Just in case anyone has been wondering about those strato-penguins I keep mentioning in the Quantum Series, here is a brief description about these strange (understatement) animals native to Deanna:
Strato-penguins are the only high-flying native Deannan bird species. These unusual creatures fly using a remarkable natural rocket propulsion (that the author hasn’t quite figured out yet – but it’s likely caused by a diet of Rabid Beans or high-octane beetles or something). They are known to explode if they stray too high up in the outer atmosphere. Strato-penguins were named for their uncanny resemblance to Earth penguins, but with two main differences: Strato-Penguins are a good deal faster, and penguins don’t explode like that at high altitude.
There are many flocks of strato-penguins on Deanna, which for many generations have been on a perpetual high-altitude journey around the globe. These flocks fly westwards as a rule, and are seldom if ever known to land. In fact, the birds are permanently airborne. They absorb water from the air, catch food in the air, and even mate while airborne – in fact, their young are carried internally and ejected from the father’s brooding cavity as soon as the egg shell begins to crack. The chick is essentially – er, air born – that is, dropped into the world like a very small feathery bomb shedding shell fragments.
The chick immediately turns to face the correct direction, more by aerodynamic design than intention, and then instinctively opens its beak (most likely to scream in terror as it sees the vast new world from a few thousand feet up). The opened beak allows the air-stream to enter its complicated network of organic plumbing and start up the creature’s natural pulse-jet engine. If the process fails to start, then the chick would plummet to its death, essentially eliminating weak genes from the species. Sometimes, on rare occasions, something might go horribly wrong with a strato-penguin chick’s plumbing – and on its first go, it would mark its passing with a bright fireball above the clouds, followed by a small thunderclap. If it does fire, and after a few minutes of figuring out how its beak, stubby wings, those flappy things at the end of its legs, and tail control surfaces worked, the new-born strato-penguin soars back up to rejoin its flock – more often referred to as a ‘squadron’.
There are as yet no known illustrations of a strato-penguin, so if you would like to send me your sketches of what you think a strato-penguin looks like – and have them featured on my website, please feel free to get creative! You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org ! Happy drawing! 🙂