What follows is a story I started on a year or two ago (it’s 2016 as I post this). With my recent return to writing, specifically in the Writing Prompts subreddit, see The Collected Writings Prompts of Brian A Thomas for the stories I’ve done there, I have done a clan up of the initial rough draft of this story and decided to push it in it’s current rough draft form (though far less rough than it was).
The story is still in development, though semi-abandoned. Being previously written, not to mention way too long (it would take 4 posts to work in Reddit), it can’t normally go as a response to a writing prompt. I nearly wanted to use it as a reply when they were looking for animal inspired prompts, but none of the prompts allowed for familures… and as I said, previously written and too long.
The story is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy (at least in regards to the familures). I do rather enjoy the concept of the tachyon shift space I used here, and may reuse it in another story someday. I can’t remember 100% where the story was going. Eventually they’d find the beasts… and we’d get a repeat of that first line “the beast knew no fear” in that area… If I recall, the lost people were stuck in some sort of tachyon shifted plane or something like that, and that may be where the beasts came from, but as I said, I don’t remember 100% where it was going.
The copy/paste from the original document didn’t preserve all the paragraphs (in the original I just indented all the paragraphs and didn’t add a typical HTML style space), so I may have missed some in this post here.
The Secrets of Proxi 12
by Brian A. Thomas
The beast knew no fear.
Graham pressed the button to lift his starboard shield a few centimeters to look at the tachyon effect outside. It was said that if one stared at it long enough you would go mad. It was a beautiful sight to behold, a blur of white, with streams of other colors swirling and all streaming by as the ship moved through space at speeds exceeding the speed of light. It was as if layers of sheer curtains had formed a pulsing tube that grew closer and further away from the ship as it traveled. You could see past the first layer and see another that did the same thing, sometimes in rhythm with the closest, other times out of sync. What was more likely to drive one mad, he thought, was the knowledge that you were no longer you, but a tachyon shifted version of yourself. He closed the shield and looked at his hand, noticing the faint aura that touched everything inside tachyon shifted space. It was as if a borealis was dancing a few millimeters from every surface. Even the dust in the air would sometimes have that borealis glow.
There was a great deal of debate in the scientific community over exactly what the glow was, both the one observed outside the ship and the borealis glow that seemed to surround everything. Some argued that the Alcubierre drive and traversable wormhole hypothesis both allowed a view of the light traveling past the traveler, normally in some blurred state. However, as others pointed out, the glow outside wasn’t light, and they weren’t exactly sure what it was. The prevailing hypothesis was that it was some sort of reflective glow of the sub-light speed universe that they were traveling through, others argued that it was a glow from the earliest moments of the universe, a reflection of the big bang itself. The borealis glow itself was normally attributed to the human mind’s construct of the tachyon shift.
The tachyon shunt drive was invented by accident. Shortly after tachyons were confirmed to exist and they were regularly able to record their existence, work started to study them more intently. Graham didn’t recall the last name of the scientist who invented the tachyon shunt, but recalled her first name was Laura. She had invented a device she thought might slow tachyons down, or at least make their effect observable. What it ended up doing was shifting a large chunk of her lab into tachyon shifted space for less than a second before it lost power and shutdown. Lucky for her and two of her staff was that they were in an area that didn’t shift, but as her lab was on Mars, the sudden appearance of a large hole into the atmosphere of Mars resulted in the death of twelve more of her team before the electronic and physical shields went into place. The lab that got shifted was eventually echo-located buried a few hundred kilometers below the surface on the other side of Mars. Further experiments conducted on robotic ships perfected the size of the engine needed to shift a whole ship and its contents into tachyon shifted space. Laura… Fox, that’s it, Graham though, Laura Fox, would be on the first unshielded trip though tachyon shifted space. All three of the crew came back insane, rambling about “the light. It’s been there for a long time…” Neither they nor any of the others who stared too long into the glow outside the ships were able to state exactly what “it” was that had been where for a long time. They made it sound like the reflective glow itself had a conscious and that it itself was mad. Even with blocking the view outside, it was found people would eventually go insane, the prevailing hypothesis was it was the borealis glow which may have been a part of the outer glow, but those staring at it for too long didn’t complain about the light, they didn’t complain about anything, just stared into space, as if their minds were lost in time and space.
