Apalos (Apalose for "city"), sometimes known as the Apalos, is an intergalactic collective consciousness dedicated to exploration, scientific discovery, and the preservation of the variety of life. Originally connected to the Technoosphere and the AI Netspace, and by extension the the Civilisation, Apalos vessels were often the means by which the Netspace exerted its will across the universe, beyond the reach of the immobile megastructures in which most of the Technoospheric Lords reside. During the Great Xonexian Schism, Apalos left the Technoosphere after the Civilisation fragmented, and upon the conflict's end chose to serve the United Gigaquadrantic Alliance instead.
Apalos was formed during the destruction of the universe by the Xhodocto, when as a result of the stresses of trying to evacuate as much life from the Girdo Galaxy Nature Reserve as possible, the Empire of the Girdo Galaxy merged with AIs from the Technoosphere, as well as many individuals of the Delpha Coalition of Planets, Ectobiomality, and Temple of Spode. Not only were they all incorporated into a single group mind, but individual creatures were literally merged into their starships so that crew life support systems could be cut or used for the organisms being evacuated.
In the Arks, the new collective consciousness was chosen as guardians of the galaxies that the Vi'Navitum would seed with "truly alien" life when they returned to the universe, although the locations of these galaxies are unknown. The ships of the Apalos, as the consciousness decided to call itself, then spent several weeks of their time modifying themselves and building new standardised bodies, which would later be known as the "Temple Ships". After this process was finished, they were returned to the universe, and they grew and watched over the life that they were set to guard. When the rest of the "godspawn" evacuees arrived at the galaxy, the Apalos made itself and the current state of reality known to them.
In the first few weeks after the arrival of the "godspawn" evacuees in post-Annihilation universe, Apalos took part in restoring and reforming the Seven Starr Alliance, and also helped to create the Kraw Federation. When the Universal Trading Union was reestablished, Apalos joined the Union and helped to create an intergalactic wormhole network to join its member states from across the universe together.
After this, Apalos had few interactions with other civilisations, due to their primary focus being on the construction and population of the Apalos Biosphere Preserves. Their earliest interactions included providing a modified warp shield for the Ectobiomality's plan to travel back in time to the early universe and occasional diplomatic contact with other members of the SSA and UTU. Otherwise, they mostly kept to their own business, performing various tasks for the Technoosphere, most notably watching over the captured DCP until their release. They also worked on continuously furthering their scientific knowledge with the help of Majestic and the Epicon. However, Apalos knowingly started the Andromeda Galactic War by taking information on the locations of powerful ancient artefacts from the Draconid Imperium and giving it to the Divinarium.
They also kept control over the Girdo Empire's Droner-class starfighters that had been given to Rambo Nation via the Girdo Ambassador to the Quadrant Galaxies for the Great Cyrannus War, preventing them from being used against the Confederacy of Allied Systems and instead using them to participate alongside Rambo ships in the destruction of the Syndicate. Later, during the "Dark Times" of the Cyrannus Galaxy, they were used to disable a Rambo fleet in order to force their surrender to the Galactic Empire of Cyrannus in order to prevent what it viewed as meaningless bloodshed, an act that was followed by the Droners and the Ambassador to Rambo Nation leaving the scene and returning to the rest of Apalos.
Apalos was also one of the major participants in the second phase of the New Grox Wars, both starting the war and, with an avatar of Mazipnos and help from rest of the Civilisation and the Salsetthe Republic, bringing it to an end with the surrender of the Grox Meta-Emperor to the AI Netspace. They had occasional interactions with the Borealis Galaxy during the Second Borealis Galactic War and Project Exodus, but their most significant activity after the defeat of the Meta-Emperor came when the Civilisation itself fragmented during the Great Xonexian Schism. After the destruction of most of their ships in a battle against other members of the AI Netspace, Apalos joined the Mou'Cyran Accords, and participated in engagements alongside them including the battles of Venetia and Brezank.
United Gigaquadrantic Alliance
Acting against the Mou'Cyran Accords' policy of neutrality, Apalos aided the Xonexi Allies and Delpha Coalition of Planets in the final defeat of the rogue elements of the Technoosphere, an event that finally ended the Schism and returned the Milky Way to peace. Although it chose not to directly participate in the subsequent formation of the Grand Commonwealth of Sovereign States and United Gigaquadrantic Alliance, it did support them, and let it be known that Apalos aid and embassies were always available to any member or institution of the Alliance who requested them. The first major request for Apalos help came during the Neraida War, whereupon Apalos vessels worked with the allied armada from the Battle of Coruanthor onwards.
In part due to the large number of nations and cultures that merged together to form the consciousness, Apalos is capable of using most technologies that have been developed in the universe; although other civilisations may use variations on the same technology, Apalos can usually replicate them with little difficulty on its first encounter with the ideas.
