See also: Calavera seedpod
Well, we found the place where the flying organisms are hiding. They made themselves known on our fifth day in these lands, and our first day of relief from the relentless winds that plague this region. The conditions were ideal for travelling east. The hike to Marcario Marsh would have been upwind on any other day, but today, there would be no problem. Our route for the day mapped out, we suited up and stepped outside, and stopped. We weren’t the only creatures to take advantage of the quiet weather. Tens of thousands of balloons the size of beach balls drifted through the skies like biological blimps, headed roughly the same direction we were, toward the southeastern wetlands.
No one objected to my suggestion that we postpone the wetlands trip to tomorrow, and instead follow the exodus to its source. The trail led due north. The area was new to us, but not all that different from the shrubland habitat around Base Cliff – lightly wooded, craggy, and dotted with caves and rock outcroppings. It was from these potholes that the great migration emanated, so into the caves we went.
- Alex O’Hearn, biologist, Odyssey I (Day 5)
Most spectacular of the caves was the one we called the Chamber of Lost Balloons. It was about the size of a small hangar and compared to the other caves, was well lit. Through a single opening a shaft of light flooded the cavern. It was not solid beam but a flickering, swimming kind of light. This was due to a hundred translucent calaveras rising to the surface like a stream of bubbles from a diver’s mouthpiece. Only the leaden weight of 1.2g betrayed the illusion that I was underwater.
This was a rest stop for windborne calaveras, a shelter from the merciless winds above. It was a place for the weak to sink and succumb to the myriad decomposers that made the stalagmites appear to writhe. There was not enough floor space for the millions of creatures that fed on the fallen. Within minutes of crawling into the cavern we found ourselves covered head to toe in bugs of all sorts. There were times when I thought my torch had run out only to find that my faceplate had become solid mask of suction feet and radulae.
- Rashid Andiyar, pilot and mechanic, Odyssey I (Day 5)