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The Strogg are a fictional alien race who serve as the primary antagonists in the Quake videogame series, specifically Quake II and Quake 4. They are a playable faction in Quake III: Team Arena and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
The Strogg are a military cybernetic race who attacked and devastated Earth before being driven offworld (this is featured in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars) by a series of successful counterattacks by a united humanity. An invasion was subsequently made of the Strogg's homeworld (Stroggos) in Quake II, with the mission of eliminating the Strogg leader Makron and crippling essential military facilities. The initial attack, consisting of aerial deployment of Marines on Stroggos' surface, was a disaster, rebuffed by the Strogg's EMP defenses. A lone marine survived the deployment to destroy various tactical structures and assassinate the Makron.
In Quake 4, human forces began a renewed attack, on a far larger scale, with the assumption that Strogg forces would be in disarray following the death of their leader. It is realized in Quake 4 that a new Makron is already in power ("Makron" is referred to as a Strogg title, not as a name of an individual).
The Strogg are a warlike cybernetic race, infamous for the systematic replacement of their ranks with prisoners of war and the modification of their bodies with mechanical weaponry and prosthetics. They maintain a massive global military-industrial complex with mines, ore refineries, light production plants and heavy industrial manufacturing facilities throughout their home planet of Stroggos. Their heavy reliance on industry has created a toxic environment that has killed much of the native plant and animal life on Stroggos, and the remaining animals are subject to horrible mutation.
As shown throughout the series, the Strogg appear to have a complete lack of sense for the morality or cruelty of their actions, and their willingness to do anything to anyone so long as it serves a practical purpose and is in their best interests. They employ warp-holes to invade other planets for food and resources, and see other races as essentially a source of spare parts for their cybernetic warriors. Furthermore, the Strogg civilization remains devoid of anything unrelated to war based activity. The streamlined nature of their industry is geared for war and there is no true civilian population among the Strogg. Warfare is accepted as the only way of life, though the origins of this viewpoint are unrevealed.
According to the Quake II manual, "the core of the Stroggos civilization is the capital city of Cerberon." This city is built into the base of an enormous crater dubbed 'Crater Majoris'. A smaller crater - 'Crater Minor' - houses the defense base for Cerberon.
Strogg capture policy
The Strogg expand their armies and population by absorbing non-Strogg species and processing them to better serve the Strogg race (note similarity to the Borg in Star Trek). Prior to any procedures, prisoners of war may be kept in bare cells and continuously tortured, periodically driving the captives to insanity. As of Quake 4, the following procedures are known.
- Forced Stroggification. An exceptionally painful and brutal process conducted without anesthetics, instead utilizing excessive doses of steroids to give the subject enough strength to survive. Limbs are frequently amputated and replaced with implants often hap-hazardly wired and crudely attached to the subject (A doctor onboard the MCC Hannibal comments that Stroggification resembles mutilation more than anything else). If successful, the end result is a cyborg with 50% or less of its original body but with physical strength, speed and agility beyond typical human capacity.
In Quake 4, the protagonist, Corporal Matthew Kane, is defeated and captured by the Makron who deems him suitable for immediate stroggification. He is transported to a Strogg Medical Facility and shackled to a metal slab (similar to a dentist's chair) mounted on an assembly line. A laser scanner checks Kane for unknown parameters, followed by a large hypodermic needle that injects a sizeable amount of steroids into his chest to help him survive the Stroggification process. A Strogg scientist inspects the wound before giving him another injection and performing several incisions on his face.
At the following station, a circular saw mounted on a mechanical arm messily amputates Kane's lower legs above the knees. Kane blacks out from the pain, but regains consciousness later. Soon, mechanical legs are grafted onto Kane's thighs and armor plating is riveted to his torso and extremities. Machines install the neurocyte in Kane's brain with a large hypodermic needle. He instantly gains the ability to read and understand the Strogg language. This injection also rewires his implanted HUD programming. At the final stage, the neurocyte is activated, completing the Stroggification. Before Kane's can be activated, however, members of his previous squad infiltrate the base and halt the process.
