Notable Fauna: Trepus

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The species found dotted across Trepus have adapted to extreme temperatures. Most dwell in the icy seas or freezing plains of the main continent, while a few others have found a way to sustain themselves on the various volcanic mounts which make up portions of the continent. In either case, the creatures are extremely hardy, capable of enduring the worst that the weather or local predators can throw at them. Due to the limited population of Trepus, the few coastal settlements have had little impact on the local ecosystem or its development over the past few centuries.

The animals listed below are but a few species of note to Odan-Urr and its allies across this region.

Samuris

Biology:

A strange sight among Trepus’ icy landscapes, the Samuris looks notably out of place. Lacking the expected fur or blubber typical of creatures which dwell in such regions, the species is a medium-sized terrestrial gastropod mollusc, typically dark grey or red in colour. Capable of growing up to three meters in length, their skin is notably oily to the touch, and coated in viscous substances which prevent necrosis or frost forming on their skins. While slow-moving, their diet consists largely of microscopic organisms and water consumed through the snow, and it is estimated that just one could consume up to sixty gallons per day.

In an odd quirk, the species has several eyes littered across its body. Besides the two fixed into the fore of its body, several more ring about its sides, making it difficult for the species to be ambushed. This is thought to be a residual evolutionary trait leftover from a different age, as the Samuris’ flesh is toxic to all but the hardiest creatures. The underside of this species is taken up almost entirely by a perpetually rippling skin which propels it forward, rimmed by a network of sensitive nerves to test the environment around it.

Territorial and Social Traits:

The Samuris lacks any sense of pack mentality or even territorial solitude. They simply go as and where food is plentiful, regardless of possible threats or creatures which lie in their path. While this lack of a true survival instinct or threat recognition would be a means to swift extinction in most cases, the Samuris’ poisonous nature means that it suffers from little to no natural predators. Short of environmental threats, little will divert them from their intended path.

Most of Trepus’ population typically sees them as a nuisance, albeit with one exception. As predators typically avoid the creatures on instinct, following their trails or remains nearby offers some limited protection in the wilderness.

Frost Porgs

Biology:

As their name implies, Frost Porgs are a distant cousin of the sea-dwelling birds found on worlds such as Ahch-To. Similar in size to their counterpart, the Porgs were accidentally seeded on Trepus some twenty thousand years ago during an attempt by Republic colonists to claim the world for themselves. The colony itself was abandoned, but the Porgs were able to acclimate to the colder environment with some success. While biologically similar, the species has undergone a number of minor changes to better adapt themselves to the territories and survive the harsher winters. The most obvious change is the nature and colouration of their feathers, which have become far darker and have gained a waxy quality which allows them to trap pockets of air in order to retain heat.

The subspecies is notably taller and somewhat slimmer than its common counterpart, standing at an average height of twelve to eighteen inches tall. This gives them a somewhat conical appearance which, combined with their large webbed feet, allows them to more easily power through the frozen waters about Trepus. The result of this evolutionary change has made them excellent swimmers, which can easily navigate the frigid waters about the coastlines. This is further complemented by a second set of lungs and a far more efficient circulatory system to assist with lengthier dives.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Favouring strength in numbers, the Porgs gather in massed colonies along the southern and western coastlines of the continent. While a number of off-shore islands host a substantial population of the species, these groups typically migrate back and forth between the isles and coastline several times a year. The areas they select are typically those with the most densely formed glaciers, which allows for more stable nesting grounds and greater protection from predators.

Their nature as omnivores means that they are not reliant on a single group of species to survive. While they favour fish, the species has adapted to both sudden migrations driving away their chosen prey and overfishing at various points over the past two decades.

Palentius Wolves

Biology:

The Palentius Wolves are an apparent hybrid of two unrelated species, with the physical aspects of a predatory fish and a four-legged canine. The creature’s long and broad snout is filled with a variety of lengthy fangs, many of which extend beyond the mouth itself even when closed. These break off over time, only to regrow at an astounding rate. This gives it an oddly snaggle-toothed appearance, which is only further exaggerated by the thick grey skin which covers its head. Two broad eyes lie either size of its head, with its nostrils situated atop its forehead. A set of dorsal spines runs the length of its back, down to just past its hind legs. These shudder at certain moments, emitting a high pitched screech which serves as a form of echolocation effective both above and below ground.

