The Dark Ones were a collection of mysterious, evil entities, who apparently corrupted and directed the Mishhuvurthyar hordes.
The Dark Mishhuvurthyar, the Dark Ones, or the Umbral as Melisson had preferred naming her kind in the Trade Language: little known creatures, seldom ever glimpsed and rarely spoken of.
When they were referred to, it was generally in the frame of horror stories which often seemed to lack any real substance. Mefpralphra demonstrated why. The Umbral were terrible opponents that rarely ever left survivors in their wake.
It should be noted that the mysterious entities referred to as the Dark Ones (who created the Mishhuvurthyar as we known them today) appeared around the same time Yamatai started using aether, and that they have demanded that nations stop or reduce aether usage, indicating they have some sort of direct interest in the aether or are from the aetherverse.
“My species would refer to itself in the Nepleslian language as the 'Umbral' - The 'Dark Ones' is a less accurate, but more popular appellation amongst the Mishhuvurthyar.” Melisson answered. “A cloudy, humid planet spawned us and as further back as my inherited memories go, we were the dominant predators of that world.”
“My memories do not explain how we came to be, or why each of our entities were an agglomeration of smaller adaptive creatures that merged together in collaborative symbiosis. Each of these entities were distinct despite the legion of smaller being composing them. The Umbral were territorial, solitary, sought sustenance, and when these needs came into conflict with other entities we fought; the victor slew the competing entity, went unchallenged in his dominion, and generally absorbed the stronger surviving fragments of the defeated.”
“Over a period of our population conserving their stronger traits through natural selection, we became more complex beings. Our bodies were powerful so we had little use for technology, but our psionic potential made up for that initial lack of technical ingenuity and we slowly became more and more aware of what might lie beyond the cloudy cover of our greenhouse world and more existential questions came to us as we became capable of philosophy and imagination.”
“That curiosity eventually led us struggle past our territorial urges, cooperate, and develop technology. To research why things were as they were. Meteorology eventually gave way to astrology when we realized what truly was beyond the cloud cover and we struggled to reach space and gain purchase there, a perch that would allow us to extend and see this wholly new facet of our universe.”
“We were not alone amongst the stars, and our first contact was a fortunate one. The first whom found us were a species of silicon lifeforms you would call the 'Varins'. They came in their shining crystal ships, communicated through alien sonic oscillations, and eventually managed to tactfully and respectfully win over our fear of the unknown.”
“Out of the many races, we got along with them very well. They were not flesh and blood, and were too alien to trigger the worst in our territorial instincts. Thanks to them, our potential developed - developed in a way which was our own thanks to the careful fostering of the Varin. their method of uplifting us was not to forcefeed knowledge to us, but rather help us develop better ways of learning for ourselves.”
“We eventually became contributing members of that partnership. Our solitary nature had us prefer long range exploration in single-manned crafts - where we could be alone with the stars, learn, and eventually return that knowledge to our councils where the eldest amongst us gathered the information collectively learned by our explorers to be shared by all.”
“How diverse are your kind? Is there a standard 'type' like Mefpralphra's form? Do you have a general shape with slight variations like humans? Are there certain factors that influence this?” Nyton then continued asking. With subtle curiosity he wondered how much further Melisson would humor him.
“We are the Umbral. We collectively take form in the shape you beheld Mefpralphra as, though we've learned to not be confined by it,” she told him. “We vary in affinity roughly akin to how humans could vary: for example, you could consider Mefpralphra as a thinker and a talented psionic whereas her counterpart Reiaz is more a warrior-like hunter. Usually time, accumulated experience, remains from our competitors and trials we need to surmount gradually shape those inclinations.”
“Mefpralphra is often thought of as a 'she' due to her progenitor role toward the Mishhuvurthyar, and her influence has had her named the 'Infection Queen',” Melisson tolerantly told Nyton, “but the Umbral don't have a male and female gender like you do.”
The Umbral, as a species, are still distant from the Humanoid/Mishhuvurthyar war.
With a thundering clamor, the receptacle the Infection Queen was in struck the floor, crushing and pulping the breeding units below it. with its shiny metal side streaked with red, the thing jostled until it was nearly still, and then violently, it explosively burst apart as a dark form forced her appendages outward from its confines.
Two dozen tentacles had reached out to sink their single-clawed ends into the crystaline-crusty floor for purchase, then straining to heave out of the debris of its former shell the main body.
That's when it became obvious that the Infection Queen was no Mishhuvurthyar.
It was like comparing a bee to an hornet. The main body was sleek, its shiny oil-black hide was smooth and dense like a shark's than a shelled exoskeleton except for lingering, more geometric scars that still told the story of her PNUgen-enforced incarceration. Four eyes - dark and their insides shining almost like lanterns from the way they gathered the light and kept it in their dark depts - were at the wedge-shaped front, smoothly integrated into the skin rather than set in pairs into eyesockets like the Mishhuvurthyar. Spined frills extended out of the upper back of the main body, more expansive than the elongated needlepoints of her mishhu offsprings. Her two-dozen tentacles, ridged and ribbed with red, smoothly flowed out of her lower behind rather than dangle down from a Mishhu's exoskeletal shell - each not a stub with a needlepoint retracted, but rather a bony claw the size of a katana.
- - - In that brief instant where Mefpralphra passed overhead her, her body growing translucent, the Shosa picked up one critical detail: the Umbral Elder's undermaw - an almost lamprey-like circle of teeth supplemented by four wickedly-long jutting fangs.
Now an image of Mefpralphra was made visible. Images of the humanoid and insect creatures it spawned were also generated. “Mefpralphra was the most terrifying beast I have ever fought. Not only did it have immense strength, psionic presence, phasing abilities and speed it also spawned these creatures here to harass us. Each monster was a challenge on its own not to mention together.
There are twelve members of the war council. Most of the elders presently in the war council are replacements to even older elders destroyed by Hanako's Plumeria.
“Back on your ship we had discussed your kind the Umbral. What sort of planet type is your homeworld, where is it located and has your kind migrated or expanded to other worlds?” Nyton asked.
“A marshy greenhouse world. It is not located in your region of space. Yes, we've expanded,” Melisson answered him.