My thanks to Roger Sanger, the copyright holder, for granting me
permission to host this article on my web site. To quote him, "I was looking
for a new home for DGP's 2300 AD articles, and naturally I picked the best fan
sites on the Web for that purpose. Kudos to Pentapod's World! Enjoy!"
- Kevin Clark
- January 24th, 2000.
Disclaimer required by Far Future Enterprises: This item is not authorized or endorsed by Far Future Enterprises ( FFE) and is used without permission. The item is for personal use only. Any use of FFE's copyrighted material or trademarks in this file should not be viewed as a challenge to those copyrights or trademarks. In addition, this item cannot be republished or distributed without the consent of the copyright owner ( DGP).
In their early encounters with mankind, the Pentapods became aware that dealings between air-breathing and water-breathing creature required special concessions from one side or the other. In an effort to make it easier for potential customers from Earth to tour and examine the Pentapods various aquatic facilities, the aliens developed a life form which would allow humans to breathe freely under water. These creatures, known simply as Breathers, serve the same purpose as mechanical scuba gear, but are far less bulky and not nearly as expensive.
Breathers look much like large terrestrial spiders. A roughly disc-shaped central body houses the creature's internal organs and is protected from harm by a thin ( but very tough), rubbery skin. Running along the back of the animal are two pairs of cilia-lined breathing slits. On opposite sides of the Breather, under each group of slits, are clusters of muscles from which three thin legs project. When full grown, a Breather can wrap these long "fingers" about three-quarters of the way around an average human head. Like many Pentapod creations, this biological construct has no sense organs or intelligence of any sort.
Breathers are dormant when out of water, entering a state of hibernation during which they curl into a softball-sized sphere. In this state, they require very little care and, if stored in a humid environment, can be kept for several months without use. To prepare the creature for use, one needs only to immerse it in water. After about a minute, the Breather uncurls itself and can be employed promptly. If not used within about two minutes after removal from the water it will return to its state of hibernation. When a person emerges from the water after using a Breather, it loosens its grip and goes dormant after the same period of time.
Breathers are simple to use. When an active Breather is held over the nose and mouth of a human being, it wraps its long legs or fingers around the human's head and holds itself firmly in place. A pair of very slender tubes emerge from the underside of the body and slip down the breathing passages into each lung. A muscle-relaxing chemical is then injected by the Breather to prevent the wearer's normal gag reflex from refusing this entrance. Once in place and submerged, the creature draws in water through a series of semi-permeable membranes. These membranes extract gases from the water, which are channeled down the extended tubes and into the wearer's lungs, providing a standard atmosphere.
When the carbon-dioxide level in the lungs reaches a certain point, the Breather draws it back up. Before being returned to the water via outlets in the breathing slits, this spent air is filtered again, allowing the animal to feed on the various micro-organisms and organic material which are exhaled from the body.
There are some drawbacks in the use of Breathers, most of which are unimportant in functional terms but which should be considered before purchase. Many first-time users find the insertion of the lung tubes to be quite uncomfortable. Despite heavy advertising which claims that this only "tickles", some refuse to wear a Breather because of their preconceived perception of being "invaded" by a foreign body. In practice, most people learn to ignore this sensation after several uses.
The most difficult adjustment to using a Breather, however, is the feeling that normal respiration is altered. Although medical examinations prove that the body receives just as much oxygen when using this Pentapod construct as it would from other aquatic life support systems, many people claim that "they can't quite catch their breath" when wearing a Breather. All evidence to date supports the advertisers' claims that this is psychological.
Lastly, it should be noted that it is impossible to speak while wearing a Breather. While not upsetting to experienced divers, who are often forced to communicate with sign language while under water, some mechanical scuba gear can allow underwater speech, and when this capability is desired, Breathers should not be used.
Mass: 2 kg; Price: Lv250.
Designed by Pentapod engineers and a team of human physicians, Hibernation Inducers have saved the life of many a bodily injured person. Often known simply as "hibers", these creatures look like globs of glistening black jelly about ten centimeters in diameter. On the underside, they have a soft white hair, which is much like a cat's fur.
When placed on the back of a human being, a Hiber is able to sense the flow of energy in the spinal column; it then gradually stretches out until it covers the length of the back, from the base of the skull to the tailbone. After about a minute, the Hiber's hairs extend into the skin of the subject, but because of chemicals secreted during this process, the patient feels nothing. After about five minutes, the tendrils of the Hiber reach the bones of the spine ad slip into the nerves beneath.
Once this contact is made, the creature begins to take control over much of the body. As this occurs, the injured person sinks into unconsciousness, if not in such a state already. After about ten minutes, during which time the metabolism drops dramatically, the body is stabilized in a state of deep hibernation. At this point, there is almost no measurable brain activity, the heart is all but stopped, and breathing is shallow and infrequent. Time passes very slowly for a person in this condition, roughly one hour of subjective time for every week of real time.
When the hibernating body is delivered to medical facilities for care, the creature is injected with a chemical which causes it to withdraw form the host. The removal process takes about ten minutes, at the end of which the Hiber dies. The patient gradually returns to a normal state, and after four hours is fully out of the hibernation state.
Mass: 1.5 kg; Price: Lv2,000.
One of the problems which plagued mankind in the quest to establish colonies on other worlds was that many atmospheres were only marginally suitable for human habitation. A planet might be well within optimum ranges for oxygen content and pressure but contain a higher than acceptable level of other ( often toxic) chemicals. For example, the atmosphere on the American/Australian colony world of King contains dangerously high levels of sulfur compounds.
In order to facilitate exploitation of worlds like King, the Pentapods, in cooperation with the Life Foundation, designed a microscopic organism known as the Atmospheric Filtration Symbiot, or Filter. These helpful creatures thrive in the human lung, where they feed on the trace elements which would otherwise prove harmful to their hosts. In the years since their initial release, Filters have proven to be very effective and have produced no harmful side effect.
Filters must be constructed for each specific environment. For example, those created for the colonists of King would quickly die if removed from the sulfur compounds that they feed upon. Thus, when any citizen leaves the planet and breathes the purified air of a spacecraft, he must receive a new colony of Filters before returning to his native world. Similarly, Filters designed to remove one toxic element from the atmosphere will be wholly unable to fend off other poisons introduced into the lungs. When in a purified atmosphere, the Filters will begin to die after about six hours. Within a day, the entire colony of microbes is destroyed and must be replaced.
Filters expelled from the body ( i.e., exhaled or ejected in a cough) die quickly outside of the lungs. On average, Filters outside of the body can live no more than five minutes. While it is possible to transfer Filters from one person to another in this manner, the exchanged organisms cause no harm in the new host.
Mass: Not Applicable; Price: Lv450/Filter Colony.
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