Argonauta Celestis, commonly known as The Cephalopod Explorers (CE) were mankind’s first encounter with non-terrestrial life after the first Extrasolar Expansion. (SE-1). Initially thought of as a myth told amongst haulers and generation-ships, evidence of the existence of CEs picked up with the discovery and mapping of the galaxy’s gravity currents (SE-1.21481). Ironically, the joy of discovering man was not alone in the universe was countered by meeting a species that cherishes solitude above all things.
Similar to Argonauta on earth, CEs have a soft shell used for trapping gasses, which can inflate up to 200X the CEs base size. CE’s exterior seem developed to absorb and convert radiation into fuel. This cosmic photosynthesis, combined with the CEs ingesting of local debris and organic material creates an ecosystem within the shell capable of sustaining CEs for incredible lengths of time amongst the gravity currents. Trapped gasses are also vented and ignited, providing the CEs maneuverability.
The average observed adult CE has a main body of 2-5 meters, with tentacles expanding approximately 10X the main body’s length. CEs have a varying number of tentacles, dependent on size.
Like many cephalopods, CEs exteriors can change color and pattern for multiple purposes. Radiation absorption and camoflauge being the primary uses. The exteriors can emit light, and patterns of light seem to be how other CEs relate to each other. How this language is learned or transmitted is unknown.
The ‘portable world’ of the CE’s gas chamber, combined with its complex neurology, leads the CE to be a solitary creature. It is presumed CEs congregate for mating purposes, but the closest two adult CEs have been witnessed to each other was approximately 2 AU, where complex flickering between the two was witnessed before both CEs went their separate ways.
Each CE in terms of behavior is different from each other. So far, none have been hostile, with patterns ranging from extreme avoidance to open curiosity. The emergence of humans into their native habitat has caused some interesting adaptations. CEs have been documented ‘hitchhiking’ on jump-capable craft, clearly selecting specific craft for specific destinations. CEs have been known to inhabit discarded or damaged spacecraft, protecting its soft shell with the crafts hull, and growing within it. CEs have engaged in rescue missions of survival pods, taking the pods to the closest collection of humans the CE can find. There is debate as to whether the CE is actually engaged in merciful conduct, or is just placing human debris where other humans are located, in a form of cosmic tidiness.
- Big Dave Sometime around SE-1.181, a hulked battle station in the Helix nebula was discovered and inhabited by a CE. As of this date (SE-2.35812), the interior of the station has been completely digested by the CE, and the exterior, roughly the size of Earth’s moon, now serves as a hard shell for the CE. The sheer size of ‘Big Dave’ means that his feeding has gone from scavenging, to just travelling the nebula, scooping up gasses and debris in its maw. There are creatures orbiting Big Dave, and rest on its surface. Whether these are fellow CE’s or some other symbiotic lifeform is unknown. Big Dave so far has been uninterested in communication, however it does continually broadcast the old battle-stations weapons –perimeter signal, so pressing the matter has been avoided.
- NOTHING TO SEE HERE One of the other hulk inhabitants has discovered how to utilize ship –to- ship broadcasting, and has a grasp of some human languages. When ships come close to the hulk, the CE engages in communication, attempting to indicate that it is a human vessel, and that it does not require assistance. However the lack of the CE’s understanding of human social mores or even biology has made its camouflage both suspect and amusing. Recordings of NTSH’s more awkward encounters are commonly passed around astrobiology conferences.
- Atari One of the hitchhiking CEs has become an accomplished Go player. After a long-hauler noticed the CE on hitchhiking on her ship’s exterior, The hauler and her crew experimented with communication through pulsed radio signals. This resulted in successfully communicating the concept of Go as well as its fundamentals. In a very short time, the CE had mastered the most complex concepts of the game, and seems to enjoy playing. When hitchhiking, it will broadcast the pulse used to request a game that the hauler team rigged up, and will play any and all on a ship, often simultaneously. There is some debate as to whether the CE knows that Go is a game, or if it thinks it’s engaging in some form of primitive communication with mankind.
- Space Crisps It has been discovered that the creatures that make up the popular Bay-seasoned snack food are indeed infant CEs. Considering that A) A CE gives birth to roughly 4-5 million CE’s each time it cycles through a birthing phase, and that B) 1-3 million of the infant CEs are eaten by the ‘mother’, ‘drifting for space crisps’ is not yet an illegal practice for ships.