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The Harvester - A Meklar Short Story


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GeneralDirection #1 Posted 16 March 2016 - 08:23 PM

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Welcome to the latest in our short story series, this time focused on the Meklar that are coming in Early Access 2. Please feel free to ask questions about Meklar lore in the comments, and let us know what you think of the story!
 

The Harvester by Kelsey Howard, Creative Writer at Wargaming Austin

[Incoming transmission from Biological Growth Facility, Alpha District, Meklon Prime. Time stamp: Third Day, Sixth Sun Cycle. Urgency level: Moderate. Transmission Entity: AM-715, designation Harvester-class unit.]

[Transmission received.]

[Outgoing message]Unit is now directly connected to the Overseer Module of the Combine. Please reduce outside non-essential communications chatter. State your business. 

[Incoming message]Unit designation further addressed as “Harvester” reporting on abnormalities at Organic Cloning Facility Epsilon Seven. All data included. Authority overrides allowed to unit have been implemented. No further immediate action needed from Overseer. Data for archival and potential re-programming review only. 

Transcription of video and logic pathway data transferring to mainframe now…

… Loading… 

The building, a spiraling compound packed with Meklar scientific research units, was just one of a number of indistinguishable structures within this district. Wires poured from the walls while constantly updating databases could be heard whirring ominously from somewhere vaguely “below.” The Harvester noted the ancient modules still being used in this facility and wondered at their potential need for hardware updates. 

The Harvester moved freely in the facility, the only physically independent Meklar unit in the upper levels of the building—all others were tethered to the walls. The security systems recognized the Harvester’s high-level clearance and authority over all biological programs, allowing unrestricted access. No door, node, or data was blocked from its access within these walls. 

The Harvester manually plugged into the building’s local communication channels, noting no logs requiring immediate intervention. 

When the Harvester moved to the central elevator located in the heart of the structure, the sliding doors detected its presence and opened without hesitation. The elevator jolted to life; the decades of infrequent use were taking a toll on the response time of the system. The Harvester added a medium-level work order to be transmitted for an Infrastructure Maintenance Team to inspect the elevator during the next general inspection. 

The lower levels were devoted to the cloning of the organic Meklar. Security protocols here, both physical and digital, were some of the strictest in the empire, devoted to protecting one of the oldest secrets of the Combine. The living organic beings housed within critical Meklar hubs were cloned and grown at facilities such as these that were hidden across the Combine’s reach. 

These organic beings had built the first Meklar in a time prior to the Meklar’s detailed historical logs, long before their memory capabilities were advanced enough to preserve their past. The origins of these beings were now long lost, but their indelible fingerprints were all over the core hardware infrastructure of the Combine. Whoever they were, their sophisticated programming was nothing short of brilliance—to this day the Meklar were unable to purge them from core systems. 

The Harvester’s role was to ensure these beings remained physically healthy and genetically pure so that no systems which utilized these organics as “nerves” would be compromised. Their compatibility with the oldest Meklar systems could not be jeopardized. Incompatibility breeds errors, an unacceptable concept to the Combine. 

The elevator reached the lowest level, kept at minimum operational levels of brightness in order to not disturb the organics. Dimly illuminated tubes held small, blue-skinned creatures within. They looked like they were sleeping, although the Meklar did not fully understand the need for sleep. Specialized Meklar units on slender humanoid legs strode purposefully on this level, inspecting various monitors and keeping a careful eye on the organics. The organics rested without any sign of conscious movement, each with a dozen closed eyes and relaxed tentacles that hung lazily in the suspension of the fluid. 

The Harvester approached one of the caretaker units, held it still, and passed it a communication cord. The caretaker plugged it into the back of its head. The Harvester began to access all of the logs that had not yet been uploaded to the facility node.

This unit had noticed the anomalous alertness of the organics. At this development stage this batch was showing 40% more brainwave activity than normal. All vital readings were within acceptable ranges, but something nonstandard had been identified in this cluster of organics. The caretaker units in this facility were not equipped with the judgement capabilities to move forward with this issue; thus the deployment of a rare Harvester. 

The Harvester disconnected and allowed the other unit to continue its work. The Harvester moved to the biological read-out panels and began pulling them forward to analyze the available data. All other traits appeared to be within nominal parameters. All readings were normal, healthy even. Looking to the organics, they did not seem to be outwardly abnormal. The Harvester manually entered a command on the panel, activating a painful shock to the tubes nearest to him. 

The organics did not physically flinch, and their vital signs did not respond to the pain stimuli. This was unusual. Was it a negative development? The Meklar had been cloning the organics for thousands of years, watching over their strange makers with a care and reverence that seemed incongruous for machines. They had preserved the ancient DNA, breeding the creatures into perfectly passive parts of the ancient machines, treating them as merely a different form of tubing or gears. This batch’s aberrantly high brain activity was inconsequential in itself; the organics were not required to think. However, this associated mutation, the newly found resistance to physical pain, might help resolve issues of burnout in the organics—possibly enhancing their capabilities. 

The Combine was bound as one consciousness and the Harvester was certain that whatever decision it made would be fully backed by the Combine. Moments like this gave the Harvester pause, as the development of this unusual batch of organics might have longstanding benefits and detriments to the Combine as a whole. A judgement call had to be made. 

