This started as an investigation into the bad way modern sci-fi is portrays fungi and veered into a mix of various IPs that are (coincidentally) mostly owned by Disney. I am presenting my idea, as always free to use and abuse, as a series of book stories.
A fungus evolves to facilitate communication, kind of like a biological version of the Internet. On its planet, the ecosystem is connected through its mycelial network where it acts as a general field, bestowing intelligence to anything connecting to it. Due to the slow speed of connection, this transforms the entire planet into a large thinking brain, dreaming vast thoughts and living in symbiosis with the plant and animal life which provide it with real life experience and goals, plus fast local intelligence. The result is a society that looks like a Disney kingdom, with talking animals and plants and so on. Interesting ideas of conscious animals sacrificing themselves for food because their soul rests in the network arise.
Now humans from an Alien/Blade Runner universe come along, with a corporate mindset, and the fungus world understands that they are toxic.
We introduce the crew of a Nostromo-like ship, flying under a human corporate flag. They are tasked with investigating a new planet.
They are amazed to discover something looking like Fantasyland. Castles, princes, princesses, people happy and beautiful landscapes. But they reveal their mindset and through some misguided actions, they make the planet see them as a threat which puts them in peril.
They fight for survival, Alien style, where everything and everybody is trying to hurt them. And also like Alien, it wants them alive, because Fung'y wants to study the crew, maybe even incorporate them into its structure, even if they are of different biological make up than life on Fantasyland. They have superior technology and weaponry, but they are fighting with never ending swarms of animals and knights and poisonous plants.
They discover a lot more of what the planet is like, how it works and why it wants to kill them, the survivors try to escape in a rescue shuttle. They fail, but not only because they can't make it, but also because they are - kindly - explained how they are the bad guys. And they are captured in understanding of their role as the villain in the fairy tale.
We introduce one of the people we thought dead in the first book, found by another human ship while drifting in space hibernation in an escape shuttle. They have been drifting for decades. They tell the story of the killer Fantasyland planet. Humans prepare for investigation and attack.
Human ships arrive at Fantasy land, examining the planet from afar. Automated and android teams are sent for burn and grab missions. They need samples and to study the fungus. Some don't make it back.
Humans realize that the planet has changed in a few decades. The economy is no longer feudal, it went through some kind of technological advancement as well. It's subtle, but they can't explain electromagnetic emissions and weird heat signatures.
Humans go into the offensive, using a toxin that kills the fungus, using it to horrific effects. We see how the land physically collapses in some parts, how the animal populations lose their minds, literally. Humans rejoice but suddenly the electromagnetic emissions start increasing and weird beams of energy start cutting through human ships. Space... things... start popping up and attacking the ships. You get weird battles between people on starships fighting creatures with armor and sword, lion-like creatures and swarms of rats. In the end humans poison and nuke the entire planet and while winning, it's a pyric victory, with most of their resources depleted, ships destroyed and the prize (a pristine planet ready for plunder) completely destroyed
The survivor from book II is back home. We see how the human world works and how bad things are. Though corporate compensation packages and insurance money keep them in relative comfort, our survivor has to find a job soon if they don't want to go into a pool of unhireables which would guarantee debt and a life of corporate servitude. They try to get a job, but even as a known hero, it's hard.
The survivor is now exploring the underworld of the human society, the gangsters, the hackers, the underground economy. While looking for a job they realize they are not feeling well. People are trying to take advantage of that. It does not turn up well for them.
The survivor realizes that they are capable of things they didn't think they could. But Dunning-Kruger effect makes them believe it's plausible. Or is it DK? They capture one of the gangsters who attacked them and instead of killing them, they keep them captive.
Our survivor becomes a kingpin of an underground society. They have a reputation of getting some of their worst enemies to join their organization as trusted allies .
A human military warship, the crown jewel of a corporation, patrols the waters of space. They are attacked by space things. The mighty warship is destroying them as they come, but they keep coming, some breach the ship, creatures attack the crew. Strange energy emanations come from some of the space things, disrupting defense. Escape pods are launched. Space things keep coming and attack everything, space pods included.
A human corporation meeting is under way. These things are rare because corporations are stuck in unending bitter corporate wars and face to face communication of the major corporate leaders is not safe. The media is abuzz, but cannot be privy to the meetings, because they are closed. A reporter is obsessed to finding a way in.
Corporate meeting is under way. These people are ruthless, intelligent, fashionable. They all breach the subject slowly and carefully, but a larger picture emerges: corporate planets of various factions are disrupted by a special kind of organized unrest. Corporations are experts in dismantling criminal organizations they do not suffer, but these are hard to crack. People are loyal, methods are unusual, communication is not traceable, they have access to weird technology. In the end they have to admit they have a common problem. It is then when one of the leaders there admits they have lost their military flagship to unknown assailants. Shock comes as they realize none of the people at the table were responsible.
The war comes in the clear. Fung'y didn't die. It reverse engineered space travel and energy manipulation weapons. Before the humans attacked, it spread spore ships to random places in space. The original survivor was first captured, infested and let go, as yet another experiment. Many other humans were infested in the same way in the attack.
Original Fung'y died, but its seeds are now everywhere. Silently, versions of himself grew inside human societies, on new planets. Now, they are starting to connect using human technology into a thing even larger than before. Planet brains that took forever to finish a thought incorporate human technology to facilitate long distance communication. Determining as a consensus that the human world is both valuable and a pest, the Fung'y dominion continued with its ancestral plan: find all humans and... domesticate them.
War and paranoia destroys the order of the human universe. Trust disappears, planets become insular, human travel practically ends. Both sides: human and fungus, work on finding the weaknesses of the other, probing, testing, frantically researching. The human strategy: find reliable ways to detect infestation and eradicate it. Find reliable ways of finding planetary brains and destroy them. Fungus strategy: infiltrate and coopt human societies. Isolate and eliminate human defense, weaponry and communication.
Mandalorian style stories set into the now complete Disney universe: Fantasyland, Alien, Blade Runner and a fungus clone of The Last of Us. Complete artistic freedom. Anything goes, from children fantasy to gory horror, maybe at the same time.
Bonus: Fung'y vs Alien, or even better, the Xenomorph brood gaining (even more) intelligence from a temporary alliance with Fung'y, until it realizes they are worse than the humans, but both gaining some characteristics from the other in the end.
Of course this can continue in any number of ways. I used known IPs for succinctly expressing my ideas, but of course they don't have to go the same way and can be (and should be) set in a standalone universe of their own. However, if Disney wants to use my idea, they are free to do so!
Hope you enjoyed this. Tell me if you want more stuff like this.