System 56 has recently been colonised by the United Galactic Alliance. This system is almost ideal: it has many medium-sized (M class)
planets and also a number of large satellites that have suitable mean temperatures. However, many of the M class planets are large and
more suitable for inhabitants of high-gravity planets. The second and third planets (56-beta and 56-gamma) are low gravity planets and
so have little atmosphere and consequently large diurnal variations in temperature, but these are suitable for starship construction
centres. The fourth planet (56-delta) is a gas giant and again most of its moons are low-mass and subject to wide temperature
variations, but relatively easy to mine and a base has been set up on one of these moons already. However, the sixth major satellite of
56-delta has a modest atmosphere and a warm tropical surface.
Delta-6 is mostly covered in a liquid water ocean which is unusually rich in organic compounds.
Life has developed to quite a high level of complexity on this world. In particular there is one
form which alternates between a fish-like swimming stage and an arthropod-like crawling stage
which lives on the ocean floor and inside deep caverns. Whether or not any other world in this
sector of space contains such advanced life forms is anybody's guess.
Interestingly the gas giant planet 56-delta has a warm region with the density of water and we
suspect that this planet may be more correctly called a water-giant. Plans are underway to
explore this planet properly, though this is isn't easy due to the planet's dense and thick
atmosphere. It has been theorised that biological materials have been exchanged between
56-delta and its moon delta-7, perhaps by meteorite impacts and volcanic activity and maybe
life exists on the central planet itself, which is quite small for a gas giant.
Not much else is known about these creatures yet. They appear to feed upon coral-like growths which they farm on the ocean bed.
Their mouthparts contain a short protrusible piercing proboscis or stylet which they use to pierce heir food and suck out the contents.
They are technically arthropodoids, since they have developed jointed limbs. Their light bodies are well-adapted to the still
ocean-depths. They have large eyes for perceiving bioluminescence.
A collation of images of a 56-delta-hexian
obtained by a deep ocean probe. This is an
adult. The larval stage is a fish-like or tadpole like
creature which develops from a triradiate embryo,
but secondary acquires bilateral symmetry.
Curiously, when the tadpole sinks through the
water column and metamorphoses it partially
reverts back to triradial symmetry. This results in
an adult whose head and thorax are bilateral and
whose abdomen is triradiate. The three 'legs'
also function as arms, since these creatures
have almost neutral buoyancy and float over the
ocean bed. They use the 'chop-stick' like
pincer-like manipulators to pull themselves along
the ocean floor, half-crawling and half-hovering.
Left: the triradiate embryo.