After intergalactic travel opened up hundreds of new world for trade and conquest, markets became saturated with alien cuisine, dialect, clothing and technology. Oh, and pets -- lots of pets. Advances in cryogenics, cloning, and molecular decomposition & rearrangement allowed a small-time pet shop franchise from Earth to capitalize on the opportunity and introduce thousands of exotic pets to the public at large.

Now found in every major metropolis, PetDex boasts that they can provide their customers with 'the perfect pet at the perfect price -- guaranteed.' This is not an exaggeration. Their patented 'PetPerfect' application can categorize their entire lineup based on hundreds of individual preferences (compatible atmosphere, gravity, cost of food, temperament, size, maintenance costs, looks, etc) to find the species most likely to fit your lifestyle and needs. Just ask a store attendant for details, or visit their Virtual Storefront for a free consultation.

The Location

Visiting a PetDex outlet is like receiving a free trip to the zoo. There are hundreds of enclosures and displays -- some of them filled with real animals, but most with holographic projections -- to give customers an idea of how a given species looks and behaves before purchase. If a given store has an animal in stock, PetDex makes an effort to ensure that the holographic displays match the individual creatures in cold storage.

If you need a license for your new pet, the PetDex in-store electronic kiosk makes the task a breeze. Store attendants are on hand to answer questions and to care for the real animals on display, and are also in charge of rotating the stock daily to keep the experience fresh. They are happy to sell you a 'Perfect Package' alongside your new companion, that includes a month's worth of engineered food pellets, basic training gear and restraints, proper bedding and even a few toys. Pre-purchase neutering/spaying is an optional extra (though some worlds require it).

Cloning and 'Restoration'

PetDex is able to ensure they deliver quality products with the introduction of standardized 'models.' For instance, PetDex sells 10 cat models at a time -- clones that have been selected for their desirable temperament and color -- by creating enough copies for their outlets to meet expected demand each season. These kittens are raised to the 'perfect' adoption age, given basic training and vaccinations, then put in cryogenic stasis until purchased by their new owner. 'Last season's' models usually come at a slight discount.

If you don't like any of the current models, or if you want a 'traditionally bred' or 'one of a kind' animal, PetDex is happy to ship one directly to your home (at an additional charge). No guarantees are made for the personality or individual markings on this animal, however.

Cloning has also opened the door for 'Pet Restore' -- one of PetDex's most used (and most controversial) services. If your animal companion passes away, they can make you a new copy for a modest charge. Never again must you be without dear Fido; he can now live as long as you do.

The Pet Cube

While the in-store selection of pet-related gear is simply staggering (everything from hamster balls to no-cruelty harnesses for the Tanguineesian Mircat), few customers leave without PetDex's patented 'Pet Cube'. Combination leash, restraint and carrying case, the Pet Cube allows the owner to decompose and store their new companion with the push of a button. Animals can be stored safely in the Cube for as long as the power pack lasts, giving most people ample time to move their pet from one location to another. In fact, PetDex's custom home deliveries always arrive in Pet Cubes, to make transport through traditional package mail a lot easier.

Pet Cubes are normally keyed to an individual creature before being delivered. This 'guarantees' that it cannot be abused (or reused). Their patent on the technology also prevents governments and others from using the technology for their own purposes, so they currently have a monopoly on the idea.

Specialty Pets

Finally, if a real flesh-and-blood creature is just not your style, PetDex sells a limited range of robotic pets with various pre-programmed AI personalities. These are especially popular with people with severe allergies, or for those who are hesitant about the maintenance costs and organic mess that usually accompany a flesh-and-blood companion (though there are some very low-waste organisms from Guanari that may suit your tastes).

No Returns after thirty days. All forms of payment accepted.

Plot Hooks

  • The PCs have been hired by PetDex to track down and stop a ring of slavers that has gotten their hands on a bunch of 'blank' Pet Cubes (ones that haven't been keyed to an individual creature) and is using them to transport live alien cargo across system borders. The Pet Cube logo is still on these illicit Cubes, so someone must be sourcing them from inside the company.

  • The party receives a shipment from PetDex -- someone has sent them a pet! It has already been paid for, and the delivery delayed long enough that they can't just return it to PetDex, either. Did they receive a disarmingly dangerous alien critter from Gamma 17? Or something that *looks* like a common pet -- but isn't.

Creature Dex

The following is a partial list of PetDex's exhaustive stock. Each animal is desirable as a pet for some species (not necessarily for humans!), and has its own list of benefits and concerns. If contributing, please include the animal's name, physical description and a short summary of any unique traits it has.

