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A Titanic Problem

Posted on Sun Jan 16, 2022 @ 4:47am by Lieutenant Commander Elli-Navine

Lt Elli-Navine Chief Engineer’s Log

How to you describe the indescribable?

All of the official reports will get into the nitty gritty about anatomy and physics, but I'll always be left with the awe, the sheer gobsmack that is witnessing a supermassive life form, just going about it's business in space, unconcerned about it's deadly wake. We tried to think of every way we could to stop it, distract it, even kill it if we had to— but in the end I think someone else had answered the call long before we arrived. Maybe I should go back to the beginning...

The Potemkin has set out on a mission to Explore Deep Space, venturing to a region I’ve taken to calling “Behind the Veil”.

It’s a large area that the UFP hasn’t explored yet. Sensors can’t penetrate the nebulous matter that blocks the view. There may have been other explorers in the region, like maybe the Klingons or the Romulans, but to us, it’s completely undiscovered.

Immediately as we came through the Veil, we picked up a distress signal. The signal was on the older side and pretty much degraded. Our ship's universal translator picked out very little from the garbled alien language, but the gist of what could interpret was that they wanted help concerning a planet eating entity these people called: the Great Devouror.

We traced the signal back to a star system that Lt. Pride has since dubbed Cyrus. For the sake of this log, I’m adopting the name now.

Upon Warping into the Cyrus system, we encountered unexpected debris. Lt Pride handled the surprise with some panache, though I hassled him about the scrape on our ventral, it was fairly minor. I still will make him space walk with the repair team that has to refinish the hull plating.

Once clear of the rocky debris, our initial sensor readings of the system revealed Cyrus III to be an inhabited world with a prewarp civilization. It once had an M-class moon but something like ten thousand years prior, it had been dashed to pieces somehow. We noted enormous teeth marks in the bits that might have once had organic matter, but it seemed picked clean. The planet also had a distinct set of three craters in a perfectly equilateral triangular arrangement.

Sensors also detected an object of some size which was distantly in the system's outer reaches and traveling in our direction, but at it’s projected speed it wasn't meant to make our position for a week yet. We suspected the mass might be the Great Devourour spoken of in the call for help, but decided we should gather more information while we had the chance.

Pride hid the Potemkin in the lunar asteroid wreckage while Commander Mikhail took an away team consisting of himself, Lt Sonat, Lt McIntyre, and Dr Artopolis to the surface to explore and find out what the people knew about this Devouor.

Lt. Pride and I stayed aboard ship, as he was minding Conn and I wanted to be prepared to assist with our shipboard resources as needed. We had a game of rummy in which... I may have tested out the pocket dimension FTL computer that Tenzy Carter gave me. Let's just say it works very well with cards.

Although the away team did rather well locating a collegiate library on the early industrial world, the written language they sent back for translation proved a tough nut to crack. It’s inscribed in both rows and columns simultaneously and seems to rely on multi-directional decoding. I would really hate to be a young reader on Cyrus III.

The people of Cyrus III unfortunately haven't started to use radio frequencies broadly, so I couldn’t use that to expand our spoken vocabulary and cultural integration. We managed to learn that they use platinum coinage, which I will call the Cyrus Dollar, supposing we ever cross this way again.

While we waited, I decided to take some samples of non-native organic matter that our orbital scans detected from the craters. Basen and I took a brief and mostly unremarkable trip to one of the three uncannily equidistant compressed impact craters, and returned safely. The craters had an odd slant to them. Definitely not your average asteroid strike.

The away team discussed going to a pub to try to pick up more common vernacular for the Universal Translator to parse, but unfortunately our time grew short.

The inbound object was approaching the next planet out and we wanted to get a closer look. So the away team returned and we hopped over to Cyrus IV.

We were pretty sure we were observing Cyrus III’s Great Devouror. It was a spindle shaped creature the size of a moon! Ten thousand kilometers across. As it approached the uninhabited Cyrus IV, it opened up a tri-pod leg structure and slowed it’s approach grasping the surface and engaging something like a plasmic cutting effect and a drawing force to suction away some of the molten core. Below it swirled a host of flying lamprey like creatures that issued from the cave structures in the rocky surface of the creature. These lamprey ate up the plant and algae material. Each one was the size of the Potemkin and their multi row dental structure in their circular mouths matched the pattern on Cyrus III’s broken moon left there some ten thousand years prior.

It did seem odd, that the life on Cyrus IV was unusually vivacious, and there was some indication that it had possibly had an increase in mass from asteroid belt collisions. Were these things coincidental? Mere chance? I still can’t really be sure, but it’s possible that someone had set up Cyrus IV to be a feeding decoy long before we ever showed up. Maybe the call had reached someone else first.

