The Let's Play Archive

Escape Velocity: Nova

by Decoy Badger

Part 32: Auroran - Part 01 - June 23rd, 1177 NC: St. Patrick's Day Update

June 23rd, 1177 NC: St. Patrick's Day Update

Say hello to our newest pilot. We start above the world of Snowmelt in our trusty Shuttle.

Snowmelt posted:

Snowmelt is the second-largest gathering of humanity in the Federation behind Earth itself (including the Kane Band). The planet itself is extremely cold. Most of the population is concentrated in a thousand mile wide strip along the equator where temperatures stay within 35 degrees of zero. Outside of this, the temperatures decrease rapidly to the poles, where the average temperature is in the region of -200 degrees Celsius. Snowmelt seems to lack any major natural resources. However, due to the ease of building habitable quarters by hollowing out the ice, the population exceeds ten billion.

Snowmelt's Bar posted:

This bar is filled with young people who seem to be disaffected with life on Snowmelt. They come here to tell each other their dreams and plans for escaping their dreary lives.

We're met by U.N. Shipping, who offer us a position as courier. I oblige, and head off to Earth to buy a more suitable ship.

The mythical Irish king Lugh greets us on the way.

A Heavy Shuttle is enough for now. I leave the weapons on this time, the galaxy is a dangerous place...

Our first delivery, a package to Skye (the other Space-Ireland) goes off without a hitch. We even get some in-flight entertainment!

The U.N. Shipping rep isn't very PC.


I wish you luck, Captain, but you're a girl," he finishes, shaking your hand again. "I'm sure we will see each other again in the future."
We even agree to carry Debris Field to their next concert. I come to my senses shortly after and eject them out of the airlock. I hear no screams of objection.

I have no idea what this name refers to.

We're picking up a package on Rauther when an interesting proposition comes through...


Rauther was the third planet ever to be purchased outright, but the first to be purchased by a corporation rather than a government. Rauther Power Industries maintains their primary research lab here, as well as their main office. As you can imagine, this is unbelievably convenient for tax purposes. Rauther also houses a small fleet of gas mining droid ships that mine the planet Rautherion Prime. Rauther's share price is on constant display via laser holographic projection into the thin atmosphere.

Rauther's Bar posted:

This bar is a retreat from the office for the many Rauther executives that live on this planet. The service is good, and the many cubicles allow a fair amount of privacy.


You are sitting quietly enjoying a cold drink, when the man beside you turns and starts up a conversation. The space {G"jock" "chick"} lifestyle is a fairly lonely one, with months between seeing old friends, and you are more than happy to chat away for a while with him. It turns out that he is an Auroran living in Federation space. When he told you, you looked at him somewhat skeptically, but once he explained that he was watched by the government very carefully, and had to log all his travel and movements, you can see that this might be possible. Charengo has been living in Fed space since his House cast him out. Your limited knowledge of the Auroran lifestyle gives you enough of an idea not to question him further; these things are always a matter of honor, and best left alone.

During the course of the night it becomes apparent that Charengo is something of an entrepreneur, and has organized for a number of Federation citizens to go to Hourglass and hunt the dreaded Cunjo. He has a number of expatriate Auroran warriors to act as guides, and enough weapons to destroy a small Federation battle group. He has run a number of successful hunts, but has run into a snag. His regular pilot was killed when a Cunjo ripped him to pieces. So now he has a party ready to leave, but no one to get them there.

Suddenly, a light comes to his eyes, and you can all but see a light bulb appear next to him. "Say," he asks, "what are you doing tomorrow? Do you feel up to ferrying us to Hourglass and dropping us off back at Earth? It might be a little risky. Lately, it seems the Cunjo population has increased, and a number of them have been mating at erratic times. However, we have plenty of weapons, so if it gets too hairy, you'll be well covered by me and my team."

You look at him in a mixture of disbelief. You have never seen a Cunjo, but you really don't want to.

