Talking Pet (device)

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The first and last of its kind, a new life form created by the Umgah gengineers, perhaps the most dangerous creature in the known galaxy. The Arilou Lalee'lay 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 The Captain, 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 single 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 Captain 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 The Captain'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. Observing the Umgah's strange behavior -- a deeply singleminded focus on their unnamed goal combined with generally decreased mental faculties and an utter lack of interest in the Umgah's usual obsession, wit and humor -- The Captain, armed with his Taalo Shield and his enormous Precursor starship, fought past the Umgah fleet and found the neo-Dnyarri on their homeworld. After he destroyed its defenses and threatened to take its life, the neo-Dnyarri agreed to release the Umgah and proposed to join The Captain's Alliance to defeat their common enemy, the Ur-Quan. The Captain deeply distrusted the creature but found that, since his anti-psi Shield was not properly configured and the neo-Dnyarri's psychic powers incredibly strong -- particularly when it felt its safety was threatened -- it was able to coerce him into accepting this plan and take it into his protection on board The Flagship.

Details about the neo-Dnyarri's nature were hard to come by during its residence on The Flagship, 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 neo-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 Flagship 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 constantly warred against the numbing influence of the Taalo Shield, trying to corrupt The Captain's will and deactivate the Shield so it could take over the ship; luckily, The Captain was able to resist, and its mind-control abilities were mostly muzzled during its stay in The Flagship hold. 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.

The neo-Dnyarri, deeply familiar with the thought-patterns of its ancestors' favorite slaves, was able to send the Ur-Quan defenders of the Sa-Matra into mindless confusion even through the Taalo Shield's influence, allowing The Captain to advance his bold scheme of using The Flagship as a suicide bomb against the Sa-Matra.

Records of the sequence of events during the hectic Battle of the Sa-Matra are extremely confused, but it seems that The Captain was able to "accidentally forget" to include the neo-Dnyarri in the evacuation plan for his crew, leaving the neo-Dnyarri's storage bay door sealed as normal while the crew was abandoning ship. The neo-Dnayarri, sneering at The Captain's apparent absent-minded, anxious emotions before the battle, failed to carefully consider this aspect of their attack plan before it was too late, desperately screaming to The Captain that he had forgotten to bring it with him as he left the ship.

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 Flagship and telepathically hide his fate. 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.