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Sea Monsters: Heat-Thief - Fauna
Written By: Elizabeth Barrette (Writer), Ellen Million (Editor)
A reptilian northern predator that grows to 80 feet.

Afejerm (aka Jerm)

The biggest (60-80 ft) northern predator is the heat-thief. It resembles the extinct Earth eurycleidus, with an alligator-like head on a sinuous neck, a large, round body with four powerful fins, and a short tail ending in a large rounded rudder. Although an air breather, it can dive to about 2,000 feet (about 600 meters) and remain submerged for 50-60 minutes. Its four limbs have evolved into lanceolate paddles, smooth and clean without visible digits or claws. It is mostly midnight blue shading to a lighter blue-gray belly; the undersides of the paddles are mottled in pale blue or white. A white color phase is known, but rare. The wedge-shaped head is large and powerful, and like a snake, the heat-thief can unhinge its jaw to swallow big chunks of food (including a whole human). The thin black tongue is forked. The neck is somewhat shorter and thicker than that of its relative, the deathfin. The heat-thief also has a huge dorsal fin, normally folded flat, which may be splashed or streaked with vivid turquoise or black. It is surprisingly fast and agile in the water for such a large animal. It can live a long time, 90-100 years. This species is uncommon but formidable.

As a reptile, the heat-thief can't produce its own heat. It has two methods of staying warm.

  • It eats only mammals, the bigger the better, and is a thermovore. It absorbs heat from the mammal's body, and retains some of the flesh alive in a special organ so that heat continues to be produced for a while. Its favorite prey includes seals (which it can swallow whole) and thunder-whales (which often escape with some chunks missing).
  • On sunny days, this predator basks on the surface, extending its dorsal fin to catch solar heat. Like mammals, it uses a layer of blubber to retain heat.

    Heat-thieves range through the cold northerly oceans, happily going into deep inlets and bays or near islands. Ships may escape them in shallow water. They may go into oceanward parts of some seas, but not clear to the landward side. They are ovoviviparous, carrying eggs internally to birth live young into the water. When young, they eat seals and other medium-size prey; adults eat thunder-whales and other huge prey.

    These sea monsters easily mistake large boats for whales and will attack on sight if they are at all hungry. The strong and flexible neck makes this predator a serious threat to people on the deck of a ship, although it is not quite as bad as the deathfin. The powerful body is capable of staving in the sides of a ship. Once it attacks, it is not easily dissuaded; it is large and strong, so difficult to kill or even injure significantly. Aiming to decapitate it or cut its throat is a good strategy. When reaching out of the water, the heat-thief may occasionally present a great chest shot at the base of the throat where it joins the body: a penetrating shot there can kill.

    Before Upheaval: One species was kept in a reserve in this area by the ancients.

    Sundered Times: During this time, the population in time shard #67 was limited primarily by territory, as the habitat was favorable and food plentiful.

    Modern Times: The species is expanding with considerable enthusiasm. It spread from shard #67 to shard #1 very early, making boating in the sound very dangerous to the snow-unicorn riders, and then extended through shards #63, #62, and #60. Empire explorers who have run into this species so far consider it a large variation of the deathfin, though they will quickly revise that assumption as they continue to have conflicts with the creatures and obtain corpses to study.

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