Budongs are huge, space-dwelling creatures, far bigger than Leviathans and not nearly as nice. The one Talyn
met was grazing on rock and ice debris in planetary rings. But that was
just to maintain its girlish figure: What it really craved was a tasty
tidbit smothered in electromagnetic syrup — which is to say, Talyn.
I'm not sure why budongs hunger for E.M. sources when plain old rocks
apparently provide enough nourishment. (While we're on the subject, I'm
not sure why I hunger for french fries when food cubes apparently provide enough nourishment.)
It could be related to the major role electromagnetism plays in a
budong's internal anatomy. Whereas my body relies on a series of
contracting muscles to squeeze food down my esophagus into my stomach,
a budong has a powerful electromagnetic current that performs a similar
function. Then, instead of using acidic digestive fluids, it somehow
generates enough heat to liquify anything it swallows — even Leviathan-Peacekeeper hybrid gunships.
Given their appetites, it's lucky that living budongs are rare. Not
that I had a much better time inside the dead one than I did in the
Once a budong dies, its bones become a source of valuable nogelti crystals. Miners set up camps in the rotting carcass to search for veins of these crystals.
In true Wild West style, the camp we visited was run by the biggest,
baddest miner. Violence and gambling were everywhere, and, since
crystals were the only currency, you never knew which random miner was
suddenly gonna strike it rich.
If that didn't keep things interesting enough, the rotting budong flesh itself was toxic. Infesting the carcass were Keedva,
feral four-legged carnivores that preyed on miners and Human astronauts
alike. I have no idea how the Keedva got to the budong carcass in the
first place. Maybe the original miners brought them and they ran wild.
Or maybe — evolution being the bizarre process that it is — the Keedva
are some kind of naturally occurring budong parasite. I'll never know
for sure, because I ain't gonna conduct an exhaustive scientific survey
of Keedva presence within decomposing budongs ... though it would make
a hell of a dissertation topic if anyone else is interested.
JOURNEY LOG REFERENCES
Home on the Remains
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