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1) Grilins

Physical Description: Something like a blue, 5-tailed squirrel with suckers on its toes instead of claws.

Grilins are docile, friendly and extremely sociable little critters. The perfect starter pet for many young children. They don't have claws, can barely bite, and like to snuggle. The only catch is their speed and extreme climbing ability -- these things can go straight up a sheer wall (thanks to those tiny suckers) and often escape their owners if they don't have their Pet Cube handy. For this reason, wild populations of Grilins are becoming established in metropolises around the galaxy. They may become as ubiquitous as the old-Earth pigeon, in time.

2) Scalecats

Physical Description: Warm-blooded feline-esque creatures the size of large dogs, with snake-skin scales instead of fur.

The perfect choice for a person with fur allergies, the scalecat's original name is unpronounceable to most humans (hence, the monicker). Scalecats are loyal, fierce guardians who have a problematic territorial streak. They don't like lots of physical activity, however, and can most commonly be found lounging on its owner's bed or couch, with a watchful eye on the door. Firm training is a must, due to their size. De-clawing is recommended for owners without natural armor.

3) Qouar'lanthian Flegxmorrin

Physical Description: A multidimensional distortion with a blue hue.

Recommended only for creatures from and above the fourth, or below the third negative dimension. It requires no sustenance other than ultra violet lighting and leaves no droppings. It moves through both time and space, and because of this any normal return warranties are voided at the moment of purchase. While harmless it is recommended that you keep all extremities away from its event horizon, as the distortion(though only a temporary thing) can be frightening to behold in such an up close and personal way.

4) Nine-tailed foxes

Physical Description: Fox-like creatures that are kitten sized and with a face resembling Alaskan Malamutes. Depending on their growth phase, they have up to nine tails and come in a range of (pure) colours

These cuties are popular with the ladies as they have a tendency for snuggling up against owners and especially enjoy being stroked on their lustrous tails. Unlike their namesake in Chinese myths, these creatures are common domesticated pets on their native planet and do not have any supernatural abilities. They are also vegetarians. They have much longer life spans compared to a human and this has given rise to a new trend of these creatures being passed down from mother to daughter as a keepsake.

5) Soft-shelled turtles

Physical Description: Identical to normal turtles in physiology except for their shells being somewhat soft, much like a soft-shell crab. Up to five years in age, young soft-shelled turtles are, however, completely indistinguishable from normal turtles, even to the hardness of the shells.

Every five years, soft-shelled turtles shed one layer of their shells and regrow one that is partially of the exact same colour and tone as the layer it just shed and partially of a random colour and tone. Unlike normal turtles, soft-shelled turtles have a much shorter life span. Usually, it is able to accompany a single owner for all of his/her life and then will be quite close to the end of its own natural life.

6) Bitti-flecks

Physical Description: A glowing, fish-like creature about the size of a human fingernail.

A popular choice due to its considerable intelligence and weak psychic abilities, bitti-flecks are kept in a clear, anaerobic, viscous fluid composed of organic and silicate matter. They do best in contained systems and require only occasional fluid-cycling, so bitti-fleck jewelry and other accessories are coming into vogue. Bitti-flecks project a soothing aura that many species find desirable. If kept in a tank with other bitti-flecks, they will put on fantastic pulsing light shows that often mimic symbols, logos or even words that they have recently seen (especially those on passing neon signs).

7) Lammaaaars (aka 'Stickies')

Physical Description: Palm-length organisms that somewhat resemble a fuzzy cucumber, covered with hundreds of short, sticky tentacles.

Lammaaaars are most often found in spaceports or other locations with low gravity, conditions that are hard on many other pets. Their nickname arises from their tendency to . . . stick. To everything. They readily adhere to skin, walls, luggage, equipment and especially to other stickies. They are fairly easy to remove, but can be an annoyance to owners with fur or long hair. Stickies love vibration, and will emit a pleasant purring sound if jostled gently.

