Part 16: Polaris - Part 16 - January 1st, 1182NC: This is getting ridiculousJanuary 1st, 1182NC: This is getting ridiculous
Our business in the Federation concluded, we land back in Polaris space to be immediately greeted by Mu'Randa.
P'ar Veraniso posted:
The P'aedt, as the scientist caste is known, had this sky-station built to show that it was possible to levitate a city-sized construction within a planet's atmosphere, and to make it practically feasible without enormous wastage of power and energy. The planet below, called P'ar Veraniso, is left completely untouched. The P'aedt now use the station, named P'a Se, as a home for many experiments into new theories in propulsion technology.
Upon landing you sense the bubbly Mu'Randa nearby, and as you prepare to disembark you can feel an underlying sense of urgency as she waits for you.
When you finally exit your ship you casually merge with universe and bring into existence a weave which turns her head towards you. After a moment of awed shock she makes her way over.
"You have become very difficult to track down," she begins reverently. "I used to be able to sense your presence directly even from many systems away, but as your skills have increased it has become almost impossible to sense you directly at all, even from across the room. Instead I have to track you by sensing the reactions of others to recognizing your presence, which is far more difficult."
You almost wince when you are reminded of how the Polaris have come to think of you, but you keep your face and mind blank.
"Regardless," she says more seriously, "the reason I'm here is because I have urgent information that needs to get into the right hands. Can I count on you?"
Pass on Info posted:
"Thank you, Ory'hara," she breathes sincerely, "this is something of an emergency. You see, since Dr. Pentecost was elected the new Federation President, he has generously been sharing intelligence with us. Basically we have learned that just before they were discredited the Bureau had managed to forge an alliance with the Moash House, and we have reason to believe that they have fled to Moash Space with a sizeable fleet of Federation vessels in an effort to regain a toehold on the universe.
"It is urgent that you pass all this on to the Heraan House," she explains quietly, "as we think that they may be in imminent danger of being attacked by a combined fleet of Moash and Bureau forces. Once you've done that you're going to have to decide on your own what action to take from there, as we don't know enough to help you."
Long trip. The Hypergates knock off the last 6 jumps, saving us a few days. We arrive under heavy fire, nothing a bit of applied photonics can't fix.
Pass on Info posted:
You find yourself getting mildly irritated when you sense a number of young Auroran warriors eagerly awaiting your arrival so that they can test themselves against you. As soon as you open the hatch you slip into the universe and create weaves so dense that they are powerful enough to throw grown men around like leaves. As you hold all ten young warriors motionless in mid-air you tell them in no uncertain terms that you are in no mood to deal with their silliness today. Only when you are certain that they understand you do you relent and lower them back down to the ground.
You ask one of the now slightly frightened youngsters where you have to go to talk with the Elders of their House and he points without hesitation to a stairwell off to the side of the docking facility going up. You nod in thanks and begin making your way to them.
After a long climb the stairs open out into a large room in which a number of elderly looking warriors are seated around a large table talking in an orderly fashion.
As you stride over they catch sight of you and fall silent, watching you slightly suspiciously.
"Why have you disturbed us Ory'hara?" asks Techerakh from his seat at the foot of the table. "I wouldn't think that you would barge in here so unceremoniously without reason."
You nod and quickly outline the intelligence that Mu'Randa passed on, and her assessment that the Heraan House is a likely first target for the combined Moash and Bureau fleets. When you finish, the Elders look at each other, doubtful of your story.
"I will vouch for Ory'hara," states Techerakh quietly. "He is a warrior of the purest order, his words are as law."
With that, the Elders look at you with renewed respect, and you realize that Techerakh's word obviously means a great deal to them.
"Thank you for giving us this information Ory'hara," Techerakh again pipes up. "The Elders will now consider it and will prepare a plan of action. I will meet you in the bar in two hours to let you know what has been decided."
As you sit, sipping your second drink, you cannot help smiling when you sense the approach of not only Techerakh, but also your old travelling companions Mu'Sentan and Drengar. When they enter the room you subtly direct their attention in your direction, and they make their way over.
You greet both your friends with a warm smile and handshake before thanking Techerakh for bringing them along.
"I had nothing to do with it," Techerakh smiles, gently shaking his head. "Young Drengar here sensed the disturbance you caused earlier at the docks and insisted on seeing you."
You laugh and thank him anyway.