Charengo sees your expression, smiles and leans closer, "There is big money in this. If you do it for me, I'll always be in your debt. And I'll pay you 75,000. You won't have to go on surface for very long, and you won't even have to leave your ship. Even in mating season, Cunjo can't tear through metal."

What do you say?
Well, as long as we never leave the ship we should be fine, yes?


You stick out your hand, and Charengo grasps it.

"I really should be getting everything organized," he smiles warmly. "I'll meet you at your ship tomorrow. I'll have my team with me, and four clients, three of which are public servants who are out for a thrill, and one who is a much more serious hunter. We'll probably stay on Hourglass for a few days, depending on how the hunt goes, and then we'll return to Earth when we're finished."
Off we go to Hourglass. We square off against a marauding Viper along the way. I use an asteroid to negate its greater maneuverability, forcing it to attack from only one lane.

The Heavy Shuttle straight-up outarmours the Viper as well, so in a slugfest it'll come out on top too. We score our first victory!

We've seen Hourglass before, so here is Chronos, the next moon over.


From Chronos' watery surface you are afforded a fine view of the rising planet of Greenwich, and Chronos' sister moon Hourglass. Chronos is, as yet, uninhabited due to its thin atmosphere (which requires a breathmask for comfort). More than a few traders come here to refresh their tired spirits.

We land on Hourglass and leave the ship. Why? Because we have a 3-minute memory.


Charengo has just spent an hour guiding you to a well used landing site. All around there is dense forest, and the undergrowth is just starting to cover a huge number of deep craters. You set down, and the sensors are going wild. As soon as you do, Charengo and his team leap out of the hatch, brandishing their weapons with gusto. Behind them come the clients, three looking like they should be wearing brown underpants, the fourth eyeing the undergrowth intently. You cycle the hatch closed and watch. A Cunjo suddenly breaks from the undergrowth, flying through the air to attack one of Charengo's men. At least it would have, if a rocket hadn't plowed into its chest before detonating the beast into a rapidly expanding pink vapor cloud. The public servants leap to the ground, pointing their weapons in every direction at once.

Charengo lays about with a continuous laser, and in the space of a few minutes the clearing you landed in is three times the size. His men set up the mines and sentry lasers, and the camp takes shape.

You decide that you might try this game for yourself, seeing as you are here. You check your blaster, and hail Charengo to tell him you are coming down for a look.

No sooner have you stepped outside the hatch than the surrounding forest comes alive with the sounds of Cunjos calling to each other.

"Look out!" Charengo yells. "The Cunjo are going to rush through here! Seems like our safe landing site has become a mating ground!"

You haul your blaster from its holster, trying to look everywhere at once. The underbrush erupts, and around 10 Cunjo burst from the foliage. You leap to the side, snapping off blaster bolts at the first Cunjo you see. It moves faster than you have ever seen anything move, but enough of your fire hits it to put it down. A sudden premonition of doom sweeps through you, and you spin to see a Cunjo scant feet from you. It pounces forward, stabbing its long claws into your arms. You gasp in pain as its claws bite deep, and the Cunjo roars into your face. It's fetid breath makes your head swim, but you manage to keep your wits about you enough to raise your blaster and blow its head off. You collapse, and through a deepening haze see Charengo run towards you, blasting from the hip. Then, blackness...

You stay on Hourglass for four days, recovering enough from your wounds to pilot the ship back. Charengo is glad to take off as soon as you are able. Apparently this trip was hotter than was originally expected. The public servants never fired their weapons, but still had some 'very manly' holoshots taken with killed Cunjos. The fourth client made some kills on his own, but they all looked on in disbelief when Charengo and the guides explained that in the Auroran Empire, warriors hunt Cunjo with hand to hand weapons. All too soon, you have packed up and are heading home.
Forums poster(?) ShadeOfBlue welcomes us back to Earth.


