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This article was written by ThePurpleDragonNinja. Please do not add to this fiction without the writer's permission.

Dragon Bolt (ThePurpleDragonNinja)
Noimage
Species
Natural tools Talons, teeth, electrical currents
Status Widespread
Location Several systems

Dragon Bolts are an enormous species of spacefaring creatures, known for their ability to manipulate electrical currents.

History

For the evolutionary history, look under "Species".

These creatures were first found on one of the earliest settled planets with life. Eventually, other planets were found to be inhabited by the same species. The Dragon Bolt was thought to be an invasive species and these creatures were hunted to prevent them from ruining ecosystems. Eventually Dragon Bolt fossils were found far back in the geological history of multiple planets, indicating that this species had naturally evolved to integrate itself into the biosphere of new planets and has not had a destructive effect on the inhabited planets.

Incidents

Thanks to the large and widespread population of these creatures, there have been many incidents where they have come in contact with sapient creatures. Some of the stranger ones are documented below.

Ieln 3

An experiment by one of Ieln 3's minor powers to attempt to weaponize Dragon Bolts resulted in the corruption of blueprint databases, which in turn caused twelve-wheeled hovercycles to be mass-produced for several months before anyone caught on. Ironically, the hovercycles where far more efficient than any designed so far, elevating the group to high economical status and making the military branch more-or-less obsolete.

The Sparked Atmosphere Incident

This infamous incident occurred when a Dragon Bolt, in the process of slowing down for landing, ignited a planet's large and almost 90% oxygen atmosphere. The world's surface turned into near-pure CO2 over water and several other materials. Once the atmosphere had reached a high enough temperature, it exploded. The pressure and heat quickly changed the CO2 into a thick layer of diamond spanning the planet.

Collisions

Due to their vast presence in intersteller space, encounters with Dragon Bolts are relatively common; a study shows that one in a hundred spaceships ends it's career with a Bolt collision. Due to their method of propulsion, even a near miss will usually be catastrophic, shorting out any unshielded vital components, neccessitating high-quality radiation shielding even for ships intended for non-organic passengers.

Stats

Hatchlings:

Strength: 11
 
Agility: 13
 
Toughness: 15
 
Mind: 10
 

Adolescents:

Strength: 41
 
Agility: 33
 
Toughness: 42
 
Mind: 16
 

Adults:

Strength: 100+
 
Agility: 50
 
Toughness: 50+
 
Mind: 20
 

Abilities and Traits

Dragon Bolts grow constantly2, and their unique biology both gives them a lifespan several centuries long and a special anti-disease system for adapting quickly to new planets. This system allows them to absorb antibodies or similar systems from prey, quickly granting them immunity to diseases that would otherwise wipe out entire populations.

However, their most characteristic feature are their electric organs. These form near their wings and head during early adolescence. Those on their heads are used for both mating displays, defense and offense. After reaching adulthood, these form a crest at the back of their heads. Additionaly, special bones and muscles allow them to flick globules of electrically charged material from their mouths at high speed. Those on their wings are used to assist in (space)flight and are the feature that allows these creatures to reach and survive in space. After several mating cycles, a small pack (consisting of several mating pairs) of these highly social creatures will use saved-up energy to generate magnetic fields, which repel them from the surface of their current planet. Their gigantic wings function like solar panels, an especially useful feature in space, absorbing electromagnetic radiation from nearby stars. At the same time, this solar wind, along with the expulsion of part of this radiation (similar to ion drives), allows Dragon Bolts to accelerate at relatively high speeds, reaching other stars within about fifteen millenia.

A Dragon Bolt will never migrate more than once, establishing and defending the population on the new planet rather than starting a new one, but will, near the end of it's life, return back to the planet where it was born, which prevents the loss of biomatter, something which could otherwise harm a planet's ecosystem. Some Dragon Bolts never migrate. Over time, these give rise to variations specifically adapted to those environments (see "Species").


Mating and upbringing

The mating rituals of Dragon Bolt's are complicated and not well documented. It is known however that mating generally happens in the stormy period of the area and is accompanied by a large discharge of energy to impress the other. 

The upbringing of the offspring is, unlike most species, the responsibility of both parents. As a matter of fact, the first person to find eggs of one of these creatures was vaporized by a combined effort of the mother and father of the clutch. Dragon Bolt eggs hatch over a period of fourteen months, during which the mother and father take turns guarding the nest and hunting. To prevent the other from weakening, the hunting one of the pair always brings back some of the kill. After hatching, Dragon Bolts are, compared to their parents, relatively weak, incapable of generating or absorbing electrical charge and with weak wing muscles. The protectiveness of their parents means that very few predators ever attempt to catch one of these. Usually, one parent goes of to actually hunt, while the other takes the hatchlings to a relatively harmless area, with enough small prey for the youngsters to try attacking. Most hatchlings learn to fly on their own, however. This happens slightly before adolescence, usually by it idly flapping it's wings until it accidentally starts to hover.

