In the years before the advent of arcanotechnology and dimensional fatigue events, teratology was the study of abnormalities and biological deformations. In the wake of the second renaissance, it became the study of exomorphs, extradimensional entities, and most prominently, teratomorphs, more commonly and vulgarly known as kaiju.
Only holovids and the entertainment companies call them Kaiju. It's an antique term, from back when there were movies about giant monsters stomping cities. Most people don't know that teratomorphs, what we really call them, actually exist. The way the media covers the rare instances when one gets near an inhabited area, and the fact that the military is damned good at killing them, most people actually think they are hoaxes, or blown out of proportion if they are actually real.
What is Teratology?
Teratology is the scientific endeavor to catalog and understand the biology and behavior of teratomorphs, as well as encompassing a variety of interrelated and sub fields such as teratogenetics, teratopharmacology, and the military strategies and plans for containing and eliminating the threat posed by teratomorphs.
A teratomorph is typically a singular creature that is found in direct proximity to a Dimensional Fatigue Event. Given that the. average teratomorph is forty to sixty meters tall and around several hundred to several thousand tons in weight, they are only encountered at large DFEs. The most common types of teratomorphs are either reptilian in nature or insect like. The terms are unfortunately broad, because there are some critters that have shown up with attributes from all different classifications of animals, plants, and some things too strange to mark as anything but None of the Above, or Other.
Inside military circles, they are called BFMs, or Big effing Monsters.
Exomorph - non-corporeal lifeforms, technically applied to sentient computer programs (versus sentient computers) but also applies to certain creatures and lifeforms that exist out of phase, or are only able to partially interact with things in the normal plane of existence.
Extradimensional Beings - also knowns as E-Ds or Eds, lifeforms that exist in alternate dimensions that cross over into normal space.
Teratomorph - literally, monsterous form, creatures of exception size and mutated form. It is believed that Teratomorphs are mutants, and not members of specific races.
Xenomorph - Alien life forms.
Blood, Flesh and Bone
Teratomorphs are massive living animals, and large animals have always been valuable to mankind. In the technologically advanced Cosmic Era, this has not changed. The carcass of a slain teratomorph can be worth millions to tens of millions of dollars to the group that secures and strips the beast.
Hide - the dense outer hide of a teratomorph is almost always valuable. Advances in armor making technology, personal body armor, and other forms of protection have been derived from reshaping pieces of this 'dragon leather' (typically reptilian teratomorph) and later creating synthetic versions of it. The material is also sought after for making leather upholstery, and high fashion leather clothing.
Flesh - a 3,000 ton teratomorph carcass renders down into approximately 1,800 tons of meat. In most cases this meat is edible, if not palatable. Proper treatment and spices can turn said protein mass into a consumable product. Much like whaling and canning ships, there are processing airships that can land on top of a teratomorph carcass and strip the meat from the bones/exoskeleton and quickly treat and preserve the flesh for quick shipping around their marketing area.
Kaiju delicacies - organs are favored for a variety of folk medicinal values, with each organ, and some random not really understood organs having some esoteric value. The most common claims involve increasing sexual potency or unlocking parapsychic potential. For the most part, eating the assorted strange parts of a dead teratomorph is no different that shark fin soup, caviar and the other conspicuous consumption status symbols. Eyes, the reproductive organs, heart/hearts, the liver, and assorted sundry glands and lymph nodes get this special treatment.
Bone and Excrement - Teratomorph bone (or carapace) tends to be dense in valuable minerals, and many are rich in exotic isotopes and rare earth metals. The phosporous and nitrogen content in the creature's feces makes it valuable as use as a fertilizer.
Brain/Nervous System - Teratomorphs have massive brains, which makes them valuable for cortex research. It is only a matter of time before the gene-engineers find a way to start growing kaiju sized brains for use in true sentient super computers.
Diseases and Parasites
Teratomorphs are walking contamination sites, and their very presence can cause a massive problem. Some particularly noxious specimens have gaseous and liquid emissions that are toxic, corrosive, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or often the most frightening, teratogenic. Living organisms affected by these emissions suffer from physical injury, aggressive cancers, or even a sort of biological hostile take over and start turning into freakish creatures that resemble the teratomorph that spawned them.
Kaiju Influenza, the Kaiju-Flu, is an infectious disease that was first encountered in the Republic of California. The disease was teratomorph in origin and quickly spread through several cities before aggressive quarantine countermeasures were put in place. Despite the advanced medicine of the Cosmic Era several thousand people died from the disease in California, while the death toll across the D.F. of Mexico and several other Pacific Rim Coalition stations rose over a million killed. That was just one of the worst cases, and even then, more than half of the afflicted had no idea that their disease wasn't the product of a laboratory or zoonautic bug jumping species.
