The Exiled

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Played by Shard in Unused

"We are the Exiled. Feed us."

May 3rd, 17th day. Surveyers have still found no trace of the node that brought us here. Beginning to lose hope of ever seeing Earth again. Distracting myself with the graveyard.

Fascinating thing. Not sure how many ships are here, since many seem to blend into each other. I'd think they were silicon-based lifeforms, but scans clearly show them to be artificially built, and the one or two older hulks that we boarded were designed to be crewed. Not yet gained access to the younger vessels.

The language is unlike anything I've ever seen. No human language on record even resembles it, and there's no clues for translating it. Left the main ship quickly, felt distinctly creepy, so working with the recordings and holograms.

Ship itself is massive, far beyond anything we've ever conceived of building. Best part of forty kilometres in length, and incredibly advanced. Strangest thing is that it contains substantial cargo bays and processing facilities; like some sort of giant scavenger or mineral harvester. Why anyone would build a harvester on such a scale puzzles me...

May 10th, 24th day. Settling into fact of never seeing home or standing on solid ground again. Throwing myself into my work. There have been a few suicides, morale plummetting, but most are surviving with the stress.

Been studying the alien hulks in more detail. Finally got access to one of the smaller craft. Very strange - completely different design, clearly not designed to be crewed. No bridge, only maintenance systems. Compared it with the larger ships, noticed similarities and areas where the older vessels had apparently been retrofitted to match. Same extensive cargo bays. Have a few theories, but nothing definite...

May 28th, 42nd day. Finally isolated the power core of the flagship, Fear as it's been nicknamed. Far beyond us, but seems to be in good condition. No idea of how it works, but Ralph believes that it's not actually dead, just dormant. Saving power. Absurd. Scans clearly show Fear is nearly a hundred thousand years old, how could it be functional now...

June 5th, 50th day. Looks like Ralph was right. Reading power build-up all over the fleet. Mass panic, but we're appealing for calm. Not sure I believe it myself. We could be in trouble.

June 6th, 51st day. Only a hundred of us left. They tore the Vermillion into pieces and ate it, barely got out alive. Escorts tried to fight, got eaten for their trouble. Not sure why they haven't hit this wreck of a survey ship yet. Maybe not tasty enough. They're certainly mining the remains of the fleet intently. No wonder we didn't find any minerals in the area.

June 7th, 52nd day. Been observing the scavengers. Think I've worked it out. The original vessels were built by some long-forgotten race, but everything else was built by the originals. Something like social insects. Been watching 'mother' ships taking in minerals harvested by others, then spitting out little, new ships. Not sure if they're intelligent.

June 8th, 53rd day. One of the harvesters is watching us. Just sitting a few metres away. Everyone's terrified.

June 9th, 54th day. They're all shutting down. Not sure why we've been left alone. Perh

(From the notes of Dr Ostermann @ Xenoscientist of the Vermillion expedition)

The Exiled are a strange, ancient force of intelligent warships with only one purpose: to expand and feed. Although they seem to operate on pure instinct, the smaller ships particularly, the older ones display a deep cunning that implies they are much more than some ancient weapon or mining tool gone wrong.

Where they come from, only they themselves know. What is certain is that they are tens of thousands of years old, and have been moving from system to system whenever a nodestorm occurs, feeding and growing on whatever they find.

To face the Exiled is to face an intelligent locust swarm. A smart one, one that can be dealt with, negotiated with, even allied with... but nonetheless, a locust swarm...

Exiled Fleet

Exiled ships are a mishmash of technologies, many apparently adapted from roles they were never meant to serve. Many of their ships have extensive cargo holds and limited mineral processing capability, and their weapons are undeniably effective. It is also curious to note that although no life signs are present aboard any Exiled ships, and indeed most do not even have room for ordinary crew to board, they tend to display far more cunning and inventiveness than even some AIs can demonstrate.