“Bad enough what with the Shemarrians’ Hounds and Warsteeds; now those ladies are looking for PETS. I’ve had at least five come in in the last three months looking to buy any cyberbirds and cyberlizards I might have in stock. Hardly anybody has any contact with the Shemars since rumors of their Civil War started, and suddenly I get the lion’s share of attention because I sell little critters. Chrome must call to chrome, ‘cause I can hardly keep the shiny little beasts in stock before those ‘borg Amazons snap ‘em up. Some of them ain’t always nice about it when I tell’em I don’t have any more in, and I dunno when I might get more!”
Biomech Familiars and Critter-Links
With the establishment of the Wayfinder Tribe, many of the former flesh-and-blood members of that clan looked to re-establish many of the abilities they’d had previously, including Familiar links. Those former mages found that they could link just fine with Familiar beasts, especially the Avian and Reptile Biomechs (see Rifts Megaversal Builder for details on these Familiars) which seemed such a ‘natural’ fit with the cyborgs, though, much to their founder’s disappointment, the ‘true’ Ecotroz members who had joined later couldn’t, despite the psionic component of their physiology.
It was only later, when the Wayfinders had made contact with other EShemar tribes, that they discovered they needn’t have worried. To their surprise, others had made parallel discoveries.
During one of their forays about the wilderness, members of the Horrorwoods EShemar segment discovered a Lizard Biomech running feral after its mage companion had been slain in an encounter with one of the many monsters in the region. Intrigued by the living machine organism, the EShemar captured the beast in hopes of taming it, or at least to learn something useful from its biometallic constitution. The band’s Spinster worked towards domesticating the creature, but found it hostile to her best efforts. Worse yet, the creature would escape its confinement and go on a destructive rampage, destroying property in the EShemar encampment and eating small metal parts (including medical supplies like spare fingers, cyperoptics, and antennae), requiring the Spinster to hunt the creature down and confine it again. Nearing the limits of the band’s tolerance after the third such incident, and frustrated with her lack of success, but not yet ready to throw in the towel, the Spinster implanted a tracking chip in the lizard to monitor the potential escapee.
To the EShemar Spinster’s surprise, the chip not only took; it allowed her to use her Telemechanical psionic powers to establish a link to the creature. Though not quite the equivalent of a Familiar link, the process nevertheless allowed the EShemar to establish a rapport with the biomech, and eventually bring it to heel. Intrigued by this, and having heard of other such creatures being seen and reported on by other EShemar/Shemarrians, the Horrorwoods Spinster spread the word of her discovery. Though Biomechs were still fairly rare, other EShemar Spinsters/Tinkers were able to acquire enough of the creatures to do their own experimentation and duplicate the process. The procedure and the practice have subsequently spread through the EShemar community.
The ‘Critter-Link’ involves implanting a small microchip inside the skull or spine of a biomech (the implant does NOT count as one of the slotted cybernetic implants available to the Biomechs), with a corresponding chip implanted in an EShemar. Once implanted with their matching interface chips, the EShemar must familiarize themselves with their biomech partner, and court its loyalty, a process that takes 1d4 weeks (minus the difference between the EShemar’s M.A. and the biomech’s M.E.) . Once the link has been established, the two share a rapport similar to the magical Familiar Link. The two can, within communciations range, sense where the other roughly is, what their emotional state, and can see through each other’s senses (though while this is taking place, the partner must focus on the sensory input they are receiving, and cannot be engaged in any other actions at that time). The EShemar can command the biomech as they would a loyal pet.
If the linkage is broken with the death of one of the partners, the resulting feedback requires the survivor to make an M.E. roll. Failure means that the survivor is effectively paralyzed in shock for 1d6 minutes, and will likely have to reboot various systems, and will be at HALF bonuses for physical and skill profficiences for 2d4 days afterwards.
Since the ‘Critter-Link’ has become available as an upgrade, the EShemar have been very much in the market for biomechs, hunting and trapping feral examples, and trading when they can for ‘farmed’ biomechs. The Hawkmoon tribes and Horrorwoods tribes especially, have taken to impressing Avian and Lizard biomechs respectively, as the creatures have become something of a (admittedly very useful) fashion among them. This has incidentally driven up the price of the Familiar stock in those markets that cater to the mage community (by as much as 50% in some regions!), leading some of the Tribes to start looking seriously into animal husbandry and possibly breeding their own stocks of the useful creatures.