In the most inhospitable environment ever known – space – only a very few life forms exist without the cradle of technology to protect them. Most are small, even microscopic, bur there is a truly colossal creature that graces the cosmos, the starwhal. While only vaguely resembling a whale of the seas, it has the same elegance and elicits a similar nautical sentiment as their namesakes.
Agility 2D: brawling 6D, dodge 30+1, flying/0-G 4D
Mechanical 1D: navigation: space 7D
Strength 8D: stamina 10D
Knowledge 3D: astrography 5D+2 ,intimidation 6D, survival: space 7D
Perception 4D: search 6D+2
Strength Damage: 4D
Move: 8 (space units; space only)
Fate Points: 0
Character Points: 0
Body Points: 34
Wound levels: 3
Natural Abilities: ram (damage +3D); bite (damage + 1; +5 to combat difficulty; if target is swallowed, the tough mouth crushes it; damage +5D); tough hide (Armor Value +2D); can survive in space; large size (scale value 60)
While the size of the creature is amazing, typically 150 to 250 meters long, the true marvel of the species is chat they are a silicon-based life form. This unique make-up facilitates every aspect of surviving in the space. The surface of the starwhal contains dozens of tendrils that expel super-heated gases for propulsion, as well as nodules that collect ambient particles for analysis like advanced sensor arrays. Their hide is a dense shell that resists radiation and high-speed impact, and it maintains integrity in dense gravity fields. Internally, they can turn nearly any matter into energy; their great stomach is similar to a massive fusion reactor or miniature sun in this respect. A neural network of silicate pathways more advanced than any computer known controls the beings’ motor functions. Unfortunately, this wondrous design has made the starwhal a hunted creature.
Since initial contact, it was centuries before the first dead starwhal was discovered; it was shortly dissected thereafter. Most knowledge of the physiology of this mysterious creature was learned at this time, and it produced several advancements in technology. While the mating practices, lifespan, and sentience level were still a mystery at this point, the starwhal was found to be an incredible storehouse of resources. Their bodies could be harvested for medicines, spices, narcotics, and rare ores.
This discovery created an industry of poaching around the starwhal, which is a protected species in many parts of the galaxy; however, several unscrupulous governments openly hunt them. A single starwhal can translate into billions in profit as a liter of its internal material is worth thousands of credits. Components such as fire control and sensors gain a +2D bonus if upgraded with starwhal nerve pathways.
Though hunted, the starwhal is far from defenseless. Its hide is impervious to most standard weapons, and they can easily ram any large attacker. Nonetheless, efficient hunting techniques have been developed to overcome these problems. Governments that hunt starwhals use massive capital-ship weapons to make short work of these noble beasts, though most resort to fast attack vehicles like gunships and fighters. Armed with bombs and missiles, these craft can assault a lone starwhal, blast the tendrils to pieces, and suffer few casualties. A larger recovery craft can then safely move in and tow the immobilized carcass to a remote location for harvesting. The starwhal is then gutted, alive, with mining equipment and the husk left behind.
Despite attempts to hunt them, starwhals can be found in both heavily populated and remote areas. On the whole, they take little notice of starships and simply go about the business of consuming asteroids and dense gases. Traveling between systems, they move in pods, or flights, which have been counted as high as 300 in number or as few as 40. Not possessing faster-than-light travel, they accelerate to just under light speed and will spend years hurtling toward the next star system to feed. Observation of this behavior has produced a very disturbing fact. Every starwhal flight discovered is moving away from the core of the galaxy. Scientists wonder what it is that the creatures know that they do not.