Physical Characteristics of the Eden Native Race Known as the Xorolunda. (Zo-ro-lun-Da)
Dr Wilfred Archbald Stannert Dr Med Dr Bio Dr Chem Msc Phys Bsc ComEng
The Race Known as the Xorolunda are a fascinating and interesting race. If it were not for their unrelating hatred of us and their naturally aggressive natures they would make fine subjects of the British Empire. Sadly it was not to be, and for our own Safety it is necessary to wipe them out.
The Xorolunda are typical of Eden's Sentient Races, they have been forged by the Force of Survival of the Fittest to adapt to their surroundings to the point that they are eminently equipped to survive in the Sea of Grass. They share some of these adaptions with the Yaxarla which leads me to believe that they are a related race which diverged from each other probably about 260 to 380 generations ago, following seperate Evolutionary pathways from that point.
The Xorolunda are built to ensure the continuance of their race despite their own personal destruction. Indeed it is these modifications which make them so dangerous to us.
An Adult Xorolunda is a Bipedal humanoid of approximate height to an adult male human but broader across the Shoulders. Their body layout is similar to a humans, with a head supported by a neck, two arms on opposite sides of the body and two legs. They retain however a rudimentary tail although it is short and not prehensile. This points to them being a more primitive form of life than even the Great Apes of Earth despite their intelligence.
Ths skin of the Xorolunda despite their correct classification as monotreme includes scales like that of an armadillo or pangolin, confusing still further their classification. These scales made of Keratin, are very hard and tend towards being inflexible and as such tend to only appear on sections of the body that do not need to flex. It can be assumed that the armour plates provided some protection from predators during the Xorolundas assent to their current state, but that due to their relative primitive state of being they have not yet been done away with. These Keratin plates however do provide them ample protection against hand weapons such as swords and knives, but lack the ability to protect against gunfire. This is great importance to us, as our possession of effective firearms is all that can keep the hordes of these savages at bay.
The Skull of a Xorolunda is somewhat longer than a human skull and includes 3 rather than two eyes. Two in the normal position and one in the centre of the Forehead. This triscopic vision allows them to gauge distance slightly better than a normal human but not to an appreciable degree. This I suspect goes hand in hand with their second strangest modification.
This modification is certainly unusual and displays propensity towards non-symmetrical bodyplans amongst the Xorolunda ancestors. One of the Xorolunda's hands (usually their non-dominant hand so usually the left) gains a bony growth along the top and side, eventually hardening into a large pod shaped object while still allowing them the use of their fingers. In this pod the Xorolunda has several glands that produce a hard resin and several specialised muscle groups. By striking one of their pod glands then constricting the muscles around it they can contrive to fire the hard plugs of resin at some speed. These projectiles are quite dangrous, especially as many Xorolunda have taken to plugging their resin pods with sharp stones, or worked metal tips. Although not as dangerous as a well placed bullet these primitive missiles are quite capable of causing unpleasant wounds. The one saving grace is that once the Resin pods are exhausted the Xorolunda is incapable of reloading them with any alacrity.
The pod does cause some loss of function for the hand that it grows upon, therefore some Xorolunda remove the bony growth from their hand. This seems to cause them no lasting discomfort. Indeed if the pod is removed it will if allowed grow back over the period of 6 months.
This is is only the SECOND strangest modification, the most strange is their major modification and incidentally the one that makes them most dangerous to us. As stated earlier the Xorolunda can be classified in the order monotreme as they are egg laying mammals. However they have certain modifications with regards to the carrying of their Egg clutch that bears explanation. It is not true to say that Xorolunda are all female, nor is it broadly true that they are all male either. It is believed that there may be at least one gender of Xorolunda we have not yet seen which deposits eggs into the Eggsacs of the warriors, much the same way as the femail Seahorse deposits eggs into the males in certain species. Either way most Xorolunda that we see will have a clutch of between one and three eggs at any one time.
The Prescence of these eggs in the Egg sac causes some alterations to the Pysiology of the Xorolunda, firstly their muscles store vastly more energy and secondly a number of secondary brains are activated throughout their body. These brains are usually situated in the centre of large muscle groups although one is positioned along the length of the alimentary system. This is all part of an elaborate survival system designed to ensure that the Eggs reach the age required for them to either be laid or hatch (discussion still rages about this).
The upshot of this system is that should a Xorolunda carrying eggs within it's sac suffer trauma to the level that it's body is incapable of keeping it's main brain alive the main brain is allowed to die and the secondary brains take over. The outer layers of flesh no longer required to move the body about cease to receive blood flow, and the body enters into a state where it's only purpose is (motivated by the secondary brains) to procure and devour foodstuffs. This equates in most cases to meat. The body thus animated by the secondary brains situated in the main muscle groups (which have their own sealed system of bloodvessels seperate from the main system) enters into a period of violent consumption of flesh. We saw the effects of this during our initial skirmishes with the Xorolunda, when a well aimed shot to the head would knock a Xorolunda down, but then it would rise again seemingly in a berserk rage. This was infact more likely their main controlling brain dying and the secondary brains taking over and driving them to attempt to consume.
It seems that the Xorolunda themselves have outgrown the need for this modification presumably originally required when they were prey animals of some form of ferocious predator, or perhaps prone to serious injury. Also as the berserk Xorolunda (or 'Deader' as many of our stoic Tommies now refer to them) does not discern between fellow Xorolunda and other sources of meat it is now obviously a severely negative trait. As such the Xorolunda have complex burial rites when one of their number dies which seem to consist of carefully dismembering the body. It usually takes a few hours for the secondary brains to take over fully to the point that they can motivate the body. As such there is a period of time during which such rites will be most useful. The Xorolunda also have methods by which they can make the Berserk Xorolunda quiescent, unfortunately we have not been able to make out how this is achieved. The other major problem is that in battle (or indeed in the presence of a number of other such afflicted Xorolunda) the change over from main brain to secondary brains occurs much faster. It is likely, that due to the fact the Berserk Xorolunda seem to have limited senses (vastly reduced sight, and hearing, while sense of smell remails acute) that this is due to some pheremonal signal. As can be imagined, Lord Chelmsfords initial campaign against the Xorolunda, involving lightening raids on homesteads killing all present meant that the dead Xorolunda did not have the time to produce the pheremone, and no one was left to perform the funerary rites. The result, the Feeder Herd, has become somewhat of a problem.
Driven as they are to consume flesh, many would assume that the Berserk Xorolunda would fall on each other. Here again the force of Evolution has again performed one of it's miracles. The cessation of blood flow to the outer layers of the body cause them to quickly putrify. As the Xorolunda still retains a sensitive sense of smell therefore other Berserk Xorolunda do not smell appetising. They infact smell like extensions of the creature itself, hence their herding tendency. These Feeder Herds then move across the land falling upon and devouring any creature in their path.
Originally the modification was intended to ensure that the Eggs reached the age at which they were ready to hatch, or at very least could survive hatching. The Berserk Xorolunda therefore has a definite life span. Unfortunately this can be up to 4 months, indeed many Warriors seem to ensure they receive a fresh eggclutch before battle, certainly in battles against us. That said a Berserk Xorolunda can be finished off, as stated dismemberment works although is hard to achieve, serious damage to the alimentary canal will result in the secondary brain system starving in approximately 12 days or so.
Please note that although every Xorolunda has this potential within them, not every Xorolunda killed will rise in this way. It has been suggested by research that only 1 in every 3 killed Xorolunda actually rise in this fashion.