Part 15: Polaris - Part 15 - August 5th, 1181NC: JusticeAugust 5th, 1181NC: Justice
Whew. Freed from mission obligations, we head over to P'ar Aed to see if there are any new toys available. P'Jeena is there to receive us.
Danger could've been our middle name!
As you make your way to the bar you sense the familiar presence of P'Jeena waiting for you long before you walk in the door. When you do enter he stands up and waves you over to his table.
"I'm glad you stopped by, Ory'hara," he says after you exchange greetings. "As we find ourselves to be in a bit of a bother. None of our analyses have helped us get any closer to solving the mystery of the Krypt. The only thing we have been able to do is verify that what Llyrell said about the Krypt Pods being made of nanites is true. Other than that we keep running up against dead ends.
"We were wondering," he continues almost pleadingly, "if you could go on another journey for us to see if we can gather some more information? I warn you, this mission may be very dangerous."
Vell-os is actually on the Hypergate network, having been connected before the enslavement of the Vell-os, so we can reach it with a single jump. We do so, and enter Krypt space. Some Vell-os get eaten alive by the Krypt on the way in.
Find Vell-os posted:
"Thank you, Ory'hara," P'Jeena tells you sincerely after you agree to help out. "You probably don't know this, but most P'aedt are grateful to you for starting the recent boom in advancements due to the opening up of the border with the Wraith, led by your efforts, and your recent contact with the Aurorans.
"What we want you to do," he explains, getting down to business, "is to locate the 'homeworld' of the Vell-os, which goes by the same name. We know it is located somewhere to the north-west of what is now Federation space, but our ancient records are a little sketchy so unfortunately we can't be any more specific.
"We hope that if this Krypt is as curious as the Vell-os claim it is," he tells you quietly, "that it will somehow try to make contact with you. Of course, we know that this might be dangerous, but of anyone alive, you are perhaps the most capable of dealing with any danger it might present.
"When you have finished," he finishes a little tiredly, "return here with your findings."
The nanite clouds they fire, despite looking like the MSPaint spray tool, ignore shields entirely and eat armour away at a frightening rate. In some pretty terrible gameplay-story meshing, we are told this:
But nothing happens. We lose no energy, no krypt attack us, nothing. It's just another Wraith mission with krypt pods circling around us. Even facing off against a single Krypt pod would've been a great challenge.
We reach Vell-os. Most of the planet has been... redistributed.
Why did the hive mind have insomnia? It couldn't stop reading its kryp-sheet!
This planet is all that is left of what was once an advanced and beautiful civilization. Very few records of the Vell-os before the Vell-os War have survived, but those that have show that this planet was a paradise world, with many beautiful buildings and parks. The Vell-os that remain alive today say that in every city there were artistic and athletic festivals, and that these two pursuits were viewed as the most noble by all Vell-os. Now only radioactive dust and one or two radiation-resistant microbial life-forms remain here. You wish you could spend more time wandering around the ruins of this planet, but your bio-suit is already giving you warnings about the radiation.
Back we go to the other end of the galaxy.
You are amazed by the god-like depths of intelligence you sense in the weavings of the Krypt-mind during your journey. As soon as you enter the physical space occupied by this intelligence, you find yourself constantly under attack by the Krypt, and it slowly works away at your defenses. As soon as you begin piloting down to the surface of Vellos, the attacks stop, offering you some respite. And as you make your way through the atmosphere of this destroyed world you can feel Krypt focus its attention down to the surface.
When you step out you see an obsidian colored nude female figure striding towards your ship.
"What are you?" she asks abruptly, and instantly you can sense Krypt's enormous intelligence in the figure before you. "Why did you come here?"
Suddenly you are forced to defend your mind against a potentially deadly intrusion as Krypt tries to weave her way inside your head. You instantly merge with the universe and twist the conditions around you to thwart her attempts, but even then her weaves are almost too intricate to unravel, and you only barely manage to survive. Then, just as suddenly, the attacks stop.
"You are interesting," she announces thoughtfully. "I will watch you."
With that her body dissipates into dust and you are left panting with exertion.
Right. We reach P'ar Aed.
Find Vell-os posted:
Every spare moment you have on the long journey back to meet P'Jeena you spend meditating and training to see if you could better survive another such attack. Never before have you felt such an enormously powerful force try to unravel your mind. The more you study the incident, the more frightened you become. Even the smallest moment of hesitation at any time would have left you dead in an instant.
