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Crichton's Notes


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 live one.

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.


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