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Author Topic: A Natural History of the Air Kraken  (Read 31339 times)
qubehead
Gunner
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United States United States


« on: December 14, 2007, 10:16:23 pm »

The dreaded Air Kraken, scourge of the steampunk skies, actually begins life in the deep ocean.  In its appearance, habits and diet, there is little to distinguish the juvenile kraken from its purely marine cousins. As it approaches maturity however, it begins to change radically. Like other giant squids, the kraken's flesh is heavily impregnated with ammonia for bouyancy; as it matures, it secretes a catalytic enzyme which reacts the NH3 with H2O to produce gaseous H2, with aqueous HNO3 expelled as waste. The hydrogen gas accumulates very slowly in a bladder in the kraken's mantle, thus raising it toward the ocean's surface slowly enough to allow it to adapt to decreasing pressure. As the kraken nears the surface, the pressure change triggers a dramatic increase in production of the catalytic enzyme; all the animal's remaining NH3 is converted to hydrogen, distending its gas-bladder hugely... and the true 'air kraken' takes to the sky, where it will spawn and eventually die.  Once airborne, it propels itself by flapping its membranous wings. Its ink glands, deprived of their watery medium, expel their product as an extremely fine smokelike black dust. The air kraken's favored aerial habitat is the towering cumulonimbus clouds- they keep its skin moist and make an excellent lurking-place.  Scientists remain puzzled as to how the kraken finds nourishment in the skies; they have never been seen low enough to hunt birds, and at higher altitudes there is little prey save the occasional unwary aeronaut. Because of this, it is surmised that air krakens never eat at all after reaching full maturity- like salmon, they ascend only to mate and die.  Attacks on zeppelins occur when the kraken mistakes the aircraft for either an eligible female or a rival male.  The air kraken's eggs are mere air-filled balloons, weighted at the bottom by the embryonic animal, which drift gently down into the sea and begins its life cycle anew.
Comments, corrections, additions, speculation, suggestions, come one come all- let's hear your contribution!  Air krakens are too cool to consign to pure fantasy.
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Sgt Alistair King
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2007, 10:20:41 pm »

Perhaps the Air Kraken feeds at night, hence its failure to be observed...could be the sourse of the "cattle mutilations" documented in North America..
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Don't tell me this is another experiment crossing lines that man was not meant to cross..
benthic
Guest
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2007, 10:38:44 pm »

haha Very nice. A section on the air kraken's age-old rivalry with the soarwhales should be researched as well, possibly as a means of developing a defense against the destructive aero-mollusks.
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sasha_khan
Guest
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2007, 10:48:47 pm »

Gunaydin, arkadashlarim!

They are not always nocturnal! I have seen them hunting in broadest daylight - in the Balkans, the Crimea and in Africa. His Majesty's Air Service has done much to lessen their predations in the minor cities and towns of Turkiye, while nearly eradicating attacks near the largest cities (Istanbul, Konya, Izmir et al).

Being an adaptive beast, they are most active in daylight hours far from major human populations - where their devilish and deadly mischief can be most easily put into play unnoticed.

Filthy beasts.
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cthulhu_spawn
Guest
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2007, 10:49:35 pm »



love it.
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sasha_khan
Guest
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2007, 11:44:47 pm »

... for a dear friend has arrived on my door-step bearing a delightful lunch - consisting of a Siamese noodle-dish, rich with sea-foods - and containing a higher than usual count of the smaller sea-going cousins of the Air-Kraken.

Take that, tou dashed little rotter!

Vengeance is mine!
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Bigglesworth
Officer
***
United Kingdom United Kingdom


Ace pilot and adventurer.


« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2007, 12:12:17 am »

Hmmm. Good thought. Is it possible for a cunning Nipponese gentleman to carve a "sushi" dish out of sky kraken so that it floats above the dish?
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Anaesthesius
Officer
***
United States United States


« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2007, 06:35:00 am »

It seems well worth linking to this similar thread, which contains a link to "The Horror of the Heights", a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle which is the origin of Air-Kraken, as far as I can tell.

