Walk Softly and Carry a Big Net

"I’ve attached the picture below. Can you tell me what this is and if it’s a pest?"

Thomas shook his head sadly at the computer screen. It wasn’t uncommon for him to receive identification requests through email, but it was uncommon for the specimen to be anything more than a carpet beetle or house centipede. Did no one go outside these days? He sighed as he typed out a quick response— "House centipede."— and shifted in his chair to get up. A cricket chirp. He had set it as the alert sound when a new email came in. Curious, Thomas turned back to the screen and reopened his account. It was from a name he didn’t recognize, someone with the handle of Metamorphosis. The title of the email drew his attention, too.

Bring a Big Net.

Strange.

The content only raised more questions. Thomas scrolled through it, his eyes tight and focused, like he was looking into a microscope. He didn’t know what to make of it. His first assumption was that it was a prank being played on him by others in the department; everyone respected him for his intelligence, but when it came to being open-minded about what could be out there, they were tragically… well, close-minded. Thomas did things by the book, though; he needed physical evidence before he could accept something— the difference between him and his colleagues, however, was that they played it safe, kept to what they were already fairly certain about. And they called themselves scientists. Bah.

As a true man of science, it was his obligation to follow up on this tip, outlandish though it was. He scrawled down the address and surveyed his gear, deciding what he would need. A net was a given. He grabbed the largest one he had and put it in a bag, along with a capture jar. People had the tendency to demonize bugs, though very few of them were intent on harming humans; the most likely case here was that Metamorphosis was describing Actias luna or Attacus atlas, both of which could fit easily inside his net. Still, he couldn’t be too safe. It wasn’t the bugs that concerned him. As an afterthought, he added his small stun gun into the bag.

It wasn’t until Thomas reached the given address that he felt something was seriously off. The front door was ajar and there was no light pouring out of the house; the lawn was overgrown with gross neglect, grass tall enough to have to wade through, and when he rang the doorbell, no one approached or even called out to him. A horrible stench trailed out the door. Thomas unzipped his bag and found the stun gun, clipped it to his belt for good measure, and let the house’s darkness swallow him up.

The repugnant odor got worse as he went further inside. He had a suspicion of what it was. He didn’t expect anyone to answer him.

"Hello? My apologies for the intrusion, but I have reason to believe you have an infestation of some kind." He waited a beat to let his words sink into the silence before trying one last time. "Hello?"

Instead of a reply, he was greeted with a soft flapping noise overhead, like a group of bats swooping to catch mosquitoes. Only bigger. His hair was blown around. He knew it was one individual. When the mystery creature dropped down in front of him and stared at him with those huge, reflective eyes, Thomas knew his life was about to change. It wasn’t a giant moth; that didn’t give it enough credit. The creature had six legs, antennae, and even palps moving and clicking about, but there was something almost human about it. An intelligence. It was bipedal and had a better grasp on the situation than he himself did, it seemed. Thomas extended his hand toward the organism, curious how it might react. A shrill screech nearly blew out his eardrums, and the sounds that followed— more pattering through the air and furniture being bumped around— weren’t much better. Several. There were several of these creatures. He counted six. They landed in a circle around him and started closing in; Thomas recognized the behavior for what it was. He acted fast, drawing the stun gun and shooting at the closest moth; it made another horrible cry as it fell, thrashed, and finally stilled. The others exchanged looks— something so remarkably human— and began to back off. But he wasn’t done. The things he could learn…

Thomas nearly tripped over the source of the smell. Someone he assumed used to live here lay sprawled out on the floor, naked. His head and abdomen were sliced open with a butcher’s efficiency, and palm-sized white larvae squirmed through his entrails. Without batting an eye, Thomas took the opening the creatures were giving him, and pulled the jar from his bag; he used his hands to herd one of the larva inside. It was the kind of blood that could be washed off. When the cap was screwed on and it was back in his bag, he took aim. The house was screeches and thrashing for the next few minutes as the moths fell from the sky like dead birds. Five or six— he could fit quite a few in his car, perhaps all of them. Two in the trunk, several in the backseat, provided no one he drove past noticed.

They wouldn’t. People in this city were happy to pull the wool over their eyes and remain in blissful ignorance. Until today, Thomas may have been among them. There was work to be done.

belepidoptera:

image

If every single paragraph begins with the same wordthen that should be a clear enough sign that you’re not going to get a good grade on your paper.

Thank goodness for interns. Though I suppose you may disagree… Think of it this way: I have more time to further my research. Saving the planet by association is still a fine accomplishment, my dear.

Do you only study bugs?
Anonymous ASKED

Heavens, no. My work spans far beyond bugs, though I’m sure you know me for my interest in entomology. They’re indeed a favourite of mine.

into-each-generation:

Species: Human 
Age: 41 Years Old
Played By: Casey 
Face Claim: Mathieu Amalric

Bio:

Robert’s stonefly, the Central Valley grasshopper, the Hilo noctuid moth. There was an endless list of species Thomas would never get to study, nearly all of them connected to the rise of humanity. Ever since his first biology class, he knew entomology and conservation was his life calling. Nothing could steer him from his course. Thomas was admitted into university when he was 16, and he earned his first PhD— there would later be two more— at the young age of 23, after working alongside a famous entomologist for his research on social insects, which eventually led him to pursue his own interest— natural chemical defenses. Thom quickly built up quite the reputation for his research in the scientific community; he was nicknamed “The Collector” by biologists who were envious of his bug collection, and the name stuck. Hailed as one of the world’s leading experts on Hymenoptera, King’s College granted him a job position with open arms.

There were murmurs among some of his peers about events and creatures that defied everything they knew about the natural world; one of the mythology professors in particular never seemed to shut up about the damn things. Thom had always taken everything with a grain of salt, but unlike his colleagues who seemed completely closed off to the idea of the unknown, he knew his role as a scientist was to explore every possibility. He carried on with his work, but kept an ear out for definitive proof, and even did some research of his own. The world of the supernatural was one that could benefit science greatly, if he were presented the opportunity to study it. There were said to be creatures unlike anything identified. Demons. In their arsenal: super strength, agility, reflexes, and what most piqued his interests— their resilience and accelerated healing.

It was nothing more than a passing prospect though, so Thomas continued to do what he was best at— he would study, he would experiment, and he would learn. There would come a day where humanity would be forced to look to the natural world for a solution to the decaying planet they lived on, and it would be too late. Thomas saw it as his job to make sure it never got to that point, no matter what it took.

His assistant, Ms. Pascal, was his ray of hope in an otherwise bleak future for their existence. She carried his enthusiasm for knowledge and change, and seemed to understand that sometimes risks had to be taken. There were many times in history where certain experiments or scientific practices were considered unethical, but this— the fate of their planet— was something much bigger. The others didn’t know what was at stake here, what was to gain. But Thomas was a moral man, and he knew.

Personality Traits: Obsessive, meticulous, science-minded, romantic, organized, secretive, intelligent, superiority complex

Abilities:
→ Genius level intellect
→ Fluency in English, Latin, French, and German
→ Government funded
→ Has public prestige in certain circles