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ID: 6858


August 6, 2012, 2:52 pm

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The Qualm


The Qualm is a giant mass of tentacles and leaves with hundreds of mouth-like pods lined with teeth. It is about 1/8 of the size of Earth's moon, and it travels through space looking for nutrient rich planets that it can suck dry.


The Qualm is a massive, spherical, leafy green plant with hundreds of vine-like tentacles freely flailing in space. It's giant leaves look like rhubarb leaves complete with red stems. The tentacles are fully articulate manipulators sparsely covered with smaller leaves. Each tentacle appears to be about equal to the diameter of the Qualm's center mass in length, but they can extend up to three times their length. Between the large leaves there are hundreds of pods that each look like a budding pink lotus. Each pod can open into a flower-like mouth with teeth lining each petal and flailing barbed filaments. These petals and filaments work in concert to grab and trap prey or small asteroids while a sucking pistil drains nutrients from them. A few of these pods are larger and glow hot pink with radiation. These larger pods are used for travel and for a devastating radiation blast. 


Underneath the deadly canopy lies a tropical jungle. Massive red stalks anchor the thick canopy to an asteroid where millions of tiny leafy plants, vines, and root systems cover the asteroid's surface. The heavy canopy and flora provides an internal atmosphere of breathable air with almost zero gravity. Heavy condensation and intense internal heat create a perpetual fog and small droplets that cling to every surface. This atmosphere is heated by the Qualm's "heart" and is a little too warm for comfort.


Many years ago, Earth scientists had an overabundance of nuclear waste and irradiated organic trash. In the interest of safety, the scientists loaded the waste onto a rocket and fired it off into space. The rocket crashed into an asteroid that contained a frozen water supply, and the heat from the nuclear waste melted the ice into water which was then absorbed into the organic waste. A mutated seedling sprouted on the asteroid and quickly grew to completely surround the asteroid. The plant grew tentacles that it used to reach out and grab nearby ice covered asteroids that it could drain for more nutrients.


Once the Qualm grew large enough, it began moving through space looking for more nutrient rich asteroids and moons. The Qualm is driven by resources. It will travel to the nearest water and mineral supply and use it's massive tentacles like straws to suck water from a planet from orbit. It wasn't long before it started heading towards Earth. Once the Qualm gains enough resources, it will launch spores to reproduce.


If threatened, the Qualm's first line of defense is to use its huge tentacles to constrict and immobilize larger attackers. The Qualm will use its pods to attack and try to eat anything smaller that tries to get through the thick canopy. If any attackers make it to the inner atmosphere, there are three separate defensive plants that will attack intruders:

  1. Barb launchers: Many of the leafy plants can launch foot-long barbs at intruders. These barb launchers are bright red, and they aim so slowly that they can be easily avoided as long as the intruders keep moving.
  2. Carnivorous pods: Several human-sized, pod-like plants lay on the surface of the asteroid with four large toothy leaves laying open facing upward. If an intruder steps on these pods, they will close around the intruder, trapping and ultimately digesting him. Because the pod wraps so tightly and thoroughly constricts the intruder, the intruder will need an ally to cut him free. These pods are difficult to spot because they match the surround foliage, but they can easily be identified once an intruder learns to look for the inch-long teeth pointing upward.
  3. Saprolings: As intruders near the Heart of the Qualm, thousands of smaller plants uproot themselves and chase the intruders. The saprolings vary in sizes from a household cat to a horse. The smaller saprolings have long slender tentacles to ensnare intrudors, and they can run across the ground. The larger saprolings move more slowly, but they carry massive toothy maws that can crush intruders.

The Qualm's most powerful defenses lie in its excessive radiation production. The Qualm constantly generates massive amounts of radiation from its heart. This radiation is amplified by the radiation received from direct sunlight. The Qualm is able to channel massive amounts of radiation into any number of the large, glowing pods in its canopy. These pods can focus the radiation into a laser-like blast of searing, hot-pink radiation. These radiation blasts are quick and deadly, and several pods can create a devastating barrage of radioactive blasts in every direction. However, these small bursts are often not powerful enough to stop a large monster. For this occasion, the Qualm can rearrange these large pods across the surface of the canopy and bring them all together on one side. Like dozens of fire hoses tied together, the Qualm can dump tremendous amounts of radiation into these pods. The pods flare up as the intensity builds, and then all the pods fire in unison creating a single mega blast of radiation equivalent to a nuclear explosion.


