ENTRY 256: Urvinoids
Outside of the Factors, the most intelligent extraterrestrial species that transhumanity has yet come across are the Urvinoids (so named by Charles Babbage Urvine) of Piazza III, accessible through the Vulcanoid Gate. However, it is a rather different and unexpected sort of intelligence, since the Urvinoids are half-kiloton slug-like entities which quite literally think with their stomachs.
Exobiologists who have dissected dead Urvinoids have discovered that the species has developed highly specialized types of nervous tissue analogues which are concentrated into two masses—one, which is roughly equivalent to what humans consider a brain, is rather primitive and handles the basics of optical processing, movement, pain response, mating instincts, and most non-digestive autonomous and voluntary action; higher cognition is not on the menu. The Urvinoid digestive system on the other hand is a highly complicated collection of specialized glands, stomachs, bladders, pockets of captured digestive symbiotic bacteria, and less identifiable organs, all interconnected by mucous-lined interconnected muscular intestines lined with sensor cells and neural fibers to a series of 8-10 neural masses, each of which is twice the size of the Urvinoids’ “brain.”
As far as anyone can make out, the Urvinoid digestive system is a highly intelligent hive mind whose sole interest and purpose is to figure out how to digest whatever the Urvinoid eats, which is anything—including many materials like rocks, scrap metal, synthmorphs, and atomic batteries which are not normally considered edible. Proof of the Urvinoids’ internal intelligence occurred when said atomic battery was recognized as a possibly-digestible-but-definitely-bad-idea-to-do-so item and quickly ejected, which was a very unexpected and slightly traumatic experience for the Urvinoid in question, as their digestive processes are usually so very long and efficient that waste disposal is typically a minimal affair. Researchers from the university on Titan at Piazza II have been experimenting with feeding Urvinoids messages in hopes of establishing relations with their digestive hive-minds, but have not reported any success.
- Charles Babbage Urvine is convinced that the Urvinoids once had a great civilization, and even dealt with the Factors, and that proof lies deep within their primordial swamps, fungus forests, and slime pits of Piazza II. However, Charles Babbage Urvine is also a certified loon that thinks drinking Urvinoid urine will make him immortal and who keeps a small (5 kg) Urvinoidling on a leash with him at all times. Still, his cred is good and there’s plenty of rep to be had from exploring an exoplanet if the PCs can put up with him for a few weeks.
- The Urvinoids, despite being the largest and most efficient eaters on their planet, are something of an endangered species—the population in the wild is estimated to be no more than 5,000, and has fallen quite a bit due to interaction with transhumans. However, there lies an interesting bit: most Urvinoids have learned that eating transhumans is not a good thing, even if they can digest them, and the bulk of the population has learned to quickly expel any transhumans or parts of transhumans that they ingest. However, one 2-kiloton monster Urvinoid has not learned its lesson, and actively seems to be hunting gatecrashers. The PCs are offered a 50,000 credit reward for its live capture, so that the researchers can figure out why.