Mandibuzz, the second stage of the line.
Morphs [Oak Catalog #]:
- Vullaby [#629]
- Mandibuzz [#630]
Vullaby is a small avian Pokémon with larger legs than wings, and as such it is better at running than flying. It has grey feathers all over its body, except for its legs, parts of its posterior and its head, the last of which only has a large crest of feathers on the back. The rest is pink skin. To protect its hindquarters, it wears a scavenged skull as a “diaper” of sorts, and although the skull is often depicted in artwork as a stylized human skull, it can use anything sufficiently large, as long as the mother smoothes out the insides and widens the eyeholes.
The evolved form, Mandibuzz, is much larger, with more developed wings and a sharper beak. It has grown feathers on its posterior, but still wears hollowed-out bone armor (see Diet and Social Structure). Its head is still bare save for its crest, which is “tied back” with a small femur.
The rarest phenotypes for this species have more brownish feathers and beaks, along with darker skin. As usual, these individuals are highly coveted.
Due to their nature as scavengers, the members of this line are adverse to offensive combat, and when forced to truly fight, they aren’t particularly good at it. They can create blades of air, fire off bursts of dark energy, and charge at their opponents from the sky full force, but these are last resorts most of the time and are less powerful than they would be in some other species.
However, they make up for it by being tactically devious and excellent at defending themselves –and their thick layers of feathers, surprisingly bulky bodies for bird Pokémon, bone armor, and the accelerated healing factor in some individuals means they can take a lot of abuse. Common tactics include removing performance-enhancing items from the opponent, using any opportunity in the middle of battle to activate their healing factor, and actively shielding themselves from powerful attacks. They can also regurgitate their corrosive, bacteria-laden digestive juices as an additional form of self-defense – captive individuals living with trainers often refine this skill into a potent “Toxic” attack.
Three strains are known to exist. One strain has particularly thick feathers and skin, allowing it to scavenge (and battle) unharmed in sandstorm and hail prone areas. The second strain seems to be both resistant to things that wear down its natural “armor” as well as psychologically resistant to things that would cause it to let down its guard. The third, and by far the rarest, is almost the opposite of the second – when physically attacked, it loses some of its protective feathers and bone armor, allowing it to become faster and more agile.
They have both excellent eyesight and (unusually for avians) an excellent sense of smell, allowing them to find food easily.
One unusual habit involves urinating on the legs in hot weather to keep themselves cool, and to keep their legs free of bacteria.
The Vullaby line tends to prefer mountains and grasslands, but any location with a high population of large Pokémon is ideal, especially if said Pokemon have a high mortality rate. In recent years, they have converged on human settlements, especially around the few vehicle-friendly roads that exist (to scavenge roadkill) and around garbage dumps and landfills.
Vullaby are usually dependent on their mothers for food until later in their life, at which point they chase small bug and mammal Pokemon.
Mandibuzz are opportunistic scavengers, eating nearly any animal matter that’s dead (with any live prey being small and weak, and often mortally wounded from some other fight anyways). They have a remarkable ability to prevent toxins and pathogenic bacteria from getting from their resilient stomach to their bloodstream and other organs, allowing them to eat food in advanced stages of decay. (Note however, that like with most “carnivorous” Pokémon, they will occasionally eat berries.) They have also been seen using bones to break open the eggs of larger bird Pokemon.
One of the most unusual characteristics of this line is their use of bones from their food as body armor and even jewelry, heavily modifying the bones with their beaks to fulfill this purpose. Generally, they wait for the marrow to rot out or even extract and eat the marrow themselves, piecing together any broken bones from the latter method with clay.
Vullaby are relatively docile towards things they know they can’t eat, though an angry or even inquisitive peck can hurt. Much more hazardous is encountering young Vullaby in the wild, as the mother Mandibuzz is probably close by, and, like most mother Pokemon, will not be amused by anything that even looks like a threat to her offspring.
Mandibuzz are more of a threat, since their well-developed, extremely sharp beaks and talons can do serious damage to a human. Since they rarely, if ever, attack prey larger than themselves, attacks on humans that aren’t mortally wounded are rare. However, if you do anger or scare a Mandibuzz enough for it to attack you, you’re in for a world of hurt. In addition to their talons and beaks, they can fire bursts of dark energy, slash you with “blades” of air, charge at you from the sky, bludgeon you with pieces of their bone armor, and spit corrosive, pathogen-infested digestive juices at you, meaning antagonizing one of these creatures (or, as mentioned before, their young) without a suitably powerful Pokémon to protect you is a venture for the idiotic.
