Name: Solar Whale, Startreader, Lesser Rockback Stellarwhale, "Minor Caelum Piscis", Humpbacks, A Year’s Rations, Starving Sailor’s Hope Description: Solar Whales are massive space beasts of dark to light gray hides which provide an almost rocky appearance. They have three large glowing white eyes on either side of their heads, and a pair of long fins that drape backwards from their undersides- while the back-end of their bodies slowly turn into a large finned tail. Across their entire length, dozens to hundreds of Funnelers can be seen living on their hides, and dark bioluminescent blue lines trace around the rocky outer flesh in a pattern unique to each whale. Their appearance is oddly similar to Stellarwhales in many ways, and a large number of dissections have lead to a decent portion of the scientific community believing that there is a common ancestor between the two due to the concrete evidence of their somewhat similar biologies. Behavior: In general though, Solar Whales traverse the void in pods of twenty four to seventy two, which are formed from birth and last until death. These pods never are added to with new members, giving each a potential limited lifespan. Overall, Solar Whales are fairly passive creatures, rarely attacking any starship, station, or installation without prior provocation. The only time they are truly hostile is when something attacks a member of their pod, or they’re hunting. Tamability: Food. An almost incomprehensible amount of food. Genuinely, so much food. Once a given person, or in the view of a Solar Whale, a ship, has delivered enough food in its path. It will begin to follow a given ship around, and as long as food is consistently provided- the Solar Whale will stay nearby and defend a given ship as if it was a member of its own pod. Where is it found?: Space, though primarily away from largely inhabited locations such as colonies. Often giving a several system gap between them and these areas. Though, oddly, a decent number of pods often find themselves moving with Warp Storms. Even more rarely, one can encounter pods of Solar Whales around Stellarwhales, though this is easily a once in a lifetime occurrence. Rarity: Solar Whales are uncommon in the Fringe, though finding one often finds you dozens. An average spacefarer can expect to run into one pod of Solar Whales on a journey from one side of the Fringe to the other, more if you go off of the main routes. In Civ-Space however, Solar Whales are very rare from over-hunting, and are now a protected species in all nations except the Miniknog- who still actively hunt them industrially when able for their products. Diet/Method of gaining nutrients and energy: Solar Whales are primarily carnivores of smaller stellar beasts, often opening their massive mouths wide and simply swallowing a given creature whole. However, much like Cosmithans and their cousin species Stellarwhales, Solar Whales have a sterling generator-esc digestive system that allows them to consume most things with ease. Differently from their larger cousins however, Solar Whales metabolize their food into an energy-dense fat like blubber-like substance and calorie-dense meat, rather than cytoplasm. This allows them to survive longer between feedings, especially when traveling interstellar distances to mate or roam. Products?: Solar Whales have three products of note, all of which are extremely valuable for various reasons, though only the first two have any value to the general public. First, the oily meat from Solar Whales is valuable both intrinsically and monetarily. Both due to the fact that it's insanely delicious, and because it's one of the most nutrient and calorie dense foods discovered. Surpassing even nutrient supplements when provided in equal amounts. A single Solar Whale could effectively feed a large town for several months, if not even longer, when the meat is properly preserved. The process for preparing the flesh into an edible state is slightly lengthy, requiring a long cooking and or pressing period where the excess oil is burnt off since large amounts are toxic to most organics. What the oil is used for will be covered in the following paragraph, though it is a popular meal for most Nova-like species such as Solarwolves. Second, the blubber of Solar Whales is incredibly useful in a variety of ways, though primarily it's used as a fuel source. In bioreactors, Solar Whale blubber is long lasting and provides an astronomical amount of power, equaling Solarium reactors in output- albeit running for far less time. However, when rendered down into oil- a dark glowing blue substance- it acts as a potent fuel for combustion engines and thrusters. When used in engines the oil is much like the blubber, a very long lasting fuel source that can provide power equaling a Solarium reactor- yet, like the blubber it lasts for less time comparatively, while in thrusters it easily provides the same level of power as Erchius. In general, more fuel will be acquired from rendering the blubber into oil than using just the blubber. Solar Whale oil is also, obviously, incredibly volatile- causing large explosions when ignited improperly and burning for an incredibly long time. It should be noted, for clarity if nothing else, that Solar Whale oil is a traditional fuel, and not usable in Warp or Hyperdrives. Finally, the third major product of Solar Whales is their silicon carbide skeleton. The bones of a Solar Whale are very durable, pearlescent, and laced with large amounts of mana in their structure and marrow. This mana comes from their symbiotic relationship with Funnelers, over which the course of their journey to adulthood slowly causes the substance to enter their bodies- and into their skeleton. While the mana within is incredibly valuable to a small and specific number of groups, the primary value of Solar Whale bones are as trophies and superstitious trinkets. A common occurrence is for spacers to acquire bones which are carved into charms, medallions, trinkets, chimes and statues- for luck, protection against, and rarely to try and call upon the various spirits (read; anomalous beings and phenomena) in the void of space. Reproduction: Solar Whale reproduction is hermaphroditic and a complicated and uncomplicated process in equal measure. Once every one hundred years, a pod of adult Solar Whales begin to let out a mating call which spreads across hundreds of different