Day after day you practice in an attempt to duplicate Krypt's weaves in order to better understand her attack and be better prepared for any future encounter you may have with her. Towards the end of your journey you begin to figure out how to produce the same configurations of weaves she did, but you are still a long way from being able to create them with anywhere near the same rapidity.
As you fly down through the polluted atmosphere of P'ar Aed you vow to keep meditating on her weaves and keep practicing so as not to have to struggle so desperately the next time you meet her.
Got it. During this enforced wait, I get a bit bored and decide to use our mighty powers to exact some revenge. Remember when we worked for the Wild Geese, and delivered a message to McGowan? The message that got us beaten to a pulp in Harbor, the Pirate space station that we keep raiding for funds?
"So what did you learn?" asks P'Jeena when you exit your craft and you reply that you learned that you are not yet ready to deal with Krypt.
"Is it that powerful?" he asks, going pale, and you nod grimly.
You quickly detail the events of your journey, and pass on all the impressions you got from observing the mind of Krypt throughout. You finish by describing the events of the attack upon your mind, and by informing P'Jeena that you need some more time before you will feel ready to face her again.
"I understand," he bows, acknowledging the skill required to have even survived. "I apologize for exposing you to such a powerful and uncaring being. We will analyze what information we can garner from your sensors, I can only express my deepest thanks for the efforts you went to in securing it.
"Please Ory'hara," he concludes seriously, "do not return until you feel you are ready."
It's time to more clearly establish who's on top now.
Planets have a hailing box available where you can offer bribes to land. There's a little used box below it, normally using it would get you laughed at. At high combat ratings, however...
I'm taking over. Harbor sends out a mix of Pirate Carriers, Class IV Pirate Valkyries, Manticores, Pirate Argosies and Pirate Enterprises. A planet under domination maintains a maximum of 6 ships in space at any time, meaning that with a powerful enough fleet you can simply park around the planet and pick off enemies as they launch.
It's just us, so I go with the simpler tactic of drawing enemies out into a long line, then cloaking and picking off the stragglers. Rinse and repeat 100 times, pausing where necessary to regain shields.
They stop sending up ships to die, and capitulate. We increase our income by 4,000 credits a day, and the station is now held in thrall, all facilities open to us.
It's a nice way to spend the day. We head back to Polaris space to see what P'jeena has for us.
As you prepare to disembark from your ship you cannot help but smile in anticipation when you sense the bubbly presence of Mu'Randa waiting for you. You create a subtle weave to alert her to your imminent arrival and she greets you when you walk out the hatch and waves you over.
"I am glad that our paths have once again crossed," she tells you with a smile, "as I wanted to show you something that the P'aedt and the Ver'ash have been working on recently.
"You are of course aware that the Vell-os still suffer as slaves under the brutal guidance of the Bureau," she breathes, "and we have long wanted to find a way of freeing them from their onerous burden. Well, recently a young Ver'ash came up with a fairly reasonable theory as to how we might actually go about it.
I'm pretty sure P'aedt is an anagram of "taped" while Ver'ash gets "shaver."
Observe Experiment posted:
"I thought you might want to come along," she continues with one of her trademark smiles. "The other reason why I'm glad you came along is that I need a lift to see it myself. They are conducting the experiments on the Ver'a Se station in the Ver'roqi system, so that's where we need to get to.
"I have been assured by a number of different Ver'ash and P'aedt involved with the project," Mu'Randa continues brightly, "that they feel as if they are on the verge of a major breakthrough soon, so you might want to hurry."
You grin at her not so subtle hint and you invite her to lead the way back to your beloved Weave Got Company to begin the journey.
During the journey Mu'Randa asks you a number of questions regarding your abilities and your confrontation with the Krypt. You end up training with her, and guiding her to a greater understanding of her own arts and abilities.
When you land you are greeted by a green-robed woman whom Mu'Randa introduces as Ver'Lahir. She indicates that you should all follow her and she leads you into an observation booth looking down into a laboratory. Beneath you, you see a man lying down with a complex device fitted to the base of his skull surrounded by ten sweating Polarans of varying classes. Observing closer you sense that the surrounding people are all very strong telepaths and they are trying to somehow 'lift' some kind of 'weight' away from the mind of the prone patient. Suddenly you understand that the Polaris are trying to find a way of temporarily 'taking the strain' away from the prone man who is 'enslaved' by the device attached to his skull.