Courting and Childrearing:
Vullaby rarely breed outside of captivity.
Both Vullaby and Mandibuzz are exclusively female. This usually means they must be bred with other Pokémon in their “egg group” in order to reproduce. It is thought that Rufflet and Braviary may be the male counterparts, since they live in similar habitats, and are seen migrating together to places unknown during certain times of the year. However, wild Mandibuzz are never seen rearing Rufflet, or vice versa, and breeding the two together in captivity always results in Vullaby offspring, further confusing scientists. (see Social Behavior)
Mandibuzz lay a clutch of 2-4 eggs, which hatch shortly after into Vullaby. The mother provides the babies with scraps of meat, as well as skull “diapers” that protect their vulnerable posteriors from scratches that could get infected, and are changed constantly due to filth, decay and the continual growth of the baby Vullaby.
When food is scarce, Vullaby in the same nest get intensively competitive, which often leads to some getting pushed out of the nest. Unless they are already old enough to get their own food (or are fortunate enough to be adopted by a passing trainer), these Vullaby often die of starvation.
Once the Vullaby get old enough to leave the nest, the mother watches them for a few days and teaches them how to find their own food, then leaves.
Vullaby who have just left the protection of their mothers often form small groups to flush out small prey, and occasionally gang up on larger prey (as well as predators).
Mandibuzz are often solitary, but they don’t mind socializing with others too much, especially if they can work together to find carcasses – forming groups called venues to scan for dead Pokemon. Although they often squabble among themselves for choice bits of meat and bones to use in their armor, they will readily work with each other to drive off other scavengers – or on rare occasions even the predator that originally killed the carcass they’re after. One eyewitness report says that a large venue of Mandibuzz successfully drove off a Hydregion from its prey.
Although competition for choice bits of bone is fierce, in rare moments of altruism and respect, venues of Mandibuzz will reward the best pieces of bone to a member who finds a particularly large carcass.
Mandibuzz appear indifferent to Braviary, with one exception – during certain times of year, the two species will gather together to fly to an area that is yet unknown. Nobody knows what happens there, but seeing that when the Mandiuzz return they are rearing eggs, and the Braviary bring back their own eggs in their talons, it is sometimes thought that the two are breeding together, and that they are actually members of one species that has such extreme sexual dimorphism to the point of having such different elemental attributes, behaviors, and ecological niches that the different genders need to raise young of the same gender separately. (As said before, why only Vullaby are born to Mandubuzz – Braviary couples in captivity is a mystery science has yet to unravel.)
In Human Culture:
This line is generally not very well-regarded by humans. Their nature as opportunistic scavengers leads to them being portrayed as evil symbols of death in many cultures. It doesn’t help that they will in fact stalk dying humans in dangerous regions and later feed on them, as well as showing up on battlefields to feast on the dead and mortally wounded. (An infamous photo
of a Mandibuzz hungrily watching a starving human baby in an impoverished country spread quickly once published and made their reputation even worse.) They are a common motif in movies and other visual mediums – if a movie features a starving, dehydrated, or exhausted human or Pokémon in a desert, you can be sure that there will be Mandibuzz following it at some point.
However, less villainous portrayals exist. Ancient members of one civilization viewed Mandibuzz as the ideal motherly figure, and incorporated images of the species into their hieroglyphics. Another legend from another region features two Mandibuzz as demigod-like figures that were courageous and not afraid to sacrifice themselves to help their friends. Yet another mythology makes it a messenger of the gods.
As for more modern portrayals, a few animated shorts
feature a dimwitted Vullaby trying to catch food to appease its domineering mother, often coming into conflict with a certain more famous Mincinno. An animated film
featured a group of friendly Mandibuzz whose appearances were based off a wildly popular rock band, despite the fact said rock band’s members were male. In fact, the rock band itself was initially planned to voice the characters; however, when informed of the film studio’s plans, the band’s leader rejected the proposal.
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Illustration by Faulty-Heart