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Flipstick

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Flipstick

"Without warning, the cylindrical animals launched themselves into the sky."

The Flipstick is a gigantic, tall, tubular-shaped, agile, sticklike monopedalien, with a singular mode of locomotion, from Darwin IV, first discovered one afternoon 20 kilometers downrange of the northern moors near Lacus Parry in Planitia Borealis, during the First Darwinian Expedition, by the human Dr. Evan Tenbroeck, head of the Geological Survey Team. They can be seen tumbling and twisting toward the horizon.

Standing at an impressive height of 60 meters, flipsticks are very odd tubular animals swaying and bending slightly in the gentle breeze. Their globe-tipped balance-organs are easily the most developed gyroscopic mechanoreceptors ever seen. At times, the great beasts' fleshy feet will begin to wrinkle and compress, and there is a rushing of air from a great, deep inhalation. Without warning, the cylindrical animals will then launch themselves into the sky. Backlit by Darwin IV's twin suns, their darkened sides flicker with rainbow biolights, as they perform complete somersaults and land upright. The overdeveloped balance-organs give it an incredible display of coordination. No sooner do flipsticks land than they are airborne again.

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Standing 60 meters tall, flipsticks can throw themselves as high as three times their own height into the air. Barlowe had seen them cover half again this distance laterally in a single awesome leap. The sound of their inhalations can be mistaken for the deep roar of the plains wind.

The object of flipstick activity soon becomes visible as a cloud of small micro-flyers is seen trying to elude the tubiform predators. The speed of this chase is remarkable, due to the distances covered with each bound. After some incredible maneuvering, a flipstick will plunge straight through the swarm of flyers. It unfurls two giant umbrella-like scoops, which have been previously folded flat, and simultaneously emits an oscillating sonar jamming tone. The tone creates enormous confusion amidst the swarm, so that they fall easy victim to the vacuuming scoops of the air-sifter. In seconds, three-quarters of a micro-flyer swarm will been sucked into the great animal while the rest disperses in chaos.

As the clouds of micro-flyers head in every direction, the flipsticks resume their precariously balanced stationary posture, resting on their compressed feet, their six-sided mid-bodies heaving rapidly from their recent chases.

Closer inspection reveals that their bodies are of very light construction, with a latticework of muscles apparently lying in thin layers over the surface.

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