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Length: 4.57 m
Width: 1.28 m
Height: 2.44 m
Weight: 108.86 kg
Speed: 0.11 km/h
Habitat: Found exclusively in the desert regions of Anomaly. Tropical micro-environments are shunned to avoid drowning.
Anatomical Features: Arthropod. Four legs (two on each side of the thorax) for propulsion. Central “kill spike” mounted to the chest (forward) and venomous stinger (abdomen). Elongated neck and deliberate dislocation mechanism to mouth.
Feeding Habits: Ambush hunter with a voracious appetite.
The Death’s Hand is so named because its “neck and mouth” appear to be an evolutionary abstract of a previous “arm”. This horror acquires food by lying in wait below the desert sands. The fine hairs covering the beast possess the same tactile acuity of several arachnid species for which it is named. The neck stalk is nearly three meters in average length, crowned with toothy, painful death. Detection is nearly impossible until it is too late. A puff of dust around oneself in the open desert is often the only warning one gets before dying. The jaws snap shut faster than thought with enough force to crush a man’s spine.
Should an intended victim manage to elude immediate death, any abrasion by one of its teeth can inflict a slow demise unlike any other. The bacterial stew it uses as thrifty venom drives most to commit suicide rather than attempt recovery. The blood will boil with infection and the mind will remain curiously rational to know you are dying…painfully. Septic shock settles the debt within hours without treatment. Retrieval of such prey is about the only reason a Death’s Hand will leave its underground cradle.
Death’s Hands are thought to be blind, lacking ocular organs of any type. This makes sense given their underground existence. As most die where they have lived, I have yet to dissect one at any leisure. (The death of one of their own brings others to feed on its corpse.) Watching the creatures attack and kill several animals and a handful (no pun intended) of unfortunate travel companions, some anecdotal observations of their behavior is possible.
The creatures “sense” their surroundings mostly through the pressure changes in its environment detected by the sensory hairs. This ability is especially acute underground, but sneaking-up on a Death’s Hand crawling about the surface is nearly impossible. They are able to elude arrowfire from a distance, from downwind; an impressive feat. Due to their hide and wait lifecycle, Death’s Hands are notoriously difficult to study.
When one must cross arid plains, seek solid rock formations whenever possible taking care to look for suspiciously steep “dune hills” just before reaching them. Whether by sentience or evolution, the Death’s Hands have “learned” their prey might employ just such a tactic. Many of the older (larger, faster) of these will lie in wait adjacent to stone “safe walkways” for ambush.
The exact cure to a Death’s Hand bite is only known to the People. My limited attempts to extract its components from the Healers have been met with humorless, cold stares. Most victims prefer death given how the cure keeps the body alive, but does little to suppress the pain. I cannot help but think there is a mystic element to this which, if you know the race of which I speak, is not a stretch. Loss of consciousness results in death, so it is up to the individual to “survive death’s grip”. It is an appropriate euphemism.
The venom would be a marvel to study in our labs. It appears to preserve neural synapses even under extensive systemic damage…something even our best nanotech is unable to accomplish. The medical applications are mindboggling.
Generations ago, a deliberate infection by the Death’s Hand would be induced as a rite of passage for each prospective Clan leader. The trial was eventually eliminated due to the high mortality rate of the best warriors. Others driven mad with pain lash out at their observers. That Battle Lords are the People’s best warriors, the casualties mounted quickly. While it is no longer a necessary ritual, those who have “survived death’s grip” are viewed as “a better among equals”.