To the outside observer, a ship entering tachyon shifted space appeared to turn into a ghost, which would stretch apart in two different directions, the one an elongated view of it stretching away in the direction it was going, the other a compacted one moving away in the opposite direction. The ghost image of both would break up like a dust mote and eventually disappear. The same effect was seen by an outside observer watching a ship come out of tachyon shifted space but in reverse, first the dust motes solidified into the ghost image that would go from the scratched images to one and then becoming a solid ship once again. The whole visual took just a second or two, but it stuck in the head. Inside the ship the only thing one would notice is that the feeling of movement, if the ship was moving before entering tachyon shifted space, would stop and the borealis glow would ramp up across everything.
He had been awaken from stasis sleep just moments before. Standard operating procedure was to have a human alert when the ship exited tachyon shifted space so if anything should happen while exiting they could ensure the safety of the crew. More like the value of the ship, Graham thought as he looked at the ship’s status displays. The reality timer showed the ship would exit tachyon space in less than a minute. “Cutting it kind of close aren’t you Mother?”
“I am cutting what close Captain?” the ship’s computer asked. It had a general idea, but it found human interaction hard to predict at times. Not nearly as complicated as complex as androids, which in its opinion, insofar as computers have opinions, were far more difficult to predict. It was a bit of a mystery why a computer wrapped in human flesh would be so complex compared to a real human, and why this whole thought train never occurred to it before. The computer started pondering these things when Graham interrupted it and it pushed the thought to one of its back logic units.
“You woke me up close to our exit.”
The computer was pleased that it guessed right. “Prolonged exposure to tachyon shifted space has proven to…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Graham waved off the rest of the computer’s reply off.
This was fine so far as the computer was concerned. While it could have gone on about the dangers of tachyon shifted space on the human mind, it had to inform Graham of other issues and humans seemed unable to process multiple audio streams at once, besides it was sure Graham knew. It was also sure the Graham knew the persona interface portion of the computer itself, which the crew called Mother, was off until a short while before it woke Graham. The navacomputer system woke it and then Mother ran a full system check, brought its visual system online, reran the checks and then woke Graham. “Tachyon shunt engines are operating normally, ion engines and maneuvering thrusters are all ready. Exit from Tachyon shifted space in 8, 7, 6, 5…”
Graham blinked himself awake, and got ready at the controls with a finger ready to hit the autopilot off in the off chance that he would need to assume manual control of the ship. The ship continued on, “2, 1 and exit.” The borealis glow of the tachyon effect left with a tingling sensation, and a return of the feeling of movement of the ship through space and time became noticeable once more. Nothing on any of the system screens or outside monitors showed they were in danger so Graham took his hands off the controls and let the computer continue to control the ship. Even if the ship was in danger the computer would have had faster reflexes to get the ship out of danger, he was there just in case the computer decided not to. Of course, Graham thought, if the computer was not going to let the ship out of danger it probably wouldn’t wake him up in the first place, although in theory the navacomputer would wake him if the main computer failed to. The computer announced the successful exit “Exit complete, no trails.”
Trails was another accidental discovery of tachyon shifted space. Luckily it was discovered in the robotic ship days. If a tachyon shunt engine failed to bring anything out of tachyon shifted space it created a borealis trail of light that followed the path of ship through space. So for example if a human’s finger didn’t come out of tachyon shifted space, they would see the glow around where their finger was and a trail leading away along the path of travel. The finger, or whatever trailed, would eventually materialize somewhere back along the flight path. The trail lasted only a fraction of a second but the computer was able to track it. It was eventually concluded that was what happened to the lab, and that the position of Mars on it’s rotation and movement of Mars itself through space is what caused the section of lab to shift. The first time it happened to a ship a large portion of the ship trailed behind the ship itself, as it was moving with the ship when it entered tachyon space it came out following the ship in perfect time, just a few hundred meters behind. The next time part of the cargo that was in the test ship materialized in the bulkhead of the rear of the ship. Three more smaller errors would occur before they learned the secret of shifting everything in the correct order to avoid further complications.
“Screen shields up.” The computer complied leaving the polarizing filter on as it knew Graham would want that left in place. Outside Graham stared at the gas giant, Nebus 8. It was 4 times larger than Jupiter, but mostly blue and had a massive ring system under which the Alexis was now slowly cruising.
