Sapient Species 2001a
Specimen 1 – First encountered near Khost, Afghanistan, guarding a meeting at which Osama bin Laden apparently attempted to defraud supervillain Dr. Medusa with a sale of fake “Red Mercury”. Encountered acting in association with Dr. Medusa or her criminal associates on several subsequent occasions:
• 47th St. Diamond District, New York City • Wreck of nuclear submarine Kursk in Giant 4 salvage barge, Barents Sea • Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico
Specimen 2 – Encountered in the basement of a home purportedly owned by Pakistani guerilla leader Ahman Hatami in Jalala, Pakistan. Fought after attacking members of System Force, and killed by internal explosion of hand grenades embedded by Shockwave.
The species is believed to be of extraterrestrial origin, and may first have arrived on Earth in a spacecraft that crashed near the Prince Edward Islands off South Africa in 1979
Morphology and Physiology
The species is physiologically similar to Terran arthropods of the mantid order, having a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-segmented body, wings, six limbs, and a neck with a 300° range of movement. Coloration of both specimens is of a metallic green hue overall, with highlights and patterns ranging from yellow to dark red. Variations are theorized to be nearly unique on an individual basis, and possibly influenced by age, diet, and climate. Specimen 2 is noted to be perceptibly browner than Specimen 1 in tint overall.
Both examined specimens of the species are approximately 2.6m in full length, normally standing about 2.0m in height. Both are of approximately 75kg mass. Both have what appear to be underdeveloped or vestigal female reproductive organs, implying some degree of eusociality in the species.
While the species’ forelimbs are not of as specialized a raptorial configuration as a Terran mantis, they do feature spikes along the inner forearm, which have been observed being used in combat. The forelimbs each possess four fine manipulative appendages, in two opposing pairs that sit at right angles at rest, but are flexible through 90° of radial motion. The middle and afterlimbs appear to be primarily used for locomotion, but each possesses a pair of cruder, clawed grasping appendages used primarily to assist climbing. The species' wings are capable of propelling it in free flight for at least limited distances, though their musculature is not believed sufficient to sustain such flight for more than a few minutes. They were typically observed in the case of Specimen 1 to be used to support leaps and enhance balance during movement and combat on foot.
The species’ exoskeleton is constructed of a chitinous organic polymer materially similar to those of Terran arthropods, but reinforced with stronger silicon oxides in place of the calcium carbonate common to Terran species. Additionally, the exoskeleton incorporates extensive hollow spaces in a dense honeycomb structure with exceptional strength-to-weight characteristics, in some ways similar to current generation composite materials and vehicular armors. This structure, together with the species’ highly efficient muscle fibers, are the key factors that allow it to significantly exceed the size of even the largest prehistoric Terran arthropods.
Despite its external resemblance, many biological systems and organs of the species are significantly more advanced than those of Terran arthropods. The circulatory and respiratory systems in particular are significantly more elaborate. Respiration occurs in a decentralized fashion via spiracles distributed over the surface of the species’ body, but is assisted by diaphragm-like muscles which can vary internal pressure in a series of dozens of respiratory “compartments”. An oxygen-transporting hemocyanin-based blood circulates via a series of hearts between that system and the brain and limbs, providing them with more concentrated oxygen than the systems of Terran arthropods can provide. It further appears that spiracles can reflexively or voluntarily close, permitting limited portions of the body to take over respiration if sufficiently concentrated sources of oxygen are available to them, and likely permitting the species to exist in hard vacuum using a localized breathing apparatus in a fashion superficially analogous to Terran diving beetles.
Sensory and Nervous Systems
The eyes of the species are in some ways similar to those of Terran mantids and dragonflies, being of a generally compound configuration but possessing specialized central zones capable of more acute vision. These zones are much more advanced than those of their Terran analogs, however, each eye possessing a cluster of five, significantly more elaborate higher resolution eyes – four having refractive corneas, and two of those having reflective mechanisms permitting especially refined light-gathering and image resolution. The retinas of all of the species’ eye structures possess highly sophisticated photoreceptors, believed to encompass a greater range of functions than Terran mammalian rods and cones, extending the species’ vision well into the infrared and ultraviolet spectra, and permitting distinction of highly subtle variations of hue and light polarization.
