Greetings again, class. Let’s get right into it, shall we? You have about five minutes before submissions of last week’s assignments are due. This week’s subjects are polymorphic and non-corporeal beings. We have a lot of material to get through this week, so this class will be mostly lecture. I apologize in advance if this doesn’t fit your learning style best, but hope you’ll make a Borg-like attempt to adapt.
I. Polymorphic, or shape-shifting lifeforms:
The biology of each of these species is very unique, and can arise from Fludic Space, Demon-class planets, or closer to M-class worlds, as evidenced by the Undine, The Founders of Dominion provenance, and the Silver Blood of the Delta Quadrant. The common theme of polymorphic lifeforms is their ability, either innate or acquired, to manipulate genetic structures in themselves and often in other species.
Species 8742, also known as the Undine :
Another of the many species first encountered in the Delta Quadrant, these being fall under the categories of trilateral symmetry for their tripedal nature, bilateral symmetry for their upper body symmetry, as well as polymorphic due to their highly advanced genetic abilities. They can convincingly impersonate other races, include most humanoid species. Their origin in Fluidic Space may also qualify them as aquatic, but they are able to respire in M-class atmospheres as well. There may be as many as five sexes, although this is unknown at present.
Highly telepathic, aggressive, and xenophobic, the Undine are formidable enemies and potentially powerful allies. For the moment, a truce seems to be holding, and there are stiff penalties in Federation law for anyone attempting to enter Fluidic Space, and the Undine fleet waiting on the other side for anyone who dares to transit to the other side.
Founders, aka Changelings –
Odo, the former Constable of Deep Space Nine prior to and throughout the Dominion War, was the first example of a Changeling, or Founder, to be encountered in the Alpha Quadrant. While all Founders are Changelings, not all Changelings encountered are Founders. The society of the Founders is many millennia old, and the distrust of non-polymorphic species or ‘solids’ led them to become the originators of the Dominion somewhere between two and three thousand years ago. Their logic was that by controlling everything around them, including the species in and around the Dominion, they could avoid the persecution and distrust that has plagued them for many many years. They also sent single members of their species out into the cosmos to scout and with the innate drive to eventually return home. Odo and Lass are two of the known scouts to have contact with Alpha and Beta Quadrant species.
There are two main ‘forms’ of Founders – a vaguely humanoid form with very soft and mostly undefined facial forms, especially the nasal structures, and the ability to reconform their form into a variety of shapes, orientations, and to successfully impersonate members of other species in such a way as to be undetectable except to particular specialized tests. The second principal form is as an amorphous intermingling of many Changelings which forms the basis of their society as well as a way to interchange information, memories, and experiences. When in a humanoid form, the individual Changeling must revert to a liquid form every 16 hours, or experience a great deal of discomfort and even pain. Changeling abilities are based upon the morphogenic structure of the particles in their forms, and it was a virus that preyed upon these structures that forced the Dominion surrender at the end of the Dominion War.
Part of the Founder’s ability to control events and species around them is due to their abilities of genetic manipulation. Through these means, they modified the Vorta from an arboreal origin to serve as their overseers and diplomats. The Jem’Hadar are very effective shock troops who were created expressly for this purpose. More about these species will come in our section on Gamma Quadrant Species.
In the case of the species known as Silver Blood, it was mimicking the properties of two of the human members of the U.S.S. Voyager under Admiral Janeway that raised this species to sentience. Native to a Y class planet in the Delta Quadrant, it’s deuterium-based properties prompted a rather dangerous attempt by the crew to add to their deuterium store during their expected multi-decade return to the Alpha Quadrant. By duplicating the two members of the away team down to their uniforms, combadges, and memories, the Silver Blood negotiated with then-Captain Janeway and the crew for more DNA samples in exchange for the deuterium they needed. This planet is well beyond the area of the Delta Quadrant we currently have ships and allies in, and it may be many years before we contact this or another similar species. Hopefully, the humanoid DNA has served them well.
II. Non-corporeal lifeforms
These are perhaps the most difficult to classify, as they are most often encountered based on the energy or other type of phenomena that gives rise to them. They are marked from other phenomena by their coherence, especially in the face of events or circumstances that might disperse related but non-sapient creatures or phenomena.
I shall detail one of the several types of non-corporeal here, but please refer to the various ships logs of the phenomena they’ve encountered. Of special interest are the logs of the Enterprise NX-01, Enterprise NCC-1701 and NCC-1701-D, The logs relating to Station Deep Space Nice from the end of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor to the end of the Dominion War, the logs of U.S.S. Voyager under then-Captain Janeway – which is required reading for other classes many of you are taking this term, and should read if you have not yet read them.