The Qualm is drawn to resource rich asteroids, moons, and planets like a flower to sunlight. To propel itself, the Qualm channels smaller amounts of radiation into the larger pods that are able to refine and release the energy like a rocket's engine. The active pods glow much more brightly as they provide propulsion. Typically, the Qualm moves slowly as it attempts to hone in on any nearby resources, but that changes once it detects a resource-rich target. The Qualm accelerates by funneling more radiation to the pods and adding more pods to the engines. The pods rapidly flare and leave a streak of fire like a comet's tail as the Qualm plunges towards its target with outstretched tentacles. Smaller asteroids and moons are "tackled" out of orbit while larger planets are pierced by the weight and force of the Qualm's tentacles. Puncturing planets this way makes it much easier for the Qualm to insert its weaker, straw-like tentacles into the crust of the plant to begin extracting precious minerals, heat, and water.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Radiation damage causes a rapid growth spurt that can repair damaged appendages and grow additional defenses.

Fire and heat cause very little damage, and nothing about the Qualm is flammable.

Cold slows the Qualm severely. Because the lengthy tentacles are so far from the warmth of the heart, they rely on the heat and radiation of direct sunlight to move quickly. If the qualm should ever move out of direct sunlight, it's outer tentacles stiffen and cannot move or react quickly. The Qualm's canopy visibly shrinks when out of direct sunlight to better preserve its inner heat. Lastly, the Qualm's radioactive bursts take longer to charge without assistance from direct sunlight. This weakness can be overcome if there is another nearby source of radiation and/or heat.

The Qualm has two types of tentacles. One is stronger and used for grabbing and defense, the other is weaker and used solely for sucking water and minerals from a planet's surface or from giant attackers. The weaker tentacles are hollow and can easily be severed or broken off.

Electricity stuns the Qualm for as long as it is applied. Everything inside the inner atmosphere is also electrocuted whenever the Qualm is, though it is much milder. Only the saprolings are unaffected by electricity unless it is directly applied to them.


Whenever the Qualm feeds on enough nutrients, it launches spores in every direction. These spores are tiny pods much like watermelons that rocket through space hoping to land on a suitable asteroid or moon to grow. These spores remain inactive until they come into contact with water. Each spore contains a tiny radioactive heart that generates enough heat to melt any ice it comes into contact with.

The Heart

At the center of the Qualm's asteroid lies the wreckage of the human rocket that put it there. A giant crater houses the wreckage, and massive roots grow out of the rocket forming a cave-like housing around the base of the rocket. At the center of the cave is a chamber that houses a giant radioactive heart suspended above the ground by roots. The heart and connecting roots are semi-transparent and they glow red. Minerals can be seen flowing through the roots like glass plumbing. Beneath the heart lay hundreds of spent nuclear fuel rods, all of which are connected to the heart through small red roots. The Heart chamber is very hot and very volatile. Any puncture in the heart or roots sprays super-heated radioactive fluids that burn like acid, and the severed roots grow back in a matter of seconds making any direct attacks both dangerous and useless. However, any small explosive could easily cause the volatile fuel rods to melt down in a chain reaction that would destroy the heart utterly along with most of the asteroid. Once the heart is destroyed, the Qualm will begin freezing into solid ice as it looses it's heat to the infinite vacuum of space. In this state, the Qualm will float lifelessly through space until it is eventually smashed into pieces by asteroids or burned up by a star.

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Comments ( 23 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
July 10, 2012, 0:18
A vampire planet, one of the most orginal submissions that I have ever come across.
July 10, 2012, 5:26
An interesting planet. Yet I miss some details: How does it propel itself thru space? And how fast? If it is so dependent on sunlight as stated, it would need to stay in a more or less constant orbit around a star. How do the nutrient uptake and light needs relate...

July 10, 2012, 11:34
When I watch a Godzilla movie with space monsters, they always manage to float effortlessly in whichever direction they want to. That is pretty much what I had in mind. I like leaving it to fantasy, but in the spirit of catering to all styles of play, I propose this:

The Qualm has a radioactive heart that constantly generates heat. The Qualm need only "leak" some of its heat or atmosphere in the opposite direction to propel it forward. As far as sunlight, this is actually for an increase in radiation and heat. When taken out of sunlight, it has to work twice as hard to heat itself.
July 11, 2012, 4:24
If you'd presented the Qulam's origin somewhat more mystical or even magical I wouldn't have asked. But you've given some (pseudo)scientific explanations, the temperature of the heart for example, that I got curious.

July 11, 2012, 11:34
Good point.
Voted Chaosmark
July 10, 2012, 13:20
I like how this sub captures the feel of the Godzilla origins; the results of humanity being negligent, which comes back to haunt us. I can just imagine this creature floating around the solar system, terrorizing space settlements and absorbing asteroids, until eventually it comes and attacks Terra itself.