Just call me Father Merrin. We go for a wander, ending up on Tre'ar Illini. We've been followed.
You sense that they are trying to twist the weaves of the device against itself somehow, without much success. Acting on a whim you merge with the universe around you and casually divert its weaves towards yourself.
Suddenly you feel pressed against the floor by the flows of the enslavement device, and only by continually manipulating the conditions around you are you capable of keeping at bay the terrible compulsion. At the edge of your concentration you hear a gasp and you quickly emerge from your union with the universe and the pressure on your mind falls away as your weaves crumble.
You look up to see all the Polaris looking at you in awe.
"...and he shall show us the way onwards," says Ver'Lahir as if quoting from somewhere and every person in the room bows in your direction.
Embarrassed, you quickly tell them how you did it, and how they might emulate it using a series of simple weaves before telling Mu'Randa that you are tired from the long journey, and heading back to the privacy of your ship.
(The power of the weaves mean you can talk in parentheses)
As you sit in the bar you sense the familiar presence of Mu'Randa approaching.
"Ver'Lahir and her team have duplicated your success," she tells you with a smile. "Now we can move our operation up a notch."
You can feel Mu'Randa's mind working deviously, and you raise an eyebrow in curiosity.
"Now that you are with us," she tells you, "we must prepare for the reintegration of humanity; we cannot stick to our isolationist policy any longer. So we must begin preparing the way.
"You see, now that we can free one Vell-os," she continues explaining, "we can aid the rebels in their efforts to destroy the Bureau. You see, without the enslaved Vell-os, the Bureau will no longer be able to put up show trials where 'supposedly free' Vell-os are meant to read the minds of the accused and make judgement on them. In reality, they are told precisely what their judgements are going to be ahead of time by their Bureau masters. The end result will be the discrediting of the Bureau (and hopefully its destruction) and so a more reasonable Federation government.
"Interested in helping out?"
Haven't we already done that? Did the Polaris attach a device to a random person just for giggles? We head for Earth and deal with the garrison.
Capture Vell-os posted:
"I knew I could count on you," Mu'Randa smiles at you in thanks before getting down to business. "We have already told the Rebels to prepare for the Federation's sudden weakness, and we believe that they are planning a strike against the Bureau's headquarters on New England, but first we must remove the enslaving device from at least one Vell-os. Once we've done that, the freed Vell-os will be able to take the strain for at least one other, and in no time the entire race will be freed.
"But it won't be easy," Mu'Randa warns. "You see the Vell-os have been ordered to stop anyone from removing the devices, so you can expect them to fight you with everything they have.
"Simply put," she summarizes quietly whilst handing you a small hypodermic syringe, "we want you to go and bring back Llyrell from his current home on Earth in the Sol system and take him to Ver'a Se in the Ver'roqi system. The sedative in that syringe should be strong enough to keep even a Vell-os unconscious for several weeks."
It's not really an advantage, since he explicitly merged with the universe in our earlier fight.
Capture Vell-os posted:
Llyrell greets you when you land.
"You know that I must resist as strongly as I can," he tells you almost formally. You nod, and the two of you begin.
In the following minutes both of you weave ever more complex flows, and while you have the advantage of being able to merge with the universe, Llyrell's telepathic attacks force you to use your abilities to defend your mind from his telepathic attacks rather than for attacking him.
Finally, in an effort to protect your mind, you merge completely with the spirit of the universe, losing all sense of self. In that moment your intellect vastens to touch every point in the universe at one time, and for a second you know everything about the universe. In your last moments of union, before your mind shudders back from the inconceivable, you use your power to create a weave that smashes through Llyrell's defenses.
"Ory'hara," he murmurs as he falls unconscious. You quickly drag him onto your ship away from the many bystanders who had stopped to watch the fight.
We leave Earth and head back to Ver'a Se, leaving destruction in our wake. Even a week later, we're having some trouble dealing with the consequences of the fight. I suppose a comatose man and the crew don't make for good travelling company.
Capture Vell-os posted:
As soon as you land your passenger is wheeled out into one of the many medical facilities on the station. Mu'Randa watches the other Polaris wheel him away before coming over and placing a hand on your shoulder.
"You couldn't have known," she informs you quietly, "but Llyrell, the Vell-os you fought, was known throughout the galaxy as perhaps the greatest master of the Vell-os arts in a millennia, possibly the greatest ever. To have defeated one such as him proves that you are Ory'hara. Nobody else could have achieved it."
