The Sa'arm is the name given to the race that is invading the spiral arm that is home to the Confederacy. (Sa'arm was simply a word that meant 'Dangerous Creatures' in the business language of the Confederacy. It is believed that the prefix Sa' means danger, or dangerous. <fck:hr> Starfiend) A brief description follows and details of their vessels are here.
Sa'arm 'units' are around seven feet tall. They are tripeds. They are tri-laterally symetrical, but with a defined front facing. Organizationally, they are kind of like army ants, but physically, they resemble armored lizards in that they are cold-blooded and fully armored, but it is not an exoskeleton. They have three arms -- set above the legs -- and they operate with one leg forward and two to the sides and rear. the front arm is shorter and lighter for delicate work, while the other two are more massive, such that they can hold an object across their front with their two larger arms and hands and work comfortably with the third. They have bullet -- or mushroom -- shaped heads with three eyes, two oriented more or less forward and one -- not as well developed -- for watching behind. The third eye seems to be only capable of detecting movement. Thus, a person standing perfectly still can watch a Sa'arm unit as long as it is not facing them. Once it turns, it will probably spot them. The Swarm are tunnellers, so they probably see and discern well in low light and shadowy situations. One wonders what strobes and flashbangs would do to their eyesight.
The above artist's rendition has several errors. The Sa'arm is more upright andthe head is more cylindrical. It has been described as mushroom-like.
It has been proposed that each arm ends in two opposing pairs of fingers. For the forward arm, all four fingers are individually controllable and can be used for fine work (turning a screwdriver, pushing a button or trigger, etc). For the two back arms, the fingers are stronger and not as dextrous; they are generally used together. (The big reason for this proposal is to give them "Base 12" numbering)
They developed on a Hell world where the armor and the 360 degree vision was absolutely required -- and where the constant roar of various energies made the development of a sound detection sense a liability.
I have not been able to come up with the nature of their communication facility yet -- I'd like to see it as a neural net or something that extends for distances of up to a quarter million miles or so, (Mercury Incident had the range at 500K miles but 250K has been settled upon) based upon there being a large number of them available to generate it. Long-range communication (as between systems) consists of literally transporting a specialized unit with an abstract of the current state of the current hive and any messages to the target hive for integration. (Catching couriers ends up being the way we get our live ones -- quite aside from disrupting their communications.)
A key issue that I have described but need to emphasized is their reaction mode. Any attack on a single Sa'arm results in immediate reaction from other hive members in the immediate vicinity. This could have ugly consequences, especially for a team trying to collect a live specimen. I'd planned to frame a story around this. (See Mercury Incident) A dead body would not be linked, and might fairly easily be transported out -- but a live one is his own GPS, detectable WELL beyond low orbit. Since every resource immediately available would be applied to the apprehension of the kidnappers -- not so much due to the value of the unit, but in order to determine the nature of the threat -- I envision not only the team failing to escape, but it's support vessel being destroyed -- or self-destructing to avoid capture.
Obviously, ground combat will be interesting, too. I saw teams with antipersonnel mines trying them out on the Sa'arm; one item being a simple Claymore mine with the trip wire replaced by a laser unit (just an episodic thing, but it would be something we could combine advanced tech with current hardware to make...). Tactics are all about hit & run -- don't be there when the reaction force arrives. Preferably, you set up a multi-stage ambush, drawing several larger and larger sorties -- perhaps culminating with a nice tactical nuke...
I didn't see the Sa'arm carrying weapons, as such, early on -- on most worlds, especially Confederacy worlds, they just landed and took over, ignoring the locals while they panicked, and creating their honeycombs of tunnels under the surface to support the surface hive structures -- more or less after the fashion of an iceberg -- most of their construction beneath the surface where they're going to be a bitch to get out. . We'll teach them differently, of course. I saw them carrying a very sharp vibroblade-type energy knife or something to butcher pests with, but nothing more advanced until they discover that they aren't in Kansas any more...
The Sa'arm aren't big innovators, but they learned a long time ago to study the hardware of whatever livestock they happen upon. As a result, they have a varied arsenal -- but probably not much experience if any at using it. This can play into our hands as they field new weapons without an adequate understanding of their function and end up misusing them...
