T.memeticus: A Morphology was the fourth story in The Book of the Enemy.
Summary[edit | edit source]
Pre-Narrative Briefing[edit | edit source]
Story[edit | edit source]
In the Stacks, eight objects, Braquemard, and Mace sit around. They know that Father Stendec is on the trail of a cryptid, and that these eight objects are supposedly linked to it, and one by one Mace picks up the objects and tells Braquemard what he thinks their story is.
Morrahaurm, a saurian, in her submersible, tried to escape Kotdel, as she thought back on what made her come on this trip. A wreck, a relic of extraterrestrial visitors to earth, looking like multiple snakes turned to stone. A scientist suggested that the lack of craters in the area confirmed the age, but Morrahaurm was unsure, thinking that if it was advanced enough it might just have appeared. Kotdel then went to look at the ship when it was cut free, before attacking everyone else onboard and destroying all recordings of the ship.
The city of Antivocallio, through temporal fallout from the War, existed in different zones in time. George Stillsome worked at a print works, taking in manuscripts from monks, rendering them into moveable type, and sending them to a publisher who would make them into mass market paperbacks and digitize them. Stillsome was sent a picture that he would need to have an artist render before sending further on, however, most of the page was obscured in ink, the animal described lived in the sea, but that's all that could be seen. In the end they accuse a cat of causing this mess.
Sir Archibald and Captain Mason examined the body of Dr Smallcoat, the top of his skull cut off and his brain removed, speculating that the local population did this to him. Around his desk were pages smeared with blood, as Smallcoat was doing an anthropological study of the natives on Queen Anne's Island. One belief he found was of an ancestor spirit, a sea creature with claws and tentacles, and that man, or at least some men, lived in the sea before growing the necessary equipment needed for terrestrial life. As Archibald and Mason investigated the room further, they found that there was no sign of forced entry, and the only way in was a gap in some boards large enough for a small cat that smelled faintly of fish.
Sister Hilda called for Pontifical Guards as her partner was bitten. As they arrived, they examined the scene. Worried about a Mal'akh getting into the Vatican through their defenses, they analyzed what happened. The creature looked looked like Sister Sexburga, but the bite marks look more like it's puckered than punctured. One of the guards took him to better treatment, but screams were heard throughout the archives. The guards rushed to them, Hilda following close behind. When they got there, they were told that the creature just dissolved, a completely new type of termination, no dust, no bones, just disappearing into the floor. But it took with it a 21st century DVD called Monsters of the Deep about weird marine biology.
The Infernal Sphere was a Dyson sphere surrounding a primordial black hole, with inhabitants who could take any form they chose. Lady Thelema, the Homeworld's ambassador, had been summoned to meet with Prince Baphomet and his concubine. The two tell her that they would like to trade information with her - for they have found a timeship of the Great Houses. As this information was given, Thelma, who emphatically was not an ambassador of the Homeworld as she grew a third arm, pulled out a bell, book, and candle.
A sentient mangrove walked the surface of the greenworld, a spider walking with him, sixteen forested planets and satellites, all grown from the long departed earth, populated by comets. As he walked, he thought and worried about the recent tunguska events, impacting others on other worlds, and how it had threatened the memories of the greenworld. The mangrove trekked to the heartwood, where the historians lived, and asked of the massacre of trees at Queen Anne's Island. He asks what is remembered. Above him the sky explodes with fire, flattening trees for hundreds of miles and killing wildlife as well. The spider is already gone.
Someone starts recording his remembrance of how Professor Maddox went insane. For safety reasons, as Maddox disappeared in the last year, as well as a few people who knew Maddox. Maddox was a huge fan of cephalopods, the weirder the better. And one day she was talking about the mimic octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus. But Maddox had written up on the board Thaumoctopus memeticus instead, an octopus that doesn't exist. And eventually Maddox started going wildly off script, raving about a new type of octopus she discovered, the memetic octopus, that takes any form approximately, and your brain fills in the rest. It even acts like that form, you can talk to them, it's four dimensional and can pull extra tentacles from its past and future to better approximate certain shapes, and can even become an idea. She went into the restroom and never came out, her clothes cellphone and laptop all there, but toilet filled with ink. As this story is told, whoever it's told to begins to transform and attack the person who told it.
A warzone on a planet was created by the Celestis in order to protect a data cache, with different genres of literature and accounts of history mashing together and fighting it out. Groups of various characters and historical figures are hired by the Great Houses to recover the data cache, but before they even approach it, they're told that it's been stolen by something else. First a swamp dragon, then a swordfish, then a lizard-man, the only certainty is that it has tentacles.
Braquemard reflects that while Mace is a great psychometrist, he's a horrible storyteller. But something doesn't add up, how has the creature not heard of psychometry in 65 million years? It turns out Maddox is correct, and the creature can turn itself into an idea. The objects and Maddox all change form into a tentacled monster that attacks Mace, and now has access to the Stacks, all the records of Faction Paradox.
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Cousin Mace
- Cousin Braquemard
- Commander Auxtac
- George Stillsome
- Sir Archibald Hammock
- Dr Philemon Smallcoate
- Lieutenant Tankerville
- Sister Hilda
- Brother Wilbraham
- Sister Sexburga
- Lady Thelema
- Prince Baphomet
- Maddie Maddox
- Sir Kingsley Amis
References[edit | edit source]
- Héloïse loved Peter Abelard in her first life.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The inhabitants of the Infernal Sphere are similar to the People from the novel The Also People. Both groups live in dyson spheres, have the ability to transform their bodies, and have political connections with the Great Houses. However, both Prince Baphomet's appearance and namesake, as well as the assertion that an act of self-sacrifice "would destroy them," draw parallels to the Dæmons introduced in the televised story The Dæmons.
- The story was preceded in the anthology by Pre-narrative Briefing D and Pre-narrative Briefing E.
Continuity[edit | edit source]
- Godfathers Stendec and Morlock are mentioned. (PROSE: The Book of the War, et al)
- Kotdel and Imp'lok are members of a Triad. (TV: Warriors of the Deep)
- Morrahaurm briefly thinks of her people's flying kindred. (AUDIO: The Adolescence of Time)
- Smallcoate found traces of the memeticus in the myths of the Ainu (PROSE: The Book of the War) and the Mayakai. (PROSE: The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, COMIC: Political Animals, Bêtes Noires & Dark Horses)
- The Collection of Necessary Secrets originates from PROSE: Christmas on a Rational Planet.
- Wilbraham originates from PROSE: De Umbris Idearum.
- Pope Beatrix's Crusade against the Mal'akh is mentioned. (PROSE: De Umbris Idearum)
- The inhabitants of the Infernal Sphere are allied with the Osirian Court. (AUDIO: Coming to Dust, et al)
- Sentient trees exist in an era after the destruction of Earth. (TV: The End of the World)
- The Celestis use "world-warping mechanisms fueled by literature". (PROSE: The Taking of Planet 5)
- Héloïse and Zaleena meet with with a starfish-like creature with five legs, five tentacles, and five eyestalks, who claims to be skilled in martial arts. (PROSE: Venusian Lullaby)