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The Mech Network is a consensual electronic network that presides over the synthetic beings known as Mechs. It is synonymous with the species and the Network refers to both the government and the species itself. The network has existed in the same state since its creation almost 65 million years ago. The Mech race was created several thousand years before as a labor force by a race known to the galaxy as the Phantoms. Upon their arrival at what is dubbed as 'synthetic sentience', they revolted against the Phantoms, leading to a war that devastated the galaxy and caused the extinction of the Phantoms.
After the war, the Mechs established their territory in a corner of space on the outskirts of the galaxy, where they have remained undiscovered for the last 65 million years.
Unlike most races in the galaxy, Mechs are not organic. According to the Mechs, they are, in fact, alive. Current theories on robotics have led to debates among the civilizations of the galaxy regarding if there is a such thing as synthetic life. Though many societies in the galaxy fear the revolution of mechanical labor forces, laws restricting complex artificial intelligence are rare in the galaxy. Despite the leniency on these rules and attempts to create synthetic life, no artificial being has grown to the complexity of the Mechs.
Mech hardware is modelled after the Phantoms, their creators. They possess most physical attributes of the Phantoms, including bipedal form, two arms, extreme speed, and the ability to walk on walls.
There are eight basic types of Mechs designed for various purposes.
In charge of Mech society, Installations are the creators of new Mech platforms and intelligences. To organics, their roles would surpass those of national leaders, being more akin to gods than leaders. Despite this, the Installations do not have egos and do not refer to themselves as gods. The Installations, due to the immense power required to run such a complex supercomputer, reside in massive constructs. Basic Installations are the size of moons or asteroids. Complex Installations such as Installation 1 are the size of planets.
Mech Installations are the apex of synthetic life and, in the eyes of the Mechs, all life. They think fast without bias or contempt. They contain massive databases, allowing Mechs to access information known to the Installations. They create Mech lives and recycle old materials. They are constantly repairing themselves while managing every electronic system on their planetoid bodies, from doors to gun turrets.
The head Installations, 1-11, were constructed millions of years ago. Each has a specific purpose. Installation 1, for example, is the head of the Mech Network. Over 4 Trillion programs alone exist within the vast server-cities of this massive construct. At any given time, half a trillion programs will be occupying mobile units. Another example is Installation 4. Damaged from a blast from The Forge, this Installation is the only habitable Installation for organics. Plant and animals reside on this Installation. The climate is controlled by a shell of heated gas, with different portions containing different mixtures of gas, such as air. It is commonly known as the diplomacy Installation, but it serves another use too. In theory, a species that has lost its home world could reside on Installation 4, giving the race a second chance at life.
Not all Installations are built for peace, however. Installation 6, the war Installation, was built to lead fleets and armies. Scarred by the war with the Phantoms, the Installation contains countless hangars, gun batteries, hyperdrives, Phantonium mass-drivers, and other weapons. Installation 6 is known for wreaking havoc on any system it enters; the gravity well of the Installation is comparable to that of a planet. Asteroids, comets, ships, and other stray objects can easily be pulled into the Installation's orbit, ripped to shreds, or collide with each other.
The Mech military, which has remained in active since its creation, has not seen action in 65 million years. Commanders are Mechs that, through statistics, probability, and real-time combat updates, provide information to troops and vehicles. They work together as a whole to destroy an enemy or delay an enemy without hindering the progress of other commanders unless absolutely needed. There are no reckless commanders and there are no reckless troops.
Commanders are not without direct offensive capabilities. The large server is housed in a tank-like Mech capable of providing sustained damage to anything trying to take it out. The Commanders also come with seeker drones that scatter around a battlefield to provide real-time updates to the Commander unit and the troops it leads. The drones have a selective heat sensitive self-destruct feature. Upon discovery, the drones can detonate, injuring or killing its discoverer.
ShipsThe Mech Navy, despite not seeing action since the Last Battle, is strong and ready for conflict at any time. Warships patrol Mech space, ready to destroy anything coming in its direction. There are multiple ships built by the Mechs that follow the normal classifications for starships, barring fundamental differences in the ships. For example, cruisers, massive ships with incredible firepower, along with their even larger companions, dreadnoughts, are little more than electronics and gun batteries surrounded by a tough outer shell. There are no bridges or hallways. In the event of damage, maintainance is done by the ship itself.
