Last time around we talked about the legacy of alien species added to the ecosystem. I happened across a cool web site called Human Descent which has some interesting if a little cartoonish hybrids.
Taking a stand here, to establish the ground rules.
What if the Red Weed was not a plant but an animal or a motile fungus?
What if the invasion plan was all about interbreeding, something made a lot easier when the dominant despoiler species, humanity, was extinct?
With the introduction of the alien species, we will see terran-martian hybrids which blur and, at times, obliterate, the barriers between plant, animal, fungus and even bacteria.
Referring to dogs in the main, but also applying to felines and other predators which feasted on the remains of the Martians. The average Red Dog looks like a normal member of it’s species but has crimson catfish-like feelers around the nose and mouth. These are prehensile, functioning both as a feeding apparatus as well as having a secondary offensive weapon and a tertiary sensory organ. The sensory nature of the feelers enables the Red Dog to sense toxins. The offensive capabilities are because the feelers are covered in tiny stinging cells which cause numbness in the affected area. Red Dogs will hunt in packs and attempt to take down prey much larger than themselves. Whether they are more intelligent than their terran progenitors is unknown but these creatures breed true and progressive generations show more of their martian heritage with slick, reddish, inflamed-looking skin.
This refers to the large black birds which seem to be populating the skies and replacing the carrion birds which have been mainstays of the countryside. Gone are the rook, the raven and the crow, and we are left with these heavy monsters. Bald-headed like a vulture and bearing the same mouth-feelers around their sharp, piercing beaks as the Red Dogs, the Red Crows have exterminated most of the aerial wildlife and are beginning to wage war on the rodents and other small wildlife. Stories abound of them attacking farm livestock and even children.
The legacy of the Black Smoke was not as pervasive as that of the Red Weed. The Smoke, although immediately and painfully toxic to humans if inhaled, became inert and harmless on contact with water or steam. Once it entered the water table, we could see the harm it would do to our food chain. Plants which were subjected to large amounts of the Black Smoke would quickly wither. But if the particles were absorbed from the water table, after the smoke was left inert, then the problems would become much worse. Fruit and grain from affected plants would be black in colour and plants and trees would begin to weep a dark ichor where they had previously leaked sap. The fruit is not palatable to the taste, except to creatures already changed to the Martian strain, which find it delicious. It seems edible though and can be used to survive – and the markets that have sprung up around the cities to help stem the tide of hunger as the economy recovers have begun to sell Black Fruit as if it without taint. Rowing along the Thames on a Sunday is not the same with Black Strawberries and whipped cream. Not the same at all. The sap, if collected, burns well and in quantity is extremely flammable, which considering the state of our mines and refineries is fortunate indeed.
The Red Cull
As a result of the contamination of terran species, the government has started a progrom against any alien hybrid species. The fields of the english countryside would be signposted with great black plumes of smoke as the bodies of contaminated livestock and fields of crops were rendered by fire.
Cool! It’d be like how they have a general “shoot to kill” policy on non-indigenous animals in Australia (or “Happy Roadkill” on Cane Toads).
This then causes all sorts of interesting possible sub-plots. Wackos who want to keep weird and dangerous cross-breeds, entire towns threatened by lack of food, and so forth.
And all sorts of opportunities for in-game stuff.
â€¢ Bounties for Red Dog carcasses. And perhaps Red Crows carcasses.
â€¢ What happens to humans who eat Red Meat (now there’s a metaphor!) I deliberately didn’t elaborate on this.
â€¢ What if you’re hired to accompany a scientist who wants to investigate a la Biggles, Charter Pilot which was a book that REALLY had an impression on my future life.
More later when we cover technology. 🙂