Very nicely done.
Voted Scrasamax
July 11, 2012, 5:43
Very nice, I echo what Chaosmark said in regards to the qualm's origin. It's size makes me think that it isn;t a kaiju, but then I imagined Godzilla and friends finding some way to be teleported or otherwise whisked away to the surface of the qualm to fight their way to it's radioactive heart, destroying megamonster sized plantoids along the way
July 11, 2012, 11:36
This is exactly what I was thinking. Godzilla and friends could fight their way through the massive canopy to the surface and then to the heart. Alternatively, Godzilla and friends could be endangered by the Qualm and humans must travel to the Qualm's surface, brave the perils, and detonate the heart to save Godzilla.
July 11, 2012, 17:31
Nicely formatted, with plenty of weirdness. I agree with olontur that the propulsion system is a bit off -- even leaking a little atmosphere out one side would not propel it to a very high speed. So unless it is in a very populated area of space (perhaps an asteroid belt?) I would expect it to starve long before it encountered another source of nutrients. You could perhaps counteract this by giving it a "hibernation" mode. Overall though, this gets a 3.5 for originality alone, plus another .5 for the excellent formatting.
July 11, 2012, 17:45
I am beginning to regret introducing physics. Technically, with no resistance it could eventually reach near the speed of light by only releasing one atom at a time. That said, I had no intention of making a monster that made intense logical sense. This is a monster for Godzilla to fight, and in line with common kaiju rational, it really doesn't need much explanation other than a space plant grown out of nuclear waste. Psionic might make more sense as you said below.

I rather like to think of the Qualm as having no apparent means of locomotion. It's just a massive ball of plant life that speeds through space in whatever direction has the closest resources.

With your comments and olontur's, I'm considering revising this Qualm into a less scientific being.
July 11, 2012, 19:29
Meh. I don't think it needs to be made "less scientific." Just a one-liner to handwave the gotchas that olontur found. You could even do this with classic Star Trek techno-babble, if you like. If I were going to use this, I'd just handwave with the psionics or make it into a age-old threat. Something that has slept for hundreds of years while drifting closer and closer to Earth.
July 11, 2012, 17:33
On second thought, you could just make it psionic. That would fix the propulsion problem with some quasi-believable hand-waving.
Voted MysticMoon
July 14, 2012, 15:01
I love these kinds of creations. I think you really captured the feel of the genre.
Voted Kassy
July 27, 2012, 7:16
There really isn't much that I can add to the comments on this sub.

It was an enjoyable read. Thank you Omega.

Voted Moonlake
August 1, 2012, 21:12
The basic idea is quite novel- in fact, I like how the qualm is stretching the definition of a kaiju beyond what we normally think, and I like the way content has been grouped in concise broad sections.
August 6, 2012, 14:50
Update: Added a big feature to the Qualm that now allows it to fire blasts of radiation or slowly release radiation like a rocket through large glowing pods. Added a Travel section. Removed specific temperatures to contribute to the fantasy feel rather than science. Added a little to the Appearance. Added quite a bit of clarification to the Qualm's cold weakness.
August 13, 2012, 17:48

Nice update. I'm bumping up my vote to reflect the new info, and providing you with a complimentary movie trailer:

A giant, mutated plant monster from space is out for lunch, and Earth is on the menu. With the planetary defenses crippled by a devastating attack from the fearsome Moon Hunter, mankind can only watch in terror as the super-plant draws close. Only one force is capable of stopping it now -- but will the intense radiation at the Qualm's heart shield it from the Moon Hunter's wrath? Or will Earth's former attacker turn saviour? Find out this summer in The Qualm Before the Storm (rated PG-13).

"Feed me, Seymour!"

Voted Dossta
August 13, 2012, 17:50
Oh, and have an HoH.
Voted olontur
August 14, 2012, 8:38
Thanks OmegaDraco! The Qualm is much more plausible now, and I especially enjoy the visuals of a handful of über-monsters fighting their way into the core.
Voted Murometz
September 20, 2012, 12:51
I'd comment, but would just repeat what everyone else has already said... :)

Good one!
Voted axlerowes
October 8, 2012, 21:44
Physic shysics, I think this is great, this tells the story Qualm's origin and outlines how future stories involving Qualm will take shape. I could really see a justice league like unit of super heros taking this on as well. I think CM and the others highlight most what was great about this, but I also like the name. How did it get the name?
October 9, 2012, 9:30
Thanks! I was actually thinking something along the lines of Godzilla and friends fighting the canopy while the Earth Defense Force was fighting to the core.

I wanted a name that was simple and foreboding. At first, I thought of a Pip & Flinx evil entity called the Vom, and I just kinda went through a bunch on monosyllabic names till the Qualm came and stuck.
Voted valadaar
July 8, 2013, 13:30
A great monster for your B-grade movie RPG. You could even omit Godzilla and do an Armageddon/Aliens mashup - the Qualm's jungles being home to xenomorph analogs.

You might even be able to use this in a warhammer 40k like environment as well.



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