Alezan checked the readouts from the displays on the Sunbeam’s monitors. Vadaria’s life support systems were solid, as to be expected, and the tension readouts on the various tow lines were nominal. He was keeping a close eye on her.
Vadaria herself was comparatively close to the carcass. The space whale must have fought valiantly against whatever star kraken strangled the life out of it, and now its desiccating corpse was flourishing with scavengers. Whole shoals of void fish continued to fly around, picking off bits of flesh with their sets of three jaws. Vadaria would occasionally pause for a moment to enjoy the pirouettes and seemingly playful spins these wild space-faring creatures displayed.
Right before she shot them.
Soundlessly, the barbed dart careered through open space. It was about a 100-yard-shot, but through her AI-steadied sniper scope she bodily pierced the head of a particularly fat void fish.
“Snagged a red sun grouper – a big one! Probably fifty years old.”
“You’re an expert on void fish, now?”
“The AI’s been teaching me, but only enough to know which ones are most valuable on market.” The barbed hook shot was connected to a very long line all the way back to her rifle. She detached it and clipped it onto the nearby tether web, which the ship would reel in once a decent bounty was caught; already a few other large choice void fish had been harpooned. For now the void fish simply hung lifeless, floating in space.
Through her scope Vadaria spotted something else to shoot, moving around from behind the far side of the whale. And on the ship’s life-signs scanners, Alezan saw it too.
“There’s a large one coming towards the one you just shot–” he warned.
“I see it,” she replied, her AI identifying the beast for her: a void shark. It was four times a big as most of the other fish, but just the right size to gulp down her recent catch. More curious that usual, however, it seemed only mildly interested in the carcass; it bit its head and felt the cable in its mouth, recoiling. It then inspected the cable and began to follow along its length, back towards Vadaria.
“It’s coming towards you!” Alezan said. “Do you want me to bring you back in?”
Vadaria cast aside her fishing-rifle for the moment and armed herself with a short-range pistol, more suited for self-defense. “I think I can manage it; besides, don’t some space stations have bounties for void shark fins?”
The giant beast’s three jaws opened wide as it approached her from out of the black, serrated teeth lining a yawning chasm like the space between stars.
Starfinder Stat Blocks:
VOID FISH CR 1
N Tiny animal
Init +4; Senses low-light vision, see in darkness; Perception +5
DEFENSE HP 20
EAC 11 KAC 13
Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +1
Speed 5 ft., fly 30 ft. (Su, average)
Melee bite +8 (1d6+1 P) or tail slap +5 (1d4 B)
Str +1, Dex +4, Con +2, Int –5, Wis +1, Cha –1
Skills Acrobatics +10, Perception +5, Survival +5
Other Abilities no breath
Environment outer space
Organization solitary, pair, or school (3–25)
VOID SHARK CR 4
N Large animal
Init +1; Senses low-light vision, keen scent, see in darkness; Perception +10
DEFENSE HP 50
EAC 16 KAC 18
Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +3
Speed 5 ft., fly 60 ft. (Su, average)
Melee bite +12 (1d6+9 P plus grab and swallow whole)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Offensive Abilities swallow whole (1d6+9 A, EAC 16, KAC 14, 12 hp)
Str +5, Dex +1, Con +3, Int –4, Wis +1, Cha +0
Skills Acrobatics +15, Athletics +10, Perception +10, Survival +10
Other Abilities no breath, tracking (keen scent)
Environment outer space
Organization solitary, pair, school (3–6) or school (7-13)
Keen Scent (Ex) A void shark can notice creatures by scent in an 180-foot radius and can detect blood in space at ranges of up to a mile.
The ecosystems of outer space are strange and mysterious. One of the long-standing mysteries explored by biologists is that there appears to be a great deal of similarity between aquatic ocean life-forms and the organic life found traversing the empty vacuum between planets. With the exception of the oma space whales there is no group of creatures that illustrates this phenomenon as clearly as the existence of void fish.
Void fish are different from native planetary fish in a few distinct ways. Firstly, the void fish are capable of supernatural flight, both in an atmosphere and through the vacuum of outer space. This locomotion is superficially similar to swimming, but allows for greater maneuverability in nearly any environment in defiance of gravity by using an innate telekinetic power to move. Second, they have a strange metabolism that does not require breathing, even in water, to keep them alive. Rather than gills, they have a series of internal gas exchange systems that works with microscopic photosynthetic organisms in their skin, which is structured like a counter-pressure space suit that can contract or relax to allow for both vacuum and atmospheric living. And thirdly, unlike most forms of vertebrate life which have bilateral symmetry, void fish have trilateral symmetry. Their jaws have three mandibles, usually lined with teeth, along with sets of three eyes, lateral fins and tail flukes. This symmetry is strangely common among many clades of space-flying life forms, but outside some prolific common ancestor none are sure why.
Like fish found planet-side, void fish travel in schools and are both grown in special farms and fished from the wild for consumption. In the open space between planets, void fish generally spend their time in the habitable zone around a star, where they subsist on smaller creatures and each other while taking in the sun’s light for energy. Some species are more heat- and radiation-resistant and live in a closer orbital distance; others, like deep-sea life, can endure the cold outer reaches of the solar system where it is much darker and where food is more scarce. Most companies that harvest void fish from the wild trawl their regions with special nets that are massive in size, sometimes tens of kilometers long, due to the vast distances between schools of noteworthy size.
Void fish naturally come in different sizes, and as a general rule of thumb, the larger they are the tougher, more aggressive, and longer-lived they are. Some of the largest of these are void sharks, which prey on nearly any smaller food they find in space. Contrary to their public perception from trivids and other media, most space sharks do not attack astronauts for food, as they are not a natural part of their diet; they still remain a danger due to their curiosity leading them to examine their prey with their toothy mouths, which ruptures space suits, and because of their territorial aggressiveness.