Future Fluff: Mighty Bruticus & Its Unhallowed Moons

English: Extrasolar planet Upsilon Andromedae ...

English: Extrasolar planet Upsilon Andromedae d lies in the habitable zone and if sufficiently large moons of Upsilon Andromedae d exist, they may be able to support liquid water, as the image shows. On the horizon of this hypothetical moon can be seen Upsilon Andromedae d, possibly a class II planet (Sudarsky classification): since it is too warm to form ammonia clouds this ones are made up of water vapor, white in colour instead of the caracteristic yellow-reddish clouds of Jupiter and Saturn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Far back in the legends of the Kai’Siri people, originating in an ancient war fought before Second Age of Consolidation, lies the planet Bruticus, its Terran name, a gigantic world with extreme gravity and home to a diminutive but hardy intelligent species.

The Kai’Siri, or course, forbid the naming of this world in their own language, such is its reputation.

Bruticus is an interdicted world in a forbidden area of what was part of the First Exarchate, as the Kai’Siri had never been able to fully conquer the natives, and this fact sat poorly with them.

It’s partly for religious reasons that Kai’Siri were originally driven to conquer, from the dictum to spread the Kai’Siri culture across the stars.

Kai’Siri religion is odd. It is not an evangelical faith; only ethnic Kai’Siri may be members of it, usually inculcated in childhood with some adult conversions.

Worship is mostly directed to familial gods, not national or regional gods, but the central core of the faith binds the Kai’Siri as a people and in the past drove its militarization.

“Spread the culture, but the faith belongs to us alone.”

Bruticus handed the Kai’Siri perhaps their worst defeat in a war lasting almost a hundred years, when the natives made use of the planet’s strong gravity and multiple large moons, routing the humans of Sirug and resulting in the death by suicide of all of the defeated army, too shamed to return home and live with their defeat.

The Second Exarchate has scant records of the war, given the destruction of the Second Age of Consolidation and its attendant wars. So Bruticus remains isolated by time, location, and oddly enough for a rationalist culture like the Kai’Siri, a hint of superstitious dread, the inhabitants shrouded in mystery.

It is only with the development of Kurtz-Dunar technology for riding gravity wells in the Second Exarchate that contact between natives and Kai’Siri has become possible again.

But what of fact?

Bruticus is a super-Terran world, more rocky than gaseous, though with a thick atmosphere rich in hydrogen, methane, and ammonia fairly far from its star but warm enough to allow for life using complex hydrocarbons and reductive metabolisms using respiration of hydrogen.

Bruticans, who call themselves Phlaathaq, are much like large Terran sand-fleas in shape and built low to the ground to avoid dangerous short-distance falls in the strong gravity well.

Bruticus has a slightly ovoid shape because of its spin, with stronger gravity near the poles and lighter at the equator, about 12 Terran gravities on average.

Phlaathaq have a clever sort of biotechnology at their disposal, using stock from native organisms bred to specific functions, and often engineered to purpose using other organisms bred for that function.

Case in point are the ballistic dendromorphs, tentacled, ambulatory, tree-like mollusk analogs whose central body cavities are largely filled with a biochemical solid rocket propellant based on the combustion of chlorine and hydrogen. These serve as a means of travel off of Bruticus, and produce enough thrust to reach an impressive escape velocity and in less than three days reach the outermost of the five moons.

Think of something that looks like a cross between the recent Orion system spacecraft, an outsized California redwood, and a Lovecraftian Dark Young.

Other organisms, symbiotes, can cling to and serve as payload attachments to the dendromorphs, whether as explosive warheads, piloted capsules with life-support and acceleration couches, and there are organisms attached to these to serve as bio-avionic systems for the dendromorphs in flight.

Such launches are limited to the equatorial regions where gravity is lightest, and the dendromorphs are optimized for the climate there, even being resistant to the floods of the ammonia seas in the cold season and frequent massive storms of the warmer season when the oceans evaporate.

The effectiveness of this biology-based approach to technology in warfare has earned the planet-moons system of Bruticus an evil reputation among those familiar with Kai’Siri lore, but as more information comes to light and peaceful contact becomes possible, more of this massive world’s secrets will be laid bare, in future installments of this post, and in fiction.

14 thoughts on “Future Fluff: Mighty Bruticus & Its Unhallowed Moons

  1. Unless the payload is vanishingly small, even here on Earth it is nearly impossible to achieve escape velocity with a single stage rocket with chemical propellants. A more massive planet is going to demand a multi-stage design.


    • Excellent point. That had occurred to me earlier as well, and I’ll be taking it into account in a more detailed description of dendromorph biology and their payloads in a later post, probably due next week once I get a good handle on the relevant ‘ rocket science’ involved. I’ll have to come up with a decent sketch of what they look like pre-launch and in flight, and maybe a size-comparison chart. They’re definitely one-use critters, though, and at the end of their life-cycle when fully grown and ready for liftoff.



