Typically appearing in a green, crystalline form, Tiberium is named after the place of its initial discovery on the Tiber (although Kane claims that he himself discovered it and named it after Julius Caesar Drusus, the disinherited son of Tiberius). Tiberium leeches metals and other heavy minerals out of the soil, concentrating them in crystals which can be easily collected and processed. The leeching process leaves the landscape depleted, leaving the ground underneath effectively useless for agriculture.
If a nation or group knowns how to refine it, Tiberium becomes a valuable resource due to the minerals and metalls it holds, and is the principal source of metal for export and industry in Tiberian Destiny and many other C&C inspired nations, often being the only source of money and resources for the national economy. Harvesters equipped with specialised equipment are able to collect the crystal by sweeping it up from the ground. The crystal's growth speed and amount of minerals it contains depends on variables such as soil conditions, moisture, yearly-average temperature and local weather. Small shards of Tiberium crystals, measured by the gramm, are, along with trading goods, also used as currency in Tiberian Destiny.
Tiberium first reached Earth during a meteor shower in the 1990s. The first patch was discovered by Dr. Ignatio Mobius (although some would argue that it was actually Kane himself) by the Tiber river in Italy and has since spread all over the planet.
Tiberium can spread almost anywhere, with the rate of spread being influenced by soil density and ambient temperature. Only the polar caps show low levels of Tiberium infestation. Tiberium spreads through a variety of methods, depending on the local environment.
No matter how small, an isolated patch of Tiberium can spread to cover acres. The process is not entirely understood, but it is believed that a patch of Tiberium will release underground shoots in every direction, which will then grow into Tiberium proper. In this way, the amount of Tiberium in an area will increase exponentially. In-game, Tiberium patches can be completely de-'forested', but can grow back if even the smallest amount of Tiberium remains. Some of the immature Tiberium sprites are fairly non-descript, allowing the illusion that Tiberium is growing from out of nowhere.
A more disturbing method of Tiberium growth is witnessed when the area Tiberium is in has any sort of foliage, such as trees or bushes. Through an unexplained mutagenic process, Tiberium alters these trees into "Blossom Trees", or Tiberium Ripariuses. These 'trees' are fleshy stalks with a large bulb at the top. The bulb regularly contracts and relaxes, releasing microscopic Tiberium crystals into the atmosphere. As long as there is a Blossom Tree in an area, Tiberium will constantly regrow around the tree. Most attempts at injuring or removing Blossom trees have been ineffective.
Tiberium Vinifera, the highly combustible blue-coloured Tiberium variant, has its own specific form of spread. If a large enough patch of Vinifera grows to maturity, the crystals will meld together into a massive blue crystal, roughly 10 meters high. These large Vinifera masses act similarly to Blossom Trees (it is unknown how), but at a much slower pace. These crystals are very volatile, and if a vehicle manages to be destroyed over a patch of Viniferia, it will start a slow chain reaction. The crystals will catch fire and then explode after a short time, and some small pieces of debris will land on other areas and catch them on fire and so on until very little of the original patch remains.
By the 2040s, 30% of the Earth's surface (designated as 'Red Zones') has been rendered completely inhospitable to carbon-based life (though not to mutated, Tiberium-based life). A further 50% ('Yellow Zones') is severely afflicted and war torn, yet home to most of the world's population; while the remaining 20% ('Blue Zones') is relatively untouched. Much of GDI's efforts are focused toward the conversion of Yellow Zones into Blue Zones, and the complete sterilization of Red Zones. (See Zoning Section)
Tiberium first appears as manhole-sized lumps of rock or soil. As these lumps expand, the top of the lump pulls away, to reveal immature crystal formations. As the patch of Tiberium grows, both the lump of rock and crystal grow rapidly. The typical mature Tiberium crystal is roughly 1 to 2 meters tall.
It appears to require both warmth and moisture to grow quickly, as it will grow much slower in deserts and polar regions.
Effect on organic matter
Outcroppings of Tiberium release odorless gasses as they appear. While Tiberium was originally considered harmless (and perhaps even beautiful to some due to its unearthly shimmering sparkles), these fumes will heavily poison any human that ventures through it.