The organics were a messy and unpleasant part of Meklar life, yet the ancient machines relied on these archaic nodes to preserve the old data. The Meklar had phased the organics out of most machines, but the ones that could never go offline still needed them. These living nodes were an essential part of the oldest technologies of the Combine. 

Change, whether it was positive or negative, might prove problematic, even fatal, to existing systems. 

The Harvester evaluated the potential risks and benefits in mere fractions of a second. With no hesitation, it input new commands on the biological read-out panels. A dark, viscous liquid bloomed within the containers. The organics continued to sleep even as they were slowly obscured from view. The sensors flashed fatal warnings for a moment, and then darkened. The servitor units smoothly began to dismantle the equipment to prepare for a new crop of clones to be grown.

[Final analysis for the Overseer’s Logs.]

The creatures had been compromised at a genetic level. The Meklar cannot allow such a risk to be introduced into the Combine’s most valuable systems. A brief survey of the additional cloning facilities shows all systems running at optimum efficiency and no trace of this error repeating at other locations. Amniotic fluids are mineral rich and pure. All current clones are from known stable DNA progenitor groups with no observed degradation. The mutation cannot be logically traced or resolved, so the Alpha District facility clone cultures have been purged. Replacement stock will be sent from Epsilon District.

Change breeds the potential for errors. While the defective organics of the affected facility might have had advantages over the pure-strain products, the risks could not be allowed. For the Combine. 

[Message complete. Transmission ends.]

Vahouth #2 Posted 16 March 2016 - 08:51 PM

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A very interesting insight on the Meklar. It seems to me though that this is quite a departure from the first 2 games, as the organics are not in control but rather another piece of hardware stored in safe installations, that the machines don't want removed because they fear that would spell their doom.

A small, blue skinned creature with a dozen eyes, tentacles and a brain plug.

That being said, I wonder how the Meklar reproduction is handled in the game.



calitexa #3 Posted 16 March 2016 - 08:57 PM

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View PostVahouth, on 16 March 2016 - 02:51 PM, said:

A very interesting insight on the Meklar. It seems to me though that this is quite a departure from the first 2 games, as the organics are not in control but rather another piece of hardware stored in safe installations, that the machines don't want removed because they fear that would spell their doom.

A small, blue skinned creature with a dozen eyes, tentacles and a brain plug.

That being said, I wonder how the Meklar reproduction is handled in the game.

 

That's true - there was a pretty major shift in the Meklar compared to other races. Personally, I know a lot of the writing came from art concepts and the current depictions of the race. Meklar don't really reproduce so much as they are built or cloned (in the lore)... but of course there are limitations on those procedures which slow the growth of the race.

 

EDIT: Okay, I NOW realize you said in-game, haha. I meant reproduction in the lore, whoops! Sorry! 


Edited by calitexa, 16 March 2016 - 09:06 PM.


Vahouth #4 Posted 16 March 2016 - 09:15 PM

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The organics and the machines cannot be called parts of the same race though IMHO. Just like in the Matrix, where humans filled almost the same role.



calitexa #5 Posted 16 March 2016 - 09:23 PM

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I see your point, Vahouth! In the lore, these organics have an identity which is separate from the Meklar (which will be revealed in time) and I could see the argument that they are a different race. However, they are considered Meklar because they are a major part of the system. They have also been bred to be utterly passive and are really no more than nodes in the Meklar infrastructure. It's definitely in the gray realm of definitions which is one of the reasons I think the Meklar are so interesting and unique. 

11171971 #6 Posted 16 March 2016 - 09:27 PM

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View PostVahouth, on 16 March 2016 - 08:51 PM, said:

A very interesting insight on the Meklar. It seems to me though that this is quite a departure from the first 2 games, as the organics are not in control but rather another piece of hardware stored in safe installations, that the machines don't want removed because they fear that would spell their doom.

A small, blue skinned creature with a dozen eyes, tentacles and a brain plug.

That being said, I wonder how the Meklar reproduction is handled in the game.

 

Seems like a natural progression from the game that shall not be named that split the cybernetic races into Meklar and Cynoid with the Cynoid being the MoO2 style organics in suits cybernetic race if I remember correctly. It also fits with Meklar being generally more aggressive.

 

(On a complete tangent I'm rooting for Cynoid and Nommo to show up eventually.) 



Vahouth #7 Posted 16 March 2016 - 09:39 PM

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So apart from the "ancient machines" that cannot go offline and still need the organics, no one else in their society is entitled to be called a cybernetic organism. Correct?

And a couple of questions about their in-game inner workings.

How is their collective thought represented in game mechanics? Is that any different from the Klackon hive mind?



Ozymandyus #8 Posted 16 March 2016 - 10:12 PM

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View PostVahouth, on 16 March 2016 - 09:39 PM, said:

How is their collective thought represented in game mechanics? Is that any different from the Klackon hive mind?

 

That's an interesting point.  In actual function, the Meklar society more closely resembles the Klackon one than any of the others.  Wonder if that will be reflected in diplomatic relations?




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