Zoocraft, also often known as Arks or Gardenships, are simple vessels sold by the arcane to any groups looking to colonize other worlds. These ships are too large to be moved by a standard helm, and are thus powered by Series Major Helms. This means that the arcane, as the only beings able to create series major helms, are the only providers of Zoocraft, however they seem to be willing to provide them to any who are willing to pay their (relatively low) prices. This is good business sense, since the more colonies that spacefarers create, the more spacefaring traffic there will be from colony to homeworld and vice versa. This in turn enlarges the market for helms, which is the bread and butter of the mercantile empire of the arcane.
The bulk of the Zoocraft is rock, but the ship's deck is made from actual soil and covered in plantlife. This allows the colonists to easily carry livestock, and also regenerates the air envelope, increasing the total number of colonists and animals that can be carried, an important consideration when performing expensive colonizations.
A Zoocraft is clumsy, and is typically unarmed, which, combined with the cargo carried by the colonists to their new home, would serve to make it an attractive target for pirates, or especially for slavers who would be able to capture many slaves from the ship. The solid construction of the Zoocraft, however, makes it a very durable ship which is nearly invulnerable to most ship-to-ship weapons. This does not stop boarding parties, however, and so Zoocraft typically travel with several armed escort vessels. The exact nature of these escorts depends on the race using the Zoocraft, but the escorts are usually also packed with cargo and passengers bound for the new colony.
The actual crew of a Zoocraft consists solely of the ships helmsmen, as no others are required to operate it. In addition to these helmsmen, who may be colonists themselves, or may simply have been hired to transport the colonists, the Zoocraft will carry several hundred colonists. The total number of colonists is usually about 200. While more could be carried, the rest of the space (and air) aboard the Zoocraft is usually taken up by livestock. In some cases virtually all of the space on board will be taken up by livestock, with only about a dozen colonists aboard to take care of the animals. This is usually done when a relatively large colony is to be created, which will require a large amount of livestock to support it. In suce cases the bulk of the colonists themselves will be transported on other ships.
Ship Uses Edit
Colonization: The only purpose for Zoocraft is to colonize another world. These ships are ideally suited to this purpose, for the reasons noted above. Zoocraft do not travel alone, instead travelling with a number of combat-ready escorts. In some cases when particularly large and important colonies are to be created, more than one Zoocraft will be used, however this is uncommon. In most cases the Zoocraft will be purchased outright and will be used for one or more trips transporting colonists to the new colony, before landing and becoming a part of the colony itself. Sometimes, however, the arcane will rent out a Zoocraft to be used once, and then returned to them so that it can be rented or sold to another group at a later date.
Troop Ship: A few organizations, notably the Empire of Tyrranous and the scro during the Second Unhuman War, have been known to use Zoocraft as troop transports. In this use, one or more Zoocraft will be packed with as many soldiers as can be safely carried depending on the length of the journey (for short journeys as many as 1,000 can be carried), and will be escorted by a small fleet of warships, which will usually be fully manned by marines as well. This has proven to be one of the most effective methods of transporting an invasion force through space, although such large-scale actions are rare.
Other Configurations Edit
Renegade Colony: Zoocraft are usually used to transport colonists from one world to another world within the same sphere, or sometimes to a world in a neighboring sphere, but in some cases a smaller group of colonists will use a Zoocraft to create a colony farther away from home, with the journey to get there taking as long as several years. Usually this will proceed like any other colonization attempt by a Zoocraft, however in some cases after such a long journey, the colonists find that they prefer their Ark to any planet, and they abandon any plans to settle elsewhere. This seems to be more likely in Zoocraft which have lost some of their escorts to attackers, or which find the conditions at their goal to be different from what they expected. These Renegade Colonies are usually armed with about 20 heavy and medium turreted weapons, often salvaged from escorts too badly damaged to continue to operate. Renegade Colonies are dangerous to approach, since they have often suffered many attacks, and are paranoid about any ships they encounter. As a result, most tend to open fire on any ship approaching within weapons range, and they will often intentionally crash into smaller craft, destroying them in the process.