8) Whirling Cocktails

Physical Description: Spinning vortexes of viscous liquid

They range from being thumb-sized to being about half a human in height. Little maintenance is required for the Whirling Cocktails. There is no need to clean their droppings for they leave none. Their diets are also simple (any gas, liquid or oil would do). Despite their liquid form, the growth in Whirling Cocktails is not proportional to the volume of material fed to them. Also, besides a growth in volume, the Whirling Cocktails will change in colour, viscosity and spinning speed according to the material fed to them. They ‘eat' only periodically (usually about once every 3 months). They will emit a clanging sound as if cutleries coming into contact with one another whenever they require feeding and purr with a light ‘ting' sound once their appetites are sated. If they are fed material indigestible to them i.e. any solid materials, they will emit a thin wail and quickly spin away from such offending materials. Keep the Wailing Cocktails well out of reach from human toddlers, youngsters and other addled members of this particular species- while accidental ingestions of the Whirling Cocktails leave the creatures themselves unharmed, this will cause severe vomiting and diarrhea for the humans who swallowed them.

9) Guanarian Paradicite

Physical Description: A pale, foot-long worm-like creature.

Often prescribed as therapy for people with terminal depression or other mental issues, the 'paradise parasite' provides constant, life-long companionship. Once embedded in the owner's body, it will attach itself to the spinal column and begin reading the host's thoughts and feelings. After a few weeks, it will have learned enough of its host's language that it will begin striking up mental conversations with him/her. Paradicites are curious, gentle, compassionate and genuinely concerned with the welfare of their hosts. Besides providing a lonely owner with someone to talk to, they can help regulate hormone flow throughout the host's body, often bringing a level of emotional stability that the owner has never experienced.

10) Reenian Singing Tones

Physical Description: A being composed of pure sound waves, manifesting as a never-ending tone.

NOT recommended for humans (or other species who occasionally desire silence from their pets). A singing tone is one of the most expressive and communicative pets an owner can wish for. It can modify its volume and frequency to slide up and down the scale, depending on its mood. Singing Tone enthusiasts often own two or three, and keep them in their own sound-proofed enclosure to provide the occasional evening's entertainment. Feeding is simple -- just provide them with sound, preferably music (as from speakers or even windchimes) whenever their volume starts to dip below audible range.

11) Buruvian Shellcrackers

T'adshi'gazmu, as they are known in the far-flung galaxy where they originate, resemble sea-scorpions, anywhere from six to eight inches in length, but are not aquatic by nature. Unusual creatures comprised almost entirely of chitin, with numerous appendages, feelers, antennae, prodders, and pincers, they are not a good choice for those wanting emotionally satisfying interactions with their pets. Their claim to fame is the astonishing, prehensile strength of their pincer grips. If they can grasp an object, they can crush it like kindling, up to and including titanium steel or even harder materials! Originally, these critters were used by the highly unpleasant Buruvi race for crushing and opening the bizarre, stone-hard shells of the mollusk-like creatures of their home world. Over the centuries Shellcrackers have found their way inside the PetDex cubes, and are now prized by owners for their ability to destroy *anything* they can get their pincers around (approximately something 1.5 inches in diameter or smaller) once taken out of their cube. Creatures of little intelligence (thankfully), great care must be taken when letting 'loose' the Shellcrackers, as one Captain Kurkus Three-Finger can attest to, for example. Starship engineers have also been documented using Shellcrackers to snap cables and wiring in emergency situations.

They require little 'care', as they feed on invisible particles, found in almost any given environment, and seem perfectly content to simply crush and break, any object put in front of them. There are rumors of giant Shellcrackers somewhere out there in the vastness of space, and tales of these creatures ripping through starships as if through aluminum foil, but thankfully those have not found their way into PetDex of yet.

12) The Sharalacs

Physical Description: A bolt of fibre-like material, velvety to the touch

Popular with those required to make frequent inter-galactic travels, the Sharalacs are prized for both their high utility and low maintenance costs. These creatures are basically used as easy-to-carry (they can be rolled up just like a bolt of cloth without adverse effects to them) multi-dimensional storage devices with automatic sorting and instant recall features (that activate on telekinetic command). They do not feed on anything. Rather, they grow with their ‘usage'. The more and varied the content and the more frequent and complex the recall requests are, more of a stimuli if provided for these creatures' growth. In particular, Sharalacs' growth are characterised by them physically becoming thicker and taking on more characteristics of an intelligent being in their telepathic communications with their owners.

13) The Crystalings

Physical Description: Robotic creatures made of a crystalline material that range in outlook from common and mythical beasts to various humanoid forms to completely alien and indescribable forms. Sketch out your own Cytstaling if you are not happy with the existing range of variations and we will make a custom one just for you!

Ever since the compatibility issues between the Crystalings and the r-Butlers have been solved (so that the Crystalings have all of the functions of a r-Butler integrated in), the Crystalings have become the first pet choice among most humans. The Crystalings operate on solar power only and are extremely energy efficient. They are also pre-programmed to recharge automatically on sunny days whenever they operate on less than a ‘full battery'. The Crystalings are more durable to blunt force/pressure than normal robots of human made. However, certain ultrasonic frequencies are known to cause the Crystalings to shatter.