The Palentius’ tail - formed from hardened cartilage and armoured skin - is notably inflexible and almost constantly rests at a horizontal position against its body. This assists with its balance during hunts, and allows it to stand on its hind legs to peer over snowdrifts, and can even be used as a whip-like weapon against more ferocious creatures.

Save for its head, tail and spines, a Palentius Wolf’s entire body is coated in shaggy white fur striped with light grey shades. This serves as excellent camouflage against the snow-covered drifts, and can easily disguise their movements at anything short of an outright charge. As each leg is tipped by a broad padded foot and series of long claws, they can easily traverse thick snow, icy rocks and waters alike, which makes them especially persistent hunters.

Trepus is home to several sub-species of Palentius which have developed a number of evolutionary quirks from curved horns to a hunchbacked, more muscular creature. This rapid divergence has led to the species’ generic makeup becoming a particular source of interest among biologists, but has led to concerns over the potential threat they pose to locals. After so many centuries of being hunted with energy weapons, conventional blasters seem to have ever less effect on the more prominent subspecies.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Like most species dubbed wolves, the Palentius hunt in small packs of anywhere from six to thirty adults at a time. Nomadic in nature, these groups travel the length and breadth of the continent in search of food, rarely staying in a single place for long. Their nature means that they are as at home among the boreal forests as they are the coastlines, and they have proven to be remarkably adept hunters in deeper waters. Local guides can easily track larger groups by the fangs they shed, which are prized as an easy source of enamel.

Packs are led by a single alpha predator, and will continue to do so until said alpha is slain or replaced. These are typically the largest and most ferocious of their kind, and it is not uncommon for packs to split or fragment without a clear singular leader.

One unfortunate habit of the species is their fondness for using metallic compounds as a method of sharpening their teeth. This has led to packs actively seeking out abundant sources of durasteel, from vehicles to buildings, and has limited efforts to more actively expand settlements beyond the small number of existing towns.

Sarsirians

Biology:

A silicon-based species, the Sarsirians are crystalline entities which form into flat ended hexagonal prisms as they mature. Born from the volcanic activity under the continent’s mountains, their bodies are typically coloured in a bright green hue which pulses in time with thought or efforts to communicate with others. This is accomplished by an internal network of circuit-lines which are charged with internal energy. These syphon any form of nearby energy from the environment and utilise them as a means for growth and reproduction.

While the average Sarsirian typically grows to an object of twelve inches in length, those found in areas with plentiful thermal or radioactive background energy have been noted to increase to six feet in length. The limitations and types of energy that they can absorb have yet to be fully measured, but it appears they are capable of absorbing anything from sunlight to weaponized plasma. Their means of increasing their numbers consists of growing and then separating along an established fault-line, creating an almost exact copy of its progenitor. This allows researchers to track the scale of family groups, which has proven that some can live up to several centuries before decaying thanks to natural erosion.

The Sarsirians’ main measure of self-defense stems from their ability to release bursts of energy, converting what they have consumed into a more offensive form. This could emerge in anything from a wave of disruptive ion energy, an electromagnetic pulse, a blinding flash or even a cloud which disrupts the neural pathways of organic species. This has made them a particular source of frustration for explorers and mountain climbers alike, as the normally docile creatures can be enraged if their buried nests are disrupted by a climbing pick.

However, equally, the Sarsirians’ passive nature has made them a surprisingly popular with certain homesteads. A few owners have found ways to take and cultivate small nests of the crystals, allowing them to feed off of local generators and recognise certain presences. This allows them to act as makeshift defences against intruders and predators alike.

Territorial and Social Traits:

As they lack any true mobility, Sarsirians make do with whatever environment they are spawned in. Though they are capable of surviving in most environments, colonies which are trapped in stable or remote places will typically falter or die out over the course of centuries. The ones which thrive situate themselves in areas plentiful in background energy, such as the Akux Sea or upper mountain ranges. These will anchor themselves into the ground, sometimes burying themselves into the rock entirely. The fact that these typically cluster close together and will pulse in time with one another suggests some form of communal understanding, but the exact means of this has yet to be defined.