Following the operation Kane gains several Strogg traits. His running speed has increased slightly and he possesses more endurance. He can also use certain Strogg technologies, such as teleporters and health stations, and is immune to Strogg laser defense grids, which are lethal to all humans who come in contact with them. A medical examination by human physicians reveals that surgical removal of the Strogg implants would likely cause dangerous effects on Kane's body.
- Experimentation. The Strogg medical community maintains no 'ethics policy' for non-Strogg organisms. Experiments mainly focus on testing human mortality, which involves organ removal, electrical shock, ballistics tests, surgery without anesthetics, environmental stresses and temperature limits. Presumably, all tests concern the victim's suitability for various types of cybernetic augmentation and the conclusions from such experiments are applied to other members of the same species. This process is probably to see if the species is able to be "stroggified", to increase their reliability to "stroggify", or improve the abilities of the stroggified.
- Recycling. The Strogg have perfected technology which allows them to break any living thing back down into its sheer molecular components; amino acids, enzymes, mineral structures and so on. As demonstrated by their other processes, the Strogg exhibit little care as to whether the victim is alive or dead during the process. Parts are also recovered from downed Strogg by the Nexus Core and recycled into stroyent.
- Torso storage device. Strogg facilities involve a large laboratory that maintain lone human torsos, often recombining them with spare limbs and in rare cases, heads. The heads on torsos exhibit signs of heavy drug use or intoxication of some variety. These torso storage devices, or TSDs, are integral to the power supply, distribution and regulation of Strogg facilities. Damaged units must be replaced immediately or the area which they are based in will switch to emergency power.
Strogg technology exceeds all humanity's scientific disciplines, with their lack of ethics allowing unfettered research and development in all aspects of warfare. The Strogg make practical use of black holes to effectively travel at faster-than-light speeds and their possession of functional teleportation is refined enough to be personally utilized by ground soldiers, or magnified for mass transit. A vast majority of scientific research is geared towards warfare or industrial uses.
The Strogg are nourished, fueled and lubricated by a viscous liquid known as stroyent, consisting of processed corpses of their victims and former allies. A system of pipelines, pumps and distribution vessels runs throughout Stroggos, fed at its core by a massive creature resembling a mutant stomach, which also serves as the stroyent processing plant. Another creature, resembling a giant heart with an attached eye, pumps the vital substance through the pipes. The "donor" for these organs is unknown, however it is possible that the organs were biologically engineered. Stroyent is likely a reference to Soylent Green.
The Nexus is a vast computer network that stretches over Stroggos, relaying information between Strogg military leaders and soldiers in the field, allowing a far-reaching wireless communications network. The Nexus is also tasked with teleporting dead Strogg to the stroyent plants for recycling. The Nexus is based in massive fortresses housing the tetranodes, massive, continuously-operating primary relay points cooled to subzero temperatures. A tetranode operating without adequete cooling will eventually overheat and destroy itself.
The central component of the Nexus is the Nexus Processor, housed in a huge fortified structure called the Nexus Core in the middle of a heavily-industrialized area in the Doggus crater. The Processor is a gigantic living brain which according to Corporal Johann Strauss of Rhino Squad has never been seen by anyone but the Makron. Just outside the crater's rim and situated equal distances from one another are three slightly-smaller but nonetheless gigantic structures, dedicated to Data Storage, Networking and Processing. While the height of these structures is unknown, the floor readout of one of the towers' internal lifts displays the floor number 1986, although the total number of floors is clearly greater.
The Nexus is critical to the Strogg military. Without it, communications would cease and their forces would collapse in disarray. Attempting to disrupt the Nexus forms a core component of the Stroggos campaign in Quake 4, which is initially based around disrupting the tetranode in the primary invasion area. Despite their technological advancements, Strogg computer systems appear to use the same underlying principles as human computer systems, making the two surprisingly compatible with enough relevant equipment present.
There are few limits to the cybernetic designs the Strogg consider and implement, such as replacing legs with caterpillar tracks, arms with reloadable missile launchers and entire sections of bodies with high-performance machine replacement parts. The Strogg also practice directly-integrating weapons into host bodies and linking them to the central nervous system. The Strogg also use nanomedicine to maintain the original organic tissue after the augmentation process (doctors onboard the MCC Hannibal noted that Strogg medical nanorobots would attempt repairs even after death or after a body part was amputated from the host). As amputations severely hinder normal locomotive ability, the host's existing musculature is supplemented with servomechanisms and artificial muscle. Strogg exoskeletons are constructed from hardened tribinium, a metal extremely resistant to cutting tools.
