relative ease.

If, however, Earth refused to submit, then the Robonauts would unleash phase two of the assault - massive chemical and biological warfare, or they may be economical and simply hold Earth to ransom with its own nuclear warheads from captured silos. Perhaps the Earth would consider launching its own nuclear warheads, either targeted to the mothership or tactical warheads targeted at captured establishments. The former might buy time, but the missiles would be too slow to breach the mothership's anti-missile laser defenses. If necessary the mothership would outrun any missiles while its laser battery picked them off (in rapid fire mode) or until they detonated or ran out of fuel to maneuver.  A strike against Robonaut held establishments would be more effective, though collateral damage would be considerable. However, remember that the small assault scout mothership can manufacture a second waves of troopers in a matter of days and by now they would be standing by and Earth would likely still have no means of locating any shuttle craft for interception. There is a small chance, however, that the attack would be successfully repulsed, in which case the Robonauts would likely resort to weapons of mass destruction, such as biological weapons or by calling reinforcements for neutron bombardment.

Bioid spore generators Biological weapons

Malosians excel in bioengineering. They have been known to release bioengineered spores into the atmospheres of planets to initiate infection. These spores typically have complex life-cycles, making them hard to predict and deal with. For example, one such strain released on the dimly-lit world of Dalion-Omega-2 caused a virulent and rapidly fatal form of encephalitis in the planet's inhabitants. The organism had an alternative life-cycle, however, in which spores gave rise to fungus-like growths which generated more of the aerial spores. The inhabitants tried in vain to eradicate the organism whose infectious spores became increasingly abundant. Where food was plentiful, such as a rotting corpse, the growing organism took on another form: a motile semi-humanoid equipped with stinging, infectious tentacles which would actively seek out any surviving inhabitants. However, the Robonauts had overlooked one potential weakness.

Malosian bioid

Above: a synthetic life-form or bioid.

Designed for Dalion's dim star-light, the organism and its spores lacked screening pigments. Once they realized this, the inhabitants could set-up sterilized areas protected by screens of UV light, whilst UV lasers were able to destroy the motile spore-carriers. Remaining cities could now be protected. Eventually the remaining spores will lose their viability, but large regions of the planet presently remain uninhabitable.

Would Earth survive such a biological attack? Robonaut's also have no qualms about using chemical weapons. They would be quite prepared to poison any planet they did not wish to inhabit themselves, perhaps with polonium-warheads. What about radiation? A small warship does not carry enough nuclear warheads to irradiate an entire planet, but if the Earth was still considered a potential threat and had resisted all these attacks, then the Robonauts would simply commit more resources to the problem. Perhaps they would assign a single light-cruiser, fitted for planetary attack, clearly a valuable warship they would not detach from fleet maneuvers lightly, but still less than 1% of their fleet's resources. Such a vessel could bring its neutron batteries to bear, irradiating some 20 square kilometers of the Earth's surface each second in acutely lethal neutron radiation, and ten times that area would receive doses of radiation lethal in a day or two (by which time much of the neutron radiation will have decayed). Rapid fire laser batteries could also destroy whole cities by creating fire-storms. Earth's only option at this stage would be to issue a distress call, but with radio waves traveling no faster than light, who would hear such a distress call in time, so far away in space?

Cephalodome brain Robonaut Allies?

Not all Malosians are Robonauts proper! In addition to the bipedal forms, derived by genetic engineering from their jellyfish-like ancestors, there is another product of Robonaut genetic engineering which is often used to operate machinery and for other maintenance tasks. These are the Cephalodomes, often recognizable as Robonaut-like exoskeletons with transparent dome-like heads with an organic neural mass within. These organisms are really little more than tentacled-brains. They have four large tentacles which are used for anchorage and six smaller tentacles which can interface optically with various control devices, including exoskeletons and heavy equipment. They have been replaced by robots operated by quantum-core processors in many applications. However, they are still extensively used, perhaps where an organic control system has certain advantages, such as ease of production, or perhaps because 

the Malosians do not believe in relying on single technologies (they deem this a potential weakness) and perhaps because they consider them part of themselves. Malosians are ever inventive in discovering different ways of doing things. An alternative theory points to Cephalodome history and suggests that they are a species in their own right existing in symbiosis with the Robonauts. Early explorers, crash-landing on the planet Malos, found a dry, barren and desert planet blasted by catastrophic climate change and past wars as their old civilzation collapsed to be replaced by the new. Not all was at peace, however, in this radiated wasteland. These space explorers encountered a remnant of an opposing force: Cephalodome-like organisms, products of early Malosian bio-engineering experimentation before they settled on their final form. These creatures had escaped from Robonaut laboratories intent on one purpose: to destroy the compassionless Robonauts. These early Cephalodomes (called Cephalotrons by early explorers) retained essentially normal emotions, including empathy, and saw the threat posed to all sentient life by the newly space-faring Robonauts.

Cephalodome

Above: a Cephalodome. These curious creatures were originally thought to be a different race allied to the Robonauts. Indeed, their genetics are appreciably different, but they have common ancestry and have been produced by genetic engineering. They consist of a massive brain, covered by a thin membrane, equipped with a small conical trunk and a number of tentacles. This one is inside a typical exoskeleton, but others are embedded inside various machines which they operate. They were reportedly an early experiment in genetic engineering.

These rebels were vastly outnumbered, but with their enhanced brains they were immensely inventive and somehow persisted despite Robonaut attempts to exterminate them. That said, they were sometimes overlooked; as the Robonauts were moving out from Malos, colonizing space, so their homeworld was now of reduced importance. Finally facing annihilation, the last remaining rebels apparently activated a neutron missile which had been part salvaged from the arsenal used in past civil-wars on Malos (competition grew as natural resources evaporated and also not all factions yielded peacefully to the mind-control virus) and part manufactured. The result was yet another great irradiation of Malos. Many Robonauts perished and so did the last of the rebel Cepahlotrons.

The Robonauts perfected their bio-engineering, and despite these costly failures a stable form of organic brain was engineered and even given the task of running many essential systems, whilst Robonauts concentrated on warfare with other planets. Some analysts hypothesize that the Cephalodomes, despite losing the emotions which had caused their 'instability', had nevertheless infiltrated the Robonaut computer network and reprogrammed it to make themselves acceptable to Robonauts. Now both Malosian variants coexist and continue to function together seamlessly. Robonauts have since generated and experimented with other biological variants of themselves.

Update

Analysis of computer memory banks retrieved from the ruins of Malos by a recent covert reconnaissance has revealed new information regarding the development of the Cephalodomes and their relations to the Robonauts. Robonaut tissues generally consist of syncitia of binucleate units. It turns out that one of these nuclei was derived from a separate organism that fused with the ancestor of the Robonauts to form a chimera. Malosian genetic engineers experimented with separating the two nuclei and reconstructing missing functions (in part with the help of cybernetics) as both nuclei had degenerated through the course of evolution as they became dependent on one another's functions. The result of separating out the second nucleus and cloning it was the Cepahlotron race. In Robonauts today the second nucleus is largely synthetic, encoding functionality added by Malosian synbio engineers.

The Malosians continued to experiment with the Cephalotrons as they considered them as belonging to their own race, but in the context of an inferior caste. Following the Cepahlotron rebellion, Malosians continued their experiments and eventually generated the Cephalodomes as a separate caste. It is not entirely clear why Robonauts continue the Cephalodome line, but possibly they simply consider them a part of themselves or perhaps they still have some need of their considerable intelligence.

Article updated: 25 Sep 2015, 27 Nov 2021