You look up into her kind blue eyes, your mind still reeling from being as one with the universe. You can feel the soft razor's edge of insanity dwelling not far away, even as you go over the events in your mind.
"You will be happy to know," Mu'Randa continues happily, ignorant of your distress. "That the Bureau is in disarray after the Rebel attack on their headquarters, and all the subsequent drama."
With that hot cash injection, we can afford a few Sigma Shipyards upgrades to our Scarab. I head to Sol and notice something very new -
"You see," Mu'Randa explains jubilantly, "the Rebels were able to capture the leader of the Bureau, a woman who went by the name of 'Commander Krane', and now that we have Llyrell, we can free him, and therefore the rest of the Vell-os, which will mean that when this Krane woman is put on trial, she will be really put on trial before an unbiased Vell-os judge. Imagine how damaging the verdict will be!"
You cannot help but smile at Mu'Randa's enthusiasm knowing that your efforts will be instrumental in bringing to power a more reasonable Federation government. You realize that the satisfaction you feel right now more than makes up for the loneliness of your existence.
"Anyway," Mu'Randa concludes happily, "we are over the moon with the way things have gone, and Bis Andreya has given me permission to open the Polaris treasury to pay you a sizeable donation for your efforts. If you want, you can use it to buy our latest ship, the 'Raven', the most powerful vessel ever created."
Earth, via the Kane band, named after its designer Omata Kane, is still the center for all activity in the core worlds. Most recently it saw the destruction of the Bureau and the re-integration of members of the 'Rebellion' back into Federation society.
It is here that Dr. Oriallo Pentecost, the new President of the Federation, has his offices from which he makes his famous bi-monthly Federation addresses. This world has seen a lot in the twelve centuries since Omata Kane designed its ring, but so far it has stood the test of time.
Sigma Engine Tune-Up posted:
If you are prepared to pay the exorbitant price, the Sigma Shipyards engineers will go over the engines of your ship with a fine-tooth comb, bringing out every possible bit of performance from your engine. They will personalize every aspect of your engine to take advantage of every ounce of power, and make it as efficient as possible. The end result is an engine that will accelerate faster, have a higher top speed, allow for slightly better maneuverability and will be more energy-efficient when hyperspacing.
My interest piqued, I check out Rebel I and II to see if they have also changed. It certainly has.
Sigma Electrical Rewiring posted:
The electrical wiring of ships created on a production line is never very efficient, as manufacturers are more interested in cutting costs than creating a perfect electrical system. However, if you are prepared to pay the price, the Sigma engineers will rip out all the electrics of your ship and recraft them with far more attention to detail. The resulting system should slightly increase the capabilities of your sensors, and give a boost to both your shielding capacity and your recharge rate.
Rebel II posted:
This station was the forward operations base for the Rebels. It was here that all Rebel ships and agents were given their final mission briefs before entering Federation space. It was one of the busiest ports in Known Space, which made the secrecy of its location somewhat of a counter-intelligence coup against the Bureau of Internal Investigation.
Nowadays it serves as a forward base of operations for the Federation attempts to quell the number of pirates that seem to be coming from the Galactic North of the Federation. The men and women who serve here see a great deal of action due to their proximity to a nearby pirate base.
Rebel II's Bar posted:
The Federation soldiers who now frequent this establishment have kept the tradition of toasting leaving soldiers, only now the soldiers doing the leaving come from the Federation and they go off to do battle with the pirates. You are given your own space, and a drink is placed in front of you with a welcoming smile.
Rebel I posted:
This planet used to house the Rebel leaders, but since the end of the Rebellion it has become a base for the new Federation Exploration Corps. It acts as a return point for the thousands of scoutships that the Corps has sent out in an effort to explore further than humanity has ever gone before. The services here are good, as they have been maintained since the days of the Rebellion.
Most storylines change various planet and bar descriptions upon large upheavals in the plotline - it's one of the few ways the game recognizes major plot events. We'll get to see more later on. For now, we enjoy our highly-elevated political standing with the reformed Federation. Next time: Decision making!
Rebel I's Bar posted:
This room is full of young pilots wanting to live on the edge and maybe find something new. They give you plenty of space but ignore you because you are obviously an older pilot from a time when nobody went outside the Federation. Oh, the arrogance of youth.