Chapter 7 - Season 1, Episode 7, The Devourer returns!
A month after their encounter with the Protectorate and the Potemkin and her crew find themselves on the path of another distress call. This one full of fear of the devourer, which will return soon; and maybe for the last time and will feast upon their planet.
As the Potemkin dropped to normal space it is only the lightening quick actions of the Pride saved the ship from pancaking on the side of a starbase sized rock. Sensors indicated that the surprise asteroid field that trailed the planet was once a large moon but was little more than a navigational hazard now. Even from this distance, there are clear scars upon the surface, a great canyon miles deeps and hundreds of miles long surrounded by three large, deep craters arranged in an equilateral triangle.
A discussion on how best to deal with this and not breach the Prime Directive… again took place. Soon there after an away team beamed down, using the latest in holographic disguises they did their best to blend in… apparently that is what they were trying to do anyway. The pub was mentioned a few times as a source of information. They even decided they would fabricate money instead of mugging someone! Elli, who was back on the ship and the Captain both decided a less direct approach would be taken, thus the nearest library was sort after, and they were soon able to discover some more facts about the entity or object called The Devourer. It visited every 500 years and landed; the one image they could find depicted a scene from orbit with a giant creature. More than a thousand kilometres tall with three legs.
Long range sensors picked up just such an object coming deeper into the system, it matched the basic parameters of the creature described. It was on a direct course of the 4th world in the system, one that resembled Mars in the late 21st century, a red world with a healthy coating of green mosses, the early stages of life already covering much of the planet.
Not wanting to be seen by it lest it have hostile intentions or see them as a meal Pride completed a micro jump into a near by asteroid ring, reaching it just as the creature did. The site was both magnificent and terrifying, without slowing the massive creature barrelled through the ring, casting aside ‘roid bigger than some moons. The rocks just smashing into the thick hide, shattering into trillion of pebbles. As it cleared the ring the front half of the creature parted into three parts, three legs and it began to slow as it approached a proto-M class world, on a direct course to feed upon it.
The crew of the Potemkin watch as the impossibly large creature gently descended into the atmosphere of the proto-M-class, landing with effortless ease. A powerful beam emits from the creature’s ‘mouth’ and starts to bore into the crust of the planet. In mere minutes, a tractor like beam starts to pull up molten metal from the outer core of the planet, as it does the power signature of the creature increases, it appears that absorbing the metal is the equivalent of a human eat food for energy.
The Potemkins crew are not ideal during this display of incredible power. They manage to get a modified probe into the creatures’ blood stream, using an array of sensors they start to its internal organs, circulatory system, and neural network. After hours study it is confirmed that the creatures’ blood is remarkably similar to that of humanoid life. they realise that many of their plans will not work, the creature has no centralised nervous system, no brain. Just like a Jelly fish. Any poison or directed attack would not be guaranteed kill shot.
Several plans were considered but they only had the time and resources to follow through on two of them, Self-replicating mines with a muon emitter the idea the idea being that the mines would seed themselves thought out the creatures’ body and then discharge muons. They would do enough damage to kill it. The second method that was chosen was to create a network of satellites, no bigger than a tennis ball but would be packed with the gear needed to hide the magnetic field of the 3rd planet. For they had discovered that the creature ‘hunted’ by homing in on the magnetic field of iron rich planets.
As these were nearing completion in the ship’s industrial replicators the creature, again with no outward effort pushed itself away at many times the escape velocity and out into space. Even with the apparent devastation of the feeding the planets solar orbit was hardly affected and the mass of the outer core had only dropped by a few percent, all in all was hardly changed and the surviving life would continue with little disruption. As the creature cleared the gravity well of the planet it flank tears open, bodily fluids rushed out but with it a smaller version, a baby creature pushed its way out of its mother and into the void of space.
The fact that the creature now has a new-born made the crew hesitate, it was no longer a thing to be destroyed but something that should survive. The problem was that both creatures were now on their way towards the 3rd planet, the populated one. Their bio-plasma engines had ignited, they had gone from drifting backwards to moving forward at the equivalate of full impulse in under 10 minutes. The Potemkin crew became conflicted, if the creatures fed upon the 3rd planet the devastation would be vast, but some of the population would survive; but if they destroyed the creatures with their muon plan, they would crash into the planet at quarter the speed of light. The resulting collision would likely crack the planet, killing all life. It was a decision that no one wanted to make.
They watched as the creatures approached the 3rd planet, they were not drifting, their engines shut down; but there was no deceleration, they entered orbit of the planet for just a few seconds; just long enough to use the plant as gravity assist swinging around to the far side and then they shot out with the engines at full speed. It was a gravity assist that would take them towards the main star, here the crew watched as intakes opened on both creatures and they sucked in star matter. Again, gravity assisting around the sun and shooting out towards the edge of the system at half the speed of light.
Captain Pax is happy that they did not need to make that choice, but he was interested in why it took the creature so long to get to this system. At the speed it was moving it should have taken only a few years, not 500. They set a course for the last system the creature passed through, being only a few light years away it took them mere hours to reach the outer system.
Their sensors and probes showed a system teeming with life, four M-class moons orbiting a hyper gas giant were all populated by a single species. A quadruped race that had evolved upon one of the moons and had hundreds of years before spreading to the other three moons. Placed in higher orbit were several space stations, armed with powerful and long-range railguns. The crew were able to confirm that the holes in the creature, the puncture marks were made by these weapons. Being a prewarp culture and giving that the railgun could destroy the Potemkin in a single shot Pax decided they would not try and gain more information about this species. The risk was too great!
500 years later, the USS Ikoria leads the science flotilla that is studying the creature dubbed ‘Space Crab. It’s the same creature that was encountered by the Potemkin so many years before. It had been left along for the most part between, but now it was heading back towards Kalheim and so it was once again time to hide the planet from it. This time though, they still had months and so could really study the crab and workout the best way to deal with it. The crew noted that the crab was no longer followed by its offspring, they had parted ways some hundred years before.
The Kalheim people had joined the Federation in 2508 and had expressed a desire to learn more about ‘The Devourer’ and the Potemkin. The Ikoria was one of a dozen vessels scanning the crab, their sensor technology had come a long way since the late 24th century and they were able to penetrate the shell of the crab with their scans with no problem, even so the sheer scale and complexity of the creature meant they would be scanning for days before they got any meaningful data and many weeks beyond that until they had a non-lethal means of stopping it.