his has been an exciting time for us, and not just the scientists, everyone on board is really excited. Even me, and you know me, nothing gets me excited. We found another stellar system harboring life in this galaxy, and this one is really, really weird. Itís unbelievably, unimaginably weird. It may be the weirdest planet in the universe.
Yes, weíve already found fifty three living worlds in this galaxy, and that in itself is pretty exciting, since weíve only found seventy eight planets with life on them in our own galaxy in all the time weíve been exploring it, and here weíve found fifty three on our first expedition to this galaxy on our first visit here. But this weird world...
Like our galaxy, most of the planets and moons with life have only microbial life. We (well, the scientists, but they know what theyíre talking about) are certain that at least one of the many species on the planet is a tool-using species that has even constructed space vessels. Weíve never run across anything close to being like that, ever, in all the time our species has been exploring space.
I feel really honored to be the pilot of the first intergalactic vessel, even though weíre visiting G2, the closest galaxy to our own. Theyíre so close the two galaxies will eventually start to merge within our great grandchildrenís lifetimes. But still, Iím the first one to pilot a craft out of the galaxy and into another one.
The really weird planet we found was the third planet from CXG-947. Okay, G2-CXG-947, but when I say CXG-947 you can assume the G2. Actually, you can assume all of them are G2 because thatís where we were and all the stars are G2, just like our galaxy is G1.
Its surface is mostly dihydrogen monoxide like our planet, and unlike ours its atmosphere is mostly nitrogen. Most of the biologists were absolutely certain that life was impossible there, since there is so little free oxygen and carbon dioxide, but there it was. And not only life, but an incredible diversity of life, far more diverse than weíve seen in any other life-bearing planet, in that galaxy or our own.
Ironically, the biologists werenít interested in the CXG-947 stellar system at all at first, as I said. They thought none of the planetsí atmospheres or other environmental variables were fit for life.
The first planet from CXG-947 was small, hot, had no atmosphere, and one hemisphere always faced the star. The second had an atmosphere that was almost all carbon dioxide, and as a result was way too hot for life, as close as it was to the star. It would have been a perfect candidate for life if its orbit and the fourth planetís orbits were switched. The third had all that nitrogen, the fourth with almost no atmosphere at all, and all the other bodies were either too large or too small as well as being too far from the star.
It was the physicists who became interested in this star system first. They became curious when there was a short period where there were a number of flashes on XGC-947-3ís surface that emitted radiation in a very wide spectrum, as if a miniature star had appeared and died on the planetís surface in an instant. This all happened on the planetís northern hemisphere thousands of times within a short ten lokfars, then stopped.
They wouldnít have even seen it were it not for luck. We were passing between XGC-947 and XGC-948 on our way to ODX-102 when the flashes went off. We were really close, and they wouldnít have seen them if we werenít. It was only by accident that we found this strange place.
More study revealed that the flashes were only semi-natural, that one of the planetís species had actually engineered them. They were the result of uncontrolled fission and fusion reactions on the planetís surface. The scientists have no idea why they did it, perhaps to test a scientific theory, or testing a means of harnessing those reactionsí power and an accident happened, over and over. But they can only guess, and tell me they donít really know.
Life on this planet was unlike anything the biologists had imagined, starting with being able to live in all that nitrogen. Yes, nitrogen is inert, and thatís the problem. Life needs oxygen or some other such highly reactive nonmetallic element, even if itís bound in a molecule like carbon dioxide, and so far oxygen and carbon dioxide were the only such gasses on planets that had anything actually living on them. However, the biologists tell me that perhaps thereís a planet with an atmosphere of chlorine or some other highly reactive gas that bears life that we have yet to find. Iím only the pilot so I donít fully understand it like the biologists and chemists do, but thatís what they told me.
Unlike any other life-bearing planet weíve found, in our own galaxy or this one, some of its species are bipedal. Most of the bipedal animals the biologists studied were avian, but the intelligent species is also bipedal. I have no idea how anything could walk on only two legs, and the biologists are especially excited about it. Just try walking on two legs, itís impossible. Heck, just try standing on two legs without holding on to something! That would be worthy of a circus sideshow. It makes me chuckle just thinking about it.
But what fascinated the biologists the most was that none of the species were omnisexual. In every other planet weíve seen, all species are, and any member of any species can impregnate any other member of the species, including herself. These strange animals only had one set of genitals each. Yes, it happens. Even in our own species thereís an occasional child born with only one set of genitals, or worse and more rare two genitals of the same kind. But a planet where none of any of its animals have more than one set of genitals is unbelievably weird.
Theyíre still trying to figure out how the intelligent species communicates, since so very few of the species there are bioluminescent, and the intelligent species isnít. The leading theory is some sort of telepathy. This theory seems to hold up because the physicists have detected minute amounts of electromagnetic radiation that seems to be mechanically produced transmitted in certain patterns. Theyíre still trying to decipher the patterns, but so far havenít had any luck doing so.
