A Warped Tales Entry …
On long hauls many people are comforted by personal pets and it’s common to find a variety of earth based animals like cats, dogs, fish, and even the occasional bird. Cats seem to get space travel and they fit right in because, well, they’re cats. Dog seem to have more of an issue with space travel and I’ve never seen one that ever seemed to be relaxed on a ship. They always appear to be on edge and it’s maybe because they can sense that just beyond the bulkhead there is nothing but empty space. Of course many people just get SynPets or meat pets as they are known because they are easier to take care of and if you get bored with one you can always trade up.
But of course the more adventurous personal always want something just a little bit different. One extraordinarily different pet I encountered was courtesy of Jason Etana a shipmate some time back who had a pet known as a Baawaa Nid. The Baawaa Nid looks like some sort of an insect animal hybrid. I don’t know what planet it was originally from and I can’t imagine what other creatures lived there because until you lay eyes on a Baawaa Nid it’s hard to describe, or get used to.
It has wings and can fly like a bird but it can also hover like an insect. The wings when fully extended are almost like a dragonfly’s but they can retract them and it looks like they are being folded and deflated at the same time. It has what looks like compound eyes like an insect that covers almost its entire head. But that’s where the similarities end as each eye is mammal like and has its own eyelid. And if that wasn’t enough they can move each eye independently. It’s unnerving to watch them blink because the eyes don’t always blink in unison as they always have some eyes open, watching you. I suppose it’s part of their defense mechanism to keep an eye out for predators. Also they blink in patterns depending on their mood or when they are pissed off. And to add to all of that they can walk on walls and of course ceilings so it’s not unusual to walk into a room and be surprised by it staring at you from right above your head.
Jason was more than happy to relate all the little details of owning a Baawaa Nid including the process of raising it and getting it to bond with you. He acquired it as an egg and as part of the bonding process and to keep it warm he kept it in a sling under his armpit. He showed me a picture of it when it hatched as a larvae and it looked like a big furry slug. The fur looked almost like porcupine quills but finer like fiberglass and it was bright white. He said that even though the fur looked sharp it was actually very soft and smooth. The care and feeding of it was pretty disgusting but Jason seemed to have enjoyed the process and was smiling as he explained every little detail. He would chew the food until it was like mush and then the larvae would feed from his mouth. He said that his saliva mixed with the food is what helps bond the Baawaa Nid to him.
Once they grow to the point where they are ready to morph into an adult he had to supply a silica clay similar to what would be found on its home planet. This is the part that really intrigued me because the larvae would coat itself with the silica clay and it has a chemical based exothermic skin that once they are fully covered in the clay they generate enough heat to bake the clay into a protective cover. The hair on its body would extend outside of the clay so that once the baking process is complete the hairs “burn off” and leave the baked clay covering porous so it can breath. He showed me a video of the process and I have to say I was impressed by how much heat it was able to generate so that the silica clay was fired almost as hard as clay pottery would be in a kiln. Once metamorphosis is complete their skin is no longer able to generate heat but they do retain the ability to heat up their two rear feet. The bonding process also means that the person they bond to is the only one that can handle them so even though they seem docile you have to watch out. They have been known to attack others when their bonded human is threatened by using their rear feet as weapons. It was hilarious to watch a BaaWaa Nid chase someone around a room as they tried to land on their head and then use their rear feet to singe the back of their necks. Not so much fun if you were the object of their attack and that led to a lot of policy changes in how and where Baawaa Nid’s could be kept. One of my favorite rules of owning a BaaWaa Nid is that they had to wear little heat resistant booties on their rear feet to try and eliminate injuries from little hot footed attacks.
They seem quite intelligent and his did all sorts of tricks including flying around the room on cue. His Baawaa Nid could also solve simple puzzles and mazes but of course leave it up to a space weary human to figure out what else you could do with a Baawaa Nid on those long haul missions.
It was something he called target practice.
No it’s not what you think the Baawaa Nid wasn’t the target, it was the gun. It seems that when the Baawaa Nid defecates it has quite a bit of force behind it. So much so that he was able to hold it in his hands, direct the rear of the Baawaa Nid towards a paper target on the wall and then on command (how he taught it to do that I don’t know) and have it release a “projectile” that would impact and stick to the target.
I know what you are thinking, you are at a loss for words as was I and when I asked him the purpose of this feat he told me that he and other Baawaa Nid owners would get together whenever they can and have tournaments and he likes to get in as much practice as he can.
I was just thankful that the Baawaa Nid is odorless, including its ammo.