Geliyor Leeches

Biology:

The dominant creature within their small ecosystem, the Geliyor Leeches are a bizarre species which are both a subject of fascination among engineers and an infuriating pest. Growing up to a meter in length, the leeches are noted for their squat larva-like bodies, which are segmented into six moving fleshy sacks. Each of these are paired with a set of fins for movement, and are topped by an overly large head upon which is featured a set of broad doll-black eyes. The eyes themselves seem to be a redundant element leftover from a prior evolutionary stage in their development, as they are ill-equipped to pick out anything beyond vague shades or especially bright lights.

Geliyor instead sense their environment through a set of stubby horns, which detects both movement in the water and heightened energy signatures nearby. This allows them to quickly track it down, latching onto the source with the pressure suction cup which adorns their mouth. It will then immediately begin to consume the energy at a rapid pace, until it has been completely drained before moving on to a more tempting source of food. Curiously, as they feed on energy itself, the species lacks any trace of a digestive tract, and it instead powers its internal processes purely through the energy it consumes.

While they favour thermal and electrical sources above all others, Geliyor Leeches are content with any bountiful source of energy. Their toughened hides and extremely durable physiology has allowed them to withstand both attacks by potential predators and environmental hazards, as they are capable of thriving in waters of just over 15,000 degrees Celsius. Their lack of many typical bodily organs also means that they can endure typically mortal wounds and recover from them within a matter of months.

Territorial and Social Traits:

The Geliyor Leeches are found in only a single territory on Trepus: the Akux Sea. Having seemingly evolved to thrive within the superheated waters, they can sustain themselves on nothing more than the background heat from the geothermal vents. However, they seem to favour new and especially bright sources of energy, and will swarm toward it in the hopes of attaining something different from their typical diet. This has made any efforts to fully map the sea especially frustrating, as remote camera drones will be leached dry within minutes of being deployed into the water. Their biological quirk also means that the Geliyor serve as the closest thing the Sarsirians have to a natural predator, as the creatures will be drawn to the presence of any exposed crystal.

Their exact means of reproduction is as of yet unknown, but the species seems to maintain a swarm mentality. They hold little to no regard for one another, and a few have even been seen consuming the residual energy from wounded members of their species. However, they will not immediately oppose one another in contests of strength, and their focus always seems to be on outlying threats above any internal rivalries.

Clast Swines

Biology:

Native largely to the forests and open fields of snow, the Clast Swines resemble lumbering snowy mounds at a distance. The porcine species is capable of growing up to five meters in height, and every inch of their bodies is covered in shaggy fur. Typically coloured by a mixture of greys and light browns, the fur itself is noted for its capacity to amplify body heat and trap pockets of air for self-preservation. However, its sheer length means that older creatures can sustain this while allowing icicles or frost coatinngs to form on the edges of their fur as camouflage.

Standing on four legs and broadly built, much of their back is taken up by a single massive hump which stores nutrients and fat for long journeys. Small herds have even been known to use this to hibernate during especially long winters, lurking in the shadows of mountains or icy caves until they can re-emerge. The hump itself serves to keep such reserves away from any vital organs, meaning that remarkably little strain is placed upon their heart or lungs; while predatory attacks will target non-vital areas of their body.

While normally moving in a slow-shaming gait, Clast Swines are notably sure-footed over ice. Both their broadly distributed weight and ridged hooves allow them to traverse frost coated environments with ease; when enraged they are capable of charging across these with remarkable speed and control. This allows them to easily crush threats under their sheer bulk, or impale them on a set of curved tusks jutting from either side of their snout.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Clast Swines will typically go wherever there is the most food and least resistance. Herds will spend months migrating between various forests and open fields in search of sustenance. As herbivores, they will churn up entire fields in the hunt for buried saplings and foodstuffs, and can even survive on algae for a time if needed.

Each herd is made up of several individual family groups, growing up to eighteen adults per one. These groups are extremely loyal to one another, and any degree of long-term recognition without hostility may allow others to be recognised as part of the herd. This has made them almost perfect pack animals for traders, as they are typically both more reliable and cost-effective given the continent's cold weather conditions.