      • Which elements of rocket science are you working on? Your propelants, H-Cl are fairly high energy, though hydrogen is very low density, even as a slush hard cryogen. This requires a large, heavy tank. This can possibly be mitigated in a biological system, as hydrogen atoms concentrate near a surface. If some sort of fractal surface could be grown, hydrogen densities could dramatically increase.


        • Hmmm. Here’s a thought, on using body tissues with a fractal geometry to store hydrogen: Since most of the life on that world respire using the gas, might it not be possible for the dendromorphs to have lung-like tissues for storing it, of just that geometry, combined with enhanced storage of hydrogen in muscles and circulatory fluids? Another idea would be to store hydrogen in a compact crystalline form, like using lithium hydride, the lithium gathered by normal metabolic processes and accumulated specifically in those organs used for storing propellant. The hydrogen may be accumulated through respiration and breakdown of hydrogen compounds, and chemically bound to the lithium, mixed with the chlorine upon takeoff. I may want to work out details of the critter’s life-cycle as well, to fit in the additional stages needed for liftoff from such as strong gravity well. >


          • Another propulsion concept you may find useful is that of the hybrid rocket. This takes the form of a tube of solid propellant which reacts with a jet of propellant injected through the tube. Typically, fuel is the solid and the oxidizer is an injected liquid. Combustion occurs through the core of the tube while a nozzle focuses the gas flow and converts it into motion of the parent body. The fuel could still take the form of a fractal, which would encourage fuel/oxidizer combustion through turbulent mixing. Adequate mixing has been a traditional weakness for hybrid propulsion.


            • That sounds promising. As the fuel is biologically accumulated, the systems, organs, and tissues responsible could do the work of fractalizing the fuel much like real organisms’ biology constructs organic molecules from simpler molecules. >


          • Since your critters are nearing the end of their lives might it be possible for them to incorporate silica (SiO2 — quartz or glass)
            or something to give rigidity to their “combustion chambers?” A chamber that is too elastic might be subject to rapid dis-assembly.


            • It’s not unheard of cephalopods to have limited internal skeletons,(cuttlefish, anyone?)and these creatures may need a lot more than just dense flesh to support themselves and stand upright for launch, so support of some hard substance is reasonable. Silica in the right form, or even some sort of carbon fiber structure might serve for both internal support and as reinforcement for the combustion chambers. These things are huge, so they’ll need lots of efficient support for their mass just to remain upright and carry the fuel they’ll need to achieve escape velocity, even using multiple stages, not including all the other functions they have as biological organisms. >


              • Something like a fractal buckminsterfullerine would hold a tremendous amount of hydrogen while simultaneously providing a significant amount of structural strength. The carbon would also serve as fuel as it reacted with the oxidizer.

                You’re going to need a large ignition source to get things started. I’d recommend it also serve to weaken the diaphragm separating the oxidizer from fuel and form the injector orifice to meter the liquid flow rate. An existing method that you may consider is catalyzed hydrogen peroxide as demonstrated by the rocket-powered bombadier beetle here on Earth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_beetle

                Nozzle materials are a little tricky, but doable. Silica rich phenolic resin ablatively cooled nozzles are fairly common in the trade, though they can suffer “keyholing” during long burns. This is where a notch erodes in the nozzle, creating an off-axis thrust vector. If the nozzle grew in a ring structure, like tree rings, it could serve to limit this problem.

                Are you familiar with Larry Niven’s “Stage Trees”?


                  • If you’d like, I can crunch the numbers to make sure the physics work. I’ll need a few numbers: Propellant and non-propellant mass, planet mass and diameter. I assume you’re working toward planetary escape velocity?

                    As far as clustering,

                    A few large man-made rockets have been proposed, the most complete engineering study was Robert Truax’s “Sea Dragon” concept. At 39 million pounds takeoff weight, it may be close to the scale you are considering.

                    Von Braun’s “Ferry Rocket” design weighed in at 14 million pounds takeoff weight.

                    One way to get staging to work would be to initiate a swarming behavior. No idea if this is supported by the Lovecraft canon.


                  • I just realized this planet likely has at least one moon. If so, you don’t need to reach escape velocity. You only need sufficient dV to reach the L1 point. At this point, gravitational attraction to your star traveler is balanced between the home planet and the moon and the dynamics of the three body problem will kick him free. A large moon helps, Earth is blessed in this regard. From that point, it”s just a matter of surfing the gravity potentials of the planetary system. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplanetary_Superhighway

                    Your creature will need a means to hibernate and/or some way to use solar energy to survive the eons this method entails. (I’m sure there’s a joke about letting sleeping elder gods lie in there somewhere…)

                    Liked by 1 person

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