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The Ursa is a genetic creation of the Skrel, bred specifically for killing humans. Just as humanity does not know what the Skrel call themselves, they do not know what their word for the Ursa. The creature was named by a member of the Savant's team during their first incursion. The creatures reminded him of Ursus arctos horribilis, the grizzly bear, and the shortened form of the Latin name stuck.
The Ursa have had a dramatic impact upon Human culture on Nova Prime, the Ursa led to the creation of the iconic weapon of the Rangers, the Cutlass, and have killed countless people since they first were introduced to the world.
Experience shows that it takes eight dedicated, motivated, and highly trained Rangers to kill one Ursa. The method was based on the ancient Roman fighting style to attack and withdraw in formation, constantly barraging the beast with weaponry and keeping it from successfully lashing out in any direction.
This battle tactic is the one requiring the most hours of practice because the formation must be flawless. As a result, when an Ursa is sighted, predetermined squads of eight are assembled for actions. Rangers will move together-if not, they will die together. Each one is responsible for the other seven members of their team.
Drill instructors make it clear during the holographic simulations used in cadet training that mastering your emotions can save your life. To fail is to fail humanity.
Three dozen of the creatures were released on the surface of Nova Prime in 576 A.E. The Citizens, who initially had no adequate defense against the creatures, were slaughtered at every turn until the Rangers found weaknesses that could be exploited.
Another three dozen specimens were sent to Nova Prime in 651 A.E. the second generations three legged configuration was baffling, but the Ursa's undiminished ferocity soon convinced the rangers they were no less deadly. It did require significant changes in the Rangers' battle tactics though, slowing their initial successes. However the Rangers were better prepared for the Ursa attack this time and prevailed against this wave as they had the first one.
Five dozen third generation Ursa were dispatched to nova prime, making planetfall in 726 A.E and wreaking havoc and heartbreak. However the United Ranger Corps again proved equal to the task of eliminating them. By this time, the Savant's biologists determined that the Ursa was genetically manufactured specifically to deal with human beings.
The fourth generation of Ursa arrived on Nova Prime in 801 A.E., six dozen were released in two waves of three dozen each. They cut a wider swatch of destruction than any of the other iterations, but they weren't quite the ultimate predator the Skrel had expected. Recognizing the threat posed by reproductive Ursa after several specimens were dissected, the mandate of the United ranger Corps was to destroy the last of the predators before they had a chance to multiply.
The fifth generation of Ursa was released on Nova Prime in 876 A.E. one hundred strong when they landed, they were more fearsome and deadly than ever. The residents of Nova Prime were endangered as never before. But they were also more heavily populated and better equipped. Despite heavy losses, the Ursa continued to survive, however, and it took the Rangers more than a decade to destroy all one hundred improved Ursa and their offspring.
In 951 A.E. the sixth and latest generation of Ursa landed on Nova Prime, one hundred of these "Ursa Maximus" benefiting from their ability to imprint on targets, laid waste to everything in their path. Caught off guard by the improvements in the Ursa even experienced Rangers became easy prey. Winning most encounters with the humans, the Ursa survived long enough to reproduce this time.
Of the hundred Ursa sent to Nova Prime, eighty-eight were killed over time. Twelve remain unaccounted for. They have since bred and launched numerous attacks on humans in and around Nova Prime City. Despite scouting parties and drone aircraft the enclaves of these now-native Ursa have remained elusive, allowing the Ursa numbers to swell over time. There have been repeated attacks on Nova Prime City, notably the attack in 997 A.E. that led to the "birth" of several new ghosts
As of 1000 A.E. only three Ursa have been captured alive. Each has been placed in a biostructural organic armor, strapped and suspended in a gel that inhibits their sense of smell while within the pod. Each Ursa has been taken to a holding facility on Iphitos far from the civilian population.
Much as antibodies are tailored to specific infection, Ursa have been constantly upgraded to more successfully attack human beings. The creature is capable of secreting horrifying black venom that is incredibly corrosive, it smells peoples fear, and is utterly blind.
The creatures seem reasonably adaptive. The Ursa requires oxygen to metabolize what it eats and turn it into energy at a cellular level. Although it has a hard constitution there is nothing in its makeup to keep it from falling victim to toxins.
For nearly five hundred years, the Ursa have been modified and upgraded to be deadlier than the generation before. How the Skrel have managed to learn so much about humankind remains a cause for speculation.
The main attributes of the first generation of Ursa were strength and ferocity. It was carnivorous with an almost insatiable hunger, it had four clawed appendages, and was sightless. Lacking ocular vision it tracked humans through a sense of smell estimated to be more than a hundred times more acute than that of humans.
In the second generation in an effort to refine their killing machine, the Skrel improved on their work, adjusting the skeleton to be a hollowed-out bone structure that would allow the Ursa to move more quickly and with less energy expenditure. Also, additional joints were added for the sake of flexibility, along with muscle. But they also removed one of the legs, letting the forelegs do most of the attacking while the thicker rear leg would provide stability or be used almost like a scorpion tail.
For the third generation the Skrel went back to the drawing board, reverting to the four-legged configuration, adding two armlike appendages and sharpening the Ursa's claws, wrapping the bony protuberances with densely packed keratin. They again upgraded the Ursa's musculature. More importantly, they gave the creature the ability to secrete and spew black, oily venom from glands in its mouth. This venom, when it makes direct contact with the skin, is capable of causing paralysis.
In the fourth generation of Ursa the Skrel were somehow able to determine that humans excrete pheromones when fearful and designed the Ursa to lock in on that scent. The pheremonal targeting made them exceptionally dangerous to humankind since almost everyone experiences fear at some point or another. The other major development program appeared to be that, for the first time, they were capable of reproduction. Clearly the intention was to make the Ursa self-perpetuating and a permanent part of the planet's ecosystem. Examinations of corpses indicated they were designed to reproduce asexually.
The fifth generation of the Ursa saw the introduction of a new kind of venom, corrosive enough to eat through human flesh and bone. Another aspect was a more efficient digestive system that allowed anything the Ursa consumed to be converted immediately into energy. In addition, this new generation was faster and stronger and able to leap higher than its predecessors. But perhaps the biggest change was that the Ursa could now camouflage themselves. The Skrel added chromatophores under each layer of Ursa skin and placed a transparent outer layer on top of them all. Now with the ability to blend into their surroundings, they could remain effectively invisible until their human prey was almost right in front of them.
The sixth and latest generation saw a massive redesign of the Ursa's skeletal structure, raising the body off the ground with four elongated limbs. Some form of metal was bonded at the molecular level with the Ursa's organic skeletal structure. This took the form of a virtually indestructible carapace that protects the Ursa from human weapons in all but a couple of places-specifically, a small spot on the creature's back and a larger area beneath it. The Ursa's venom was made thicker and more corrosive and now manifested in the form of black globules that could stick to even a metallic surface and could burn through it. This breed of Ursa was bigger as well, it towered over the tallest human and outweighed him by at least 90 kilos. Still at a full run, it is far faster than a human and can easily outrun anyone with its overall enhanced endurance. At the same time the creatures sleeping duration was reduced. Rather than requiring a full night's rest, these Ursa need only five one-hour rest periods per Novan day. Finally, they also were given the ability to imprint and target specific humans.
- Ursa can only detect fear