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“Where there is death, there is the Nikdo. Death is everywhere.”
- Monc Proverb
Nikdos are known throughout this world by many names, ranging from “unclean” (by The People) to “corpse mouths” (by the Slow Walkers). As the primary consumers of decayed organic matter on Anomaly, Nikdos are Anomaly’s “clean-up crews,” breaking down large bodies of matter into a form that can be further processed by the local “fauna” (bacteria). These bacteria then return the nutrients to the soil. Unlike the bacteria or nighttime carrions, the Nikdo does not possess the veil of microscopic size or the darkness of night in which to perform its grisly duties. They are driven by the sole biological imperative to consume dead matter wherever they happen across it…and they are visible to everyone around them.
Anomaly’s endless wars provide the freshest “material” for some Nikdo. Others appear to prefer the gamier quality of thoroughly decomposed matter. “Taste,” it seems, varies between individuals. Sadly, the rate of killing on this world is such that we’ve yet to happen upon a skinny Nikdo.
The Nikdo digestive system is a marvel of nature. Those who prefer “less ripe” meals can be found foraging through a battlefield during the confrontation. This can result in Nikdo casualties, but serves to enforce the primitive urges that drive them. Upon death, the unusual stomach lining which keeps the acids at bay loses its protective properties. The fluid distributes evenly into the rest of the now-deceased creature through what seems to be a lymphatic equivalent that remains resistant to the chemical stew. A biochemical switch is thrown, and a cascading reaction renders the already formidable acid into a super-acid. The Nikdo’s body literally consumes itself in a matter of hours, leaving a slight impression on the ground where the body used to be.
The acid immediately loses much of its potency after consuming its one-time host. This happy coincidence prevents Nikdo corpses from being used as weapons by Anomaly’s more brutal minions. A day’s sunlight will render the residue completely inert and fade the area, leaving no trace of the Nikdo. A slight, acrid smell remains for species with a keen sense of smell, but nothing more.
The Nikdo, while shunned by all races, practice a great reverence to the death rituals of the races.
For example, The People honor and bury their fallen, so their remains are typically left untouched. The same applies to the Slow Walkers and the Moncs. Conversely, Muties cast aside their fallen without a thought and are consumed wherever their carcasses are found. I have not yet surmised if this care is due to cultural reverence, or fear of retribution, by the warrior races for desecrating warriors who gave their lives in combat.
Nikdos are curiously frail creatures for a native of Anomaly. Their only notable “offensive capability” is in a high-force, short-levered jaw structure used to bite or grind their way through the toughest hides. The service they provide the races is what keeps them safe, albeit socially ostracized by all but their own. This is best be explained with a bit of history…
According to Urz, Muties once murdered a small enclave of Nikdo for the sheer sport of it. The result?
All Nikdo avoided the Mutie territories. A great plague swept through Mutie ranks and decimated their numbers by tens of thousands as bodies festered and gave rise to disease. Erebos ordered a massive burning and culling of the sick to halt the spread of disease in his ranks. The fires of dead (and some alive) bodies were so great, the smoke blotted out the sun for many days. The ash cast skyward by the fires was such that weeks passed before the last of it fell to the ground.
The People call this period “the Devil’s Rain,” referring both the bodies burned and the one who ordered their incineration. The following year’s harvest, however, was among the best in memory. Nutrient dense ash had fortified the soil and food skirmishes for an entire season were almost unheard of outside of the Muties…whose numbers were so distressed as to give the other races a reprieve from their murderous ways for some time.
Erebos was said to have ordered the execution of any Mutie who so much as thought to harm a Nikdo. This is the true clout of these stout, unimposing creatures. Nikdos are absolutely necessary for the survival of the races, and yet, until Jon, were never acknowledged. If a Nikdo was caught in a fray, both enemies would do what they could to avoid harming them. As invisibles, Jon was able to muster the ever-present, ever-ignored Nikdos into a formidable spy network with which to gather valuable intelligence on Erebos and those under his command.