"Anyway, before you get too carried away reminiscing about old times," Techerakh continues more seriously, "we need your help. We need someone to get the attention of the Dechtakar Elders on Rimerta, but because of the threat of invasion, we really can't spare any House warriors. Can you help us?"
Enjoyment over, time to jet! Pimen is not on the hypergate network, but with the multi-jump organ it's only a single keypress away. Surprisingly, the Dechtakars here don't attack us on sight.
"All you have to do," he explains quietly, "is go to Rimerta in the Pimen system and explain to them that the Elders of the Heraan House wish for one of them to witness events of interest to the Ruling Council. They will send at least one Dechtakar with you, and then you will take him or her to the Moash system to witness whatever is there. Once you have done that return here to pick me up and we will journey to Aurora to confront the First Family over their actions.
"Ory'hara, you have the thanks of the Heraan House," Techerakh states formally as he stands up to leave, "your name will not soon be forgotten. I will leave you now to spend time with your Battle-Brothers."
You spend the rest of the afternoon chatting and laughing with both the young Polarans, whom have become far more animated for their contact with the Auroran culture. Even the reverence they feel for you as 'Ory'hara' has been muted down to mere respect, and for the first time in many months you enjoy yourself.
Our powers growing outrageously as we get more pissed off will be a pretty common theme throughout this last stretch of plot.
Alert Rimertans posted:
Without pausing to think you hold the ten young warriors itching to attack you in place with weaves thick enough to support the mighty tower you have landed on, and you start up the stairs you know will lead you to the Dechtakar Elders. Before long you are standing before a table headed by Du'Nakh whom you remember from when you visited here with Drengar and Mu'Sentan in tow.
"Ory'hara would not interrupt us so unless the matter were urgent," Du'Nakh says, mostly to soothe the rumbles of discontent at your sudden appearance. "His honor is impeccable, and we will hear what he has to say."
You quickly recite the formula given to you by Techerakh, including the part about it being of interest to the Ruling Council, at which point everyone in the room starts to pay attention.
"If the Elders of the Heraan House want us to witness something of importance to the Ruling Council," Du'Nakh replies thoughtfully, "I would see it for myself. Wait for me in the bar, I will meet you there in an hour."
I love how we're constantly complaining about being revered, yet use god-level powers to save the effort of pushing a button. I bet we use the weaves to wipe our ass too.
You sense Du'Nakh's keen intellect approaching and you immediately stand and walk out of the bar and move to meet him on the way back to your ship.
"Why didn't you wait for me?" he asks, and you sense that he is mildly annoyed.
You answer that you sensed him coming and decided to meet him on the way to save a little time.
"I apologize for ever doubting your motives," he breathes sincerely and you wave it away, telling him you didn't mind.
You quickly go through your pre-flight checklist, aware of Du'Nakh's eyes widening every time you use your abilities to flick switches and push buttons without moving from your seat in the command chair.
Off to Moash! It's on the hypergates.
No survivors? Check fucking plus. With nothing left to kill, we head back for Heraan.
As soon as you land you are met by a small battle group of warriors obviously prepared to repel any sneak attack by Moash warriors. As soon as they see you they quickly back off, giving you a respectful amount of space.
"I see that young Dechtakar warriors aren't the only group of people you have frightened into leaving you alone," Du'Nakh chuckles. "Although, I can imagine that the eagerness with which young warriors these days try to gain renown could quickly become very tiresome for one of your abilities."
When you reach the council chambers you gain the attention of every person in the room with a subtle weave.
"Have you seen something of interest to the Ruling Council?" asks Techerakh a little obliquely.
"What I have seen is a First Family that has treacherously and dishonorably allied itself with our most hated enemies," Du'Nakh confirms grimly, "in a greedy attempt to gain nothing more than mere power."
Filled out the 27B-6 in triplicate and everything!
"Do not worry," he continues, holding up his hands to forestall the questions of the Heraan Elders, "the forms have been followed, and what I have seen has not been contaminated by either your views or those of Ory'hara. You can be assured that my word will be as law before the Ruling Council, nobody can doubt its veracity.
"To keep it that way," he again forestalls any questions with an upraise hand, "I would ask that you say little now, so that no challenge of any sort can be made on the integrity of my word. We have come for Techerakh, because he may be needed to take part in a meeting of the Council of Thurokiirs."
You raise your eyebrows at the satisfied reaction of the Heraan Elders to Du'Nakh's last statement.
"If the First Family has so disgraced itself that it has been removed from power," Techerakh explains in a low voice, "the Council of Thurokiirs decides on who will be the next First Family. Meet me in the bar in ten minutes, I will be ready to go then."