I'm all for the salmon idea. 
Imagine your airship floating through a fog-bank at sunrise, when suddenly you enter an area free of clouds.  The helmsman notes a sudden shower of glassy bubbles in the outer air - Cut the engines! Man the Tesla cannon! O God, let's hope they haven't noticed us! - the rosy light illuminates a group of spawning Kraken...  Like
this video
but bulbous and aeriform, bigger than than two trans-continental Zeppelins end-to-end...

However, spawning salmon aren't especially aggressive.  It seems possible that cattle mutilations and headless fallen aeronauts could be evidence of Shoggoth incursions.  They are vicious, quite capable of sprouting tentacles and beaks, and they can wink out of this dimension before they can be properly identified. 

Semi-seriously, I'm not a zoologist but I don't know of any beast capable of containing hydrogen or any lighter-than-air gas for anywhere near long enough or in sufficient quantities.  Lots of things have air-bladders, of course, but hydrogen is a challenge even for synthetic membranes.  I imagine there'd be a problem with explosive natural selection, especially with lightning.  There's also the question of why it might be advantageous to spawn in the air at all.  Even though they might evade predators (excepting soarwhales), the eggs have an even rougher time than they would if dispersed into water.
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"...by all means, let's plant poles all across the country, festoon the ------ with wires to hurry the sorry word, and blinker our judgments and motive...  Ain't the state of things cloudy enough?  Don't we face enough ------ imponderables?" - Al Swearingen on information technology, Deadwood 2x13
Prof. Erwin Lindemann
Snr. Officer
****
Germany Germany


Inventor of the Galvano- Æther-Telescope


WWW
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2007, 07:46:58 am »

I didn't found it, but about 4 years ago there was an article in the russian newspaper "Pravda" (of course in the english section as I don't understand russian) about "dragons". Russian scientists said that they found a flying animal in the Southamerican Anden. They thought that this worm-like animal is a kind of hydrogenium filled jellyfish, which comes quite close to an air kraken. The scientists called it "dragon" and thought that those animals are maybe the reason of the stories of dragon, drakes, lindworms, and how they are called all over the world. 
 
Even if it was not the April 1st newspaper it is hard to believe that this is true. I hope I'll find back the link.
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Kogwheal
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


Tinker, mailler, tall-taler, all-purpose sillyman


« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2007, 08:12:41 am »

Speaking of air kraken...

http://www.brassgoggles.co.uk/bg-forum/index.php?topic=5591.msg83300#msg83300
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KneeNAR
Guest
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2007, 08:51:25 am »

I didn't found it, but about 4 years ago there was an article in the russian newspaper "Pravda" (of course in the english section as I don't understand russian) about "dragons". Russian scientists said that they found a flying animal in the Southamerican Anden. They thought that this worm-like animal is a kind of hydrogenium filled jellyfish, which comes quite close to an air kraken. The scientists called it "dragon" and thought that those animals are maybe the reason of the stories of dragon, drakes, lindworms, and how they are called all over the world. 
 
Even if it was not the April 1st newspaper it is hard to believe that this is true. I hope I'll find back the link.

^ Were you serious about that? The April 1st comment threw me off :O!
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Prof. Erwin Lindemann
Snr. Officer
****
Germany Germany


Inventor of the Galvano- Æther-Telescope


WWW
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2007, 10:01:24 am »

Well it was in the "Pravda", not in a "normal" newspaper. The Pravda is the newspaper of the communist party of Russia. You know that "Pravda" means "trues". The other soviet newspaper was "Isvestia" which means "News". The difference was that in the "Pravda" you never found any "Isvestia" and in the "Isvestia" never a "Pravda". Nowadays the Pravda is well known for their...hmm...not really mainstream-news. That includes weired conspiration theories and science-news which are... let me call it... not veryfied. But they really mean it! Look at www.pravda.ru and choose "english" if you don't understand russian.
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Hedgehogey
Officer
***
United States United States

Mad Bomber Paperboy


« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2007, 10:50:23 am »



Judging from that model, the beasty appears more related to the Vampire Squid than the Architeuthis which makes up the largest genus of giant squid.

