Original Illustration by Pieter Thomassen
Invid mobile hive (a.k.a. hive ship)
The number and disposition of the Invid hive ships has never been disclosed by the Invid. Only the observations of the Tirolians, Zentraedi and REF can give any indication as to the number and fate of these vessels. It is assumed that all vessels were manufactured from existing hives on Optera or new construction from Optera, the second Invid homeworld or Earth. Production on other planets is suspected but not proven.
In 1454, as the Zentraedi arrived on a punitive expedition over Optera, the Invid hive ships were first revealed. At that time, the Zentraedi counted 964 mobile hives, of which 665 managed to escape destruction by spacefold. The remaining 299 were destroyed in flight or on the ground. As the Invid evacuation had been underway for some time already, it cannot be known how many hives had already departed. However, the surface of Optera boasted over 1300 semi-spherical holes and hive-stalks, suggesting at least that many ships. The Tirolians therefore assumed the Invid had over 1000 hive ships operational, most of these, however, smaller models.
In 1685 the Zentraedi attacked and destroyed the new Invid homeworld. All hives were of the mobile type by this time and again the Invid managed to get their evacuation underway before the Zentraedi fold-in. No less than 370 hives were destroyed during this attack. Reconnaissance of the surface yielded another estimate of the Invid fleet, and the suspected number was increased to 1100, again, most of these being of the smaller variety.
During the Invid ascendancy after the death of Zor and the disappearance of the SDF-1, many hives were landed on occupied worlds as garrisons and colonies. 43 of these were destroyed by the REF during the deep space probing attacks against the Invid. Another 58 were observed to be suffering from power depletion, but not attacked at that time.
Invid hive ships were also landed on Earth during the Invid occupation, and several new ones were constructed during this period. The Regess is believed to have arrived in the Sol system with 253 hives. During the occupation, 15 new hives were constructed, but local forces destroyed 29. Except for 7 hives in Australia, all left with the Regess.
At present, the Solugi Hegemony continues to use the 7 remaining original hives for habitation, and has constructed 1 new medium-sized hive and 25 hives of the smallest size, the latter serving as border outposts on the coasts of the continent.
A large number of Hives is still missing. It is suspected that these were not part of the segment of the Invid lead by the Regess, and met unknown ends in unknown space, or slowly starved due to protoculture depletion.
The complement of a hive ship is unknown, and probably varied greatly with size and in time. It should be noted that the ability of the Invid to hibernate meant that in many cases only 20% of the population was active, although the remainder could be awakened relatively quickly. This percentage increased on Earth as the Invid food and energy supplies grew. The best population estimates for a hive of given size are as follows:
|Hive diameter:||Estimated population:|
As to the caste of the individuals, it seems very likely that all Invid hive ships, save for the smallest vessels (those measuring 300-600 meters in diameter), contained one sub-queen per ship. Smaller vessels served mostly as outposts and recon vessels for the rest of the fleet, and as a consequence, were more at risk than the larger vessels. It appears that to assign a sub-queen to one of these vessels was considered too dangerous by the Invid. Instead, smaller hive ships were 'attached' to a larger hive with a sub-queen, and acted as 'dependents' of this hive in personnel matters.
It is probable that all ships contained members of all the other castes. The smallest ships were thus commanded by sub-kings, and the larger ships had a cadre of both sub-queens and sub-kings. Workers, drones and warriors formed the by far largest part of any complement, though the actual mix appears to have depended on environmental factors as much as on tactical measures.
|Hive diameter||Estimated complements of|
Note: Supposedly, more mecha were in long-term storage in the larger hives on the later date mentioned above, due to large production runs being possible as large harvests of the Flower on Earth occured. These suspected mecha are not counted among the mecha mentioned above.
(*) This size of hive has only been observed once, as the flagship of the Regess. It is not considered likely that the mecha complement was, in fact, so high, as this would have given serious problems with battle congestion and effective mecha release rate. The number given must be seen as the theoretical guessed maximum.
The modern Invid hive bears little resemblance to the hives of old; though the structure still remains the focus of the activities of an extremely social animal, it has been adapted to serve the needs of an advanced, and often nomadic, spacefaring race.
Mobile Invid hives are surrounded by a spherical shell of an unknown organic/ceramic material. The material can be made sufficiently translucent that the Flower of Life may be grown inside the hive in sufficient quantities to provide the hive with a significant fraction of its most basic needs, should it ever come under attack, or if the hive is located in an environment in which the Flower of Life can not otherwise grow. The material is also very resistant to energy attacks, even without the energy barrier that it can erect, though it is less resistant to projectile and missile fire. The outer shell of the hive has been known to range in size from as small as 300 meters to as large as 10 kilometers in diameter, although in this latter case (Earth Reflex Point) the outermost hull was an empty shell erected over the hive proper as an additional defensive measure. Indeed, this seems to have been a standard Invid tactic, as several hives at least on Earth had a separate or communal overhead cover, giving the impression of one very large but non-spherical hive. Despite the wide range of sizes, the internal arrangements of mobile hives are nearly identical.