Meet the Ruling Council posted:
As you sit chatting with Du'Nakh you sense the business-like approach of Techerakh. You surprise Du'Nakh by predicting the exact time the Heraan Thurokiir will enter the bar.
"Your abilities truly are amazing," Du'Nakh marvels after Techerakh joins the two of you. "Not even Techerakh here, who is widely acknowledged as the greatest Auroran martial artist in history, could sense such things."
"That's not terribly surprising," Techerakh explains quietly, "Ory'hara is the preeminent warrior in the universe. He has not only defeated myself, but also Llyrell, the most talented Vell-os warrior in recent centuries, and has fought to a standstill the almost god-like intelligence that now inhabits what used to be Vell-os space in the galactic north-west.
"I may not be as talented as yourself," Techerakh smiles at your mild surprise, "but I'm not without my own abilities, and I am probably the most widely travelled person in the galaxy, with the possible exceptions of yourself and my Battle-Brother Archindar."
Off we go to Aurora. Another fleet is dispatched to greet us, and dispatched promptly.
"You may think that he has only had a peripheral role in all the recent goings on in the galaxy," Techerakh warns Du'Nakh, "but he has not. More than that, anybody with the skill necessary to intuitively observe the weaves of life, has felt the disturbances he has made to the fabric of the universe on the odd occasions when he has unleashed his power, and it is frightening. His abilities approach the limitless."
"Is that true?" asks Du'Nakh. "Could you, say, ah... I don't know, destroy a world, for instance?"
You sit thinking for a moment, and you realize that if you really wanted to, you probably could. You shrug and nod noncommittally.
"By the Gods!" Du'Nakh swears. "Well I am glad we have you on our side!"
You smile wanly, wishing that Techerakh hadn't been so forthcoming about your abilities. You stand, suggesting that it is time to get moving. Both Du'Nakh and Techerakh sense your mood and nod in agreement.
I usually have the patience to delicately wade through blood, but Jack Burton apparently does not.
Meet the Ruling Council posted:
Upon landing the three of you make your way to the chambers of the Ruling Council. As you walk up to the door that opens into the chambers themselves, you sense the hostile intentions of twenty young warriors who leap out at the three of you in an ambush. Having long since merged with the universe, you launch into a series of brutally graceful moves that end with the bloody deaths of all your attackers.
You quickly put together weaves thick enough to lift the remains and you mentally will the door open, calmly walking in and dumping the bodies at the feet of the three Moash representatives and the Emperor, who all look momentarily shaken.
"What is the meaning of this?" blusters the Emperor through his surprise.
"It is another proof of the level to which the Moash House has sunk," replies Du'Nakh stonily. "My word is as law, and I have seen with my own eyes the ships of our most hated enemy, the Bureau, in your own home system, where, alongside your own ships, they attacked us."
"All the forms have been observed," Du'Nakh submits grimly. "My word is uncontaminated, and I call to account the Moash House for treachery and deceit, and I call for the Council of Thurokiirs to be convened."
"You can't do that, you need a full vote of the Council first," sneers one of the Moash representatives.
"I move that the Moash be struck from the position of First Family, and that the Council of Thurokiirs be convened," drawls one of the Tekel representatives, nodding in acknowledgment of Du'Nakh's suggestion. "Votes against?"
The hands of the Emperor and the three Moash representatives go up, their faces going white when they receive no support.
"For?" asks the same member and everybody else raises his or her hand. "The motion is passed. This Council is dissolved pending the decision of the Thurokiirs Council."
As one, all the representatives, barring those from the Moash House, get up and leave.
"Meet me in the bar," whispers Du'Nakh, "and I'll explain what happens next."
If you haven't played Sim City, the big towers always seen on Auroran planets are arcologies, massive artificial habitats designed to house a billion people each. Without them, the Aurorans could only support a fraction of their trillions-large population.
After an hour of observing the Du'Nakh's movements to different parts of the arcology, he finally turns towards the bar, and his meeting with you.
"Sorry for taking so long Ory'hara," Du'Nakh apologizes as he sits down, "but, as you can understand, I had a number of things I had to take care of."
You wave it away, telling him that you don't mind.
"I guess you want to know what's going on?" he asks mildly, and you nod calmly. "The Emperor, his advisers and the three representatives of the Moash House have been sealed in the throne room which will never be opened again as long as the Auroran Empire survives. That is their punishment for their treachery, and as they starve over the coming weeks, they will have plenty of time to think on their misdeeds."