Druss Trees

Biology:

Trepus is a rare continent in that the line between flora and fauna blurs when it comes to certain species. The Druss Trees are the most obvious among such examples, due to their mixture of plant-like traits which allows for swarms to frequently be mistaken as forests of meters tall trees. The species is, in fact, insectoid in nature but the bark-like qualities and lack of an obvious head when unconscious means that they resemble a gnarled tree-trunk. A point which is only further enhanced by their natural camouflage, as several sets of legs feature a multitude of smaller tendrils and flared wings. These are typically used in mating dances or displays of aggression, but when flushed with colour these can easily resemble leaves.

The species is nocturnal by nature and feeds on the nutrients within the soil. A multitude of its legs feature retractable feeder tendrils, which can drag nutrients free of the soil and convert crushed ice into water. These are typically driven so deep into the ground that they anchor the Druss in place, giving them the impression of being little more than trees bent by one of the many local blizzards. Curiously, the species has several sets of compound eyes on its body, each dotted across seemingly random areas of its form. When positioned in its upright feeding position, this allows a Druss to fully observe and track its environment on all sides.

In the few rare occasions where they can be roused into aggression, the Druss’ armoured bulk will work in its favour. The sheer force of its legs is powerful enough to punch clean through body armour, flesh and bone alike. While not impervious to blasters, its plating will shrug off small calibre shots with relative ease, and all but the most powerful physical impacts will merely irritate it.

Territorial and Social Traits:

“Forests” of Druss Trees are found in numerous places across the continent, but are seemingly ever on the move. Each night, every Druss will uproot itself and move to a new location which will better sustain them, using their feelers to search for the best spot for the next day. This leads to confrontations and jostling among the larger swarm, forcing the weaker members of the swarm to stray further away to find their place. This ultimately means that swarms will migrate across the continent at a glacial pace, giving Trepus several ever-changing landmarks.

The Druss Trees themselves like in a state of odd symbiosis with the Draviks, a species of small avians, as each benefits the other. For the Druss, allowing swarms to roost among their “branches” offsets the coldest temperatures, while also allowing them to remove irritating parasites which grow across their chitin. It is extremely rare for one species to ever be without the other, and even those held in captivity typically draw small flocks to themselves by some unknown means.

Draviks

Biology:

At a little more than eight inches in length, the Draviks are one of the smaller avian species on Trepus which still retain flight. Many aspects mark them as having adapted extremely well to the cold weather, such as the substantial fat reserves which line their chests, but also the thick layers of feathers which coat their body. Even without this, the Draviks benefit from a number of glands which secrete a fine oil-like substance across their bodies. This prevents frost forming on their feathers, but it also amplifies their body heat and gives them a bitter, unattractive taste for most predators.

Coloured in a mixture of whites and pale blues, their feathers exaggerate their body structure and size. When fully extended for warmth, these can even hide several of their most distinctive features, such as a second set of talons which extends from about their chest. These allow them to much more rapidly traverse the varied limbs and narrow extensions of a Druss Tree’s body without damaging the fragile wings they extend. What’s more, they also allow for a rudimentary degree of tool use, by picking up rocks or twigs to prize open gaps for food. When this cannot be accomplished, their broad beaks can be used to pull free obstacles and burrowing creatures alike.

Territorial and Social Traits:

The massed swarm tactics of Draviks are typical of most small bird species which rely on numbers to survive. Family groups will squabble, clash and argue against one another in competition for food or warmth, but it only takes the implied threat of an outside predator for them to focus on it above all else. Although they are not strictly territorial and merely adapt to wherever the Druss Trees have migrated, the species seemingly favours relatively low altitudes. They will rarely explore the mountainous regions which makes up so much of Trepus’ landmass.

As they live in symbiotic relations with the Druss Trees, much of their lifestyle revolves around these creatures. While not wholly reliant upon them for sustenance, much of their diet comes from prizing parasites free of their chitin and using their uniquely angular bodies as shelters to construct nests among.

Varritul

Biology:

As the subject of horror stories and warning tales alike, the Varritul are the stuff of nightmares. Seemingly capable of adapting to any environment on Trepus, these giants stalk the landscape at night, murdering or consuming anything in their path. At five meters in height and with an eighteen meter wingspan, these airborne mammals are among the largest creatures to dominate the continent’s airspace.

