All temperatures and sizes are in standard Earth formats. There is no way we would understand the measurement scale of creatures barely bigger than an Atom. I did the proportions so that I could convey the immensity of the differences in exposure to radiation, size of objects, and their temperatures.
For example, life on Earth grows in a narrow temperature band of barely twelve degrees difference. For most Life on Earth their Umes (temperature at which the organism grows the fastest and is “happiest”) are somewhere between 32 and 42 degrees celsius. After 42 degrees all organisms slow down. There are few exceptions, they are called: “Extremophiles."
*NOTE: Extremophiles live under temperature and pressures that would kill any “normal” Life. They were only discovered in the 1960’s.
The creatures in my story live (and thrive!) at the temperature of Outer Space, roughly 2.7 Kelvin, or -454 degrees Fahrenheit. And that, my friends, is cold. They are also only slightly larger than some bacteria, and they live in a Radiation Environment that would fry us in a single second. I will use Fahrenheit as the temperatures- as if these creatures employed that scale. Enjoy.
Mernorner checked the readout again. It was clear from the Commander’s voice that he didn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Commander, the readout is (and Mernorner waved its cilia in disbelief) 41 degrees.”
“You mean minus 41 degrees, don’t you?”
“No, Commander. PLUS 41 degrees.”
The Commander took a minute to take this in. The warmest object they had ever encountered in their journey through Space had been a comet. Its temperature was an unimaginable minus 364 degrees F. The Commander and crew would have melted long before they got to the surface of that inferno. And this object was orders of magnitudes hotter than that.
Theoretical Scientists had predicted that somewhere in the Universe there might be positive temperatures but that was mere speculation. What could live in that kind of heat?
“What else do we know?”
Mernorner dreaded that question even more than the one about temperature. Nothing about this object was believable. Mernorner’s training held. He recited the known Data with a precision lacking in Civilian speech.
“The Object is huge. Some twenty feet across and ten feet long. It is almost all metal. It is broadcasting in some unknown frequency in a directed beam. Where that beam located on the object the object has an internal temperature of Plus 41 F. On the other side of the object is a sheet of gold over an unknown metal. It is huge too. 12 inches in diameter. The temperature of that disc is within landing parameters.“
“Send a survey team. Tell them to be very careful. They are not to land if the temperature is too high, or if they are unsure of the surface of that disc. They are not to approach that Hell on the other side of the object.“
A radiation shield. No one on board had ever suspected or could have imagined that something would be shielded from radiation. The Commander mourned the loss of the Survey Team. Once they landed on the object they died instantly. Cut off from the life giving radiation of space. The Commander had lost crew before, but never to a lack of foresight or understanding.
"I am going to land on that thing.”
There was Iron in the Commander’s Voice. No one was going to argue with it.
Ever since they discovered that hunk of metal (more metal than any known object in Space) their world view had been destroyed. Temperatures higher than any fictional Hell, shields from life giving radiation, and metal objects with some form of structures on them. Structures only visible from a distance. Straight lines on curved surfaces…left them baffled. What could it be? Who made it? Where is it from?
All the Commander and Crew had…were questions.
The Commander stood on one of the Golden Hills, looking down into yet another Valley. He had crossed hundreds of these hills and valleys over the last three days. And still they lay in an endless vista in front of him. The measurements were exact. Every peak was exactly as high as the previous peak. Every Valley was exactly as deep as the last one. There could only be one explanation…those hills and valleys were not natural, but made by some kind of intelligent creature. It boggles the mind.
There, in the Valley below the Commander, lay an object. Not metal. Not moving. And huge. It must be 500 microns across! Making the Commander's 20 Micron length look small and insignificant. And the Commander was large for his species. Most Commanders were well above average in both height and length. This thing was 25 times bigger than the Commander. But it was organic.
The Commander started down into the Valley. Hoping to reach the thing (whatever it was) before his next report to the ship.
It took some massive engineering. The Commander was proud of his crew and their technical solutions. But they had removed the giant whatever it was, or is, from the Golden Hills and Valleys. It lay in the newly built ice bay with only nanometers to spare between its hulking form and the walls.
It was time to start examining it.
“Are you sure?”
“As certain as I can be Commander.”
“So you are telling me this…this…this thing…is alive?”
“Not quite, Commander. It is living, but it seems to be in some sort of stupor, or suspended animation. It is definitely organic, and all the chemical components are contained in structures that resemble limbs and digestive organs.“
“You mean that thing could move? How? It is huge, too big to move that kind of mass around on our planet.”
“We think (Mornorner hesitated) we think if we shield it from Radiation using that foil from the object (and boy, cutting that huge chunk of metal off the object was dangerous and heroic effort) and raise the temperature around it…it might reanimate.“
“How are you going to raise the temperature to anywhere near your proposed target? Didn’t you say you needed to get it near to that damn furnace spawn hell on the other side of the Object? Some forty degrees F?!”
“Yes Commander. We think we can tow the shell with the foil wrapped around it- and push it towards that heat source. We can watch from a safe distance and see what happens.”
The Commander did not hesitate.
“Make it happen.”
The whole crew was crowded around the screens. In just a few seconds the ice would melt. It would be just that creature enclosed in that horrible foil metal being warmed to hellish temperatures. Positive degrees. There would have to be a whole lot of books and studies rewritten when their ship returned home.
The entire crew spoke as one:
“Holy Shit…it is alive!”
The tardigrade woke instantly. It had no idea where it was. It was warm. It was hungry. Luckily there was fluid on the inside of the foil. The tardigrade began to graze.
The Crew surrounded the screens…watching in horror as the huge beast drank down more fluid than the ship carried for its year long journey. The beast did nothing but drink for weeks. Then it stopped.“
“What happened? Do you think it died?”
Mernorner shook all of his cilia at once.
“No Commander. We think it is in a stupor again. We think once the temperature goes below Zero (Zero, not absolute Zero, and who knew positive temperatures were even possible) it goes into that Stupor State.“
“Should we bring it home?”
“No. My God Commander, how would we contain it? It could drink us all up in minutes.”
“What should we do then. Just leave it here?”
“Yes. When we resupply back home, I think they will be sending the whole fleet to study this thing.”
The tardigrade wasn’t thinking. It was inanimate again. It circled in its canon of ice and foil far from the heat it needed to wake.
The Commander and Mernorner had not told the crew what their analysis of the Giant Gold’s markings had shown. It was a shock too big to be handled at one time. The analysis clearly showed that the straight lines and curves on that Gold Disc were drawings of the creatures that made the giant metallic object. And they were Huge! Larger than the planet the Commander and Crew came from.
And they lived near a star. The Scientist had located where the beam was being beamed back to. A planet of unbelievable size…filled with metals of all kinds. A treasure hoard of immense wealth. And if the data can be believed…it is covered with water. Not ammonia, or liquid nitrogen…liquid water.
No wonder the beast they discovered could drink so much fluid. How much more would these two giant creatures drawn on the Gold Disc drink? It scared the bejeezus out of the Commander and Crew.
The Commander knew he would not live long enough to make contact. Those creatures lived in temperatures his kind would never be able to stand, no matter how many technical advances they made. But they would communicate someday. The Commander was sure of that.
Life lived in Hell.
That much was certain.
Mernorner watched carefully as the Commander set the course for home. Wondering, as he had done since they first found the huge object made of metal- if the creatures who made it would even believe that something could live in the cold of deep space. After all, none of the crew or the Commander would have believed someone could live at temperatures near a star…and have to be shielded from radiation too.
Mernorner turned his thoughts again… "I wonder if they are Human?"