One hundred fifty thousand years ago, in a sector of the Perseus Spiral Arm near the Orion Spur, a lifeless planet was jostled out of orbit by a rogue spray of asteroids. The accumulating debris of which the planet was now a part, shot through space, hurtling through an empty void. Star systems, spread over millions of kilometers, left spaces between planets so great, the debris passed through unimpeded.
However, this was not so in every case.
A non-descript moon, orbiting a gas giant, was captured by the unorganized detritus and pulled away. The moon was common, except for the fact that it was covered by an ocean of liquid water. It was also populated by a biodiversity of creatures, the most dominant among which, a great, fish-like monster, developing intelligence, used sonar as language. Spikes on each side of its tail, previously used to slash meals and enemies, recently was deployed with more discretion. Horny protrusions circling from its head evolved into tools. Fins developing dexterity, manipulated shells and spiny plants to pry soft tissue from crevasses on the rocky floor.
The further the moon travelled from its star, the colder its surface became. As its atmosphere blasted away and oceans thickened into glaciers, the creatures moved deeper. Intense pressures killed some. The lack of sunlight starved microscopic organisms that formed the base of the food chain. The moon was dying.
It was to the mass of debris, streaking towards the center of the galaxy, that two travelling Si’lat were drawn. Companions on a leisurely tour through the Orion Spur, they came upon the dying moon.
“Let us save these intelligent creatures,” the one said to the other.
For the Si’lat, who brought star systems into existence with a whim, simply saving the moon was too easy. On respite from the pressures of their collective, they entertained themselves.
The other responded to his beloved, “Should we return them to their original system? Or take it somewhere else?”
She thought about the possibilities. It was true, the galaxy they called, Kaspum, was unremarkable. Perhaps they could spice it up a bit. “Let us take the moon to the world at our doorway. Perhaps we should bring it to Titan.”
“But, my dearest,” he responded, wrapping her in his arms, “…the children are there.”
She smiled a loving smile and caressed the back of his neck. “Then, let us make it a duplicate of the world at our doorway. It could be another entrance, a back door to this galaxy.”
They swirled around each other in an embrace of photons and radioactivity, flying through space, twirling, twisting, spinning, dancing until they reached a system at the other end of the Transit. When they stopped, they were at the exact distance from a white star, as Saturn is from Sol.
“This is perfect,” she said to her lover.
Each of them, knowing the thoughts of the other, set about their tasks. She created an atmosphere thick with gasses and oceans of liquid methane. He laughed as rain drops, condensed from green billowing clouds, fell onto his face. Liquid water hardened into rock and jagged boulders. The hazy atmosphere thickened and darkened, hiding the stars.
And, he transformed the life forms. Now, they would consume poisonous fumes and produce hydrogen as a byproduct. He copied repurposed DNA, creating an entire food chain of bacteria, plants, and animals. The moon would flourish in this new condition. He smiled mischievously at his beloved, as he held in his mind, the design of an intelligent fish-monster.
He saved his best work, his masterpiece, for last.
She saw the brutes change as her mate heightened their intelligence. This was one of his favorite pastimes, giving intelligence to lowly creatures, as he had done with the Children. She watched as their attentions focused; their faces developed new expressions of depth and understanding. They analyzed surroundings. Their consciousnesses developed to such a degree that they could no longer remember their former state. They became completely different creatures.
“But,” she said, “What good is intelligence without the ability to manipulate tools and create technology?”
“Ah,” he responded, “You are right, my beloved.”
As he spoke these words, the mouth of the great fish opened wide, the eyes receded, and a growth emerged from the widening orifice. Gills disappeared, and the fleshy protuberance grew limbs, two arms, and a head. Hands formed, and fingers, eyes, a nose and a mouth, not covered with scales as the bottom half of the creature, but rather, with mammalian skin.
She smiled seeing what he had done.
It was a beautiful creature, half humanoid, and half great fish, a human without legs, but a giant tail, covered with colorful scales, and red, thorny spikes on each side. Graceful, curling fins projected from his back. Circling horns remained on his head, the central protuberance forming a kind of crown.
He had created a human, fish chimera.
Great pressures and thick atmosphere on the new world meant the creature could, by moving his tail, swim through the air. Flying over methane oceans and rocky mountains of frozen water rock, it dove into kelp-like forests, harvesting food.
It was thus, that the Ormarr came into being.
It was unusually clear. He could see University spires, miles away. The cloud layer was too thin to remain here for long. His skin would blister from exposure. Sighing, he knew he must leave. But the view captivated him, even on dark days. Swirling clouds and storms above and mists below, reflected yellow light onto the mountainous peak. Most were afraid to venture so high to the crest of Mount Zamani. But, he’d been coming here since he was a boy.
Looking into the distance, he imagined himself a painter from centuries past, capturing yellows, greens, and browns. Reflected shadows from clouds above, rock and waters came together to form a dramatic vista. He saw where mountainsides flattened into the plain and the great Margidda, glinting, flowing from its source in the north to where it emptied into the sea.
He could also see, at the river’s mouth, towers of Alu City.
It was unusually warm. Streaks of lightning flashed in thin skies above. Kelp-like forests on terraces below, swayed in gathering winds. In ancient times, his people believed the Gods controlled these storms, directing electrically charged cyclones to the mountain. Even its name, Zamani, meant Rock of Lightning.
Unexpectedly, he felt his tail fin brush against smooth hardness. Looking down, he saw just beneath him, the familiar site of ancient creatures, frozen in clear rock, as if boulders had been part of a pool of liquid, suddenly solidified.
He had better get back. His students were on their way to class already. Today, he would lecture on the first voyages his people made off-world, into the great blackness. He would tell them of other planets, of creatures living in burning gases. He would tell them of beings with four arms, and no tail. They could not even hover in the air. They crawled upon the ground on their lower arms, like kalbi. He flicked his tail fins, and began to float down to the valley.
He hoped his assistants had prepared. He didn’t want to waste time setting up the archway. If there was time, he would demonstrate how the apparatus worked. His people employed the archway when visiting other worlds. It hovered around them, creating an electron- force-field in which breathable air and normal temperatures were maintained. The Amelu presented his people with this gift a century ago.
One of the few to venture off-world, he had visited the Kataru. Considered to be Gods, they nurtured and taught them from times so ancient, there were no records. They taught agriculture, architecture, reading and writing. Part machine, and part Ormarr, they lived in impossibly hot environments and in pressures so low he would collapse onto the ground liquefied without the arch.
He was summoned to attend an emergency session of Parliament. As Lamadu, a teacher, he held a position of authority. Only Lamadu could represent the Ormarr in official capacities. The emergency session was called to hear another race make a defensive plea.
He would leave in three days.