Long-term low-level exposure to Tiberium causes illness of various systems amongst all terrestrial life. As the exact mutagenic means by which Tiberium affects terrestrial biology are largely unknown, treatment is generally restricted to alleviating the symptoms rather than curing the cause. Unfortunately, this means that victims of Tiberium poisoning almost uniformly experience a gradual decline over a number of years until eventually succumbing to the effects. A research study funded by GDI that was conducted mid First Tiberian War produced the following statistics:
|Immune system ailments||14,681,994||29,377,224|
Long-term mid- to high-level exposure to Tiberium can result in effects that reveal an alarming aspect of the mineral/life-form: Tiberium is a mutagen. Furthermore, it is unlike any terrestrial mutagen, and when infiltration of an organism takes place, a complex set of circumstances can quickly evolve. Humans and animals that have been exposed to Tiberium at these levels have experienced genetic mutation, sometimes involving physiological modification in a number of ways. Generally, heavy exposure to Tiberium, or light long-term exposure causes decline until death by some form of total system failure. However, what was not initially apparent was another effect that was not understood well before the Second Tiberium War to any other than Brotherhood of Nod-funded research initiatives. These included remarkable intra-organism mutations that seem to spread throughout the systems and take hold within a few decades (and certainly within a few generations). These include the growth of Tiberium crystals on the skin and throughout the flesh of subjects, gradual development of a resistance to the effects of Tiberium poisoning and even (ironically) the ability of tissues to achieve accelerated cellular regeneration when in the presence of Tiberium Riparius and Vinifera, or some other form of Tiberium solution such as gas or liquid. By the time of the Second Tiberium War, these mutations had become much more apparent, as a generation of Tiberium exposure subjects had aged several decades, and many had children of their own. During the Second War, the Forgotten are a group of such 'mutants'. Interestingly, plants seemed more susceptible to viable (non-lethal, non-harmful) mutations than animals and humans, with the 'blossom trees' being an early-recognised example of such mutation in plants. After several generations of viable mutation have occurred, it has been observed that in such individuals, a marked indifference to the toxic effects of a Tiberium environment exists, while, as mentioned above, unusual beneficial effects begin to emerge (though such mutants could hardly be said to be in good health by carbon-based living standards).
When exposed to very high concentrations of Tiberium, such as while passing through an area of dense Tiberium growth without protective apparatus, the short-term effects of Tiberium poisoning are immediately experienced by individuals. If an individual dies from such exposure, either because they lingered in the area of Tiberium growth for too long or because they were already in a weakened state of health before the exposure, irregular Tiberium mutation can sometimes result. Through a process that is both amazing and extremely disturbing, the Tiberium toxins that caused the death of the individual through saturation appear to act as a resource for the semi-infectious growth of non-necrotic cellular systems remaining in an otherwise deceased individual. The cells within the body that have not died, but managed to successfully mutate into a viable form, feed off the necrotic remains over time. Externally, this resembles a cross between accelerated decomposition and severe bacterial infection, with the cadaver gradually being digested by its own mutant cell colonies, which then, after a period of gestation, replicate into a crude clone of the original, carbon-based life form. These are known as "visceroids", as they bear the appearance of a somewhat inside-out, amoeboid organism, with a strange tendency to "bleed" fluids in both gaseous and liquid forms. Visceroids tend to feed upon nearby sources of Tiberium, or, if available, they will attempt to digest organic matter of vaguely similar genetic composition to the host organism that preceded them.
As a terraforming agent
The most common belief held on the nature of Tiberium both in-game and in player speculation is that the crystal is a terraforming agent of the alien race known as the Scrin. All evidence of the Scrin show that they are a Tiberium-based lifeform with control over Tiberium mutations. The most obvious sign of these abilities is the Tacitus, a computer-like Scrin device that can control the mutations and contains great information on them.
If this is true, these are the assumed goals of Tiberium from the Scrin point of view:
- Deposition - The Scrin seed the intended world with Tiberium.
- Exploration - Beings on the intended world discover Tiberium and spread it by contact from place to place, acting as carrier agents.
