Cybernuk of New Pale

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by Eric "iggy" Winsor

Cybernuk – from Random Creatures by Tysho

After the troubles of the last few months with the Alzof, Tik and I decided we should take Dwain to New Pale for some dinosaur safari.  Dwain was quite down trodden from his time in the hospital and we figured that a large raptor head for his trophy room would get him back on track.  We arrived on New Pale in time for the northern hemisphere spring and took an aircar to the small hunting expedition town of Mead in the heart of dinosaur country.

Dwain was amiable to the adventure yet Tik and I could tell he was forcing it.  He declared he wanted a V-raptor head but he kept passing on respectable trophy kills.  He was also neglecting to hunt during the hottest parts of the day when the dinos are most active.  After two weeks without a kill we pulled back to Mead for some R&R and supplies over the weekend.  Dwain immediately wandered off seeking the local hangouts and we left him to his pursuits.

Two days after the weekend Dwain had still not returned so Tik and I sought him out and found him in the most unlikely of hangouts.  New Pale has quietly fostered a new but old fighting sport since the Sathar invasion of SW1.  Neither Tik nor I had ever heard the ancient human sport of cock fighting until Dwain spied us searching the backwater streets of Mead and pulled us into an arena hall where cock fighting has been reborn as cybernuk fighting.  Dwain was smitten by this sport and the creature that seems to have been perfectly designed for it.

Now I must say that Dwain is against animal blood sport but has found a unique quandary with cybernuk fighting.  Cybernuks are not a natural animal, nor the creation of anyone in the Frontier.  Cybernuks were created by the sathar during their occupation of New Pale during the First Sathar War.  The colonists of New Pale returned to their home to find the planet plagued with them.  They have worked hard to eradicate them but have also found a few uses for them which have fascinated Dwain, Tik, and I.  So let me tell you about cybernuks and some of the uses that the residents of New Pale have come up with to use these sathar attack beasts.

Cybernuk is a human derived name created by shortening the name cyber-manuk.  The word manuk is the name for a chicken from an ancient human language still spoken by some of the original human colonists of New Pale.

Origins

Cybernuks are not just chickens that have been cyberneticly enhanced by some half-baked sathar cyber-veterinarian.  The sathar seem to have had an actual well thought out plan for this mutated terrestrial poultry.  Due to this they mixed the DNA of the chicken with native New Pale dinosaur DNA and other alien DNAs the sathar brought along with them.  They then created a unique cyber carapace that attaches to the beasts back so they could control it.  Tik looked up a few New Pale scientists who are experts on the cybernuk and learned what the consensus of the experts is concerning the sathar's purpose in creating them.

Apparently the sathar took quite a liking to the climate of New Pale and may have been attempting to terraform the planet for colonization.  Their tool for terraforming New Pale was the cybernuk.

Almost all cybernuks had a cyber-carapace when the sathar were present in the system to continue manufacturing carapaces.  New Pale survivors of the sathar occupation have supported this conjecture.  The sathar made this cyber-carapace rugged enough to survive generations of cybernuk and reattach itself to the naked backs of cybernuk offspring.  This self-sustaining reuse of the cyber-carapaces and a breeding ability not before seen among other sathar cyber-beasts is what has lead UPF scientists to suspect a longer term sathar purpose for the cybernuk.

Cybernuks are ravenous omnivores, they eat everything!  They also have a gut that is ideal at producing manure that changes the soil to support sathar biology.  Cybernuks travel in herds controlled by those cybernuks that have bonded to a cyber-carapace.  This carapace is programmed to control the cybernuk and enable it to herd the other cybernuks it encounters that do not have a cyber-carapace.

The cybernuk that have bonded with a cyber-carapace exert some form of control over the herd.  The scientists that Tik interviewed estimate that a cybernetic enhanced cybernuk can control about a hundred other cybernuk.  This control appears to be some form of cybernetic enhanced mind control.  Shellbacks, as the locals call them, will wander among the herd and stare into the eyes of bareback cybernuk.  This wandering is constant to maintain control.  The controlled barebacks will then follow the shellback wherever it goes and defer to it when it is feeding.  Shellbacks that die are quickly devoured by the herd and the cyber-carapace latches on to another of the cybenuk that gets close enough for it to claw up onto it.  Shellbacks exhibit a level of cooperation that is frightful and very much like an artificially intelligent hive mind of swarming tactics.

Interactions with Colonists

When the colonists returned to New Pale the cybernuks were roaming the northern continent of Juras in herds numbering in the thousands.  They were eating everything from plants and animals to the fungus in the topsoil.  They reduced large sections of jungle to open spaces knee-deep in manure.  The new areas they were devouring were first stripped of all animal life. Then the plants were eaten, including the roots.  The stragglers of the groups ate the dirt in mouthfuls.

The cybernuk leading the advance profited from the meat of the animals they ran down.  Not even the largest dinosaurs of New Pale would survive a mob attack of cybernuk swarming around them and biting and clawing their legs until they were brought down to be devoured alive.  Those cybernuk killed by the dinos were equally devoured by their companions.  Behind the cybernuk gorging on flesh are those forced to devour the plants or even the soil if there are no plants left.  However, those cybernuk in the plant and soil waves that perish are also lustfully devoured by the other cybernuk.

Cybernuk are prolific breeders that lay eggs in nests of eight to ten.  Unlike the human chicken they do not brood their eggs but leave them in the manure to incubate and hatch about 45 days after they are laid.  Each egg is about 15cm in diameter and come in a variety of soil tone colors.  The cybernuk mate frequently in an almost haphazard mayhem.  They lay their eggs with casual disregard as they travel.  Very few eggs laid within the core of a herd survive because the cybernuk eat them.  Mothers have been recorded laying eggs and eating them as they reach the ground.  The majority of surviving eggs are found in the remaining manure fields behind the advancing herd followed by those that are overlooked on the sides of the herd's advance.

