The PCs are heading outbound from their starport when they are contacted by the disabled lab ship SS HAWKING. The head scientist by the name of Ammat Hassad who on board requests the PCs help him retrieve some important flora and fauna in a nearby backwater system before they have to evacuate their temporary laboratory/outpost on the planet’s surface. His university-funded outpost is located on an isolated island in the tropical zone and the cyclones common in that area would imperil his fellow researchers and their research work alike. His lab ship’s Hyperdrive Motivator is broken and a replacement part is still weeks away. He needs transport to this destination, they need to retrieve the six scientists and their samples and leave long before the replacement part arrives. He will pay for the fuel, the cargo space (Cr. 3000/ton) and passage for him to the outpost, and for the seven of them to return. For every successful sample brought back to his lab, the PCs will also receive a bonus of Cr. 100/animal and Cr. 50/plant.
Ammat has reason to be concerned. His outpost signals that they have estimated their burn time at maximum to their location and they will have less than 30 hours to evacuate the outpost before a huge cyclone hits their position. This cyclone is packing 250 kph sustained winds, 300 kph gusts and the water surge will cover their building by at least 3 meters. The cages are rough and quickly put together. Worse, there is little time to delicately place these cages in orderly fashion. The scientists do have a crude hand grav lifter to move the larger crates.
When the scientists are on board this is what they have in storage:
– (5) cages occupying 1 ton each, holding 3 male and 2 female Grey Razorbeasts [Grazer / 400kg / STR-4d6, DEX-2d6, END-4d6 / Hooves (d6) & Horns/tusks (3d6)]
Aggressive (A10/F6), Armor-3
– (12) cages occupying ½ ton each, holding 9 male and 3 female Gordon’s Lepus
[Grazer / 20kg / STR-2d6, DEX-3d6, END-2d6 / Bite (2d6)]
Passive (A12 / F5)
– (20) cages that occupy ¼ ton apiece, each holding a Neuman’s Scorpion
[Intermittent /5kg / STR-d6, DEX-2d6, END-d6 / (2) pincers (d6)@]
(A9 / F9), Armor-5. They are not poisonous.
– (7) cages that occupy 1 ton each, holding 5 male and 2 female Burgess’ Pixies
[Gatherer / 35kg / STR-2d6, DEX-3D6+1, END-2D6 / (2) hands (d6+1) & bite (2d6)]
Noisy, curious, annoying, ape-like (A10, F8)
– (43) in a ½ ton case, holding a collection of Zed’s Grubs
[Carrion eaters / 1kg / STR-1, DEX-d6, END-1 / bite (1)]
These worms smell really bad. (A12 / F5)
– (2) reinforced cages that occupy a ton, each holding a Spotted Horror (Arachnid)
[Pouncer, male / 300kg / STR-4d6, DEX-3d6, END-3d6 / Mandibles (4d6) +special]
[Pouncer, female / 200kg / STR-3d6, DEX-3d6, END-3d6 / Mandibles (3d6) +special]
Pitch black, hairy arachnids (A6, F9), Armor 4
(Special: Mandibles are poisonous (additional d6 damage/hour for d6 hours) and the female’s abdomen has a gagging smell –gas- )
– (30) potted fruit-bearing plants called Griswold’s Nectarines
These can all fit in a ton-sized space. They are used to feed the grazers and gatherers.
As the PCs are hauling aboard their cargo, there is an alarming report that the massive cyclone heading their way is increasing in intensity and in forward speed. As the ship lifts off the pilot will need to struggle to reach orbit and the cages will be tossed all over the place. The scientists will have an array of tranquilizers and plenty of ammunition to keep these animals under control. They also will have electric stun sticks to use as a last resort to keep the animals off of them.
The scientists are most concerned about the Razorbeasts and with “Fluffy,” the large Spotted Horror that weighs over 300kg. Those cages hold. The cages holding the Pixie’s however, did not fare as well. These apes explode into the cargo bay, howling, swinging on all the other cages (except fluffy and his mate) and flinging their dung at anyone who comes near them. They know what the tranquilizer guns are and will do their best to avoid them. After a bit things should quiet down. The scientists will tell the PCs somewhat exaggerated stories about these creatures in order to keep them uneasy. (For example, they will say that if you try to tranq a Razorbeast, it will just anger it more).
Later on that night, one of the female lepus goes into heat. The three females are kept as far away from the males’ cages as possible. These nine male lepus go crazy, eventually each busting their cage wide open and each will be making a straight line for the desired female. It will not be pretty. If the PCs do a complete animal head count, they might notice that in the fracas, Fluffy’s mate will be missing. She is off finding a nice quiet place to lay her eggs. She will return within a few hours. If undetected, these eggs will hatch in about four weeks and these hungry horrors (20d6 in number) will be looking for something to eat. (Young Horrors: 0.5kg / STR-1, DEX-d6, END-1 / Mandibles (d6) + poison (+1 damage / hour / d6 hours)). If the eggs are discovered and they are destroyed, both Fluffy and his mate will smell this and go berserk, easily smashing their cages. Also, before the end of the trip, Fluffy will need to be fed. One of the scientists will notice this and recommend they feed it a lepus. If the PCs do this, Fluffy will behave and stay put in his cage.
Once the PCs return to the university, the unloading process will be without a hitch. These animals will be placed in the state-of-the-art containment boxes, all of which possess easy grav suites to move them along and into the lab. Once Fluffy and his mate are clear of the ship, the eggs can be destroyed without a threat to life and limb. The university will be true to its word, but if the eggs go undiscovered and hatch, the university will only pay half price for the horror corpses and not for the damage they may have caused.