- Conflict - The invasion and alteration of native environments by Tiberium causes a scramble amongst native species to survive the potentially toxic effects and escape to unaffected areas, thus spreading the contaminant over a much wider range.
- Mutation - Tiberium forcefully mutates planetary flora and fauna, changing the environment into something more condusive to colonisation by Tiberium-based lifeforms, such as Scrin.
- Colonisation - Scrin invade after the intended planet is sufficiently mutated. Scrin dominate the new ecosystem, to which they should be more or less familiar, but which will be unstable in and of itself due to the rapidity of the vast enhancements made to the planetary sphere.
A developer's diary that was recently released detailed Tiberium and most interestingly states that 'Red Zones are like the surface of an alien world. Scientists have speculated that Tiberium is actually a terraforming agent for an alien civilization, slowly transforming our world into an environment suitable for beings that have evolved on a different planet. No definitive conclusions have been reached.' This further reinforces belief on Tiberium being a terraforming agent of the Scrin. Some more technically-minded players have speculated that Tiberium may be a form of mature Molecular Nanotechnology, which could explain it's complex, extremely particular behaviour (which would have been unlikely by natural accident), and would explain it's deliberate employment as a terraforming agent.
The recent revelation of an as of yet unamed alien race (OOC: The Scrin) seems to support this theory.
"Molecularly, it is a non-carbon-based compound which appears to have strong ferrous qualities with non-resonating reversible energy. It has a tendency to disrupt carbon-based molecular structures with inconsequent in unequal positrons orbiting on the first, second and ninth quark rings." - Dr Ignatio Mobius
After being present on earth for some time now, tiberium has lately undergone several changes (No Pods, basic assimilation besides the normal mutation, resulting in crystalized humans) which have been the subject of much discussion in the science community. The following is the most recent scientific explanation of said process:
"...The significance of the heavy particles within Tiberium's crystal lattice is that they are the key to the matter transmutation process - Tiberium's most interesting property. Because of the high mass and energy of these particles, when Tiberium comes into contact with other matter, the particles at the boundaries of its lattice randomly collide with the nuclei of the target matter, smashing it to pieces (in the case of smaller nuclei), or incrementally knocking protons or neutrons off (in the case of heavier nuclei). Somehow, the Tiberium is able to capture a fraction of the protons and/or neutrons that are ejected during this collision process and incorporate them into its own structure, thus growing. Whenever a muon or tauon collides with an atomic nucleus, fission occurs, which results in the random production of alpha, beta and gamma radiation, as well as other forms of electromagnetic radiation (such as infrared). During the transmutation process, nuclei that Tiberium has come into contact with may be changed into nuclei with different (usually fewer) numbers of protons or neutrons. The result is a complete elemental transformation." - The C&C Science Bible (EALA)
It should be noted that the composition of the crystals varies based on where they are growing and is therefore not a constant.
"Tiberium gas" composition
- Tiberium Spore Tree (also known as Blossom Tree) - A mutated tree that puffs out spores that quickly grow into green Tiberium crystals in the immediate vicinity.
- Tiberium Riparius - referred to as green Tiberium for its color, this variant of Tiberium has a low level of leeched minerals and is therefore the least valuable resource in-game, albeit the most common.
- Tiberium Vinifera - referred to as blue Tiberium for its color, it leeches minerals from the soil in high concentrations, making it more valuable in-game. It grows at a slower rate than green Tiberium but is volatile and prone to explode when fired upon or struck by shrapnel or lightning, and is rare compared to green Tiberium.
- Vinifera Monolith - A massive blue crystal form of Tiberium that functions like a spore tree but rather than spreading Tiberium Riparius, it spreads Tiberium Vinifera.
Note - large areas of green or blue tiberium with the appropriate proliferator (blossom tree or Vinifera crystal) at the center is colloquially referred to as a "tiberium field". The above varieties are the only types harvestable for commercial gain.