You are a little surprised at the severity of the sentence, but one look at Du'Nakh's face tells you that he has no doubts about the suitability of their punishment.
This is the only usage of the word "fortnight" in the entire game. After a bit of fun with the garrison fleet, we hypergate back out, striking for Kel'ar Iy.
"In a fortnight the Thurokiirs' council will meet," he continues grimly, "and they will decide on who will become the new First Family, and although I don't want to preempt their decision, I will be surprised if the Heraan House doesn't assume that responsibility.
"In the meantime," he says quietly, "I have spoken with the representatives of all the houses, except obviously the Moash House, and they have all agreed in principle to opening diplomatic relations with the Polaris. Of course, this still has to be agreed to by the Polaris and it has to be ratified by the full Council when it next meets, but I would like you to pass on the offer.
"And one last thing," he says, looking you straight in the eye. "There will be a great many songs written and sung about the events of this day. I swear to you on my honor that I will make sure that your name is mentioned first in all of them, Ory'hara."
As he walks away you realize that his last statement was no idle honor, and that he meant every word.
Return to Kel'ar Iy posted:
As you meditate to pass the time in your many hours in hyperspace, you start to occasionally feel a desire to completely merge with the universe. As you have only completely immersed yourself into the universe once, and were nearly driven insane by it, you resist the temptation, but you cannot help feeling that it will not be long before you are forced to do it again.
As you dock on the enormous ring around Kel'ar Iy, you sense that the entire Council is waiting to greet you, and you suddenly understand that even these ancient and wise men and women have begun to succumb to the awe surrounding the mystique of your skills.
Never before have you taken so long to complete your post-flight routine. You do everything you can think of to put off having to face people who are so impressed by your abilities that they can no longer recognize your humanity. But you can only avoid it for so long, and soon you are ready to exit your ship.
"Welcome back, Ory'hara," smiles a healthy looking Bis Andreya. "We understand that you have an offer for us."
You quickly summarize the events of your sojourn into Auroran space, ending with Du'Nakh's tentative offer to open diplomatic relations.
"You will be happy to know," Bis Andreya informs you after listening to your report, "that the Heraan House will be the new First Family after all the appropriate rites and ceremonies have been completed, and that we have received unofficial confirmation through Drengar and Mu'Sentan that they are still willing to begin talks with us.
"But for now we wanted to thank you for your actions in not only destroying the remnants of the despicable Bureau," she continues, "but also for being a part of bringing to power a more reasonable Auroran government. You have our thanks and our admiration for your efforts, and we have placed a significant sum of money at your disposal, and it is our wish that you take the time to enjoy it."
It's near the end of January when I happen across a true ring world, all the previous events having elapsed over the course of the month. Unsurprisingly, someone is waiting for us.
Despite being a perfectly suitable world for colonization, Z'heaj remains uninhabited. A planet of wide, sweeping plains and vast herds of wild animals, it has an air of ancient Earth, before human civilization. The reason for its lack of settlement, especially considering its proximity to the center of Polaris space, remains unclear.
Tre'ar Helonis posted:
This is one of the many wonders discovered by the original Polaris expedition as they explored their way through space. Tre'ar Helonis, as the ringworld came to be called, stunned and amazed the scientists of that expedition, and has continued to baffle Polaris science ever since. The sheer volume of matter required to build this obviously artificial construction dwarfs all human constructions throughout history. Other than housing a large scientific community, the majority of the vast ringworld that is settled by the Polaris is devoted to agriculture. This feeds nearly the entire Polaris people, although over 99% of the ringworld still remains uninhabited.
Ringworld's Bar posted:
This bar is filled with photographs of various uninhabited regions of the ring. You learn that the entire human race could be supported comfortably by the ecosystems on this ring world.
Over the past few months you have been keeping an eye on the locations of Mu'Randa, Llyrell and P'Jeena, because you knew that once they got together the day you had been dreading was fast approaching. A few weeks ago you felt them meet, and since then you have observed their search of the galaxy for you.
As you slowly prepare to disembark, you know that they will ask you to once again face the Krypt.
It seems like every head in the spaceport turns to watch you leave your ship, and more than one Polaris casts a sidelong look in the direction of the small group waiting for you before deliberately looking away. You walk over and nod in greeting, but none of them want to break the ice.
