short :: nix nox, a lecture

.:. t.i. pendraig

Of course relations between humans and noxies are inherently treacherous, most people know this much. It’s only to be expected. A proud race turning to their natural predators for protection? Only the most dire of circumstances could have brought it to pass.

And so they had.

Far longer than they are happy to admit, noxies were unknown except as superstition to the human race. Scattered deaths and unreliable sightings aside, they have long excelled at hiding in plain sight, avoiding notice through cunning and careful organisation. As to why, the eldest noxies are particularly tight-lipped; rumours suggest some truth to the so-called witch-hunts of lore…though, no solid facts are forthcoming.

Origins aside, we are left with the fact that humans are alive due entirely to noxie intervention. But what afforded them this superior power? Ultimately, it is a matter of biology.

You will recall from previous lessons that noxie physiology differs in key ways from the mythical vampire. They are not repelled by such phenomena as sunlight or garlic, nor such arbitrary artifacts as religious paraphernalia. They need nothing to survive save water, air, rest – and food. And noxies do, of course, subsist off of human blood. This quirk of evolution developed through an extensive history of nutritional preference, leading to what is now a nutritional dependence. Bearing this in mind, it is no surprise, then, that noxies would abandon their secret existence in order to ensure the survival of their most important resource.

A question regularly voiced of late is, would humans have survived without noxie intervention? This is…a sticky question to answer, in fact.

In order to address this, we must avail ourselves of the known facts, without drawing unnecessarily from supposition. What we know as fact is thus: in the year 2021 the human population stood at 8.1 billion; the induced phenomenon entitled global warming was reaching stage three of Hopper’s Law of Severity; and humans had just that year encountered a materials flaw which set back the settlement of space by an estimated 25 years. We will be covering the topic of global warming in the coming weeks, but you will recall the overview provided day before last. Understandably, this was the first great threat to human survival.

We do not know the precise noxie population at that time. We can, however, surmise it was not greater than 450 individuals based on three factors: first, noxies stepped in when the human population had fallen to just under a billion individuals, in the year 2032; second, noxies do not, for nutritional reasons, feed from prepubescent humans, which necessitates a buffer, if you will, of approximately fourteen years; and third, the sustainability ratio for noxies is observed to be one human per month per noxie.

Though global warming was unequivocally a threat, it was not the only one. Alongside it was a virulent, often terminal strain of virus which came to be called the Sol Virus. As you know from your childhood, the Singh Shot has halted the frightening rate of death caused by the Sol Virus, though it is by no means a cure. In the year 2024 this virus was truly just hitting its stride, and humans were dying off at a rate of some twenty-three million per year. Added to that, large-scale natural disasters spurred on by a global increase in the ambient temperatures were occurring an average of three hundred fourteen times yearly, the majority of events claiming upwards of two million lives.

So is it possible that humans might have survived independently? Yes…but very highly unlikely.

A second question which has been posed recently has to do with out current circumstances. If the spread of the Sol Virus has been curtailed, and the Earth is on its way back toward pre-disaster conditions, why are humans still under the management of noxies? To be frank – human extinction is still in the equation. The eldest noxies are concerned there may be live carriers of the virus among the human population; a resurgence would decimate what is left of humanity in three years, possibly less. Being quite aware of the consequences, at this point in time noxies are necessarily exercising caution until the virus is dealt with permanently.

But what about in a few decades? It can be reasonably assumed that a cure will have been developed by the end of this century; and if so, surely then humans can again live under their own aegis? And yet, there are challenges to be found here as well.

The natural environment of today is notably changed from just seventy years ago, supporting new lifeforms, ecosystems, and pathogens. The Sol Virus was not limited to humans, of course, and many species did die out that were not preserved through noxie intervention. But whereas in humans it was the cause of a dreadful death, in other species it also gave rise to rapid adaptive mutations, by which some species became something else. Humans, it is theorised due to a complex immune system response, have been relatively slow to adapt, and so biologically are virtually the same as a century previous. This poses a problem in the face of the new biological landscape: the pecking order, as it were.

A prime example of this shift is the domestic cat. Originally a housepet kept for companionship, weighing an average of 4 kilograms and standing at an average height of 24 centimeters and length of 46 centimeters nose to tail, housecats were known to prey on small rodents, birds, and similar. The contemporary descendants of that housepet are what you know as maufare. An equal-opportunity hunter known to favour buck, the wolflike feralfare, and vultures, maufare gather in packs come dusk, and otherwise tend to live solitary lives. An average adult human would feed some three maufare. Standing at 80 centimeters, with a length of 150 centimeters inclusive of the tail, the average female maufare weighs 28 kilograms, and would entirely dwarf the housecat – in fact, the maufare would likely devour it.

Plantlife too has adapted, due to the massive global die-off of bees, which were primarily responsible for the pollination of plants, many of which have since gone extinct. These include key crops you may have heard stories of in your youth, such as the avocado, strawberry, cashew, tomato, and many varieties of beans. And of course, our ever-esteemed cocoa would have been lost if not for the meticulous efforts of the Noxie Eleven. So you can see how food scarcity would pose its own challenge to independence for the human species as it stands today.

In our next lesson we will discuss the events surrounding the world treatise in detail. Dismissed.