Edit: it won’t let me put this in normal title format, so:
Four thousand planets in the Great Unity. Six thousand sentient species, give or take. Technology so complicated it could only be repaired by crews with multiple different cognition types on the team. And that’s not even mentioning the violent flare-ups that had brought the Great Unity down from eight thousand planets and fourteen thousand species. It was entirely understandable for the humans to be intimidated. But no, that wasn’t quite it.
To the species with similar intelligences and social structures, it almost seemed that the humans were embarrassed, of all things. But nobody paid them any mind. Their insistence on using the freely given technologies to outphase the signals that they had been broadcasting for cycles? Odd. Same with their social quarantining of all human history, and with the electromagnetic shielding of their quadrant. The only thing people really paid attention to was when this backwater nothing asked for the other species to delete the preliminary data gathered earlier. Some worlds balked at that, but this tiny, flimsy race was so obviously terrified that even the most predatory of the war races consented to the purge. It didn’t really matter anyways - their quadrant, an even mix of death worlds and featureless rocks, was otherwise entirely empty of life, sentient or otherwise.
The Alab were the first to realize how strange that had been. If humanity had then hidden itself away, kept from the rest of the universe, it would have been as expected (there were many shy, prey-evolved races), and they would have been ignored, as seemed their wish. But no. The flimsy bipeds built ships of their own, founded settlements on half a dozen worlds. And these places weren’t shielded like Earthspace was; instead they were as obvious and unshielded as possible. Curious about the oddity - they were a plains evolution, so curiosity fit them - the Alab ventured as close as they could to the strange cities without being spotted, hidden beneath the best cloaking the Great Unity had to offer.
As it turned out, they didn’t need to hide. Partially because the Humans saw them, somehow, and partially because the Humans invited them down. By now the Alab’s interest had attracted the attention of most of the Great Unity, who telepathically watched through the Alab sensory hearts as a world opened up around them.
This colony was not the tarnished scar they would have expected of a nascent race. Even the planet was different from the dusty rock it had started as.
A cool breeze touched the Alab delegation. It was scented with so many things that, for a moment, the Alab was frozen in simply trying to process the variety. The variety, of course, came from the masterpiece of terraforming before them: where there were one craters, glittering pools shimmered with the reflective scales of aquatic creatures; the star-burnt ridges now housed both massive, rigid photosynthetic organisms and prancing furred quadrupeds.
Even that brief glimpse sparked massive speculation on the universal scale. Were the humans genetic engineers whose art surpassed even that of the Tra'di? Did their planet simply have that many organisms, with an evolutionary history far enough beyond anything seen elsewhere, to create such variety of perfectly proportioned life? Landscape designers hurriedly took notes and scans, preparing for the unavoidable rush of requests for the new style.
But that wasn’t the mission, as stunning as the landscape was. The Alab turned around, clicking their hearts at the abrupt change in input. The city was massive, a gleaming wonder in stone and steel, somehow surpassing the crystal forests of the Mavse in elegance. The ships soaring through the skies above shone like the stars they sought, yet the Alab could pick out individual details on the designs adorning them.
Not long after this event, other species began to visit Humanity’s homes. Without fail, each and every one of them was uniquely beautiful. Their ships weren’t the fastest, but one couldn’t help but be impressed at their symmetry. Their music wasn’t the most complex, but it often gave rise to more emotion than actual empathic abilities. And each colony had its own biome, its own set of unique species, each more impressive than the last.
Rumors began to grow, as they do, surrounding the home world of the greatest artists the universe had ever seen. Some said that it was drab, focused on training the artists they sent out rather than on making the art itself. Others declared that Earth obviously was a religious secret (they had found out that humans had religion only a few cycles earlier. Of course, their prayers and monuments were the most beautiful anyone had ever seen), but that was scoffed at. The sheer breadth of human religions wouldn’t allow a decision that unified, the debaters pointed out, and at least one human would have given it away before now if it was something centered on faith.