The species’ brain is vastly more complex and developed than that of any non-mammalian Terran species, and its structure is different enough from those of mammalian species to render any assessment of its function largely speculative. The central nervous system overall does appear to share some of the decentralization and parallelism of Terran arthropods. Significant ganglial “subprocessing” clusters appear to be associated with each pair of limbs and the wings, as well as with the mandibles, and the various circulatory, respiratory, and digestive centers. The pallium/cortex region, presumed to be the center of higher-order brain function, is clustered in six bilateral lobes, rather than two, with connective structures between and among all of these bodies comparable to the corpus callosum.
The species’ biochemistry, while in certain respects clearly non-terrestrial, is sufficiently similar to be largely compatible with Terran life. Stomach and digestive tract contents indicated that both specimens had consumed Terran animal and vegetable material at the time of their deaths, and had been doing so for some time, metabolizing many Terran proteins and nutrients readily. Species chemistry is readily compatible with, though certainly not conclusive proof of, theories of panspermia.
A number of analysts have agreed that the species’ sensory and structural characteristics display what is by Terran standards an unusual combination of refinement and breadth (or lack) of specialization. It continues to be debated whether this is evidence of “intelligent design” (i.e., intentional genetic or eugenic engineering by the species itself or some third party) or whether it might occur naturally in an environment vastly more competitive and/or rapidly mutable than is known on Earth.
Specimen 1 possessed two items of non-terrestrial technology at the time of its recovery, dubbed the "Boomerooka" and the "Amulet"
Of generally linear configuration, and approximately 1.5m in length, the back two-thirds of this device is configured roughly like the stock of a terrestrial rifle, and similarly held/shouldered by the operator. The front third, however, branches into several interconnected sub-assemblies shaped roughly like toy boomerangs pivoting on multiple axes at their angles/centers of mass. No mechanical controls or access panels are evident, but several areas on the surface of the “stock” portion of the device appear to be pressure sensitive. The device has not been the subject of active experimentation, including active scanning, as its effects are currently considered too dangerous and unpredictable. All current knowledge relating to the device is based on observation of its use by Specimen 1 and on passive analysis subsequent to its recovery.
Pressure on a yellow-colored ellipsoid patch on the dorsal surface, approximately 5cm in length, seems to activate and deactivate the device. When the device is activated, the various pivoting assemblies intermittently swivel about each other under their own power, emit light in varying shades from yellow to blue, and resonate at varying frequencies from sub to ultra-sonic. Pressure to an indigo-shaded rhomboid patch on the right hand surface of the device is believed to fire it, while other colored areas are believed to control characteristics of the energy released.
Firing the device projects a linear packet of energy approximately 10cm in initial length, always oriented perpendicularly to its direction of movement, but at varying rotational angles along its line of travel. The packet emits EM radiation from infrared through the X-ray frequency bands, visible as white light, and both writhes between its endpoints and grows in length as it travels. The packet has cut cleanly through material obstructions it has been observed to encounter, but explodes violently upon impact with particularly dense or voluminous matter, or after unimpeded flight of several hundred meters, with significant thermal, radiation, and blast effects.
Specimen 1 was observed on two occasions to undertake a sort of sustained fire with the “Boomerooka”, launching a packet of substantially greater than normal length and directing it into a loop of up to 10m in diameter. This loop has been observed to contract, instead of expanding, disappearing from sight in a matter of seconds. Objects passing through the loop appear to pass into an area of space separate from our own, which may distort in ways potentially destructive to its contents. System Force member Galax was able to escape from one such pocket by utilizing hyperflight, while American Patrol member Wyndvisible has been missing since the loop that “pocketed” her vanished from sight.
It has been theorized that the device’s projectile packet may possess characteristics of a “cosmic string” – a quantum defect in the local spacial fabric. Such a string would possess enormous mass, comparable to a black hole, though under certain physical models such mass would be detectable only over sub-microscopic distances. The packet’s observed cutting ability would, in such case, result from its swallowing up and annihilating matter at an atomic scale, eventually releasing sufficient energy to explosively disrupt the packet.
