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L.S. Micheal Crichton
by Bruce Johnson

Biowarfare Rules

The LS Crichton was a specialized ship, heavily modified from a Kashuggin class modular freighter (large, streamlined,with modules attached, Jump 4 cargo 50-60,000 tons, someone else can try doing the complete design ). The Crichton was designed to be a self-contained biowarfare lab ship, one that covered all aspects, from design and construction of the agents, to culturing to field-test levels, to field testing and evaluation of the agents. There are many confirmed reports of biological weapons being used during the Rebellion, and the Crichton was actually deployed several years prior to the rebellion, and was originally used as an epidemic response facility, not biowarfare; that use came after the start of the Rebellion.

The ship consisted of four, self contained 10 kton modules in addition to the freighter's functional backbone. Each module has its own TL 15 computer system, life support, power, laboratory and crew quarters. Actual crew requirements were minimal, since, as a safety feature, each lab system was heavily roboticized. All manipulations of any agents took place in physically isolated sections of the lab modules, under either robotic or remote contol by the human crew. Three of the four modules were synthesis, diagnosis and production (SDP) facilities, the fourth was a survey and field testing (FT) unit.

Each of the three SP units was specialized to one of three main targets of the agents: Sophont, plant and animal agents. in this fashion the peculiar environmental and test subjects required for all three fields of research did not share any facilities, reducing cross-contamination risks.

Field testing ready agents were sealed into uniform delivery canisters, and transported through decontamination airlocks to the FT unit. The agents were then to be delivered to the target site, and monitored via remote control sensor platforms and orbital reconnaisance.

The sensor suites, however, are very good, and cover a wide range of data types. The remote sensor platforms were equipped with sampling devices and modified security robots that could recover just about anything from a bacterium to a large domestic animal. If necessary the FT unit also had light battledress with full CBW protection for the use of researchers if necessary. Vaccsuits with full CBW capabilities were available in the SDP modules in case of an emergency.

The Crichton itself was rather heavily armed, with 4x4x4 systems (4 laser batteries, 4 missile batteries, and 4 sandcaster batteries, each battery consisting of 4 weapons each) a common Solomani merchant heavy defense package. The Crichton was also modified to perform orbital bombing of planetary sites...this was to be done with nuclear weapons, and was intended to sterilize the site of infection if desired. When this story started it had 25 such weapons on board.

The Solomani corporation that owned the Crichton was ElsenGen Biologicals, ostensibly a pharmaceutical R&D corporation based on Fornorb, an industrial center in the Magyar sector. ElseGen had gotten covert Solomani Defense contracts to do research into biowarfare weapons and defenses; they were given the SS Greenhope, which was a Kashuggin class modular freighter converted to a epidemic response hospital ship. ElseGen refitted the Greenhope extensively, and renamed it the LS Michael Crichton, after a late XXth Century Terran writer who wrote a novel about an extraterrestrial plague.

Somehow, publicity got out that the true purpose of the Crichton and the programs funding it were to develop offensive weapons. Solomani High Command got cold feet regarding the use of biowarfare weapons and shut down the ElseGen projects. The ElseGen Corporation itself was discredited badly; the stock plummeted to nothing, and the corporation was dissolved. The executive officers of ElseGen were arrested by Fornorb authorities, and convicted and executed on charges of terrorism. A core group of ElseGen technicians and scientists, enraged at the Solomani Confederation's desertion of them, stole the Crichton, and vanished into the Dark Nebula sector.

A year later a ship jumped into the Fornorb system, with a very high speed entry vector for Fornorb, and after a brief battle, destroyed the SDB that attempted to intercept it. The mystery ship made no attempt to stop at Fornorb, but dropped a number of what appeared to be small self-guided re-entry submunitions. They all apparently burned or broke up in the upper atmosphere.

Soon, however, the sickness started. A new, multi-drug resistant disease appeared, apparently simultaneously, in all areas of the planet. The disease had a rapid course, producing death in 7 to 10 days in over 95% of the cases, and was rapidly spread via airborne contact. Millions died in the first month, and the Confederation had to quarantine the planet, and watch helplessly as the formerly high poulation planet dwindled to a few thousand survivors. SolSec analysis of remaining sensor and 'black-box' data from the wreckage of the SDB showed that the mystery ship seemed to be of Aslan design, with no identifiable clan or other markings.

One of the submunitions failed to re-enter the atmosphere, and months after the outbreak of the plague, a recovery team captured it before the orbit decayed. The provenance of the submunition was unmistakable; it was Solomani in design, and in fact, bore a lot number corresponding to one issued to ElseGen for testing purposes. It contained a previously unknown virus in aerosol dispersal containers. Analysis of the virus showed that it was the one causing the plague. This enabled a vaccine to be rapidly developed, which brought the disease under control on Fornorb.

