The alien and terrifying Arachnids are considered the greatest threat to humanity the Federation has ever faced. Insect in origin and possessed of phenomenal strength, Arachnids are hostile to any lifeform not their own. Brutal, deadly and remorseless, they are the target of the most extensive warfare the Federation has ever practised.
It has never been determined how long the Arachnids have existed in their present form or how long their empire has dominated their region of the galaxy. Indeed, the term ‘empire’ is a purely human designation, a suitable word to describe the evils of the Arachnid’s ruthless taking of worlds which harkens back to Earth’s own imperialistic history. Though the Federation already spans light years, Mankind is only just setting foot outside of his own tiny realm in the galaxy. It is perhaps unfortunate that the Arachnids were so close.
It is therefore left to speculation as to how many other alien races and intelligent civilisations there are in the entire galaxy. The Arachnids and Skinnies have both been identiﬁed but what lies beyond their far borders can only be guessed at. Are there ever greater wonders left in the galaxy or will Mankind one day discover the Arachnids have already spread from rim to rim and now humanity is ﬁghting for the liberty of the last free corner of the stars?
It cannot be doubted that the Arachnids are already responsible for the extermination of entire races, perhaps even other empires, but Mankind is wrapped in its own desperate struggle for survival. The universe has revealed itself to be an unfriendly place and a battle of the species is taking place that only one race will walk away from.
Throughout the history of the Arachnid species, their survival has depended chieﬂy on one factor – more than evolution, more than power, more than skill. Sheer numbers. It is often assumed that the fact the Arachnids survived and became such a mighty evolutionary dreadnought is due mostly to the bugs’ astounding ability to expand, multiply and reproduce.
An Arachnid colony is pre-programmed to expand and conquer the environment at any cost. Should the growth of the community ﬁnd speciﬁc challenges, such as extreme cold, unsuitable terrain or other inherent dangers, the colony immediately adapts to breed the sub-species required to overcome adversity. After the problem has been dealt with, the colony continues its advance over the planet’s surface, until it has taken over the entire world.
The Arachnids continue to spread through the galaxy via the scattering of colonies. Typically, a small colony is created from the eggs and bugs carried on spore or within a transport bug. The colony grows and spawns more colonies. When several colonies have been created, the strongest will grow and absorb the others, turning the entire planet into what is effectively a single Arachnid colony, though it will have several nodes and strong points made from former colonies. This colony will then emit spores to create new colonies among other planets in the system before ﬁ nally developing one or more transport bugs to carry the Arachnids to new stars.
SICON measures the power and inﬂuence Arachnids have on any given planet via levels of infestation. Arachnids depend on numbers and expansion for survival, so the larger and more populated a colony, the greater the level of infestation and the stronger the Arachnids’ dominance over the planet. There are three levels of Arachnid planetary infestation (Infected, Compromised and Bug Central), which is known as the Arachnid Infestation Index (AII code).
Arachnid Infestation Index (AII)
The presence of Arachnids on a planet is classified by SICON with the Arachnid Infestation Index (AII). There are three levels of Arachnid planetary infestation, which defines how long the Arachnid presence has been expanding across the planet – they are divided into Infected, Compromised and Bug Central.
A planet is considered ‘Infected’ when there are one or more Arachnid colonies on its surface and they are just starting to expand. Native species, if any, are still dominant on the world and the presence of Arachnids may still be undetected.
Arachnid infestation of a planet begins here. Spore capsules or a transport bug arrives on the planet’s surface and the Arachnids begin to expand their areas of control. Detailed analysis of the planet’s surface can detect the presence of bugs by discovering small patches of devastation near their landing site. However, it can be quite hard to find the Arachnid presence and much harder to locate their small colonies.
The first couple of colonies have matured and begun to spread their influence, aiming to expand quickly before the world is alerted to their presence. The first Arachnid warriors and workers are already making increasingly daring raids on the environment, identifying the dangers in the ecosystem, including rivals among indigenous life. The first brain bugs appear, their individual growth closely linked to everything they learn and assimilate from the surrounding environment. If a dangerous life form is identified, its habits, strength and weaknesses are assessed and studied by the brainbugs, so measures can be taken to reduce their power (such as attacking their food sources or giving specialised abilities to future warrior bug swarms).
The presence of the Arachnids becomes more perceptible. The most dangerous native species has been identified and systematically slaughtered. Wholly devastated ecosystems become more evident in small areas, which is primarily what makes the presence of Arachnids more obvious.
A planet is considered ‘Compromised’ when several colonies are present, to the point the Arachnid presence cannot be ignored any longer. The colonies have begun to breed specialised orevolved sub-species and environmental damage can be seen from space. All of the Arachnids’ main contenders in the food chain have become a target for constant harassment, to the point of extermination.
At this point, colonies are capable of expanding very rapidly. Attacks on other life forms have multiplied and the planet’s ecosystem has been irreparably altered.
Now comes the last onslaught on the planet’s strongest species, after which the Arachnids can proliferate freely without interference. Devastated areas have extended so much that entrances to Arachnid colonies can be found with relatively little effort.
‘Bug Central’ is a planet completely dominated by Arachnids, its natural ecosystems virtually eliminated and its landmasses occupied by colonies.
Most other life forms have been eliminated from the planet’s surfaces. Devastated zones are becoming larger than non-infested areas.
The majority of the planet’s surface is devastated, merging into a single ever-growing Arachnid colony, resembling Klendathu more as time passes.
The surface of the planet is a wasteland. Nothing remains of the original ecology and the only organic landscape features are Arachnid colonies and swarms of bugs on the land and in the sky. By the end of phase three, there is effectively just one giant colony, all others having merged into this one.This colony is a single, immense network of underground passages connecting the entire planet. At least one queen bug will almost certainly have beenbred by this time. After phase three has been achieved, spores and transport bugs are sent to nearby planets, which continues the process of Arachnid expansion across space.