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Earthrise: First Impact Dev Journals: Welcome to the Arboretum

By Guest Writer on August 07, 2009

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On the Northeast edge of the island of Enterra a small settlement named the Arboretum has been founded by a faction of settlers calling themselves "Nathura". As the name suggests, this is a nature-venerating society consisting primarily of scientists who refused to take sides in the ongoing conflict between Continoma and Noir; instead they chose to focus their knowledge and resources on the betterment of the last piece of inhabitable earth. Under the leadership of ex-Continoma Chief Geneticist Kiga, the people of the Arboretum have learned to be self-sufficient and to provide for themselves using only the natural resources that surround them. That leaves the settlement fairly independent from outside interests and allows Nathura to focus on taming the post-war mutated flora and fauna of the island and forming a peaceful and, even more important, symbiotic relationship between men and nature where both exist in perfect equilibrium and mutual benefit.

To the East of the Arboretum one will find the lush tree-gardens of the Bountiful Orchards. An unsuspecting observer might find this name misleading at first, as no fruit ever grows on the branches; however, these plants provide all of Nathura's essential needs including energy, water, and food. Genetically engineered creatures called the Volvox labor day and night to extract all excess energy and nutrition elements not needed by the trees for an adequate rate of growth. Those colonial organisms then spread their harvest amongst their cells where a bio-chemical process occurs that both supplies the Volvoxes' energy needs and transforms the leftover elements into different forms useful for the humans. Necessities such as clean water, bio-electricity and even an edible, but tasteless puree, are later deposited through the horn-like protrusion on the Volvoxes' head in collectors stations where the creature has been programmed to breed and nest.

A word of caution to the unwary traveler is in order though - while not really possessing any sentience, the Volvox is driven by a very primitive form of instinct that will often compel it to try and extract useful compounds from nearly anything - including humans! Avoiding them when possible is advised as only trained professionals from Nathura can really work with those creatures without endangering themselves.

To the West of the Arboretum is the somber Thicket, a great tangle of undergrowth, bushes and trees that seemingly do not belong together. A wild and untamed place, this is where the bio-engineers of Nathura conduct the experiments that have been deemed too dangerous within the confines of the settlement. Here new forms of plants and animals, sometimes even breeds that could hardly be classified as one of the above, are released and subjected to careful observation. Every now and then the experiment is a success and the new species find their niche and smoothly integrate within the existing ecological chain; but other times the artificial breed just fails to adapt, either dying out or proving to be too aggressive, thus starting to affect and take over the whole environment and needs to be utterly destroyed. Despite Nathura's endless claims to the contrary, it is these experiments that most other Enterra citizens suspect created two of the more dangerous species in the area.

The Tangler is a carnivorous plant, although many artists' renditions seem to mistake the unruly vegetation for a huge snake or some sort of tentacled monster. While the majority of the Tangler's body lies beneath the ground, victims are most likely to see - and feel - the tentacles first. Many survivors' stories tell of the Tangler chasing them just below the ground's surface as they try to flee, but there is no veracity to these rumors and is more likely attributed to the person actually fleeing though a whole patch of Tanglers. In fact, being locomotion-deprived is the exact reason that this monster is able to spit a thick sap from its "head" concentrated with paralyzing enzymes, allowing it to entangle its prey at its leisure. The Tangler's roots - as the "tentacles" are indeed a modified sort of aerial roots - then proceeds to sink a billion of tiny suckers into the victim's body, turning a full-grown man into a hollowed out husk within an hour.

Although the Tangler is a threat to most, the Pterarostra bird has formed a symbiotic relationship with the meat-eating plant. The fowl's most notable quality is its ability to spit a liquid that by itself represents a contact poison, but when mixed with the Tangler's sap, it ignites. Since the Pterarostra lacks a beak, it has to secure a little BBQ from its neighbor. Sucking food through the same proboscis used to spit its venom, it feeds on the melted remains rejected by the plant. With a feeding process this efficient, there's nothing left behind!

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