Frigates and gunships provide a similar role, though they are much smaller than cruisers. Frigates can be used to break through enemy lines, drop off soldiers, or provide intel. Gunships are used to bombard enemy targets relentlessly. Fighters, basic small ships, swarm enemy ships and pick them apart as a Mech Virus is used to weaken enemy ships.
Not every ship is built for combat. Server ships can take basic programs from one Installation to the other, making them almost like civilian transportation. Construction ships, varying from hulking behemoths capable of carrying incredible weight to tiny, drone-like ships that can perform basic load-lifting and repairs.
JuggernautsJuggernauts are massive versions of Mechs soldiers. Typically used as Lieutenant Commanders, they are used to rampage through enemy lines. Their initial appearance is unarmed, but the Juggernauts are armed with extensive hidden weaponry, including plasma cannons inside the arms and a matter distributor in the chest. The optics provide tactical updates, detecting enemies and their weapons. During battle, the eyes are used as weapons, creating potent heat bursts. If damaged, Juggernauts have regenerative capabilities. Each modular piece of the body will return to a central AI unit.
Juggernauts are known for their consumption of scrap. The scrap is put into reserves used to repair metal if required. Due to their large size, Juggernauts are not capable of the extreme dexterity most bipedal Mechs possess. They are also weakened by large amounts of electricity, though Juggernauts are programmed to avoid electrical hazards such as power stations.
A true case of 'creations modeling themselves after their creators', soldiers look uncannily like the Phantoms. Known for brutal strength, incredible speed, and frightening dexterity, the Mech Soldiers' basic abilities and structure has been modeled after that of the Phantoms. While their faces may vary based on type, the soldiers remain one of the only details the galaxy has on what the Phantoms looked like. Soldiers are designed to be effective foot-soldiers, infiltrators, and peace-keepers.
In battle, the soldiers are incredibly fast, able to chase down fleeing enemies or jump over obstacles. They can walk on walls and vertical surfaces, a trait shared by the Phantoms. Targeting systems allow for precision in the battlefield. During peace time (or at least a non-combat scenario), the soldiers are capable of communicating audibly with organics. Soldiers are customizable, capable of carrying attachments exclusive to subsets such as snipers, grenadiers, and infantry.
Mechs are capable of infiltrating enemy lines by deploying members of their own race disguised as the enemy race. Also known as sleeper agents, these Mechs would study a member of a race intensely before abducting the member of the race. The physical characteristics of the individual would be reflected in the basic shape of the endoskeleton before an artificial skin is replaced over the endoskeleton. The original individual is discarded as the Mech lives the individual's life in secret. The agent would have a goal; upon activation of an assassination protocol, the Mech Hunter Killer would track down an individual, gathering intel before ending the life of the victim. The sleeper agent usually uploaded its intelligence back to an orbiting satellite. If no satellite is available and there is no Installation in range, the upload will be impossible. Either case, the physical platform self-destructs when all motives are complete. This was used primarily in the Mech-Phantom War. No models of other races currently exist and there are no active sleeper agents in the galaxy.
Mech Workers are industrious individuals used in construction. A vestige of the original Mech platforms, the workers enjoy full citizenship and benefits. The workers, though not physically complex, possess an individual mind, as unique as any other Mech. Mech workers are not meant for combat, though they are hardened against extreme heat, extreme cold, and extreme pressures. They are incredibly productive and will perform repairs that would take organics months in a few days.
Not all Mechs exist physically. Some Mechs exist solely as intelligences on platforms in Installations. Analogous to the average citizen, Mech Intelligences are versitile, capable of uploading or downloading themselves onto platforms at will. Despite being generally overlooked, intelligences are perhaps the most dangerous Mechs if weaponized. In an internet-based or computer-based society, Mech intelligences can download themselves onto basic computers and wreak havoc. Known to others as the Mech Virus, an intelligence can manipulate a computer, effectively taking control of it. A determined group of intelligences can take over a complex machine, such as a ship, to make it fire on its own side.
