The Swarm is an alien species of indeterminate origin that moves throughout the galaxy consuming all life in its path. It is comprised of organic matter, simply referred to as biomass, and shapes this matter into myriad forms to carry out its depredations of whatever planet it encounters. The primary unit of a mature colony operates like a queen insect and has a rudimentary intelligence that governs the lesser swarm buds. These it shapes into all the monstrous forms necessary to conquer a planet. Each individual swarm bud is in telepathic resonance with all the others and together they form a colossal hive mind.
Each planet encountered is a potential feast for the Swarm. When a Swarm Mother enters a solar system it will swing into an orbit and observe the planetary bodies for any that are suitable to host a colony. At this point a Swarm colony does not have anything resembling an intelligence - it is simply following a genetic mandate.
When it finds a suitable world it will begin the process of colonisation. This involves creating numerous Swarm buds that eventually mature into a variety of monstrous forms. The forms that these Swarm buds can take are limited only by whatever genetic templates exist in a colony's memory. They can range from microbes to gargantuan predators - anything that the Swarm has encountered in its existence can be copied. Should the Swarm detect the presence of intelligent life it will proceed with caution, adapting itself first with a cunning intelligence to outwit any resistance, and then by generating a host of Swarm buds to carry out an invasion.
Swarm colonies have encountered various intelligent lifeforms throughout the millennia. They have come into contact with both the Takisians and the Network. One of the Network races, the Ly'bahr, was almost wiped out when a Swarm colony invaded their world and killed most of their race.
The Swarm's infamy has earned it numerous names. Takisian's call it T'zan-d'ran, which loosely translates to "Swarm". The Ly'bahr word is Thyat M'hruh, meaning "Darkness-for-the-race". This word was interpreted by Black John Balsam to be "TIAMAT" and became a basis for his order, the Egyptian Freemasons. Other names among the Network races include Demonseed, Great Cancer, and Devourer of Worlds.
Individual Swarm buds are fabricated from Swarm biomass for a wide variety of roles. When the gestation process is complete the Swarm buds that comprise the invasion force are dropped to the surface of a planet in organic sheaths.
A large greenish lump of mucus, this type of Swarm bud attacks by enfolding its prey and digesting them with an acid attack. Blobs are known to be amphibious.
Flappers were among the first generation Swarm buds in the attack on Earth. Created for air supremacy they typically operate in vast numbers. Flappers overwhelm prey with massed aerial attacks using teeth and claws, and they have an acidic bite. They cannot operate in water.
Infiltrators were third-generation Swarm buds and among the most advanced. They were specially grown, either on the Swarm Mother or from pods sent to the planet's surface, to mimic the forms of of specific individuals. In cases where a person was captured to use as a template, the resulting infiltrators were imprinted with the captives' memories. One infiltrator copied the form of Dr. Tachyon and another replaced Alexander Lankester, a State Department man heading up an anti-Swarm task force. One of their primary objectives was to foment a nuclear war.
The millipede serpent type of Swarm bud appeared in the first generation of attackers. It is a huge serpent supported by ten foot long cilia that moves like a sidewinder and can crush a house.
Spies provided the mainstay of the second-generation attack. These Swarm buds were humanoid in shape, but their soft and pulpy appearance meant they would only be mistaken for human in a dim light. These Swarm buds kidnapped people for further examination, some of whom were launched back into space, to the Swarm Mother, for interrogation and dissection. This action paved the way for the infiltrators to make their move.
- Wild Cards Volume II: Aces High