The stormwal is a warm-blooded vertebrate indigenous to Crusader (Stanton II), United Empire of Earth (UEE). It was discovered in 2855, when three workers assembling Providence Platform for the UEE Navy were startled by a stormwal rising from the depths of the planet's atmosphere, causing them to drop some of their tools. The stormwal is the largest known animal with the ability to fly.DESCRIPTION
Some stormwals can reach 100 meters in length upon reaching adulthood. They are most commonly rosy-gray in color, with iridescent red fins and lightly-striped hides flecked with gold. Deep blue stormwals with blue-gray fins have also been observed. They have long, spade-shaped snouts and four eyes, two on each side of the head. Four long barbels trail off the head from the chin and the brow, which are used alongside the filaments on their pectoral, dorsal, and tail fins to sense the miniscule electrical fields of aeroplankton and kiami, their main prey. Four other elongated non-frilled fins are situated on the left and right side of the stormwal's belly. Six nostrils on either side of the snout and two enormous cavities just behind the head take in air that is internally distilled by specialized organs to contain only helium and hydrogen, which is then used to fill inner flight bladders that enable the stormwal to maintain flight. Excess air is expelled, and new air is taken in as needed.BEHAVIOR AND ECOLOGY
Adult stormwals must eat between 1000 and 1500 kg of aeroplankton, kiami, small floaters, and other animals each day. They cooperate with their pods when hunting, flying in circles to force prey to concentrate in the center of an air vortex. The stormwals then take turns swimming into the trapped prey, taking huge gulps of air until they are sated. Solo stormwals often eat by diving into cloud formations that are densely-populated with aeroplankton.
Electricity is vital to a stormwal’s life cycle. To communicate, either to signal that a food source has been found, seek mates, call young who have flown too far from their parents, or simply to engage in bonding behavior, stormwals send electro-magnetic pulses to one another over long distances. When engaging in courtship, each stormwal will weave an intricate electro-magnetic pattern and transmit it to their prospective mate. This process can take several days. If either animal dislikes the pattern, they will break away from one another and seek mates elsewhere.
Stormwal reproduction is a coordinated affair. Because they give live birth and stormwals do not land, a stormwal in labor must be watched by one or more other stormwals. When the squall emerges from its mother, one of the watching stormwals will catch it and let it rest, so that it has time to slowly fill its internal air cavities. Squalls that are not caught are in great danger of falling to their deaths. When the squall is finally able to float, it is returned to its mother, where it latches onto her mammary gland and feeds. It will nurse as its primary food source for up to two SEY.IN CULTURE
Denizens of Orison consider the stormwal a symbol of their city. A large statue of a stormwal entitled "Until Then" by artist Biphasha Zhu sits in Cloudview Center, and the official mascot of the city, Finley the stormwal, can be purchased in plush form in local shops. Visitors to Orison can book tours to the nearby Stormwal Sanctuary, where they try to catch a glimpse of the animals in their natural habitat.
In recent years, poachers have been spotted hunting and killing stormwals within the bounds of the Sanctuary, to the outrage of locals. Crusader Security has increased its presence in the area as a deterrent to further attacks.