"The Pearl Desert is... I'm not sure how to explain this to an outsider." "Please, try." "Well, okay. The Pearl Desert isn't just a place, it's a type of, I don't know how else to express this, but a way of living as well. A person has to listen when the sandstorms pass over, listen to the voices as they explain what needs to be done." "And what did the voices tell you to do?" "They told me to paint the Pearl Lotus Blossom blue so there could be more communication with the sky."
The Shifting Sands are made up of, to the naked human eye, different deserts since areas can be broken up by color. Truthfully, it's all the same place. Air currents decide where sand grains are swept to, and that's why the sand colors separate into different areas (the old thought that a slight shaking exists and the movement scatters the grains into different areas has been debunked as a scientific explanation, though continues to persist in local rumors). The Pearl Desert is central in the Shifting Sands, and the wave-like dunes glisten with iridescent hues similar to pearls. There is no visible access to fresh water, but spotted around the Pearl Desert are caves, where quite a few of them have access to underground springs.
The environment of the Pearl Desert is along lines the definition of "desert." There is little rainfall during the year (see Pearl Lotus for an exception), and the temperatures can range between cold and hot (night and day). Plant life in the Pearl Desert is mostly cactus, with several palm trees growing at the Pearl Lotus since they have shade from the harsh sun and a more than adequate amount of moisture. The the few birds in the area are mottled white and grey (so as to blend in with the sand), and there are several species of reptiles running around, mostly eating each other smaller insects, with a few even know to eat fruit near the Pearl Lotus.
Once in a blue moon there's a thunderstorm or two, but other than that there's not a lot of natural phenomena located in the Pearl Desert.
Fauna & Flora
Much of the flora and fauna is based on Earth sees and DNA banks that were carried her by spaceship, however there are still plants and creatures that were here before the colonization. Flora of the area includes:
- Starburst Palms -> very similar to the Earth palms in that the trees don't need a lot of moisture/water, but these trees have dark purple trunks, lighter purple leaves, and the fruits (when in season) are about the size of a human's finger, lean, and full of small seeds.
- Trffiods -> a creeping type of vine that usually has a base at a nearby tree (in which case it's stealing water and being a parasite) or it has access to an underground cavern that has its own water system. These vines are normally flecked with white and shades of grey so they are hidden.
- Nimmols -> These are "wandering" plants that like burst into flower at any hint of rain, but will be tightly closed if it's too dry. Many of these flowers are at the hotel and used as a "Welcome to the Pearl Lotus" since there is enough moisture in the air and they won't die if placed inside a person's room.
- Jirin -> these very small creatures are the size of most Earth mice, and they are in a similar position on the food chain (everything eats them). The only have one eye in the middle of their forehead, they have six limbs (which is probably the only reason their species survives is speed), and they have a detachable tail.
- Sarth -> normally found nesting at the top of very tall trees, these birds are seen mostly at night. They are carnivores and will feast on Jirin, smaller Sarth, Hyden is the creature is sick/injured, and (when they are starving they will slash bit of the cactus and try to eat that).
- Hyden -> These twisted snake-like creatures tend to travel just under the sands, snaking their way to nest in the underground root balls of trees, or looking for Jirin to eat. Some of the clever ones will wind their way up the tree and look for Sarth nests, but the possibility of being pecked/ripped to shreds is very high.
The Pearl Desert is named after its coloring, but the iridescent look comes from a type of soft sulfate mineral. The reason why this sand continues to remain white is because there is no river, sea, lake or other water (in large enough quantities) nearby which would break down the items in the sand that color it white. (While rain is a type of water, the fact that the broken down elements can't escape the area means that anything broken down will eventually become sand grains again. The other sections of the Shifting Sands are different colors due to their own granular makeup and environmental reactions.
Most of the area's history was written from the time it was colonized. There's the day the first transport ship landed, letting out robots to start creating the basic shape of the hotel. When that was finished, the hotel's atmosphere was made breathable, and people lived in the building as they finished the work. From there they descended into the depths of the ground to create the districts of the area that would house all the humans working for the hotel. After everything was finished, advertisement started and people began going out of their way to travel to the desert and "experience a night under the Pearl Desert's Moon."
The Pearl Lotus' are where people come for tourism, and in many cases, where they will end up staying. The Pearl Lotus' are a building that unfolds from dawn (with all the petals completely out at the hottest part of the day), and then it closes back up, slowly, so that the final petal is finished when astronomical twilight begins (which is when fainter stars can start to appear). Inside the Pearl Lotus is a decent life. Yes, there area a lot of service-related jobs related to the tourism industry (mostly catering to pampering within the Lotus), but there are also jobs that require items to be brought in from the desert, or for tours to be organized. Many of the people who live in Lotus live in the underground layers of the city; the "upper levels" (aka the petals, inner stalks, and leaves) are for tourists only. Some of the services offered at the Pearl Lotus are:
- discreet services to be inquired about via the Lotus' private messaging system