Euphraesthi's Mane, also known as Fisherflects, is the name for a genus of Crustarthroflect that lives underneath the ground including in the Jhoutaioan Coral.
These creatures get their name from the several bioluminescent mucus-like strands they form from the ceiling. They hang their strands in pools of water, fishing out plankton and other animals. The sticky resin can catch many airborne food particles as well. The strands produced by the Mane are high in protein, and are crucial to enabling below-ground life and enabling a space efficient protein farming method.
When my Ral-Mi guide told me he was taking me to a farm, and showed me a great ramp leading below the trees, I thought it was some form of joke.
But as we walked, it began to click a bit more in my head. How could reliable agriculture be done in the shifting layered ecologies of the nege trees?
They lead me to a great chamber. Tens of thousands of glowing strands lit of the cave walls and the pool below. It was as if someone had stretched the starry sky down to the sea.
Hiserabi crawled all through the stands, plucking some and leaving others. Their fur glowed the same blue as the creatures they were harvesting. I couldn't even pretend to understand their process, they were more than excited to show me.
Tiny Versions of Big Beasts
Euphraesthi's Manes are actually minature cousins of the Crustarthroflect, having taken a different evolutionary tree with the bigger and more dangerous kinds thriving above ground. These little insect-like creatures could not rely on the same prey and so made use of what was available. The unique situation forced unique evolutions; reduced size, new hunting methods, and entirely new organs.
Pictured above: A farm of Euphraesthi's Mane is being tended to by orga-spider drones. Fresh larvas have been seeded on 'branches' in the foreground.
Fishing Beneath the Surface
Living underneath the coral provides an opportunity; water, rich with plankton and other small creatures ebbs and flows from the oceans below. The water is not always present though, and Crustarthroflects are not a strong swimmers.
So the Fisherflects turned to fishing. They evolved a unique organ, one that allows them to craft dangling, mucus-like lines that drape down into a pool below. These sticky lures glow with a natural bio-luminescence, attracting prey from the waters below.
When prey grabs onto the lure looking for a meal, it get trapped in the slime. The struggles alert the Mane, who pulls up the line to feast.
Even if the Fisherflect does not catch anything big, the captured plankton that is filtered through the lines creates a protein-rich mucus with the Mane can survive off of.
The underground home of the Euphraesthi's Mane is an ever-shifting topology of Coral and tides.
In order to survive shifting, the Fisherflect can form its strands into a 'raft' if it feels threatened. These rafts can be used to follow the current of the tide until a new suitable location is found.
Entire colonies of Euphraesthi's Manes can float for miles on combined rafts, using their strands as a traveling food source.
Euphraesthi's Manes reproduce by creating translucent pods on the ceiling, in which they stick their eggs to.
Females who lay these egg sacs will defend them from other Fisherflects, Males will need to prove themselves worthy to the female, by producing strands and bringing nutrients to the female.
Duals between competiting Males can lead to fatalities, with fights sometimes ending with one Fisherflect winding up in the pool below.
As Orga Technology and Selective Breeding mixed, the Euphraesthi's Mane was able to shift in produce.
This variety of Fisherflect has been raised to create a quick-hardening protein rich slime.
It is the largest source of Caloric Brick for Orga technology.
This Fisherflect was genetically modified to produce a cloth-like strand which superb tinsel strength
This cloth is weaved into clothing, which a higher strength and heat resistance than most natural textiles.
The most ancient way of serving that dates back to the Vadakendanic Procession. It used to be seen as a delicacy, as traveling to the caves to harvest the strands was considering delving into hell.
It is prepared by boiling the strands with salt and local herbs to break down the strands into a broth.
Another ancient preparation method involved using the strands to replace some of the water in breadmaking.
This makes a protein-rich bread that was a staple of survival. It also is useful for stretching out grain-supplies.
A production of enterprising humans, the mane burger is a meat-replacement that uses the strands with other cultures instead of meat.
It took quite a lot of marketing to catch on, but it still exists in the modern day as a cheap meat alternative.
An invention of the Sazashi, Mane-based noodles are crafted from strands combined with flour to facilitate yeast growth.
They are popular as a replacement for traditional noodles in many dishes. This is one of the most popular types of serving.
A recipe founded by Johnny Durange in his Aempian bar. It involved the boiling of the Fisherflect itself, and serving alongside traditional human vegetables.
It attracted human clientele thanks to its similar appearance to Edenic Crawdads.
Euphraesthi's Mane has established itself as a tool for colonizing new worlds. It can be grown easily in Habitat rooms, and is hardy enough to survive most cave environments.
It also established itself as a popular species to humanity as well, the strands are used for 'super foods' while the Fisherflects themselves are a popular alternative to the more expensive Edenic shellfish such as Lobster or Crab.