By far the most popular opinion was that even the most wondrous works on the colony worlds paled in comparison to the splendor of Earth. Tales spread, saying that anyone nonhuman who saw Earth in all its glory would be struck silent by awe, never to speak again, for fear of diminishing the memory of what they saw. That Earth was so wondrous that the colonists saw their own worlds, home to more abstract riches and honor than most of the rest of the universe, as hopelessly utilitarian, as gray and lifeless in comparison as Raner Alikrem to Ormek 8.
Over the Human cycles, Earth grew in fame and mystery. Despite taking advantage of every advancement shown to them, Humanity never once volunteered knowledge or technology beyond that of their art and culture. Nobody minded, though, as said art was definitely worth the cost. Humans got more and more famous, and continually better educated, as the Great Unity slowly funded and rewarded their astounding work. But they retained their peculiar aversions, never accepting any weapons, or training, or even remotely militant designs, acting almost horrified at the thought of violence. It made sense, in an odd way. The fragmentary human history that had been gathered from the occasional interview with the taciturn race was as pure as it came, one where even hinting at conflict would see one shunned. Traders and scholars learned this quickly, taking specialized training in avoiding the subject just to avoid scaring their precious artists.
It was with this in mind that the Gald set out for Earth. They were one of the oldest species in the galaxy, and undoubtedly one of those for whom the times of peace chafed the most. It was in seeking both truth and conquest that they sent out their expeditionary force towards Earth. The logic was plain even to the most sedentary of species - if the most fascinating mystery in all the universe was being guarded by the eleventh most physically weak of the races, and the second least violent (the least being an immobile, telepathic cellscape that covered a small moon), then of course a predator-evolved race with an undeniable urge to spread their reach, grow their power, would eventually come after them.
The first fleet was more of a team of armed ambassadors than an armada. Even as they attacked, the Gald hoped to stay in Humanity’s good graces. The Gald kept in careful contact with them up until the moment they crossed over into the shielded Earthspace.
The first fleet was never heard from again. The Gald, logically assuming that some standard space disaster had befallen their fleet, sent another, this one with precautionary reconnaissance and messenger ships. Again, all was well up to the shielded space. The Gald, sure that the new fleet was safe from all but the strangest disasters, waited with bated breath for the return of the messenger ships.
The first one came back early, not only with a report from the fleet (no notable planets had been found yet, other than twelve deathworlds. The fleet continued its search for Earth), but with cargo. That was unexpected, to say the least. The messenger ships had been intended to fly back and forth across the shield, transmitting messages from one side to the other. That one had been used instead to transfer what looked like an derelict satellite meant that, whatever was on that satellite, it was worth looking in to. The satellite proved a welcome distraction from waiting for the return of the second fleet. It had turned out to be an old mining surveyor, sent into what would become Earthspace mere ertd before the humans entered the Great Unity. It had been destroyed - they couldn’t tell by what - only twelve Human cycles before said entrance.
Excitedly, the Gald searched the recorded scans from the surveyor for images of Earth. It only took them a few hundred false positives - deathworlds and wastelands all - before they found it. A world, extremely high in water content, of substandard gravity. Cloaked, seemingly unintentionally, in a cacophony of electromagnetic signals, the world had all the readouts of a near-spacefaring race. The Gald, elated at their discovery of Earth’s exact location (what kind of planet hides themselves in the exact center of the protective shielding?), sent the messenger ship back across, with new commands for the fleet.
There was no response. The second fleet had, somehow, vanished.
Frustrated now, the Gald sent a proper fleet for the third time, targeting the exact location of their quarry. Armed with the most formidable equipment the Great Unity (home to almost a thousand intelligent warlike species) had to offer, and with a borderline-forbidden Breacher signal processing unit that would allow them to transmit past the shielding back to their home planet, they closed in.
Everything was going well - the invasion force was actually feeling a bit pointless - when they reached the first field of wreckages. They stopped for just long enough to check that there were no survivors of their fleet, and that there were no intact ships or weapon systems to harvest. It was when they reached the second fleet that they realized something might actually be wrong - these ships were perfectly bisected along the power cores, the corpses of their crew shot midfloat even as they died in the depressurization of space. But again, scans revealed no useful resources, personnel, or information about the opposing force.
