Warpworld makes numerous references to the huchack, a rather loathsome creature that is the main pivot around which the economy and indeed the entire structure of the World turns. Huchacks were genetically modified at some point in the murky history of the World, after the arrival of the Storm. As material scarcity began to pinch down on the survivors of the initial confusion, new methods of production were necessary in order to maintain a level of technological survivability.
The huchack is a pond-dwelling creature, roughly akin to a water-breathing porcupine. Huchacks feed by grazing on algae and minerals, which they excrete as a stringy, fibrous byproduct that can be harvested and processed into a wide variety of materials. Huchack fiber weaves can be used to create hard plastics, or softened for conversion into clothing. (One notable facet of this process is the amount of ‘rinse’ that huchack-weave clothing receives determines its worth – rough, barely processed fibers are a mark of the denizens of the underground cities [undercities] that lay under all the major urban centers of the World, while well-softened clothing [virtually indistinguishable from cotton] is a sign of true status and power.)
Another notable feature of the huchack is its venom-laden spines. As the spines accumulate ferrous materials from the grazing diet of the animal, these spines are commonly utilized in magnetically-accelerated weaponry, the most common of which is typically referred to as a ‘chack’, in reference to its source. The spines are impregnated with a low-grade toxin similar to the venom of the Brown Recluse spider of our world, which causes the mortification of tissue around the site of wounds. Chacks are extremely brutal weapons, the use of which would be considered a war crime in many civilizations.
The toxin of the huchack creates a further complication in the extraction of both huchack fibers and spines. Since the venom leaches into the water, the extraction process is universally lethal for caj sent to extract the spines, with the typical lifespan of caj sent to the ponds running at slightly less than a year. As such, pond duty is typically reserved for caj who are troublemakers or otherwise unusable.
The huchack is the blessing and the curse of the World, a symbol of the lengths the People will go in order to survive and the callousness with which they regard the rest of the universe.