The players are on a world at the edge of human occupied space. They asked to meet with Minister Valerie Dupont, a high-ranking official from the sector government and Walter Klimov, the colony manager from Three Stars Colonies
Manager Klimov says that Three Stars Colonies have invested millions of credits in surveying a potential colony world called Harvest. It lies a few parsecs beyond the borders of the local human community.
They discovered the earth-like planet 6 years ago and have had a scientific survey there for the last 3 years. The planet has a breathable atmosphere, seas covering more than 40% of the surface and gravity around 1 G. The planet is temperate, with tropical temperatures at the equator and no ice caps. The ecology has plants and insects on land, but no other animals. There is a well-developed sea life. It is like Earth in the Devonian Period.
Their last supply ship returned reporting serious problems. The survey team report that they have discovered an alien settlement. There is a new and hostile life form that has attacked and killed several scientists and support staff without provocation.
Manager Klimov has millions of credits invested in Harvest. In three months, a fleet of colony ships will bring 2000 technicians to set up the buildings and industrial production units, erect the habitation modules, power plants and water systems and construct houses for the colonists who will start arriving in 6 months. They do not want a dangerous alien predator loose; it would ruin the colonization effort. Klimov wants justice for the families of those killed and the removal of the alien species.
Minister Dupont’s primary motivation is to avoid a war with an unknown power while avoiding the negative publicity that would be generated if she is seen to be doing nothing to support Three Stars and the families of the workers killed. The sector government is under pressure to “do something” by the managers of Three Stars Colonies.
The sector authorities do not have a suitable team available, even if they did, Harvest lies in unclaimed space where they have no legal authority.
The player’s team would ideally have someone with a sciences background, a person with Liaison or Xeno-biology skills, Leadership and a decent amount of intelligence will be good enough.
The players will be given the use of a suitable ship if they do not have one. Dupont will hire a merchant ship and crew for 6 weeks. The players will have 2 weeks on Harvest to resolve the issues. The ship will have an air raft or small ship’s boat.
If the players have their own ship, it will be fueled and provisioned at the sector government’s cost for the journey there and for their departure after they return.
The players can choose any survival or survey equipment up to Cr. 10,000 (including vehicles, if required). Undamaged equipment can be sold back at 65% of the new cost, otherwise the cost will be deducted from the player’s reward.
Each player will be paid Cr. 20,000 for:
- Contacting the alien species.
- Establishing friendly relations with them.
- Resolving the killings to the satisfaction of both sides.
Note that the governor does not envisage this being resolved by gunfire. However, if the players do not have any weapons, they can be provided with SMGs with 100 rounds of ammunition for each weapon (costs as above)
The players will be given jump tapes, detailed maps of the system and the landing site (named Wheatfields).
The person in charge at Wheatfields is Katherine Gomez.
The Kh-Djatsc are a four-legged race with a tail and a head. In general form they are like a cat, but with a thicker tail like a lizard. Their heads are lizard like, but the race is completely blind, using echo location to navigate.
Kh-Djatsc heads have a long beak that opens vertically. Their four tongues vibrate to make sound, their normal posture is open mouthed, as the inside of the jaws is their ear. They have four smaller ears set around their heads, so they can still see when they are eating. They move like a cat, silently. They are covered in what looks like fur but is actually a sound-deadening cover. They stand 1 metre high at the shoulder and are 3 metres long, including the tail.
All Kh-Djatsc start off as First Females. Second Females release their young from throat pouches and ignore them. First Females are violent, vicious wild animals. They attack anything that comes near (including adult Kh-Djatsc). Their prey animal, a small crab-like amphibious creature, has been bred by the Kh-Djatsc to eat any organic matter. The Kh-Djatsc release them on to a world and hunt and eat them. These creatures make a chemical that accumulates in the First Female’s bodies. Once this gets to a certain level, the First Female starts to calm down and become more intelligent. First Males can then mate with them and produce offspring. As Second Females, the adult Kh-Djatsc acquires social skills and, as more of the chemical accumulates, they transition to Males. They run Kh-Djatsc society.
If male Kh-Djatsc are not able to feed and keep the level of chemical high enough, they start to revert back to Second Females, although keeping their knowledge and intelligence. If the level drops too low, they become First Females.
Kh-Djatsc come from a dense atmosphere world and prefer their forests (where the noise of wind and rain is reduced). They are unaffected by bright lights and can “see” in the dark, but dislike loud noises such as gunfire or explosions. Strong wind is their equivalent of fog, they can not see far.
First Females are dangerous to everything. Packs of them will be attracted to loud noises (including power plants, speaking and ordinary construction work). Shooting one will provide a free meal to the rest, so will distract them for a short while. The downside is that more will arrive, attracted by the noise. They prefer to hunt at night.
The Kh-Djatsc have a colony on Harvest, unfortunately only 40 kilometres from the human base. They have been there for some 6 years and their prey animals and First Females have established themselves along the rivers. Some of the science teams have been hunting the crab-like prey (called cangrejos by the colonists) which has attracted First Females that attacked the humans.
The Male Kh-Djatsc are commanded by Hyr-shu, He has some 90 males, approximately 300 Second Females and an estimated 30,000 wild First Females. Kh-Djatsc do not care if someone kills a First female in self-defence but exterminating them (or the cangrejos that all Kh-Djatsc eat) will be seen as genocide.
Hyr-shu is a calm and rational sentient. Although Kh-Djatsc prefer to respond by biting things that displease them, he will be prepared to listen. He will agree to humans killing First Females that stray over an agreed boundary.
The Kh-Djatsc have a settlement. It has electrified fences to keep First Females out. The main gateway has a simple touch puzzle (with panels of material that reflect different sounds) that can be solved by anyone with INT of 8 or more on a successful roll. This is to allow Second Females access. The Kh-Djatsc themselves travel by air raft and carry weapons to protect themselves.
Communication with the Kh-Djatsc:
The Kh-Djatsc speak in pictures, their language is similar to Chinese in that pictograms derived from images are used to convey complex ideas. The Chinese character 日 (ri) started off as a circle with a dot, it’s a picture of the sun and usually means “day”. Writing with a brush, the circle became a rectangle, and the central dot became a line. Unless you already knew Chinese, you wouldn’t guess this was the meaning. The Kh-Djatsc language of spoken pictures can not be pronounced or understood by humans.
The Kh-Djatsc are responsive to pictures drawn on the ground with a stick, but struggle with printed pictures or different colours. Imagine a deaf Chinese speaker trying to communicate with a blind English speaker.
The Kh-Djatsc have already encountered humans elsewhere and have a translation device.
The players need to negotiate a treaty with the Kh-Djatsc that will satisfy both the scientists, the manager from Three Stars Colonies and Minister Valerie Dupont.
If they are unable to resolve the issue in 2 weeks, the colony will risk failure and armed intervention will be demanded by Walter Klimov. This will prompt a war. The Kh-Djatsc battle fleet is tough, but they will probably use one of their subject races for the actual invasion.
If it goes well, the players will be given the agreed reward and may be asked to be part of a university delegation to Harvest and possibly the Kh-Djatsc colonies. Staff from the university xeno-linguistics departments will want to employ the players, as will military intelligence.