The Cleash Tree – Post apocalyptic equipment/creature/threat

Cleash pods when mature are roughly cricket ball sized, small pumpkin shaped seed pods that were genetically engineered to have military application. When a dried seed pod is struck firmly, say when thrown against a solid object, they explosively crack open sprewing out their contents. Regardless of the specific species of Cleash plant and resulting seed pod the explosions are comparitively small, far less than any other conventional military grenade. They can best be thought of as local personal ‘offensive’ weapons. Caution is always advised with these weapons, especially for the aerosol pods such as Irritants and Tranqs because the gas will spread out.

Cleash Capsules ready for throwing
Cleash Capsules drying

The Cleash tree was developed to reclaim barren and specifically rocky land. Two main cases were considered for its use: the first was where open cast mines had worked over the land, and the second in traditionally inhospitable desert regions where human pressure demanded the land be brought back into a life supporting ecosystem. Using stock from the hardy Acacia and the innovative exploding seed pods of the Sandbox tree, the Cleash was created through gamma editing and released into the wild in the late 21stcentury.

Growing and reproduction habits of the original Cleash are deceptively simple. The drought and impoverished soil tolerant tree drove deep roots and exploited the minerals that other plants could not. It was self-fertilising and produced seed pods that dried and hardened on the branch. When the pods fell and struck the rocky soil they explosively cracked open, throwing the seeds as much as 30 metres away.

In itself the Cleash was inedible and its wood good for not much. What it did do was create micro-climates beneath its scrubby forest canopy where moisture and organic material could accumulate. After a few years other species took over and created more diverse and rich ecosystems.

No one knows who weaponised the Cleash genome or when but someone clearly did. The variations we see today could not have arisen by natural selection.

Many plants had been modified to perform tasks useful to man. In waste collection plants had been created to concentrate selected toxins. In mining plants had been created to concentrate minerals which could then be processed and extracted following harvest. Pharmaceuticals were created as metabolic processes and concentrated in fruits. Few of these were any direct benefit to the plant, but the plant was designed to be tended and perpetuated by human intervention, just as was the ancestral banana.

Combining the explosive seed pods of the Cleash with these product collection or creation and accumulation processes created a seed pod that could be filled with nearly anything. These pods, if carefully handled, could be thrown or projected and when they struck something solid would explode open releasing their new payload.

These weaponised Cleash pods resemble small pumpkins, with distinctive characteristics that identify their many different payload strains. They are picked just before they reach full maturity and air dried. Once dried they are ready for use and are quite dangerous. Any solid knock will cause them to crack, explode and release their payload. Consequently Cleash pods are best transported in padded containers, separate from one another, and never in too large quantities.

To deploy a Cleash pod one merely throws it, or projects it with oversized slingshots. When the pod strikes anything hard it detonates. Failure to crack occurs approximately 5% of the time and if they are not recovered and thrown again the pod will naturally decompose and the contained seeds will go through natural germination to produce a new tree.

The explosion of a seed pod is far less than any dedicated military explosion and is really only effective for an area the size of, say, a room.

The following weaponised Cleash pods have been identified and are tended for their pods in many parts of the world:

1 Fire Liquid that explodes and burns fast. As if a cup of petrol had been thrown on the target and lit on fire
2 Incendiary Phosphorous concentrated in seeds that continue to burn. Imbedded in the liquid flammable are 3 to 18 seeds containing mineral phosphorous that burst into flame and continue to burn, burying themselves into anything softer than metal, for another 2 to 3 minutes. This emits a bright light, as well as causing critical internal damage
3 Napalm Rubber elements that stick and continue to burn for 3 to four minutes. This causes critical surface burns and is almost impossible to extinguish. Objects used to scrape away the burning material become covered and burn as well
4 Tear gas High concentration of pepper spray to irritate eyes and throat
5 Tranquiliser gas High concentrations of aerosol general anaesthetic. A quick sniff will render a person disorientated and woozy, like say a dose of nitrous oxide. A more substantial in breath will render the victim unconscious for 2 to 3 hours
6 Noxious gas (fart bomb) Unpleasant smell that repels most animals, humans definitely
7 Tangler threads Mass of sticky tangling threads, unlikely to restrain anything much larger than a sheep but enough to inconvenience. Until removed strand by strand the threads will grip any other object they come in contact with
8 Acid Aerosol organic acid sufficient to blind a person or cause surface burning, the acid is about as powerful as any commercially available domestic acid
9 Shrieker Swiss-cheesed segments that emit piercing noise as the capsule explodes and the fragments fly away
10 Irritant Aerosol urushiol-induced contact dermatitis. Also known as poison-pods, the cloud of irritant causes the victim’s skin to become itchy, distracting him at the very least and allowing the possibility of subsequent infection through the scratching
11 Shrapnel Metal concentrated in irregular shaped seeds. These metal infused sharpened seeds are stopped by most forms of clothing but will slice exposed flesh
12 Smoke Not literally smoke but an obscuring cloud of organic chaff
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