Posted on

Story 71

General Ein-Dahr on Ularos IX

As you arrive at a military base and disembark from your ship you are surprised to find General Ein-Dahr waiting to greet you. You quickly stand at attention and salute the general.

“At ease, your crew has been making quite the name for itself and this mission that you sent me data on is quite interesting. Our scientists would love to see some of these creatures in person and study them. Giving us a good off world place to observe them is fantastic. We’ve selected some creatures that we think may one day yield military potential, and we don’t think these other milk toast species in this solar system will even look at them that way. We will be happy to send them to the Space Zoo.”

You receive an escort to the DNA cryogenics lab on base and the scientists there provide you with many excellent samples worth 10K when you return to the space zoo.

You have three rounds to return to the Space Zoo with the samples. When you return to the Space Zoo, listen/read Story 55.

Posted on

Story 70

Acquiring some more vicious creatures

As you walk into the old man’s office you find him holding a bottle of what looks like infant formula in one hand and cradled in his opposite arm is something that looks almost like a child’s stuffed play thing with black and white white fur. It probably weighs about 250 grams and is approximately 20 centimeters long.

“It is thanks to your efforts that we have this wonderful little guy here, but don’t let his tiny size fool you. When he’s fully grown this Panda of Old Strayos will probably be over 1.8 meters long and weigh a good 150 kilograms. Upon docking I wired the credits to you for your latest effort as the canisters pinged me with data about what they contained. Truly this is going to be marvelous. I am sure your notoriety will continue to grow as word of these new displays attract attention.

“One point eight meters and 150 kilograms! Is this guy vicious when fully grown? If so, there are those on my planets who would pay handsomely to go on safari for such a creature.”

“Alas, you would find this guy less of a challenge. He spends almost his entire life just eating a plant called bamboo and is not renowned for his prowess at hunting or in combat. However, I have heard that your people keep DNA samples of a wide array of dangerous animals from numerous worlds your people have visited or conquered.”

“This is true although we have only rarely released a non-native species on a different planet. It tends to wreak havoc with the ecosystem.”

The old man smiles, “Well, we would like to provide an environment outside of any planet to bring some of those creatures into the Drift System as most of your planets are in other solar systems. I’m sure we could accommodate some of your people to at least observe these animals and see just why they are so dangerous. Besides all that I would pay you quite well for some rare specimens.”

He sets down the formula bottle and pulls another shaving cream canister out of a drawer and sets it on his desk. “So are you up for one last mission?”

No, then walk away and gain a fame point for all that you’ve done to this point.

Yes, then travel to the mission point on Ularos IX and listen/read Story 71.

Posted on

Story 69

I like pandas

As you dock with the colony ship you ping the biologist in charge of the cryogenics lab and send her the data about your job offer from the Space Zoo.

Dr Lock-coo greets you with a warm smile as you enter her lab. “When it comes to excitement, you and your crew certainly don’t disappoint.”

“We aim to please.”, you quip while lobbing the shaving cream can in her direction.

She deftly catches it and unscrews the bottom. “This is a rather unique design, but it looks pretty easy to work with. As long as none of the bureaucrats on-board object too much I should be able to get this loaded up pretty quickly. I am definitely going to include panda DNA as that was my favorite as a kid.”

Dr. Lock-coo quickly got to work, expertly extracting genetic samples and carefully storing them in the compartment of the shaving cream canister. As she worked, you couldn’t help but admire her precision and dedication to the task at hand. The colony ship hummed with activity around you, the low thrum of the engines mixing with the gentle beeping of various instruments in the lab.

After what seemed like only a short while, Dr. Lock-coo straightened up with a satisfied smile, indicating that she had successfully collected all the genetic material needed for the Space Zoo. “All done, and I even received clearance back from administration for this task.” she announced cheerfully. “Now, all that’s left is for you to deliver this to the Space Zoo.”

When you return to the Space Zoo, listen/read Story 50.

Posted on

Story 68

Exhotic Exhibits from Old Strayos

You express your interest and he reveals that there are actually three jobs available. He opens a drawer and pulls out a metal box containing a can of shaving cream.

“I know Strayons don’t typically shave,” he chuckles, “But this isn’t just any shaving cream. The bottom screws off to reveal a cooled compartment for storing genetic samples. There’s enough coolant in here for three strands once activated, and customs won’t suspect a thing.”