By then the crews had begun to mutter. Nobody had any idea of what could have done all of this - the technology was far beyond that of the rest of the Great Unity. Some said that it was a rogue member of the Great Unity who had gotten there first. Others said that it was even a species from outside the known, who was trying to infiltrate the Great Unity through their physically weakest link. Either way, the mission of the Gald shifted in a new direction: save the humans from this strange new threat. The fact that doing so would net them the secrets of Earth was simply a bonus to a glorious war.
The high command glinted at that - it was a political win/win from something that they had expected to bring them only hatred. As the Gald, weapons primed against the unknown threat, passed into the solar system that Earth was supposed to be located in, they began to broadcast their oncoming victory across the universe. Every member of the Great Unity guiltily watched, greedy for the final answer to the Question of Earth. The Gald passed the star that Earth circled. They counted planets our from the center, pausing when they got to the third nearest. It wasn’t Earth. Or at least, it didn’t look like it. There were no towering cities of light, nor were there full monasteries of inspiration. There were no massive tracts of wildlife, no “forests”, no poles of ice, no massive mountains. Even the water, which had before been one of the natural wonders of this world according to the mining satellite, had vanished, leaving the continents indistinguishable from the sea floor. Horror and sadness filled the galaxy - clearly whatever had destroyed the Gald fleets had also smote the Earth into oblivion, leaving slag where there were once mountains, and radioactive craters where the satellite showed had once been glorious cities.
It was while the Gald drifted in shock that the armada appeared, dropping cloaks unlike anything the Great Unity had ever seen before unleashing whirlwinds of light and kinetics upon the unfortunate war fleet.
The signal cut off. Silently - so as not to alarm the human colonies, who had, of course, not watched - the myriad worlds of the Great Unity came to a consensus. They would keep this horrendous act of violence from the Humans for as long as possible. They would arm themselves, surrounding Earthspace with the best and brightest of every militant force the Great Unity had to offer. And they would study every recorded trace of the Gald transmission until they knew everything possible about those monstrous destroyers who came to be called the Worldbreakers.
Several erdt passed, with no trace of the Worldbreakers. Another fleet, armed again with a Breacher, was sent into Earthspace. They didn’t last long.
A pattern developed, over time. A fleet would go in, armed with the newest equipment, often technology inspired by their very foes. They would briefly be able to scan Earth and the neighboring systems, often places with even more melted planets, before being extinguished by the Worldbreakers. It happened again and again. The newest of weapons would be blocked with shields specifically designed against their unique energy signatures. The most outlandish of strategies was outdone as if textbook. Nothing could phase the Worldbreakers; it became clear that they had played at war at extremes beyond the imaginations of even the sadistic Denwim.
The Worldbreakers became a common component of human-free discussions. Cults formed around them, both worshipping their undefeated might and fearing the eventuality that they would notice the rest of the intelligent universe. And then the day came. The day that turned everything around. It was a combination of three simultaneous events, between an obsessive astronomical historian, a lab treating a Human child for brain damage, and a student’s analysis of the Gald transmissions.
The historian was comparing old electromagnetic transmission records to the current species database, to track how many near-spaceflight species actually developed it and entered the Great Unity. It was quite surprised when it found a plethora of electromagnetic records, all obviously from different species, from all across what became Earthspace. It wondered to its colleagues what could have happened to seventy-three distinct species that would leave no trace of their civilization. No disaster they could imagine would have allowed the survival of only the Humans, a race too fragile to survive much of their own planet, much less interstellar catastrophes.
The doctor who headed up the lab was doing routine lobe simulations, checking that each repaired part of the Human child’s brain worked as properly. He was quite interested in this, as Humans generally performed their own operations, and the Human brain was largely a mystery to most of the universe. He was hoping for some distinctive part that would explain Humanity’s artistic skills, so his simulations were very in depth.
