Monday, July 9, 2018

Space Whales


Most organic life is ill suited to surviving in space. But life, especially life made with bio-engineering is nothing if not versatile. There are multiple clades of life that have been created to live in the void. They feed on space debris, solar radiation and each other. Most are confined to a single system but a few have organic rip drives that allow them to travel between the stars. These interstellar wanderers are colloquially known as space whales. There are three major clades.

Gas Bag

So called "Gas Bag" Whales are not named for an anatomical feature, but rather for their creators; the enigmatic Gas Bag civilization that lives in giant* planets across the galaxy. They keep to themselves, rarely interacting with telluric life forms. They created their clade of space whale to exchange genetic information between their planets. This genomic trade appears to be their chief economic activity

The "Bubble Head" whale is the baseline body plan for Gas Bag whales. They have wide wing-like** fins and bulbous heads. Inside their eponymous melons  are greasy orbs full of organic slurry. These are how they transport genetic information from planet to planet; when they reach a planet they drop their cargo in the upper atmosphere. There is a thriving grey market for these orbs among certain academics who wish to eavesdrop on Gas Bag civilization.

Pirate whales appear to be weapons created by Gas Bags against other Gas Bag whales, suggesting some sort of sectarian conflict within their society. They are small for space whales, about the size of a fighter craft, and shaped like a boomerang or flying wing. They are pack hunters and quite clever, capable of sophisticated tactics. Some packs have learned to prey on spacecraft They dock with their sucker mouths, bite a hole in the hull and evert their feeding tentacles into the ship. These tentacles are strong and sticky and are used to pull crew to their deaths.

HomeStead

Before their empire dissolved the Floozies embarked on an ambitious project to seed all of space with life. The homestead whales were the keystone of this endeavor. These large animals provide habitats for a host of other forms of life. In the millennium since the end of the Floozies they have continued to spread and evolve.

Poreback whales are huge creatures the size of carrier ships. They carry hosts of symbiotic life forms in special organs. They are infamous for swallowing ships whole. Once inside the crew are sieged by hordes of strange creatures desperate for their raw elements. When threatened they release swarms of defenders. There are rumors of human villages inside these creatures.

Grass Mothers are serpentine whales covered in shaggy green solar collectors. They are always budding off "trees" biomechanical constructs made of wood and plastic. They are considered a pest species as the forests they make are a navigational hazard. When attacked they retaliate with powerful lasers.

Dream Voyagers 

The rarest clade are the dream voyagers. In addition to their rip drives these creatures can travel between realities. It is unknown if they were created by the Obelisk Dreamers for some obscure purpose, or if they evolved in some strange dimension. Regardless they can be found in the far corners and weird places of space, phasing in and out of reality on some unknowable pilgrimage.

Dream singers have cigar shaped bodies, blunt head and a ring of posterior tentacles. They emit a constant psychic signal that is experienced as other worldly music. Their songs are always shifting and evolving, evoking anomalous emotions and images of alien vistas. Long term exposure can lead to the unlocking of latent mental powers, massive personality shifts and physical mutation. When attacked their music turns chaotic and painful, leading to temporary hallucinations that let the whale slip away.

Beholding whales are thankfully rare. Their entire body is one big eye. They feed with their gaze; they can telekinetically disassemble anything they look at. They seem to prefer non living and inanimate prey but will sometimes attack spaceships. When threatened by an attacker they can't simply disintegrate, they literally blink out of reality. They are said to be from a dimension called the Beholding, but its location is not known.

Locations

The Far Giant is a titanic spacecraft making a slow journey to Andromeda. It is a gas giant planet with a fusion candle engine. It has been traveling for hundreds of thousands of years and has barely made it into intergalactic space. Its mass has dragged a small sliver of woundspace with it, making rip drive travel possible. It is theorized that sometime in the future woundspace will "tear" and the Far Giant will be cut off. As of now the gas bags are sending constant caravans of whales loaded with genetic information and raw elements, seemingly trying to fuel up for the voyage. There are constant attempts by telluric life forms to colonize the planets moons, in order to piggyback on the gas bag's expedition, but the space around the planet is infested with dangerous space organisms designed to prevent such an occurrence.

The Green Ring is the ultimate expression of the homesteader project. It is a toroid of gas around a neutron star and it throngs with life. Everything here is in freefall including the flora; vast mats of rugose algae and crystal like trees. The animals here are a mix of the pisciform  and the avian. There are schools of tiny darters and vicious swooping raptors. This region serves as an important breeding ground for many species of space whales. There is a tribe of mutated humans living here. They have a sophisticated and unified culture despite their primitive technology and the large amount of territory they occupy. They attack anyone who trespasses without permission. It is rumored that their god is an organic supercomputer made by the Floozies.
Speaker Greenwing is the designated diplomat for the tribe. The extant of her diplomacy is usually growling threats over a radio channel and artistically desecrating bodies, but if a visitor approaches with humility and respect, she may deign to meet with them. She is mostly human, with wicked fangs and large bat-like wings. Only those that undergo a mutagenic initiation are allowed to explore the ring.

The Only Audience is a luxury space yacht owned by white hole records. It serves as a sort of emergency retreat for musicians; when an artist gets stuck on a record they are sent to the Only Audience for inspiration. The Audience patrols known Dream Singer migration routes, hoping to follow those strange creatures. Their ethereal songs have been the inspiration for many a chart topping hit.

 Constant exposure to their psychic emanations has mutated the crew. Many of them are choiriod, a condition marked by musical obsession and supernumerary mouths. They are mostly harmless; merely strange shadows of their former selves. The real danger are the Soloists. These mutants have an innate mastery of memetics. They can sense a person's mental state and detect any memeplexes they carry. They can create memetic pathogens or counter agents. They can turn people into choiriod and effortlessly control them. Unfortunately, the transformation comes with significant mental effects. Soloists are all amoral detached egotists. They use their powers to fulfill distorted versions of their desires from their ordinary life.

The Only Audience has seen several Soloists emerge over the years. On the one hand, records with powerful memetic agents sell well. On the other hand, White Hole records has had to  pay a couple of fines for Crimes Against Sapience. As a precaution they've hired a counter memeticist to watch for signs of infection. They've just stuck their head into the recycler after leaving a note in which they refer to themselves in the third person. White Hole finds this incredibly suspicious, and is looking to hire independent investigators.

Gral Onaste is the captain. She is a middle aged human woman. She is somewhat unhappy with her current position. The job pays well but she has to follow weird space monsters through dangerous territory while taking orders from high strung musicians. She is competent and experienced and also addicted to a drug called Serkov, which makes her believe in a god of the same name. If she is the Soloist she will seek to convert the galaxy to Serkovism.

Kaylyle Arten is the head of the in-house session band. In addition to his other duties, he is under secret corporate mandate to keep the talent precisely medicated. To this end he has a vast collection of narcotics, full of rare, esoteric and frightening drugs. He's turned this job into a thriving side business. Half the crew are his customers, including the captain. If he is the Soloist  he will use his powers to make the people around him self destruct for his amusement.

Sklurge is a young Flesh 7 starlet. Her stage persona is loud and outgoing, but she is actually quite shy, so she spends her time hiding in the air vents to escape her handlers. She is aided in this by her snakelike body. If she is the soloist, she wishes to gain a mindless cult following, which is normal for a pop star and White Hole Records Will want to keep her under contract.

*They have colonized both gas giants and ice giants. Due to the differences in chemistry between these planets it's been hypothesized that there are different species within their civilization, but this has never been proven.
** Wings are useless in vacuum, obviously. However, they're quite handy for skimming through the upper atmosphere of giant planets.


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