Friday, July 19, 2019

Anteaters

The eusocial arthropoids of Sirius are not ants, and the mammaloids that prey on them are not anteaters, but that it what they were called by the rushed survey team, and that is what stuck.

Neither species truly resembles ants or anteaters. The "ants" are usually about a centimeter long and half as wide, with translucent, slightly shiny exoskeletons. They spend as much time as possible in their underground colonies, hiding from the sun. The "anteaters" have six limbs, but only walk on four. Their front two limbs are asymmetric: one is strong and has large claws to break open colonies, and one is long and dexterous for snatching up ants.

It turns out the anteaters are sentient, something the survey team missed on their first visit. In their defense, the anteaters have no technology. Their social structure, however, is sophisticated, and their politics fast-paced and lethal. Everything revolves around the care and breeding of the ants, which they have domesticated. Leadership is equated with ant farming; their autocrats are expected to "farm" their society like they do their ants.

They have no tools, but their digging claws and organization are enough for them to construct city-scale burrow complexes. They do not use fire, but they practice eugenics. They are breeding themselves to excel even more at their social games, getting smarter and more cunning, yet specialized and incomprehensible. What would happen if this primitive but intelligent species were suddenly introduced to technology? The sector governor has decided to leave that question unanswered.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Swarm that is a Countess

The countess was a clever girl,
she wrote a grammarie of bees,
stole family jewels from an old earl,
a tuneless hum is on the breeze.

She grows her children in the wall,
they stare and glare and grow so tall,
her husband's useless as her thrall,
he sells strange honey at a stall,
his knight's their vows they don't recall,
they fight with splinters one and all.

Now she her thoughts are many thoughts,
her people work for her all day,
they choose who dies by drawing lots,
but from their labor they can't stray.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Stunsnake

A genetically engineered self-defense tool, stunsnakes are a combination of electric eels and vipers. They have a viper's fangs made of a copper alloy. When they bite, their fangs create a circuit with their target's flesh, working like a stungun. A stungun that will automatically attack movement, penetrate light armor with their metal fangs, and wrap themselves around a target so that it can't escape. Stunsnakes are thicker and shorter than ordinary snakes, with shiny black skin.

Where it comes from: Stunsnakes are the flagship product of biotech company Practibeasts. The company ultimately went out of business, but not before they produced a run of ten thousand stunsnakes, which have found their way all over the world.

What it wants: Stunsnakes are engineered to be as easy to care for as possible. They spend most of their time in a light doze, from which they can wake at a moment's notice.

What it needs: Stunsnakes are obligate electrovores. They need electricity not only to shock their targets, but to live. Providing them with a sufficient charge is easy: their tails plug into any standard AC outlet.

What it will fight for: Stunsnakes will attack any movement. Familiarizing them with your smell is necessary to prevent them from attacking you.

What happens if you eat it: Stunsnake skin contains layers of rubber, and is inedible. Stunsnake flesh, if it carries a charge, will shock your mouth as you chew. If uncharged, it tastes like bland fish.

What can be crafted out of it: The electrocytes of a Stunsnake, if removed correctly, can be used by any bio-fabricator with a fuzzy logic module to make batteries. The skin is a great electrical insulator, and can be made into protective gloves or shoes.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Psysquito

These hand-sized mosquitoes use their steel-hard proboscis to penetrate skulls and suck out cerebrospinal fluid. The droning of their wings induces a hypnotic trance, allowing them to feed in peace. As both adults and gestating larvae they can sense sentient minds within 200 meters. The feeding is rarely lethal on its own, but the hole made in the scalp, skull, and meninges can easily develop a lethal infection.

Where it comes from: Psysquitoes grow in stagnant water, much like mundane mosquitoes. Unlike mundane mosquitoes, they can gestate for decades, only hatching when they sense sentient minds. Once they have fed for the first time they will lay their eggs, and then seek out more fluid to feed their young. 

What it wants: Psysquitoes do not need cerebrospinal fluid for themselves, but feed it to their larvae. The larvae drink as much as they can before going into gestation, and that is all they will ever eat. Adults can usually last for one to two months before dying of starvation, depending on their level of activity.

What it needs: larvae need ccerebrospinal fluid to grow, and will take in as much as they are given. As adults they do not eat at all, and live to serve their larvae.

What it will fight for: A Psysquito will only attempt a fight if starving. Otherwise, they always attack from ambush. If their drone does not work and their target fights back, they will attempt to flee, but will usually attempt another ambush. 

What happens if you eat it: Psysquito exoskeletons incorporate significant amounts of metal, and are thus inedible. The metal also allow their exoskeletons to be used like kettles; you can cook a psysquito into a thick nutritious soup simply by throwing it on a fire.

What can be crafted out of it: Drunk raw, partially digested cerebrospinalfluid is a minor stimulant. It is also used as the base for many potions that affect the brain.