A Short Examination of the Recurrent Appearances
of the Gamma Quadrant's Founders on Earth
(with some observations on similar terrestrial life forms that sheds light upon a most tragic figure)
Dennis E. Power
I like the explanation provided by fellow Wold Newtonian researcher Matthew Baugh's study of the origins of Plastic Man and Elongated Man in his Super Powers in the WNU-Explained article but he forgot to mention other Founder seedlings that may have visited the Earth. This small article attempts to examine a couple other cases.
For another view of how shapeshifters fit into the Wold Newton Universe, visit Al Schroder's Hall of Worlds II article.
We are never told in the Star Trek series exactly how or what the Founders eat. It is possible that after they achieve the ability to change form they eat whatever and however best suits the form they take. Yet how and what do the embryonic Founders eat? Matthew Baugh's pointing out that the creature from another world in Who Goes There was probably a Founder also provides a clue as to their dining habits and points to other Founders who have found their way to Earth, either by accident or design.
The embryonic Founders undoubtedly ingest protein as they appear to be a purely biological lifeform. Since shape changing probably burns a lot of calories, until the shape shifter learns how to form a very effecient digestive system, protein is probably needed in large amounts. Evidence as cited in "Who Goes There" would seem to indicate that the embryonic Founder ingests and absorbs raw protein in the form of animal protein. Being an infant in its mental, psychological and emotional development, the baby Founder reacts mostly instinctively, probably not knowing or caring that it was killing and destroying living and sentient creatures to satisfy its appetite. The Founder also appeared to have the ability to absorb and gain memories (,which are after all chemical in nature) as well as absorb the genetic structure of what it has absorbed. It is then able to mimic or indeed become an exact duplicate of the being.
Apparently with further training Founders acquire the ability to duplicate a being merely by observation rather than absorption. Although I believe that they probably need at least one cell or molecular sample from the being they wish to duplicate for analysis. They could acquire this sample through touch or even through cellular samplings taken from the air surrounding the being to be duplicated.
As stated before the infant or embryonic Founders who land on the various planets are without training and as such they are uncertain as how to use their abilities. This was probably deliberate, since part of the experiment was to see how infant Founders would react to differing environments. Founders like other sentient species react individually to stimulus and thus each individual will react uniquely. Their reactions will either allow them to survive or be destroyed. If they survive, it is possible that they will also learn new and unique methods in which to use their innate abilities. This knowledge will then be absorbed into the Great Link so that it can be used to advance the species.
However being untrained and reacting instinctively, the infant Founders can react in a manner which seems violent and destructive to those species honored to host a infant Founder. This coupled with their infantile method of ingestion are possibly why the Founders were a hated and hunted species throughout the Gamma Quadrant.
The Founder infant who crash landed in Earth's Antarctic some few hundred years ago, ( I believe that the 20,000, 0000 years ago date is a bit of hyperbole) was being taken by an alien scientist for study. Loosened upon the ship, it had unwittingly caused a crash. Either the freezing cold temperatures caused it to go into hibernation or because the immature cellular structure of the infant Founder were actually susceptible to being frozen solid, although apparently without damage. (I am thinking that it might be the latter since this method was used on the later Founder that arrived in 1956)
A crew of scientists freed the alien creature from the ice circa 1925. It instinctually began to nourish itself by absorbing animals and members of the Antarctic expedition. Whether it was because of its absorption of intelligent beings or some other unknown factors, the infant founder began to exhibit more of its innate abilities. It was able to transform itself into exact duplicates of what it had absorbed and it was also rid itself of extra mass by splitting itself into many pieces physically unattached yet controlled by a central intelligence.
It is quite likely that the infant Founder did not have full command or discipline of its abilities, although the telepathic ability attributed it, is probably fictionalized for the purpose of adding more of a sense of menace to the tale. Although the spaceship crew may have been telepathic. Its creation of several different duplicates in a variety of forms was quite an experimentation of its new found powers. Its stated purpose of taking over the world may have been factual but whether it originated from its own consciousness or was rather the result of the infant Founder's inability to fully assimilate the various consciousnesses it had absorbed is a point for further study.
The Founder depicted in Who Goes There was destroyed by MacReady using a modified blowtorch of his own design. Since MacReady was in reality the man who would be known as Doc Savage, it is possible that this blowtorch was a modified energy weapon of some sort. Founders can be killed by energy weapons which disrupt the atomic structures of the individual cells causing them to loose cohesion. Sustained heat, a constant high voltage of electricity and various other methods which disrupt the base cellular structure also are seemingly effective. The Founder and its offshoots were doubtless incinerated yet MacReady (Savage) undoubtedly took a few cell samples for his own studies.
most of the cell samples in his Fortress of Solitude yet he apparently
some to his
Yet further research demonstrates that the Founder who wreaked havoc in 1925 was not the only one to fall on the earth, nor was it the first.
Founder presence on Earth, the first that I have so far detected in my
researches anyway took place in early
A.D. the Mayans abandoned the city of
their lab in
The scientist, Max, who had his hand grabbed by Caltiki hides the fact that his flesh is slowly being eaten away. Apparently still viable cells of Caltiki had remained on his hand after the main body had been destroyed. Max was slowly being absorbed by the weakened Founder. It took over his consciousness at some point, directing him to join the larger mass of the regenerated body. The film has Max's flesh rotting from the exposure to the creature's innate radioactivity and being driven by insane the fact of his corruption. He decides to kill John and his family but is instead absorbed by the large mass of Caltiki. In reality he was called to join the mass.
Caltiki was destroyed by constant direct flame from flamethrowers which did not allow the Founder to regenerate.
This particular Founder like one we will see in a moment, never achieved an ability to mimic lifeforms, nor did it acquire the necessary knowledge of how to control its mass. It did however begin to have a rudimentary understanding of its other powers of absorption and budding into new forms, controlled by one intelligence.
Another Founder that menaced the world also first originated in the fifties. In Rural America, circa 1957, it arrived outside a small town. An old hermit believes that its shell is a meteorite and prods the mass with a stick. Stimulated it slithers up the stick. Upon reaching the hermit's arm it realizes that this is nutrient and begins to feed. A pair of teenagers following the falling star discover the hermit with a strange mass on the hermits arm. They take him to the hospital. Once there the Founder has learned how to eat more rapidly. It absorbs the hermit, a doctor and a nurse. It had already been bombarded with acid and shot at point blank by a shotgun. Frightened and still hungry it scurries through the town absorbing as much nutrient as it can. It is constantly attacked as it feeds and so never learns how to control its mass nor how to assimilate the material it has taken into his body. It grows larger and larger. It is finally stopped by being frozen solid by dozens of CO2 fire extinguishers. The cold keeps it in a cellular stasis. The mass of the creature shipped off to the Arctic in a refrigerated plane and dropped off near the North pole.
The story of this particular Founder does not end there. An engineer working on the Alaskan pipeline in the early 1970's takes a sample of the strange frozen glop to his home in California. The Founder thaws and once again begins absorbing life forms. As before as soon as it begins to feed, it is attacked on by all sides and so can never really learn its innate abilities but must use all its efforts for survival. It is herded into a ice skating rink and frozen once again. We do not know what happened to this particular mass but we can guess, considering that this particular Founder made another appearance in the mid-eighties in which it once again terrorizes a small community. The "Blob", as it is called, is cited as the result of a government on germ warfare. More likely it escaped from a container where it was being studied by Scientists working on methods of germ Warfare. It is frozen this time by a snow making machine. As before the ultimate fate of this particular Founder is not currently known.
The last candidate for Earth's contact with the Founders took place circa 1953 or 54. Maverick scientist Bernard Quartermass, possibly using some of the technology left behind by Zarkoff, built his own spaceship. His aim may have been to give the fading British Empire pre-eminence in space. His ship returned with the crew dead and the only survivor having been taken over by a parasitic creature. The survivor, Victor Caroon's consciousness has fought being taken over totally by the parasitic creature, eventually he loses however and is transformed into a gelatinous mass. Quatermass attempts to contact the three astronauts and tells them to think the creature to death. When this is a failure the creature is herded into a London subway and electrocuted.
This incident was portrayed as The Quatermass Experiment, although a false origin and backstory was created for the unknown creature. Its feeding and movements were also seen as attempts to take over the world by a populous steeped in and conditioned by Cold War paranoia. In reality there were no conversations with the creature and its wanderings through London were aimless, desperate attempts to flee harm and to find a place to hole up so it could assimilate and learn. The astronauts must have found a Founder seed chamber orbiting the earth and brought it into the ship with dire results.
The creature is destroyed by fire but some samples may have been kept for study.