Though roughly humanoid in shape, much of their bodies have been coated in a thickened black fur; so dense and unnaturally tough that it can withstand small calibre shots from slugthrowers and disperse the energy of small arms blasters. This covers much of their body, save for the multi-jointed legs which end in a set of hooked tearing claws, and its primary set of wings. While once limited to the ground, evolution allowed these forelimbs to evolve into a set of broad wings, each coated in a thick leathery membrane of skin. This permits the species the capacity to glide far above the volcanic mountains of the continent, and also plunge down on its unsuspecting prey at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. The Varritul’s skeletal structure has evolved to superficially cope with the strain of the abrupt impact and ascent upon claiming its prey. Once claimed, it will latch onto its prey with its sets of claws, often ripping most creatures in two with relative ease.

Even without the capacity for flight, a Varritul is a ferocious combatant. The creature’s extremely powerful tendons and unique musculature structure allows it to deliver singular strikes with alarming force, enough to shatter bones if not punch clean through an armoured soldier’s torso. Their ability to withstand pain and capacity to rapidly heal from minor injuries also ensures that there is little opportunity to truly wear them down over time. Yet perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the species lies with their head. As autopsies have confirmed, the Varratul has no eyes, and its olfactory and auditory senses are not advanced enough to compensate for this. As such, some have taken to theorizing that the species hunts by “seeing” its prey through the Force, and picking out an energy signature distinct to them.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Living in groups of up to five adults at a time, the Varritul take their claim to large swathes of the continent’s mountainous regions. Though they will travel for hundreds upon thousands of kilometres at a time, their ability to easily ascend to the highest peaks allows their nests to remain far from the reach of predators.

Typically selecting large caverns as their dwelling places of choice, it is rare indeed to see them active during the day. This led to the misconception that the species is nocturnal, or that light is somehow anathema to them, but studies have proven that they are quite capable of hunting during the day. A number of biologists have theorised that their nightly hunts might be due to the advantages it offers them given how many species rely on sight to keep watch for predators.

Yet perhaps the most concerning social trait among the species lies in their capacity to recognise individuals on sight. Those lucky enough to fend off an attack by a Varritful will often find themselves subjected to later hunts, sometimes years apart in certain cases. This has led to the local legend that survivors are cursed, or even marked, and will be hunted by these beasts until their dying days.

Squiredor

Biology:

Squiredors are one of a number of species which implies evolution has a sense of humour. At a glance, they resemble a mismatched combination of evolutionary traits from other species, seemingly bound together at random. The species is clearly canine in nature, with the four-legged mammalian build of a species which has evolved to pursue subjects of interest and rapidly flee from threats. The abdomen is notably shallow, with most of its vital organs being hidden away behind the hardened ribcage about its chest, which allows for faster movement with its hind legs. The creature’s claws are remarkably narrow but are tipped with a series of claws and hardened pads of skin. This permits them a degree of ease in moving across the snow, and when digging away at the hardened soil.

The key differences between this species and most other canine races adapted for ice stems from its diet and cranial traits. The head of the creature more closely resembles a rodent than that of a typical mammal, with a large set of eyes and a sloped skull more typical of tree-dwelling creatures than hounds. Furthermore, rather than a full set of teeth, Squiredors rely on two sets of enlarged fangs to strip food, crack bone and gnaw on materials. These are remarkably tough and extremely difficult to break, an evolutionary quality born of their incredibly powerful bites which have been measured up to 750 psi in strength. As these teeth constantly grow they must be worn away on rocks or by toughened sources of food. Rather than the flesh of larger creatures, the Squiredor’s digestive tract is better suited to the consumption of smaller vermin, eggs and plant matter, which it can more easily convert into sustenance.

Finally, the Squiredor’s tail is overly large for a creature of its build. Remarkably long and covered with thick lengthy furs, it permits the Squiredor a heightened level of balance over unstable terrain; a quality which allows them to thrive in both the mountainous and snowdrift regions of the continent. This also serves as an easy means of communication with others of its kind through general movements, and a reflection of the individual creature’s current health.