"Well," Charengo smiles, "here is your pay. Sorry about your injuries, but these things happen when you hunt Cunjo. The bastards just learn your patterns from successive hunts, some sort of race memory I guess. Anyway, hope I haven't put you off too much! Still, there are advantages to this. From now on, the story of your prowess will pass from person to person. It takes guts to take down a Cunjo on your own, let alone two. Before too long, you'll be known as a 'Cunjo Hunter.' Nice working with you."

He hands you a chip and you both watch the men unload the equipment. The clients are meeting their families and friends, showing them the staged holos and waving their arms around, miming the 'awesome' shots that killed the dread beasts. Only the fourth client has any claim on the events he's describing, and you and Charengo laugh quietly to yourselves.

Only a few short hours later all the equipment is unloaded and Charengo bids you goodbye. You don't think you'll ever go hunting Cunjo again, but at least you can say you have done it.

Hey, a non-Irish anglo reference!

We run more delivery missions. Some more in-flight entertainment is provided.

Even a few rare ships show up!

We continue running around. We even visit the sister to our home planet on a delivery run.

Gem posted:

Most of the wealth of the Fomalhaut system is generated by the mines of Gem. This planet has the richest veins of rare earths and minerals in known space. The workers are nearly all young men and women who feel trapped living on Snowmelt and are trying to make enough money so that they can leave the Fomalhaut system and travel to virtually anywhere else in the Federation; they don't really care. This trend has worried officials and bureaucrats on Snowmelt, who have instigated the 'Gem is truly outrageous' campaign in order to discourage youth from leaving, and robbing them of their workforce.

Gem's Bar posted:

This is something of a bar for yuppies. It has several televisions showing an archaic pre-hyperspace cartoon show about some singer and her band and their struggles with a rival group.

We make a stop on Earth and are recruited by Sigma Shipyards. Completing their mission, we come back to one hell of a bar fight. (This is the Wild Geese intro mission if you don't want to re-read the giant block of text)


You have barely entered the bar when you are knocked backwards by the flying body of one of the bar's patrons. The burly individual knocks you to the ground, and as you stand to give the offensive ruffian a piece of your mind (if not a piece of your boot) you notice that the man was sent flying your way by a red bearded giant fighting on the far side of the bar. As you watch, a number of men attack him, only to be beaten back by his prodigious strength. A man comes at him from behind, smashing a bar stool over his head. He staggers and begins to stumble. His sneaky attacker begins to draw a knife, and you feel as if you should help the man before he is stabbed in the back in a cowardly attack.

You quickly jump into action, smashing your fist into the other man's face. He falls backward as your fist comes away stained with blood. The giant shakes his head, and with a roar launches himself at the remaining ruffians. As you watch the fight ends in a quick and brutal flurry of blows. In a matter of seconds the floor is strewn with unconscious bodies. The man turns to you and offers his huge hand.

"Thanks for your help," he says in a thick brogue. "Can I get you a drink?"

You nod your assent and he turns to a dazed looking barman and orders two drinks. You make a mental note to not drink in Dockside bars any more, and turn your attention to the man beside you. He stands about six and a half feet tall, and looks as if he could pull apart Leviathans with his bare hands. He has a shock of bright red carrot colored hair, and very pale skin. He turns to you and hands you a huge drink, as black as pitch and as thick as fresh cream.

He raises his glass to you in a silent salute, and takes a long pull on his drink. You follow suit, and are surprised by the thick bitter taste that fills your mouth. It is at once revolting and enticing, and you don't quite know what to make of it. You guess that you should be polite and finish it, but you don't know if you'll be able.

Many hours later you and your new friend, Michaleen Houge, stagger from the bar. The manager slams the door behind you and locks it quickly, and you get the distinct impression that he was not happy that the two loudest patrons were also the last to leave. You head back towards the docks, when Michaleen curses loudly. You follow his gaze as best you can, and see a heavily modified Thunderhead being locked down by the port authorities. Michaleen shouts abuses at them in a strange tongue, but it makes no difference. Before they leave, they give him a notice to the effect that he had outstanding storage debts, and that his ship was impounded until he pays them back.

