Vapour Bested

He was the largest of his kind. He had bested many lessers, sifting through their essences for any useful attribute that had coexisted with their evident many flaws.

As a sign of his power, he lived in a region filled with turbulence. Many who came to challenge him were destroyed by howling wind before even reaching him; others were so weakened that they were easy prey.

However, slowly rumours came to him--second- or third-hand memories, assimilated from victim to victor--of a new thing, that had fallen from above. It had left a fiery trail of heat behind it, and stirred up much irritating solid-stuff when it struck the surface. But the thing carried with it tantalizing traces of substances previously unknown, even when he compared his own formidable stores of memory with them. Intrigued, he decided to leave his wasteland to examine this thing, since none could gainsay him.

Few attempted to interfere with his journey, and those that did were dealt with in short order. Occasionally he even consumed a peaceful one, to see if there was other news of the new thing, but mostly he was disappointed.

But finally he came upon it. The unusual substances rumoured were indeed present, and quite detectable even this far away. He discovered their animate nature when they tried to attack him, minuscule though they were. He easily fended them off, then absorbed a few of them. They knew very little, which did not really surprise him, although their ferocity did. They were single-minded creatures intent on one task only. Indeed, he soon noticed some similar creatures that ignored him completely, and yielded up no more information when consumed.

He left this problem aside for the moment, and went to consider the thing itself(absently defeating the area's current champion on his way). It was still noticeably warmer than the surroundings, but cooling. The density of the small creatures increased as he approached; as he had suspected, they did originate from here. He set up a mostly automatic defense system in his fringes, and ventured further in.

The thing was solid, but of a slightly different composition than the rest of the surface. Here was a slightly subtler danger, that of heavy substances that he could not absorb in great quantities without becoming sluggish and overly dense. But his curiosity was piqued; how had such an object come to be, and why was it here? He withdrew to consider.

Like many others of his kind, he had spent time absorbing energy from above, and noticed that the patterns in which it was available varied considerably. One patch, by far the most energetic, moved in a regular pattern which he had learned to extrapolate. Other, much smaller patches(little more than points)moved in constant patterns, while others moved in ways he was just beginning to suspect were also predictable. But was there provision in his experience for things-- solid things--which fell from above? Digging in the memories available to him, he began to dimly recall other hot objects smelling of metal, though they were obviously rare.

He turned his attention back to the small creatures. One thing he was just beginning to notice, now that he didn't have to concentrate on defending himself from them, was that the environment here seemed difference, in ways that could not have been caused by the new thing itself. Some substances seemed more common, others less so. Perhaps this was the creatures' purpose--to convert one substance to another. This was a disquieting thought; some of them had showed interest in the materials that he himself was composed of, and could conceivable be a danger in large enough numbers.

He had to find out more, then. Did they breed? Were they limited in number? And what was their purpose? Determined, he drifted back towards the new thing, fending off the expected miniature attacks. He forced himself to head where they were thickest, although he found the atmosphere there stifling from the changes they had wrought already. But if he could handle the gales of his accustomed home, he could survive this.

As he had feared, the source of the creatures was the new thing; observing it for a period of time, he concluded that they were indeed being created there. Furthermore, he had observed a disquieting number of self-replications among these creatures. They were undoubtedly inferior--why would a creature want to voluntarily pass on all its benefits and advantages to another?--but still dangerous. The real danger lay with the new thing, however, which now seemed to him an attack from an unknown enemy. In fact, it threatened all his kind.

But it was also something beyond even his capability. How could he manipulate such vast quantities of solid material? A ripple passed through him at the very concept.

Of course, he was not as strong as he could be. Perhaps this was sent by a creature such as he, but with the power of an entire world's population absorbed into him. He would not be able to match it without similar power.

Decided on a course of action, he set out towards his destiny.

Unfortunately, long before he had achieved his goal, the terraforming nanobots succeeded in making the planet unliveable for him and all his kind. All was made ready for the creatures grown in the metallic womb.

Based on the words: On Vapour Womb Satellite

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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey /