Sparkforms are the aggressive beings of fluidmatter that inhabit Softspace. These eldritch lifeforms are considered the most pressing danger of Softspace travel.
Sparkforms are self-reinforcing systems. Over time, their structure is honed, enabling them to become faster, stronger and more intelligent. Each one is adapted to hunt its fellow Sparkforms. A Sparkform, when it finds another Sparkform, will do its best to drain the energy that stabilises a Sparkform's structure. If a Sparkform loses too much of this energy to other Sparkforms, it will die. Once a Sparkform reaches a critical mass of energy, though, it loses some of this energy and produces a clone of itself somewhere else in Softspace. Successful varieties of Sparkform are typically streamlined, with fins and other such structures to 'swim' with.
Sparkforms spontaneously appear from Softspace. Because of Softspace's infinite size and capacity, there are occasional successful Sparkforms alongside the various stunted, mutated and quick-to-die variants that appear. Currently, there is a stable number of Sparkforms- energy input from generation of such easy-to-eat Sparkforms is equal to energy output from dying Sparkforms. There are occasionally mutations in cloned Sparkforms, allowing Darwinian evolution to occur.
Sparkforms are highly aggressive towards normal matter. It is believed that this is because Sparkforms are quantum organisms by nature, and the quantum physics present in normal matter makes them hunt down and attack ships. Sparkforms project fields of fluidmatter physics in the same way that normal ships project their own physics, meaning that a sufficiently self-reinforcing Sparkform can overwhelm physics and turn matter and energy into fluidmatter as it passes. Sparkforms can simply convert armour into fluidmatter, so only defences that do not allow energy to pass (such as Z-Armour) will be able to stop a Sparkform in its tracks.
The best way to defend against a Sparkform is to scare it off or kill it before it reaches the ship. Faster weapons have greater ranges in Softspace- it takes a few seconds for normal energy to become fluidmatter once it leaves the main mass and physics field of a ship, and these are the few seconds in which they don't become a harmless spray of fluidmatter against the Sparkform's side. This means that lasers and other EM weapons are the weapon of choice for driving off a Sparkform.
While unable to reach conventional universes on their own, Sparkforms can survive there indefinitely thanks to their field of fluidmatter physic. On the rare occasions where Sparkforms were accidentally brought into normal space by cvilisations unprepared to fight them, entire planets have been lost to their destructive aura. Luckily, Sparkforms lost in normal space instinctively seek places reminiscent of their normal environment: they hide in the plasmatic heart of stars, from which their ability to destroy the rest of the cosmos is limited.
Cults of the Gatekeepers Edit
Among some civilisations having had contacts with Sparkforms but unable to cross Softspace, Sparkforms are sometime interpreted by the local religions as angels tasked by the god(s) with preventing unworthy mortals from reaching some forbidden location. If this vision is shared by the majority of the population (a situation made easier if education is hard to spread around), pressures from public opinion then effectively dissuade further researchs about Softspace.