(These paragraphs are considerd non-canon)
I have some ideas on Sa'arm communications and evolution. A gravitronic communication mechinism allows for the envisioned neural network, with the net being centered in the hive ship or a significat planet side congregation. Each unit is by itself non-sentient, only as a group can they achieve intelligence.
This can be discovered through such means as a malfunctioning gravity accelerated torpedo or by catching a hive ship near a binary neutron star system, where the rapidily changing gravitational field renders the entire hive unable to function and thus easy to capture as a whole.
I do not see such a race as having evolved naturally, instead they were a bio-weapon introduced into the apparent home world in order to destroy another race.Unfortunately as with so many things they proved to be more than their creators could control.
Let me know what you think of these ideas. <fck:hr> deGaffer
I picture them as having an armadillo-like hide that is about the same color as the pesky armadillo.
The communications link, by whatever mechanism, between the 'units' makes them somewhat like an individual cell in a much larger organism, but with a collective consciousness that is aware of the existence of each cell.
One other item of note for any of you contemplating combat with Sa'arm Units up close and personal, Thinking Horndog's Mercury Incident established them as having greenish-white blood.
The following was copied from an email from TH:
The idea that the Sa’arm is a manufactured race was always out there. I haven’t locked that one down, one way or the other – it’s a ‘never to be resolved’ situation. A full-up Sa’arm gestalt IS self-aware – but it takes size to get there. Individual units are NOT self-aware. Small elements caught out alone (even a few dozen, removed from the main gestalt) would be primarily occupied with basic survival for quite some time – and might not make it. A gestalt that ‘grew up’ that way would have large gaps in its knowledge base. It would not be a normal occurrence. Also, as I have indicated at some point, gestalts are ‘self-centered.’ Solipsism is the basic philosophy employed. Thus, if a gestalt that grew from a tiny initial seed (very few units) in isolation came across another gestalt (we’re assuming that this is the full gestalt, not just scouts, which the other gestalt would absorb on contact) a conflict could result. In any case, the self-interest of each individual gestalt is paramount in its thinking – any cooperation would be in the face of a serious threat (i.e., us.) The cooperative effort to attack and subdue the Earth comes under the heading of ‘rooting out an annoying infestation’ – much like destroying a hornet’s nest in order to get rid of the things. And, ultimately, one gestalt will own Earth. They can only cooperate at a distance, using individual courier units. Two gestalts in close proximity are instantly at war with one another for unit resources when their fields of influence overlap – which can paralyze them both and the majority of the units in the overlapping areas of influence. Therefore, while they might be able to direct coordinated attacks using resources from multiple gestalts, such coordination is difficult and won’t be entered into lightly. Large ships and small fleets will have collections of units aboard sufficient to operate independently, but perhaps not as efficiently as a human crew. Coordination would be difficult between units of relatively equal size, as any little shift in numbers could cause a unit – or a vessel or a fleet – to instantly shift allegiances. Courier communication assumes that the transmitter and the receiver are full gestalts that are self-aware and that a direct link between gestalts is not possible. Two task forces operating too close to one another would cause an active link to be generated between them and control would be homogenized to one gestalt – probably the one with the larger number of units in place. Inter-gestalt coordination would therefore be on to order of “You take the left flank and I’ll take the right and we stop here – BEFORE we meet in the middle.” And there would be considerable negotiation (read argument) over who GOT the middle. The double-cross would CERTAINLY be an option… Let’s assume for a moment that two or three gestalts are in charge of the invasion of Earth. (Frankly, three is too many.) We have to assume that the ‘child gestalts’ in the Hive ships are by some agreement carefully proportioned and that they cannot control all of Earth upon arrival – they are not large enough to generate a control field that would encompass the entire planet on arrival. Each parent gestalt will be operating under the assumption that their ‘child’ will eventually assume ascendancy and control all of Earth. Each parent would PROBABLY have loaded the dice in some manner. While this plays out, there will be certain cross-territory locations where the total gestalt coordination that would be normal in most instances will NOT be available on Earth, i.e, if we launch strikes from one gestalt’s area of influence into another’s and then retreat to the original location, we will gain from their lack of instantaneous control. The attacked gestalt would have to communicate this via courier – and some distance (and therefore time) would have to be involved, lest the gestalts come into conflict.
Hmmmm… Bet there is a story or two there….