Teratomorphs are not in any way native to Earth, and their excretions and bodily fluids and functions can contaminate water supplies, food chains, and onward. This is most prominent where a teratomorph is killed, so many newer weapons concentrate on bringing down the monsters with the minimal amount of force needed. The bigger the holes blown in the monster, the more of it's blood and ichor pours out and into the drains.
The most famous incident with this sort of contamination was the Nipponese Daisuke Zabiatsu Spill, which saw a blubbery fish like teratomorph killed with implosion torpedoes and a rail gun bombardment. The blood of the massive creature spilled out into the local bay, creating an iridescent blue slick in the water. The spill decimated fisheries and kelp plantings along the coast as well as causing what looked and acted like a flesh eating bacteria in the water.
MagnaSpawn represent the massive and diverse body of organisms that are associated with teratomorphs. These creatures range from basic (albeit massive) parasites and what amounts to tiny pests to the host to much larger secondary spawn created from the teratogenic excretions from the monster.
Not all such spawn have any association with the teratomorph that mutated or otherwise caused their existence. They do not have any sort of hive mind, or loyalty to one another. Quite the opposite, many such spawn are hostile to each other, and cleaning up the infestations left in the wake of a teratomorph attack can be more time consuming and dangerous than actually fighting the giant monster.
Big Business and Teratotechnology
Teratotechnology is a niche market and is mainly concerned with the manufacturing of goods and services focused around the task of isolating, destroying, and exploiting teratomorphs. As mentioned above, there is money to be made in scavenging the corpses of teratomorphs after they have been slain. There is also a good deal of money to be made in researching very mundane things about them, and then applying that to existing technologies. Mecha manufacturers have copied parts of teratomorph skeletons and exoskeletons and applied it to their war machines. Fertilizer and food companies render the corpses down for their component parts, for use in the food supply. The list goes on.
Classified Genetic Material
The viscera, humours, ichor, blood, and other fluids contained within a teratomorph are the most common source of classified genetic material. While there are many purposes and uses for teratomorphs and their components, the role as a McGuffin or plot device is potentially one of the strongest in terms of game viability. The canister of extracted adrenal gland hormones is the next step in creating the ultimate super soldier, better not let the baddies get it.
Most of the other purposes for teratomorphs, big business and so forth are background material, justifications for the way some things are in the setting, as well as atmospheric information. Being a major source of CGM, the teratomorph can come closer to the characters, their augmentations and modifications very well could be tied back to some titan slain decades ago. This can be a lot of fun with themes of body horror, contamination, and loss of control scenarios, ala Jekyll and Hyde.
Kaiju Security - Teratomorphs are big, they are nasty, and taking them down requires the right, typically oversized, tools. Corporate entities such as Kaiju Security (subsidiary of SecuriCorp) maintain a small but elite cadre of soldiers equipped with top of the line specifically custom manufactured equipment. KS has a small flotilla of air ships in North America that are equipped with drop facilities to deploy anti-kaiju mecha, aerospace assets, and cooperation contracts with the Atlantic Federation Aerospacy. This allows the corp to engage a hostile teratomorph with mundane assets, and if it is more than they can handle, they have the option of calling in a Federation warship to engage and destroy the monster. KS is reluctant to do this, as the amount of corpus damage inflicted by naval grade weaponry can seriously reduce the value of the carcass.
Magnetar of the Republic of California initially developed it's triple rail linear cannon specifically as an anti-teratomorph weapon. The rail cannon has very high muzzle velocities and high penetration power and uses a spike or spear shaped projectile that can penetrate teratomorph bone and armor carapaces. The weapon has since been adopted by the Pacific Rim Coalition's Space Admiralty and is in widespread use as a fixed emplacement weapon.
Teratomorphs and designer pharmaceuticals go hand in hand with each other. The initial point of contact between the two was the claim that consuming certain parts of 'kaiju' was beneficial to the sex drive and potency. While this remains dubious, a large number of medical advances have come from researching teratomorph biology. Significant advances in bioregeneration, radiation blocking drugs, and genetically manufactured bioware can be traced back to specific teratomorphs that were encountered and harvested.
The Kaiju Black Market is big business and is filled with as much fake and artificial material as it is genuine. The most common items on the market are drugs distilled down from teratomorph fluids and glands, and trophies taken from corpses. The first major drug, Kaiju Blue, was extracted from the pituitary gland of a teratomorph that was killed near Manilla. The gland was eventually recovered and destroyed by Sigma Blue but not until several thousand gallons of neurochemicals were stimulated from it.
