Colossal alien artefact
Devourer of Worlds
Captain's log: galactic date 1045 01-01: scopes detect anomalous energy emissions from a star
system 12 light-years distant. Starstrider closes in to investigate.

Galactic date 1045: 01-13: arriving at the star system (binary star system (BSS) 7632-G2M4) we
discover that the energy anomaly has subsided and at its location is nothing but a large debris and
dust field comprised of cooling plasma rich in iron and silicon. The total debris mass is approximately
10^17 tonnes. Whilst analysing the debris we detect an energy signature coming from the region of
the systems fifth planet. Scopes reveal a marvellous construction - an artefact some 22 000 km in
Spectrometers indicate that this planet is frozen world with a mean surface temperature of  minus
232K and a dense hydrocarbon atmosphere. Attempts to communicate with the artefact fail, as there
is no response. The Starstrider moves in to investigate; ETA 11.46 hours. The artefact is expected to
collide with the planet in 10.13 hours, unfortunately we cannot arrive any sooner due to the time
required for course calculations and the charging of the hyperdrive psion generators - such small
trips require careful calculations when using hyperdrive (and our ion engines would get us there in
about two years time!). Yellow alert!
Destroyer of worlds
Arriving at the fifth planet with little more than one hour
before the alien artefact collides with it we again attempt to
ponder how a construction this size came to be adrift when
my question is suddenly answered. The artefact springs
into life, it's 6 antenna-like appendages begin to move and
a sudden burst in energy causes the vessel to decelerate
as it begins to manoeuvre - it is a space ship! It is beyond
belief that a vessel could be constructed of such colossal
size and still be able to manoeuvre. We observe from a
distance of 15 000 km, daring not to approach any closer
in case the alien vessel is hostile and armed.

It matches its velocity to the fifth planet's and proceeds top
'dock', approaching to within 100 km of the upper
atmosphere. The fifth planet looks dwarfed, at a mere 10
000 km (approx) in diameter. Detecting a massive power
surge we watch in amazement as the alien craft begins to
vapourise the fifth planet!
Orange alert! Scanners detect a fleet of 48 small objects approaching. A group of 5 of these objects
have broken away from the main group and are heading toward Starstrider. The main group will pass
us by at about 100 000 km. Attempts to communicate with these new arrivals results in a simple
response - the binary code 1001001 repeating itself over and over. These 'objects' are small alien
craft, each about 35 metres in length. They are closing fast, at over 100 km per second and will come
within range of our main defense batteries within 65 minutes if they hold their current course. We
have no time to evade them, but we can accelerate to match their speed by the time they arrive. Red
143 000 km, outside range. We are taking evasive manoeuvres, but the group match our course
changes, we can neither out-pace nor out-manoeuvre them. The colossus continues to destroy the
fifth planet and further more appears to be 'feeding' upon it as it is absorbing the plasma generated
from the melting planet. All weapons primed and locked.

02-05.61: We have held our fire and have received none in return, range 20 000 km and closing.

02-05.68: The flotilla of small vessels continue their apparent collision course, range 8 000 km and
closing. They have ignored warning shots. Emergency! One of the vessels has fired a directed beam
energy weapon at Starstrider, but the shot narrowly missed. Starstrider is rolling on her axis, all
weapons to commence firing when target acquired. Starboard defense batteries firing. One target
destroyed! Damage report: laser strike to starboard bow, hull integrity down 7%, sensors damaged. A
second alien craft has commenced firing, but not at us, it is firing at the planet destroyer, at a range of
88 000 km. Proton battery firing, second target damaged. Damage report: laser blast to main engines,
manoeuvrability down 38%. Ion screen activated.

02-05.88: The remaining four alien craft have accelerated past us and changed their course to
rendezvous with the planet destroyer. Damaged, the Starstrider, shielded by its ion screen, is cruising
rapidly away from the battle. From an increasingly safe distance we watch as the small craft, which we
believe to be robots, swarm around the alien colossal planet eater, striking it repeatedly with massive
laser fire. The colossus strikes back with bursts of plasma that are destroying the robots with rapid
efficiency. Either combatant is more than a match for a deep-space research vessel like Starstrider
and we dare not got involved any further. It would appear as if the robots that attacked us had
mistaken us for an enemy and left us alone as soon as they realised their error.

02-06.15: The battle continues, 18 robots remain, still engaged with the alien colossal which has
sustained enough damage to destroy Starstrider twenty-times over, but still appears certain to win.

02-06.18: Emergency! Scanners have detected a second swarm of 50 robots. They are headed to a
second target we had not detected before, a low energy emitting target at a range of 226 000 km.
Whilst accelerating away from the battle, on an evasive
course, the Starstrider's energy sensors detect an anomaly.
Curious, we risk taking a closer look, bypassing the
anomoly en route out of this star system. What we found is
indeed remarkable! ...