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The Vord claim to be ancient:

'Your species is young and weak,' the Vord queen said 'Disease is no enemy of the Vord. We have lived longer than most diseases. We have survived them. The hygienic concerns of the dinner ritual are unnecessary.'

-- Chapter 27, First Lord's Fury

They also claim to have conquered countless worlds; that, at least, seems likely to be true, since the Marat lost two worlds to them before coming to Carna. That's statistically unlikely unless there are a great many Vord conquests.

The books themselves contain no information about the Vord's origins, but has Jim Butcher said or written anything elsewhere? For example, did the Vord evolve to conquer worlds - implying a quite staggeringly large and ancient multiverse - or were they perhaps a bio-weapon designed by a presumably now-extinct civilization? Brought into existence spontaneously by a confluence of magical forces? The daughters of some kind of Lovecraftian evil deity predating the creation of the multiverse?

(I have no particular reason to think that, out-of-universe, they ever needed a backstory, so a referenced "no" would be a perfectly acceptable answer.)

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    I don't have Word of Jim handy, but there are subtle clues; the original Wax Forest as described can easily be seen as a spacecraft's impact crater. This makes things like bioweapon or terraforming agent more likely.
    – Radhil
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 2:13
  • @Radhil: I hadn't noticed that! That certainly makes more sense than Vord queens wandering about conquered worlds waiting for a spatial rift or whatever it was that brought the Alerans to Carna, and does suggest that the Vord are science-fiction monsters rather than fantasy monsters (so to speak). But it doesn't eliminate the possibility that they evolved: for one thing, the queens are clearly intelligent enough to build their own spaceships, and for another, there's plenty of science-fiction precedent for biological spacecraft. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 0:05
  • As for the idea that the Vord are a terraforming agent ... wow. I hate to think what kind of species would think of Vord as just the sort of nice friendly wildlife they want on their new planet. :-) Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 0:06
  • There is actually a comment made about the queen not living up to her design in the Canim home land. This suggests to me that she was supposed to be terraforming the planet. And I believe on the forums WOJ has that this is true. Sorry, I don't have the quote handy. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 5:53
  • @favilo: the first queen was considered to be defective by her daughters because she had developed an interest in Aleran customs. As a result, she had to limit their numbers and take away their ability to birth other queens themselves, which both significantly slowed down the conquest and put the final outcome in jeopardy. (She said something like "By rights, this world should have been Vord five years ago.") Doesn't really speak to the ultimate goal, though. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 21:52

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The origin of the Vord are not gone into in the books, and Jim Butcher hasn't gone on record explicitly.

That's not to say there isn't a lot of implications, both in the books, and from the author, and those implications add up to the Vord being a literal alien agent.

The first book Furies of Calderon describes the original Vord nest, the Wax Forest, as a bowl of a valley with steep sides, and the "hollow tree" that contains the queen is noted to be cylindrical and vaguely metallic. Someone pointed out that the tree sounded like a rocket on Butcher's online boards, and Butcher responded*:

No one in Alera has the phrase "impact crater" in his vocabulary, but if they did . . .

In addition, another forum user pointed out the Vord Queen's talk of a "great purpose" in Academ's Fury, which seems a bit out of place in the rest of the this-world-is-ours mantra. The post turned this into a theory that the Vord were engineered, their creators using them as a hostile terraforming solution (which I have to admit, covering the world in croach makes more sense with that in play than to just make more bugs with no one left to fight), to prepare a world for later colonization. Jim didn't explicitly confirm that, but he was practically dancing as he didn't*:

God I love it when someone picks up the little puzzle pieces I don't illuminate with a spotlight and puts them together. :) I mean, I'm not even trying to hide the big plot tropes, like the identity of Tavi's parents and so on. They're staples of the fantasy genre. It's the smaller details and background and the character conflict/interests that are happening beneath the surface that I've tried to put extra work into. It's really gratifying to see that readers are smart and that they're connecting the dots.

If the author does pick up this setting once again (the series itself is definitely finished), we may get more firm answers on the Vord's origins. Until then, this appears to be it.

*The Word of Jim section of his forums appears to be only visible with an logged-in account, so my apologies if you're having trouble getting to the sources, but these are the best I've found for now

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Simply considering the “croach” in the context of “to encroach” leads me to suspect the croach as the actual terraforming agent rather than the Vord. While it seems like a symbiotic relationship on the surface (no pun intended,) the croach is more durable, persistent, and better able to survive transit between worlds. The croach produces various lures such as “the blessing of night” for humanoids or in the case of the Vord, providing sustanance directly or converting other life forms into food. The croach also appears to play a role in spawning Vord queens and modifying them to mimic (movie pun intended) local life forms. Based on these observations, I suspect the croach as the dominant partner in the Croach / Vord symbiosis and therefore the actual invading (encroaching) entity.

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