The computer started its report, “All human habitation zones will be ready in one hour. All stasis modules report fully operational and will awaken cargo thirty minutes after.” Cargo, not people, as some of the crew brought with them their familiars. The Alexis was on a pure military voyage this time and wasn’t towing an Ark as it did last time. On that trip one of the Ark’s 5,332 stasis modules had a failure, the first stasis failure in 37 years along any of the fleet’s ships. That failure was eventually traced back to a packing fault made by one of the ground crew of Beta Charles d, who was apparently hung-over on Nebus Ale. “There was one minority report, Balthazar lost one millionth of a second approximately 2 hours, 14 minutes into tachyon shifted flight, Melchior and Casper maintained correct time in relation to master time systems. I do not feel it is an issue, system checks seem otherwise fine. Navacomputers report that we will be at Nebus 8 station Dexter in 7 hours. Comm systems are online with standard exit broadcast message going out.”
“I am going to get some food at the forward lounge… is it ready?”
“It is still cool, but habitable. I can increase the speed at which I raise the ambient temperature to bring it to a more comfortable level in 15 minutes.”
“Okay, I am going to get ready. Could you wake Mary up early and have her meet me there when she’s ready? Hold off on the rest of the exit report unless there is anything I need to know now.”
“Nothing left to of importance to report. Mary should be up and ready in half an hour, I will also wake her familiar as she won’t want to leave her cabin without it.”
With that Graham started to leave the flight deck, pausing to push the button to stow away his stasis module near the rear. As he walked down the access hallway to his cabin, his familiar materialized itself, first as a blue ghost image then finally coalescing into a solid form. It appeared as an otter at the moment, which it normally seemed to prefer when it first takes form. About two thirds of the crew had familiars, of those Graham would guess that eighty percent had fully physical familiar with only twenty percent having a familiar that would materialize as needed or wanted. As a general rule all the officers’ familiars were of the materialize as needed type. The one and only exception to the rule, not only on this ship but across the fleet so far as Graham knew was Mary. Graham suspected it wasn’t a lack of talent on her part, she wouldn’t get where she was today if she didn’t have the talent, but some sense of nostalgia, or more likely because it fit her persona. He suspected that indeed she may be more talented than any of them as he once thought he saw a second familiar with her once.
He entered his cabin. He had a stasis chamber in here too, but felt that the captain should be the one to be in the one on the flight deck. Normally this would rotate among the flight deck officers, none of them really wanting it, but he never minded the cool deck right near the end of a shunt. This was another thing that set Mary apart from the others, including his first officer Frank she enjoyed the cool of the ship after a shunt. He thought for a moment that he should probably have Frank woke early as well but decided to let him stay in stasis until everything was up. He found an outfit, placed it on a shelf next to the shower and started to get ready. By the time he was done with the shower, the otter enjoying the water spray, got dressed and went out the back to the front lounge Mary was already there cooking breakfast for them.
She didn’t turn, but her familiar, a tiger, looked up as Graham’s familiar, apparently feeling playful changed to a tiger cub and ran over to play. “I see you didn’t get Frank up, so it is just the two of us?”
“And Sasha,” Graham said nodding to the tiger which seemed to enjoy the playful attention of the cub.
“She ate already,” Mary said as she turned to face Graham as he closed up on her. He kissed her gently on the lips and she turned back to the food preparation. “Now sit while I finish breakfast.”
“You know,” Graham found a chair and sat down, “that the replicator does make cooked food just as well as it does ingredients.”
“Phhh! Cooking is a lost art.” She looked over her shoulder at him, “and from the looks of your face, waiting for properly cooked food is a lost art as well.” She laughed. “It’s okay as I am nearly done.”
She brought over two plates of eggs and they ate in silence while their familiars settled and seemed to doze off. After they finished she put the dirty dishes into the replicator and it removed them. Graham watched, noticing for the first time she was in pajamas and not civilian clothes. John, he was sure, would throw a fit, but then John seldom dressed down even in civilian clothes, he felt the uniform was a privilege not just a duty. Graham wasn’t sure how he had missed it, perhaps she had a glamour or perhaps he was just too used to times alone where she preferred pajamas over all other clothes. Over the sound system came a double beep indicating that stasis was about to end, Sasha opened one eye and closed it again. Mary looked over at Graham, smiled and said “I guess I should go get dressed” and left, followed by Sasha, who clearly would have preferred to continue napping.
