The players are on a TL9 or lower planet, and assume that they have their own starship. The ship's broker gets a response to his 'feelers' for a cargo request for the ship's outward-bound flight.
Seems there is an ocean research station run by the local government on this planet, and there is a sister research station two jumps away. There is a local marine life form on this world that has a very close 'relative' on the other planet - a Whale. The whale is abundant here, but the creature faces extinction over there. An exchange was worked out to the mutual benefit of both governments, and now they just need a ship large enough to transport the first specimen of the program to the other world.
That's when someone in the Admin Department saw your advertisement for a cargo.
The local Government pay for the modifications to the player's ship, and give them twice the going rate for cargo (due to the special handling). In addition, there will be a Mission Specialist going along for the ride, to take care of the Whale, and to handle the safe loading and unloading of the Whale.
Possible directions for this scenario to develop...
- Everything is as is explained. The modifications to the ship will take 1D6 days, and the cargo hold will then be water-tight as well as allowing air and food to be distributed through-out the water tank. The Whale takes up 90% of the length of the cargo hold, and it cannot comfortably survive more than 10 days in this cramped position.
- Everything as per #1, only there are Rebels that are out to cause trouble for the local government. They will attempt to book passage on the PCs ship. If they get on, they will try to poison the Whale.
- Per #2, only the Rebels are more determined - if they cannot poison the Whale, they will try to take over the PCs starship.
- As per #1, only it's a single passenger and he is a Government spy trained in espionage, explosives/ordinance, and hand-to-hand combat. He will try to kill the Whale and make it look like the PCs did it. If he cannot kill the Whale and frame the PCs, he will try to destroy the ship while it's in Jump Space. He will try to fake a Ship's Log entry, once again trying to frame the PCs for the Whale's death and the failure of the exchange.
- The extra weight of the water and the Whale cause the Jump Engines to slightly misjump. Everyone has to roll to avoid getting Jump Sickness. The Jump takes 2 to 3 days longer than normal due to the strain and stress on the Jump Field due to the extra weight.
- The Whale gets sick during the Jump (Jump Space Sickness? Natural Disease from the PCs ship, etc.) and the Mission Specialist and PCs Ship's Doctor will have to work fast to sustain the Whale until delivery is made.