Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Space Wasp

From time to time I get these great ideas for alien species. Typically something bound to a planetary body. I don't take kindly to the idea of creatures that evolved to live in space.

My creature reproduces by landing on a space station or ship, jamming an ovipositor through the hull, and inserting larvae into the habitat area. The parent leaves the ovipositor behind forming a sort of scab over the end to keep the atmosphere from escaping. Losing the ovipositor is much like a bee losing it's stinger. The wasp is as good as dead. It heads for the light, typically a sun1 but occasionally a planet or moon. When the light source is as far away as the sun the parent dies long before reaching it but it's decaying orbit will cause it to drift closer and closer until it's corpse turns to ash. In the cases where the station was on the day side of an inhabited planet the parent often survives reentry. Already in pain the dying parent goes on a rampage doing much property damage.
Back on the ship or station the larvae eat the inhabitants and then attach themselves to the outer hull. They excrete an acid that eats a hole in the wall. Upon being exposed to the vacuum of space the outer few layers of epidermis rupture and the larvae vomits. The moisture escapes the damaged tissues and solidifies or scabs over to form a cocoon. It's similar to a dandelion seed in form with the cocoon forming the seed and the vomit forming a thin membrane umbrella shape. The membrane acts as a sort of solar sail and drifts on the stellar winds until it either dies or settles into a gas giant. The cocoon opens inside the gas giant and the creature comes out to feed on the amino acids that blow about inside the atmosphere. Upon leaving the cocoon it unfurls wide wind catcher that serve to keep the creature riding the wind as well as collecting nutrients and guiding them to the main body to be injested. Air sacs inflate or deflate to provide additional lift as needed.
There it can live for a few centuries, maybe millenia, waiting for a mate to arrive on the same planet. Failing that, it will eventually leave the planet of it's own accord. Tricky, but not impossible. No longer safely confined to it's cocoon the creature has little time to reproduce before it dies. A few decades at most. The wings that once collected food now act as solar sails. But these can be controlled so it's flight isn't as random as the larvae's was. It listens for faint but coherent radio and EM signals to guide it to intelligent life where it finds another inhabited space habitat and begins the process all over again.

1 When does a star go from being a star to a sun? In the case of this story I'm saying that stars are far away while the central gravitational well and gas fusion point for whatever star system you're in is a sun.

No comments: