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Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Grumpy transmuter in its craddle

Valerian – useful alien animals

(Part #4)


Context

This xenozoology article very much assumes that you have read our previous Valérian and Laureline character profiles. The whole sequence goes:

  1. Valérian, space-time agent – start there.
  2. Laureline, space-time agent.
  3. .
  4. Addendum – helpful alien animals.

This fourth entry presents alien animals whose helpful abilities are used by Laureline and Valérian as an alternative to conventional tech.

During the saga, there’s also a number of alien persons — not animals — who help Valérian and Laureline using superhuman powers. These are not covered here, but several have their own writeups.org character profile :

Our profile for the Shingouz also describes the tick-like “living truth serum” animal they occasionally use.


Tümtüm from Lüm

This small animal has a beautiful metallic aspect and a flower-like face. It also reflexively coils around small surfaces, which means it can be worn as a jewel. For instance Laureline used one as a large, bejeweled barrette.

A tümtüm’s eye is a natural camera, and further serves as its brain. Furthermore, it is possible to scan its retina to extract the images it saw. Thus, if one isn’t familiar with how a tümtüm looks, it is a practically undetectable espionage tool.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Laureline deploys a tumtum from Lum

The lil’ beast can be stored in a hibernative state. Whether it is a naturally hibernating animal, or this was induced by Terran tech, is unclear. It seems common for Laureline and Valérian to store useful animals in hibernative state on their ship.

A tümtüm has Data Storage: 06, limited to visual information. Valérian’s scout ship has the necessary scanning equipment to retrieve the data. A tümtüm’s other characteristics are likely similar to those of a small Earth bird (see our Animals File).

There is an implication that the images scanned from a tümtüm’s eyes are of extremely high resolution and quality, with a vast colour space.


Grumpy transmuter from Bluxte

Laureline is twice given custody of an invaluable animal – a grumpy transmuter from Bluxte. Looking like a scaled hedgehog, the grumpy transmuter sports a poor attitude. But its organism holds more energy than a nuclear generator.

When a transmuter is given a little object to eat, it can excrete perfect copies of it… *thousands* of copies if necessary. Thus, given a sample it can produce vast amounts of most currencies, precious materials, rare drugs… A grumpy transmuter can produce practically unlimited wealth.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Laureline holding a grumpy transmuter

However, one must be careful not to have it exhaust its energy. Abusing a grumpy transmuter’s power could soon kill it. In particular it must be fed raw energy (say, electrical current) to renew its enormous reserves. This is a *lot* of energy, as in the output of a starship’s engines.

Transmuters memorise what they have duplicated. Thus, they can spit out more copies even if they’re not fed a new specimen. However, that apparently consumes more energy than working from a physical sample.

Of incalculable value

It took more than six months and an entire expeditionary corps to capture a single grumpy transmuter on Bluxte. Xenozoopsychologists convinced the captured specimen to more or less cooperate, and Laureline greatly improved that relationship over time.

Generally, it would seem that Laureline is one of the very few persons who can overcome a transmuter’s grumpiness. With most other persons, it will be hostile or even aggressive. It is possible that Terran xenozoopsychologists were the only one who found a way to befriend a grumpy transmuter.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Grumpy transmuter digesting

Thus, once Galaxity disappears, it is possible that Laureline is the only one who can get them to work. Frex, on Rubanis, an invaluable specimen is handed over to her without any particular precaution. As if the previous owner couldn’t get anything out of it.

In Laureline’s hands, a grumpy transmuter is the equivalent of Wealth: 15. Its other attributes are presumably close to those of a hedgehog. It also has a vast ability to absorb energy, but the spectrum of energy types it can absorb isn’t known.


Tshung

A tshung (or “tracer tshung”) is a small alien that looks like a cross between a bat, a hummingbird and a butterfly. They can lose all their bodily fluids, “storing” themselves as a flat, small, inert square. Perhaps this is to survive extended dry seasons on their home planet.

Laureline almost always has a dehydrated tshung on her. It’s part of her gear if she’s wearing a field jumpsuit. If she’s dressed in something that’s short on pockets (such as designer evening wear), then she’ll just put the tshung in her brassiere.

Her tshung will be kept in something akin to a condom packet to stay dry. When she needs it she tears the packet open and immerses the tshung in water. There, it will soon regain consciousness and its body volume. Tshungs do not appear to be particularly hungry or groggy once rehydrated.

Tracer tshungs have many remarkable properties.

Homing instincts

Tracer tshungs have an absolute sense of orientation. Furthermore, they can unerringly fly back to a designated area. One assumes that the tshung must be trained to recognise this spot as their nest.

Later on, Laureline has tshungs home in onto a given person, such as Valérian. What senses they use to do that is unrevealed, but it could be telepathic.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Rehydrating a tshung

This ability to track persons may be part of their standard abilities. But one gets the impression that Laureline used advanced training methods to get her tshung to do that.

Tracer tshungs are sometimes used by species or persons without any sense of orientation as guide animals, for instance to return home.

12 APs of Extra-Sensory Tracking would be our rough estimate for a skilled tshung.

Particles collection

As they dry after having been rehydrated, a tshung’s fur will collect particles such as pollens, pollution, etc.. This doesn’t last long, as their fur will soon be saturated.

This means that even if a tshung isn’t carrying a message, it is possible to analyse the particles in its fur. They will constitute a solid sample of the air at the spot where they awoke. With sufficient databases, it will thus be possible to deduce the likely area where they were rehydrated.

Flight

Tshungs fly quickly, and with tremendous endurance. One could cross the whole of Asia and Europe in about a day. They can function in a broad variety of atmospheres, and there’s an implication they can fly and breath in atmospheres that cannot support human life.

Tshungs can even function in a vacuum. They *probably* cannot make interplanetary flights, but it seems likely they could fly from the Earth to its moon.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Tshung poking through armor

How a tshung fly in space is unrevealed. Maybe they use the same approach as an omni-beast.

They have Flight: 08 at least. One suspects they can engage more APs outside an atmosphere. Technically, that’d be a Power Loss when in an atmosphere. They also have 12-ish APs of Sealed Systems.

How many chunks should a tshung chuck ?

The beak of a tshung also has odd properties. They can use it to peck at surfaces, much like a woodpecker. Tshungs were seen doing this to bore a small hole so they could fly through an obstacle, for instance to enter a building. Tshungs are rather determined to reach their target.

What is odd is that it can apparently penetrate anything. A tshung could peck a hole through megarmoured glass, used as “windows” on the bridge of a milspec starship. It probably cannot go through superalloys such as Inertron or Adamantium , but anything else should be penetrable.


Living stone of Arphal

A large, faceted gemstone that clings to the wearer’s arm and moves around. It is apparently both beautiful jewelry and a pet.

Living stones of Arphal vary greatly in appearance. But many have a clear part that strongly resemble diamonds. It is thus possible for jewelry enthusiasts to wear multiple living stones, chosen for their complementary appearances and how well they get along.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - living stones from Arphal


Knife-tongued klamip

This small-ish amphibian can stick out a tongue about three times its length. The tongue is rigid and razor-sharp. Thus, by using the body of the klamip as a handle, one has a deployable, bastard-sword-sized flamberge.

The tongue seems sharper than metal would be. One also gets the impression that through pressure on the animal’s body, the tongue will swing in a certain way to accomplish “powered” strikes. This requires familiarity with the klamip’s nerve clusters, though.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Sale of a knife-tongued klamip

A klamip’s tongue can be kept sharp using certain grinding wheels. Presumably, in their natural milieu they use selected boulders.

A knife-tongued klamip can presumably be modelled as Claws: 06, assuming a skilled wielder. It also has Insta-Change – unless everybody knows about knife-tongued klamips, in which case they Diminution: 02 rather than Insta-Change.

A secondary source mentions that one can buy klamips with different tongue shapes, such as scimitar-like specimens.


Spiglic from Bluxte

A spiglic looks a bit like a larger transmuter from Bluxte. It’s about the size of a rabbit. However it looks more wooly than spiky, and isn’t grumpy at all. A spiglic is always happy, and can communicate its permanent bliss through physical contact.

A spiglic feet are somewhat adhesive, like a chameleon’s. It can thus cling to the user, and is usually worn as a sort of hat. However, prolonged bliss from a spiglic can lead to brain damage. Frequent use means that the thought structure of the user will come to resemble the spiglic’s, which is about as smart as a sloth.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Spiglic from Bluxte

But even with this risk, spiglics are valued by people with stressful, miserable occupations and/or lives. Thus, while much more common than the stupidly rare grumpy transmuters, but still quite expensive. 4,000 blutoks, perhaps more.

A spiglic’s influence can be modelled as a Range-less Broadcast Empath: 04. If the exposure is sudden and unexpected, it will essentially be Mental Freeze: 04. Other attributes are likely in the same ballpark as a fat rabbit.


Uniroos from the Syrtian mountains

These look vaguely like grey, furless hares. The rear of their body is highly developed, whereas their front paws and head are tiny. They have a head fin, kinda like the Atom.

Trained uniroos are fitted with a harness, with straps for their user’s feet. A trained user will thus “ride” a pair of uniroos as if they were 1970s roller skates. The power of an uniroo’s hind legs is incredible. Thus, a trained “rider” can perform powerful jumps, kicks and flying kicks. This also makes the user a difficult target.

When uniroos jump, they do a “bzoing” noise. They also say “bzoing” from time to time if their owner speaks to them. They seem to enjoy fighting, often doing boxer-like gestures with their tiny arms.

However they also seem helpful, a bit like dolphins occasionally help humans. A pair once rescued an aged scientist working with Laureline and Valérian. Perhaps they considered him a member of their trace.

A fully trained person “riding” a pair of trained uniroos gains Jumping: 02, Martial Artist (EV): 06, Enhanced Initiative: 04, Acrobatics (Athletics, Dodging): 06 and Evasion: 06. A pair of uniroos working together and able to use their legs has STR 02.

Interestingly, Laureline seemed less familiar with the uniroos than with the other alien animals she and Valérian have deployed. Perhaps uniroos do not require any training and are naturally cooperative. That would explain why she did not study them.


Gumun from Alflolol

This six-limbed animal resemble a furry, quadrupedal mammal (maybe a marsupial) with two small arms. The arms have hands with three fingers and an opposable thumb, but gumuns have poor manual dexterity.

They are appreciated as family pets on the planet Alflolol, which accidentally became the human colony Technorog.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Gumun, Laureline and Alflolol natives

Note how the gumun is using his arms and hands as stirrups for Laureline.

Gumuns behave much like loving and loyal dogs, though they also seem a bit daft and clumsy. They like children and they like playing. Gumuns also like crashing into things – apparently, they enjoy the noise.

The tissues of a gumun, particularly the muscles and bones, are extraordinarily dense and powerful. In the lowest estimate, these are five time as dense as Earth-style flesh. As a result, a gumun can crash through solid steel without breaking stride. It is much tougher and faster than one would expect from an organic creature.

Prized companion

A gumun will unhesitatingly fight to defend those he considers family members. Thus, it is not just a great pet for children, but a redoubtable bodyguard.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - angry gumun

Angry gumun charging.

A gumun will also become aggressive if a “family” member feels coerced into obedience, even if there isn’t any physical violence. This isn’t a problem given the authority-averse culture of Alflolol’s native nomads, but has led to gumuns inflicting tremendous damage on Human colonies.

Gumuns are extremely rare even on Alflolol. Therefore, having a family gumun is considered a blessing. But the Alflololian family closest to Laureline and Valérian has one. Unsurprisingly, it quickly adopted Laureline as a family member, and from there Valérian and even Laureline’s grumpy transmuter. This gumun mauled Laureline’s attackers on at least two occasions.

Capabilities

An adult gumun likely has something like DEX 05 STR 09 BODY 08, Running: 06, Swimming: 04 and perhaps APs of Damage Absorption (Structural Damage only) and Damage Capacity. So an angry gumun is bad news.

Some scenes even involved STR 10 for the gumun working with Laureline – even a bull elephant couldn’t have done that much damage.

It is also stated that a gumun “sensed” Valerian and especially Laureline over an interplanetary distance. Apparently, it further determined that they would reliably helpful for its owners/family. As a crude estimate, 40 APs of Life Sense with some sort of Discerning Bonus should work.


Skromm-shelter

Skromms look like gigantic centipede-like animals, though in certain respects they also evoke a snail. They have a huge cartilaginous shell on their back.

This shell can be turned into a mobile home. One imagines that it involves raising the Skromm from a young age, and use bindings and other objects to gradually shape the shell. Perhaps that resembles cultivating a bonsai.

Valerian & Laureline - Useful alien animals - Skromm shelter and nomads

This species is among the numerous huge, vaguely insectile animals found within the hollow world of Zaheer, the “land without stars”. They are used as trucks and mobile homes by nomads. After Zaheer joined the larger universe, some Skromm-shelters were sold off-planet. They also were used for logistics during the Wolochs war.

Skromm-shelters do about 4 mph. But they eat little (about 200 lbs/day, and they can eat most anything organic), rugged terrain doesn’t slow them much, and they can be quite comfortable even in extreme temperatures.


Zypanons

Zypanon are rare but famous nomadic animals. They live in the vacuum of space, and very little is understood about them. They seem to be on a never-ending migration following no clear pattern. A captured Zypanon will almost immediately die.

A flight of Zypanons is surrounded by a vast psychic field. Within this field, most will experience a great feeling of relaxation, peace and affection. This has demonstrated therapeutic effects for the psychologically troubled, though it is seldom sufficient for a permanent cure.

Having Zypannons fly across one’s solar system is widely considered a great omen, and to bring luck and peace. They also play a role in various religions, often as a sort of messenger or sacred animal.

Notably, Valérian and Laureline’s fleet during the Wolochs war was accompanied by a flight of Zypannons for a while.


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By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Valerian graphic novels and the expanded Les habitants du ciel sourcebook. I’m using the Cinebook translations when they exist, and my own when there’s no English language material.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 16th of June, 2017.

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