"You know why we have come," states Llyrell, quietly pleading. "But you cannot know the whole story. We cannot evolve past the veil unless we have the Krypt-tokh to focus us, it is the way our mind is set up. More than that, we have no desire to leave them behind.
"Will you help us?"
As luck would have it, Vellos is also on the hypergate network.
Find Krypt-tokh posted:
When you calmly nod, you cannot help but sense the surge of pride from everyone nearby as they try to observe the goings on.
"Thank you, Ory'hara," responds Llyrell. "Of all the people in this room, I am the only one besides yourself who has felt the Krypt-mind, and so I know the danger you are placing yourself in for us, but without you we would be lost."
He looks over at P'Jeena, and you sense the young scientist's discomfort rise sharply.
"Our analysis from your last trip was again incomplete," he mutters uncomfortably, "but we were able to pick up some residual psychic phenomena embedded into parts of Vell-os, and Llyrell was able to identify the patterns as being similar to those of some of the members of the Krypt-tokh just before the end of the Vell-os War.
"So we want you to go to Vell-os with Llyrell," he explains, shifting in his seat, "and then take it from there."
"...and when you are finished," Mu'Randa pipes up sadly, "I will be waiting for you on Mu'ar Haro."
Korell is but one gate away.
As soon as you entered Krypt space you were forced to defend Llyrell from constant attacks by the Krypt-mind. For weeks you stay immersed in the spirit of the universe until you are sure that you have gone insane. But after the first few moments it feels almost natural, and you can sense Krypt's rising panic as she cannot penetrate your defenses.
As a part of your enormously vastened perceptions, you almost unconsciously land on the surface of Vell-os, and observe Llyrell leaving the ship for a time. You sense him cast about with his mind, looking for a psychic trace of the Krypt-tokh. With a small weave amongst the millions of weaves you are willing into existence to foil the Krypt-mind you draw his attention to what he is looking for.
He returns to the ship, and you can sense his awe at what you have shown you can do.
"I felt the word 'Korell'," he says quietly, aware that you already know, "and that was a planet once populated by us. I suggest we go there."
You nod, and you take off again.
There is something very odd about this planet. In every other system in what used to be Vell-os space, there is only rubble and radiation. It appears that the old Colonial Council must not have brought their destructive nuclear weapons here, but considering the fact that at the end of the Vell-os wars the Colonial Council was hell-bent on destroying all traces of the Vell-os civilization, you find it a little strange that they left an entire system untouched. Even more odd is the fact that this system also happens to have a habitable planet in it, which you suppose would have made it a prime target for their weapons of mass destruction.
Find Krypt-tokh posted:
Before you even land you can sense the faded remnants of the Krypt-tokh's psychic aura as you absent-mindedly pilot your ship down through Korell's atmosphere. From the residue they left behind you deduce that they partially embedded their minds into their nanites in an effort to escape detection by the ravaging forces of the Colonial Council. With a sudden whiff of inspiration you realize that they actually created the Krypt in an effort to defend this world, and eventually all of what was Vell-os space whilst they waited for the spirit of the universe to awaken and return them to their natural state.
Suddenly you know what has to be done, and you weave an invitation to the Krypt into your defenses against her attacks which suddenly stop, and you can sense her focusing her intellect into the grotto where you feel the remnants of the Krypt-tokh.
With a subtle inclination of your head, you tell Lyrell to follow you as you head in that direction.
I promised a decision, but that will have to wait for next time as I underestimated just how long this update would be. Don't worry, the plot gets sillier from here on out.
You sense Llyrell's growing wonder and Krypt's apprehension as you enter the cave. Inside you see six bodies, perfectly preserved in cryogenic tubes.
"They must move on," you tell Krypt with quiet assurance. "You must find your own way."
Krypt nods and walks over to the cryogenic tubes, and in a sudden whirlwind of consciousness, transfers everything of the Krypt-tokh back into their bodies before dissipating completely.
"You did it!" exclaims Llyrell. "And she destroyed herself to do it."
You shake your head, telling him that she just gave back to them what they had given to her, but that she remains, although it will be centuries before she relearns how to project herself so intensely again.
You give him a few instructions on how to operate the cryogenic machinery, before heading back to your ship. With relief, for the first time in weeks, you dissolve your union with the universe, allowing your mind to return to its limited senses with relish. While you were immersed in the universe you sensed Mu'Randa waiting for you on Mu'ar Haro, and whenever the Polaris ask for your help, you know it won't be long until you are once again immersing your consciousness in the universe...