At first we thought those were their bodies, with hard sleek exoskeletons of various sizes. The shapes were roughly the same, although variations were plentiful. The larger ones, which we assumed to be adults, were two to three times the length of the smaller ones, with much greater volume. As we began to gather more information, however, we realized the ratios were not quite right, and there were too few intermediate forms for this to be a juvenile/adult distinction. And yet, there were intermediate forms, so we were forced to rule out a larval stage. Quite puzzling.
A few days into our study, one of us noticed one that seemed to have split in half; furthermore its exoskeleton was entirely missing. Was this a beginning stage in reproduction? We were very exited about the prospect of seeing such an event so early in the project, not to mention the opportunity to study the infra-skeletal structure. I was fortunate to be assigned to head up the investigation of this new phenomenon. while the rest of the team continued as before. On the first day of intensive investigations there was a most interesting occurrence; one of the half-entities came further apart.
Needless to say, I was beside myself. Nothing like this had ever happened in the history of these explorations. Furthermore, it appeared that the quarter-entities that resulted had quite differing characteristics: one retained its rigid form, but the other was revealed to be soft and worm-like under enhanced magnification. Further, as magnification was increased, more and more of the worm entities became apparent, and were even seen associated with the larger, singular exoskeletons.
As you can imagine. the next few weeks were a turmoil of activity, as discovery followed discovery. Complete data are coming under separate cover, but here is a summary of the astonishing conclusions to which we came.
1. The “exoskeletons” are not skeletal at all, but are shells. We came to this conclusion because they appear not to move unless associated with a worm entity.
2. It is the worm-like forms that are the real entities, displaying volition and spontaneous motion, although very little outside their shells.
3. The shells are nevertheless useless as protection, as they crumple easily, and exude a reddish liquid that appears deadly for the worms.
We hope to generate a more thorough report within a year upon returning home, which should be soon. We will be leaving Earth orbit as soon as practical.
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