Of octahedral configuration and measuring approximately 0.1m between axes, this item was worn around the neck of Specimen 1 on a 0.5m cord of para-aramid fiber of likely extra-terrestrial origin. The amulet appears to be primarily composed of tantalum, though scanning has indicated that it contains various nitride compounds laced through it in angular patterns suggestive of integrated circuits, and that these patterns change over time via some electrochemical process. This reintegrative process appears to be stimulated by exposure to resonant energies, including sound. A core of Tantalum 180m isomer appears to provide a low energy power source for this device. No function for the device has yet been determined.
The wrecked spacecraft found on the ocean floor near the Prince Edward Islands off South Africa remains only circumstantially linked to the Species, but its use of isomeric power sources and the configuration of its controls and displays seem to provide strong evidence for the connection. As witnessed by Victorine in a close parallel timeline, the Ship arrived in the Solar system beyond the orbit of Saturn via some form of sub- or hyperspacial “tunnel”. The Ship was in a damaged state when first observed, and made its way to Earth more-or-less directly, if somewhat erratically, at low superluminal speed, apparently utilizing a warp-type drive. Victorine located the Ship soon after its less-than-fully controlled water landing, and conducted a cursory exploration, but aborted this in fear of an imminent explosion. The Ship has not yet been raised, and all information currently available on it was obtained during a single exploration by members of System Force, using the PsiCorder and sensory suite of the PsiPlane. Details of its propulsive, life-support, and general operating systems, as well as armament, if any, remain unknown.
The Ship is externally approximately 60m wide by 40m long by 20m thick, and has an organically streamlined profile, broadly reminiscent of a Terran batoid fish or the ”Flying Sub” from the TV show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Speculation continues as to whether this hull configuration is intended to act as a lifting body in planetary atmospheres or is a requirement of the Ship's FTL propulsion mode. No hatches or other intentional windows or portals have yet been identified, though some hull sections appear to have been jettisoned to facilitate ejection of objects from its interior prior to landing as described below. System Force gained access through a hull breach which may have been sustained before or during landing.
As discovered, the Ship was missing several components apparently ejected prior to its submergence. A large aft section is believed to have been a propulsion unit, which trace elements found on the remaining hull indicate probably utilized some form of technetium isomer as a power source. This section is believed to have been ejected as a safety precaution prior to crash landing, and its detonation in the upper atmosphere – displaying a low-nuclear-range yield but leaving few, if any, of the expected radiological traces, is thought to have been the cause of the so-called “Vela Incident” in 1979.
The Ship's bridge section featured seating for 5 crew, and possible stations for several more. Engineering had numerous stations for an indeterminate number of crew. The bridge seating arrangement implies a topmost individual crew member, but no displays or controls appear to be unique to that position, and crew structure and responsibilities remain unclear. Several small compartments of hexagonal floor plan are believed to have functioned as crew accommodations. These were of spartan arrangement and contained no identifiable personal effects. It appears that up to 28 objects of size and profile similar to those accommodation spaces were ejected from the ship via the dorsal and ventral hull surfaces prior to the Ship's landing. As none of these objects has yet been located, and Victorine was unable to determine their direction of launch, their nature – escape pods, cargo containers, weapons, etc. – remains purely speculative.
Circuit diagrams displayed on certain access panels indicate that a series of redundant sensor arrays are distributed across the hull, allowing for easy routing around damage. Other diagrams show a distributed-core computer structure, with multiple cores arranged in a star topology to a single, main core, allowing the various cores to be synchronized and updated as needed.
The only such core thus far examined, the main core, is now a solid mass of silicon. This was apparently heated to a semi-fluid state in operation, creating and reconfiguring circuits on an ad hoc basis in a manner somewhat analogous to organic brain function.
In addition to the sensors, the hull contains extensive stretches of coils of phase-altered lanthanide alloys – likely similar in function to the warp coils of Star Trek Universe technology, but of lighter construction, likely functioning at lower power and for shorter durations. These are believed to have functioned as an interplanetary drive system, with whatever system was used for interstellar propulsion having been concentrated in the jettisoned aft section.