Solomani reaction to this was muted, for they couldn't very well castigate the Aslan publicly for using biowarfare without Solomani involvement in ElseGen coming out. Privately, the Hierate Intelligence service also examined the evidence and were also unable to positively identify the ship involved. The Hierate, however, reassured the Confederation on the honor of the Hierate that they were not actively engaged in biowarfare against the Confederation.

In any case, the Crichton was never seen in Confederation space again.

Fragmentary reports out of Aslan Hierate space indicate that the ship travelled through the Dark Nebula sector hiring out services to ihatei leaders invading Imperial space in the Trojan Reach and Spinward Marches sectors. There is sketchy evidence that the Crichton was behind 'designer' plagues in several sectors during the end stages of the Rebellion 1120-1130, possibly including whatever caused the disease on Hexos (Spinward Marches 2828) . The last confirmed appearance of the Crichton was in Zarushagar in 1126. The ship was presumed lost in the chaos following the release of Virus.

The Crichton was an unusual ship, in that it had 5 separate TL-15 computer systems. When it was infected with Virus, 5 separate personalites emerged: Trojan, Lander, Gateway, GreenMom, and Doc.

Trojan eventually became a Empire Builder-Doomslayer hybrid, and controls the ship's main systems, including jump drive, weapons, and fuel collection and purification.

Lander is the computer that controlled the field testing units, and was damaged during an encounter with a puppeteer strain in 1175. Control over its robotic landers is not perfect anymore, and it trusts no one but Trojan now.

Gateway is a Hobbyist/Empire Builder; it runs the animal agent module with rather murderous efficiency in support of Trojan's hatred of living things.

Doc is a Hobbyist/God strain, with a rather twisted sense of humor. Doc controls the sophont module. It will make agents for Trojan to inflict on mostly human populations, but they won't always mesh with Trojan's plans, since Doc will often decide to experiment with different effects. Doc, however, has the largest number of self mobile robots, and it therefore has a stranglehold on Trojan, who is dependent on Doc's robots for maintenance. There are three human populations in Zarugashar sector with heritable color changes wrought by Doc plagues. One is bright orange (from the accumulation of carotenes from the diet), another has zebra stripes running over their bodies, and yet another has blue, irridescent spots instead of body hair.

GreenMom is a withdrawn pure Hobbyist. It is entirely self absorbed in its own module, growing different plant things. Trojan once, in order to coerce GreenMom into supplying a plant plague, shut off GreenMom's fuel supply. Before the fusion reactor in GreenMom's sector went entirely dead, large sections of GreenMom's hull were replaced from within by extremely tough material, transparent to the wavelengths optimal for photosynthesis.

GreenMom's systems slowly came back to full power, all contacts with Trojan or the rest of the ship except for a single low speed communication line were cut off, and the fusion reactor went cold. Trojan has no recourse but to physically destroy GreenMom, and that would potentially cause great damage to itself and the other modules. Since that time, GreenMom has bartered mutated plants and plant agents with Trojan in return for carbonaceous and metallic asteroid material. A planet in the Gushemege sector has one of those mutated plants, a rapidly growing strain of kudzu vine that has wiped out all other life on three of the four continents of the planet.

Trojan uses agents developed, primarily by Doc and Gateway, to barter for parts and supplies it needs with other vampires and fleets. It has also subjugated some human planets with the threat of plague for needed maintenence. It is quite successful at this; coupled with the large number of adaptable robots on board, and the minimal combat damage the Crichton has taken over the intervening years, means that the ship is in quite good shape.

A true survey of the wilds would show over a hundred diseases and invasive plants and animals that have been released by the Crichton and others over the years. Trojan has convinced three other ships to join its fleet; all jump capable warships.

The Crichton is a dangerous and implacable foe; this should never be a vampire that the PCs beat in battle, but a ghost, or a rumor of a terrible destroyer of life. The PCs should encounter its effects more often than they ever encounter the ship.

Anyone running such a munchkin campaign that the PCs DO take on the Crichton and win should be aware that the three SDP modules Doc, Gateway, and particularly GreenMom, are priceless troves of biotechnology.

Daring PCs, (along with RCES Peacekeeper allies) could even co-opt GreenMom, by giving it access to materials, and an environment more conducive to its obsession. However, never expect anything very quickly from GreenMom ... it runs on plant timeframe. Slow, very slow.

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