The returning colonists were overwhelmed by the cybernuk and resorted to military cavalry units to eradicate the herds.  They flanked the herds with tanks and machine gunned the cybernuk down as the herd advanced.  Helicopter cavalry units controlled the direction of the herd to keep them from advancing directly onto the flanking tanks.  During this time some useful exploits of cybernuks developed.

Cybernuk Uses

New Pale farmers and civil engineers have developed methods of employing herds to clear land for farming and to clear paths for roads.  Remote landowners have used packs of cybernuk to bring down large carnivorous dinosaurs that break into their land.  Placing a captured shellback in a very rugged cage out in the wild will attract other cybernuk in the area.  The cage must be very rugged as the barebacks that arrive will begin tearing at the cage after the shellback gains control over them.  The locals use this method to gather stray cybernuk from the jungles and destroy them.

Cybernuk manure that has been heat treated to kill the sathar micro-organisms in it is rich in minerals and makes a great fertilizer.  Several mining firms reconditioned their war ravaged processing plants to process the vast amounts of manure they found upon returning to liberated New Pale.

Somewhere a few humans isolated a couple of shellbacks and found that disabling a few of the neural connections between the cyber carapace and the cybernuk caused them to turn upon any other shellback immediately.  They also discovered that if they overload a few of the neural feedback circuits into the carapace they can paralyze the shellback.  This margin of safety for handling the shellbacks and making them attack other shellbacks on command generated cybernuk fighting.

Cybernuk Fighting

A typical fight is conducted as follows.  Each shallback is brought out in its cage for presentation to the spectators.  During this time it is held in carapace paralysis.  The owners stand up and tout the qualities of their cybernuk.  Some grandstanding such as placing an extremity into its open maw or releasing the paralysis and hand feeding it through the cage bars is showcased.  Then bets are taken and the cybernuk are released into a caged ring.  The two square off and the owners attempt to control the fighting capability of their shellback by modulating the neural connections inducing in-species aggression.

Dwain spent the entire weekend watching fights and learning about the cybernuks.  He was fascinated that life finds a way to be useful, however it was made.  Dwain personally would like to add that though this is a sport that the people of New Pale have found acceptable he does not endorse the sport nor the modifying of animals for use in fighting sports.  This sport is a fluke of the sathar that Dwain feels should not be perpetuated or used as an excuse to revive ancient animal blood sports with what he calls franken-animals.  Dwain fully supports the New Pale government bans on exporting cybernuks and expanding the sport beyond the few hunting expedition towns that created the sport.

 

Cybernuk

 Type:

Omnivore

 Size:

Medium : 1m

 Number:

2 to 200

 Move:

Medium : 70 m/t

 IM/RS:

+6/60

 Stamina:

80-120

 Attack:

75

 Damage:

2d10

 Special Attack:

Cybernetic guidance to swarm

(108 bare back cybernuk)

 Special Defense:

None

 Native World:

New Pale, Truane's Star

 

GM notes

Purpose of the Cybernuk

The sathar intended the cybernuk to be a self-replenishing cyberbeast.  The cyber-carapaces are rugged enough to survive many generations attached to successive cybernuk. The cyber-carapace detaches from its host when the cybernuk dies or the brain functions cease. The cyber-carapace will then attach to the next available cybernuk.

Apparently the sathar needed the cybernuk to survive unattended from sathar cyber technicians for many generations until they had completely altered the biosphere of New Pale to accommodate sathar colonization. The intentional result would appear to be the total collapse and extinction of all New Pale life so that the planet is ready to be seeded with sathar life forms.  The cybernuk themselves would eventually die out as they turned to cannibalism and eventual starvation.  Only the cyber-carapaces would survive, signaling to the cyber monitoring station that the cybernuk had changed the planet and completed their purpose.

Cybernuk Origins

The cybernuk project was a new idea among the sathar. The sathar scientists that conceived the terraforming project were inspired by yazirian GodCo scientists they captured when their exploration ship found its way into sathar space and was captured.  The UPF and GodCo long ago wrote the ship and crew off as lost to a missjump.  However, the ship had jumped into a system patrolled by the sathar.  The sathar struck them by surprise, destroying the bridge of the ship swiftly and preventing any distress messages from being sent.  Most of the crew were killed as they fought off the sathar.  The few captives the sathar gained were traveling in freeze fields and never had the chance to resist as they were brought out of hibernation into hypnotic slavery.  Most of these captives were GodCo scientists.

The sathar scientists that championed the cybernuk project and defended the use of the GodCo scientists were not well liked by their peers.  The defeat of the sathar on New Pale cut off the cyber monitoring system communicating with the transmitters built into the cyber carapaces.  This resulted in a lack of evidence suggesting success of the project and caused these scientists to lose influence within the sathar leadership.  Hence the GodCo scientists have been taken away from them and possibly killed.

Frontier Research

Back in the Frontier, secret Star Law and UPF labs have been studying the cybernuk in attempts to discover biological and chemical means of attacking the sathar and their many attack beasts.  The success of these programs is unknown as the cybernuk are extremely resistant to disease and poisons.  There are also rumored secret megacorp labs that have acquired cybernuk illegally for pharmaceutical development.  A common conspiracy theory of many deep space subspace radio programs is that these megacorps are withholding great cybernuk derived medical cures from the public to maintain their medical care businesses.

No one in the Frontier has yet discovered the transmitters in the cyber-carapaces.  These would be easily detectable by any sathar ship equipped to control cyberbeasts.