Morphs [Oak Catalog #]
- Onix [#095]
- Steelix [#208]
(scientific name Terravermis gigas
) is an enormous ophidian species of Pokémon noted for its immense size and rocky hide; prior to the discovery of its evolution, Steelix, and the colossal cetacean that is Wailord, Onix was widely believed to be the largest naturally-occurring animal in the world. Its body is composed of a large number of irregular, roughly spherical segments which are covered in a sheath of thick, randomly-shaped keratin with a consistency and texture similar to that of slate, granite and other forms of metamorphic and igneous rock; because of this, the inexperienced often mistake Onix for a chain of boulders connected to one another by some form of telekinesis, a misconception which the scientific community has had little success in disproving over the years. Its head is large and angular, featuring a roughly triangular snout with a toothless maw and a pair of deep-set eyes with relatively-small pupils; due to the distinctive cut of its facial features, Onix appears to be locked in a permanent scowl. Its final identifying characteristic is a large, bladelike crest which juts from the crown of its skull; its exact function is unknown, though pokébiologists have conjectured that this crest may serve as a thermal sail for Onix to vent excess heat, or assist the creature when burrowing in some fashion.
Its evolved form, Steelix
) is very similar in appearance to the previous stage of its life cycle, though there are a few notable differences with which one can easily tell the two apart. First, whereas Onix’s body segments are of a uniformly dark grey colouration, those of Steelix tend towards a lighter, metallic shade of grey that borders on silver or platinum. It has fewer body segments overall in comparison to Onix, and the tip of its tail consists of a single spike, shaped roughly like an arrowhead rather than the agglomeration of smaller subsections as is the case with Onix; in spite of this reduced body structure, Steelix are generally longer than their younger kin by several feet. Finlike spars jut from the sides of its second, fourth and sixth body segments, these serving as both a means of propulsion and a method of ensuring stability when Steelix is above ground and not in motion; in exchange for these six appendages, Steelix lacks the prominent head crest of its younger stage. The creature’s head has also shifted in size and proportions, flattening out and widening into a shape somewhat similar to a spade. Its jaw had broadened into a thick, jutting chin, and its underside—as well as the sides of its face—sports a set of odd studs whose purpose has eluded researchers thus far. A similar pair of studs emanate from the back of its sweeping eyebrows. Unlike Onix, Steelix possesses a set of broad, rectangular teeth; in spite of this, it lacks any sort of tongue. Finally, a set of fanglike ridges can be found on its lower jaw, towards the back of the mouth; male Steelix possess four of these pseudo-fangs, while females have only two.
Despite its resemblance to Ekans, Seviper and other serpentine Pokémon and a habit of undulating its body in order to move, it was recently discovered that Onix is not actually a snake. In fact, the immense Pokémon shares a surprising amount of common ground with that lowliest of lifeforms, the common earthworm, albeit supersized to an utterly massive scale. Unfortunately, due to a century’s worth of inaccurate biological study and labelling, the idea that Onix is an ophidian remains firmly lodged within the popular consciousness, to the point that certified Pokémon field guides are still printed referring to Onix by its nickname, the Rock Snake Pokémon.
Beyond its skull, Onix does not actually possess any sort of skeletal structure; its shape is contained entirely within the rocklike cuticle of its segmented exoskeleton. While the cuticle of its segments and head are very thick on most parts, this material is far thinner at those points where the ‘boulders’ connect, and powerful muscles and sensitive nerve bundles are clustered at this points; as such, if anything should brush against or become lodged within the gaps between these segments, it would then cause Onix intense pain and drive it into a frenzy in its efforts to remove this irritant.
Evidence has shown that if an Onix’ tail has been severed or broken, it can regenerate the lost segments as long as its head—and thus, its brain—remains intact. In spite of this, the urban legend that cutting an Onix in half will produce a second Onix is just that—an urban legend. It cannot produce new body segments without input from the brain; as such, while the severed boulders may flop around for several moments after being removed, they are incapable of generating a new Onix and will quickly begin to rot.
Dissection of deceased specimens has revealed that Onix possesses a curious magnetoreceptive organ located just to the fore of its brain; this organ, dubbed the lodestone nodule, allows Onix to detect the earth’s magnetic field and thus maintain a constant awareness of its exact position, thereby ensuring that it never gets lost while tunnelling. Exposure to concentrated electromagnetic fields—such as those produced by Electric-type Pokémon—disrupt the lodestone nodule’s delicate workings, which in turn causes the immense annelid mild discomfort and drives it to avoid such places; if this is not possible, however, then it will not hesitate to attack such creatures in the hopes of either killing them or driving them off.
