Annelids / The Many
The Many are a collective of different creatures and humanoids aboard the Von Braun
and Rickenbacker. While they differ in size, appearance species, they are bound together by the method of their creation: Annelids, incubated within the eggs discovered on Tau Ceti V. Essentially a worm, each individual annelid is telepathically connected to all other worms, creating what is functionally a network of creatures with a singular, unified mind, in other words: The Many.
To spread its singular vision of unity, the annelid requires a host body to infect; The worm burrows into the subject, attaching itself to the brain stem. Over a period of days or weeks (it is never made explicitly clear) the thoughts of the annelid, and - by clear extension - The Many are integrated with the host, with The Many taking the controlling share of its body and mind.
The organisms that comprise The Many began life in a grove on Citadel Station, the setting of the original System Shock
. During the events of the first game, SHODAN
reveals that she has been cultivating a mutagen virus to unleash upon Earth, corresponding with her machinations to destroy, or otherwise reign over mankind. The Hacker
ejects the cultivation chamber into space, preventing that particular element of SHODAN's plan from coming to fruition.
Forty two years later, the Von Braun
, a faster-than-light Starship (on her maiden voyage), and it's military escort ship the Rickenbacker detect a distress signal transmitted from the surface of Tau Ceti V. A rescue team from the Rickenbacker is sent down to the planet, where they discover some unusual eggs. Unbeknownst to the rescue team, these eggs have developed from the mutagen virus, as the cultivation chamber from Citadel Station had crash-landed on the planet a significant period prior to its discovery. The distress signal was in fact transmitted by the fragment of SHODAN's artificial intelligence contained within the cultivation chamber's systems.
The eggs immediately infect the rescue team, who then load the highly evolved virus onto the ship, and return to the Rickenbacker. The virus infects the crews
of both the Von Braun and the Rickenbacker, and it is around the time of infestation of the Von Braun that the player awakes from cryo-sleep, and the game begins. This exercise also saves SHODAN from her fate on the planet surface.
Afterward, the landing crew begins its infection of the rest on board. They start with the head officials on both ships, and then work their way down to the rest of the crew. Over a course of a few weeks, they had swarm of eggs on board the Von Braun and both ships were heading back to earth to infect the rest of humanity. The ship's AI had been hijacked and was working to the will of The Many. As all this was going on and the chaos on board both ships continued a massive bio creature is growing on the outside of both ships.
Annelids can take over seemingly anything, meaning that the unwilling army of The Many is quite varied, and very dangerous. Listed here are all major host bodies that the player faces. The types of enemies listed here come from the squeal of the two games.
Infected Crew Member
The most common enemy on the Von Braun and Rickenbacker, and also the most unsettling. As the annelid hurls the body this former human towards you armed with a pipe or Shotgun, the mind of the ex-staffer overcomes the worm's control, screaming at you, pleading with you to kill them and end their torturous existence, if only because they are incapable of ending it themselves.
The game starts out with the player facing the standard infected crew member. This type is pretty weak to most anything and their main weapon of choice is usually a pipe or a shotgun. After being killed they would usually only be holding a broken weapon, some ammo or a piece of food of some kind. The the infected crew become tougher as you progress through the game.
Once the player reaches the 3rd level of the ship, Von Braun, a new infected crew member emerges. The mid-wife's (cybernetic enhanced female crew members) plot role was to serve as the care taker of the hundreds of eggs aboard the ship as it made it's journey back to earth. The from a game play aspect they are very tough. Unlike the other infected crew members, she is mostly treated as a robot and has resisted to standard and anti- personnel bullets but they are weak against armor piercing. Their attack is a lazer that hurts a lot, but they move much slower than regular crew members.
Among the infected crew on the Von Brain and Rickenbacker, there were many annelid monsters attacking the player as they progressed through the game. From the small worm to the massive hulks that guard the brain of The Many in the massive bio mass that hang outside both ships.
- Annelid Worm: The worms are the easiest thing to kill in the game. They are there as a plot device and annoyance to the player for if they are not paying attention and step on a pile. They come from the eggs on board the ship. Sometimes when egg has been cracked a swarm of files will spawn and they are just as annoying.