Reports of mad bombers riding these creatures to attack her majesty's airship fleet are greatly exxagerated. Now...if you'll excuse me...I have to put on this black, oilskin raincoat and do something...completely innocent.
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Kogwheal
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


Tinker, mailler, tall-taler, all-purpose sillyman


« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2007, 10:52:47 am »

Vampire squid!? Well, now I know what's going in my next aquarium!
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benthic
Guest
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2007, 11:46:26 am »

Vampire squid!? Well, now I know what's going in my next aquarium!

<---bubble burster  Wink
Not unless your tank is fitted to house deep-sea creatures, it's not.
WIKI - "The Vampire Squid is an extreme example of a deep-sea cephalopod, thought to reside at aphotic (lightless) depths from 600-900 metres (2,000-3,000 feet) or more."

Out of curiosity, though, what do you suppose happens to the body of a air-kraken dead of natural causes? The natural buoyancy of the creature would persist, if not increase over time, as the body decomposed and filled with additional gases. Limp tentacles trailing underneath it like a jellyfish's tentacles, floating endlessly through the sky like a lonely and lost hot-air balloon.. It would eventually lose the air from within it and slowly descend out into the open ocean, or worse, onto dry land. Imagine the spectacle of a beached whale, but in the middle of a busy city.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2007, 11:49:54 am by benthic » Logged
Kogwheal
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


Tinker, mailler, tall-taler, all-purpose sillyman


« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2007, 11:53:21 am »

And it certainly will be! I won't have my next aquarium until I can do it up royal.

As for the final resting place of the dead ones... given that the first documented colony was over land, and that I have never heard of a case of an air kraken carcass drifting down to land, one must suppose either that every single one drifts down onto the ocean (seems unlikely) or that we can make a rather good guess at what the airborne kraken eats after all.
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Modhail
Snr. Officer
****
Netherlands Netherlands


« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2007, 12:36:34 pm »

Benthic, I like the imagery of your theory!
I'm just fearful that there won't be much slow descending. Likely the decomposing membrane, being under pressure, will fail catastrophically at some point, causing a near instant loss of buoyancy...*

I guess it would be a most dreadful event: strolling along the streets of a Steampunk version of your town, you suddenly hear a vague "pop" high up in the sky. Then a whistling, flapping sound that gets louder fast .
You just pray that when the ensuing loud, moist SPLAT occurs, you won't be under it...

I guess that the actual existence of Air Kraken would demand we build cities under sturdy armoured glass domes. (Fitted with large windshield wipers....  Wink)

Bye, Modhail

*:Though some species could have evolved multiple gasbladders, in order to be more resistant to injuries undoing their airborne life?
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We often borrow of the future to repay debts of the past.
Anaesthesius
Officer
***
United States United States


« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2007, 04:57:09 am »

Do Kraken have a collective noun (like a murder of crows) yet?  If not, I suggest a Terror or Snarl of abyssopelagic kraken, and how about a Spindrift or Zephyr of Air-Kraken?
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Sgt Alistair King
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2007, 05:33:12 am »

Perhaps a storm of air kraken?
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benthic
Guest
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2007, 05:40:17 am »

I would imagine that they rarely travel in groups, much like a regular Giant Squid, cursed to retain solitary existences except for breeding purposes. I would fear that a full brigade of air-kraken would be too much for the average mind to handle.
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Sgt Alistair King
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2007, 06:00:11 am »

I think the Air-Kraken is an opportunistic hunter, feeding on weaker and dead Air-Kraken as well as feeding on other targets of opportunity, such as cows or unwary Aeronauts..It would explain the lack of falling carcasses
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villaintagonist
Guest
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2007, 06:39:58 am »

If I am not mistaken, "snarl" and "spindrift" are the proper collective terms for Kraken, abyssopelagic and aerial respectively. Kraken are generally solitary creatures, gathering in small groups only every 7 years for the purposes of breeding, and, according to ancient legends from regions as varied as Iceland and Portugal, every 900 years they come together by the thousands, swarming like locusts, in what the ancients call the  "epulum diuweltuulus" Which, roughly translated, means "Feast of the wind-devils." These legends are merely rumors, of course; mentions of such sightings in ancient texts are rare, and actual proof has yet to be found. This is presumably because it is unlikely to survive such a sighting, but it still leaves room for skeptics to argue that it's "not scientifically plausible" or "a complete fallacy."

