Outlaw Star RPG fluff plot hook.
- Forty-eight years ago a group of Outlaws contracted to scout for inhabitable worlds containing dragonite deposits by independent colonists happened upon Ceres 2349-b far to the Galactic NW of the USSA and Eihorn Empire.
- It was fairly hospitable world. Forty percent of its surface was covered in water. Its day was twenty hours long. Its year was only slightly longer than Earth’s, its orbital period was 398 standard days long(531 local). The atmosphere was capable of supporting human life. And the biochemistry was not incompatible. The planet did have an unusually long period of axial tilt. It took nearly five years for the world to complete one cycle of its seasons. But the seasons were milder than on Earth and vast swaths of the lower latitudes were temperate and experienced winter as little more than months of cold drizzle. The poles were always cold even in the summer due to the low angle of axial tilt, but they were nowhere near as cold as the Arctic or Antarctic of Earth. And best of all the composition of the planet’s sun indicated that it or the asteroids of the system contained dragonite in economically recoverable quantities.
- Unfortunately it would not be desirable for colonization for at least 20 years due to unusually high concentrations of irradiated dust in the soil just inches under the surface and elevated concentrations of Strontium-90 in the oceans and rainwater which might cause long term health problems for some colonists. Further inspection showed vast reef like structures along rivers, lakes, and coasts. These were not reefs of limestone but pans of lime and aragonite cement. Further surveys showed huge limonite deposits in the pans, the rusted remains of iron bracings and beams that once supported buildings. The world had apparently suffered a nuclear war and the cities had been leveled. The when the outlaws returned from their survey their employers followed protocol and contacted their local Space Forces who in turn contacted the Navies of the Eihorn and USSA.
- Upon a full survey of the system by a USSA task force sent to investigate, evidence was found of prior human activity within the star system. This evidence constituted twenty-five battered and obsolete grappler ships found derelict within the system’s small asteroid belt. These grapplers showed damage done by machinegun and missile fire. The leading speculation was that a covert meeting among pirates had become heated. Further evidence of mining among the asteroids was discovered shortly thereafter.
- The Eihorn survey team worked the ground as they had fewer vessels to spare than the USSA. It was a simple matter to calculate the date of the nuclear event using the strontium contamination. It had started a little over 25 standard years ago and had continued for two years. Upon examining the wreckage of the cities they determined that they were not human in origin, but there were numerous human artifacts like shell casings in the rubble. The artifacts could be dated by their Sr90 contamination. The vast majority of the alien objects were found to have been made decades before the strontium contamination event. But all of the human shell casings appeared to have been manufactured from local materials and dated after the event. And though radiation was elevated above the expected background soil samples indicated that it had even in the months following the event radiation counts had never reached a point that they would be hazardous to short term human health even if the human worked unprotected. This indicated that the warheads used were fairly clean thermonuclear bombs. But more importantly no alien artifacts were found that displayed any indication that the species was familiar with the principles of nuclear fission let alone fusion.
- To determine who was responsible for the situation the Eihorn Navy constructed a large radio receiver array and dispatched it by sub-aether ship to a distance of twenty-six light years from the stellar system. Though the language of the Natives was note deciphered until much later the images they broadcast told a harrowing tale. The invaders had come without warning, in three weeks all the cities had been smashed with thermonuclear weapons, as the months dragged on asteroids and comets crashed into the world tingeing its sun and sky red with dust. The bombardment appeared to have continued long after the ability of the aliens to make regular broadcasts had been interrupted. Over the course of a year the number and quality of broadcasts decreased until only audio and coded buzzing could be heard. Then over the course of another year even these slowly faded until silence reigned over the blasted world. No human radio transmissions were ever received for they obviously used aether communication instead.
- The descriptions and images from the broadcasts combined with closer examination of the wreckage in left no room for doubt regarding who was to blame, the Acid-B Pirates. They had bombed the aliens into submission from the safety of orbit, carted off the remaining populous as slaves or novelties to sell to collectors, then stripped the world clean of saleable resources such as steel, precious metals, and dragonite. It is believed that the majority of the surviving members of the species died while being used as forced labor to plunder their own world. By the time the outlaw surveyors had arrived the planet had be thoroughly picked over. All that remained of the once mighty cities were huge sparsely vegetated plains of rubble and rust. A lucky few of the population had taken shelter in the vast under-populated Northcountry or had escaped slavery at the end of the Acid-B’s operations and become feral scavengers.