The basic structure of a hive is that of a disk surrounded by the spherical shell. The disk is a little over 20% of the hive diameter in height, and extends the full diameter of the hive in width. Atop the main disk structure is a mushroom-shaped tower that extends in height to the outer shell of the hive. Below the disk is the hive's lower hemisphere; this region is essentially an empty cavity containing only support struts. Much of the cavity is usually partitioned by honeycomb-like membranes that are filled with water for bulk storage of reaction mass. In a sense, the majority of the hive "floats" on these tanks.
The bottommost region of the lower hemisphere of a hive remains always open, separated by hard walls from the water tankage. This region is approximately 80% of a hive radius high and wide, and contains the hive's power core, which is attached directly to the very nadir of the outer shell of the hive. The nadir of the outer shell itself is open with a diameter about a seventh of the hive's diameter, and allows a plasma jet to exit the outer shell; though when the propulsion system is not engaged, a protective force-field covers this opening at all times, and objects can not enter through it unless they present the proper IFF signature and are in contact with the hive brain. The power core is not directly connected to any of the hive's other structures; when power is needed from the main core, it is delivered to the center of the central disk by a highly-collimated plasma stream shot upwards from the top of the power core. The core's diameter is on the order of 20% the hive's diameter.
One variant on this building scheme has been discovered; an example was the Royal Hive on Earth, better known as Reflex Point (though this name also covered the subsidiary hives surrounding the actual Royal hive). This hive featured a double material outer layer at a distance from the center of nearly 10 kilometers. The space between the inner and the outer material walls was filled with water. Ostensibly, this water served as reaction mass or as a plasma weapon, giving the Royal hive either a larger possible delta-v by using the outer shell as the first stage of a two stage rocket, or, equally likely, gave Reflex Point the capability to fire a very heavy plasma weapon upwards without temporarilly affecting its flight capabilities. It is not known whether the Invid intended to rebuild more hives to this scheme.
On the ground, the hives take two distinct configurations, depending on the specifics of the hive itself. One form of the hive is the stilt-hive. In this case, the hive rests on three to five organic-looking stilts on the order of a hive-diameter long that lift it above the landscape. The stilts, in addition to supporting the hive, also act as umbilicals for for bringing water to the hive and carrying away its waste. The main means of ingress to or egress from the hive is the opening at the nadir; Invid mecha must fly past the power core up into the hive's structures. As mentioned above, this opening is usually protected by a force field for security purposes. Because of the lack of openings elsewhere, it is probable that stilt-hives can not launch the Sheldor troop carrier or other vessels in the Invid fleet. However, this allows for a hive that is completely covered by a full-strength force field when under attack.
The other major class of hive is the ground hive. The upper hemisphere of the hive is above ground, and the lower hemisphere below it. The main disk extends outside the outer shell somewhat in the form of a metallic ring that bisects the hive. This ring contains hatches and gates that allow for easier ingress and egress; however, because the energy barrier is weaker around this ring than around the outer shell, it leaves the hive slightly more vulnerable to attack. In addition to the numerous hatches, the ground hive also has long metallo-ceramic "arms", more than a hive diameter and a half long, and at their thickest 10% of a hive diameter across. These "arms" splay radially outward from the hive and, like the stilts on a stilt hive, also act as water umbilicals and waste processors - but can also contain extensive atmosphere processing units, allowing this type of hive to operate very effectively on worlds with marginal atmospheres. In addition to the umbilical "arms", ground hives are surrounded by a number of thin towers (that grow somewhat thicker at their top). These towers, almost a hive radius in height, appear to act as long-ranged protoculture emission detectors and/or communications relays.
When a hive leaves a planet's surface, the umbilical "arms", stilts, and sensor towers are all left behind on the planet, but can be partially erected by Invid workers in a matter of weeks upon selection of a new site for the hive. In flight, a hive appears only as a faceted orange shell, sometimes bisected by the metallic "hatch ring", if it is a ground hive. The ease with which one class of hive can be adapted into another is completely unknown, though it seems probable that such an adaptation is a relatively straightforward matter.
The details of the interior arrangement of hives is rudimentary at best, but some features quickly emerge as apparent.
The central disk of the hive is the primary structure. It is here that the secondary powerplants, mecha factories and hangars, fold drive, and other primary systems are located. The surface atop this disk is a garden for growing crops, preferably the Flower of Life. In addition to being translucent, the hive's outer shell also acts as a light pipe, allowing sunlight to reach the entire disk surface uniformly so that none of the flowers are ever in shadow. Invid can enter a stage of hibernation, and it appears as if many many were 'put in storage' during the long exile between the stars. Large mecha storage hangars are located near the hibernation chambers and made for a large reserve force of mecha.