Territorial and Social Traits:

While heavily domesticated by the local townships, Trepus still supports several large colonies of Squiredors across its inland regions. These vary heavily in terms of size, coat and physical build, but each retains the essential qualities to still be marked as a member of this species. Despite this, they ultimately still need areas with a suitably broad ecosystem to thrive off of, as their nature as scavengers requires this.

Socially, the species will move in packs of varying sizes, and are led by a single alpha creature. This is less the result of working in coordination to hunt for resources than it is simple safety in numbers. Groups are expected to individually forage for their own food, but also keep watch for predators or possible nearby threats. This ingrained sense of loyalty is part of what has made them popular pets, despite their occasional habit of stealing and burying nearby food if given the opportunity.

Farrik Gulls

Biology:

A breed of avian local to the coastlines, the Farrik Gull is a large breed of bird whose diet subsists largely of fish. Measuring up to two hundred inches from each wingtip, they are one of the few species strong enough to fly against the oceanic winds, and even during lesser blizzards. This is thanks to several organs which produce heat centred in their chests, allowing them to artificially raise their internal temperatures. Furthermore, their instinctive flight patterns allow them to utilise their considerable weight in turns and dives to compliment their speed; performing manoeuvres which would be impossible for smaller avians along the coastlines.

Much of their diet subsists of fish, and as such their long beak serves as a means to rapidly scoop up morsels in a single bite. This is accomplished either by skimming the surface of the water during spawning seasons, or plunging briefly into the waves, and consuming several members of a shoal. As these must be swallowed whole, Farrik Gulls can be seen occasionally swallowing pebbles to assist with the digestion of their prey. It has been suspected that these rocks even assist with fuelling their heat glands, especially in preparation for lengthier hunts. During efforts to bring down larger prey, the species will actively project heat from their open beaks, to the point of scorching the exposed flesh of other creatures should it be confronted. To accomplish this, Farrik Gull’s flesh seems to be equally resistant to the negative effects of high temperatures as they are environments of extreme cold. This has allowed them to occasionally even prey upon the likes of Geliyor Leeches during the calmer seasons.

Finally, the beak of a Farrik Gull is notably slim but is created by a pair of semi-circular extensions towards its tip. These change colour during the later months of summer, particularly during the species’ mating season.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Farrik Gulls are hardly territorial creatures by nature, and will often ignore other species in their midst. As their diet subsists primarily of aquatic life-forms, they hold little interest in hunting land-based animals, and the few which attempt to prey upon avian species tend to give the Gulls a wide berth thanks to their abilities. As such, they typically nest in the open, typically on the fringes of beaches or rocky inclines, laying clutches of up to sixteen eggs at a time. Although colonies will typically group together, they will frequently focus upon tasks which directly benefit themselves over the colony as a whole.

The only truly social trait the species retains is their willingness to mate for life, with pairs nesting and hunting together until one passes away. While their young are raised to the point where they can sustain themselves, they are abandoned soon after learning to fly.

Tsehurons

Biology:

Colloquially nicknamed “Stonehorns”, these lumbering creatures are a native species of proboscideans which dwell among the smaller mountain ranges of the continent. With the average adult up to 5.2 meters in height and weighing up to 22 tons, the species has evolved to sustain itself on whatever plant life it can find across the ranges. While they will consume a vast quantity of sustenance on a daily basis, their metabolism is extremely slow burning, allowing them to reserve much of their energy for brief bursts of activity. Standing on six-trunk-like legs, it can easily distribute its mass over areas which might otherwise collapse under its considerable weight. This also allows it to move at a considerable pace when enraged, and turn far faster than its bulk would have otherwise permitted.

Curiously, the Tsehurons lack the lengthy tusks expected of their taxonomic order. While four do exist, split out from under and besides its maw, these exist merely to help split open tougher plantlife. Instead, its primary defensive means stems from a set of great curved horns which crosses the animal’s brow. These grow with age and undergo a steady process of petrification which makes them all the more durable. This same effect will steadily spread to the rest of the Tsehuron’s body over the years, until they become merged with the mountain itself, and leave only granate-like skeletons as a makeshift tombstone. A few are even noted to form odd crystals, something which may be an odd reflection of their differing diets.

