Have you ever seen a Dragon outbreak? At first you cannot see anything, you just have to trust the sniffers and portseqs that they are around. Plasmids and tendrils infiltrating everything. Including you if you aren't wearing a biosuit. For weeks after the last refugees have left the whole place will be deserted except for us. Empty streets and abandoned harbours. We take samples, experiment, remove resources the Dragons could use and wait.
We are getting better at predicting when the castle rises by analysing the chemical signals in the local ecology, but it is still something that seems to happen nearly at random. We think it has to do with how porous the crust is beneath the region. One morning it just happens. Suddenly all infected life begins to change. What was microscopic tendrils grows into wines that grow into heavy conduits. Animals just melt into them. Plants turn into living mush that cling to them, becoming dragon bamboo and other plant organs. Plankton and anything in the water is gulped up, and within a few hours the castle begins to rise.
This is the dangerous time, for the young castles are often hell-bent on spreading themselves, getting up on land or trying new ways of killing us. Conotoxin mists, projectiles, electrical discharges or even flying hunters. We have to show them who controls the air, shoot down the worst replicators and try to find counterplasmids if they go for airborne infection. It is a warzone for a few days, and then things quiet down.
When it is over, what was an apparently normal ecosystem has become alien. The sea is thick with green algal ooze and jellyfish-like tendrils. The land, air and waters have been stripped clean of biomass. And above it all the dragon castle rises, covered with pseudoplants, temple arches of cartilage and filled with malign intelligence.
Col. Rahaydhama Singh, NERD Maldives TTT