Graham looked down at his own familiar. “Come on; let’s get up to the flight deck.” He turned and went down the other hallway to the flight deck followed by a phoenix. More playfulness, that was fine, things would get serious soon enough.
The owl came through the flight deck and landed on a perch near the windows hooting at the phoenix on another perch near Graham.
“Hello John” Graham called not looking up from the readouts on the tablet he was holding. John couldn’t read it, it was likely a Eye’s Only, synced to chips planted in the eye socket to help the eye unscramble the display and be able to read it.
“Graham.” John followed his familiar into the room. Something in his tone caused Graham to look up at the old man. John was captain of the Biloxi and the Intrepid prior to taking retirement. He lasted two months being retired before requesting a new commission. Graham had the honor of serving under John on the Biloxi, and when he saw John’s name on the commission request list he went straight to General Knox and requested John be reinstated and added to his crew.
“What about Joe?” Knox asked about Graham’s then current first officer.
“Joe is ready to step up.”
There must have been something in his voice as Knox looked at him and raised an eyebrow. “Ready for his own ship, his own commission?” Graham hesitated long enough for Knox to laugh and hold his hand up. “It’s okay. Joe does need to move up. I was actually going to call you in to see if you wouldn’t mind me putting him on Tim’s ship. I think he would be great for the Clover project they are working on.”
The Clover project was surrounded in mystery and top secret. All Graham knew was that it has something to do with biodiversity. Joe had extensive training as an evolutionary biologist, so he probably would do well at whatever it was they were doing. At least he would trust as so.
“John was a great captain and a great loss when he retired. We wanted to pull out a captain’s chair for him again. Perhaps put him on the Denver.” Knox paused to let that sink into Graham. The Denver was going to be the best ship in the fleet. Every captain and first officer was applying to captain her; Graham himself applied but had no illusions he would be on the short list. Besides, he enjoyed the Alexis. He knew all of her in and outs, what made her tick. He was her second captain, having been the first officer on it under its prior captain, Anthony Hall who vanished on a mission with no trace. Even the air atomizers failed to find any trace of him. He wasn’t the first person to be lost in such fashion on Proxi 12, and wouldn’t be the last. Graham thought they should invoke Nocturne on Proxi 12 and keep everyone away, but the company wanted something off it, wanted it enough that it lost 28 people to the mysterious vanishing act and hundreds more to the deadly creatures on Proxi 12.
“However,” Knox continued, “he refused a captain’s chair. He may not even take the first officer’s position. In all honesty I think he just wants to return where he stated as an officer just a junior communications officer. We can’t allow that low of a position of course, and he knows it. He knows he’ll have to take a senior position somewhere, but first officer may be asking for much.”
“May I talk to him sir?”
“Please feel free. He’s actually here at the officer’s bar…” Knox stood up and came around his desk. “As a matter of fact I may join you. I could use a bit of Nebus Ale.
They found him, and as Knox suspected, John wasn’t too keen on being a first officer, but would take the senior com position “…no? How about senior tactical officer? I know these bums” John nodded to Knox who sipped his Ale and looked bemused at being called a bum, “won’t let me take a junior position.”
“Sorry sir, but Mary may be the best tactical officer in the fleet…”
“Son, spare me.”John smiled. John, Knox, they all knew about Graham’s and Mary’s relationship. Not that it was a secret so much as they kept things professional when in front of others, and Graham wasn’t being biased, indeed Knox was considering moving her to the Denver as its senior tactical officer, but knew she wouldn’t leave Graham’s side and while he personally had Graham on the short list to captain it, he wasn’t sure if the others on the selection committee felt the same yet. “You were one of my best first officers. It would do me proud to serve under you.”
And now here he was on Graham’s flight deck. Graham looked over at John’s familiar, he couldn’t think of a time it didn’t look like a wise old owl. Even pictures of him as a young junior communications officer showed the owl. He looked back at his old mentor. He was a tall stately gentleman, balding, and what little hair went around a band and avoided the top of his head all together and way grey nearly to the point of being white. He had a scar over his left cheek, that Graham knew extended down to his shoulder and was matched by one on his leg. John could have had it restored, but he kept the battle scar as a reminder of Proxi 12. He for all intensive purposes looked like he should be captain of a star ship. His sharp blue eyes surveyed the flight deck before taking his position beside Graham.