He sprays some of the shaving cream onto his fingers and explains that he wants you to take this on board the Strayos Colony Ship and collect genetic materials from your home world for various animals your people are considering bringing to their new planet. In return, they will fund your efforts to bring abundant life to your new home. If all goes well, he will provide details for the next job.

If you take the job, read/listen to Story 69 when you dock with the Strayos Colony Ship.

If you don’t take the job leave the shaving cream and continue on your way. Discard this encounter card.

Clarification: Three stands translates into three rounds. You would have three rounds to return to the Space Zoo after completing the task of collecting the DNA samples.

Posted on

Story 67

Exotic Exhibits the Offer

“How much are we talking about, and how flexible would my morals have to be?”

“These are victimless crimes, but these are technically crimes. However the remuneration is quite generous for all three jobs. If you do well enough, they could earn up to 20K and sleep well with the knowledge that they have enhanced the lives of visitors to our zoo for generations to come.”

“I’m at least interested so what’s the job?”

The bearded man opens a drawer and takes out a metal box, opening it to reveal a can of shaving cream.

“Sorry, but that’s not my brand.”

“This isn’t just shaving cream.” declares your potential employer. “The bottom screws open. It’s cooled and compartmentalized inside to hold various DNA samples. There’s enough coolant for three stands in this canister once activated. Customs can even inspect it.” While declaring this last bit, he sprays some shaving cream onto two of his fingers. “What you need to do is take this on board the Strayos Colony Ship and obtain a set of genetic materials from their home world for various animals they are considering to populate their new planet with. The more material you can obtain the better.”

“How are we supposed to get on board?”

“The Strayons have been in space for a long time. While they have a rich past, they are looking for cultural exchanges and entertainment. You could probably come up with something along those lines to get on board their colony ship. Once you’re onboard, it’s up to you to figure out how to obtain the samples.”

If you take the job, read/listen to Story 49 when you dock with the Strayos Colony Ship.

If you don’t take the job leave the shaving cream and continue on your way. Discard this encounter card.

Clarification: Three stands translates into three rounds. You would have three rounds to return to the Space Zoo after completing the task of collecting the DNA samples.

Posted on

Story 55

Exotic Exhibits, Conclusion

As you enter the old man’s office, you notice a large aquarium tank that has been added. His back is to you as he is looking intensely at some type of turtle that is nearly half a meter long with large claws and green algae growing on top of its head and shell. It also has bright, almost luminescent, blue eyes.

“I am glad that the rumors of your demise have been greatly exaggerated. Come look at this amazing specimen.”

You move alongside the old man, “This remarkable fellow can stay underwater for three days.”

“How does he do that?”, you inquire.

“Why don’t you give me your best guess, first”

“Does the algae growing on him help him to filter oxygen out of the water?”

“Excellent guess! Wrong, but excellent guess. This guy actually has bimodal respiration and can breathe through his cloaca when under water! It’s an amazing adaptation. This creature probably went extinct more than half a millenia ago, and thanks to your willingness to retrieve this guy’s genetic material on the Aether Processing Station here he is living and breathing once more.”

“Apparently through his genitals.”, you quip.

“I have wired the rest of the money to you, and know that your fame for helping us acquire so many rare, and even extinct, species will give you renown within certain segments of societies for generations to come.”

Receive the credits promised to your ship and crew along with 3 fame points.

Posted on

Story 54

Exotic Exhibits, part Three

As you walk into the old man’s office you find him holding a bottle of what looks like infant formula in one hand and cradled in his opposite arm is something that looks almost like a child’s stuffed play thing with black and white white fur. It probably weighs about 250 grams and is approximately 20 centimeters long.

“It is thanks to your efforts that we have this wonderful little guy here, but don’t let his tiny size fool you. When he’s fully grown this Panda of Old Strayos will probably be over 1.8 meters long and weigh a good 150 kilograms. Upon docking I wired the credits to you for your latest effort as the canisters pinged me with data about what they contained. Truly this is going to be marvelous. I am sure your notoriety will continue to grow as word of these new displays attract attention.  

However, the next task I would request of you, involves sending you someplace a little more difficult and potentially hostile, Ularos IX. They have kept genetic samples of fauna from all the worlds they have conquered. Eight of those planets are from outside our very drift system and have the potential to be incredibly diverse. Depending on how many samples you can bring me, I will pay you between 6,000 and 11,000 credits.” He sets down the formula bottle and pulls another shaving cream canister out of a drawer and sets it on his desk. “So are you up for one last mission?”

