Monday, May 27, 2013

147: Blackbodies

ENTRY 147: Blackbodies

Transhumanity is not alone in the universe, but it need not bother the Factors or gate to an exoplanet for proof. They were first revealed by Eva Motowski, an ice prospector/scientist mapping the slow tidal movements of Saturn’s rings, caused by some of the shepherd moons that prevent the rings from dispersing. Overlapping measurements from different angles revealed the presence of a small, angular superblack object which Motowski speculated might be carbon agglutination. A probe sent into the region found no trace of it, but reports of similar artifacts came in from Jol Kebana, an amateur astronomer on Titan. The ice prospector and astronomer collaborated, seeking out other telescopes and sensors pointed in the right direction at the right time, and over the course of several weeks traced out a probable trajectory for the object. Presenting their data, they convinced the operators of three radio telescopes to direct their equipment toward a specific region of trans-Saturnian space for a period of 72 hours.

This time, there were four of them.

That was the last time the blackbodies were seen around Saturn, although a handful of possible sightings have been made around Neptune. Consensus in the scientific community about the nature of the blackbodies is fairly solid: small superblack craft whose hulls absorb the majority of electromagnetic radiation, or at least the kinds of light and radio waves that transhumanity typically uses in its long-range sensors. In theory this is near-perfect camouflage so long as the vessel is not viewed only against black space in a vacuum. The effect is not perfect however, so that different angles absorb and emit slightly more or less energy; a single telescope might get lucky, two or more pointed at the same spot from different angles are much more likely to pick up the craft.

Questions remain, however. If the surmise on the technology is correct, the vessels should build up a vast amount of waste heat—all the energy it absorbs and does not emit. Aside from the heat problem, the technology involved is within current transhuman capabilities. Given that, it is reasonable to assume the blackbodies’ originate from one of the existing factions, the Factors, or the TITANs, though certain parties still prefer the idea of a new, unknown extraterrestrial race that is spying on transhumanity prior to making contact. The Factors for their part have not answered any questions about the craft, and none of the major factions have demonstrated craft with similar capabilities so far.


  • Jol Kebana has a divergent theory about the blackbodies: they think that blackbodies actually are a carbon-based lifeform native to Saturnian orbit, and that the angular shape represents the “tacking” of its natural light sails. Using some arcane calculations (and half-assed guesses), Jol believes that the blackbodies will return in the wake of Saturn’s moon Pan—and wants the PCs stationed at different points with cameras to capture a good close-up look at it. Floating alone in space to capture a maybe-living superblack object…nothing could go wrong with that, except perhaps a pirate ship inspired by the blackbody sightings to mimic their appearance.

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