Due to the fact that it spends the vast majority of its time underground and burrowing new tunnels, Onix have remarkably poor eyesight. As such, they do not rely on their vision in order to navigate; in addition to their magnetoreceptive lodestone nodule, the cuticle of an Onix transmits vibrations surprisingly well in spite of its durability and insensitivity to pain, giving the giant worm an unexpectedly refined and perceptive sense of touch. It is able to detect the faint tremors caused by a burrowing Sandshrew from more than fifty metres away and home in on its new meal.
Despite its staggering size, Onix moves surprisingly quickly when underground; particularly healthy specimens have been clocked at burrowing speeds of nearly fifty miles per hour over long distances. Their speed owes primarily to the fact that its exoskeleton, while appearing to be rock, is actually cuticle, and while lighter than stone it is just as durable; this, combined with its lack of a skeletal structure, results in a Pokémon that is far, far lighter than its immense bulk would indicate. As an Onix matures, erosion and geological pressure take their toll on its exoskeleton, smoothing its segments out until they are almost perfectly round. At the same time, the intense pressure and constant intake of minerals causes the cuticle of these newly-rounded segments to harden and increase in density, until such time as they are nearly as durable as diamond; when Onix has reached the point where its segments are nigh-perfect spheres and impervious to nearly all harm, it is ready to expose itself to ferratite and trigger its evolution into a Steelix.
In the wild, Onix only mature into their adult form of Steelix when certain conditions are met. As noted above, the creature’s boulder segments become harder and worn down with age, compressing and increasing their density until such time as they rival diamond in durability; once it has reached this state, a healthy Onix which has received a proper diet of nutrients and minerals over the course of its life will undergo a startling metamorphosis once exposed to the rare mineral known as ferratite. The exact mechanics of this transmogrification are unclear, but it appears that ferratite emits some form of radiation which, while harmless to humans and other most other creatures, triggers startling change in the chemical composition of certain species of Pokémon. This process can take hundreds of years to accomplish in nature, however, and only occurs deep within the bowels of the earth; were it not for the accidental discovery that exposing Onix to ferratite paste while trading it can jumpstart this evolution, it is quite likely that the existence of Steelix would have never come to light.
Steelix possesses all the features of Onix, in addition to a few improvements on the overall design. Its cuticle, now compressed and tempered to diamond hardness, is nearly impervious to all forms of attack; while its defensive properties do not quite measure up to the semi-mythical adamantine of Dialga, it is nevertheless one of the most durable substances in the known world. Correspondingly, Steelix is not only tougher than its previous form, but stronger as well; unfortunately, its increased weight also means that it is much slower in comparison to Onix, both aboveground and while burrowing, and unlike its slightly smaller kin Steelix possesses a baffling vulnerability to intense, localized heat such as that produced by powerful Fire-type attacks.
A relatively uncommon breed in both stages of its life cycle, Onix is typically encountered underground, in caves or within mountains. The largest population of these annelids in Kanto are found within the Rock Tunnel which connects Cerulean City to Lavender Town, and in the cavernous grottos of the Indigo League’s Victory Road; in both cases, it is believed—though unconfirmed—that these tunnels were originally dug by the giant worms themselves, and that human travellers later expanded and reinforced for their own purposes. They can be found in similarly deep, dark caverns throughout the world, from the Silver and Union Caves in Johto, to the panoramic Sevault Canyon of the Sevii Islands, the mineral-rich shores of Iron Island, the deeper levels of the Oreburgh Mines, the lower levels of the Relic Castle and the Relic Path, the Clay Road, and Twist Mountain, as well as Unova and Sinnoh's Victory Roads. Their presence is regarded as both a nuisance and a critical safety hazard by the Miner’s Union, as their penchant for eating the richest mineral veins often cheats miners out of a valuable deposit, and their burrowing habits can occasionally cause tremors and cave-ins that, while harmless to the tough-skinned Onix, can and do cause severe injuries and occasionally death to whoever might be working in the vicinity. Because of this, the Miner’s Union has been seeking to implement a number of measures for driving the creatures out, though they have had little success thus far.