The mushroom-like structure atop the central disk is the main habitation area for the Invid; it vaguely resembles the pre-contact hives of the Invid's salad days. The cap of the mushroom is where most of the habitation space is located, and the center of the cap is a large hatchery for the Invid, at the center of which is the chamber for the hive's sub-queen. Deep in the shaft of the mushroom-like structure is the chamber for the hive-brain, an organic or "living" computer that controls the functions of the hive, including sensors, navigation, and coordination of the hive's defence.
The power core of the hive provides the energy for the hive's propulsion, fold-drive, energy barrier, and (where applicable) weapon system. The power core is usually in stand-by mode when the hive is on the ground, and can be brought on line almost instantaneously to power the force field if a threat is detected. Other hive functions are generally powered by secondary powerplants within the main disk.
Because of the nomadic nature of the Invid after the defoliation of Optera, the hive was specifically designed to be able to relocate wholesale to another world. The activation of the propulsion systems on the hive is very stressful, as is causing the locomotion of such a huge structure, and this course is only taken in extremis.
As a hive prepares to launch, its umbilicals fill the hive's remaining storage areas with water for reaction mass. The power core activates to its maximum yield, and the hive's energy barrier is erected at full strength. Plasma from the power core is injected into the region between the energy barrier and the hive's outer shell, and is mixed there with reaction mass. This causes the whole hive to become extremely luminescent. At the same time, the outer shell becomes less translucent, to prevent the overheating of the interior of the hive by radiation from the propulsion plasma.
When sufficient reaction exhaust is stored in the space between the force-field and the hive's outer shell, a nozzle-shaped hole is opened in the force field, allowing the exhaust to pour out, propelling the hive upwards. Between the high accelerations possible from this propulsion mechanism and the anti-gravs inside the hive, ascend from a planet is a quick affair.
The size of the hole in the force field determines the nature of the acceleration. The smaller the hole, the more the spectrum of the exhaust is limited to its highest-energy component. This leads to efficient but mild accelerations. In addition, it has been suggested that some hives have significantly more control over this force field than others - and when the opening is configured properly, the plasma can act much like a Reflex cannon. The capability for hives to use this thruster as a weapon seems to be rather limited. Firstly, the propulsion system must be fully powered up. Secondly, because a hive is relatively vulnerable in space, hives apparently go to great lengths to avoid combat and risking the hive's sub-queen. Thirdly, because the residual thrust plasma can be extremely destructive to the area around the hive, and because of the long power-up time, this weapon is not typically used for planetary defence, except to clear the skies before an emergency evacuation. Finally, use of the engine as a weapon is a heavy drain on the reaction mass supply.
Once the hive is several planetary radii away from the surface, it typically folds. Though the Invid seem to have largely solved the problem of folds within gravitational fields, and indeed have taken this technology to new heights of subtlety and sophistication, the safe folding of an object as massive as a hive within a planetary gravitational field is apparently beyond even the Invid's capabilities.
When a hive lands on a planet, it may choose to vent its remaining exhaust in space, and land using only its anti-gravs. This minimizes damage to the planetary surface, though for ground hives this requires prior excavation of the crater in which the hive will sit. Alternatively, the hive may vent its plasma while hovering just above the ground. This method is extremely destructive to the surrounding area (the destructive force is measured up to several megatons!), and naturally excavates the ground hive's crater. This latter landing profile is preferred when the Invid are invading a world and wish to quickly suppress population centers. A stilt-hive, of course, requires a few weeks of on-site preparations before the hive is ready to descend from orbit.
The Invid hive is a self-contained unit that contains all the necessary equipment to sustain a small Invid population indefinitely. Indeed, it is likely that a single hive, with sufficient stocks of the Flower of Live, could repopulate the Invid race from near extinction.
It should be noted that immobile hives, especially those erected inside or around alien structures, will not conform strictly to the description above. Examples include the hive built into a Southern Cross Alpine Division fortress in Central America, and the small hives built into the Empire State Building in New York City, and Reunion Tower in Dallas. Despite some differences, these structures still conform, at least in the most general characteristics, to the mobile hive described here.
The Invid hives prior to contact with the Tirolians were modest affairs compared to their modern equivalent. They essentially consisted of a mushroom-shaped structure, in which the Invid dwelled. As with hives today, the hive queen and her hatchery were placed at the center of the cap of the mushroom, originally to keep them away from the elements and predators. Subsidiary structures would often be built around the hives for storage or other purposes; and this holds true even for the hives of the Robotech era, especially when the hive in question had been at the same spot for some time.
