- "When the Bayou Lurkers come for you, you had best run. Fighting is not an option."
- ―Common saying in watery regions of the Southern States
Bayou Lurkers are the kings of the murky Mississippi waters and Gulf Coast areas. They are a form of Mirelurk King mutated from Alligator Snapping Turtles. Unlike their more common relatives, Bayou Lurkers resemble their ancestors more closely, retaining their shells and beaks, and bearing an appearance that is only vaguely humanoid.
Bayou Lurkers are a mercifully rare form of Mirelurk King found all along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and inland waterways of the southern United States. While Mirelurk Kings evolved from Common Snapping Turtles, Bayou Lurkers mutated from the larger but less aggressive Alligator Snapping Turtle. They stand almost 10 Feet tall and are covered in thick slabs of heavy muscle and leather.
Their long, powerful arms end in webbed hands tipped with razor-sharp claws, along with powerful beaks and mouths filled with fang-like keratin growths. Unlike Mirelurk Kings, lurkers cannot produce a sonic blast or spit acid but can spit a pressured jet of water. As such, it is advisable to keep at a distance if the Bayou Lurker is standing in or has just emerged from the water.
Bayou Lurkers are surprisingly swift runners. Unlike common Mirelurk Kings, they also retained their shell in addition to their toughened scales, providing extremely effective armor around the neck and torso, shoulders, and in some cases, on the forearms, groin, and lower legs. Bayou Lurkers are also incredibly strong and tough, able to fight with Deathclaw Matriarchs or wade through a hail of small-arms fire. Surprisingly, Bayou Lurkers are amphibians that can breathe underwater, as they retain their gills as a hatchling in addition to developing lungs during adolescence.
Thankfully, Bayou Lurkers inherited their ancestors' less aggressive nature. They will not attack large prey unless attacked first, or feel their space has been violated such as: coming too close, entering the Bayou Lurker's water, or following it for too long. They are often seen leading Mirelurk and Swamplurk colonies in the place of Common Mirelurk Kings, as they will attack and kill common Kings on sight (the only humanoid it will ever attack in such a manner). Bayou Lurkers compete for territory with Deathclaws and will frequently destroy local Deathclaw nests. They avoid direct contact with adult Deathclaws, and vice versa, as neither creature wants to fight its equal.
The Bayou Lurker has two notable usages to swampers and costal peoples, leather and meat. Lurkers have leather considerably thicker than brahmin and even Deathclaws. Although the brackish and mired meat tastes like shit, for starving wastelanders Bayou Lurker meat is a godsend and some hunters are set for life hunting adult Lurkers as needed. Make no mistake, this profession is well earned and more dangerous than hunting Deathclaws.
It should also be noted the Bayou Lurkers are important to cultural superstitions. Some people desire their shells for nutrients that add years to one's life. Local children and teenagers will mark the shells and hope to find that same lurker decades down the road, this means that person will have a good life. Besides other trivial rituals, their leather is desired by the aristocracy of The Royaume for fashion.
- Archaic Bayou Lurker
- Archaic Bayou Lurkers are an older breed than their armored cousins, first sighted mere years after the bombs fell, in the heavily-irradiated Mississippi Delta. They are noticeably larger than Armoured Bayou Lurkers, and their beaks are far more prominent. They have no shell armor on their lower legs or forearms, though their shell is larger and thicker, and offers much more protection to the back of the neck, making the Archaic Lurker's spine virtually unassailable. Their talons are longer, and harder than an Armoured Bayou Lurkers, but their greater size and weight slows them down on land.
- Armoured Bayou Lurker
- A smaller, less monstrous breed of Bayou Lurker, the Armoured Lurker began to appear roughly fifty years after the bombs fell, and seem to be a stop-gap between their older Archaic cousins and Mirelurk Kings. Armored Lurkers possess beaks and a shell, but are far less dinosaur-like in appearance than Archaic Bayou Lurkers. Oddly, they possess portions of the shell on their forearms and lower legs. This may be to protect them against Deathclaws and Mudcats on shore as Armored Lurkers hunt in shallow waters, deltas, and beaches.
