Stray Plotbunny, Free to Good Home: Crossed Purple Stars

For reasons beyond my comprehension, the local news has a tropical fishtank in their newsroom and as part of their end credits. Among several other denizens is a purple starfish. Not sure how big it is, but based on other creatures in the tank… maybe hand-sized? Maybe. It’s a bit of a game around the dinner table: can we spot the starfish?

Tonight the critter was really booking. Okay, probably not crawling any faster than an ambling guppy could swim, but for a starfish? Putting on serious speed, all its tube feet crawling along.

Someone else at the table: “Hey, has anybody ever done a horror story with a starfish?”

…Well. Not as far as I know. I could be wrong.

Given I’m really not into writing horror – no, Tatterdemalion doesn’t count, that’s action-adventure – I figured I’d toss this particular fish story out to anyone who wants to grab it. šŸ˜‰

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49 thoughts on “Stray Plotbunny, Free to Good Home: Crossed Purple Stars

  1. Probably.

    I don’t do horror.

    I do think some purple starfish specially bred to be atavistic throwbacks to when (*mumble*) might be useful as a cause for some behavior which was giving me problems because it was out of character.

    Means I will have to establish some more stuff I hadn’t planned to.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The starfish are harmless and easily exterminated compared to the dolphins. I think the worst part may be the water damage from some idiot draining an aquarium.

        If I use the starfish, it is because I need some people to hold the idiot ball for a while, but don’t want to be stuck with them being idiots in the future. I may just need to continue rethinking my plotting.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. More mind stressing. The starfish are effectively transceivers for a specific entity. (An OC.) That entity, which isn’t under Dolphin control, is far away, and won’t be seen in person for quite some time. It can’t control human minds, but it can make people stupider, angrier, and more excitable.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Not troll bad. It’s coffee, not meth. Too much coffee, but not nearly as psychotically violent as I may have accidentally implied. People can get meaner and more vicious when they are drunk. The fights wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t already have the capacity for violence, and weren’t already under other stresses.

        For my purpose the characters need to be able to recognize each other. There can’t be that much actual difference between when they are influenced, and when they are not.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The cultist who dumped the things in aquariums is killed carrying out a terrorist attack shortly after. The cops and other investigators would have figured things out eventually if the second riot hadn’t wrecked an aquarium later that week and made it blatantly noticeable.

        The people directing that cultist/terrorist cell screwed up badly, and hurt their cause in the long run. Yeah, they absolutely needed to take out that target, didn’t really understand what they were doing, and didn’t really have any good options. They probably should have waited and instead used a large bomb.

        Like

  2. This… actually makes a lot of sense. I see the starfish as being a type of swarm monster. They’re mutated, of course, (Experimentaion? Government? Evil Corporation?) and the natural ability to grow into additional starfish when cut in two has been turned up to eleven. And hey, let’s go really crazy and run down the ‘pretty colors = poison’ road. And turn that up to eleven. Because why not. So we’ve got a swarm monster that multiplies when attacked by anything other than flame throwers and maybe extreme cold. It’s venomous, so if it touches you, you have minutes of extreme agony left in which to live. And, hey, sea creatures can get pretty funky with the coloring so let’s say that it can camouflage too, it just mostly saves this ability for when it is separate from the rest of the swarm. So it is either coming at you thousands at a time with no way to get away, or it is in hiding until it is too late.

    Unrealistic? Yes. Very much so. But at least it will be in good company. And I’d be freaked out by the starfish swarm, unless it ended up being called something like that, so there’s that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are some brightly colored and some fairly toxic starfish.

      IRL, starfish seem to be fairly sensitive wrong temperatures, too low salinity, certain copper compounds…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So not as unrealistic as I thought. Mine is an evil laugh. Muahahahahaha!

        Any ideas /why/ someone would be experimenting on starfish?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Because while they were Mad Scientists, they thought they’d gotten a handle on workplace safety, and starfish have gotta be safer to enhance than cuttlefish?

        Liked by 3 people

      3. The usual standby is trying to give regenerative abilities to advanced vertebrates like humans. I’m pretty sure I’ve read more than one of those. (I’m near certain I’ve read one by Madeline L’Engle. I want to say Sign of the Starfish.)

        See, Starfish are closely related to Chordates. The color changing kinda suggests that they were splicing octopus into the Starfish, not that this should work at all. But if the big project were to make humans with octopus and starfish powers, they totally could have done the octopus/starfish as an intermediate subproject.

        But you could have it be anything, trying to make humans who can survive being frozen for interstellar travel, degenerative illness wiping out humanity, or the old super soldier standby. The excuse doesn’t need to make much sense, because the people who know better, and won’t ignore it for rule of cool will also barf on the biology.

        It comes down to execution in the end.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Also worth noting the real horror of When Starfish Attack!ā„¢ is how starfish eat. In real life. Specifically they vomit up their stomachs, enclose whatever they intend to devour and then retract the vomited up organ.

      Just think of that the next time a much younger relative insists on watching SpongeBob and Patrick shows up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Depends on the setting.

        In Exalted beyond the bounderies of Creation is the infinite roiling sea of Pure Chaos from which the Primordials who crafted Creation itself emerged. But it’s not an immediate shift.