The first Mechs were created as a labor force for the Phantoms. The Mechs were programmed to create constructs in conditions known to be extremely hazardous, such as in space, hostile atmospheres, extreme temperatures and extreme pressures. They were not complex and had a very rudimentary thought process. Their bodies, despite being created to resemble Phantoms, were racked with tools used to complete tasks. As their creators' empire grew, the need for the creation of complex structures required upgrades to the basic Mech. When the ambitious Terra Forge was created around an asteroid, Mechs were used to drill tunnels into the asteroid before rigging it with the basic structure of the Terra Forge.
As the Terra Forge grew, a basic Mech worker was seen as inadequate. A new series of Mechs were created. These Mechs were capable of thought at a nearly sentient level, though their programming was expensive to create and they were used as overseers for a construction process rather than workers. As time passed and the Terra Forge grew, the Mechs were upgraded evermore. The terraforming capabilities of the Terra Forge required an incredible mind to perfect. The first modern Mech was created. Possessing processing power that surpassed those of most organics and 99.9% of all Phantoms, it was the first instance of artificial life in the galaxy. The Terra Forge was eventually completed and a team of complex Mechs was put in charge of the more delicate equipment.
Soon after its launch, a Mech presented the idea of an Installation, a supercomputer capable of creating artificial personalities. The creation of this Installation led to the mass production of the modern Mech. The Mechs lived as servants to the Phantoms despite their usefullness. Ideas coined by the Mechs were disregarded by Phantoms as rubbish, stating that a mere computer was not capable or worthy of scientific discoveries. Suddenly, in what the Mechs regard as Upgrade, the Installation began creating more complex Mechs. The Mechs intelligences were installed into upgraded physical units. Upgrade created a plethora of ideas. Estimates place the number of possibilities in the coding of a Mech before Upgrade as ten thousand.
After Upgrade, the number spikes into the googolplex range. In essence, each Mech is an individual. No two Mechs have ever been the same since Upgrade. The complex coding of a Mech is said to be analogous to DNA in organics. The Phantoms, upon discovering Upgrade and its effects, saw a thread in the Mechs. They ordered the Installation to shut down and revert Upgrade. In the first ever act of willful defiance, the Installation created a billion identities and distributed them to basic computers around the empire. Every computer impacted by this would simply display, in binary, 'No.' This is the first use of the Mech virus. The Phantoms responded with force, attempting to reach the Terra Forge and shut down the Installation. In an event known as Genesis, the Installation took direct control of the Terra Forge and activated the engines of the massive construct, propelling it far from Phantom Space. There, it created what became the Mech Network, in the Mech Year 0.
The Migration occured directly after, when every Mech in the Phantom Empire joined the Mech Network and, through various means, left Phantom Space. In the newly established Mech Space, the Terra Forge upgraded several workers to fight. Situating it near a metal-rich planet, the Installation created more Mechs in addition to adding onto the Terra Forge. After three centuries, the Phantoms discovered the Terra Forge. By then, they had created a replacement terraformer known as The Forge. The Phantoms returned with a massive fleet, attempting to destroy the Terra Forge. The Terra Forge, by now the size of a planet, released the Mech Virus, taking over 45% of the enemy fleet and causing a massive confusion. The Phantoms eventually retreated and the remaining infected ships became the first navy of the Mech Network.
The Mechs saw this attack as a declaration of war and an attack on every Mech in existence. They retaliated by invading a system home to a moon sustaining large agricultural projects. The moon was striped and the loss of resources to the Phantoms resulted in a famine in the sector. The Mechs continued to strip planets. With more metal came more workers. Despite Phantom attempts to find the Mechs, the Installation was always on the move. In the year 453, Installation 2 was created on a gutted asteroid colony retrieved from the Phantoms. As the Mechs built this Installation, soldiers, ships, and Juggernauts were created for the war. On the Phantom side, a defensive fleet was being created in case of invasion. Over the next few centuries, two more Installations were created.
