Monster Making Contest – Andrew DeFelice
The Makh’Lerae, translated from the language of the native humanoids of its home planet as Sudden Butcher, is an ambush predator that haunts the thick rainforests of the southern hemisphere. With its razor-sharp pincers, powerful serrated teeth, and poisonous tail stinger, it is a danger to any prey that ventures into its territory.
The beast possesses a crocodilian head full of powerful teeth with a set of four eyes all located alongside the lower jaw rather than the upper cranium as with most animals. It showcases a slender, muscular, almost humanoid torso from which two long arms extend ending in a pair of large pincers. Its lower body consists of a longer abdomen and thorax with a total of six legs. The sharp claws of its feet allow it to run up trees and other porous surfaces and even attain speeds of up to 25 miles per hour on open ground. It is strong enough to lift a 400-lb victim and carry it into the tree canopy where it can feed unmolested. A full-grown Makh’Lerae can reach a height of six feet at the shoulder when standing upright and a length of 14 feet when stretched forward. Despite its size and strength, it is surprisingly lean and tends to weigh no more than 200 lbs. Females tend to be larger on average than the males.
Its favorite tactic is to climb atop the sturdy branches of the great trees and lie in wait for a potential meal to come along. The lower positioning of its eyes makes it easier to spot prey along the ground below. Depending on the height as well as the positioning, it typically uses its prehensile tail to grasp a higher branch and then reach downward with its pincers to skewer the victim. Upon scoring a palpable hit, it then scurries down to the ground level where it attempts to pin the wounded prey in order to more easily inject its venom into the flesh.
The venom of a Makh’Lerae is potent enough to decimate a victim’s nervous system within seconds, paralyzing their bodies and causing a complete collapse of all internal functions. Fortunately, the Makh’Lerae rarely allows its fallen prey to suffer long enough for this to take full effect as it wastes little time in finishing it off with its pincers or a slashing bite. It is immune to its own poison so it suffers no ill effects when consuming flesh where the venom has entered the bloodstream.
The Makh’Lerae is a solitary hunter, only cavorting with other members of its own species during the mating season. These are ghastly, brutal affairs where females violently exhibit their dominance among the other females with the most powerful having their choice of the males that are of age. Pincer duels among Makh’Lerae females are fought with both the cunning precision of master fencers and the unyielding savagery of ancient berserkers – not surprisingly, these battles are usually fought to the death. Few have witnessed such affairs and lived to tell the tale as the contests consume a great deal of energy and every other living being within sight is fair game when it comes to replenishing said energy.
The dominant female then entices a male by turning her back to him and allowing him to climb onto her. The willing male then uses his pincers to grip her shoulders while at the same time preventing her own pincers from reflexively stabbing him. Biting down on the back of her neck is often done for similarly preventative measures. It takes the male only 30 seconds to implant his seed into her, but sometimes before that can happen a powerful female will free herself from the hold and turn around to attack and probably slay and eat her suitor. This insures that only the strongest can mate while the weak are culled from the population. Successful males will often release the female and then beat a hasty retreat before he too can become a meal.
Upon successfully mating, a Makh’Lerae female will then construct a nest composed of various branches and the bones of previous kills and then place it high within the forest canopy. It then deposits a clutch of anywhere from four to twelve eggs with an incubation period lasting between 12 and 18 days. During this time, the female is never far from the nest, lingering nearby to defend it against scavengers and other Makh’Lerae looking to usurp her territory. Hatchlings will use their small yet already sharp pincers to cut through the hard, leathery shell. The hatchlings will often stay under their mother’s protection for about a year before leaving her domain in order to stake claims on their own territories. They will reach sexual maturity at three years of age and, barring death at the pincers of their own kind, whether in a territorial dispute or a mating duel, will on average know a life expectancy of twenty-five to thirty years.