The bestia samolot – beast planes – were originally commercial and military aircraft, and were among the first things affected during Moravec’s Singularity, a catastrophic global event that transformed human society. They emerged first in Poland, which is why they are referred to ‘samolots’ as well as beastplanes.
At the beginning of Moravec’s Singularity, there were widespread reports throughout most of Europe about planes mysteriously vanishing after contact was lost with the pilots. Each time rescue and search planes were sent out, they disappeared as well. Over an eight-month period, 70% of all commercial planes vanished over Europe, Asia, and eventually the other continents.
Two months after the final disappearance, planes were spotted once again in the skies. However, when attempts were made to contact the planes, all that was heard in response was a garbled metallic screeching that sounded half like a radio malfunction and half like digitized human voices. After several events that involved planes dive-bombing civilian areas, the German military shot down two Boeing airliners, and upon close examination and dissection it was discovered that the planes were partially constructed of organic material.
DNA samples taken from one of the planes proved that the organic tissue matched passengers that vanished along with the planes. The theory proposed by scientists who researched the two Boeings was that there had been some kind of viral outbreak affecting both the planes and the passengers, and the planes started assimilating the organic matter of the humans into their hull and interior systems. This theory was supported by the presence of anomalous carbon formations resembling nanotubes in the ‘flesh’ of the planes.
The virus was suspected to appear first in the metal of the plane, and then spread outwards to organic structures. On the molecular scale, the metal sections of the planes were arranged in patterns that maintained the structural integrity of the plane but allowed a significant amount of metal to turn to dust. This dust seemed to become airborne and adhere to nearby organic structures, where crystallized and began to ‘grow’ in organic tissue. The carbon in the human bodies was rearranged into nanotube shapes, and the metal dust laced these nanotube structures to create a kind of hybrid tissue.
After the metal began spreading through the human occupants of the planes, it was proposed that the next stage would be for the human tissue to becoming hypertrophied, and the cells were encouraged to grow at an astounding rate. At this point the metal assimilation would have killed the humans, and their flesh would be kept alive by a rapidly forming system of internal organs. It seemed that while the humans were being assimilated, the structure of the planes was reshaped, and excess metal was used to create a kind of skeleton. Researchers observed a substantial nanite presence inside the planes, and it was assumed that these nanites were responsible for shaping the interior. While the nanotube dust changed the humans, the nanites reconstructed the plane.
The systems responsible for keeping the plane in the air remained intact, as well as the radio and radar systems, but everything else was cannibalized, reshaping to form a kind of organ structure. The replicated organic tissue and nerves were integrated into the plane’s digital systems, and the nanites guided the nanotubes into forming complex organs. The organs that could be identified were equated to a heart, lungs, air sac, and stomach.
The ‘heart’ was a massive fleshy formation towards the front of the plane, and also appeared to serve as a brain. A combination of electrical wiring and organic arteries carried information from the ‘heart’ to the rest of the plane. The ‘lungs’ seemed to serve the same purpose as organic lungs – absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere to keep the flesh alive. The ‘air sac’ was filled with lighter-than-air gases, which provided buoyancy to the planes and allowed them to move at slow speeds as well as high speeds. The ‘stomach’ was connected to the propulsion systems, as well as to what appeared to be a filter-feeder type mouth at the front of the plane. When the stomach was dissected, it was discovered to have two sections – one containing various natural gases, the other containing partially digested organic matter and an unknown oily substance.
When the effect of the plane ‘stomach’ was replicated in labs, it was found that when the gases of the first section were combined with the oily substance found in the second stomach, a kind of liquid similar to jet fuel was produced, which could be then delivered to the plane’s turbines. The gases appeared to be harvested while the plane flew through the atmosphere, and could also be supplemented by things such as coal and crude oil eaten on the ground. The oily substance in the second stomach was identified as being roughly similar to whale oil, and was manufactured in the second stomach through a complex digestive process that refined the oil from both the tissue being grown inside the plane and organic tissue consumed by the plane.