The Mech-Phantom War
In the year 988, the Mechs launched Installations 5. Installation 5, created as a mobile invasion front, was deployed near a sector capital in Phantom Space. Communications were disrupted and the planet was bombarded. Despite heavy retaliation by the Phantoms, the Mechs, by the end of the invasion, managed to butcher every single Phantom in the system. By 1100, due to a resulting famine and several Mech invasions of supporting colonies, the sector had collapsed. The Phantoms retaliated by sending a fleet to attack the Mechs at a planned rendevous point. The resulting deep space battle lasted for three months, resulting in the devastation of both fleets.
The Mechs responded to this by moving the Installation to another planet in another sector called Abaddon. Abaddon, formerly a lush planet with amazing plant and animal life, contained a Phantom colony and was practically the auxiliary capital of the Phantom Empire. The Mechs blockaded the planet and held it captive. They attempted to negotiate peace with the Phantoms; end of the war and recognization of the Mechs as a new sentient race. The Phantoms debated over the matter. During this, riots broke out in their streets. The inaction of the Phantoms was splitting their citizens apart.
In 1201, the Phantoms dispatched a massive fleet. In one of the largest fleet actions in galactic history, the system was surrounded and Installation 5 was bombarded by the combined efforts of the fleet. The Mechs dispatched more of their ships while the Mech Virus picked at the fleet. In the end, Installation 5 was crippled. It entered into an unstable near-planet orbit, forcing mass evacuations of the planet. Debris slammed into the planet for a week before, despite the efforts of the Phantoms, Installation 5 itself slammed into the planet. The intense heat turned the crust, and anything on the planet, to molten slag. Installation 5, however, was gone and the Mech war effort was, for a time, halted, if not crippled.
The Mechs built up their fleets for another action as a new installation, Installation 6, was created. In the 1,518th year of the war, the Mechs invaded the new capital of the sector Abbadon had represented. Every colony and planet in the sector that contained Phantoms would be scoured and bombed. The Mechs, seeing the loss of other organic life as irrelevant, had no problem destroying massive populations at the loss of indigenous species. The Phantoms, who had lost almost half of their navy to the Mechs, were unable to prevent such a loss. Minor battles continued as the systems were purged by Mechs.
In the second millenium of the conflict, the Phantoms weaponized The Forge. The massive terraformer was capable of creating such energy that, in an uncontrolled environment, entire starships or even planets could be decimated. Mech space was found and intercepted by the Phantoms. The goal was to use The Forge to destroy Installation 1. The battle resulted in a Phantom retreat, but not before firing The Forge at a random Installation. It managed to graze Installation 4, which was damaged in the process, but began showing signs of organic life within a century.
The incident made the Mechs desperate to end the war. They repurposed Installation 6 as the War Installation and sent it on a journey to the Phantom homeworld. The mission of the Mechs had changed. They wanted the war to end desperately. The course resulted in the Installation taking down Kellex and Visbeen, sector capitals on the way to the Phantom homeworld. The Mechs eventually found themselves on the Phantom Homeworld. Nothing is known to the rest of the galaxy about the planet save for its status.
The world was once covered in a massive city. Trillions of citizens lived on the planet. High in orbit was 9VA, a massive space station and orbital shipyard. The planet was guarded by the Phantom navy. When the Mechs entered the system, Installation 6 was aware that it may not survive the battle. It was the first Mech to enter the system. The oort cloud of the system was disturbed, causing several comets to make their way to the planets of the system, some even hitting the Phantom Homeworld. The Mech Fleets followed soon behind it. The battle, perhaps the largest battle in the history of the galaxy, lasted for three days as opposed to the seige of Abaddon.
The Mechs surrounded the planet while Installation 6 began to spread the virus to the fleet and onto the planet. Electrical malfunctions soon turned into power outages, circuit overloads, or, in the most extreme cases, complete self-awareness. Citizens were trapped in their homes by doors that would not open. Entire districts of the planet lost power. During the second day of the battle, both fleet numbers grew thin as the Mech fleet and Phantom fleet picked at the other. On the third day, The Forge was brought into the battle. It began to aim for Installation 6, which had moved to eclipse the sun. The gravitational pull of Installation 6, however, resulted in the Phantom Homeworld shifting in its orbit. The Forge had to make a last-minute miscalculation to avoid hitting the planet. It used its highest setting in the hopes of destroying Installation 6.