The eldest among their kind are noted for their almost mask-like faces. Decades of contests with rivals, headbutting obstacles or even actively flaying the skin from them as a sign of dominance leaves the Tsehuron with patches in its flesh, until their faces resemble a skull-like stone mask.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Living in herds, the species is divided up into extremely small clan groups of three to eight adults at a time. These are not bound for life, and it is not uncommon for groups to completely break up or split off to join other herds seemingly at random. For this reason, they have been able to avoid any hazardous conflicts despite frequent contests between dominant males among major groups. These creatures are extremely territorial and are unwilling to share their barren homes with all but the smallest of species. This is, in part, the result of their extremely protective nature when it comes to their young.

Heliac Sunfish

Biology:

The Heliac Sunfish has been the subject of several studies thanks to its bizarre evolutionary turn, effectively transforming itself into a colony for another species. Measuring up to two meters in length, the fish resembles a disc floating in the water, with two abnormally large fins rising up from either edge. Its head and rear tail are only minor outcroppings from the larger circular body, the latter only allowing it to slightly turn with the current, while the former is almost indistinguishable from the rest of its form. As much of its surface is coated with a hardened bony armour, the species is notably slow moving and unable to actively press against the tides.

Both of the Heliac’s eyes are dark, and better suited to deeper waters than the shallow environments close to Trepus’ beaches. However, it rarely relies upon these and instead opts to emit various low-frequency pulses by expelling unnecessary gases through its exoskeleton. This can be used as both a form of basic sonar and a warning to nearby species which threaten it, thanks to the fish which accompany them. On the exterior of its plating, behind its primary gills, is a honeycombed indentation of multiple large holes. These are ripe nesting grounds for Taras swarms - or “Sea Scorpions” as they are commonly named - a species of highly aggressive and venomous cephalopod which preys upon larger creatures. As the Heliac is naturally immune to their venom, its shell adapts to form dwelling places for these creatures, allowing them to live in a symbiotic relationship.

The Haliacs are noted for their extremely long lives, with the longest living member of its species lasting up to fifty years in captivity. This is likely thanks to the ease in which they can adapt to most environments, and the lack of energy they expend in swimming from one location to the next. As their main diet consists of carrion and microscopic species, it does not need to actively hunt for its prey, and will happily consume anything left behind by the Taras.

Territorial and Social Traits:

As it is largely bound to the flow of the current, the Heliac has little-defined territory across Trepus. For the most part, they will follow the weaker currents about the coastlines, content to remain near to the shallows. On occasion they will drift out toward deeper waters, moving ever deeper into the ocean, but only to eventually return months or even years later.

As the fish reproduces asexually, contact between Heliacs is extremely rare. The eggs they leave in their wake are expected to fend for themselves without protection or assistance, save for the toughened cases of their shells. While a number of marine biologists once suspected that their echoing calls might have been a form of communication between solitary creatures, this has long been disproved in a number of test with captives.

Knairon

Biology:

Favouring the deeper waters and only rising from the oceans several times a year, the Knairons are a constant concern for the people of Trepus. Easily matching the size of the average commercial landspeeder, these crustaceans are an extremely ravenous species which will consume any and all prey which wanders across their path. Curiously, only part of its body is covered by a solid exoskeleton, notably its limbs, as the rear centre of its body is taken up by an extremely tough but flexible transparent membrane. This inflates and deflates as the Knairon flushes water through its guts, permitting it a limited form of propulsion through the water.

The creature’s exoskeleton is semi-transparent and will change shades to best camouflage itself with its present environment. The skeleton itself is notable for its ability to refract and disperse light, which makes them extremely resistant to laser based weaponry. Worse still, they are actively drawn to light sources, often mistaking them for the bioluminescent shades of species they hunt in the deep. As their four primary eyes are better suited to deep waters, they can only make out substantial details a few meters from where they stand, but they are capable of picking out strong sources of energy at a much greater range.

