When encountered, these rare, shapeshifting hive aliens show a keen interest in learning about and mimicking other species. Their seeming innocence might have resulted from some ancient sentence passed on the species in retribution for some monstrous crime abusing its shapechanging abilities.
Agility 3D+2: dodge 4D+2, running 4D+2, sleight of hand 5D+2
Strength 3D: climb/jump 4D
Knowledge 3D+1: survival 5D+1
Perception 4D: hide 5D+2, con 6D, investigation 7D, know- how 7D
Strength Damage: 2D
Fate Points: 2
Body Points: 19
Character Points: 5
Wound levels: 3
Disadvantages: Cultural Unfamiliarity (R3), unfamiliar with the cultures of most sentient species; Enemy (R3), hunted by government agencies for research purposes; Prejudice (R1), experiences discrimination from others suspicious of motives if ide11tified as a shapeshifter; Quirk (R1), has a habit of picking up items assumed to be communal property; Quirk (R2), must conceal shapeshifring abilities
Special Abilities: Attack Resistance: Physical (R1), hive physiology provides +1D to damage resistance totals against physical attacks; Elasticity (R1), gains +1D to acrobatics, dodge, or sleight of hand totals, and con totals when disguising its appearance; Quick Study (R6), for all attributes; Master of Disguise (R1), +5 to disguising attempts and +1D to interaction rolls related to being in that disguise; Shapeshifting (R6), can shift between the form of a blob and various humanoid shapes with Restricted (R3), does not redistribute attribute dice to match the new form
A single Cree-va hive looks like an amorphous blob composed of millions of tiny insects. Their rounded carapaces give the outward appearance of a grainy skin, though some adapt to form sensory organs. In this shape, they seem small, about one meter in diameter; but when they alter themselves to mimic more intricate, anthropoid lifeforms, they stand about two meters tall (varying with different physique patterns).
The Cree-va’s shapeshifting ability allows the infinitesimal bugs to reconfigure and articulate the entire hive to roughly resemble any previously observed humanoid form. Creatures on the outside alter their pigmentation to resemble skin and hair coloration (though hair patterns rend to look chunky and unnatural). Hive members work cooperatively to move limbs for locomotion, object manipulation, and gestures.
The insects can even arrange themselves to simulate humanoid speech (with crowds of creatures forming bellows, larynx, and mouth) and eating (using a mouth and one large stomach chamber to chew and retain food respectively). In its nebulous form, the hive feeds by engulfing its food; those insects nor in immediate contact circulate with ocher, sated members of the hive, or rely on bugs who function as nutrient-delivery couriers. To preserve the illusion of any humanoid form the hive assumes, it consumes food through a mouth, with nutrients carried from the stomach to other body parts via insect workers.
Although the hive as a whole has no respiratory system, the composite insects still need the standard air mixture and pressure required to sustain most humanoid life. In this sense, a Cree-va can die of asphyxiation. Since all members of the hive link through a central “mind” they can still feel pain and sustain damage much like normal creatures, though they can rotate between active and inactive insects to essentially enable a form of damage resistance. Individual insects quickly die off if separated from the hive by more than three meters, so dissipating into a fleeing swarm isn’t a viable retreat option in the face of attack. If a Cree-va must flee, and is willing to sacrifice any illusion of impersonating a humanoid form, it uses its elastic properties to slip away through cracks or into other spaces inaccessible to its pursuers.
Cree-va are very self-conscious of their physical appearance. They have an innate understanding that their amorphous form and their ability to change shape instills fear and suspicion in others. Cree-va take great pains to remain out of sight of strangers until they attain a firm grasp of their body type and functions, basic language ability, and typical behaviors.