One can imagine his surprise when, instead of symmetry and resonance being the core of the Human biopsychological makeup, his simulation showed little other than pure, unadulterated aggression and greed. Uncertain, he ran it again. And again. Then he called the other interspecies doctors he knew to have them replicate the results. It was confirmed - Humans, the race so famous for hating the mere thought of conflict, was at its core the most hateful species the Great Unity possessed, orders of magnitude worse than the Gald.
And the student’s work sealed the matter. In a thermometric readout of the planets destroyed by the Worldbreakers, she found that, according to standard interplanetary cooling formulas, the Earth had to have been destroyed long ago, before even the Humans reached out to the Great Unity to ask for privacy. Unity laws prevented locations with signs of unknown species from being placed under electromagnetic shielding and social quarantine, so the Worldbreakers couldn’t have been there to destroy Earth before the shield was placed. The paradox did not lend itself at all to any known theories.
The logic was clear. Even the hive minds agreed. Humanity was not the docile race of scholars and artists that they appeared. Nor were they shy about their homeworld. Not shy, but paranoid. Sensibly paranoid that, should the Great Unity discover their war-torn past, that they had not only destroyed at least seventy-three sentient species but also their own planet in the short time between when they had developed space flight and joined the Great Unity, the other members would have either fled or tried and failed to exterminate them. So they went with their other option - beauty. They hid their ugliness under a veil of wonder, only sending their unstoppable armada after those who came close to finding out their secret past.
The understanding rocked the galaxy. Nobody sane had even contemplated this before, that one species could appear so innocent and yet be so terrifying. Their worlds would never be the same.
Despite all of this, little to nothing changed for the Humans. Aliens still came from all over to view their work, even if they now did it with apprehension. Scholars still appreciated their mystery, perhaps all the more.
And, of course, the unofficial rule that the topic of violence was never, ever to be breached while Humans were in contact suddenly became a lot more official.
Tl;dr: Humans are the super shy aliens. Too bad. It’s always the quiet ones.
Hey guys, sorry to ask again but I could really use a few buck for milk and ramen noodles. Turns out three people dont last long on what little we had. Again, I’m offering to rip songs and edit music and sound files for people, for any amout of money. I’m so sorry for asking again. I just dont know what to do anymore.
(The offbraind sprite is BC I’m sick and a friend brought that over for me yesterday, and the sodas up top are BC my mom is diabetic and needs them if her sugar drops)
I love to play New Game+ with tales of the abyss. It’s literally the funniest thing when Luke eats the apple in Engave during the first chapter of the game. He’s like “what’s gald?” And I’m like “listen here boi you’ve got more than 10 million gald in your pockets right now I think you know what gald is”
The game only gives hints and snippets of Magilou’s backstory, but I’ve compiled pretty much all the details here (props to @ultrajacket) if anyone wants to cry over her with me is curious what her deal is:
Random thought, as I’m noticing my gald total going through Berseria’s final dungeon:
Tales of Zestiria: Always broke, constantly skyrocketing equipment fusion costs. The only thing Sorey and Mikleo eat is fried shrimp from that one inn made of tents in Lohgrin to keep the gald income going because, hey, when you have a ton of Acqua stacks and the ability to negate enemy water resistance, Aqua Limit does a shit ton of damage and breaking 10k is suddenly not so difficult.
Tales of Berseria: The entire crew eats whatever they want, Barbatos’ Palmiers being a favorite because damn look at all that loot plus I’m sure there’s a swimming pool on the Van Eltia filled with nothing but gald for Magilou, Eizen and the rest of the pirate crew to swim in whenever they want. I’m up to 1.4 mil gald and no clue what to do with it.
Someone go tell Velvet to stash that loot in a bank and call that the Emergency Save Phi fund, lol.
ok but like when str8 ppl are defending the LGBT+ community and are like “its not their choice” its like….. ok…. the thought is there, im gald ur defending us and all sharon but….. even if it was a choice i would still choose to be gay… have you seen girls?