Mike Burr - log

On planet Blor Bloch

there is a flying organism. We will compare it to Earth's bumble bee.

In Blor Bloch's atmosphere, it is necessary to fly at terrifying speeds if one is to fly at all. It will take Blor Bloch's analog of chimpanzees several hundred thousand years to achieve even a modest form of heavier-than-atmosphere flight.

Anyway, this flying thing, called a cha'ip, has as part of its diet a kind of clay that is rich in lead (Pb). In the same way that elephants here on Earth eat some clays for dietary reasons, cha'ip consume this lead-laden clay as a requirement of their evolutionary destiny.

They fly fast, out of necessity. Their bodies contain a substantial portion of lead.

They are bullets, effectively.

And just as the Earth bumble bee will sacrifice its life in defense of the hive, so too will the cha'ip think nothing, when the hive is threatened, of immediately flying away from the scene. "We're fine", an Earthling might say, when seeing with relief the whole swam of terrifying space bees fly away. "Thank goodness", they might say.

But cha'ip have a trick. Flying itself is a real trick on Blor Bloch, especially when starting from a standstill. "Hovering", is nearly impossible. Hovering and transitioning to forward flight takes enormous amounts of energy. Transitioning from forward flight to maximum speed takes even more energy.

But if you are a little cha'ip whose hive is at risk, you are not concerned with your energy reserves. Soon, you'll have no need for any more energy. You fly away. You take a few minutes to turn around (which annoyingly means broad, mile-wide, sweeping turns), and you head back, now at full speed, lead-laden.

Having made this huge turn, and you, as a sluggish surface-bound creature, having only made a few more yards directly away from the hive, the cha'ip will be coming from your right flank -- specifically the right flank for all kinds of complicated mechanical reasons, for chi'ap can only make left turns.

And as one, these defense specialists, are now heading in your direction, quite literally faster than a speeding bullet, lead-laden, and of course you are the target of their mission. You are about to be full of holes.

You don't run away. You just lightly jog in the direction opposite of the way you saw them fly off. What a relief!

These are not Earth bees. You don't even know they are headed back your way. If they could shout a warning, you wouldn't hear it, as they are traveling faster than any pressure wave can in this atmosphere. Inevitably, you are soon full of holes and laying not far from the hive, leaking.

If you are soft enough and cha'ip manage to not hit anything too gristly, some of them are likely to survive. This is a better survival ratio than that of the stinging Earth bee, another terrific advantage.

It turns out there are no living organisms on cha'ip that can survive this kind of swarmed defense, not even the giant stone bear.

- 1 toast