Very few life forms are known to exist in the vacuum of space. From the apocryphal 'asteroid dog' to the mythical 'space whale', hard facts are rare while tall tales are the rule of thumb. And then there are the Bari.
First encountered by humanity in 2299, the Bari are spaceborn insectoid alien life forms of rudimentary intelligence. In space, they appear to enter a form of biochemical hibernation until they sense anything capable of feeding them, like a starship.
Many pilots have made the mistake of assuming that the Bari themselves eat starships, but this is a misunderstanding of the ecosystem that the Bari generate for their sustenance.
Once on a starship or other metals-rich location, the rat-sized Bari will cultivate a fast-growing fungal mold that thrives on various forms of metal, especially those used in the construction of human vessels. This mold dissolves and consumes the metals used within starship components with ease, leaving them at first merely damaged but eventually completely destroyed. It is also theorised that the starship's electrical systems assist in the spread of the mold.
Thankfully, some of the alloys in hull plating and starship chassis construction are unpalatable to the mold. This means that while a starship will eventually be millimeters away from destruction, the mold itself is incapable of outright destroying a human starship by itself. Unfortunately many of the specialised components require extremely tight tolerances of construction and as such the materials used cannot be replaced with these inert alloys.
Before the Outsider Subjugation of Mankind, the Coalition of Human and Jinu had managed to develop a form of anti-mold coating that could give temporary protection from the Bari mold, but with the loss of the munroujuhk long-range beacons cutting us off from Coalition Command and the subsequent loss of most high-end research in human space this coating is currently unavailable to us, though research into redevelopment is ongoing.
An infestation left untreated for long enough to grow will result in mature Bari hordes constructing large cocoons, in which a small handful of the horde will metamorphose into Bari warriors. These bulkier insectoid beings are far larger than their previous state, approaching the size of a baboon or chimpanzee. Heavily armored in a thick chitinous exoskeleton, the Bari warriors are hostile to apparently all non-Bari forms of life.
Once again, the Coalition of Humans and Jinu had (pre-Subjugation) developed a spray from warrior pheremones that would allow a non-Bari to temporarily slip past Bari warriors without incident, but as with the anti-mold coating this knowledge was lost when contact was cut with Coalition Command.
If the infestation is not destroyed, the Bari will create a highly compressed organic object, held in place by vine-like tendrils constructed from an ichor the Bari produce. This object will slowly grow as the Bari hordes and warriors tend to it, eventually filling a large portion of the ship's bowels. When large enough, the Bari will force it through the weakened hull of the ship and once in the vacuum of space a complex and not yet fully understood process will begin as the pod loses its outer shell and grows several dozen times its original size in a matter of minutes.
When fully expanded a pod begins to generate large numbers of drone-like creatures that have been termed 'spreader vessels', so named due to the fact that they spread Bari spores across a sector as they move, quickly infesting starships in order to begin the life cycle anew.
While there are known preventative measures such as the anti-mold coating and the Bari pheremonal spray, it is currently impossible to create either without knowledge that is currently only located within Coalition Command in Jinu space, if the facility still exists.
The only known threat to the Bari life forms themselves are the felinoid creatures known as Felo, originally from the planet Grenwold but currently infesting several other planets in their own ecological disasters. Felo are highly aggressive to most forms of non-mammalian life, and are even more so to Bari. While Bari hordes are no match for a Felo, Bari warriors will often best them in combat, usually killing them. However, a Felo that survives an encounter with a hostile entity like a Bari warrior will occasionally metamorphose into a bulkier 'soldier' that will find such targets much easier to deal with.
Without cultivation from larval Bari, the mold within a starship will eventually reach the limits of its initial growth and die off once the nearby supply of metals has been consumed. However in a space station if mold reaches the air vents or filtration system them the entire station will become infested.
The only definite way to completely eradicate a Bari presence is via high-energy plasma, which is both extremely dangerous and highly expensive. Unregistered and Mutuality stations often have plasma flood protocols set up due to the risk of Bari infestation, but planetary alliance space structures do not for safety and morale reasons. As such, a planetary alliance space structure that is infested must be cleared out quickly before the infestation can spread from the original location, or it will be near-impossible to ever completely remove.
Starship weapons are suitable to destroy a spreader vessel, as the spreader must be alive to generate spores. Once dead, it can no longer infest others.
The most efficient method to destroy a Bari pod is to use a plasma bomb placed as close to the core of the pod as possible before arming. This will destroy the pod and living bari within, as well as the majority of spores generated by the pod.
NOTE: The more harmful aspects of Bari infestations (mold damage, warriors, queens) will not occur aboard a starship owned by someone with Cadet status. This is an OOC mechanic limitation and should be ignored to the best of people's ability. Please also note that (as stated above) a Bari infestation will never outright destroy a starship: even the release of a bari pod will not cause a starship to be destroyed. While a large enough infestation may take considerable effort to deal with, it is always possible to remove a Bari infestation and a ship is never 'lost' to the Bari.
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