Hive members share a collective intelligence equivalent to that of many other sentient species. They can understand most behaviors they observe, extrapolate how they relate, and manipulate their communal body to mimic them and use them to their advantage. Upon initially studying a new humanoid form, a Cree-va experiments constituting similar limbs and body shapes, then practices mimicking movements. He may attempt to acquire acceptable accouterments (clothing, weapons, accessories, personal belongings) before making its presence known as a viable copy of the humanoid lifeform it’s examined. With time, a Cree-va can tailor its appearance to look like a generic specimen of a particular species or even a close replica of an individual.
Nobody knows how long a single Cree-va lives or whether it reproduces youngling-hives. Obviously individual insect members of the hive die off and spawn replacements for regular growth and healing, but the whole never reaches a size nor possess the knowledge to reproduce through fission. Upon death, the life force holding the hive together departs, and the illusion of a body dissolves into a dust composed of the desiccated bodies of millions of tiny insects.
The Cree-va do not exist as a cohesive species or government, so their presence in the galaxy often falls under anomalous encounters that rarely make sense unless far- sighted individuals put together many seemingly disparate pieces. They have no awareness chat others like them even exist, each individual believing it’s a unique lifeform with elastic, shapechanging properties.
To date nobody has compiled a “history” of odd appearances, disappearances, and other events related to these aliens, usually because few people ever realize a Cree-va they encounter is anything but the humanoid species it impersonates; fewer still see a Cree-va’s true, amorphous hive-form. Few definitively know this alien’s true nature and ancient past. Only far-flung pieces of evidence – inscriptions in lost temples, arcane romes hidden in vast libraries, cryptic verses of mythic poetry, and tales related by shriveled aliens as old as the universe – hint at their primeval origins.
The handful of scholars, scientists, and explorers who have any clue about the Cree-va’s existence believe no more than 50 of the distant, lonely aliens probably survive in the entire universe. They were once a more populous species or parts of an individual entity that some powerful and judicial interdimensional entity dispersed and exiled to the desolate corners of the universe as punishment for some heinous crime, no doubt perpetrated through their shapeshifting abilities. Their sentence presumably included having their collective memory wiped of information about their own species and those inhabiting the rest of the galaxy, as displayed through their general innocence and urge to learn about others.
Some might lie dormant in sealed prison vaults meant to incarcerate them for eons. Others wander in exile on planets void of intelligent life, seeking some meaning to their own existence until they stumble upon interstellar visitors (smugglers, explorers, merchants, military expeditions) by sheer happenstance. Nobody knows if any Cree-va have ever met any of their own kind, though some surmise that should this ever occur, they might exponentially increase their collective knowledge and their overall understanding of galactic society.
Log Entry 102-F-0903-C > “Bob”
That encounter with the patrol cruiser severely damaged Nelly’s Outrunner, so we put down on Sarrak’s Rock, a pretty bleak planet masked from the major space lanes by the Goran Nebula. After about two days working on exterior engine and hull repairs this fellow appears out of nowhere. Walks buck naked from behind some rocks. No cover anywhere; just struts out like he’s always been there.
We all drew blasters, since the ship’s databanks said this rock harbored no indigenous, sentient life. Fidelio asks what he wants.
“Can you hand me a spanner and a can of sealant?” the stranger replies. The guy looked goofy, like he was born yesterday. Didn’t have any name, no ID, spoke in rudimentary sentences; we figured he’d fit in with the rest of the crew.
We couldn’t go around calling him “that guy” all the time, so we just named him Bob. Seemed to suit him, since he grinned ridiculously every time we said it.
By the time we had Nelly’s Outrunner back in shape he was just as savvy and likable as any other easygoing smuggler. He spent way too much time talking with Fidelio, helping him with internal repairs (and reaching some components way back in the engineering spaces), talking about our latest cargo run, and learning some of the worst jokes in the galaxy. After a few days, he even began looking a bit more like Fidelio.
We made port at Jaskar after a week, swapped the cargo, collected our fee, and spent a night enjoying our spoils in town.
Next morning, Bob and Fidelio are gone; they don’t show up, and we can’t afford to wait, so we blast off for the run to Kelleraan without them. Too bad: we need a good mechanic like Fidelio, and we were really growing fond of Bob.