Still, as we observed the Titanic creature feeding, we had to face the possibility that it would continue on to Cyrus III and drink from the core there as it had in some 500 year cycles previously. As the crust of the creature was kilometers of keratinous shell layered with built up rock on top, it was too dense for very clear scans of its anatomy. Instead, we examined the interior with a probe through the thruster end of it. A Suppository Probe, as Lt. Sonat called it. Lt McIntyre lightened the mood with a crack about anal probing aliens.

The Titan had an organic impulse drive that I actually found very familiar in structure. I always find it fascinating the way that biology and technology often reach similar conclusions in things like energy generation and storage, sensory inputs, articulated motion, and, as in this particular case, propulsion methods.

Similar to our matter/antimatter injection system, the Titan makes an in internal chemical reaction and produces the fourth state of mater, plasma, compressing it in a plasma manifold-like organ and ejecting it through a sphincter that serves as a nozzle, good old Newtonian physics style.

The probe managed to open up a space in the dense wall of the impulse drive and get into the circulatory system of the creature. Any damage the probe caused in it’s progress the Titan’s body healed almost immediately. It seemed extremely well constituted. Which is probably necessary when surviving in exposure to space. It proved to have standard red blood. Which in one sense accounted for it’s taste in the liquid iron core of planets, but on the other really made me wonder— if it was liquefying it’s intake, how was it getting any organic matter to make blood and nerves and shell material? Maybe it has some other source of organic matter, because the Titan wasn’t particularly interested in getting it from the planet as much as it was after the iron while it allowed the little ship sized creatures that live in the caves on it’s back, to feed on the organic matter.

We couldn’t locate the Titan’s heart and it’s nervous system seemed to have no centralization. We were unable to consider much in the way of a targeted plan to destroy it. It seemed as if most of our ideas would only do minor damage. Possibly we could stop up it’s propulsion or give it a blood clot or poke a hole in its side. That seemed to be the extent of our reach. We were hugely outclassed.

The Titan’s taste in iron proved sensible when we watched the Titan birth a little Titan! She must have needed the Iron to replace the blood for the delivery. It seems likely that the visit to the Cyrus system correlates to the timing of the birth cycle. Most living things with Red blood get iron depleted from gestation and birth.

We’d spent all of our time discussing options. With the use of the Deflector Array, I made one test to see if the creature could be lured away at the sense of a gravity well. It didn’t seem to have any interest in it. I wrestled with a way to create a sense of Iron for it. Pride reminded me of my basic physics- Large planetary bodies with iron cores have correlating magnetic forces. McIntyre pointed out a theory concerning the masking of Magnetic effects, which opened up a whole new route: instead of trying to lure the Titan and her youngling away, we could hide Cyrus III from any magnetic senses the Titans might posses.

My team constructed a hundred softball sized satellite units and Lt McIntyre programmed a torpedo for dispersal. When it was complete, we did find the satellite network successfully masked the planet’s magnetic forces from detection by our sensors.

By then the Titans had used some slingshot maneuvers to launch themselves in the direction of Cyrus III. Captain Pax said that if our other plans were successful in killing the Titans, the momentum of them would possibly collide with Cyrus III to catastrophic results. We were forced to stand by and watch. To our great relief, the Titans turned out to use Cyrus III for another navigation maneuver, picking up more speed towards Cyrus, the star, where mother and child opened some kind of collection fins, drew in star matter and in one final move they used their legs for a powerful force, opening and then slamming them shut to jump out of the system.

Honestly, I don’t know what could have been done on such short notice. I’m relieved that we neither killed the Titans, nor saw the repeated destruction of a world. I do think that someone came to the defense of Cyrus III before we had.

Ultimately the solution may have been much simpler than we made it out to be, at least in the short term. In the star system the Titan was last supposed to have been in before Cyrus, we discovered the prewarp culture has nuclear missiles. The type of missile they use for defense closely accords with some of the scaring on the Mother Titan’s exoskeleton. It seems they just punched it and it became dissuaded from consuming the world there.

I don’t really blame us for not reaching this conclusion. We had so little to go on until after we’d observed some of the Titan’s habits and behavior and learned more.

As we explore more of the region, I am hoping we discover who might have already been through the Cyrus System and set out the distracting meal for the Titan and her child. Maybe there is a group of some kind of wildlife rangers or an organization similar to our own that we can make our introductions with.


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By Lieutenant Commander Elli-Navine on Sun Jan 16, 2022 @ 4:48am

Log originally posted June 5th, 2021