- Annelid Spider: The next up the tier would be the spider. Far tougher than a single worm and more deadly than a pile trap of them. They move very fast and have the ability to poison the player. They can and will jump on the player's head and if this wasn't bad enough, some of the spiders are translucent. This enemy doesn't make an appearance until the player has to fix the power on the ship.
- Psi-Monkeys: Apart from the worms and spiders, the smallest and most standard threat from the annelid beasts would be the monkeys. They first make an appearance on the research section of the ship. Hundreds of monkeys were taken on board the Von Braun to be tested on and studied. With the invasion of The Many, the monkeys were able to obtain advanced mental powers and physic abilities. As the player progressed through the game the monkeys become more powerful and tougher.The first monkeys the player encounters only have a cryoknesis ability, which they use to shoot freezing balls of psychic energy at the player. The latter batch of monkeys later on in the game have mastered pyroknesis and shoot exploding fireballs at the player.
- Psi Reaver: Psi Reavers are the next up on the tier. These are floating brains that have a ranged psychic attack and for the most part are hard to kill. Though, they are weak to anti personal ammo, but using psi attacks and other weapons of that type be less effective. They first appear on the top floor of the Von Braun, the plot for this enemy goes the head officers of the trip and the most loyal infected turn into this enemy.
- Rumblers: The last and toughest monster of the annelid beast is the Rumbler. This is big walking hulk that the player faces on the way to and on board the Rickenbacker. It's a heavy beast that charges the player with devastating melee attack. The the most effective way to kill this enemy is to avoid it. However, when discretion isn't an option, incendiary or anti-personnel attacks work the best. They are resistant to most attacks and melee isn't the best thing do unless its the only option.
- "What is a drop of rain, compared to the storm? What is a thought, compared to the mind? Our unity is full of wonder which your tiny individualism cannot even conceive."
- "Mistrust is the tyranny of the individual. Your own kind sees you as a threat. Why do you murder our unity? No matter, the line is drawn. You will cease to be. It is just a question of who will bring your end. Us? Or you?"
- "We do not know death... only change. We cannot kill each other without killing ourselves. Is your vision... so small... that you cannot see the value of our way?"
- "Your time is running out. This place is a womb, where we grow our future. Your weapons fail, your ammunition runs low, and you've yet to see our most beautiful creation. All you have is your hatred, and your... individuality. Now don't you wish you joined us? Would you then feel so alone?"
- "We are Many, and you... are one. How can you hope to prevail against us?"
- "The Machine Mother... told us of the planet of her birth. We know how you have harmed this place... with your pollution, your violence, and your discord. But when we arrive there, we will cleanse the surface of that place, and merge it... with the harmony... of the Many."
- "Babies must sleep. Babies must rest. Wise is the one who does not waken them. Leave this place now, or we will wound you... as you have us."
- "You have wounded Xerxes, but we will not allow him to be destroyed. See if the Machine Mother... treats her servant with such devotion."
- "We die. Beware of the Machine Mother. She is a stranger to everything we cherish."
- "You seek your associates, but you cannot find them. You are so very alone. How does it feel to be one, against... the infinite?"
- "The Machine Mother conceived us, but with every moment we are reinvented. She cannot imagine our infinite chorus."
- "The end is near. Soon you shall see our final phase. But do not despair. Surely the void is preferable to your pointless, solitary struggle."
- "The individual is obsolete. When you and your kind are extinct, we will cleanse our collective memory of the stain of your existence."
- "Life grows within the womb of these walls. Life that has never seen the surface of the earth."
- "Do you not trust the feelings of the flesh? Our biology yearns to join with yours. We welcome you to our mass. But you puzzle us. Why do you serve our mother? How can you choose cold metal over the splendor of the flesh? But you fear us. We hear your thoughts, and they rage for your brothers who you believe dead. But they are not. They sing in our symphony of life. We offer another chance to join us. If you choose to lie down with the machine, we will rend you apart, and put you separate from the joys of the mass."