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Vampvine is a species of carnivorous plant native to the jungles of Sedek II in the Imperium of Sidhae. Named so after it's manner of feeding, the vampvine entangles unwary creatures and sucks them dry of their blood, leaving behind a dessicated carcass.

Overview

The jungles of Sedek II are home to many dangerous species native and introduced as well as a host of virulent diseases capable of overwhelming even the robust Sidh immune systems. Vampvines are one of these species, adding another hazard to the hellish jungles of Sedek that are already full of perils.

The vampvine is a rather inconspicuous-looking plant easily unnoticed in the thick jungle. Taking the form of a hanging vine, it grows on the branches of larger trees, dangling its many finger-thick tendrils down into the undergrowth frequented by Sedek's animal life. Not standing out visually in the thick green, these deceptively harmless-looking vines wait for a passing creature to brush against them.

Little do hapless victims of the plant suspect that the tiny bristles covering the vines are in fact tips of barbed stingers similar to those found in stinging nettles and jellyfish tentacles. As soon as the victim's skin touches the bristles, the coiled stingers within the vine trigger and dart out, lodging themselves firmly into the victim's flesh. The victim's struggles to remove the attached vine only result in the triggering of more stingers as the unfortunate creature brushes against more dangling vines, becoming more and more firmly entangled. Each barb injects the victim with a dose of potent neurotoxin that eventually paralyzes it but leaves it alive and conscious as the plant begins to feed on it's blood. Depending on the size of the prey and the degree to which it has entangled itself, the process can take from several minutes to several hours, a well-entangled adult human being bled to death within 30 minutes.

The barbs serve the dual purpose of extracting nutrients from the trapped prey, using the differences in osmotic pressure between the plant and prey tissues to drain the victim of blood. The stingers begin their work as soon as they pierce the victim's flesh, the process being entirely self-sustaining and continuing until either an equilibrium in osmotic pressure is attained, or until the prey is finally drained of all blood. As the vampvine engorges itself with blood, it changes colour from green to blood-red. When the prey is finally sucked dry, the expended stinger barbs that have outlived their purpose die and break off, releasing the dessicated carcass of the victim to fall to the ground and be consumed by carrion-eaters, the blood-gorged plant starting to digest its catch, regrowing new stingers in place of the lost ones and waiting for new prey to come by.

Because of their inconspicuous appearance, vampvines are difficult to detect and identify in the twilight of the thick jungle undergrowth, especially by an outsider oblivious to the dangers they pose. Travellers from off-world are hence advised to wear enclosed powered armor while out in the jungles at all times, a necessary precaution for many more reasons than just vampvines. Residents of Sedek II who are familiar with the native life, however, have learned to detect vampvines and even harvest them for their own uses. The most obvious way to detect a vampvine is the abundant presence of animal remains on the forest floor near it's home tree, although noticing this warning sign is often easier said than done in the thick jungle vegetation. A freshly-fed vampvine is spotted rather easily because of the blood-red colour that it assumes. It is at this time that it is safe to approach and harvest - the stingers become inactive for a time after trapping a prey, the change of colour being a cue that carrion-eaters pick up on, knowing it's safe to approach and devour the leftovers of the plant's latest meal. People of Sedek harvest the vines while they are inactive, usually by first pacifying the plant by herding a hapless creature into it's deadly embrace and letting the plant eat it's fill. The vines are a source of a high-strength fibre that rivals kevlar in strength - an evolutionary necessity on part of the vampvine, given the typical size and strength of Sedekeen wildlife. The vines are also used in unadulterated form to make animal traps, being harvested and vowen into nets while green. Even a freshly-cut vampvine retains it's stinging and bloodsucking properties for quite some time, poisoning and draining any creature trapped in such a net of it's blood with it's numberless stingers. Making such nets obviously requires the use of powered armor, but the local residents, most of whom are researchers, appreciate such use nonetheless, since fresh vampvine nets are great for trapping native wildlife alive, provided the paralyzed animal is removed before being bled out.

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