DietBayou Lurkers are Apex Predators, the top of the food chain anywhere they are found, given sufficient water. They often hunt by dragging unwary creatures into their water and drowning them, or by mauling them with their claws and teeth under water. Bayou Lurkers will only hunt on land if desperate, as it deprives them of their water-breathing advantage. When forced to hunt on land, Bayou Lurkers will ambush, or chase down and maul their target. Their mass-inhibited acceleration makes the second option a poor choice unless in open terrain. Bayou Lurkers will also hunt under water, attacking fish and occasionally Mirelurks. They are known to commonly prey on catfish and, when available, Mudcats. They have been known to attack boats, confusing them with Mudcats, but when they find that they are not, they leave the passengers be (see below).
For some reason, Bayou Lurkers avoid contact with humanoids, with the notable exception of Mirelurk Kings, whom they actively hunt and kill. The reasons for this are unknown, and study is difficult because Bayou Lurkers are well-known to become frustrated and attack if they are followed for extended periods (they are more than strong enough to fatally injure a human with one blow from their claws). Even when they do attack humanoids, they will only devour them when starving. In the abundance of prey, Bayou Lurkers have been observed killing Mirelurk Kings and irritating humans and leaving the bodies for scavengers. Again, the reasons are unknown, as when a desperate Bayou Lurker kills and eats a human, not even the bones are left.
Another variety of humanoid Bayou Lurkers come into contact with are Deathclaws. Where their territories overlap, Bayou Lurkers and Deathclaws compete for territory and prey. An adult specimen of either species is quite capable of facing down, fighting and killing an adult of the other in an incredibly close fight that will likely be the death of the other from injuries and infection, and so both will instinctively attack and kill the young of the other. Bayou Lurkers have a significant advantage in this sense, as they are completely aquatic until the point of reaching physical maturity and growing fully-functioning lungs in addition to their gills. An old Deathclaw will likely kill a young Bayou Lurker and vice versa. However, juvenile Bayou Lurkers are infamous cannibals, and only three or four will survive from a clutch of about fifteen or twenty eggs, which somewhat evens the odds in this inter-species competition.
Notable Bayou Lurkers
- One Bayou Lurker was present at the Doctoral Thesis presentation of Shifty Dick, who performed a live vivisection in front of the creature.
Bayou Lurker shells make excellent armor and communal cooking pots, and are valued as ritual items by many Tribes who worship them as Spirits of the Wild. This makes them highly sought-after items in the Southern States. However, the Lurker's shell cannot be removed without killing it. This means a deadly hunt must be undertaken, as Bayou Lurkers will rarely venture far from their territory. Hunting a Bayou Lurker in their home swamps is as good as suicide, and baiting a Bayou Lurker is incredibly difficult as they avoid conflict. Bayou Lurkers have evolved gills, protected by their neck shells, making them more than capable of drowning large hunting parties one by one without ever showing themselves in their murky waters.
All their vital organs (with the exception of the brain) are protected by their shells, and their skulls are exceptionally thick, making them difficult to kill without dedicated anti-armour munitions or high-powered weapons. Pistol rounds are almost useless, and rimfire rifle rounds will only penetrate at dangerously close range. Most shotgun pellets are unlikely to do sufficient damage to prevent retaliation, if it penetrates the Lurker's scales at all (most buckshot will simply bounce off the shelled regions), so 10 or 8 Gauge Shells are recommended for shotgun users who do not have access to solid slugs.
Claws and brute strength are Bayou Lurkers' best offense. They are stronger (but less agile) than Deathclaws and lurker claws almost as sharp. Also, the high-pressure water jet they shoot is strong enough to cut steal up close. Lurkers can run fast and charge at prey, also they accelerate slowly due to their massive weight.
Lurkers defensive abilities mostly stem from its armor. They are very tough, with a scaled armor chest, neck, shoulders, and back. Armored Bayou Lurkers also have their shell armor on their forearms, shoulders, groin, and lower legs. Along with their armor, all Bayou Lurkers has famously thick and stretchy leather. And with lungs and gills, lurkers are able to escape land and sea.
- "De Lurker represents longevity. Wen we young, we sneak on dem and mark dey shells wit' th' spray can. You see dat lurker twenty year hence, you rest assured you in for a good, long life."
- ―Mambo DeRose
- "Why yes, I do look quite young for my age don't I? Between you and me, I eat a gris-gris stew cooked in a Lurker shell pot every week. It's added decades to my life."
- ―Houngan Narcisse
- "By God, the ladies want their tortoise shell compacts and they shall have them! Hand me that fifty and quit blubbering!"
- ―James Saint-Just