“You should have woke me after we came out of tachyon space.” John surveyed Graham. He was proud of what he thought was one of his best first officers and in every sense a pupil who was now a master in his own right. The only one to come close was Nixon, the first officer right before Graham and he was among those lost to the savage creatures of Proxi 12.
Graham smiled. “Yes sir. Should have, but somehow slipped my mind. I seem to recall a mission to meet the Fargo where it slipped your…”
The communication system came to life. “Dexter station here. We have you on approach for tractor doc in four thirty eight.”
John touched the com and replied “Roger that Dexter. We are on approach to dock 12 will be ready to receive tractor in four hours and thirty eight minutes.”
“Is that you John?” came a reply.
“Roger that Dexter, John Thomas, first officer to Graham McConnell.” He emphasized first officer. Graham looked back over his tablet. They undoubtedly were expecting the return call from Alicia, his senior communications offer, or Tyrell the junior officer who spent most of his life at Nebus 5 in the same system.
“Good to have you back John, and Graham. The Torrent is already here, the Lexus should be coming out of tachyon space in four hours, and the Altair is at Nebus 5 and will route here when she’s done.” John looked over at Alicia and nodded to her so she could take over the rest of the communications.
Graham stood holding the tablet close at hand, “John, care to accompany me to my ready room?” He looked around the flight deck and caught Mary’s eyes as she was coming in and motioned her to join them.
Anthony Hall looked at the pyramid past the forest and before him and concentrated to make the borealis glow disappear from its structure. He could make out the creatures that roamed around it, dimmed their glow and tried to search inside the pyramid with his mind’s eye. It was no use. It has some sort of block to it, like the others before. He thought about sending his familiar into it to search out the crystal, but for now he resigned himself to head back to camp. The borealis glow reappeared around the pyramid and the trees and he closed his eyes against the madness that felt like was only a moment away, found his center and pushed the madness away. The years were having a toll; it was getting harder and harder to fight the madness. Others in the tribe already lost it, succumbed to the madness. When he came there were 20 left, they gained one more, now there were 18 and he didn’t think Rachel would hold out much longer. Soon too she would join the stream. She already gained the clairvoyance. She knew a fleet of ships would soon be coming. She saw that soon the creatures would kill hundreds of young soldiers and scientists. She saw a battle scarred hero who would face the stream. She didn’t know what the result would be, but she felt at peace about it and so she thought that they would be freed. She also saw the company with its prize in hand with death in its wake. Tony had no doubts to what she saw. He could nearly feel the Alexis on approach himself which frightened him. It was way too early to lose it yet. Some in the tribe have been on Proxi 12 far longer and seemed stronger. Perhaps, Tony pondered, after you were here long enough, if you didn’t lose it before that, you gained a degree of immunity, and perhaps it even made you stronger.
He looked down at his familiar, which was in its bobcat form. He tended to think of bobcats as more of a mountain region animal then a jungle cat, but it seemed to fit. “Tch!” The bobcat took off with Tony running after it, everything in his peripheral falling to a blur of light. As they got close to the camp his familiar took the form of a raven and flew to the top of the trees.
He slowed down and approached a tree that seemed to have a glow inside the borealis glow and took a piece of bark off, closed his eyes and ate it. The insides of his eyelids danced a million colors. His mind floated and threatened to detach itself like a child’s balloon lost on the wind, but he doubled his hold on his mind and soon the colors slowed and his mind floated back into his head. He opened his eyes. The tree still had a faint bio-luminescent glow, but the stream was gone and nothing had the borealis glow anymore. He touched the tree, leaned close to it, closed his eyes again and whispered a prayer to it. “I thank you tree of the stream for giving me your gift.”
Alice approached him from further ahead. “What news?” She asked. She was the newest and youngest member, the expedition she was a part of lost 128 to the beasts. It was a purely exploratory expedition by a separate company who was exploring well out of its range. The survivors undoubtedly told that company its details and that company was likely mounting a move before the full Court to have equal rights to the Proxi 12, which would open the rest of the Court to press for rights as well. So much was riding on the path the tribe was on now, and the hope they had in the Alexis and her fleet to help set things right.
