Plague Cave Flyer
|Plague Cave Flyer|
|Locomotion||Hopping, crawling and flight|
|Size||Small, adults mass less than 0.5kg.|
|Speed||Slow crawlers and fast flyers|
|Social Structure||Large colonies|
|Reference||Author: Ronald B. Kline, Jr.|
A species of subterranean organism which is occasionally host to a virulent pathogen known as the Black Mold.
Physiology & Ecology
This organism is a bilaterally symmetrical, poikilothermic, heterotrophic consumer. It is classified as a omnivore and will consume producers and small consumers. Apparently native to a cold world, it is adapted to survive in low temperature environments. They gather in vast colonies to conserve heat and are highly communal. Their primary sense is olfactory. They can also perceive most forms of electromagnetic radiation. They have a ring of five feeding tentacles arranged around the anterior buccal opening. These tentacles grasp food and maneuver it into the mouth. They are covered in sensitive airborne chemical sensors. The mouth has a rasp like structure used to scrape producer organisms off the rocky surfaces of the caves. The rasp can be used to hypodermically draw bodily fluids akin to hemolymph and blood from prey items. The pigmentation varies to facilitate camouflage. They have a long pointed tail to facilitate aerial maneuverability.
The body has a pair of membranous wings with a thin layer of tissue supported by thicker pseudo skeletal fibers. These are in turn, attached to large flight muscles. The main body is covered in a coat of structural polysaccharide filaments, which resembles fur. On the ventral surface, just forward of the urogenital opening is a single leg. This mono-ped has a single foot with five talons, three toward the anterior and two are posterior. This claw arrangement and foot is designed to facilitate grasping and killing prey items. They cling to walls and ceilings with the same claw structure.
Life Cycle & Reproduction
They release reproductive cells in a aerosol mist. There is a single gender. Older individuals release these cells into the air and younger flyers pass through this misty cloud and the cells stick to their "fur". The tiny cells are absorbed through the skin and develop internally. Eventually masses of these differentiated cells are secreted and affixed to cavern walls and ceilings. The "embryos" continue to develop using stored energy reserves until they hatch roughly a month latter. Under colder climates the rate of development is slowed. In warmer environments they grow quicker.
Diet & Trophics
Although their original homeworld is unknown, a species of Plague Cave Flyer is typically found in the same habitats as the Black Mold (sic). One of the first recorded outbreaks occurred on Pentland (world).
Early victims discovered and observed that these flying hunters are one of the only species known to tolerate the mold for short periods of time. They have natural hibernation ability and once infected they shut down all circulatory functions and can tolerate being frozen solid within the icy cold caves they frequently inhabit. This seems to force the disease particles to halt operations. Once exposed the flyers move away from any heat/radiation source and sleep. When warm sophonts show up near the entrance to the cave, cargo hold, etc, swarms of these flyers thaw and "attack" the new potential hosts, spilling infected fluids along the way all over any exposed surface, skin, face plate, what have you.
History & Background (Dossier)
Discovered first in association with Black Mold, it was unknown until latter, that colonies of these organisms can exist free of infection. Uninfected organisms pose little threat to humans. Their tentacles and mouth parts are designed for much smaller prey items. Infected specimens react violently when awoken and fly in great swarms, leaking contaminated bodily fluids and batter and scratch at any living heat source. Colonial decontamination teams used IR chameleon battle dress, combat armor and even combat environmental suits to good effect.
Travellers' Aid Society Advisory
The Travellers' Aid Society (TAS) classifies encounters with the Plague Cave Flyer, while it is infected by Black Mold, as extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening to most sophonts. Uninfected animals are harmless on their own. However, the transport or sale of these creatures is highly illegal on most worlds.