14) The Spiny Quilts

Physical Description: Creatures named for their wide rectangular multi-segmented bodies that are not only warm to the touch but also feels really smooth, like one is stroking a blanket made of down. The Spiny Quilts have a flat head that otherwise resembles a crocodile's and a tail that contains a split down the middle and is rounded on the edges (much like a fish's tail) but covered up with its shell.

A popular pet choice among families with young children, as Quilt youngsters have a habit of undertaking afternoon naps on a daily basis. Coupled with their size (they are about as long as a normal human child's height and of sufficient width to double up as a ‘blanket' for kids), they make perfect ‘napping' companions for children. The Spiny Quilts can eat a mixed diet but usually prefer fish-meat or earthworms as their main food sources.

P.S. The inspiration source for this: Gossamer's uploaded pictures on what centipede people could look like plus I was in bed wrapped up in nice and warm blankets when this idea came into my head

15) Jumping Jades

Physical Description: A neon-blue plant with thick, fleshy leaves and woody stems. Sometimes sports small, spiky-petaled flowers in bright colors.

There's not much call for carnivorous, intelligent flora, but the Jumping Jade from Kylonara IV has attracted a small group of enthusiastic hobbyists. What sets it apart from most house plants is it's ability to drag itself -- pot and all -- across many surfaces using its 'branches'. In the wild, Jumping Jades form a tough root-ball that they drag along behind them in their quest for prey. While they cannot climb, they can 'jump' a few feet across small ditches or up onto low ledges. Jumping Jades will not attack creatures larger than itself, and will keep a home free of smaller vermin -- just remember to trim it back every so often, and keep it away from other members of its species.

16) Cabbits

Physical Description: A cat-like creature with huge eyes and luxuriously long, fluffy ears (essentially this thing ).

Genetic engineering made many things possible, not the least of which previously failed mutations like the cabbit. The very best in gene manipulation, cabbits are sweet, docile, sociable and playful creatures. They can jump moderately high, and enjoy a vegetarian diet, and are usually declawed before sale to increase their retail value. Occasionally, PetDex will get a 'bad' batch that are more temperamental and/or violent -- some extremely so (think Monty Python's white rabbit). Officially, these are destroyed before sale. Unofficially . . . they make great entries in underground creature arenas.

17) Tanguineesian Mircat

Physical Description: A tan, black, white, brown or gray moth with a bat's head, furry body and a curling prehensile tail. It's body is only 2-3 inches long, and it's tail is at least double that.

Not an ideal pet for owners who need a lot of personal space. Mircats always seem to be attached to something (preferably someone), their tails curling tightly around any offered perch. Once perched, it's often difficult to disentangle them -- their tails will writhe around your fingers & wrist, desperately seeking a new place to attach. They are also somewhat shy and will often hide in their owner's hair, tail curled firmly around an ear. For all the clingy-ness, however, mircats make excellent pets. They produce a pleasant thrumming sound when petted and are unlikely to fly away from their owners in public. In a familiar environment, however, mircat owners should have their Pet Cube ready to retrieve the critter when it shows the rare desire to explore; their fluttering flight makes them hard to catch.

18) Nano Mice

Physical Description: Itty, bitty, tiny little mice, each about the size of a marble. They come in all standard colors -- white, brown, chocolate and spotted -- with both plain and tufted tails.

For those with a miniatures fetish, or who have an extremely limited budget for pet food. Nano mice are usually sold by the handful, and will only live for a year or two. They require very little food, and their squeaks are almost inaudibly quiet to the human ear. Often sold as an alternative to fish, or other office pets. Nano mice are also a common gift on Easter, chicks being both noisier and uglier when full-grown. They are always sold sterilized.

19) Berrilian Boulders (aka 'Pet Rocks')

Physical Description: Usually a small, smooth chunk of inky black stone, though some rarer varieties have striations and even embedded crystals. Can be small enough to put in one's pocket, or as large as a basketball, given its age at 'harvest'.

Berrilian Boulders are semi-intelligent beings, with surprisingly advanced senses. They can see ultraviolet light, hear into the super-sonic, and may even have mild psychic tendencies (though this is as yet unconfirmed). Unfortunately, they can't really do all that much with the information they receive, having no known means of locomotion. What they can do is sing, and occasionally vibrate. They emit mildly haunting melodies which change based on how they are feeling, their environment, and with the presence of others of their kind. When talking with a Berrilian Boulder one always gets the sense of being listened to, and the Boulder will often respond with a change of song.

