Life takes a myriad of forms as it graces the universe and sometimes even creatures with the most benign appearance may have quite formidable powers when cornered. At first glance, the meek valdusians look to be nothing more than a harmless, avian oddity to be dismissed as an obscure link in the food chain, yet another humble herbivore that’s content to merely ride the winds as they continue their daily search for flowering plants. Something to be ignored as a bit of local flavor and nothing to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth!
The bane of sailors, oil-rig crews, coastal ports and other sea operations, tide stalkers are 100-meter-long eel-like fish with bony hooks along their underside. The creatures spring from the water, grab their prey in their toothy mouths, and drag them below the surface to drown.
Although space lures countless explorers to the heavens with its wonder and mystery, the watery realms of many worlds have much to offer those who would explore their silent depths. It’s here, in the undersea majesty of the merciless, aquatic kingdom, that the sustari seek to evade those who would feed upon them as they fight a never ending battle for survival. Those that live through the perils of their native environment are rewarded with the right to renew their species; the cycle of life is renewed through their brood.
In the most inhospitable environment ever known – space – only a very few life forms exist without the cradle of technology to protect them. Most are small, even microscopic, bur there is a truly colossal creature that graces the cosmos, the starwhal. While only vaguely resembling a whale of the seas, it has the same elegance and elicits a similar nautical sentiment as their namesakes.
With their ivory-white plumage, plasmakells, known to many as “plasmakeets” or “firebirds” are the bane of spaceports and frontier outposts throughout the universe. A highly specialized form of raptor, they often dive-bomb settlements in search of prey.
Centuries ago, scientists in a desolate, secret research facility on a moon in the Olthalon system felt they were nearing a dynamic breakthrough in dark-matter research. Soon, unlimited power would be theirs as long-guarded secret began to unravel before their eager, inquisitive eyes. Then, just as the truth was nearly within their grasp, disaster chose that precise moment to strike as ravenous dimensional energies slipped their bonds and ran amok while their would-be masters cowered in fear. In the blink of an eye, the terrible energy engulfed the hapless questers, and soon their lunar home gave birth to an interstellar terror when something not of this universe passed through the newborn dimensional rift and began to feed upon its new home. As it consumed the laboratory and the moon it rested upon, the creature grew and began to feed on the system’s planets. However, as it closed in upon the solar morsel, cosmic justice screamed out and the creature’s audacity could no longer be ignored. In one final moment of defiance, the beleaguered system’s sun went supernova!
Of all the bizarre forms of life that struggle to survive the oft-hostile subterranean world, the humble grotto gatherer has mystified many environmental scientists who have studied them. Although scientists lack many of the facts of their origin, they agree the highly adaptable creature is an apparent visitor to this part of the galaxy. It appears that its “seeds” are highly resistant to temperature and pressure, so it’s likely that, first, comets and, later, space transports carried it through space. Once the seeds hit atmosphere, if the combination of air, moisture, and gravity is within a certain tolerance range, the seeds begin to develop into new oozes, which immediately make their way to the nearest subterranean entrances. Most immature gatherers never make it. However, unlike other star tossed, circumstantial strangers to known space, the grotto gatherer seems to benefit its adopted worlds and has quickly adjusted to life on many alien worlds.
This stealthy predator inhabits the vast plains of Tarak III, where it preys on the great herds of herbivorous kavamadu feeding on the tall grasses. The creature’s broad back is covered with stiff fur similar in coloration and texture to the grassland foliage in which it lurks. Grassy fur also grows atop the head and the upper-facing portions of the forearms. When hunkered down, the predator looks like a clump of grass amid the open savanna. Several short, sharp horns project from the snout of the broad, flat head, with enlarged nostrils to the front and slit eyes at the sides. The creature has no jaw or mouth, breathing completely through its nostrils. Small forearms end in razor claws, which are used with the horns to subdue prey. Muscular rear legs give a mauler incredible speed and amazing power to leap on victims from concealed locations.
The desert realm is a paradox in many ways. Ar first glance, it appears to be a bleak, desolate wasteland with little to offer the imagination. Those who probe deeper, however, find it holds a multitude of secrets. It seems improbable that the oft hostile environment could support life, but a wide variety of creatures manage to survive its embrace. Birds of prey soar over the desolate landscape, reptiles pass between its dunes, rugged planes brave the harsh sun, and the humble duskdigger burrows beneath the surface in an endless quest for nourishment.
Of all the creatures that shun the light of the sun and cling to the darkness of the subterranean world, none have the cunning nor the murderous instinct of the dread, diabolical predator known as the dire lurker. These fiendish creatures use their ability to cloak themselves in darkness to mask their approach when stalking prey. When not on the hunt, they prefer to hide amid stalactites of vaulted cavern ceilings while scanning their subterranean realm for the next victim to toy with. The netherworld horrors have been known to pursue prey for days and sometimes pass up quick kills in order to wear down their intended targets before finishing chem off. People who have been fortunate to survive the attack of a dire lurker claimed the beast seemed co feed off their fear. It’s unknown as to whether the creatures physically devour the terror they cause or are merely fulfilling sadistic desires, bur some speculate that the sole survivors of groups who were slain by dire lurkers were purposely left alive co tell of their experience. In any case, people do not enter their domain without good reason.