- Tiberium Veins/Veinhole Monster - The veinhole monster itself is a mouth-like orifice embedded in the ground with "veins" growing outward. The monster itself emits Tiberium Gas when fired upon. The veins spread quickly and cause massive damage to buildings and the game's heavier tanks, whereas infantry, harvesters, and certain light tanks can pass unharmed over veins. Killing the monster causes the veins to slowly recede and eventually disappear. The veins' principal use in the game is by Nod - Nod commanders can send out Weed Eaters, which are immune to the veins' deadly effects, to harvest the veins as "Tiberium waste" and transfer them to the Nod Tiberium Waste Facility for Chemical Missile production. However it is put more as a neutral enemy as it can also destroy buildings and can be found in large numbers in Firestorm.
- Tiberium Aboreus - An unknown kind of tiberium. Basically, it appears as blue tiberium in-game, but it has a different value. This is hard to notice. Fans editing the game have been able to bring this back as a new kind altogether, utilizing the working spreading and harvesting mechanism. This form of tiberium is highly unstable, if any type of weaponry bigger than an infantryman's rifle is fired in a patch, all of the tiberium in that patch spontaneously combusts.
- Tiberium Gas - This is a dangerous form of Tiberium which forms toxic clouds. It is often observed being emitted by Veinhole Monsters and Tiberium Floaters. The gas quickly mutates or kills infantry and heavily damages cyborgs and mutants, and in larger concentrations can cause heavy damage to structures and vehicles.
- Unknown Strain (Cruentus) - This new strain of Tiberium is not actually used in the game, apart from a few appearances that are not of great significance. It appears the designers cut this type of tiberium altogether, not implementing a spreading and harvesting mechanism, making it worthless.
- Tiberium Algae - Tiberium colonies that extended from either Riparius or Vinfera on the seafloor to the surface by strands. The Tiberium poisons and clogs waterways. By the time of the second Tiberian War, most of the oceans have been covered by this unhelpful variant of Tiberium which makes travel by ship impossible. Unlike land-based types, this form of Tiberium does not leech any units. It also does not affect gameplay.
- Tiberium "Creep" - A sludge/moss form of Tiberium in blue and green variations which marginally slow down travel but are otherwise unobtrusive.
- Visceroid - Originally discovered during the First Tiberium War, the Visceroids are reddish-purple spheres of flesh, which defend themselves by shooting out sprays of Tiberium gas. During the Second Tiberium War, visceroids changed into pinkish/flesh colored masses of flesh which strike at enemies with pseudopodia. Visceroids are 'created' when Tiberium concentration has reached saturation in an organic body. Immature visceroids ,found later during the Second Tiberium War, are smaller and tend to be non-hostile. However, when two or more of these visceroids merge, they become extremely dangerous. It is believed that within the fledgling Tiberium ecology that spawned them, these life forms act as the "white blood cells" erasing potential threats to the ecosystem. Closer inspection reveals some traits of the original organism that produced them. These include misappropriated eyes and mouth periodically appearing on the creature, apparently trying to "escape". In Command & Conquer: Renegade, enemies exposed to large amounts of tiberium may suddenly mutate into viseroids. Viseroids, like all Tiberium-based lifeforms, are capable of rapid cell regeneration when exposed to the effects of Tiberium radiation.
- Mutant Humans - As Tiberium spread closer and closer to populated areas, many people began suffering from varying degrees of Tiberium mutation. Many of these unfortunate people have Tiberium crystals in their flesh, and most likely will some day no longer be human. Most of these mutants consider themselves as "The Forgotten", as many of these civilians were initially ignored by GDI and forcefully studied on by Nod during the events and aftermath of the First Tiberium War. They are often referred to as "Shiners" due to the Tiberium crystals that protrude from their skin. Other than the crystals on their skin and their rapid cell regeneration however, mutants appear to have no other difference to humans, the psychological and behavioral side-effects of the subject's mutation being apparently minimal. Artificial mutants produced by Nod during the First Tiberium War, however, exhibited inhuman strength, endurance, resilience, data processing capabilities and, in Raveshaw's case, a reduced intellect. These first mutants were created by Nod's Tiberium experiments, a project named 'Re-Genesis' (which means rebirth and follows the line of Tiberium-related divination that Nod preaches). Codenamed "Initiates", these mutants were stronger than any bodybuilder and had a basic understanding of weaponry.