Steelix, due to their advanced age, specific conditions for their evolution and tendency to dwell at far greater depths compared to Onix, are far rarer than their previous stage. Thus far, it has only been reliably encountered in the Sinnoh Victory Road, the deeper levels of Iron Island, a cave on Route 47, the Clay Road, and Twist Mountain; in all five locations, it is typically a solitary individual or a mating pair that are encountered.
Onix and Steelix are consummate omnivores; while they can derive nutrients from live prey and plant matter—and indeed, they readily accept berries and other forms of generalized Pokémon food while in captivity—they gain the most important elements of their diet from the soil, which they eat constantly while burrowing. Onix has no teeth and, except in rare circumstances where its meal exceeds the size of its mouth, does not chew its food; it simply opens its jaw wide while burrowing and swallows anything unfortunate enough to fall into its mouth whole. In the wild, Onix is considered an apex predator; when it requires protein, its favoured prey species are Sandshrew, Diglett and other small, burrowing Pokémon. The annelid’s digestive system features a crop, a gizzard and three stomachs, the better to extract vital nutrients and minerals from the soil with, yet curiously lacks an anus; instead of a solid stool, an Onix’ waste products are secreted from glands at the base of its tail and form a resin which it smears along the tunnel walls as it burrows. This substance acts as quick-sealing biological cement, preventing its freshly-excavated tunnel from collapsing and warning other annelids to stay away, for this tunnel is its territory.
Despite having teeth, Steelix feeds in much the same way; the only difference now is that its powerful molars allow it to break down and digest dense minerals and rocks which even Onix could not hope to digest, and thus reach depths inaccessible to the so-called Rock Snake.
Despite their immense size, predatory behaviour and fearsome countenance, Onix are relatively peaceful creatures; wild specimens will not attack humans unless provoked, and they only become violent if their young are threatened or if an irritant has become lodged in the sensitive areas between their body segments. In captivity, they are frequently even more gentle; it is not uncommon to see an Onix giving rides to enthusiastic children at zoos or fairs with every evidence of satisfaction, and they are perfectly willing to assist human construction crews in their endeavours.
That said, a twenty-eight foot long annelid with a body more durable than steel is nothing to sneer at; if enraged, Onix become a truly terrifying sight to behold. They can easily intimidate most other Pokémon with their loud roars and deafening trills, and in combat they fight by attempting to smash their opponents beneath their immense bulk or by crushing them within their massive coils. By vibrating its body segments at a remarkable frequency, Onix can release a vast, choking cloud of dirt, sand and grit that reduces visibility to zero and constantly scours the unprotected flesh of any non-Rock, Ground or Steel types caught within its vicinity; in a similar fashion, it can oscillate the final segments of its tail—or in the case of Steelix, its tail spike—in order to create a resonance that drastically increases its bludgeoning force and will easily allow it to smash through solid rock. Finally, Onix possesses a rudimentary omni-sac that permits it to expel a scalding jet of noxious vapour that can leave a victim paralyzed from the overpowering stench; with the proper training and cultivation, a tame Onix can even be taught to use the deadly Hyper Beam attack.
Onix’ and Steelix’ defences are superb, thanks in no small part to their incredibly tough and durable cuticle. Their exoskeleton is so rigid, in fact, that Onix and its evolution are one of the very few species of Pokémon which can take a Horn Drill attack from an non-blunted Rhydon and survive.
In addition to these abilities, Steelix can imbue its teeth with intense heat, a numbing toxin or a crackling electrical field in order to inflict potent elemental fang attacks. Alternatively, it can simply seize its opponents within its powerful jaws and bite down, inflicting horrific injuries.
Furthermore, both stages of the Onix line have the nasty tendency to burrow into the ground and surprise their opponents with a brutal and sudden attack from underground; thanks to its impressive digging speed and immense bulk, its opponents often have receive no warning before the giant annelid suddenly erupts from beneath them in a spray of broken earth and clods of dirt. A burrowing Onix can only be detected when it approaches its target horizontally in relation to the ground; as it draws near, a small trail of displaced earth and dust will be kicked up—most likely as a result of its head crest slicing through the earth like the dorsal fin of a Sharpedo creates ripples as it slices through the water. Because of this, Onix has occasionally been referred to as “the land sharpedo”.