Due to its extensive practice of cybernetic augmentation, the origins of the Strogg's biology is unknown. Any biological creature compatible with Strogg enhancements is immediately transformed and absorbed into the Strogg, including captured quadrupedal creatures which are augmented into bio-mechanical "guard dogs." Larger specimens are given augmentations to enhance endurance and firepower to transform the specimen into a heavy battle unit. Some of the Strogg units have exhibited physical characteristics that hints at shared genetics, in the case of the "Berserker" and "Gunner" (in Quake2 & 4 ) who share similar heads. The heads of the "Heavy Tank" and "Light Tank" suggests a similar species. A common characteristic among all humanoid Stroggs is their glowing orange eyes.
Soldiers forcibly Stroggified eventually have their higher-brain functions completely atrophied, replaced by a transceiver unit with links to the Nexus. Following activation, many hosts remain aware of their situation but maintain little control over their inherited cyborg bodies. When Rhino Squad's leader (Lieutenant Scott Voss) was captured and transformed into a large Strogg guardian for a critical location, he issued warnings to Matthew Kane before the Strogg transceiver activated itself and Voss proceeded with his attack on Kane.
Though the success rate of Stroggification far exceeds the failure rate, subjects who fail to be properly augmented are sent to biological-recycling facilities. Some remain active and resemble zombies, working in facilities dealing with hazardous chemicals that can degrade their hippocampus and somatosensory systems.
Despite similarities to humanity's offerings, Strogg aerial engineering remains superior. Strogg gas turbine jet engines examined by two combat engineers in Quake 4 estimate that they run fifteen percent more efficient than their human counterparts and have expressed interest in reverse engineering the Strogg technology for implementation into humanity's current arsenal.
Low-orbit aircraft can drop immobile turrets which initially act as non-explosive bunker-busting bombs before anchoring onto a surface and deploying their heavy weapons. These turrets have been known to pierce roofs of buildings and heavily-reinforced fortresses. This tactic establishes an immediate foothold and provides covering fire for advancing Strogg infantry. The low-flying planes are the only aircraft seen in Quake 4 though based on combat throughout the game, the Strogg are suspected of operating dive bombers, troop transports and a machine of unknown use that utilizes thrust vectoring.
The Strogg's ground-based vehicles reflect an advanced level of technology. Harvester mechs have been known to survive several hits from tank-fired and man-portable armor-piercing munitions before being disabled. They also utilize sphere-shaped mobile gun turrets that provide quick target acquisition.
The primary defensive weapon for the Strogg capital, Cerberon, is a large structure known to humans as the 'Big Gun', an enormous anti-aircraft cannon designed to destroy hostile spaceships in orbit or descending through the atmosphere. The destruction of the weapon is a key mission objective in Quake II, as the Big Gun prevents a full-scale invasion by humanity. The Strogg also utilize powerful EMP defenses and laser batteries to protect key Strogg structures from invading standard and mechanized infantry on the ground.
Being the warlike race that they are, the Strogg naturally possess a myriad of personal weaponry for their infantry ranks. True classification regarding a personal "kit" is naturally difficult, given the seemingly large number of infantry types, but a number of weapons appear to be consistently employed. It should be noted that a number of Strogg weapons can be picked up and used effectively by human beings. This suggests that Strogg may be inherently similar to human beings in some ways, or that they simply began creating weapons for use by their tactical units, which are the result of Stroggified human soldiers.
The gamut of weapons is impressive, running from the relatively simple Nail Gun to the sniper-like Railgun and then culminating in the beyond futuristic Dark Matter Gun. The Strogg have a weapon for just about every situation, and with the advent of their tactical units, they have begun to manipulate Terran weapons as well. Due to the propensity of the Strogg to experiment with their victims, many different versions of a similar weapon type can be spotted.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
The infantry-grade weaponry utilized by Strogg soldiers during the invasion of Earth, as depicted in Splash Damage's Enemy Territory: Quake Wars differ in places from the weaponry as portrayed in Quake II and Quake 4. In many cases, the same or similar weapons appear, but in forms that suggest that they are earlier, less technologically advanced versions, in keeping with the game's setting prior to the events of Quake II. In Quake Wars, most Strogg weapons draw ammunition from the trooper's reserve of stroyent, which can be converted into ammunition or emergency health boosts at will.
