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Old November 15th, 2012, 09:52 PM
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Default Jump Rats

Jump Rats

Polymer chewing, energy eating jumpspace lifeforms

.5kg Hits= 3/0 Armor= none(only lasers will hit) Weapons= none

A=0 F= always S=4

Throughout the ages, ships have always had their hitchhikers of some kind or another in the form of animals that find their way onboard either in or in pursuit of the food brought on as cargo. On Earth, rats have always been the most common, so common that they that even ended up on colony worlds tagging along in starships. Some new alien species, similar in habit to terrestrial rats have also become regular travelers on starships as they are brought aboard with the cargo, or manage to sneak inside the ship when the doors are left open. Regardless of the exact species, the generic and traditional term for such stowaways among crews is ‘rats”.

Crews of ships transiting jumpspace have reported a lot of strange and sometimes eerie encounters inside their ships during that long week in jump. The vast majority of these is attributable to the inevitable combination of boredom, drink, and drugs used to make the trip less tedious, or just from a session of staring into the Mandelbrot patterned gray swirling of raw jumpspace itself. A very small number of sightings are corroborated by video and data recordings, and have been so consistent across the wide spectrum of ship crews that they are most certainly real encounters with something odd. Jump rats, however, are the one encounter that not only leases video and witnesses, but also leaves physical evidence.

Jump rats are lifeforms unique to jumpspace and while they cannot physically exist or live for long in realspace, they can enter for extended times the realspace bubble that exists in starships while those ships are transiting jumpspace. Jump rats present on a ship that drops out of jumpspace will vanish, lending some credit to the theory that though the animals manifest physically on a ship they are still linked somehow to jumpspace. Some believe they may only be the tips of some entity protruding into a ship’s realspace environment while the majority of the larger creature remains in jumpspace. Regardless of the true nature of jump rats, it is clear that they can only manifest while the ship is in jumpspace, and not appear in ships travelling realspace.

Jump rats manifest as a small, slightly luminescent blue-green animal. They are egg-shaped with a long, slightly flattened tail on the round end, and a mass of cilia-like feelers along the ventral surface that are used for locomotion. Two bright red and beady eyes are on the top of the pointed end of the body, which then terminates in a rasp-filled maw. The animal is extremely fast. When startled or frightened the jump rat can ‘phase’ through solid objects to escape. They tend to prefer darkness, but this may only be due to their timid nature since no one understands how they ‘see’, or what senses they have. People have approached them closely enough to almost touch a jump rat, only to have it suddenly ‘drop’ through the floor or wall to reappear on the other side darting away.

Jump rats appear to be solitary in that no social behavior has ever been observed among them, but when they infest a ship in jumpspace they usually appear scattered throughout in numbers ranging from 1-12 rats. Once inside the ship they will usually stay, with the numbers of jump rats fluctuating, perhaps with individuals phasing out and new ones in for the duration of the jump. When the ship drops out of jump, the rats vanish. Jump rats are not affected by toxins or tranquilizing gases, nor does vacuum appear to bother them. Since they can phase through walls traps cannot hold them. The only way to eliminate the animals is to hunt them down and hit them with a laser. Any other kind of weapon has no effect on the animal since its startle reflex is fast enough that the jump rat will simply drop through a floor or whatever object it is on before the weapon (or the weapon’s projectile) can hit the beast. There have been hilarious videos circulated showing frustrated and angry crew members shooting up desks, coffee-makers, and ATV tires when they fire grenades or automatic weapons ate darting jump rats with the inevitable destruction to property …and a jump rat darting out of the smoke to safety. Often, with the video slowed enough, you can actually see the jump rat appear to drop right through the computer station it was feeding on milliseconds before the slugs from a weapon obliterate the device while the rat scampers away. The only weapon 100% effective against the jump rat is the laser.

Jump rats feed on energy sources and polymer compounds. It may just be that they just appear to feed on the polymer materials but are only chewing through them to get closer to the energy source, but it is hard to tell. Crews have had furniture chewed up, tabletops, clothing, armor, vacc suits, carpets, and even the tires on ATV’s shredded by the animals. It appears nearly anything with polymers in their makeup is fair game to the jump rat. Jump rats may be looking for energy sources, or perhaps they enjoy the taste of plastics, but no matter what the reason it can be destructive and sometimes dangerous. A single jump rat will destroy and/or consume up to 1kg of material in just a few minutes. If it gains access to and energy source, a jump rat will consume an average of 200kw/sec for as long as the rat is attached to the source, or until the source is drained. Batteries, cables, power couplings, generators, and even a ship’s power plant are all sources that attract the animals. Though the jump rat drains the energy through induction and need not actually come in direct contact with the energy, it will reduce the shielding or insulation around the energy source to get as close as possible to the source. This explains the gnawed shielding on fusion bottles and exposed power feeds with piles of shredded insulation left below them.

Obviously, this feeding behavior is the hazard jump rats present. There have been no reports of any attacks on passengers or crew by the animals. The danger and nuisance lies in finding one’s vacc suit gaskets chewed to shreds, or the drilling laser power packs drained, or worse yet, the power plant shielding full of holes left by burrowing jump rats. Crews in jumpspace need to be alert in their rounds to ensure any manifestation of jump rats is eliminated immediately and thoroughly to avoid potentially catastrophic results.
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