In addition to possessing all the abilities of its previous form, Steelix is nowhere near as docile as Onix. Its transformation into a larger, stronger and shinier being has made the creature headstrong and vain; it takes great pride in the sheen of its body, and looks down on other Pokémon with disdain. They tend not to think before they leap, so to speak, and in battle they refuse to back down until either they or their opponent is defeated. This pigheadedness carries over to their decision-making; when a Steelix has made up its mind on some matter, it refuses to be swayed from its opinion until proven wrong, and even then it is clear from their behaviour that they believe they were in the right.
Thankfully, in spite of their immense size and potent defensive capabilities it is not that hard to deal with these giant annelids in the wild. In both stages of their life cycle, the creature is vulnerable to Water attacks; this owes to the fact that, while it can and does breathe through its mouth, the durable epidermis of an Onix is porous to allow it to breathe when its head is submerged but the body is still above ground, and to provide the extra oxygen such a massive creature needs in order to survive. Because of this property, an Onix will not be able to breathe if it is submerged in water, and if submerged it will begin to drown, even if its head should still be above the waterline and still able to draw breath [Trainer’s Tip: while your Onix will not mind if you hose it down while cleaning it, do not leave it outside in the rain under any circumstances, and never leave it unattended in the vicinity of any large bodies of water for any length of time].
As one can infer from the above paragraphs, training an Onix is no easy feat. Rookie trainers should refrain from trying to capture one, for a twenty-eight for long worm that can easily swallow a human whole is typically too much for a ten-year-old to handle. Furthermore, because of the risks inherent in allowing it to burrow unsupervised, any trainer-owned Onix and Steelix caught digging in the vicinity of a public space—here defined as a town, a subway line, or a power station—is considered to be a serious offense, and their owner can be punished with a severe fine or three years imprisonment, depending on the offending party’s age and the extent of the damages, if any, inflicted while the offender’s Pokémon were digging.
To supplement the nutrients they would normally receive while burrowing, Onix and Steelix require specialized vitamins that are available for a reasonable price at any Pokémart. Further, it is important that the worm’s trainer be sure to take care of the creature’s rocky hide, both by keeping it clean, buffing out any chips or imperfections and giving them a thorough polishing every once in a while; a clean and shiny Onix is a healthy and happy Onix. Treat your Onix well, and its loyalty to you will be without question; mistreat it, and it will grow to resent you…and given that it is far, far larger than its trainer, such resentment can and has turned violent in the past.
All in all, training and caring for an Onix or Steelix is a serious commitment, both in the emotional and financial sense, which the average ten-year-old simply has neither the maturity nor the resources to make. For this reason, trainers who successfully capture an Onix are required to fill out a number of forms and pass a test to ensure that they are certifiably qualified to care for the giant annelid.
Courting and Childrearing
Onix become sexually mature at twenty-four months, meaning that they can breed in both stages of their life cycle. When a female Onix is ready to find a mate, she surfaces in as large of a flat landscape as she can find, and begins to strike the ground with the tip of her tail. These whacks send out potent vibrations on a frequency which only other Onix can detect, and if any viable males are nearby they will cease whatever they were doing and make straight for the female’s location. Given their largely solitary nature it is typical for only a single male to arrive, in which case they go about their business without preamble; on rare occasions, however, two or more males will show up, and a fight will break out as they attempt to prove which of them is deserving of the privilege to mate with the female.
The gestation period lasts for four months, during which the male provides food and shelter for the female; once she has laid her eggs, it will take another six months before they are ready to hatch. To incubate the eggs, of which there are typically two to three, the female tucks them into a niche on her back where her epidermis is particularly thin and heat radiates in impressive quantities. Newborn Onix—affectionately known as ‘wrigglers’—are typically three feet in length when they hatch, and their cuticle has not yet solidified, leaving them vulnerable; to protect them, their mother stores them in her mouth and keeps her jaw almost completely shut while burrowing; this allows the wrigglers to feed without getting hurt or scraped and thus damaging their delicate exoskeleton as it hardens over a span of two months. At that point, they will have reached a length of eight feet and are ready to strike out on their own; consequently, the family unit dissolves and mother, father and children all go their separate ways.
The juveniles will stick together at first, to increase their chances of survival; once they reach fifteen feet after another eight weeks, however, they split off to prevent being forced to compete with one another for food.
Wrigglers and juveniles are occasionally taken from their parents and sold as pets. While this may seem like a good way to circumvent the difficulties of raising a full-sized Onix, keep in mind that even at three feet these annelids are just infants; they grow. Rapidly.
Written by Sullen Frog.