Another blob type creature which may have been derived from remnants of this creature showed up a couple years later in Tokyo, Japan. Ostensibly the origin of this was that a fishing vessel discovers a boat which contains a blob-like mass. Japanese scientists theorized that the boat had passed through fallout from atomic tests, but this was this was their standard explanation for the inexplicable. What may have occurred was that a Japanese scientist was transporting the material to Japan for study, attempting to avoid any governmental scrutiny as to what he was bringing into the country. If so he paid the price for attempting to circumvent the law.
The blob absorbs the fishing vessel crew but has learned enough to maintain a humanoid shape, to drive the vessel and to realize that to survive it must be furtive. Hiding in the sewers of Tokyo, it feeds on some gangsters using the sewers from drug transactions. Despite this exercise in positive social control the police attack it and destroy it with flamethrowers.
Why did so many Founders find their way to Earth? Consider this, they conquered the Gamma Quandrant and wanted to do so to the Alpha Quandrant. They sent hundreds of seeds into the Alpha Quandrant via the wormhole. The wormhole was controlled by the unfathomable Prophets who may have directed several of the infant Founders to Earth to give Earth a warning about their presence in the Galaxy. Now a few scholars on the Founder's abilities will state that they never showed an ability to split into several forms or to absorb beings. But then you do not expect that they would reveal all their secrets. As usual Mankind was too dense to get the message.
The story of the Founders did not end with the return of Odo the Changling to the Founder's home world. They eventually joined the Federation, although, many Federation worlds refused to visit or trade with them. A group of Founders emigrated to the Alpha Quandrant where they adopted humanoid forms. Their adopted world was known as Durla. In the Thirtieth Century, a descendent of Odo joined the nascent Legion of Superheroes under the code name of Chameleon Boy.
In closing a word should be said about a couple other "Blob" type creatures that have been noted in various historical documents . They are worth noting for they may eventually provide some clues as to the origins of the Founders. The creatures we will examine now although similiar in nature to the Founders, but they appear to be terrestrial in origin, which may point to a case of parallel evolutionary development. Perhaps "solid" life forms won out over the fluid ones on Earth.
In X the Unknown, Scotland is threatened by a Blob type creature which feeds on radiation. The creature is believed to have formed millions of years ago and moved inside the crust, feeding off of the energy rising from the molten core. However, radiation in the form of various tests and technical applications attracts the creature back to the surface. The atomic testing probably caused a geological shift, cracking an opening that allowed the creatureto ooze to the surface and seek out this stronger source of radiation on which to feed. It kills through exuding heat and radiation. It is finally destroyed through a use of an anti-radiation ray.
While radioactivity of the creature and its appetite for radiation would normally be discounted, we may be able not only to trace its origins or at least point out a creature of a similar origin. In the mid-fifties, Rex Mason, a young adventurous Archaelogist, evidently a graduate of the Jones School of Archaeology, went on a trip to Egypt to discover the whereabouts of the Orb of Ra, a artifact of miraculous powers or so the legend went. Now just what exactly the Orb was has never been authoratatively established since access to the artifact has been denied to scientific study by the Egyptian Government since its subsequent recovery some years later. Speculations abound that it was a meteorite, perhaps the meteorite which radiation transformed organic mud into the creatures known as the X and the Soul of Ra. It may be that this Orb of Ra was merely some sort of gestation chamber for the X type protoplasmic creatures. The later theory has gained some credence in the past few years, since the Orb of Ra displayed no unusual properties and no extreme amounts of radioactivity after it had been returned to the Egyptian Government.
For more information on Rex Mason, please check out my companion article Change is Bad, the Tragic Life of Rex Mason.
In addition to the attack of X the Unknown on Scotland circa 1955, the same year but in a different location in the world another form of a terrestrial spawned protoplasmic being terrorized a small South American Jungle community. In the so called Cave of Death, an American scientist, Dr. Ramsey discovers a oozing material which he describes as a fungus although it does not use photosynthesis to reproduce. Rather it absorbs protein in the form of animal. Dr. Ramsey feeds some South American natives to the ooze, rationalizing that they were going to be sacrificed anyway. The ooze covers their arms and face and makes them its slave. It also slowly absorbs their tissues. Although The Unknown Terror film has the creature unable to leave the cavern due to an inability to withstand fresh air, there must have been some other reason because shortly after Ramsey arrives it builds up an immunity to fresh air and is ready to leave the Cave of Death and conquer the world. The natives while worshipping the Creature as a God or a form of a God, also had enough common sense not to allow it out unrestrained. Since the creature feared fire, for like many creatures fire would destroy it, the native kept it in line with a judicious use of torches. However Ramsey fed those natives whose job it was to keep the Unknown Terror in line with torches to the Unknown Terror . It learned that without them, the coast was relatively clear for it to leave. As it was about to leave the Cave of Death, a young American couple searching for a missing explorer, stumbled across the lair of the Unknown Terror. They manage to seal off its cavern and escape.