- Cyborg Humans - Nod's experiments into human-Tiberium mutation had yielded a variety of mutant cyborg soldiers during the era of the Second Tiberium War. These special troops can pass through Tiberium fields with impunity, and will actually benefit from prolonged exposure to the crystals (in-game they are simply healed like any mutant). Cyborgs are modified mutants augmented with machines to greater increase their power. The earilest prototypes of these would-be Nod supersoldiers were first developed in the First Tiberium War and were given the codename "Acolytes", advanced versions of Initiates, and had few mechanical parts (arms, legs). Templars, although never seen with cybernectics, can be assumed to also have mechanical augmentation as they were the supposed "perfect" versions of Acolytes (They do have heavy metal plate armor, possibly conceiling augmentations). Of the three types of mutants/cyborgs created by Nod in the First Tiberium War, Templars are considered an actual successful result, as the previous two rebelled against their creators. Raveshaw, a cyborg with cybernetic legs and a metal jaw plate, could be considered the first true cyborg as he would only do anything if given the command, otherwise just standing idle much like a inactive computer.
- Tiberian Fiend - The 'fiend' is a horse-sized animal, resembling a terran dog. The flesh is blackish or red, and the back is covered with Tiberium Crystals. It is believed tiberium fiends were actully once dogs. The fiends can fling these crystals at enemies, causing both damage as well as Tiberium poisoning. Often, they bury themselves in Tiberium fields (the Tiberium on their backs concealing them) and lay in wait to attack Tiberium Harvesters. Fiends also have great burrowing ability. They do react to perceived acts of kindness, and The Forgotten have been able to actually "tame" a significant number of them for use as watchdogs.
- Tiberian Floater - Looks like a large, hovering/floating, greenish/yellowish jellyfish. It can build up an electric charge in its tentacles to zap threats. The tiberium floater can release Tiberium gas to propel itself as a way for movement. Note that even though they float in the air, they are considered ground units in combat. In-game, all floaters recover hit points while above Tiberium field.
Though limited in variety, Tiberian flora has been exhibited throughout nations that are based upon C&C:
- Blossom Tree - Sometimes referred to as the Tiberium Spore Tree and officially called 'Tiberium Riparius' by the game. Blossom Trees are born when normal trees come into prolonged contact with Tiberium. Once contact is made, the tree will slowly die. When it is a withered husk, a blossom will move from the roots up to the top, bursting out from underneath. The tree will also develop fleshy organic parts over time. Blossom trees' main purpose are the proliferation of Tiberium through periodically releasing Tiberium spores to the surrounding area. When these spores land on the ground, a new Tiberium field will begin forming. Blossom trees can spread green Tiberium at an alarming rate, and are known to sprout from any type of tree species.
- Tiberium Plants - These plants haven't been given names. They are largely ignored, because they do not actually add to the gameplay, apart from creating additional atmosphere and decoration on the battlefield. The scientific background is that they release Tiberium gas and add to the suspected terraforming process of Tiberium. These plants come in both blue and green variants and grow either on the Tiberium creep, or on terrain soil.
In the 2040's, the planet is separated into three different zones showing the global impact of Tiberium. The exact locations of these zones are difficult to define using the C&C 3 trailer, as it shows a rotating 3D map which appears only for a few seconds.
- Red Zone - The Red Zone, which covers up 30% of the planet's surface, are worst affected by Tiberium, making these areas uninhabitable. According to the trailer, the entire continent of Australia seems to be the biggest Red Zone area; parts of South East Asia, Europe and Africa seem to be slightly affected.
- Yellow Zone - The Yellow Zone, which covers up 50% of the planet's surface, have significant contamination levels of Tiberium, yet they contain the majority of the world's population. Most of North America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the upper part of South America are contained in the Yellow Zone.
- Blue Zone - The Blue Zone, which covers 20% of the planet's surface, remains untouched by Tiberium. Canada seems to be the biggest Blue Zone area, followed by Argentina. Small areas of the Blue Zone appear around the southern parts of North America, Central Asia, Southern Africa, Britain and other parts of northen Europe.