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October 5, 2007

E - The Elysian Zorn

by sven at 8:00 am

Reprinted with permission from Professor Ichbonnsen's Monster Month blog.

[click to enlarge]

A virus is unable to self-replicate except by invading the living cells of a host animal. Certain viruses are able to significantly re-write their host's genetic code. When this genetic re-coding results in "massive" transformations of the animal's outward form, the resulting creature is referred to as a "zorn." "Zorn" is not a single species, but rather a category of species: creatures whose origin is viral DNA re-scripting.

Zorns based off of giraffe, gazelle, buffalo, elephant, and baboon stock have been sighted with increasing frequency throughout central Africa for the past five decades. It is obvious from their appearance that these zorns share a common viral origin.

The animals have become headless. Their eyes and ears have been replaced with an ultrasonic echolocation system, now located in the frontal thoracic region. The truncated throat has transformed into a loosely musculatured proboscis only capable of dealing with liquified nourishment. The ribcage has reformed into a segmented shell (typically still covered by fur). The dorsal shell is perforated with orifices that excrete a weak acid solution, which the zorns use to dissolve plant materials -- which are then slurped up through the proboscis. The legs and digestive systems of the original animals remain essentially intact.

Fortunately for humankind, this particular zorn-producing virus cannot be transmitted by casual contact. It must be injected directly into a host animal's bloodstream. However, once the animal has become a zorn, the condition is inheritable. All subsequent offspring share the parent's new form... Zorn herds are increasing.

What is the original vector of this viral strain?

With great difficulty, I have tracked the virus back to its source: Martian insect megafauna. These are colossal flea-like creatures, the height of a two-story house. They are omnivores that occasionally enjoy meat -- and they are extremely effective hunters. After capturing their prey, they trap it in a cocooning blanket of slime, and then inject it with digestive juices that slowly liquify their intended meal from the inside out. On very rare occasion, some of the prey have managed to escape. These "lucky" ones became the first zorn of their kind.

It is my belief that there are only two or three of the giant insects on Earth at present. I believe that they were brought to our planet entirely unintentionally, during the course of black market trading between Earth and Mars. Certain foreign correspondents of mine have linked this particular insect species specifically to Elysium -- a large volcanic region of Mars, stretching roughly between 15º-45º latitude and 130º-160º longitude.

Knowing this, the zorn that we are currently seeing in Africa should properly be identified as Elysian Zorn. (Zorn are typically named after the location where their viral mutagen first emerged.)

Because the Elysian Zorn virus is only transmissible via direct injection into the bloodstream -- and because we know the original vector of transmission -- we have an excellent chance of being able to contain this outbreak before it spreads farther... If authorities are willing take action.

However, proliferation of the Elysian Zorn is indicative of a even larger, more insidious problem. Given that the first record of an Elysian Zorn in Africa dates back to 1863, we can reasonably extrapolate that illegal trafficking between Earth and Mars has been going on for at least 150 years.

Contact between the two planets is hopefully still a rare occurrence -- but every instance is a new opportunity for disease and invasive species to spread into environments where they do not belong. Elsewhere I have written about illegal importation of the "Opium Gore Golem" by certain drug cartels... What other dangerous species are already here among us?

posted by sven | October 5, 2007 8:00 AM | categories: bestiary