There are many families of one-headed, centipede-like animals on Ectora. One family is called the beps. Beps generally have only a few long legs (ten is typical) clustered near the middle of the body. The forward 2-6 legs end in complex hands with jointed fingers. At least one finger is modified into a unique key structure. This not only allows individuals to tell each other apart, but is used to unlock their screwcap shell homes. The beps farm a few varieties of screwcaps and adopt the young to live in while their shells are still very soft. They bore a tiny hole in the side of the shell with tools bought from the square crabs and repeatedly press their key finger directly into the brain where it triggers an involuntary relaxing of the muscles holding it closed. Over a period of several months, the screwcap hardens its shell and comes to recognize only the keys of its owner(s). The beps make these shells their homes and storage units.
The beps are known for making medicine and performing surgery on any animal that can pay or trade something for it. From carefully prepared gills from a rare type of screwcap, they make and store large amounts of painkiller for sale in bottles made from clapping worm secretions. They then carry these bottles to other towns for trade by adhering them to their backs. Clapping worm secretions are also used to make casts. Thorny crab pincers are used to hold wounds closed until they heal. Tools bought from square crabs are used to cut. Having no pathogens, the animals of Ectora have no immunity cells as we understand them and so grafting is possible. Beps take advantage of this to perform organ transplants and also to grow clapping worm arms inside their screwcap homes in order to have a constant supply of medicine bottles. Some have also taken to farming gills, moving gill grafts from old screwcaps to young screwcaps, so they never have to hire sticker worms to gather them.
For currency, the beps use shell chips marked with the hands of famous (and credit-worthy) beps. While their shell-homes grow, they press their non-key hands into the soft parts repeatedly, leaving impressions. After the screwcap dies, its shell is broken apart into chips with these impressions still on them. Leaving a mark on another’s home is often a way of showing favor, giving that family prestige in the community. There are many other forms of currency on Ectora, but bep shell chips are most used.
Written by Daniel Noe, WayOutLife.com