The exterior of the planes was composed primarily of metal, but no longer retained the rigidity or shape of a normal plane. Instead, the metal was more flexible, especially in the wings. The metal of the wings was formed in a honeycombed pattern, with a thing layer of metal above a surplus of organic muscle tissue. The wings could be held rigid for gliding, and then be bent and curled in a manner crudely resembling legs. At the time it was only suspected that planes might be able to move on the ground by dragging themselves by their wings and using their wheels for locomotion. The front of the fuselage was also flexible, allowing a ‘neck’ portion of the plane to in order to look around the environment. The remainder of the fuselage seemed capable of bending only slightly, and the rear rudder and stabilizers seemed capable of moving independently of each other as well as in cohesion.
While the majority of the planes’ external surfaces were metal, there were areas composed of thick skin, particularly a section along the fuselage equated to the lateral line of sharks. This lateral line as well as patches of skin on the ‘head’, wings, and underside were densely packed with nerve endings, and appeared to serve the purpose of sensory organs.
Most of these theories were confirmed through careful observation of living beast-planes. The beastplanes were indeed capable of moving on the ground by use of their landing gear, which had been encased in tendons and muscles and functioned the same as weight-bearing limbs. They were also seen to be capable of landing and taking off without the use of runways. Instead, they used a circular movement, gaining or reducing momentum in a small area and occasionally ‘flapping’ or ‘braking’ their wings to quicken the process. It was later discovered that beastplanes also produced sounds for communication, and these sounds seemed to be made through a combination of an organic vocal chamber and the revving of an engine-and-drill-like structure in their heads.
During the first few months of the beast-planes’ first appearance, most countries wanted to destroy the planes out of fear. This fear was triggered partly by the monstrous concept of the planes, and by the fact that some small jet-type samolots were evidently hunting humans. When humans were consumed it was suspected that they were being assimilated into the samolots’ flesh, but it was theorized that some attacks were due to provocation, especially if the attacks were performed by ‘suicidal’ planes.
However, only a few retaliatory attacks by humans were carried out, because around the same time that the beast-planes were resurfacing, the ‘virus’ that created the beastplanes began to affect humans at large as Moravec’s Singularity reached its height of impact. The rogue nanotech responsible for the creation of the beastplanes evolved, becoming a microscopic carbon-silicate nanodust in order to spread to the general human population.
The affliction spread first in people with some kind of prosthetic enhancement, branching off from their prosthesis and slowly killing off their organic tissue, replacing parts of their skeletal and muscular structures with nanotube metal fibers and cybernetic proteins. The disease is primarily characterized by the distinct changing of the external body surface from skin tissue to a semi-flexible metallic coating. Other symptoms included loss of cartilaginous extremities such as noses and ears, impaired reflexes and dexterity, and reduced efficiency of the internal organs and immune system.
However, unlike the passengers of the beastplanes, the majority of people afflicted by what eventually become known as systemic necrotizing nanosclerosis – also colloquially referred to as dustrot, silicon fever, steelskin, Crimson Circuit – did not immediately die. In fact, the only people who were likely to be at risk of death by the affliction were toddlers and infants due to the fact that the metal had a tendency to overwhelm and deform their still-growing bodies.
It took a year and a half for the infection to spread to people without prostheses, but by that time plans were well in motion to develop nanosclerosis treatments. In the current human era, people are capable of living comfortably with this disorder, despite treatments being both expensive and complex. There are only rare occasions of aggressive flare-ups, in which case the nanodust affected groups of people living in close proximity. Such outbreaks were handled with strict quarantine, and in some cases flare-up victims were given treatments to actively nullify the nanodust. In most situations, however, flare-ups are quarantined and then left alone until the aggressive strain naturally burns itself out in the bodies of the victims.
Just some world-building for a story of mine called Children of Oblivion. My thought process went something along the lines of “Planes are hugely important in our society, wouldn’t it be scary if they all just vanished and then reappeared as half-living, half-machine monstrosities? And wouldn’t it also be creepy if people started partially turning to metal? Yeah, that sounds like a good story idea.”
This is all based off a dream I had. There was a plot about a group of radicals calling themselves ‘the oblivion children’ trying to assassinate some corporate big shot and a mysterious vigilante trying to keep said big shot safe. It took place in a city called Tairainkain. There were large intestines draped between skyscrapers. It was very weird.