Monday, March 30, 2015

Path of the Lioness - Campaign journal #2

Captain's Log, Federation Science Vessel Lioness
Captain Josiah Greene reporting

"The march of the Thunderwhumps"

     The Haephestian star-map generator which we found on Zephlenn had pointed us towards the planet Klah. Once we arrived, and were beginning to orbit the planet, lights on the side of the generator began to flash, which we determined was a directional indicator. Diego put us into a parking orbit above the starport, and I, Gen. Mason, Wally, Svetlana and Carter rode down in the pinnace. 

      After landing the pinnace at Klah starport, and delivering the q-ferrets and tree rat to the local zoo officials, we lifted in the direction the generator seemed to be pointing us. A few hundred km northeast of the port, the generator zeroed in on a large ranch-style house. We couldn't see any indication of the presence of the pentagon piece, so we concluded that it must be in the house.

  The house belonged to a Mr. Walpole, who owned most of the land we could see. I introduced our team, and explained in brief what we were looking for. Walpole agreed to let us look around, and to my surprise, the piece was not in the house. The star map device began to flash lights on all sides, and Mason realized it meant that the next piece was buried beneath the house. Walpole denied any knowledge of this. He agreed to let us dig beneath his house for the piece, but asked us to do him a favor first.

Mr. Walpole's problem was with the local wildlife. A herd of large grazers, which he termed "Thunderwhumps" were headed toward his ranch house. They were still 20+ hours away, but these creatures apparently move in straight lines, and don't bother going around obstacles, choosing instead to bash through them. Thunderwhumps can weigh up to 30 tons each, and this herd had half a dozen of them. 


  Mason suggested that we modify the pinnace's external speakers to emit high-frequency sound and use that to divert or drive the 'whumps away. Carter and I worked on that, and Mason got Vince on the radio. He directed Vince to have Dame Yoriko track the 'whumps on infrared, and to contact the starport to ask for any more information on these creatures. 

     Dame Yoriko reported that she had the herd on the sensors, and described an attack on them by a group of smaller creatures, probably carnivore chasers of some kind. Once we had the speakers kitted up, we flew out to meet the herd, which didn't take long - 'whumps do not move very fast so they weren't far away.  

  Wally positioned the pinnace ahead of the herd and we cranked up the speakers - which promptly blew out. One quick brainstorming session later, we had a new plan. Svetlana had gathered some information through Vince about the creatures which became the core of our plan. The thunderwhumps operate by a very keen sense of smell, sniffing out their favorite variety of moss to eat. At their size, they need to eat a lot. Once they smell a patch, they head straight for it, even over great distances. Yoriko confirmed for us that there was a tasty patch directly opposite Walpole's ranch from where we met the herd, so all we had to to was divert them enough such that their straight path would miss the ranch. 

   We flew ahead to the moss patch, landed and began harvesting the moss as quickly as we could. Fortunately, we still had the nets and tools from the plant hunt job we did on Zephlenn. It took all night to collect and bale enough moss that Svetlana believed would be enough to get the 'whumps attention. With the herd just a few miles from the ranch, we caught up with them again, and dangled the baled moss out the cargo hatch, like the old carrot-on-a-stick routine. 

     To my relief, it worked. The 'whumps turned almost at once to follow the closer food source, but we had to trail them along for an hour to divert them far enough.  Wally got pretty tired, keeping the pinnace low to the ground but barely moving. 

     Part way there, Dame Yoriko warned us that the pack of chaser animals was again bearing down on the herd. Carter was able to drive them off with the pinnace's laser before they scattered or turned the herd. Eventually, we had drawn the herd far enough that my calculations said would cause them to miss the ranch. We dropped the bales and returned to Walpole's just as the sun was coming up. Everyone bunked out for a few hours, but Svetlana made sure we were up in time to watch the herd pass by. It was an impressive sight to watch such massive creatures rumble past, apparently unconcerned with our presence. 
End of entry.

Thunderwhump (Syrivaldi majoris)  Herbivore Grazer 
 Mass          Hits        Wounds      Weapons             Armor     F   A   S
30,000kg    14D/7D    X4             Hooves & Teeth    Cloth-1  8   8    1

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