With their ivory-white plumage, plasmakells, known to many as “plasmakeets” or “firebirds” are the bane of spaceports and frontier outposts throughout the universe. A highly specialized form of raptor, they often dive-bomb settlements in search of prey.
Agility 4D+2: brawling 5D+2, firearms: blast 6D, flying/ 0-G 7D+2
Mechanical 1D: navigation: sky 1D+2
Knowledge 1D: survival 4D
Perception 4D: search 7D
Strength Damage: 3D
Move: 50 (flying)/5 (land)
Fate Points: 0
Character Points: 0
Body Points: 26
Wound Levels: 3
Natural Abilities: energy blast (damage 30 per round until fire is put out); claws (damage +2D+1); beak (damage +2D; +5 to combat difficulty); special feathers (+10D to damage resistance rolls against effects of extreme heat); flight; dive attack (+2D to flying/0-G when diving; cannot fail to pull up from a dive); can breathe in thin atmospheres; large size (scale value 0)
Plasmakells hunt in an entirely different way than most birds of prey. Instead of gouging their prey with their razor sharp talons and beak, plasmakells first set their prey ablaze, cut them apart as they cook, and then gorge themselves on the charred remains.
In order to set their prey on fire, plasmakells have developed a unique addition to their diving attack. First, the creature picks out a general target area, such as a spaceport or herd of creatures. Next, the plasmakell cakes flight, climbing high into the outer atmosphere. With its keen direction sense, it reverses its climb, rakes aim at its general target, and begins a free-fall descent. As the plasmakell gains speed, the air friction somehow causes the oils on the creatures body to burst into flames. When the plasmakell gets close to the ground, it selects an individual target and swoops in on it. As the plasmakell rushes by, the built-up energy strikes the prey, setting it ablaze with an explosive fireball. As the ball hits the target, the plasmakell pulls out of its dive and arcs back at target, where it attacks with more traditional weapons – its claws and beak.
The plasmakell survives such brutal conditions because of a set of highly specialized feathers that surround its head, neck, breast, and wings. These feathers protect the plasmakell from the extreme heat generated during their nearly supersonic descent.
Plasmakells congregate in flocks of up to a dozen birds. They favor nests that sit at high vantage points, such as skyscrapers, space elevator threads, and high-atmosphere flotillas. In a more natural setting, the creatures make their home on mountain tops and tall trees chat can support their nests’ size.
Plasmakells raise up to two broods each Earth year. Each brood contains three eggs. Hatchlings are raised on a strict diet of singed meat.
While originally only a problem predator on their home planet, opportunistic military strategists soon found that the plasmakell readily adapted to most planets that had abundant prey. With such a good instinct for survival, those same strategists used the creatures to “soften” up unruly worlds prior to an actual full-scale military assault.
Some enterprising merchants have made a lucrative living by selling “plasmakell cuisine” – meat not from a plasmakell, but rather the flesh of a plasmakell ‘s target. Chefs claim that the incredibly high cooking temperature – impossible to replicate in a kitchen – result in meat that has a crispy caramelized exterior shell while being unimaginably juicy and tender in the center. Skeptics call this mere marketing puffery, but that hasn’t stopped brave entrepreneurs who seek plasmakells attempting to feed, hoping to drive them off or kill them so they can recover the meat and quick-freeze it.