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by William H. Keith, Jr
Smaetal Swarms. Populary known as 'smarts', minnies, and pirhana bugs, are an extreamly small, flying life form native to Smaeta, near the Imperial core, but now found infrequantly on countless humid, tropical environments on worlds across the Imperium.
Each adult smeat weighs less than .1 gram, and has a wingspan of less than 1 cm. They are generally encountered as an upright, pillar-shaped cloud, about 2 m tall, which drifts along just above the ground. One cloud may contain 50k individuals.
Smaets have a rather complicated reproductive cycle. The eggs, which are laid by the thousands on unripe fruit, seem to mature and develope as the fruit ripens, drawing on the fruit's internal chemistry in some fation. Various methods of ripening of the fruit seem only to delay the maturation of the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the tiny winged reproductive phase of the creature burrows out, and joins the local, rapidly growing swarm.
Smeats are carnivores. The cloud will approch any homeothermic life form of more than 50 kg mass at the speed of a man's run. A single bite is no more than an annoying pinprick, but thousands of bites in the space of a few moments can be deadly, and smaets are classified as dangerious life forms.
Attacks by a smaetal swarm causes 2D damage per turn. Individule roll are made against every character which occupies the same area as the swarm. They can be avoided by jumping into water or running through fire or thick smoke. Torches confuse them. Though they will attack a man carrying a torch or burning brand, they will inflict only 1D damage per turn. Each turn, the character may throw 2D to see if the torch breaks up the swarm long enough for the characters to escape (throw 9+ to do so). Smaets can pursue a human as fast as he can run, and for al long.
Persons partially protected by armor suffer only 1D damage points each round they are attacked, but most types of armor will not completely protect an individual. Only characters in compleately self-contained environments (vacc suits, combat armor, battle dress, or sealed combat environment suits) will be compleately safe from smaetal attacks. But they may suffer accidents due to vision imparement.
Unfortunatly, those weapons best able to disperse a swarm (gernades, wide beam plasma guns, flame throwers and the like) are inappropriate for use within the confines of a starship hold or starship terminal. Vacuume, jets of water, or blast from CO^2 fire extinguishers have been known to control them in close quarters. The eggs have thus far proven immune to all common ovicidal techniques, including fumigation and irradiation.
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