Yet perhaps the greatest threat posed by the Knairon is their ability to naturally generate bursts of ion energy and electromagnetic pulses. Why the species evolved this trait is yet unknown, but it is suspected that this might have been a defensive measure against a rival predator capable of generating its own electrical currents. Unfortunately, it has proven to be just as effective against any and all machinery without the proper shielding against such attacks. In order to sustain this capability and its own body, it needs to constantly hunt for anything which might resemble a potential meal.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Aggressive, tenacious and belligerent beyond measure, the Knairon is a fisherman’s worst nightmare given form. They will relentlessly attack anything in their path, heedless of the potential danger to themselves or other species. While they ultimately prefer deeper waters the species has spread to several regions out in the open sea, and is frequently contesting the local predators for control of them. Socially they care little for one another, and will even consume members of their own species in their hunt for sustenance. It’s only the fact that there are often easier meals nearby which keeps them from constantly turning upon one another.

The Knarions rise up from the oceans several times each year, spreading out onto the beaches in a frenzy of spawning eggs. As these can only be nurtured in shallow environments, the process can take weeks at a time to complete. During this period, many townships maintain a strict law against anything which might draw their attention, and often introduce measures to draw them away from the settlements. As a single Knarion can lay up to six thousand eggs in a single clutch, a number of marine biologists question just what is keeping the species’ numbers in check. Many ultimately fear that some far worse predator lurks beneath the waves and might follow them during a spawning season.

Jörmungandr

Biology:

Many details of the Jörmungandr’s biology remains in question, as no living specimen has ever been encountered. The species was considered to be a mere myth, until five years ago when the body of a dead juvenile washed up onto the beaches near to Steepmouth. The species resembles a white-scaled serpent, albeit one of gigantic proportions. While clearly young, the creature measured at almost eighty meters in length, leading biologists to estimate that an adult would grow up to two hundred meters if not more. It was also clearly a predator, as its maw was lined with row upon row of serrated teeth, each one made of a super-dense mixture of keratin and diamond. It would need these to withstand its bite, as the juvenile alone was estimated as having a biting force of over 4,000 psi.

The creature’s internal skeleton is made up of a similar mixture of elements as its teeth, but it is far more densely compacted and with a higher number of ribs than would be expected. These act more effectively as a means to protect its organs and repel blunt impacts, limiting the effectiveness of any attack. Even without this quality, the creature’s scales are extremely durable, often to the point of being compared with the hulls of warships. These scales are razor-edged and are formed from a number of extremely resilient substances including graphene.

The creature’s internal organs have proven to be perplexing even following a full autopsy. The species apparently lacks lungs of any form, and instead it gains air by consuming rock and having microorganisms within its stomach convert the silicone into oxygen. The acidic content itself is capable of more easily breaking down this than organic matter, but residual traces of a massive cephalopod confirms that it will hunt other creatures for sustenance. It also appears to be able to enter a state of extreme hibernation, lying dormant for months if not years at a time without being disturbed. This seems to accelerate the healing process while lessening the strain of such wounds upon its body. Finally, while underdeveloped, a number of glands lining the underside of its throat suggests that it can generate plasma to assist with the consumption of materials.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Any social attitudes can only be guessed on at this point, as no living Jörmungandr has yet been encountered. It cannot be estimated whether they are solitary creatures or if they hunt in packs, but it can be assumed that they reside in the deepest parts of the ocean. What has assisted with this confirmation is the contents of the creature’s stomach, as the rocks within match those only found among Solyiat’s abyssal trenches. What has further reinforced this point - and seemingly confirmed another long suspected theory - is the creature it last consumed. The cephalopod is suspected to have been an adult Mire Kraken, confirming that those found on Strokera are mere juveniles. The existence of the Jörmungandr would go some way to explaining why these Kraken have not become the dominant oceangoing hunters of the planet.

Cultural Impact:

The discovery of the juvenile Jörmungandr has been a point of pride among the people of Trepus, and Steepmouth in particular. The discovery resulted in a tourism boom for the continent, especially once the gigantic creature’s remains were put on display in a massive facility.

Even before this, the legendary status of the species was always a part of the continent’s local mythology. Despite the lack of them among the continent’s ecosystem, snakes have long been a symbol for strength or immensity among its culture. A minor god linked to the mountains - a creature which would bring about an unceasing flood when the world’s end came - may even have been inspired by such a specimen rising up onto land for a time.