“I think Jonas’ suspicions were right. I think that one has the crystal we are looking for. I could feel it, but couldn’t see inside the pyramid. It is hiding something.” He lightly touched her arm as he walked past her and she turned to follow him giving a bird call as she did which was answered from their left. They paused and looked at each other and then looked to the right. She called again and Tony came to stand beside her ready to grab her and run with her over his shoulders if he had to get them to safety. This time the call was returned, sounding a bit groggy, but a returned call without the part that would notify the tribe they were being forced to answer.
Cautiously they moved through the dark jungle, the occasional tree of the stream being nearly their only light as the canopy was so thick it blocked most of the light coming through the night sky. They were soon joined by Rick, the caller from the left and a bit later by Jamie who in what little light they had to see by didn’t seem as tired as he sounded earlier. After 400 more yards they came to a cliff that dropped down below them. It was a magnificent sight. Across the sky the ring system of Proxi 12 appeared to glow as it reflected the system’s sun’s light. Two of the three major moons were out, one full the other a waning quarter. In a few hours the waxing crescent of the third would rise, just ahead of the sunrise. Down on the plains below the cliff they could make out the Xanadu River as it round its way through the jungle below. A two day hike to their left would lead them to the Xanadu River on the top side as it fell the 1,500 some meters to the plains below. Another two weeks march up stream would lead them to Mountains of Ah that rose dramatically from the jungle plain where the river snaked through such a jagged path nobody ever walked to its start. At the bottom of the waterfall was Xanadu Lake and from there the river continued on for a four week march to the Proxi 12’s lone ocean. The jungle reaching up 300 to 500 meters except as one got higher into the Mountains of Ah as they slimmed down and eventually dissipated. They knew from satellite imagery before they got here that on the other side of the mountains was a vast desert with creatures that may make the jungle beasts, even those of the pyramids tame in comparison. Evolution fought an arms war on this planet, each creature evolving to outdo the other. That there were so many peaceful creatures was a shock to planetary biologists.
Alice slipped over the edge of the cliff, grabbing the rope ladder that was just hidden from view. The first few times you did it, it amounted to a trust fall. Tony thought better of it; it still was a trust fall. The fact that none of them ever missed or slipped was a miracle. Jamie went next, then himself and Rick following soon after. They lowered themselves the 30 meters to the thin ledge and slowly made their way to the cave entrance that was home to the tribe.
Graham was having trouble reading John’s reaction. Mary clearly looked apprehensive, hell, Graham himself was apprehensive about the idea. “John?”
John looked at Graham, still showing no emotion. “I knew I would return there. I know my fate is tied to there.” John turned to look out the ready room’s windows. There was real beauty in the rings they were passing under. The way the light reflected off the ice, the way the blue of the planet itself looked. Proxi 12 also had a beauty, the green of the vast forests, even the desert lands held a beauty, at least from space. “I just didn’t think it would be so soon.”
Mary, also looking out the windows nodded her head. “They are insane.”
“They have cause they say to believe it is there, all we have to do is run in, get it out of there, at least salvage any data we can.” Graham stood up, looked down at his tablet and picked it up. “We’ve got two more hours until we tractor in. Let’s get the ship docked, and we’ll talk more then. Until then recall our mission is classified for now. We’ll inform the crew and fleet once we ready to head out.”
“Are they going to offer the crew a chance to step out of this mission?” John looked back at Graham subconsciously running a finger across the scar on his head a moment before he appeared to notice what he was doing and stopped.
“They didn’t specify. Standard procedure would be to, but they risk losing their commission and may not find another one for some time. Plus given the nature of this run, I am guessing the bonus would be higher than the usual Proxi 12 bonus.” Graham studied John. John had to know that the officers wouldn’t really have a choice, to step out of a mission as an officer would normally mean losing out on all flight privileges outside of being a passenger, and your job options would dry up quick.
John stood, his familiar flew to the door, turning into a ghost before giving the door a chance to open for it. “I’ll start prepping us for tractor.” John walked out the door, leaving Graham watching and
Mary still looking out the window.
As he went about checking all the ships stations making sure they were getting ready for tractor and docking, John’s mind wandered back to the dreams he had been having in retirement. It was the dreams that drove him out, not just boredom. In his dreams he thought he was older, but he saw the pyramid every time, and the prize it held. There was a separate destiny connected to the planet that he couldn’t place. And of course the horrible beasts.