There are certain parts of the world that are for a variety of reasons, more prone to teratomorph occurrences. Central and SW North America, the Amazon River Basin, Indonesia, Australia, and the list goes on. The militaries of these parts of the world have a specific budget and equipment set aside to deal with teratomorphs. Most take a back seat to the megacorp interests, and only step in when the security contractors and corp mercenaries can't handle a situation. Mainland China is an exception to this, as it considers any and all teratomorphs and other non-terrestial organisms to be the property of the government. The semi-regular appearance of teratomorphs, especially the rare large and very large specimens, are used as a major justification for the continued construction and regular upgrading of aerial warships.
The MagnaGog Conspiracy
Religion can be a funny thing, and there are religious cults that see the existence of the teratomorphs and draw similarities between the creatures and the entities of Gog, Magog, Behemoth, and Leviathan from the Christian Bible. In modern terms, the cults refer to the teratomorphs as Magnagogs, angels, or demons, depending on their perspective.
Magnagogs are venerated much like rock stars, and their fans can be likened to monster groupies. They collect memorabilia from encounters, have recordings of the monsters in action and go so far as to hunt down things like the black market trophies, and meat that has been sterilized and tinned, marketed as something else, but record tracking makes it likely that that can of extruded protein sausages might have actually been made from a 3,500 ton ultra iguana. Some groupies have radical notions of creating magnagog reservations, attempting to communicate with a living monster, and so on.
Angels and Demons are the purview of apocalyptic and doomsday cults that see the creatures as harbingers of the end of the world. Rather than praise, the teratomorphs are an aspect of the divine and should be feared. Those that see them as avenging angels oppose the military intervention against them, and find teratology offensive in the extreme. No one who met a classical angel would consider turning them into smoked meat shanks and stuffing for featherdown pillows, and the same holds true when the divine is a bit more scaly, be-tentacled, and horrific. Those that see the monsters as demons consider them avatars of what is wrong with the world, and likewise have no interest in eating potted kaiju meat.
The Real Deal
The Teratomorphs are massive larvae of the outer gods that rather than having landed and gestated to massive size on Earth, have germinated and grown elsewhere. For a variety of reasons, the monsters are drawn to the Earth, and when there is a dimensional fatigue event large enough, they can cross over from their often resource and food depleted locations to rampage through a tainted but still relatively rich biosphere. Mankind's use of dimensional technology is what draws the creatures to Earth, much like moths beating at a lit window. The size and power of the teratomorphs encountered is limited by the actual size of the dimensional breach, and as newer more powerful systems are designed, built, and fail increasingly larger and more powerful teratomorphs will emerge.
Influences and Inspirations
Godzilla - the original kaiju, Godzilla is stocked with a fantastic array of monsters.
Neon Genesis Evangelion - the angels are teratomorphs, and disposing of the corpses is shown through various parts of the show. As the series progressed, the angels became larger and increasingly more powerful (baring Kowaru and the computer virus one).
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers - a team of mecha regularly deploy to fight and destroy giant monsters. In the Cosmic Era, these are animal control specialists with an interest in preventing collateral damage, and eliminating the monster with a minimum of trauma.
Pacific Rim - Giant monsters, giant mecha, monster parts on a black market, everything wrapped up with a bow.
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? Responses (3)-3
This is an excellent treatment of the Giant Monster vibe, apart from the creatures as deadly contaminates being as strongly put as they being a source of food/fertilizer. Though, given the low value of the individual in the Cosmic Era I guess they are not necessarily at odds.
I'm sure you are aware of pink slime and mechanically separated meat, I had the same food horror vibe in mind with the noxious flesh of the kaiju being rendered and chemically treated to render it safe for human consumption. Add in the whole process of the Japanese whaling with with harvesting and processing ship, or the other ships that catch and tin fish while at sea, and it all just came together.
Once properly treated with a bleach wash (which creates its own toxic fumes combining with chemical agents in the kaiju flesh) the meat is then heat sterilized and given a second treatment of gassing to kill any thermophilic bacteria still in the product. Large grinders and chippers then reduce the muscle fibers into smaller pieces where it is treated to a 24 stint in a MRSA fermenter where flesh eating bacteria break down the tough tissue. A blast of radiation to kill the microbes, then another trip through the grinders and it is ready to be tinned and distributed to the food manufacturers who use the lowest grade meat products, ala fast food joints, cafeterias in poor slums, and emergency food rations.
A cool submission integrating the quest into your setting. I love your Cosmic Era subs Scras!