No, then walk away and gain a fame point for all that you’ve done to this point.

Yes, then travel to the mission point on Ularos IX and listen/read Story 51. Also, the plan that you and your crew come up with will require that your ship be capable of launching missiles and that you pay 1,000 credits to the chop shop on the Kiln to move your transponder ID over to one of your missiles.

Posted on

Story 53

A day at the Zhian Zoo

Your first officer starts a conversation, “When I was a kid and visited the zoo with my Dad, one of the things that stood out to me was the compactness of each animal’s habitat. At the time, I spent a majority of my time on a small scout ship out in the deep dark, so I reasoned that they probably adjusted to their confined space just like I did. But this,” says your first officer while motioning to the large sprawling exhibits, “makes me rethink that assessment.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. These animals seem so at ease in these large spaces with trees and open sky. It could take a couple of days to thoroughly check out all the exhibits.” You say this while taking another photo, tagging it and sharing it with the rest of your crew.

Meanwhile, you and your crew have been quite the interesting exhibit for many of the Zhians, as most of them have never seen a human in real life before. A couple of the more bold Zhians even asked if they could pose for a photo with you.

“Do you think we have enough photos yet?”, your first officer asks while looking at the newest picture you just sent.

“Probably, we should find a public dining area and try some local grub.”

“This is a zoo, it’s going to be this planet’s equivalent to fries and chicken nuggets.”

“I’m ok with that. I’m not sure I’m ready to be all that adventurous.”

“Says the mighty space explorer.”, your first officer quips.

– – – –

Upon finding a table at the zoo’s cafeteria, you send the geotagged photos to the small drone that you had carefully stashed behind some bushes when no one was near you. Your engineer had taken the time to mod it so it looked like the drones the zoo uses for giving the animals injections and drawing blood samples.

The drone goes about its mission without arousing too much suspicion. At the end of its circuit through the zoo it unloads the shaving cream canister and hides it in the same bushes where you had originally stashed the drone. As a final act, the drone flies out over an unpopulated area where it initiates a small explosion just large enough to destroy itself. The explosion was small enough that it didn’t attract any attention at all.

You recover the canister on your way back through. Once you return to the Space Zoo you will receive another ([d4]+2)x1,000 credits for the DNA samples that you gathered in addition to what you will have earned for the DNA gathered on the Aether Processing Station.

When you return to the Space Zoo if your crew is primarily human or Strayon, listen/read Story 54.

When you return to the Space Zoo if your crew is primarily Ilex, listen/read Story 70.

Posted on

Story 52

These guys are cold blooded

After docking with the Aether Processing Station and going through decontamination, including eliminating any scents, you receive permission to transport your relic to the reliquary. You load it onto your grav-sled and make your way across the station. This is the perfect opportunity to test your engineer’s environmental systems hack. 

Before arriving, you learned that the Zhian are a cold-blooded species and their space station is always warmer than others due to this fact. Their skin is not sensitive to temperature changes and they rely heavily on readouts. Your engineer has come up with a plan to override the environmental controls and lower the temperature in the reliquary to 9° Celsius, making any Zhian sluggish while keeping making your crew just slightly cool. He activates the hack as you enter the Reliquary.

Upon entering this section of the station you are greeted by an older Zhian woman in a lab coat. “I don’t visit the Aether except a couple of times a stanyear, so it is quite fortuitous that it is during one of my visits that you brought a relic.” She gives you a toothy grin that you’re sure was supposed to be friendly, but all those long jagged teeth are a little unnerving.

“You don’t normally work here?”

“A lot of my people don’t care for the vacuum of space, including me. We have several different areas of expertise that come up here occasionally to collect research or check in on a project. Believe it or not, I’m actually a virologist so I usually sift through these relics looking for DNA and RNA strands from microscopic organisms when I come up here, but we have various biologists and botanists that come up here at times as well. I’ve really learned a lot of fascinating things by doing this.”

You offer her a lopsided grin of your own. “I was hoping we could get the two credit tour of the reliquary while we’re here.”

“I might not come here too often, but I think I can manage to explain this place. I doubt many of the other humans that have come here have ever asked for a tour. I approve of your scientific curiosity.”

