Ticks in Space (Santicore 2015 entry)

(Since I haven't seen any signs of life from the Santicore hellves yet, I thought I might as well dump my entry here on the blog)

The request I got for Santicore 2015 was:
"O Secret Santicore, what random horrors could unfortunate adventurers encounter in the darkness of space?"

And I thought, ticks of course! If you want to make your own custom tick mini for your game, just take a potato and stick some toothpicks in it (or just leave them out in the sun a a couple of days, and it'll grow its own appendices).

1. Celestial Tick
A celestial tick ranges in size from a small space shuttle, to that of a moon - or larger. Soft celestial ticks are attracted to magnetic fields and will harvest electricity, while hard celestial ticks are drawn to heat and will attach to anything from warp cores to smaller planets.

It’s possible to remove a celestial tick by force, at risk at infecting the host. Rumour has it that tick pirates comes from a planet infected by a vicious tick bite.

2. Tick Ambergris
When a larger celestial tick consumes something it can’t digest or doesn't want, its gastrointestinals will cover it in a thick secretion so that it can pass without harming the tick. As the ambergris leaves the tick’s body and enters space, it will harden and travel indefinitely, sometimes even protecting the unwanted thing in a forced cryosleep.

Things known to have been found in tick ambergris:
  1. Lava and pieces of a volcano
  2. Small space shuttle containing a crew (living but cryosleeping)
  3. A mountain top
  4. A smaller celestial tick (see Tick Miners below)

3. Tick Pirates
There’s a remote relative to humans in outer space that’s been successful in utilizing celestial ticks as transporation vessels, from the smaller ones as two-man shuttles, to the rumoured interstellar tick that drifts through the multiverse and houses several thousands of pirates.

On the larger ticks the pirates tend to burrow a bit into the body, to shield against the worst radiation of space.

Things possibly found on a tick pirate:
  1. Spear with tip smeared in a mixture consisting of celestial tick nymphs and random droppings
  2. Semi-living sextant
  3. Boots made of the shell of a hard tick
  4. A metallic plaque depicting the Arecibo message

4. Tick Miners
It is rumoured that tick miners are a cybernetic race aiming to regulate the efficiency of celestial ticks. Why they would do that is unknown - maybe they suffered from a planetary tick themselves, who spewed out diseases into their perfect feedback society?

Tick miners - being more robotic than organic, yet lacking a fully-fledged AI found in other parts of the multiverse - perform experiments on celestial ticks of all sizes, without hurting or killing them. At least not intentionally.

Some known augmentations/”corrections” made by tick miners:
  1. Drove a planet-sized tick into a sun by increasing its heat fixation through medication
  2. Constructed a life supporting exoskeleton for a tick about to die. While the tick didn’t die, the exoskeleton became sentient and soon took over, changing its role as a supporting unit to that of master controller.
  3. Constructed a lattice of equally sized, smaller ticks to see if they could fill the gap after the death of one enormous celestial tick (and see if they as a “hive” had a better chance of surviving)
  4. Bred a race of smaller ticks that could cover itself in its own ambergris during stressful conditions