Mode of Operation
Before an often accidental first contact with outsiders, Cree-va live lonely existences unaware that any other beings possess their abilities. They subsist on food materials found in their habitat, find shelter when necessary, and explore their surroundings for any signs of sentient life or a means of escaping their planetary prison. Because they do not have any examples of humanoid life to emulate, they constantly vary their nebulous shape to best suit their current activity: a Cree-va hive engulfs food, stretches to reach normally inaccessible shelter, and bounds along like a bouncing spore ball to efficiently traverse distances.
When a solitary Cree-va notices humanoid lifeforms in its environment, something sparks in its collective hive mind and it gains an inexplicable urge to learn everything it can about this new species and copy it in every way. At first, it watches from a distance, gradually creeping closer in its amorphous form without giving itself away. In secret, it attempts to mimic everything about its subject: outward appearance, movement, speech, behavior.
Depending on its circumstances – especially whether or not it intrinsically trusts those it intends to contact – a Cree-va may cry collecting articles of clothing, accessories, gear, and personal possessions to enable it to better pass for a humanoid being (ostensibly one “stranded” on the planet by a strange and often inexplicable series of events). Sometime overly trusting Cree-va simply make first contact as a stark naked humanoid lifeform mimicking the body type of one of its subjects, though it initially takes care to avoid exact duplication lest it arouse suspicion.
When it feels confident enough, the Cree-va reveals itself in whatever way it feels would enable it to leave the planet and still gain information from its subjects. Sometimes it simply stows away on a ship, slipping aboard in nebulous form and hiding in inaccessible places from which it can still observe the crew. Most times, however, the alien tests its shapechanging abilities and the knowledge it’s gained about the species under examination. Taking the form of one species represented among those its encountered, the Cree-va attempts to integrate itself among the group. Whether naked or clothed, it offers the appearance of one who was lost or stranded in the area. Initially the alien displays an almost childlike innocence as it practices acquired. gestures. Many refrain from speaking at first, using this opening contact to more closely study speech patterns and syntax. Eventually the Cree-va opens up, befriending those it’s encountered and bombarding them with questions to learn about their lives. After a few days of constant contact, a Cree-va gains sufficient information to fully pass itself as a member of the particular species it’s studied.
Once integrated into society, Cree-va can virtually disappear among the masses. They avoid creating any dose bonds lest their companions discover their secret and subject them to suspicion and prejudice. Many strike out on their own, exploring the galaxy, seeking others like themselves, and accumulating knowledge (and the ability to mimic) other humanoid lifeforms. Some adopt a particular form for years; though, if modeled on an individual they run the risk of acquaintances and associates mistaking the mimicking Cree-va for the real person. Others constantly change their appearance, either for security reasons (to change their identity to avoid detection) or for the simple amusement of observing and copying interesting individuals and species. A rare few remain with those with whom they made initial contact, people who have proven their trustworthiness and loyalty in preserving the Cree-va’s life.
Although many Cree-va rejoice at their newfound freedom and companionship, they sail find surviving in the civilized galaxy a difficult challenge. They have no wealth or assets, and have a fundamental problem understanding the concept of personal property. They rely on the goodwill ofothers to provide them with food, accommodations, work, and transport. Occasionally Cree-va resort to t1sing their amorphous form to reach items they require, though they take great care to make sure nobody observes their unnatural transformation from a known humanoid species to a nebulous, creeping blob. Few have the patience to work at a job to earn credits to buy life’s necessities, a complex arrangement they fail to understand after eons away from society.
Throughout their lives, integrated Cree-va constantly strive to increase their knowledge of all aspects of humanoid life: language, behavior, technology, government, customs, politics, culture, history, and so on. They have no goal other than to become so fluent in these topics that they can plausibly impersonate members of those species and societies.