There was a lot more to see in the reliquary than you expected and then there came a point where your tour guide suddenly shifted down a gear. She never stopped explaining things but she was definitely moving a lot slower. You glanced at your nav officer and he made his way back to the area in the reliquary where a lot of animal DNA was stored. As soon as the DNA was obtained your engineer started raising the temperature back to 25° Celsius. By the end of the tour the Zhian scientist was back to her animated self.

“I don’t know what happened to me back there. I must be getting hungry; I did work right through my lunch break giving the tour. Oh, let me ping your ship with a couple of tokens so you can visit our planet sometime or, if your vessel is small enough, use our gate.”

“I don’t know what happened to me back there. I must be getting hungry; I did work right through my lunch break giving the tour. Oh, let me ping your ship with a couple of tokens so you can visit our planet sometime or, if your vessel is small enough, use our gate.”

You receive the typical 1 fame point and 2 Zhian tokens for delivering a relic to the Aether processing station. Once you return to the Space Zoo you will receive ([d4]+2)x1,000 credits for the DNA samples that you gathered. Your next stop should be the Zhian Prime Zoo located at the mission point on Zhian Prime.

When you reach the mission point on Zhian Prime, listen/read Story 53.

Posted on

Story 51

From a different solar system

You realized long before you arrived that another puppet show wasn’t going to be enough. You needed something completely different to appeal to the Ilex, hence your willingness to mislead them about some unique device you would be willing to sell them for the right price. You have told them that you have a means for them to slip through a specific planetary shield with no resistance. They have agreed to the meeting in their military science building, which is also the same building where they house a lab with the genetic materials of animals they considered particularly hostile.

To prepare for this excursion, you made your whole crew follow the same protocols as if they were preparing to visit with the Zhian. Special soaps and detergents were used to eliminate scents, special clothing was made on your ship’s fabricator utilizing odorless polymers, and everyone had to force down bland diets that wouldn’t permeate your pores or make you gassy. The Ilex do not require such things, but you were trying to minimize your scent trails and just pretend that you thought they were culturally sensitive to odors like the Zhian. You did, once again, make your navigator not shave for a couple of days just in case anyone questions why he has a can of shaving cream in with his scanners and various tools. You are ushered into the conference room 

“So humans, our engineers are dubious of your claims. What type of demonstration have you prepared to convince us of such a notion?”, declares one of the Ilex sitting opposite of you at the conference table.

Your engineer speaks up, “It involves knowing that planet’s specific shield modulation and wrapping your ships in a specially engineered conductive mesh to cancel out the shield’s effect by being able to match the shield’s modulation. The complicated part…”

You raise your hand to slow your engineer down, “We figured you would have some questions about the veracity of our claims, why we would be willing to sell it to your people, and the actual cost for both the technology and the ability for you to manufacture it here on Ularos IX. Our engineer and I have a three point presentation along with computer simulations followed by a live demonstration using our own ship.”

As the lights begin to dim for the presentation, your navigator leans in close to one of the Ilex, “I’ve already seen this presentation, do you have a restroom I could use?”

The next forty five minutes passed with a very impressive looking, if scientifically suspect, presentation. Somewhere along the way, your navigator made it back alright despite what must have been an uncomfortable crawl through the ventilation system from the restroom to the cryolab.

“I know your team still has its doubts; that’s why we want to provide an actual demonstration. We are so confident in our work, we’re going to perform it in our own ship; after which I think we’ll be ready to negotiate price for this technology. Let me send you our ship’s transponder ID so you can easily track us.”

– – – –

As they monitor your ship, the Ilex see your transponder picking up a lot of velocity heading towards the gate while keeping your ship extremely close to the planetary shields and then they see your transponder make a sudden and rapid shift going back 180 back towards their military science building and suddenly there is an explosion against the shield that they can actually see with their own eyes. The one Ilex just looks at one of his senior officers and remarks, “I told you the science on that shield idea was bad.”

– – – –

“Luckily they monitor inbound traffic to the planet and don’t really worry about outbound traffic.”

Your first officer speaks up, “You have to admit that was pretty crazy hoping they would track the transponder ID and not notice that there was still a whole ship left back by the shield entrance.”

“I was flying close to the shields, making it very difficult to monitor us.”, your navigator responds.

“Besides,” your engineer jumps into the conversation, “it looks like this whole crazy scheme actually worked.”

You smile at everyone, “Well done, let’s get that canister back to the Space Zoo.”

The ship is just outside of the shield gate, and you had the wherewithal to fuel up the ship before taking off. When you return to the Space Zoo, listen/read Story 55.