Far back in the legends of the Kai’Siri people, there was an ancient war with the planet Bruticus, its Terran name, a gigantic world with extreme gravity and home to a diminutive but hardy intelligent species.
The Kai’Siri, or course, forbid the naming of this world in their own language, such is its reputation.
Bruticus is an interdicted world in a forbidden area in the territory of the old Second Exarchate. The Kai’Siri have never been able to fully conquer the natives, and this understandably sits poorly with them.
Bruticus handed the Kai’Siri perhaps their worst defeat in a war lasting almost a hundred years, when the natives made use of the planet’s strong gravity and multiple large moons, routing the humans of Sirug and resulting in the death by suicide of nearly all of the defeated army, too shamed to return home and live with their defeat.
The current Kai’Siri civilization has scant records of the war, given the collapse of the Second Exarchate following the Shutter. Bruticus remains isolated by time, location, and oddly enough for a rationalist culture like the Kai’Siri, a hint of superstitious dread, the inhabitants shrouded in mystery.
It is only with the development of Kurtz-Dunar technology for riding gravity wells in the Second Exarchate and afterward that contact between natives and Kai’Siri has become possible again.
What of fact?
Bruticus is an enormous world, more rocky than gaseous, though with a thick atmosphere rich in hydrogen, methane, and ammonia fairly far from its star but warm enough to allow for life using complex hydrocarbons with reductive metabolisms using respiration of hydrogen.
Bruticans, who call themselves Phlaathaq, resemble something between large Terran sand-fleas and millipedes in shape, and are built low to the ground to avoid dangerous short-distance falls in the strong gravity well.
Bruticus has a slightly ovoid shape because of its spin, with stronger gravity near the poles and lighter at the equator, about 12 Terran gravities on average.
Phlaathaq have a clever sort of biotechnology at their disposal, using stock from native organisms bred to specific functions, and often engineered to purpose using other organisms bred for that function.
Case in point are the ballistic dendromorphs, tentacled, ambulatory, tree-like mollusk analogs whose central body cavities are largely filled with a biochemical solid rocket propellant based on the combustion of chlorine and hydrogen. These serve as a means of travel off of Bruticus, and produce enough thrust to reach an impressive escape velocity with less than three Terran days to reach the outermost of the five moons.
Think of something that looks like a cross between the old Saturn V system spacecraft, an outsized California redwood, and a Lovecraftian Dark Young.
Other organisms, symbiotes, can cling to and serve as payload attachments to the dendromorphs, whether as explosive warheads, piloted capsules with life-support and acceleration couches, and there are organisms attached to these to serve as bio-avionic systems for the dendromorphs in flight.
Such launches are limited to the equatorial regions where gravity is lightest, and the dendromorphs are optimized for the climate there, even being resistant to the floods of the ammonia seas in the cold season and frequent massive storms of the warmer season when the oceans evaporate.
The effectiveness of this biology-based approach to technology in warfare has earned the planet-moons system of Bruticus an evil reputation among those familiar with Kai’Siri lore, but as more information comes to light and peaceful contact becomes possible, more of this massive world’s secrets will be laid bare, in future installments of this post, and in fiction.