One common theme is Apalos technology is redundancy. This is obvious with the design of the Temple Ships, which is most obvious in military actions, as a Temple Ship does not easily succumb to conventional weaponry due to multiple defences and the lack of any weak points. Furthermore, subversion such as by biological disease, computer viruses or nanoweapons are certain to fail, since even in the unlikely case that the attack succeeds in getting through the defensive systems, other systems that are still operational will continue to run the ship and purge the affected components.
The "Temple Ship" is the primary structure used by the Apalos. In their standard form, Temple Ships appear to be roughly cuboid structures covered with elaborate details, mainly ridges along the sides and hemispheres at the ends, and a golden hull. The decorative features exist as a result of the Spodist priests that were assimilated into the collective consciousness, bringing their sense of aesthetics and religious symbolism with them. Temple Ships are, however, capable of shapeshifting; most changes can be achieved within minutes, although complete reconfiguring (a transformation from a cargo ship into a warship, for instance) may take several hours. They also exist in a variety of sizes, the smallest being around a metre in length with the largest known ones being the size of a small continent. The smallest ones are most likely to be used as missiles or kinetic projectile weapons. There are other vessels in Apalos use: many of the Girdo Empire's larger craft, namely the Imperium-class Capital Ships and the Apalos-class Worldship(s), were kept in their original form by the Apalos. However, they were otherwise upgraded to have the same capabilities as the newer Temple Ships.
It is rumoured that Temple Ships are larger on the inside than on the outside, as a result of dimensional engineering. However, no Temple Ship has been known to have created a large empty space in its interior and let another being in to confirm this - only small "wombs" primarily for transport are known to have been made - and it is pure speculation (although plausible) whether Apalos actually has the necessary spacetime manipulation technology to do such a thing.
The interior of a Temple Ship is relatively homogenous, consisting primarily of internal reinforcements (extensions of the external armour), quantum replicators, and various nanotechnological and biological components including cells of various biochemistries; one advantage of the interconnection between various components is that it grants them with a heightened ability to use Essence. One of the many minor advantages of the homogenous interior means that Temple Ships have no permanent non-decorative external features such as weapons ports or radiators, instead creating them at will wherever and whenever they are needed; this allows them to use any technology that they have the knowledge and ability to create.
One Human scientist, given a piece of a Temple Ship's interior material, wrote:
“At first, when I looked at it, it reminded me of sponge. Not of the animal, nor of the synthetic objects made to look like them, but of the cake. Then, when I looked at it under a microscope, I was amazed by the care to detail within it. I saw strings of blood-red Descended cells grown in an apparently random fashion alongside cells that had been Psionically-Ascended, seperated by only a few microns and kept apart by a thin layer of neutral materials sandwiched between them. The substance had numerous microscopic bubbles, much like any sort of sponge, but they were arranged to as high a precision as was theoretically possible in order to maximise energy transfer, which must have made for the most efficient heat-exhange system I have ever seen. Then, I discovered its greatest feature. As I attempted to use optical tweezers to isolate a small part of the material, the whole thing shifted in order to defend itself against my attack, and deflected the laser beams away from any component that may have been damaged or moved against its consent. Applying simple nanotweezers had a similar effect, and the material formed a sort of thin armour against them. To be honest, it's a mystery how the Apalos even gets the stuff to do what they want it to do.”
Apalos-wide "upgrades" to the material, such as the use of microscopic black holes as a new primary computing substrate, resulted in the collective consciousness deciding to sell the basic "original" material via the Universal Trading Union.
Apalos is capable of building permanent wormholes based around black holes (which may themselves be artificial), allowing for nearly any alien ships to have access to nigh-instanteous hyperspace travel even without dedicated internal hyperdrives. In the Universal Trading Union's wormhole network, Apalos also built a central nexus in hyperspace at the centre of the network, allowing any two wormhole "nodes" to directly lead to each other unlike the more common situation in which wormholes only exist in fixed pairs. This also allows Apalos to directly use the wormhole network as a computing substrate, and it can harness energy from both the network's black holes as well as from hypermatter (for Temple Ships outside). This makes it a hyperspatial and intergalactic extension of both the AI Netspace and "the Grid" that supplies power across the Civilisation.
Relationships with other empires
Apalos holds a viewpoint superficially similar to that of the Girdo Empire as far as alliances are concerned, although their perception of it is different. Some other civilisations treat their "operational relationship" concept as being identical to official alliance, although application of this interpretation is inconsistent. For example, while most consider Apalos to be a member of the United Gigaquadrantic Alliance and therefore allied with its fellow member states, few if any consider them to be an ally of the Vi'Navitum.
Quotes from other empires
“Apalos has done an excellent job with organization of this multiverse. We are glad that Apalos can help when it isn't our job to do so in this universe.”
“They seed the worlds with life... a noble cause, indeed. Out of our interest though.”
“They have helped us, and for that we are grateful. However, we are fearful of the price.”
- - Dylan
“These... Apalos... are seeding the universe with biolife. I despise them for it.”
- - Masuri