Monday, March 4, 2013

063: Transbovine

ENTRY 063: Transbovine

Cattle are part of humanity’s cultural heritage, but they don’t translate well into space. Massive ungulate methane factories are impracticable for most habitats, and are inefficient as a food supply. So only a tiny fraction of the different breeds of cattle known to transhumanity made the transition into space. Some post-Fall societies with strong cultural attachments to bovines make do with miniature breeds, which are less costly to maintain—fifty-centimeter high zebus are a relatively common sight in the largest Indian-influenced habitats.

On the other hand, the bovine genetic code had been completely sequenced long before escape from Earth became an issue, and even if physical cows rarely if ever made it up the gravity well, transhumanity still had a massive database of genetic data, and, in many cases, sperm and egg from breeding operations. The average transhuman may only see a classical cow in a rare zoo (or more likely on a live feed over the Mesh), but the genetic legacy of the cow has not been lost, and in many cases is opensource and available to genehackers throughout the solar system.

The result are transbovines, grown from synthetic DNA in growth vats, and often with a number of tweaks, fixes, improvements, and transgenic infusions. The urge to craft chimeras is so widespread that the majority of cattle retain only 25% to 50% of classical bovine genetic material in their make-up; transbovines intended for the production of milk and meat typically have up to 3% human DNA incorporated to make these products easier to digest by flats. Rumors abound that the Carnival of the Goat and some criminal syndicates has access to transbovines with a much higher percentage of human DNA to facilitate customers for prostitution.


  • A breed of lunar miniature cattle known as “Chameleon Cows” for their environment-reactive skin color is under threat of extinction from neglect; the PCs are asked by a preservation society to try and recover a breeding pair. Unfortunately, the minis’ genetic code is under a long-going intellectual property dispute, so transporting them off of Luna is illegal—not only do the PCs have to find the hiding transbovines, but they will have to smuggle them past the authorities as well.
  • Firewall asks the PCs to transport materials from a remote outpost to a facility on Mars, including a six-limbed transbovine named Mahri with a high percentage of transhuman DNA—she looks like a slender, blue-white-black furred cow with a disturbingly human face. Mahri is believed to be an effort at uplift, and may have minor Psi abilities. Possible complications may include an attack by Exsurgents trying to reclaim Mahri; infection of the crew by the xenomorph exsurgent virus through Mahri’s milk; or Mahri giving “birth” to an exsurgent biomorph.
  • Superaurochs are high-gravity, densely overmuscled, legless transbovines developed by some of the Trojan and Jovian habitats—they look like brown, cow-shaped slugs on steroids and produce the best steaks in the universe. A prime cut is worth a premium in the Inner System, and the PCs are approached by local criminals planning a raid. All the PCs have to do is stage a suitable distraction for the heist, and they get 25% of the cut from the sale.

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