Ice Cave Wolves of Alcazzar

by Eric "iggy" Winsor

Recently the ever faithful guard dog brought to the Frontier by the humans has seen new competition.  In this issue Dwain, Tik, and I of the Jurak Hangna Foundation wish to introduce our readers to a creature supplanting the guard dog that we want to caution you about.

Along the arctic coasts of Alcazzar, the climate causes tunnels to form in the melting ice pack as the seasons change.  This cycle of change drives an ecosystem which a specialized population of animals thrive upon.  The dominate predator in this environment is the Alzof (Alcazzar wolf), a blue skinned canine-like mammal that stands a meter high at the shoulder when full grown.

Ice Cave Wolves – from Random Creatures by Tysho

In The Wild

Alzof follow the constantly receding ice of Alcazzar.  They shelter in the caves that form as the ice melts.  Packs of 4 to 20 Alzof hunt any available animal found among the ice melt.  A primary food source is the Albbit (Alcazzar Rabbit) which has the unique ability to survive in all the seasonal habitats of Alcazzar and freezes in the ice during the Alcazzar winter.  Alzof search out the frozen Albbit and dig them out of the ice.

The Alzof range from the edge of the solid winter ice sheet to the ice peninsulas that bridge with the re-exposed land.  They avoid the ice along the re-opening oceans.  They attack prey by ambush, surrounding, and driving the prey into crevasses, cracks, and caves in the ice.  They claw their prey down then crush them under their forelegs and upper body weight.  A bite is then inflicted to cause severe bleeding and cause the prey to bleed out.  This blood is licked up by the pack with their long tongues.

Breeding packs are dominated by one mating male and several females.  When the females become pregnant the alpha female will lead the pack to the edge of the solid winter ice sheets to birth the pups where they can get the longest time in their dens while they mature.  Litters of pups average six with a nearly even split between males and females.

Females that have not reached breeding age and males that have not dominated a pack of females form packs of four to eight.  Typically the stronger males will begin driving off the other males as they approach adulthood so as to form their own breeding packs.  Elderly alzof that become ejected from breeding packs will often join these packs of adolescent alzof.

A Captive Danger

Recently, several different corporations have begun selling trained Alzof's across the Frontier.  The JHF tracked the source of these animals to Alcazzar through the UPF Alien Creature File.  UPF xeno-biologists were taken to Alcazzar shortly after WarTech received their planetary charter.  These biologists discovered the Alzof and sent a breeding pair to the Federation Zoo on Gran Quivera.  The JHF received a pair of pups a year and a half ago and have been raising them.  During this time Dwain has been put in hospital no less than three times with injuries that caused even Tik concern.  In the wild, alzof are a dominant predator of the Alcazzar ice.  Domesticated alzof retain their predator heritage and must be handled with extreme caution.

A Rocky Start

When Dwain first received the two alzof  pups he took to them instantly.  They exhibited all the traits of a creature with the potential to be tamed.  Too boot, they are intelligent enough to learn verbal, visual, auditory, olfactory, and sequenced commands.  Dwain was soon able to train the two pups to sit, wait, and eat on command only.  He beamed like a father each and every day he demonstrated new abilities to Tik and I.  After a few months Dwain had the pair trained to carry out a sequence of commands moving items around the compound.  Different commands caused different routes or items to be collected.

One day Dwain was running a routine for Tik and I and changed up the items.  The male alzof froze and could not complete the commands.  The female turned violent and attacked the male.  Dwain grabbed the female to restrain her and the male turned on him and put a clawed paw five centimeters into his abdomen.  Tik staydozed the lot of them to pull Dwain out.  Dwain recovered nicely and, as is his nature, dismissed the incident as youthful actions of pups and forgave the animals.  They were three months old.  Tik, however, was no longer trusting of the alzof and kept strict tabs of Dwain's activities with them.

In a later drill where Dwain had the two selecting illegal drugs out of cargo containers as a demonstration to the local constabulary only Tik's quick actions prevented what may have been a severe bite.  Dwain led the female through the collection of crates and she correctly identified each crate the constables had hidden dream stims in.  Dwain rewarded her with a food treat and put her on guard with two of the officers. 

The male was then brought in and totally failed the exam, identifying vrusk sugar sticks in three of the containers.  Dwain then put the male at guard beside the female without providing a reward treat.  The female then began dancing her head about and poking her prehensile tongue at the male.  When Dwain instructed the constables to open the crates and remove the dream stims one of the officers began removing the vrusk sugar sticks whereupon the male clawed the female across the face and lunged at the officer.  Tik jumped forward and slapped the sugar sticks out of the officers hand just as the male’s jaws snapped into the package of sugar stick right where his hand would have been.

Two days later Dwain experimented with the sugar sticks to determine what was the motivating cause of the incident.  Dwain had never exposed the two alzof to sugar sticks.  The male took to the sugar sticks and enjoyed them.  The female took no interest.  When put through paces to retrieve hidden sugar sticks the male was very interested and the female began to act agitated by the change from the regular reward treats.

Later that afternoon Dwain was working with the two identifying images on a screen when the male bit Dwain in the buttocks.  Somehow, a sugar stick had found its way into Dwain's back pocket and the male had bitten him to get the sugar stick.  Tik examined the security holos and discovered that the female had taken one sugar stick from the earlier search exercise and later pushed it into Dwain's back pocket with her tongue while he was leading them into the image test station.  Then she kept calling attention to the sugar stick whenever Dwain's back was turned until the male could no longer resist the allure of the treat.

