1. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Need some help fleshing out the limitations and tactics of my alien species

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by FireWater, Jun 8, 2016.

    Hi everyone,

    So I'm doing some deep-level revisions in a novel I'm about halfway done with, and I've run into a few issues that I need to resolve:

    My novel involves an alien/extraterrestrial species, which up until this point has only been shown/alluded to in a couple of scenes, but will play a much larger role in the latter half of the novel. In the story, it's thousands of years in the future, and Earth's landscape is drastically different. A few dozen years before the story's beginning, there was a catastrophic event called "the Distortion" that wiped out 99% of Earth's human population, and also made the lands unlivable. This means the water has turned largely toxic, air in most places is polluted, the surviving animal life has evolved to become bloodthirsty and monstrous, etc.

    later on, it turns out that the Distortion has been caused by the alien species, due to a mistake they made during a visit to earth to try to harvest humans. Later in the story, the aliens return, and the main characters have to deal with avoiding and combating their pursuit while also surviving the Distorted landscape.

    Here are some of the issues I'm having:

    1. What could be the aliens' limitations? They're obviously more advanced than humans in many ways, since they're able to travel from their own solar society and harvest humans and etc. However, they can't be universally superior, or else there's no believable struggle or plot - "Why wouldn't the aliens just automatically zap up the surviving humans instantaneously and be done with it?"
    I was thinking maybe the aliens could be biologically adverse to the Distortion somehow, but am still stuck on how to set this up so that the human characters would have a believable advantage and way to fight back in a more offensive (rather than solely defensive) manner later on.

    2. What kind of unique travel/transporting mechanism could the aliens have? A way to snatch up humans and transport them to their own (the aliens') home, in a way that's really unsettling and creepy? In the one scene I have that addresses this, I used the typical UFO craft thing, but reading it printed out made me cringe. I want to do something different -- specifically, something more "organic," rather than the cliche mechanical/technological tropes.

    I would deeply appreciate any help, and I'd be happy to help you with your own issue too in exchange, if needed.

    Thanks!!

    ~~FireWater
     
  2. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    1. I'd say just make the aliens adverse to our environment as their limitation, so they have to use really complicated suits or vehicles to get around. The distortion helps with this, but really they could just be unable to breathe an atmosphere with zeon in it. Scientific research is your friend here. Come up with something neat.

    2. I think something that mirrors their disrespect towards our planet and us as a sentient species. Like how trophy hunters mutilate and skin animals for hides and ivory, leaving a giant corpse just laying there. As far as unnerving goes, I think some sort of in the field vivsection would be horrible. The aliens cut out a human's brain and organs or something, since they just want to research our minds. They dont need all the flesh.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
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  3. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    The most obvious way to get to high enough speeds to get between nearby star systems would be an antimatter rocket. It provides the highest theoretical ratio of weight to thrust. A slow, continuous stream of anti-hydrogen / hydrogen reactions could accelerate a decent sized spacecraft pretty quickly, as well as have the necessary thrust to slow it down at the other end of it's trip. Your species' limitation would probably be the fact that their ships would have to be fairly small in order to get to relativistic speeds.

    The antimatter itself is also extremely dangerous, although, I imagine if they've gotten to the point where they can make it readily, they've probably gotten pretty good at containing it.

    In a Star Trek like universe, abilities of species seem to be limitless. In the real universe, the laws of physics is the biggest barrier to interstellar dramas.
     
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  4. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    How did the Distortion occur? How did the harvest go wrong? What did the aliens use that malfunctioned so catastrophically? And why didn't they stay to harvest the humans that survived at the time? Why come back at all?

    Why did it only affect the evolution of animals? And so quickly. Why did it not affect humans in the same way?

    Answering those questions might spark some ideas.

    Maybe the aliens need something in our organic matter to cure some disease or genetic defect they have developed. As for having a more organic harvesting method, they could just round humans up and force them to walk onto their ships with cattleprod type instruments.
     
  5. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    I've got it figured out. Thank you so much, your ideas helped!
     
  6. BC Barry
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    BC Barry Member

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    Do the humans evolve, too? Maybe they grew much larger, or faster, to survive the new environment. Years ago one alien could easily take down one human, but now it takes several aliens. Maybe the alien has to shoot a small sender at the human. Once embedded in the flesh, this sender instantly transports the human back to the home world, but landing on clothing or in the hair, etc., it doesn't work. To the humans it could appear as if anyone hit is dissolving before their eyes.

    Just some random thoughts. Good luck!!
     
  7. CrusherBrooks
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    CrusherBrooks Member Supporter

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    Your aliens were sent to harvest us, humanity. Probably in one fell swoop, considering the magnitude of the Distortion event. They are unlikely to respect whatever capabilities humans may have if they see them as cattle. Use this to your advantage. Remember the first "Predator" movie? The predator was essentially outsmarted and trapped because he didn't respect his prey. Do they come to the surface? I imagine that if they went all the way across a bunch of solar systems just to harvest a species of primates, they may not have a lot of biodiversity on their home planet(s). If the aliens come to the surface, they may be limited by their own psyche (fear of the dark, what is this thing with leaves on it?!) and perhaps their technology takes time to adapt to the bio environment (an AI might light up anything new they see as hostile at first and then have to learn together with the operator).
    You might also, especially if you want biology-based ships and perhaps technology, use the fact that 1% didn't die as some sort of immunity. They may be difficult to track down by the aliens' technology or more resistant to chemical or biological agents they use, which is the reason they didn't die in the first place. Selection pressure much?
    Another limitation might be that a malfunction caused the Distortion, damaging the aliens' capacity intrinsically. For example, the ship's main power core overloaded into the atmosphere causing the Distortion, now they have no main power core so they're running on auxiliaries or can't use all their systems simultaneously.
    Alien culture might be a weakness. Do they rely heavily on a specific leader? Take him out. Do they have some ethical code they never seem to break? Fight them only on Sundays. Are they reluctant to hunt such lesser prey in groups? Gang up on them one by one.
    Any creepy way to transport humans back to their home planet... I can imagine some sort of freeze-frame fade away, or a trap that seems to drag a person through the ground, things like that. Also as BC Barry pointed out, if the other animals evolved it's only logical that humans did, too. This would technically make the book fantasy I guess, since evolution isn't very quick, but that's not directly relevant.
    Only after typing all this I see you figured it out a few weeks ago (I thought it'd be much less).
    Make it good! :D
     
  8. BC Barry
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    BC Barry Member

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    lol I didn't even notice the dates or his last comment til you said that. oops.
     

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