Roleplayer #25, August 1991

The Great Works

by Stefan Jones

The Jowuril Kee are busy creatures. They are currently involved in nearly a thousand terraforming projects, turning lifeless rock balls and ice planets into pleasant garden spots or efficient factory worlds. Not all of these worlds will have oxygen-nitrogen atmospheres; 16 of the Jowuril Kee races are methane breathers. Comet seeding is another obsession with the Harvesters. Slow-moving, vacuum-dwelling kee species have settled the Oort clouds around thousands of stars. Some stars in Jowuril Kee territory are girded by belts of artificial space habitats, similar to L5 colonies. These are used to grow more neural material for the keeli urom d'kthis.

Dyson spheres are another favorite project. None of these are of the solid-shelled habitable type; they gather energy for the civilization's industrial base. The englobed systems emit a steady infrared glow (waste heat), gravity waves (a by-product of the generators which fix the dyson sphere to the star) and a flux of strange radiations. Bodies approaching them on other than approved space lanes are attacked by meteor defenses or visited by scavenger robots seeking metals and volatiles.

Even more ambitious are singularity rosettes, clusters of black holes whirling about each other in carefully choreographed orbits. The rosettes are used to stabilize wormholes for long-distance travel, to create pocket universes, and in one case to create what might be called a "time camera." Titanic compound telescopes are used to peer through this anomaly into previous epochs. The telescopes, each composed of 5,000 mirrors more than a dozen miles in diameter, can resolve objects as small as a kilometer on worlds light-years distant. They are currently trained on the events of a furious interplanetary war that took place in a binary system some 1.5 billion years in the past. Scenes of battle, accompanied by intercepted radio and TV transmissions, are eagerly watched by billions of enthralled kee. The Harvesters hope to make more time cameras and bigger telescopes, so they can observe and record the early history of the galaxy's lost civilizations.

In earlier epochs, the Harvesters spent much effort on nebula sculptures, detonating groups of stars to form beautiful clouds of glowing gas. Though now considered passé, worlds with good views of these extraordinary art forms are still highly prized among the Jowuril Kee.

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