, someone had once intoned. But space is only silent to those deaf
to its notes
; for those who hear the waves
upon waves crushed out from the boiling surface of star
s, it sings a sweet song indeed. And the Great Traveler
, she who hears this song most keenly, may also divine
notes telling of the planet
s surrounding, if any are suitable for her purpose.
Two boiled eggs
, Peter had with his breakfast
, by tradition
. He had long since moved from the cold formerly Soviet steppe
s to bask in the warmth of Southern California
, and his business acumen afforded him the relative privilege of sitting on a patio
overlooking the Pacific Ocean
. As he brought down the spoon
to crack the shell of one egg, he perceived a mild rumbling-- for a moment, he fancied that he had caused it by cracking that shell. Or that it was his stomach
, hurrying him along. But he knew it had come up through his feet.
could not have imagined her, the Great Traveler -- not the only one of her kind, but surely the only one within scores of light years of the Earth. Her size alone defies imagination
, a vast carapace
, long enough to wrap itself entirely around our planet, with a few miles to spare. Six immense sets of wings
, every one enough to wrap the moon
, catching not air but the winds of stars, turning them to her purpose. Continent
s could rest on her back. And her tail, a brute needle, this, long enough to plunge from the surface to the molten core of a rocky planet.
But for all of her grandeur, size alone was hardly her only means to impress. For she was patient beyond patience; floating through the empty blackness of space for millions of years, passing from one star system to another and then nimbly manoeuvering amongst its worlds to find the right ones for her purpose. Some to devour for sustenance and reinvigoration of her material stores -- but one, in every system where such a one existed, for a very different, very special purpose.
Earth was in no danger of her return; she had chanced by this system some sixty-five million years ago. Her encounter had decimated what life then stood on the planet, her form blocking out the Sun
as she curled over tens of thousands of miles of surface; the planet was rocked and broken beneath the thousands of grasping claws which protruded from her underside for this most vital task, and the shock was incomparable as her great tail spike was forced, mile by mile, into the depths of the world. Her careful efforts to plug the hole so made were sufficient that only a new ocean was left behind.
And she moved on in her unending voyage, finding the next star system which might contain a similarly useful planet. And Earth recovered, long forgot she had ever come.
Peter ran through the house, out the door, off to the side. The rumbling had grown beyond bearability, and he knew that in so major an earthquake
as this, his entire home might slide from its cliffside perch. Little matter -- an inconvenience, but he had millions enough in the bank
to buy the same house ten times over. He had not even invested so much in the construction of this one, knowing that it might face such a calamity
But something felt wrong. He had been through earthquakes before; something about this one was different, and frighteningly so.
Sixty-five million year had passed since the Great Traveler had set upon the passage of the Earth; but then, after the passage of all those quiet years, the result of her visit at last became known. A monumental plunging needle tail had come before, not to sting, but to deposit an egg; and from that egg, a larva -- small at first, perhaps only the size of a country, but which with agonizing slowness, grew and grew, unceasingly over the millennia.
And now -- earthquakes and tidal wave
s sweeping the globe
, such devastation as man has never known!! A rift appears along the Pacific edge of North America, ocean pouring in and steaming from the molten mantle below.... and as the rift expands, tearing its way up and down the coast, north into Alaska, and south along the coast of Chile, mankind comes to know its doom as.
The spot upon which Peter stood had abruptly been forced several hundred feet up in elevation. Struggling to hang on to the patch of earth shifting below him, he lifted his eyes toward the sea. And through the settling dust he saw a mountain
rising from the ocean. An unusual mountain, a curved
mountain. Higher and higher it thrust itself steadily from the sea bed. And another perhaps a few miles to the south, and another after that, and still another, barely visible in the distance beyond.
Lost for a moment in the awe of the spectacle, Peter forgot his fear, even as he realized that these protuberances were not mountains at all, but a great row of claw
And it was then that Peter knew, there would be no rebuilding of his house, nor any more enjoyment to be taken from his fortune
. His millions, ha!! worthless in the face of what unfolded before him.
The great carapace begins its emergence. For she had, since time immemorial, ever-so-slowly devoured all that she could within the planet's core, and must now devour all that is without, upon its crust. She has no hunger for the living things upon the surface, they are invisible to her, inconsequential; the surface itself is her meal, and all else is incidental to her need to fuel the initiation of her own journey of billions of miles and millions of years....