I would have to agree with Sgt. Alistair King. I think it quite likely that aerial kraken feed upon the bodies of their own kind. It's quite a vulgar thought for the minds of decent folk, but it would certainly explain why their dead are seldom encountered by humans, and how they spend most of their lives above the clouds without descending to feed.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2007, 08:09:52 am by villaintagonist » Logged
Sgt Alistair King
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2007, 06:45:43 am »

Good Lady Tagonist, I would be honored if yuo called me Alistair...and schooling Air-Kraken would be a fearsome sight indeed, possibly the origin of the Chuthulhu myths...Great Tentacled Gods would come to mind to ancient man seeing those spindrifts..
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benthic
Guest
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2007, 08:38:44 am »

After digging out the etymology on the word "spindrift", I have to agree that this makes for a pretty accurate depiction of their movement through the skies, but wonder if a more fearsome sounding term may be more appropriate for these great eaters-of-man.
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Philetus T. Flambuginous
Guest
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2007, 05:59:52 pm »

   If I, a relative new comer, may be so bold;  I believe that I can shed some light on the seeming complete lack of Air Kraken remains.   
   As I have stated in my introductory post:  my ship, the Hermione, plies the airways of Fromagia, which, as may you know, is bordered by the Great Inland Seas.  In these environs, seldom are the truly immense mature specimens encountered.  We do however see Kraken, albeit immature specimens (8 to 10 Meter), with some frequency.  Perhaps the Inland Seas, being fresh water, are a nursery of sorts.  While posing little threat to most air traffic, they are considered a delicacy in these northern climes and are hunted for the table (see my previous posting for a truly delightful recipe). It was one such successful hunt that my observations occurred.
  We had just hauled our catch aboard and secured it to the deck.  Our Master Chef had just administered the coup de grace to the thing and was preparing to skin it when one of the returning gigs accidentally damaged a nacelle.  The resulting damage was considerable and caused all hands to assist with fire control and repairs.  After the situation was brought under control, we returned our attentions to rendering our catch.  In the time that had elapsed (roughly one hour), the creature had turned a dark purplish color and had almost doubled in girth, looking like a child's balloon tied with string where the ropes lashed it to the deck.  Our chef announced that it was now unfit for consumption and as we were preparing to cast the carcass overboard, a muffled "pop" was indeed heard, and the animal began to deflate rapidly.  As it shriveled, the entire flesh form tip to tentacle began to turn black and liquefy with great rapidity until , within a mere minute or two, nothing remained of the beast save a large puddle of black, slightly gelatinous liquid that smelled faintly of ammonia and sulphur!  The stuff was dashedly hard to remove and ate mildly into the decking and corroded the brass where ever it came into contact.     
   It is the conclusion of the Master Chef and I that whatever chemical processes these creatures use to produce their hydrogen whilst alive (when cleaning them one must be extremely careful not to puncture the lift bladder as the liquid contained therein causes nasty burns), runs rampant when death occurs thus causing the above mentioned liquefication.  Perhaps the reports of freak "black-" or "red-" rains can be attributed to the death and deliquesence of large, mature Air Kraken over land?
  I am not a scientist nor do we have one aboard the Hermione, so the above theory is just my best guess.  Perhaps it will stimulate more investigation of these mysterious denizens of our skies.
  On a side note: My Master Chef informs me that, after having cleaned and prepared a dozen or so of these creatures for table, he has never encountered one with any contents what-so-ever in its stomach.  Most curious!
 
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