- The native life forms possessed seven limbs, three attached to each side of a cephalothorax and the seventh more robust limb on the posterior of the abdomen. The anterior pair of limbs seemed to be derived from mouthparts and were used solely for manipulation. The mid limbs could also be used for manipulation but were more suited to locomotion with three pronged claws. The three posterior limbs where much more robust and ended in hoof like feet with studded undersides with the texture of a wood rasping tool.
- They were very slow breeders, reproducing by budding though apparently another individual had to fertilize a nascent bud before it would grow. The development of the offspring took nearly five standard years, which was roughly equal to one of their worlds “seasonal years”. This combined with a dislike of the cold which predominated the higher latitudes of their homeworld caused them to maintain a population no greater than 400 million though they had developed early industrial technology and apparently did have the internal combustion engine for nearly 250 standard years. Their slow rate of societal development is attributed to their equally slow rate of reproduction and long lives lasting on average 200 standard years. They had concentrated themselves mostly in large cities and thus were extremely vulnerable to attack by strategic nuclear weapons. Though less warlike than humanity or the Ctarl-Ctarl they were not as peaceable as many alien races and seem to have resisted the Acid-B’s predations even after their industrial centers had been destroyed. They had a good grasp of the firearm and the tank, though less so of aircraft and naval ships. It is unlikely that aircraft would have aided them much anyway given their vulnerability to interception.
- When the Navies of the Four Empires examined their records on alien and slave trafficking it was found that about twenty years before there had been glut of seven armed aliens found on pirate slave barges. Though many thousands of specimens hand survived long enough to be placed in captivity none ever bred and many sickened quickly, often dying within the first 5 years. A few dozen clung to life in Naval impoundment facilities, charity houses, or private collections. All were taciturn and were either unable to respond to questioning or refused to do so even when addressed in their native language by a mechanical translator. Only a meager two thousand remained on their homeworld. These did attempt to reproduce but all breeding programs failed as the species’ germ tissues and embryonic masses were found to be particularly sensitive to the alpha and beta radiation. Though some were able to successfully bud, the offspring died almost immediately upon detachment from the parent organism. Many other buds were obviously deformed and never completed development. Thirty years after the invasion even the adult organisms had begun to sicken and die. Attempts were made to clone a viable population but ultimately failed. Almost all the clones suffered deformities due to the irradiation of the parent organism, and like their progenitors they did not survive well in captivity. Fifty years after their discovery, no living specimen is known to exist despite the best efforts of xenobiologists.
- Some suspect that the Acid-B poisoned or infected the entire race as they abandoned the planet. Using a damned combination of alchemy and the biologic sciences to create a self perpetuating wasting toxin or prion that spread throughout the planet's biosphere to ensure the species’ extinction. This is probably giving the guild far too much credit.
- Now once again slaves of an unknown species are being confiscated in huge numbers by the Eihorn and USSA Navies from the holds of Acid-B guildsman posing as legitimate traders. The beings in question are quadrupedal saurians resembling nothing more than a cross between a skink and a pangolin. Their forelimbs bear surprisingly delicate fingers and palms that fold in on themselves lengthwise to hold objects. They seem to walk on the horny wrists of their hands and lay prone when they need to use their hands for manipulation. They only stand about a foot high when prone and mass around 100lbs. Their ability to wriggle through tight spaces makes them desirable for use in mining.
- Unlike the previous victims this race does not appear to have achieved industrialization or even steel smelting. Bronze and iron artifacts are their most common possessions and artifacts sold by the Acid-B appear to be mostly decorative items designated for sale to xenophiles. Since they pose so little threat and adapt well to slavery it is hoped that the Acid-B will not expend the resources needed to destroy their civilization with bombardment before one the Imperial Navies can track the slaves to their source and dislodge the pirates. However since the all the guildsmen discovered shipping the slaves have either fought to the death or committed suicide, and their ships navigational data appears to be kept in external computational devices that are destroyed at even the sign of a possible inspection by port or naval authorities no one has yet found any leads. These tactics of subterfuge are standard practice among the Acid-B to protect their wandering fleets, but such zealous adherence to maintaining secrecy is unusual even for them. Perhaps they fear for their relations who are doing the actual enslaving, for if a Navy flotilla did discover their operation all the guildsmen involved would surely be put to death without trial.
- The ultimate fate of the race is unknown. Will they be hunted to extinction on their own homeworld, existing only as slaves to alien masters scattered along the frontier? Will they be destroyed through bombardment if the Navy happens upon them, in a last petulant act of defiance by the local Acid-B guildsmen? Will the Space Forces or Imperial Navies be able to scare the pirates off and save the species? At least they are unlikely to be exterminated like their predecessors since the few brought into Eihorn and USSA custody have already proven able to breed and thrive in captivity.
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