Normally we could say that was the end of such a creature since there was no direct continuation of its story. However, although the evidence is not conclusive, it may be that the Unknown Terror showed up again in the mid-eighties. While on a mineralogical survey a geologist discovers a gel in a cave, although the film does not depict the Cavern as being the Cave of Death, it is either the Unknown Terror or we have discovered yet another similar creature. The geologist inexplicably tastes the gel and finds it to be extremely sweet.
The gel is tested and passes FDA approval, on a fast track through the use of judicious bribes. The Stuff as it is called is highly addictive, there are other side effects, it replaces all of the bodies internal organs with its own substance, it takes over the host's mind and when it is through with its consumption,it literally explodes the host's head as it erupts in a large glutenous mass. Athough there are break outs in several American cities as film The Stuff suggests, they were defeated, through the use of either fire or electrocution. There is however an ongoing Stuff problem covert Stuff addicts cause new outbreaks every so often.
Another example of a terrestrial protoplasmic life form that may point to the possible evolutionary conditions from which the Founder's originated. It took place in the town of Snowfield, California circa 1980. In a town of approximately 500 people was with the exception of a few people wiped out by a protoplasmic entity that claimed to have lived for millions of years and to be the origin of myths about Satan and demons in general. It was a shape changer and a Trickster, playing a long drawn out a cat and mouse game with those who had tried to stop it. Renown archaologist, Timothy Flyte whose pioneering work, The Ancient Enemy, on mass disappearances throughout human history, also arrived in Snowfield at Belial's request. It wanted Flyte to popularize its crimes. It wad defeated by modern technology using an experimental equipment, a bacteriological weapon which attacked its very cellular structure.
This incident was popularized in the book and to a lesser extent the film Phantoms by Dean R. Koontz. This entity was unlike some of the other terrestrial protoplasmic beings we have examined most definitely sentient. In his discussion of the other possible names for Belial, Dr. Flyte mentions the Greek god Proteus, who as legend has it is described a great deal like this creature. Although only speculation, it may be that Belial was in fact related to Proteus but was quite different in temperament and how they conducted themselves.
Professor Jane Lindskold in her two novels, Changer and Legends Walking describe Proteus as an honorable creature. Changer or Proteus and his brother/father? Poseidon were born at the dawn of time on Earth and lived as protoplasmic beings. They gradually learned the ability to not only mimic the appearance of various beings but to actually become such a creature down to the genetic blueprint, which echoes the Founders ability, although Proteus and Poseidon's abilities seem to be even more advanced. Poseidon and Proteus were members of and possibly the progenitors of a race of beings known as the Athanor, who are most often immortal and quite often shapeshifters. Poseidon and Proteus had sprinkled their Athanor gene through out the various species of Earth, including Man. It seems to be a rather rare recessive gene that pops up most unpredictably.. As a result the Athanor gene can be found among animal as well as human populations. (An Athanor using the name Frank McDonald runs a farm for the unfortunate immortal athanor who are stuck in animal form. In a previous identity he was known as St. Francis. He strongly identifies with the animals because in his original form he had been a camel.)
that Belial from Phantoms was a bad offshoot of either Proteus
Poseidon, like Loki of Norse mythology, who plays a large role in
Special Thanks to Brad Mengel of the Hervey Bay Branch of the Wold Newton Institute for suggestion of X the Unknown and the Unknown Terror
"Stretching Things" by Matthew Baugh 2000
"Who Goes There" by John W. Campbell Dell 1956
Caltiki: The Immortal Monster Allied Artists 1959
The Blob Paramount Pictures 1958
Beware of the Blob Jack Harris Inc. 1972
The Blob Tri-Star 1988
The Quartermass Experiment BBC-Tv
The H-Man Toho 1959
"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" Television Series
Legion of Super-Heroes comics DC comics.
The Unknown Terror 20th Century Fox 1957
X- the Unknown Hammer Films 1957
The Stuff New World Cinema 1985
Phantoms by Dean R. Koontz Berkley 1983
The Ancient Enemy by Timothy Flyte 1972
Changer by Jane Lindskold, Eos 1998
Legends Walking by Jane Lindskold
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© 2000 Dennis Power