20) Animators

Physical Description: A small, glowing worm about the size of a bullet, usually yellow (though every hue has been reported).

An Animator's body is weak and defenseless, and they are not kept in their 'nascent' state for long. Instead, they are meant to be 'imprinted' upon an object, often a child's toy. This is done by 'feeding' the Animator into an opening (usually a mouth), and encouraging it verbally and mentally to accept the body as its own. If the body is compatible, the Animator will claim it. It will send out tendrils and special feelers that allow it to move the toy around, and receive a limited amount of sensory input from its surroundings (the toy's eyes will usually start to glow, once visual input is being received). The process may take several days.

Afterwards, the toy can be treated as a cherished pet. It will learn to talk, walk, and play as it is interacted with. Animators can live a shockingly long time, though severe trauma to the host body (especially burning) can kill it. When an old 'body' breaks down, it can be repaired, or a new host found. Beware an injured Animator with no acceptable host on hand, though. PetDex is not responsible for any 'possessions' resulting from neglect or abuse.

21) Skippits

Physical Description: A palm-sized furry insect-like creature with twelve legs, four wings, and three googly eyes. Males are poison purple, females electric green.

A skippits can hover like a drone for several minutes, but they weren't really built for flight speed. Instead, they can climb straight up a wall in seconds, and love to 'nest' in the corners of a ceiling. Despite their vaguely arachnid appearance, skippits can't spin webs, and do not dine on insects. They will, however, filch bits of fluff and various shiny oddments to build their 'nests'. Skippits are non-venomous, curious, and generally playful, but watch out for loud-clicking and territorial behavior during the mating season (about once every two years). Their favorite foods are nuts and flowers.

22) Grumpons

Physical Description: Essentially a two foot tall, gray or black parrot-like creature with fur instead of feathers. Often have coin-sized spots of lighter fur on their bellies.

Reclusive and even mean-spirited, Grumpons are not popular children's companions. Winning the respect of one is often a years-long endeavor, but they are fiercely loyal to their bond partners afterwards. Content to sit silently in a window or share a long evening by a fire, Grumpons are often good matches for the elderly, and the curmudgeons at heart. They require little care, and can live upwards of forty years.

23) Micro Spider Goats

Physical Description: Cat-sized goats with eight tiny horns on their heads, and a bristly 'mane' of fur.

Another result of early genetic manipulation, spider goats had their origin in early 21st century USA. For years, they were used to produce large quantities of spider silk for industrial applications (extracted from their milk, which contained an extra protein). After the advent of large-scale replicator technology, however, the spider goats were in danger of going extinct.

PetDex purchased the rights to their genetic code at auction, and their R&D department tweaked the animal to play up the spider aspects of the creature a little, while maintaining the goat-like charm of the originals. The result is a sterile creature that can jump and climb exceptionally well, has a market-ably unique appearance (few creatures boast eight horns), is far quieter than a traditional goat, yet is still a friendly and comical companion.

24) Borellian MagSpheres

Physical Description: A number of shiny metallic spheres, one centimeter in wideth and varying in color from whitish silver to colbalt blue, arranged in various geometric figures.

Borel was an industrial colony that experienced a nightmarish robotic mishap: the patented MagSpheres that were used to attach to and recycle metals had their AI corrupted, their self-replicating subroutine taking top programming priority. As a result, Borel collapsed under a swarm of little metal balls. A recovery operation successfully shut down the AI with a virus, leaving the MagSpheres able only to repair themselves when damaged rather than reproduce in endless number. Researchers also found the AI had learned to modify itself, essentially becoming a self-aware organism.

Borellian MagSpheres gradually found their way off world by collectors, and PetDex made a significant investment in a collection of several billion. They are essentially a colony organism, the MagSpheres attaching to one another to form geometric figures, typically cubes but they can relign their magnetic poles to create any closed geometric figure. MagSpheres are intelligent and can respond to commands, and can sense the world around them with internal sensors and recording devices. They are mostly enjoyed by collectors as decorative curios, a reminder of AI gone awry, but they can be useful in spacecraft as diagnostic tools, able to clink down narrow passageways with their tiny bodies and rearrangeable formats. MagSpheres self-soothe when bored or frightened by slowly arranging themselves and rearranging into favored arrangements.