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Sea Monsters: The Smartarm - Fauna
Written By: Elizabeth Barrette (Writer), Ellen Million (Editor), Lorna (Comtessa) (Developer), Lorna (Comtessa) (Artwork)
A sea monster similar to earth's legends of the kraken.

Reniirert (aka Rert)

The smartarm is a big (50-70 ft) deep-sea predator originating in northerly waters (similar to Terran stories of the kraken). It somewhat resembles the colossal squid (which is estimated at 39-46 feet). It breathes water with a siphon and gills; it can swim as deep as 7000 feet (about 2,100 meters). The eight main arms are shorter and more muscular than two grabbing tentacles which end with a sucker pad and a single claw. A 70-ft smartarm might be about 40 feet of body and head, 20 feet of arms, and another 10 feet of tentacles. At the center of the arms and tentacles lies a sharp beak like that of an owl. This predator attacks prey from the size of seals (which it can swallow whole) up to thunder-whales (which may escape with just a few chunks ripped off). It is preyed upon by other sea monsters including thunder-whales and giant sea turtles.

The smartarm is slightly venomous (with neurotoxic effects) and has odd blue-green blood. At rest, it is a light gray-brown color dappled with reddish-brown; it is also an excellent chameleon thanks to chromatophores in its skin. Like many cephalopods, it can squirt a cloud of ink, a useful substance if collected. The flesh is also edible. Attracted to former border areas or recolonized dead zones, the smartarm is probably the smartest of the sea monsters and causes havoc out of curiosity as well as hunger. This species is presently rare but expanding due to improved nesting opportunities.

Adults breed over the continental shelf, but rarely go there otherwise; young move from shallower to deeper water as they grow. The male grows a detachable penis which swims to the female bearing a packet of sperm; the female deposits her eggs inside the penis which then becomes an egg-sac that must be protected with a sturdy nest. Both parents guard the nest. Nesting adults will attack and destroy everything sizable that comes near their nest, where "near" means about a mile.

The smartarm often lairs and nests in sunken ships. They are particularly attracted to the shattered zone protecting the mouth of the northern inlet, and to the underwater city ruins in shard #60. They are clever enough to figure out that wrecking a ship results in tasty food spilling out, followed by a nice new habitat on the seafloor. Like an octopus, they can also learn to work simple devices or puzzles, such as opening a jar or latch to accomplish something it wants, or using a long pick to poke inside a hole after prey. This makes them inclined to tear off pieces of a ship and attempt to use them as tools.

The smartarm is devastating to small and medium boats, hazardous even to large ones. Long flexible arms and tentacles can reach right up into a ship to grab people, rip at fixtures, and generally wreak havoc. These arms consist of powerful muscles under thick rubbery skin; compared to most sea monster parts, they are sensitive and vulnerable. Thus short-range weapons are highly effective on the parts above water. However, injuring the arms or tentacles tends to piss off the smartarm and make it want to rip the ship to bits. Actually killing it requires longer-range weapons that can penetrate water to reach the main body; the huge eyes make excellent - if hard-to-reach - targets. Unlike some dumber and more pugnacious species, the smartarm can recognize a losing battle and retreat rather than fight to the death. This makes a given smartarm ever more formidable with time, and they can live for several decades.

Before Upheaval: The smartarm was historically uncommon and elusive.

Sundered Times: One surviving species lived in time shard #62. (It is possible that others survived elsewhere, especially off the map.) Isolation allowed the population to grow slowly, hampered by limited shallow nesting territory. Attraction to time barriers meant only the smartest members of an already smart species survived.

Modern Times: One surviving species exists now. It has spread from shard #62 into #60 and #63; then into #67 and #1. Access to better and more available nesting territory is improving the growth rate. They continue to spread anywhere that has suitable habitat they can reach from their current range. Additional discoveries of this enigmatic species are possible elsewhere.

This article contains extra material for our contributors only!

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