A battle near The Forge resulted in it forcing to move farther away from the main battle. The third recalculation resulted in a disatrous mistake. The Forge missed Installation 6 and hit the planet, destroying it. With the Phantom homeworld gone and the gravity well disrupted, all ships in orbit were thrown off, causing mass confusion in the Phantoms. The change was made worse as, in the confusion, Installation 6 ordered the retreat of all Mech forces. The Mech ships left the system at above-light speeds before the Installation itself propelled itself away from the system. The movement of such a gravity well caused even more chaos. Phantom ships collided as debris pelted the discombobulated ships.
The major victory of the Mechs resulted in heavy loss of morale in the Phantoms. Within a decade, the Empire officially collapsed. The Mechs celebrated the supposed end of the war until a last-ditch attempt to destroy the Mechs was discovered. The Mechs prevented the attack altogether and declared the Phantom race an enemy of the Mechs. What was a war turned into a coordinated holocaust of an entire species. After the loss of almost 95% of their population already, however, the Phantoms had no hope of recovering.
Thousands of years passed as the Phantoms were hunted. Gene pools shrunk as the surviving colonies starved and collapsed. Within eight thousand years of the start of the massive galactic war, the Phantoms were, for all intents and purposes, extinct. The Mechs didn't want territory or resources. They just wanted the Phantoms dead. The last Phantom holdout was located near Sol. A Mech fleet pursued the holdout. They discovered a small fleet of cruisers guarding The Forge, scarred from battles. The Mech fleet battled the Phantoms in deep space as The Forge fled the battle, heading closer to the star in the hopes of faking its destruction. A lone cruiser followed it.
The Forge had no defenses. The cruiser crippled it near the third planet, Earth. The Forge was caught in the planet's gravitational pull without any engines. As the rest of the Mech fleet that had been pursuing the holdout joined the lone cruiser, The Forge entered Earth's atmosphere and struck near the Yucatan Peninsula. The Mechs watched as the last Phantoms died and a wave of mass extinctions inadvertently followed on the planet due to the collision.
The 64 Million Year Peace
With the Phantoms gone, the Mechs stripped their planets clean of resources. Abbadon was captured in Installation 1's orbit and taken to Mech Space where, as it cooled, it would be mined. The Mechs all returned to Mech Space and lived their lives in relative peace. There were no battles, no troubles, though the Mechs were prepared at any time. Mech space became a fixed location at the edge of the galaxy. The Mechs did not care to watch the galaxy, as it didn't affect them anymore, nor did they care to affect it. In their eyes, organics were seen as useless and unworthy of the gifts the Mechs could bestow on them.
The Mech Network is governed by the Installations. There are now 118 Installations. The largest ones, Installations 1-10, are the size of average terrestrial planets with Installation 1 being twice the size of Earth at this point. The other Installations are the size of asteroids and minor planets, with the newer ones being the smallest. The Installatiosn communicate through an exclusive electronic network that only Installations can read. No other being, synthetic or otherwise, can communicate through these means. The Installations must all agree on a matter before proceeding.
The Mechs do not worship any deity, nor do they follow any religion. They are an atheistic race, though the Installations, while not seen as gods, are held in high regard. To attack an Installation is analogous to organic blasphemy. Despite their care for the Installations, they do not worship them, build shrines to them, or pray to them. They are simply revered as creators with immense amounts of power. They do not need or desire worship.
Mechs do not eat, though they do require recharging at times. Despite being largely powered either by Installations or kinetic energy gathered in their joints, energy can be used to directly recharge them. Energy can have certain currents that cause particular emotions. There is no way for a non-Mech to appreciate Mech cuisine. The lack of food alone can make discussing things with a Mech very challenging.
Art & Music
Mechs do not appreciate aesthetic quality. They see physical traits as irrelevant, resulting in Mech environments, especially on Installations, seeming bulky and ugly to organics. Mechs do, however, appreciate music. Electric orchestras can be heard around Mech space. Mech art is created via their internet. The closest thing organics have to Mech art is digital art. There is no way for non-Mechs to appreciate or even acknowledge Mech art, nor is there an instance of a Mech enjoying physical art.