From Bad to Worse

The second incident to put Dwain in the hospital occurred shortly after being bitten in the buttocks.  Dwain and Tik began suspecting higher intelligence in the alzof and devised an experiment to test for communication between the two.  The experiment was going well until Dwain and Tik reversed the sequence of events with the female and then left her with the male to see if she would communicate the change to him before he was brought in.  When Dwain brought the male to the reversed test he started through the tasks in reverse then suddenly tore into Dwains right leg shredding his calf.  Tik staydozed them both again and rushed Dwain to the hospital.

After this, Dwain started wearing skeinsuit coveralls over his regular khaki shorts and bush shirt.  Dwain eventually considered the male too unstable to work with after it had shredded two skeinsuits he was wearing and he stopped working with the male.  The female seemed to enjoy working without the male and was a star subject for the next few months.  Tik even let his guard down and stopped monitoring Dwain's work with the female.

One afternoon Dwain came to the female's cage to take her out for exercise.  He was sucking on a sugar stick when he opened the cage and she leaped at him and bit him across the face, knocking him to the ground.  Dwain wrestled with her and broke free.  As he maneuvered to exit the room she dashed to the door and blocked his exit.  Dwain summoned Tik on his chronocom and had to use a tangler on her as she charged him when he entered the hallway to the kennel.  Dwain is still in the hospital as I write this for reconstructive surgery.

A Word of Warning

Tik informs me that they have determined that the alzof are a higher intelligence creature than initially determined by the UPF xeno-biologists.  Tik had begun corresponding with the zoologists the Federation Zoo on Gran Quivera about their wild caught alzofs.  They share Dwain and Tik's belief that the alzof are more intelligent than initially determined.

However, they are concerned that alzof raised in captivity like ours and those currently being marketed as security animals lack the social and communications skills that they believe are taught in the wild packs.  Wild and captive breed alzof have been documented to lack communication ability between the groups.  The Federation Zoo’s theory is that alzof communication and social norms are taught and learned from generation to generation.

Dwain, Tik, and I at the JHF agree with the assessments and theories of the Federation Zoo and feel that alzof are not currently suitable for use as security animals and replacements for dogs.  The Humans have inadvertently brought centuries of domestication with them as they brought dogs to the frontier.  The alzof lack this benefit of centuries of breeding and domestication.  We feel the corporations are premature in believing they can skip this and domesticate the alzof in a few generations.

Additionally the alzof are of superior intelligence to the dog and other species being domesticated throughout the Frontier.  Alzof are intelligent enough to learn and recognize that their behavior is being controlled and react against it.  The JHF and the Federation Zoo have both obtained reports from within the companies domesticating and marketing the alzof that similar violent incidents are continuing to occur in successive generations of captive bred alzof.  Alzof as a species are independent minded creatures.  Domestication attempts are akin to forced servitude for the alzof.

Federation Zoo Assessment of Alzof Domestication

The Federation Zoo alzof handlers have provided the JHF the following assessment of their domestication attempts.

Alzof raised in captivity are much more erratic in their violent actions than the alzof they have captured in the wild.  This is true of all wild alzof captured as adolescents or older.  The few pups captured in the wild have each exhibited the erratic violent actions similar to their captive breed alzof.

A telling experiment conducted by the Federation Zoo Alzof Team Lead was to introduce captive breed weened pups to a small pack of wild captured alzof.  Initially the pups were pushy and fought with the other alzof.  They did not follow the dominant male in the pack.  Then after several conflicts, the dominant alzof and one other adult alzof separated the pups from each other and spent several days with each pup individually.  After each pup completed their individual time with the two wild alzof, they each began to measure their actions by the guidance and example of the two wild alzof.  The pups then watched for a response from the dominant alzof before taking food, wandering further from the pack, or other actions which had previously been contrary to the actions of the wild pack.

The zoo team then tested the hunting capability of the pups introduced to the wild pack and a captive bread pack.  The zoo released albbit into the habitat enclosures and observed the hunting styles.  The captive bread alzof exhibit many various hunting methods and seldom worked together beyond two or three alzof.  The wild alzof used hunting patterns observed in packs studied on Alcazzar.  They also restrained themselves from killing all of the albbit and the dominant alzof pressed the captive bread pups into partnerships with wild alzof who guided the captive pups until they learned to hunt as the wild alzof.

Clearly the alzof are intelligent beyond the human canine and have a need for social and societal structure.  The opinion of the Federation Zoo is that the potential for domestication of Alzof cannot be determined until the social structure of the alzof is understood.  All alzof studied by the Federation Zoo who have lacked alzof social training have acted in erratic and anti-social ways with other alzof which they have not been raised with.

GM Notes

Wild alzof will always be deferent to the dominant alzof of the pack, this is typically a male.  Captive bread alzof will constantly rotate dominance between the alzof in the pack.  The desire of each alzof is to take advantage of the others for selfish reasons.

All alzof bred in the wild are instantly able to integrate with each other and communicate through animal touch, smell, and sound.  Alzof bred in captivity have trouble communicating with other packs and will fail to integrate if introduced to a pack after adolescence.  This is because they have not learned the alzof animal language.  Captive bread alzof end up creating their own animal language if not taught by another alzof.  This animal language learning happens from birth up through adolescence.

Alzof intelligence is not capable of creating tools but they are capable of understanding and remembering simple tool use similar to human primate species.

 

Alzof (Alcazzar Ice Wolf)

TYPE:

Carnivore

SIZE:

Medium : 1m

NUMBER:

4 to 20

MOVE:

Medium : 65 m/t

IM/RS:

+6/60

STAMINA:

60-100

ATTACK:

75

DAMAGE:

2d10

SPECIAL ATTACK:

None

SPECIAL DEFENSE:

None

NATIVE WORLD:

Alcazzar, Rhianna