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Stretcher Bugs

Stretcher bugs, also known as stretch-leg bugs have been discovered for the first time during the second year after Awakening in the darkness of The Depths. As the years passed, they have been tamed, domesticated and put to many uses all around The Pit (asides from The Surface layers).

Basic Information

Anatomy

Stretcher bugs are gray insect-like wingless creatures. They have flat and broad bodies with no discernible head or abdomen. Their eyes (3 pairs) and mouths are located mostly within the small gap on the front of their carapaces. They possess chewing-type mouthparts. On the sides of their carapaces, there are 6 (3 on each side) smaller gaps, out of which the multi-jointed legs grow out. Normally, especially in confined spaces, stretcher bugs keep their legs mostly curled up.
Compared to a lot of the inhabitants of The Depths, stretcher bugs can't really climb the walls. Instead, they reach higher or lower places by stretching out their legs.

Growth Rate & Stages

The bodies of stretcher bugs reach their maximum size by the first year of their lives. Instead, as they grow older, their limbs constantly grow and gain additional joints. The newly hatched specimen possesses only 1 joint in each leg. The legs grow about 1 meter per year, with joints showing up every 60 cm.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Stretcher bugs are herbivores, preferring Light-infused plants (Elements) over other vegetation (Glistening algae being their favourite meal). Unless they are put to work for a long time, they don't require a lot and as such, packs of them only move should their usual grazing spot be threatened by a predator.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

The name of the bugs comes from the way they are commonly used when domesticated. Thanks to their flat backs, friendly nature, and their ability to always stay in one position, many hospitals employ those beings as stretchers that can easily carry the wounded, even around or above the difficult terrain. As long as they are fed properly, the bugs don't mind being used in such a way, especially since their owners tend to take care of the potential predators.   Not long after, the second use for them has been found as low-weight cargo (or baggage) carriers.

Alternate name:
Stretch-leg bugs   Lifespan:
Around 12 years.   Body length:
Up to 2.2 meters.   Leg length:
Up to 6 meters, with 10 joints.

True level

For an unknown reason, stretcher bugs position their bodies so that they are always perpendicular to the direction the gravity affects them, making them parallel to the true level. They only stop doing that due to sickness or injury. Changing the position of their bodies by force causes them great distress and can even kill them.  

Light-infused variant

Stretcher bugs prefer to eat plants infused with Light Element. As such, they tend to wander into the areas where said Element shows up in greater concentration. The prolonged stay in such places affects their bodies, creating a new variant, a Light-infused subspecies of stretcher bugs, commonly called "long-legged lanterns".   The bodies of the affected stretcher bugs start to glow in the dark. In case of stress or a threat, said subspecies can release a sudden powerful flash of light, blinding and disorienting everything in the surrounding area. In the wild, the "lanterns" tend to be a lot more aggressive than their normal cousins, even using their legs as sharp spears, instead of running away from the danger.   Domesticated, this variant is often used by caravans to create a light source illuminating the area from above.

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Cover image: Call of the Tree by Revyera

Comments

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3 Aug, 2021 22:55

Long leggy boys!! I did picture someone tipping one over and the thought made me sad. D: Really cool interpretation of the prompt.