Dr. Marko Steffensen: Hello again!
Titan: I got the tissue sample!
Dr. Marko Steffensen: That's great! Please let me have it so I can send it to the lab to analyze it.
Dr. Marko Steffensen: This is great! If this sample shows that there is any large difference from this dryad compared to the others here in Adonis, it will bring us a lot closer to understanding the marine life in this place!
Titan: Could you tell me about the creatures here in Adonis?
Dr. Marko Steffensen: Well... I don't have all the time in the world, but I can tell you a little about some of the species and specialized creatures we're studying. For instance, the blorrg. Marvelous little creature! Marine invertebrates, but unlike many other types of jellyfish you may come across. Studies have shown that these creatures are actually very fast, even if their bodies are not hydrodynamic. Their tentacles are seeded with nematocysts that are kept dormant as long as the blorrg doesn't sense any danger. But, as soon as it feels threatened, it will activate the triggers on the nematocysts and inject its assailant with toxins. Unlike most other jellyfish, the blorrg will act aggressively against any attacker, and not just passively wait for the danger to go away.
Dr. Marko Steffensen: Yes, it is, isn't it? There's also some species here that are now extinct in the wild on Rubi-Ka. The sharks, for instance. Did you know that Rubi-Ka waters used to be infested by sharks. At the peak of their existence, marine biologists counted 142 different species of sharks. As long as there was any kind of moving body of water, they would be there. But something happened in a very short time and they all died out. All but a few that still live in private head quarters aquariums.
However, here in Adonis, it's still possible to see sharks in their natural habitat, as you well know from the job you did for me earlier. If it hadn't been for the meta-water dependency, we would have tried to reintroduce sharks to Rubi-Ka. Perhaps some day we'll be able to engineer a different shark species to see these beautiful and perfect predators in the Rubi-Kan waters again.
Titan: How about the disgusting parasite?
Dr. Marko Steffensen: Well, they are actually a type of koinobiont parasitoids, an organism that spends most of its time attached to a host, draining it while still allowing the host to continue its development. But apart from its less amiable features, it also holds a very important function in the meta-water. It basically serves as the lagoon's waste manager, cleaning up and digesting the waste of most other species there. Not a pleasant job by any measure of things, but it keeps the waters clear.
It's also a very agile animal. Most of its body consists of muscles and digestive apparatus, but under its body it has twenty-two pairs of legs that will help it move around swiftly. It's not a pleasant thing to come across, as it can sense a potential host body from a long distance and is very persistent in trying to latch on. But, as all the animals in the lagoon, it's a most remarkable little creature!
Titan: Could you tell me what the world was like just before the cataclysm?
Dr. Marko Steffensen: Oh, it was most tragic. How the Xan could not see the impact on the eco-systems is beyond me. The world was trembling and visibly breaking up. In more detail, we know that there were several serious earthquakes and landslides. We also know that the actual amount of animals, land and sea both, diminished. Several species became extinct or died as prey to other, larger creatures that weren't native, but rather brought to life through the Xan's experiments with the power of the Source.
Titan: What experiments?
Dr. Marko Steffensen: You see, the Xan experimented with living beings as well as technology. In their infinite ability to create life and manipulate the Source, they would try to create something living that would have a purpose or function for them, oblivious to the unethical sides of their science. For instance, a creature the Xan called the Comforter was created and kept in a cell, only to be visited by those who wanted someone to talk to so they could feel better about themselves.
They would visit the cell and talk about anything between the sky and soil. No subject was too big or too small. The creature would listen, and having been given the gift of speech, it would respond to the visitor's liking. Such a tragic fate for a creature without like... To be created for the sole entertainment of its creators, never given the free life it should have had.
He shakes his head angrily.
Titan: (Listen to the story)
Dr. Marko Steffensen: The creatures we now know as brink monsters had already started seeping through before the cataclysm itself. The line between reality and nightmare was drawing very thin and was in many cases leaking. However, some of these creatures, these abominations, are the first in the genealogical family tree of the creatures we see today. This makes the circumstances around the cataclysm and the time before highly interesting for me and my studies.
Titan: It sounds like you really love your job.
Dr. Marko Steffensen: And I do! Working here in Shadowlands is an unmatched opportunity to learn about this unique fauna and especially the marine life here.
He checks his comlink and chuckles slightly.
Dr. Marko Steffensen:
And speaking of...I should get back to it. I'd love to talk about my research here and the lagoon animals, but I really must get back to my work.
But, if you're interested in meeting a fascinating guy, you should look up one of the yuttos here. His name is One Who Gives Warnings and he's usually to be found around a place called The Hourglass. It's on the north side of the desert in south east Adonis. Be safe on your travels, kid!
And with that, he waves to you and turns around, speaking into his comlink about shipping a tissue sample and some other bio-samples to a lab. Soon, he doesn't even seem aware of your presence anymore.C
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