All this changed with the arrival of the Tirolians' Zentraedi armada. Once the Elders were satisfied that Zor had acquired enough samples of the Flower of Life to provide good genetic diversity for their crop, they ordered the Zentraedi to defoliate Optera, lest any other interstellar power obtain this lucrative energy source. In addition, large deposits of monopole ore had been detected in Optera's crust, and the Tirolian government intended to mine this mineral after the natives had been exterminated.
Portrayals of the Zentraedi plowing under the entire planet of Optera are fanciful, but the real mechanism was far more subtle. Several blights were delivered to Optera, designed to attack the Flower of Life in several of its reproductive stages. The specifics of these blights have been lost to the centuries, but it is likely that the reason several were used was to prevent a resistant strain of the plant from surviving. In addition, the blights were made to be very general parasites, meaning that not only the Flower of Life, but much of the plant life on the planet, would be afflicted by them. However, because of the long lifespan of the matured Flowers of Life, the existing crop could be expected to produce significant numbers of fruits and (admittedly sterile) seeds for another twenty-five years, and enough vegetable matter to sustain the Invid population for several decades after that.
Once the seeding of the blights was completed, the Zentraedi departed the invisibly poisoned world. The Tirolians assumed that the Invid would dwindle to extinction over the next half-century. It took but a season for the Invid to realize what the Zentraedi had done to them, and that new flowers would never again bloom on their world. Predictably, the Invid began to research and built starships and combat mecha. Within seven decades, Invid ships were engaging in acts of piracy and raids against the Tirolian Mercantile Empire. At first, the identity of the attackers was unknown, as the Invid were careful to cover their tracks, but this quickly changed as warrior-caste corpses were pulled from the debris of an unsuccessful raid.
Once the identity of the attackers became known, Tirol's retribution was swift and terrible. The Zentraedi fleet was assembled with orders to lay Optera to waste. When they arrived, the hives they had seen before had been changed, having developed force fields around their new outer shells, protecting many of the Invid hives from the low-intensity bombardment of which the task-force was capable (Monitors not yet having been developed). Furthermore, the Invid had presumably also developed a fold-detection array, since by the time the Zentraedi arrived, the evacuation of Optera was already in progress. The Zentraedi called up those ships in their fleet that had Reflex cannons, but by the time they arrived, the largest hives had lifted off from the ground, risen into space, and folded out to parts unknown. The Zentraedi easily overwhelmed the majority of Invid who remained on the planet, and would have exterminated the race, had not most hives launched off-world.
It should be noted that another factor worked in the Invid's favour, the presence of large deposits of monopole ore. It appears that the Invid mined this ore heavily and took much with them when they departed Optera, and supplemented it since with material from captured ships. Indeed, considering the Invid's vast skill with folds, several scientists of note have wondered if the Invid didn't have experience with this material and its uses even before their contact with the Tirolians.
Once the Invid had relocated to another world outside the Tirolians' sphere of influence, their war entered a new phase. This world was also thickly populated with hives, but now, all hives were mobile, in case the Invid were again forced to evacuate. This indeed came to pass when the Grand Fleet eventually tracked them down, and until the brief occupation of planets after the collapse of Tirol's empire, the Invid hives generally remained in space, far away from combat or risk.
Only recently have the Invid apparently modified their propulsion system to function as a powerful weapon. While as destructive as a Reflex cannon (or more so, for the royal hive), there are several drawbacks to the use of this system, mentioned in the section above. Because of these drawbacks, the Invid used this weapon only when preparing to evacuate a planet, or when already in space. Under all other circumstances, the preferred attack mode is saturation attacks, either by space combat vessels, or mecha ramming enemy vessels.
As with most Invid technology, our paucity of live (or willing) informants limits our knowledge of it. As such, few individual histories of hives are currently known, other than the date of their destruction.
One historical note bears mention. It seems likely, based on the limited release of transcripts of the Plenipotentiary Council that have been made available to date, that the complete self-sufficiency of a hive, both from a technical and population standpoint, was a major factor in the decision to destroy all life on Earth with the Neutron-S missiles rather than surrender the world to the Invid. However, the full truth forever died with most of the fleet. As is now well known, the Invid were able to evacuate Earth in time, and to destroy the Neutron-S missiles and the majority of the REF ships as well. Fears of an Invid infestation of the Galaxy seem to have been unfounded, however. Those Invid remaining on Earth will not reveal the Regess' destination - only that there would be no further contact from them. Long-range fold-sensors confirm this - no defold operation corresponding in size to what would be expected for the Invid presence has ever been detected. Considering the time since the Invid's departure, and the lack of a detected defold operation, the Invid's destination would certainly be extragalactic.
See additional design notes.
Go to Invid Naval Index.
Go to Robotech Reference Guide Home Page.
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.Content by Pieter Thomassen and Peter Walker