We’ll sort non-corporeal lifeforms into several classifications. The first category is by form, either coherent energy, gaseous, crystalline, some combination of gas and plasma, and variable or able to change physical form, like the Q. The second categorization is of how these various species derive sustenance. Some feed off of physical systems like plasma or deuterium and others appear to feed off of the various emotions experienced by a variety of humanoid and non-humanoid lifeforms, and still others seem to take no form of nourishment that we’ve yet observed. It’s also important to understand if these beings are native to a particular planet, nebula, or if they exist in an alternate continuum or version of reality. There are various levels of relations with corporeal and humanoid lifeforms from friendly and diplomatic to outright malice and hunger. Some you can open a channel to, while others generally are better encountered by opening fire.
Firstly, the Q. A species that seems to be omnipotent and immortal to our standards and who generally reside in an extra-planar place known as the Q continuum. They do not seem to be omniscient, and the history of their origin or if they have an origin is hotly disputed. At least a dozen members of this species have been encountered, notably by the Enterprise-D in 2364 and afterward, as well as known encounters by Captains Sisko and Janeway. They are known to be able to transform matter and energy, as well as travel through space and time instantaneously, although a noticeable half-second or so of delay is usually needed to apparently enact their abilities. This could also be part of their powers secondary effects on humanoid and mortal sapeints.
Secondly, We consider the Prophets of the Bajoran Wormhole and the Pah-Wraiths. These seem to be factions of the same species, although their origin is shrounded in time and the lack of information not provided by them. Beings of pure energy, they exist outside of our regular dimensions, apparently not fully understanding the concept of linear time, and showing very little emotion. They are vulnerable only to chroniton radiation. Their ties to Bajor date at least ten thousand years, and because of this history and their pattern of leaving orbs of very peculiar qualities lead to the creation of the Bajoran religion which worshipped the Prophets as gods. Exiled members of this species were known to have been imprisioned in the Fire Caves of Bajor, although the mechanism used is still unknown. These beings took the name of Pah-wraiths, and exhibit a pride of superiority that has caused no small amount of trouble, destruction, and death. Both Prophets and Pah-Wraiths can occupy and control humanoid forms, and appear as balls of energy, respectively blue and red. The most direct contact with these species was between 2372 and 2375, when Captain Sisko was both Commander of Deep Space Nine, Captain of Defiant, and the Emissary who acted as a link between the Prophets and people of Bajor. The Prophets are also responsible for last year’s appearance of a Dominion fleet displaced in time, and the resolution of that incident also returned the former leader of the Dominion during the Dominion War back to her people.
The Calamarain exist as swirls of ionized gas, and have a form of sense that uses Berthold rays to gain sensory information. They have an intrinsic dislike for the Q, and communicate via tachyon emissions. They attacked the Enterprise-D on Stardate 43539.1 while a temporarily-powerless Q was on board.
The Companion of Gamma Canaris is a hybrid gaseous-energy being, and first contact was made by a very old Zefram Cochrane. Some of the Companion’s abilities included extending the lifespane of Cochrane into the late 23rd century, where he was encountered again by the Captain and crew of the NCC-1701. It possessed several abilities related to matter and energy transmutation, but ended up merging with Commissioner Nancy Hedford, an event that turned the Companion mortal and simultaneously cured the Commissioner of her Sakuro’s Disease.
The Distortion Ring encounterd in 2371 by Voyager nearly destroyed the vessel in an attempt to communicate. It was successful in eventually making contact with Captain Janeway and copying the database of the vessel, leaving some 20 million gigaquads of new information.
The nucleogenic cloud being encounted in the Delta Quadrant in the same year by Voyager wasn’t first identified as a sapeint being due to it appearing as a nebula about seven AUs in diameter and with a composition of mostly hydrogen, helium, and hydroxyl radicals.
Lastly, Medusans are one of the few non-corporeal species to be Federation members and to have served in Starfleet. Their natural habitat and nature can induce madness in humanoids who look directly at an unshielded Medusan. The notable exception to this rule are members of the Vulcan, Romulan, and Reman species when outfitted with a special visor apparatus. Advances in exo-suits and lessons learned from the Soong type andriods have allowed for more Medusans to serve in more active roles in Starfleet, where once they were emergency navigators for ships like the Galaxy-class. Medusans are highly telepathic, and as such maintain very close relations with other telepathic species they may encounter.
Your assignment for the week is to choose three different non-corporeal species, and then to compare and contrast them. Class is dismissed.
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