I am looking for a science fiction short story about a scout ship that gets fertilized by an alien creature after being damaged in battle. I think I remember the creature being named Magog. The ship and the pilot are changed afterwards with the ship having legs and able to eat metal to repair itself.

  • Roughly when did you read it? Was it in a book, magazine or some other sort of publication? – phantom42 Sep 2 '15 at 4:01
  • It was in a collection of short science fiction stories. The book was from sometime in the 1960's. – kjohns2001 Sep 3 '15 at 14:00

I am looking for a science fiction short story

"Early Bird" by Theodore R. Cogswell and Theodore L. Thomas, previously identified here as the answer to this question.

about a scout ship that gets fertilized by an alien creature after being damaged in battle. I think I remember the creature being named Magog.

It is a one-man scout ship, manned by the hero, Kurt Dixon, with the aid of an AI computer named Zelda. It is not the ship but the pilot who was damaged, having been zapped by an enemy fogger beam:

Once beneath the protective cloud cover, the other scouts took off on their separate courses, leaving Zelda, her commander still slumped in a mind-fog coma, to find her own sanctuary.

There are two alien creatures in the story, a female and a male, referred to as Gog and Magog. Gog has just laid an egg:

Reaching the ravine at last, she squatted over it. Slowly her ovipositor emerged from between sagging, armored buttocks. Gog strained and then moved on, leaving behind her a shining, five-hundred-foot-long egg.

The egg broadcasts a microwave pulse and:

Two hundred kilometers away, Magog woke from a gorged sleep as a strident mating call came pulsing in. He lunged erect, the whole kilometer of him. As he sucked the reducing atmosphere deep into the chain of ovens that served him as lungs, meter-wide nerve centers along his spinal columns pulsed with a voltage and current sufficient to fuse bus bars of several centimeters' cross section. A cannonlike sperm launcher emerged from his forehead and stiffened as infernos churned inside him. Then his towering bulk jerked as the first spermatozoon shot out, followed by a swarm that dwindled to a few stragglers. Emptied, Magog sagged to the ground and, suddenly hungry, began to rip up great slabs of igneous rock to get at the rich vein of ferrous ore his sensors detected deep beneath. Far to the east, Gog withdrew a prudent distance from her egg and squatted down to await the results of its mating call.

The scout ship does not exactly "get fertilized", rather, it fertilizes the alien egg, being mistaken for an alien spermatozoon:

As the leaders of the sperm swarm appeared over the horizon, Gog's sensors locked in. The selection time was near. Energy banks cut in and fuel converters began to seethe, preparing for the demands of the activated weapons system. At twenty kilometers a long-range beam locked in on the leading spermatozoon. It lacked evasive ability and a single frontal shot fused it. Its remnants spiraled to the surface, a mass of carbonized debris interspersed with droplets of glowing metal.

The shock of its destruction spread through the armada and stimulated wild, evasive gyrations on the part of the rest. But Gog's calculators predicted the course of one after another, and flickering bolts of energy burned them out of the sky. None was proving itself fit to survive. Then, suddenly, there was a moment of confusion in her intricate neural network. An intruder was approaching from the wrong direction. All her reserve projectors swiveled and spat a concentrated cone of lethal force at the rogue gamete that was screaming down through the atmosphere. Before the beam could take effect, a milky nimbus surrounded the approaching stranger and it continued on course unharmed. She shifted frequencies. The new bolt was as ineffective as the last. A ripple of excited anticipation ran through her great bulk. This was the one she was waiting for!

The ship and the pilot are changed afterwards with the ship having legs

"Oh," said Zelda casually, "if worse comes to worst, I can always run away. We now have feet. Thirty on each side."

Kurt just snorted as he undogged the inner air-lock hatch.

Once outside he did the biggest and fastest double take in the history of man.

The scout did have feet. Lots of feet. And other things.

and able to eat metal to repair itself.

One of the scout's rear turrets swung around and a buzzsaw vibration ran through the ground as a purple beam no thicker than a pencil slashed the attacker into piano-sized chunks. Then the reason for the scout's new pedal extremities became apparent as the ship quickly ran around in a circle. Reaching what was left of her attacker, she extended a wedge-shaped head from a depression in her bow and began to feed.

"Just the mass we needed," said Zelda. A tentacle suddenly emerged from a hidden port, circled Kurt's waist, and pulled him inside the ship. "Welcome aboard your new command. And now do you want to hear what's happened to us?"

  • Thank you for the title!!! I really appreciate your help as it was quite frustrating not to be able to remember the title of this story. I lost the book it was in and without the title had no hope of replacing the book. – kjohns2001 Sep 3 '15 at 14:04
  • @kjohns2001 You're welcome! If you wish to do so, you can accept the answer by clicking on the check mark next to the answer. – user14111 Sep 3 '15 at 18:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.