While traveling on the road between adventures, the party will be surprised by a nearly feral child crashing from out of the brush, charging at them while screaming and wildly waving his arms about. (Play it up for the shock of a potential attack, but hopefully the PCs won't open fire on a panicked kid.) The child, about 7 or 8, is a young Homo erectus (MF rulebook, pg. 76). He is filthy, wearing a loin cloth, and is armed with a flint knife.
Young Homo erectus (1) (AL N, MV 120' (40'), AC 8, HD 2, #AT 1 (flint knife), DG 1d4, SV L1, ML 7, mutations: none)
Although it initially appears they are under attack, instead the child is half-crazed with terror and is completely hysterical. Hopefully the PCs will subdue and restrain the terrified child rather than attacking him. (Food may work as he's half-starved, as well as any soothing words or attempts to show him kindness.)
Once the PCs have settled him down, the boy will jabber excitedly to the PCs in some primitive language. He doesn’t speak Ancient or any of the more common languages of the wastelands, and the PCs will not be able to talk to him. The only word he is able to clearly enunciate is ""Homin," which he says while pointing to himself. (It's his name.) The boy then imitates a horse, makes the sound of a laser shot, and mimes the action of dragging something.Attempting to read his mind is difficult due to his near-animal-like intelligence. The best a mindreader can hope for are some flashes of memory, but they are not well-developed. He then desperately tries to drag the PCs toward his settlement. Around the encampment are footprints that look somewhat like hoofmarks as well as signs that several someones were dragged away to the north. The PCs may deduce that marauders and/or slavers dragged away the primitive villagers. They would be wrong.
In actuality, the Homo erectus village was ransacked by a pair of deep space probes that were accidentally reactivated from a nearby military base to the north of the Homo erectus village. The two robotic probes, designed to walk on four legs to better traverse alien terrain, were obviously never launched and were instead mothballed from a time before the Final Wars began. Now that they are active, they are currently following their mission programming -- to detect, subdue, and collect any forms of alien life they discover. The probes are each equipped with a variety of non-lethal methods with which to subdue their prey -- anesthetic gas, stun beams, etc. They also have some powerful weaponry with which to defend themselves (see the probe descriptions below for a full list of abilities and weaponry). They also have a plasma cutter which is helpful if they find themselves entangled or otherwise obstructed, as well as a hologram projector which they use to disorient and fool their prey. (The projector is preloaded with a number of images to be used as distractions or camouflage for the probe.) The two probes are actually hunting separately, so the PCs may think there is only one when first encountered.
The two probes are dragging their captured "samples" back to the military base (which, according to their programming, is their "landing site") where they are storing them in stasis chambers. At this time, they have collected nearly every member of the Homo erectus tribe (11 men, women, and children) as well as a few other creatures from the Mutant Future (a Vile Slasher, a few Spidergoats, and a Brain Lasher are in some other chambers).
How the PCs discover the nature of the abductions and how they deal with the rampant probes are left to the Mutant Lord. They may follow the tracks back to the base. One of the probes may ambush them as they investigate. There may be a drag-down fight at the hanger where the the chambers are stored. Perhaps one of the PCs are caught and stored and the encounter becomes a rescue mission. regardless, the probes work well in tandem and should be role-played as cunning adversaries. And once the probes are dealt with, the military base may have a lot of good Ancient tech to salvage!
Military Deep Space Probes (2)
Hit Dice: 20
Locomotion: Legs (Multiple)
Manipulators: Claws (4 of them are located under the "torso" and is used to carry/transport unconscious "samples")
Armor: Duraplastic Armor (AC 5)
Sensors: Class V Sensor System
Mental Programming: Programming
Accessories: Plasma cutter; Self-repair unit; Hologram projector
Weaponry: Stun probe (2d6 damage and stunned for 1d6 rounds); Anesthetic gas (save versus poison or unconscious for 30 minutes); Laser pistol Mk 1 (5d6 damage)