As a dispersed species whose members rarely learn of each other’s existence, the Cree-va have no technology of their own. Like their morphed appearances, voices, movements, and mannerisms, they adopt devices used by the humanoids they observe and encounter.
They employ the same techniques used to gather information about the subjects they imitate to observe and understand technology. Hand a Cree-va a blaster, and it won’t know what to do with it. If he witnesses a skirmish, however, he can grab a weapon and join in the next fray. Sometimes they learn from examining computer encyclopedia files and manuals for operating various pieces of equipment, but they absorb best by watching technology in action. Cree-va can learn how to operate and even repair most devices once they’ve had a chance to study a sample firsthand.
Technology forms the basis of many concepts Cree-va simply do not understand, among them personal property, theft, and warfare. Personal Property: Their general innocence toward galactic society creates an impediment to comprehending the idea of personal property, and subsequently many laws protecting one’s possessions. This manifests itself in behavior that civilized beings would consider kleptomania, but in fact represents a naive habit of assuming that property exists for the communal use of all members of society. 11ms, a Cree-va masquerading as a Terran might walk off with someone’s hand comp because he needs it, but he would just as easily set it down when he’s finished using the device. It would “borrow” someone’s private vehicle to travel to a destination and then leave it behind for someone else to use. Only after many years in civilized society do some Cree-va realize that each person has some special belongings (holos of family members, favorite gear, clothing), usually marked in some individual manner, with which they never part. The concept of working for wages to afford daily needs remains foreign, which allows them the opportunity to wander about, absorbing every aspect of a society, without worrying about spending time at a menial job or finding some form of income.
Theft: The few corrupt individuals who understand the alien’s innocence (and sometimes even their elastic, shapechanging qualities) learn to manipulate them to their advantage. Criminals simply express their need to use an item in someone else’s possession and a Cree-va – hoping to please potential associates – acquires it for them. This trick works particularly effectively for items about which Cree-va have gained very little familiarity. Unfortunately this and their perceived kleptomania often put them in trouble with the law. Understanding an innate danger in pursuit and incarceration (especially related to concealing their true nature), Cree-va use their morphing powers to their fullest potential in evading or escaping from anyone seeking to harm them.
Warfare: Cree-va understand the value of an individual life, since isolated individuals perceive themselves as the only specimen of their kind in the galaxy. They also cannot grasp the concept of going to war, or even killing someone, for material gain. Cree-va do not engage in combat unless threatened. To them, violence is only a means of self-defense, not a way to achieve goals. They believe if an object, resource, territory, or planet exists, everyone should have the opportunity to use it for their simple needs.
Genetech Research Order 171-AB-90
At the request of Genetech’s supreme board and the Council of Six ruling the Starfield Confederacy. Research Division requests Material Acquisition obtain – at any cost – a living or deceased specimen of the elusive, shapeshifting alien code named “Mirror Bob.”
See attached file BOB-27CS for information on possible encounters and sightings of an alien with amazing abilities to morph its body into the form and, in some cases, the exact likeness of any humanoid. Official intelligence sources believe this doppelganger (or several similar creatures) is responsible for killing and assuming the identities of several individuals within the Starfield Confederacy and nearby territories. Pay particular attention to the brief but informative log entry from the captured smuggler vessel Nelly’s Outrunner; the crew member known as Fidelio was found dead two weeks later, though informers within the smuggler community claim they’ve since seen him alive on several occasions.
Acquisition agents should not allow themselves to lower their guard should they encounter these aliens in a seeming state of childlike innocence, ignorance. and dependence. Maintain suspicion of any alien displaying a grainy skin pattern and pebbly, stiff hair, or of those who slightly alter their appearance to more accurately imitate others. The supreme board has authorized suitable use of force, with the caveat that a retrieved specimen have the majority of its organic tissue undamaged. Research Division has authorized bonus pay for the agent or team that obtains a viable sample of “Bob,” with double bonuses for a living specimen.