Talking Pet (device)

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The first and last of its race, a new life form created by the Umgah gengineers, perhaps the most dangerous creature in the known galaxy before its death. The Ariloula'leelay observed the crash of a Kzer-Za Dreadnought in the Alpha Pavonis system during the Doctrinal Conflict; seeing that the Dreadnought's self-destruct function had malfunctioned, for unknown reasons they chose to investigate the wreck and salvage it. The starboard warp pod from this wreck was used to build the Portal Spawner they gave to Captain Zelnick, while the only surviving life form from the wreck, the Kzer-Za Lord's Talking Pet, was taken by the Arilou for medical care. Since biology was not their field of expertise, the Arilou decided to take the Talking Pet to their Umgah friends to be treated.

The Umgah, rather than merely healing the Talking Pet's physical wounds, grew curious about its genetic code, finding long sequences of apparently useful genes that had been deactivated by artificial processes. Not knowing about the process by which the Ur-Quan had enslaved the Dnyarri and devolved them into the Talking Pets, they repaired the Talking Pet's DNA, both reactivating the racial memory system stored naturally in Dnyarri genes and restoring the Talking Pet's full intelligence and use of its psychic powers. Indeed, speculation exists that the Umgah gengineers' work enhanced the creature's psychic range and sensitivity far beyond that of its Dnyarri ancestors, since the original Dnyarri had needed to station themselves one to a planet to maintain their Empire while the neo-Dnyarri was able to exert dominance over the entire Umgah sphere of influence. However, this may have been a difference of subtlety in technique rather than increased power; it did not exert direct psychic control over all entities in the Umgah sphere of influence, since the Vindicator passed through Umgah space during the neo-Dnyarri's reign without its crew becoming possessed. Instead, it seems to have been able to implant post-hypnotic commands in its slaves that persisted for some time upon leaving its psychic field before wearing off; it was able to use this ability to fend off Zelnick's initial investigations by compelling him to fly to the Crateris constellation and attack the Sa-Matra.

Upon its awakening, the neo-Dnyarri, mentally taking stock of the events of the past 20,000 years, almost immediately embarked on a program of conquest and revenge. It quickly seized control of the Umgah homeworld, then began to send brainwashed Umgah slaves out of its sphere of psychic influence to search for information on the Ur-Quan and how they might be defeated. Unfortunately for its plans, the Umgah proved less than competent at deflecting the attentions of the nascent New Alliance of Free Stars. The human Captain Zelnick, armed with his Taalo Shield and his enormous Precursor starship, was able to fight past all the neo-Dnyarri's defenses. Planning to kill the neo-Dnyarri, he found that the Dnyarri's powerful instinct of self-preservation gave it enough strength to protect itself even with the Shield active, forcing Zelnick to spare its life and take it into his protection on the Vindicator. However, the Shield's power, as well as Zelnick's own strength of will, kept the neo-Dnyarri's powers mostly muzzled during its time on the Vindicator.

Details about the neo-Dnyarri's nature were hard to come by during its residence on the Vindicator, since it was not above using minor psychic compulsions to turn aside inquiries about itself, particularly its psychology and its psi abilities; initial tests, before the Dnyarri began openly manipulating its testers to falsify results, showed its measured IQ to be far above that of the greatest human geniuses and its personality to be classified in the category labeled "Furtive-Hateful" by human xenologists, due to its antisocial habits and its direct, sadistic desire for others' pain and suffering. Physically it appeared, like all Talking Pets, as a quadruped similar in size to a small dog, with small, atrophied limbs, a grossly bulging cranium, and a human-like face. Capable of communicating either by telepathy or speech as it chose, its recall of both ancient racial memories and of recent events was incredibly detailed, and it was able to learn both Umgah and human language, culture, and mannerisms at a prodigious rate. Its life on board the Vindicator was a constant series of petty demands that its handlers were incapable of refusing, and twisted mind games played by spreading gossip and false rumors based on its telepathic reading of the crew's thoughts. It was well known for repeatedly attempting to deceive humans about the history of the Dnyarri Slave Empire to put itself in a better light; what humans have learned both from the Ur-Quan themselves and more apparently neutral parties like the Melnorme and the Chmmr indicate that almost no historical information obtained from the neo-Dnyarri can be considered reliable.

Zelnick accepted the neo-Dnyarri's proposed plan for allying to defeat the Ur-Quan, with the knowledge that he must at the same time seek a way to betray and destroy it before it could escape and conquer the galaxy. The neo-Dnyarri, deeply familiar with the thought-patterns of its ancestors' favorite slaves, was able to launch the Ur-Quan defenders of the Sa-Matra into mindless confusion even through the Taalo Shield's influence, allowing Zelnick to advance his bold scheme of using the Vindicator as a suicide bomb against the Sa-Matra. Luckily, it seems like Zelnick was able to confuse his own conscious intentions about the plans for this battle even to himself, putting himself in an fearful emotional state in which he was able to "accidentally forget" to enact any plans to bring the neo-Dnyarri with him on the escape pod before the Vindicator exploded, a fact which the neo-Dnayarri, sneering at Zelnick's scatterbrained anxiety, only realized just before its death.

The neo-Dnyarri is now presumed dead, though many urge continued vigilance; given the Dnyarri's deep intelligence and natural ability to multi-task and plan for contingencies, there is a possibility it was able to use its psychic abilities to wrangle a way off the Vindicator. If this is so, its vengeful, greedy and sadistic nature are likely to ignite the next great galactic conflict; its propensity toward voyeurism and cruel experimentation with other races indicate this conflict would be unnaturally rich in violence, emotional tension and gratuituous trans-species sexual interaction.