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Solar Wisp

Life exists in myriad forms across the universe, dwelling everywhere from the vast depths of space to the heart of a star—and the places in between. Solar wisps are blobs of ejecta from a sun’s corona that have taken on a modicum of sentience. Solar wisps are amorphous orbs of burning plasma with almost animal-level intelligence, the similarities end there. These creatures have a long and unique life cycle that begins in a star and can end in calamity.

When a solar wisp is “born,” it measures about 20 feet in diameter, but the material of its being is loosely held together by minor gravitational forces. At this point, a solar wisp isn’t much more than a red-hot cloud of colloidal matter. Driven by instinct, the solar wisp attaches itself to a nearby fast-moving celestial body (usually a comet), which eventually takes it close to a planet or moon containing the minerals on which the solar wisp feeds. As it burns its way across such a landscape, the solar wisp gains more mass but shrinks in size. Responding to unknown stimuli, the solar wisp launches itself back into space to latch onto another comet or meteor to repeat the process.

As a solar wisp feeds and ages, it increases in density but decreases in diameter. Despite its reduction in size to a mere few feet in diameter, a mature solar wisp burns with far greater intensity and is much more dangerous than a juvenile. A solar wisp of any age and size can pose a threat, however, as it is unwavering in its pursuit of food, consuming the minerals it seeks out in its internal furnace.

This can be a destructive process that puts it in conflict with other species—especially if those species also rely on the same minerals for economic stability. Most creatures that attempt to stop a mature solar wisp underestimate its abilities thanks to its small size. Its effects on local gravity and its intense heat mean that most who confront a solar wisp are lucky if they get away with only severe burns.

Though it has a life span measured in centuries—and sometimes multiple thousands of years—a solar wisp does eventually die. An elderly solar wisp is a tiny ball that burns like a nuclear explosion, and when it expires, it implodes into a gravitational singularity that affects a half-mile radius. Though this miniature black hole lasts for less than an hour, it poses a great danger to those caught in its pull. A recent report from Near Space tells of an entire nascent colony wiped out by a dying solar wisp that, until then, had served as a kind of mascot and beacon for the unfortunate settlers.