Hatchlings look quite different from the adults, lacking the characteristic electric organs, instead featuring a colorful network of tubes, in which the organs will later start to grow. Their claws are outlandishly large, almost as large as their heads, but with some webbing left, which is useful in regions with extreme rainfall, as hatchlings are nowhere near large enough to stand above even mild water levels. This webbing will disappear about two months after hatching. Their fourth talon is also at the front of the foot, to make pouncing easier. As the hatchlings reach maturity, this talon migrates to the back, to allow them to carry their prey while flying. This allows scientists to approximate the age of a specimen by studying the position of the talons. A hatchling generally measures about half a meter, although they are often smaller.

Species

Known species of Dragon Bolt are:

  • The "basic" type, which is the type this page describes.
  • An aquatic variant, where the wings have developed into fin-like structures (with very few bones, similar to a manta ray) and the electrical organs have been adapted into echolocation tools for survival on ocean worlds. These creatures grow at a much slower rate, but live so much longer that an average example of this species  will eventually grow up to 1.4x as large as the largest known specimen of the "basic" type.
  • A domestic variant, much smaller than the basic type and with less powerful electrical organs. Very popular as a pet and very protective towards their owners. These creatures usually are approximately half the height of a hero at the knee. Feral packs of these tend to sit on power lines, where they absorb power surges and will during a power outage actually provide energy, releasing some of the energy they have absorbed during the day. They are even suspected of reducing the amount of thunderstorms that actually happen, as they absorb the charged particles in the air which cause thunderstorms. This type was bred from a small desert variation of the basic type.
  • A burrowing species, in which the electrical organs, similar to the aquatic type, have developed into a sort of radar, and where the wings have evolved into a sort of fold-able drill that can be set in front of the head. The tail is used to propel and spin the creature so it can drill.
  • A completely aerial species, that fills the near impossible niche of "gas giant" planets. Thanks to a special adaptation in it's brain, the creature can fly continuously, even whilst resting. It's legs have developed into extra fan-like structures to provide extra lift, and it's entire body structure is much sleeker than the "basic" type. The extremely strong magnetic field and high radiation levels that usually accompany gas giants both provide a bountiful source of food and make electrical propulsion easier on the Bolts.

Diet and hunting

During their young life, Dragon Bolts mainly feed on organic matter. However, later in their lifecycle, metal is needed to reinforce the bones of these gigantic creatures. After a while, stronger metal is needed. Eventually, even the strongest normally occurring metal isn't enough, and Dragon Bolts resort to producing special enzymes that produce very strong molecular structures to replace the "basic" metals. This continues until the weight of the Dragon Bolt is beyond what even the strongest materials can support, at which point the Dragon Bolt stops growing and eventually dies.

When hunting, Dragon Bolt's stay perfectly still while waiting for prey. This is done with use of a specially adapted part of their brains, which allows them to stay in a sleep-like state while scanning for movement. This same part of the brain is also used during migrations to avoid interplanetary debris.

One unique feature is how, in adult Dragon Bolts, the electrical organs can absorb enough electrical energy to support all of the vital systems and even moderate physical exertion. This is especially useful for migrations (as mentioned above) and for Dragon Bolts living on otherwise inhospitable planets, because these planets often have a weak magnetic field (which is often caused by low gravity, making it easier for Bolts to migrate), which blocks smaller amounts of solar and interstellar radiation, which can in turn be absorbed, acting as a food source. Similar mechanisms are used by the oldest of Dragon Bolts, which are too large to live off prey alone and generally still need to spend most of their time sleeping.

Other types

  • The prehistoric precursor to the "basic" type was a much smaller tidepool- and river-dwelling organism. This creature used electric currents to defend against larger predators and to sense prey. It used it's intricate crest (the origin of the network of tubes seen in hatchling Bolts today) to filter nutrients out of the water. Once the electric defense system evolved, it rapidly rose to the spot of top predator in it's environment, later evolving into a land-dwelling creature, with it's rudimentary extra set of fins becoming a set of small gliding wings.
  • One type split off from the "main" species earlier than the other ones mentioned on this list. This type is quite a bit smaller than even the domestic variant, but lives in massive, ant-like hive structures, consisting out of over a thousand individuals. Unlike ants, the social distribution consists out of a main pair of alpha male and alpha female, with the others being slightly adapted variants. The alphas are slightly larger than the others, with several intimidation-related characteristics (spikes, crests, etc.). Workers have smaller wings (for fitting through small spaces, claws better suited to fine motor skills, fully prehensile tails and extremely-well developed senses. Fighters have small wings (to provide smaller targets), very powerful electric organs and large claws. Each type can produce offspring, usually of the same type as the parents, although, rarely, a different type may result.

Quotes

"What the? This is amaz-AA-*fizz*"
―An explorer. See the incident mentioned under "Mating and upbringing".
"Dragon Bolts? Smart creatures. Nasty too. Just like me."
Collato Zenith

Footnotes

1: There is a relatively common mutation that stops growth around the thirty-fifth year. The change of internal material continues, however, leading to relatively small Bolts which, because of the square/cube law, are stronger than even some of the largest normal ones.

2: During migrations, Dragon Bolts do not grow, as most of their metabolism slows down out of neccesity.

Trivia

  • ThePurpleDragonNinja hopes to feature these creatures in an upcoming story.
  • This creature was originally a summer 2013 Brain Attack set. That particular form is, according to ThePurpleDragonNinja's mythos, an adolescent, the adult being about one and a half meters long in MOC form.
  • For the (semi-)canon version, see this page.

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