systems. Once another pod responds, the smaller of the two begins the process of traveling to the larger pod. Once they meet, their reproduction takes roughly a year, before thousands of eggs are laid and left to hatch on their own over around another year. These then hatch and begin to spread out as various pods of their own. Many often perish at the jaws of other space faring creatures before being able to reach adulthood. Once the eggs hatch, eggs left behind by the Funnelers found on their parents attach to them quickly to begin their lifelong symbiosis. A final, more interesting note is simply that when a Solar Whale is born, they glow a bright blue-white from the lack of blubber and meat present. As they age, this luminescence begins to dim and fade from the presence of thick hide, blubber, and flesh until all that remains is their unique pattern. Size: Solar Whales range a large spectrum of sizes as they grow over their lifespan, though generally, the smallest an adult Solar Whale can be is roughly the size of a large frigate, while the largest has been around two kilometers. Research shows that theoretically, a Solar Whale could reach up to five kilometers in length- with an appropriate width and height to go alongside such a size. These have never been seen, however. Weight: The weight of Solar Whales also varies depending on their size, though generally, the smallest adults weigh roughly the same as the RMS Titanic. This is to say, insanely fucking heavy, like, insanely heavy. Lifespan: Currently, the maximum lifespan of Solar Whales is unknown, but the oldest specimen found has been roughly dated to be five thousand years old. This specimen was also the largest ever found, the previously mentioned two kilometer in length. Solar Whales reach adulthood after roughly one hundred years. Abilities: Communication: Solar Whales communicate with each other using large bursts of tachyons, this allows them to communicate over interstellar distances with each other. Though, this is both a boon and a curse. These bursts temporarily disrupt tachyonic communication used by ships and stations, including teleporters, which can effectively cut a vessel off- especially if a Solar Whale is attacked and begins to cry for help. This communication is often likened to 'whale song' when listened to by most species, and is melancholic and joyful in equal measure- enough to send many to tears, and like they are missing something vital, but happy to have what they have. Durable: The hides of Solar Whales are insanely damage resistant to almost all forms of damage, easily able to shrug off heavy plasma, laser, and kinetic fire. To effectively hurt one, specialized armor piercing weapons would be needed, and even then, it wouldn’t penetrate that deep into a given Solar Whale. Heavyweight: Solar Whales are large, heavy, and powerful… This is a strength as much as a weakness. A Solar Whale has only one natural weapon, and that is its ability to slam into something very, very hard. Without prior momentum, being hit by an Adult Solar Whale is enough to cause a large amount of damage to most ships. While when rammed with momentum, many ships will simply break in half from the force of the impact. In general, it’s easier to avoid these attacks as a smaller vessel. Warp Capable: Due to the presence of dozens, to hundreds of Funnelers that exist in a symbiotic relationship across the surface of a Solar Whale, they’re able to create warp bubbles to make travel in systems incredibly fast. And due to the size of the Whales, the amount of Funnelers that grow along their bodies allow for easy travel between systems as well. Hyper Capable: An evolutionary holdover from their larger cousins, Solar Whales can persist in Hyperspace as easy as Realspace. However, they lack the capabilities to actually enter Hyperspace on their own. Requiring either a Stellarwhale, or some other method to enter the parallel dimension. Flaws: Easily Found: While Solar Whales can communicate over vast distances, it’s also a curse, the large bursts of tachyons their communication uses is incredibly easy to track when in-system- and during their mating cycle, incredibly easy to track over dozens of systems. Volatile Blubber: Despite being insanely durable, Solar Whales have a crippling weakness if energy weapons can get to the blubber beneath their thick hides. The blubber itself is highly flammable and combustible, easily igniting and spreading throughout a Solar Whale's body- killing it rapidly. Getting an energy weapon to these parts of a Whale is extremely difficult, but a surefire way to kill it… as long as you don’t want any of the products, as this process ruins all of them aside from the bones. Heavyweight: Solar Whales are large, heavy, and powerful… This is a weakness as much as a strength, as if a Solar Whale enters the lower atmosphere of a planet, it will be unable to pull itself out- instead, it begins to rapidly pick up speed as it falls towards the planet. This can cause serious damage to an area upon impact, and often renders most of the products unusable. Other: Solar Whales have long been a presence in the universe, roaming and propagating throughout the void. However, in the dawning of the modern space age, the nations which became known collectively as civ-space encountered them and began to hunt them in earnest in the years before the discovery of Solarium and Erchius, as well as to feed their colonization efforts. This caused a near-extinction of the creatures within the regions, with levels only now slowly beginning to rise as space whaling was made illegal. However, in the Fringe the story is different. The sparse colonies and populated zones leave much of the sector free for Solar Whales to roam and reproduce, leaving their numbers in relatively large amounts. This of course however, means that nations, colonies, and other groups within the region have begun to hunt them- though, not industrially as civ-space one did, primarily due to the expense. Even so, many ships in the Fringe- from pirates to explorers- often carry the equipment to perform space whaling. Drawing a whale away from its pod to attack and slowly kill it in a way reminiscent of whaling on Earth- and then sending out crews to slowly cut through its hide and harvest the meat and blubber within that they need, before leaving the corpse to drift for other stellar creatures to feast upon.