RPC-253

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This document is currently undergoing revisions in light of new understanding. Pending edits are in blue text. Please pardon our progress.



mulberry

Instance of an in situ RPC-253, pre-containment.

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Registered Phenomena Code:

253

Object Class: Alpha-White
Hazard Types: Ecological Hazard


Containment Protocols
Instances of RPC-253 in Authority possession are to be kept in a standard modified Alpha-White bio-containment terrarium at Site-028. Soil conditions are to mimic those observed during initial identification of RPC-253. Further sustainment protocols should refer to the consultation of the on-service botanist mortician.


Description

RPC-253 is a species of flowering plant in the family Moraceae.1 RPC-253 bears major physical characteristics similar to other members of this family,2 and the genome of RPC-253 is consistent with these genera. No RPC-253 instance has produced identifiable seeds to date and its reproductive cycle is not well understood.

RPC-253 is found growing exclusively in and around sites of human burial. Root systems of RPC-253 commonly extend throughout multiple layers of the soil, and can become entangled around cadavers or funerary boxes, as determined via ground-penetrating sonography. The roots contain an excessive amount of biological material determined to be from a member of the Arachnida family.3

The species of arachnid here — which we believe to be the tick — supposedly went extinct 200 years ago. It is possible that in an evolutionary effort to escape its biggest threat, the tick may have become completely subterranean without our knowing it… we shouldn't overlook that a parasite's primary concern is avoiding detection by the host. It seems as though we may not have been complete in our engineering of their extinction, like we once thought. After reading up on them, I wouldn't be surprised if they somehow survived.

Maybe they utilize the complex root structures of RPC-253 as a sort of navigational infrastructure, although this theory doesn’t explain the high amount of arachnoid material found within the roots themselves. We have no indication that RPC-253 is an insectivore. It was asked if this could be some sort of anomalous, genetic hybrid, but no; the genome is pure Moraceae.

- Dr. Mark Jackson, RPC-253 Lead


RPC-253's root systems are scleritic,4 and feature eight primary branches that extend from a central point into dense, fibrous networks. The softer membranes of the roots contain myocytes, and thus are a type of muscle. Also notable are the presence of specialized organs along the roots that are used for chemical detection. These organs are most concentrated at the distal ends of the roots.

RPC-253's leaves are not plant matter, but a leathery matrix rich in proteins, lipids, and amber resin. This matrix contains no chlorophyll.

The primary fruit growths of RPC-253 are designated RPC-253-1. They are red and bulbous, and grow in clusters along branches. They are edible when ripe and have a tart, metallic flavor.5

Immature berries Secondary budding growths upon RPC-253, designated RPC-253-2, are white, also form in multiple, and contain an unfamiliar, dry, chalk-like powder. This powder crumbles upon the rupture of the fruit's membrane. Texturally, RPC-253-2 have a delicate brittleness and crunch; they have a bitter, mineral flavor.6 RPC-253-2 are not considered edible.

Additionally, RPC-253's fruit growths feature an unusually high incidence of a unique rot phenomenon, designated RPC-253-3. Affected berries buds appear engorged, dark purple to black, and are filled with thriving bacteria populations and a biotically degraded substance reminiscent of purulence7 and/or gangrenous putrefaction. RPC-253-3 does not affect the exterior of the fruit growths, yet emits a foul odor.


Discovery
RPC-253 was brought to the Authority's attention after locals of Bormio, Italy introduced stationed field agents (assigned to RPC-███) to RPC-253-1, which has been incorporated into the town's diet for generations.


Addenda

Addendum 253.1: Initial attempts at containment failed due to an inability of the transplanted RPC-253 instances to thrive. Several more instances failed transplantation despite horticultural expertise, and fine-tuning the soil conditions to match those of the native ecology. In situ studies to better understand RPC-253 survival demonstrated additional anomalous properties in that instances conclusively do not require water, sunlight, or even basic soil nutrients to thrive.


Addendum 253.2: On 02/10/████, during in situ studies, the body of ████ ██████ was disinterred in accordance with newly-discovered wishes of the deceased, which requested the body to be cremated upon death. An extensive root-network of nearby uncontained RPC-253 instances had enveloped the casket. Soil samples collected around this grave site featured a large amount of a dark, thick liquid that has been confirmed to be arachnid feces.

Intercepted moratorium records documented prior to the cremation revealed that the tissues of ████ ██████ had undergone extensive and accelerated decomposition, particularly the skeletal system.


Addendum 253.3: The incidental study in Addendum .2 was designed and reproduced with controls. This study used a radioactive chemical tag, technetium-99m, (99mTc), that was applied to the surface tissues of cadavers or injected into their vasculature.

During the study, the team tracked RPC-253 root progression via sonography, which grew at approximately 0.5m/day in the direction of the cadavers, until in proximity, whereat its rate of growth increased ten-fold, up to 5m/day. Of note were the leading portions of the root structures, which seemed to fan out in anticipation of surrounding a cadaver. During the study, one root system retracted from a cadaver, which was later found to be thoroughly decomposed with almost no salvageable tissue remaining.

Surveys for expression of the chemical tag occurred at night or via portable radiographical scans of RPC-253 growths. The results are preliminary, but have been verified for documentation, and are included below:

Brief Description

Recently-deceased and long-deceased cadavers.
All surfaces coated in 99mTc.
99mTc injected into vasculature.
(Controls.)

Results

RPC-253 instances with RPC-253-1, -2, and -3.
Presence of 99mTc confirmed.


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