Also, many species had strange projections from their... what the biologists call ďheadsĒ. They think these projections, which biologists call ďearsĒ have something to do with their telepathy. Still others suggest that a projection theyíve named a ďnoseĒ may have something to do with it.
Others have suggested that perhaps they are bioluminescent, only in a part of the spectrum we canít see. There are some species on that weird place that change color, and perhaps a tiny change of color is how the intelligent animals communicate.
The biologists wanted to land and do some up-close observations, but I vetoed that at once. The planet is simply too dangerous. There are violent animals, even the intelligent species, which sometimes cause huge explosions, and there are very often really nastily violent natural occurrences, such as high energy sparks hitting the ground from giant clouds of charged dihydrogen monoxide vapors, volcanoes, tornadoes, ground-quakes, tsunamis, and perhaps even scarier, more perilous things we hadnít yet witnessed. Itís a very dangerous world, far too dangerous to land on. I had to explain to the biologists that landing there would be way outside the rule book, and if they kept pestering me Iíd have to report them.
When the mini-stars were flashing on the planetís surface, the physicists sent a drone down for closer investigation, and it crashed. Those things never crash! And these mad scientists wanted to go down there? If they want to land theyíre going to have to find a crazier pilot than me.
Thereís so much to learn about this amazing planet. The biologists are especially excited. They keep eschewing the violence, saying we would be inedible to any life form there, but thatís not enough for me. Not after that drone. And I wondered what ďinedibleĒ meant, but I didnít ask.
But we did fly really low sometimes. A few times, some machines tried to chase us. One seemed to shoot a rocket at us, but the rocket was really slow compared to us. That was another reason I refused to land, we simply didnít understand these creatures. The intelligent species had sent objects into the planetís orbit, and I kept our distance from those, too.
The biologists finally convinced me to allow a couple of drones to pick up a few species of one of the planetís life forms for study, all quadrupeds because the bipedal species were just too weird, and the hexapods and octopods were too small to handle easily or to study in any detail.
My veto of bringing up bipeds really upset the biologists, because they wanted to study these strange species badly. Strange? Lorg, theyíre downright weird. This whole gorflak planet is weird. Even the quadrupeds are weird; none of the quadrupeds have actimar limbs, although a few species sometimes use locomotive limbs for what animals on our planet would use actimars for, like picking stuff up. The intelligent bipeds and a few other species of bipeds do seem to have some sort of actimars, although theyíre nothing like any life on our planetís actimars.
A few weird species that seem to be related to, or at least similar to the intelligent species, live in large stationary life forms, donít seem to have locomotive limbs at all. Instead, they have four of those weird actimars that they use for locomotion. Great Gargoth, but the animals on that planet are unimaginably weird.
The biologists think that since they can live in all that nitrogen, maybe something can live in the liquid dihydrogen monoxide. I donít know, Iím no biologist but that makes absolutely no sense to me. How could anything breathe underwater? Itís a crazy notion, if you ask me.
It seems that half or more of all of the species on the planet live by consuming other species. What horror! And whatís even weirder and more disgusting than that, some species propagate their young by having some of their parts actually consumed by other species of organism, who excrete the young elsewhere. There are species living inside other species. This planet is beyond imagination weird. It gives a whole new meaning to the word ďalienĒ.
The periculumologists, who study security, said that the obviously sentient species should be exterminated, and perhaps other similar, semi-bipedal species that had actimars as well. They moved so quickly and seemed to advance their technology so rapidly that sooner or later they could reach our galaxy and would be a great threat to us.
The biologists nixed that idea, saying they posed no threat at all.
First, our planet is five times as massive as that one, and they could never land on our planet, or withstand the acceleration necessary for intergalactic travel in the first place. But more important was the seemingly short life span of the mobile species. They would never leave their galaxy and could pose no threat, violent as they were. They simply donít live long enough to ever reach us, even if they could stand the acceleration.
There were a few species that lived almost as long as your pet gorflag, and you know those donít live long, ten iglaps if youíre lucky, but some stationary species that grew very large lived that long and are still alive. But no other species there comes close.
ODX-102 was supposed to be our last stop before returning, but they canceled that so they could study the wierdo planet more. Iím sure when the next expedition comes to G2 theyíll be back to this crazy place. The other planets are similar to our galaxyís, but this crazy place was nothing like anything anyone had ever imagined.
Excitingly interesting as this weird planet is, Iím anxious to get home. It was a very long trip here and the trip back will probably seem even longer than it is. We leave in a single lokfar, and I should be home in about fifteen iglaps.
I donít know why Iím writing this, the messenger drone will only get there an iglap or two before I do, but Iím excited to be on this mission and I miss you all.
I managed to get a souvenir from the planetís satellite, which the sentient species visited a few times and apparently gave up on. The souvenir is about as weird as that whole planet.
Well, I have to start preparations for the journey back. Iíll see you when I get there!
|Trouble on Ceres
|Dewey' s War