Culture and language
Since the Strogg military is controlled by linked neurocytes and the brain functions of stroggifed humans are atrophied, it is unknown whether the Strogg are self-aware at an individual level, or whether any native Strogg are capable of independent thought. Theoretically, the Strogg could be a cybernetic race carrying out computer programs or a collective group mind. Strogg emotions are likely however, and individual Strogg can be observed making expressions of anger and contempt while in battle, vehemence stemming from the remnants of their organic brains or from the Nexus itself. The Quake II manual (presented as an "intelligence brief") states that the Makron acts as a dictator over the Strogg, having been chosen from among a group of warlords. In Quake 4 a newer, bigger, stronger Makron has been specifically created in response to the human invasion of Stroggos.
Strogg facilities and bases are adorned with a variety of banners and signs with the insignias of skulls and lightning bolts with stylized wings. These nationalistic symbols suggest the Strogg previously had a culture that was heavily suppressed by imperialistic expansion and their highly disciplined industrial priority. These banners are the only form of art and culture present in Strogg society. There are no indications of any Strogg expressing creativity or self-exploration through art, music or literature. The neural implants that allow them to communicate also override their individuality to focus them on serving Strogg society.
The Strogg, despite being able to transmit information through electromagnetic radiation (whether with radio or microwave is never explained), rely on written text for consoles, machinery and location signs. This may be a holdover from an earlier level of technology, or a fail-safe in case the Strogg's communications nodes failed.
With regards to their architecture, Strogg designs reflect their practical, industrialist nature. Facilities of a medical nature or that work with biological materials often resemble slaughterhouses. They have dried blood on the walls, rusting metal pipes, biological residue on computer equipment and so on. Industrial facilities are somewhat better, but still have the occasional rusted pipe or steam leaking out of a valve, along with heavy machinery operating out in the open with few safety devices. Non critical computer equipment, if damaged, is often left that way unless it is totally necessary to be fixed. This is supported by the presence of numerous computers found throughout the game with damaged displays, or 'system error' screens. The Strogg also appear to simply pile obsolete or damaged machines in store rooms or under walkways rather than trying to reuse them. Sometimes these devices are even still powered on. Exceptionally important Strogg facilities such as those housing communications equipment are the most well-kept. They are immaculately clean, all areas are well lit, equipment is well shielded and everything is constantly monitored to ensure maximum efficiency.
Facilities which handle biological material may in themselves use biological material as part of their systems. The most apparent and noticeable example of this is a gigantic heart that is part of a facility's biochemical fluid transfer system. According to the nearby computer panels, it has an atrioventricular node and a sinoatrial node, akin to the mammalian heart although it requires periodic electrical stimulation. The heart pumps an enzyme acid solution known as Stroyent. The heart may also be attached to a large creature known as the Stroyent Processing Creature, as the creature has many tubes (similar to gastrointestinal organs) that spread throughout the facility with some leading to the heart, and every time the heart is electrically stimulated, a pained howl is emitted from somewhere in the building indicating the creature (or another being) can feel it. The creature itself is also used as a power source.
Automation is heavily used. Bridge and ramp systems have to be actively deployed, similar to Doom 3. Damage to critical systems is often met by the deployment of repair bots which operate autonomously. In critical structures, repair bots can number in the hundreds and possibly thousands.
A derogatory slur for a Strogg is squib.
Tank Jr., a bot character from Quake III: Arena is described by the game manual as the offspring of an Iron Maiden and Tank Commander from Quake II. He is one of many cybernetic characters in Quake III Arena, although he is the only one depicted as a Strogg. His design borrows elements from a number of Quake II monsters. Tank Jr.'s origin may be related to an easter egg in Quake II, which shows a grinning Tank Commander seated in a large throne, with a pair of Iron Maidens reclining across his body in suggestive positions.
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