        As you leave Creation and venture further into Chaos you first traverse the Wyld. The unstable borders between what is and what is possible. The Wyld is… odd. It’s not governed by the rules of Creation, but it follows its patterns. For example, each of the Four Terrestrial Directions of Creation has in its heart a Pole of one of the five Great Elements of Gaia (the Elemental Pole of Earth is the Keystone of Creation and lies at the center of the world). And so while the Wyld is certainly a place of madness you can guess somewhat and sometimes at what variety of madness. In the South Wyld, closest to the Elemental Pole of Fire you’re more likely to people made of obsidian, geysers that erupt with magma, and lava floes that ignite all they touch but leave behind not dust or ash but valuable gemstones or spun glass mimicing what – or who – is unfortunate enough to be in the floe’s path.
        Go East for jungles of dreams, giant walking creatures made from trees, and life itself grown wild beyond all limits.

        But even still, there is no exact border, no line that one can point to defining a territory as more of one Elemental Pole or another. When elemental influences meet they fade into one another, taking shapes appropriate to both.

        So it is in the great expanses of the NorthWestern Wyld, where individuals can see such sites as Sky Ports, or the great flying whales

        Now guess what Behemoths I created to hunt the sky-rivers. Part locust swarm, part school of fish, part deep sea predator, and part hurricane, the Sharknados were considered, terrifying, hilarious, and brilliantly thematic encounters by my players. Honestly the first time one showed up and it slowly dawned on my players what they were fighting their faces were the best.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That was the best part when they realized that. I didn’t have to modify the setting even the slightest bit, just stat the creatures out. Their looks of dawning horror that No, I was Not Kidding, it fits the setting Perfectly were the stuff GMs’ dream about…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. But some of the first age Solars could’ve made Anon’s starfish, perhaps even for the Lulz. Lots of people could make them in Exalted. The First Age Solars are perhaps the ones that might be able to best make a giant terrarium full of humans that uses illusions to simulate being 2010s Japan or where ever.

        So, the starfish might still be more plausible than sharknado in Exalted.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. “Avalanche Shark” really? When they could have called it Sharkalache?

        Somebody needs to talk to them about proper construction of portmanteaus….

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I… feel like I’ve seen Starfish Monsters somewhere before… but I can’t remember where…? Shoot that’s annoying.

    I know that the original Japanese Light Novel that inspired the Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow (really fun film, I recommend it for anyone looking for a fun action film) the Alien Invaders were tangentially starfish monsters. And No, I don’t just mean they were Starfish Aliens… well, they were that too, but it’s sort of unrelated. Kind of. Basically the aliens were called ‘Mimics’ because they were actually biological weapons/the first wave of terraformers and we’re designed by the actual invaders to land on the planet, analyze the DNA of the first native life form they encountered, imitate it to survive our existing biosphere, while maintaining their original purpose of terraforming the environment for the next wave – the actual settlers – and killing any potentially hostile and dangerous native life.
    (Fun fact, apparently the invaders home world somehow became uninhapitable and desperately needed a new planet to colonize. Earth was the closest one they could suitably terraform, and while they knew it had life they didn’t know it had sapient life until they got here. At this point though it’s apparently too late to matter. They don’t have the resources to survive without a planet for too long, nor do they have the resources to try again at the next closest viable planet. It’s pretty much a really ugly and unfortunate ‘Us or Them’ scenario for both humanity and the invaders. They’re hoping to wipe us out and terraform Earth before it’s too late, we’re hoping we can put up enough of a fight and slow down the terraforming that the actual invaders run out of resources and die off before they wipe us out.)

    Anyways, the Mimics that are actually fought in the book still end up as freaky Starfish Aliens from a human perspective because – surprise, surprise – they landed in the ocean; And the first Earth-native life-form they came across was in fact a starfish.

    Of course, I only know any of this from trolling the TVtropes page. No explanation of why they’re called ‘Mimics’ is anywhere in the film.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Like I said fun movie! From what I caught about the Light Novel on TVtropes… that’s… that’s a bit more depressing.

        Like

  4. A giant starfish would be actually a pretty damn scary monster. It’s got hydraulic-powered grippers, so once it catches you, you’re well and truly stuck. It can vomit its stomach at you, grab you with it, and digest you while you’re still screaming. It regenerates damage you’ve inflicted upon it, and if you chop it in two the halves will actually just grow into new monsters. It also doesn’t actually have a brain, so it’s moving completely on instinct – it’s dumb as rocks, but it’s relentless, tireless, and runs 100% on the instinct to feed.

    Sidenote, there’s actually a Tyranid monster with the same catapult stomach adaptation, the Haruspex. Its pretty much only purpose in life is to eat things. Lots of things, while said things are trying to kill it: https://1d4chan.org/images/thumb/c/c2/Haruspex6th.jpg/800px-Haruspex6th.jpg

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Haruspex – specifically was the kind of a prophet who’d foretell the future by reading the innards of a sheep or the like. Surprisingly accurate for a monster with a weaponized digestive system.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Lovecraft had five armed, star shaped, intelligent lost civilization, monsters in Antarctica. But yeah, I am sure starfish are totally harmless and innocent.

    Liked by 2 people

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