The Hell-Hole in Space
Begin with a mixed type asteroid in a relatively short cometary orbit - the result of the collision of a carbon/silicon rock and either a very fragile Ni/Fe of roughly the same size or a number of them already traveling as rubble, long enough ago to have been mostly solid again by the time the original colony-building project found it. The orbit is offset some 30 degrees from the ecliptic and takes it from just inside Mars orbit and slightly under, to just outside Saturn orbit and pretty high as a result of the aggregate motions. As of SOS-Con, it's heading insystem and down, a bit inside the Main Belt and above it, though the only people who really know about it are the reavers.
|We were three hours outside of The Island when the spores began to take hold...|
I bowled over three people on my way back to V. I distinctly noticed two of them stretch up to the ceiling, and one of them extended a pseudopod in my direction, smiling as the venom rolled out of his distended mouth like an evangelist puking the Word of God.
I hit V's driver's door like a corpse thrown from a blackhawk attack chopper that somehow found itself attending a child's birthday party. Somehow, I managed to climb into the driver's seat and shut the door.
"V, holy shit, you're not going to be able to get us home with your console running and melting like that! What's wrong with you, where's your sense of adventure?"
"Uh oh is right! We've got to get back the The Island, we're out of tequila, why didn't you have me pick up a second bottle?!"
"oh, Hell. *CrkFZZZT* Hermes? This is V. I've got a Fear and Loathing, coordinates to follow. Please send help. *FzzzzZZZzzzzt-clk!*"
The first colony module was a standard boxy thing made from cargo containers refitted as some approximation of living space, and had been owned by a less-renowned colleague of The Jason, who wanted to try the whole asteroid-biosphere-via-modded-algae-and-plants thing, but didn't quite get it to work as intended. The strains developed tolerated the environment well enough and ate the the carbon-based rockstuff with help from the 'wave, and the smallish iceball towed into contact, and the surface skinned over well enough to hold atmosphere and loose peices until sturdier woody-mushroom type strains could become additional structure and really stabilize it - all of that was under way, and the first modded slime mold colonies released with added cleaning/pressure hull maintenance type tropisms to really get it rolling... then some Not Nice people found out about it somehow, and thought it would make for a handy-dandy base of operations.
The original owner suffered a mischief sooner or later, but he'd always been kind of a loner so no one particularly noticed his dropping out of contact much, and his captors either got the classic glowing fungi and air-processor shrooms for lighting and air scrubbing in the ever-expanding cavern network from him directly or successfully cultivated them from notes and a first batch. Having the air in the place filled with spores that cause mild hallucinations and aggression until a new resident got accustomed to them didn't really bother them, being the sort of people they were. (And provides a convenient justification for why newbies are so eager to go out and bust shit up, when Reaver-style attacks don't really bring in a whole lot more than they expend in terms of resources.) The occupied areas have to have special energized fencing to keep out annoying, smelly rovers, but that's not much trouble either, and the rock's location makes it a fine place to stage raids over a large part of the Belt and on traffic between it and the Inner and Outer system.
The surface is a whitish seashell-like material deposited by the structural fungi where it opens to no-pressure zones, with a thin layer of tough skin-like material over that. Inside, there's five main types of modded envirostuff besides the woody structural fungus, that's just part of the walls, filling in gaps and holding things together. Scums are excavator colonies, greenish and supported in a self-produced acid, eating away at dead end tunnels or weak stuff in the walls, where there's a carbon/silicon vein. Slimes are slightly more coherent and gel-like, traveling as fist-to-head sized flattened spheroids cleaning up dust and forming the airtight skin where needed if a crack opens, until the structural fungi can close it again. They spawn whenever a scum grows beyond the bounds of the exposed face it's eating. As they get larger and contain more solids, they get more like a jelly mold, ranging from the size of a small dog to man-size before the weak gravity (that just sort of appeared when the structural fungi got widespread enough, and follows no particular common direction except that "down" doesn't change abruptly) and patrolling for the bugs and small vermin that inevitably follow wherever people go in things that have space to hid them.
Friggin' creepy. Friggin' creepy, even before you start having hallucinations of the various goopy monsters and their bigger brothers stalking you just beyond the curve of the tunnel, gaping vacuole orifices leering like misshapen mouths or empty eye sockets, their slimy pseudopods slithering almost soundlessly against the acid-smoothed stone, just waiting to pounce, tracking you by vibration or scent or some means more eldritch still, acid production increasing in anticipation to melt into your succulent flesh, always slipping into the shadow just before you make them out, biding their time, taunting you, taunting! And that's just from breathing the air... Well, that's only until you get a tolerance; it takes a few hours for the worst of it, a week to be at your best. Heroic Good Guys who make their way inside are advised to keep their space suit on.
The only threat they pose to anything alive enough to run away and large enough that a pseudopod can't completely engulf them (bigger than a rat, that is to say, and that for the largest Jellies) is their acrid odor (shared by all stages of the organism) and the possibility of eating holes in cloth or plastic left lying around. They are strongly avoidant of electricity, though, so charged screens surrounding areas where they are unwanted are quite sufficient to keep them at bay.
If only such were true of the slime on two legs that has taken up residence.
- Lightshrooms are fist-sized and glow softly in the six primary and secondary colors, one per cap.
- Airshrooms are the size of a salad bowl and breathe like lungs, the fine inner ribs that produce the aforementioned spores also filtering and refreshing the air. They have enough animal/muscle traits to be edible and even nutritious to a degree, but are very hallucinogenic in that form, and mildly aphrodisiac as well as aggression-inducing. Again, not something the current inhabitants have a problem with, makes it all the more fun when some female captives are brought in.