"Ah, but that would have to be the life of a wild rover," he sighs wistfully, waving an unsteady hand at his locked ship. "I spent all me money on whiskies and beer, and now I've none to get me ship out of hock."

He slumps down next to the ship and puts his head in his hand. Your heart goes out to him, and you ask if there is any way that you can help him. He explains that he has to be in New Ireland in the Tuatha system before the end of the month so he can be best man in his cousins nuptials. He says that if you can give him a lift, you can stay for the wedding and the party after. Apparently one is very serious, and the other involves a white dress. You have had far too many 'pints' to figure out which is which.

Do you give him a lift?
Off we go to New Ireland! We head out, have a nice time, and head back with Michaleen to get his ship out of hock. See a previous update for details if you wish.

This is where it all goes horribly wrong. We land and Pennant confronts us. After the battle is joined...


When you regain consciousness, the area around you is covered with blood. Some of it is pooled in places, but all of it indicates that the bodies of the fallen have been removed. You lift your head, and you see Michaleen. He lies slumped against the wall, in a pool of blood. You crawl to his side, but you are too late. He is dead. His face is a mass of bruising, and he has been badly beaten before the end. A note has been stuck to his chest with a dagger...

but you're a girl,

The only reason we did not kill you is because you were not worth the effort. Do not bother trying to take this to the proper authorities. They weren't too fazed with the idea of Houge dying. You would do well to forget this ever happened. Go about your business. It is the healthier option.


A sick rage fills you. Just recently the man before you was a living breathing person, whose very presence made you happy. Now he has died, and the men responsible have mocked the thought of you avenging him. You gently lift Michaleen's body and head back to your ship.


Michaleen's dying wish was that you return to New Ireland and inform his people that he had fallen. You will return, and then come seeking your revenge. It is with great sadness that you lift off and set course for New Ireland, sending a message ahead of you passing on the news...

An honour guard of Thunderheads accompanies our dinky little shuttle back to New Ireland.


Your landing on New Ireland sees you escorted by a squadron of Thunderheads, the fighter of choice for the Wild Geese. As soon as you set down, an imposing figure covered in wild tattoos walks towards your hatch. You cycle the lock and head down to meet him. He steps aboard the Eats, Shoots, and Leaves with a remarkable grace for such a large man.

"Hello, but you're a girl, it is a shame we couldn't have met under happier circumstances," he says, introducing himself. "My name in Eamon Flannigan. I am the Commander of the Wild Geese, and Michaleen's uncle. My sister hasn't stopped crying since your message arrived. Michaleen must be avenged. It was me who sent him into the nest of vipers in the first place."

Flannigan's thick brogue is full of barely held emotions. You get the impression that the man is barely able to function in his grief.

"Would you take me to the body?" he asks respectfully. "I must prepare it for burial. The practice may seem bizarre to you, but it has been the way of my people since the dawning of time, back on Sol, back before man took to the stars."

You nod and take Flannigan through to the medical bay, and quietly take your leave as the man begins to grieve. As you sit and wait, you swear to avenge Michaleen again. It is a matter of utmost importance.

Michaleen's funeral is a somber affair. In a strange place called a cemetery, Michaleen's coffin is lowered into the ground. A man sits and plays a strange pipe instrument, and for the first time you hear music made by something that is not electronic. A mist rolls in, and it appears that the mourners are suspended in time, and that the moment has been frozen by some power beyond the control of man, so that it may accept the soul of the departed man with due reverence. It is something that you will never forget, and the memory will always make you cry.
Like this if you cry every time


The next day you meet with Flannigan in his office. For the commander of a mercenary unit you are surprised that he has no personal body guards, but as you enter his office, you see him training with some other men in a side area. As you watch, you see ten men rush him, only to be repulsed by him. He moves in a way that you have seen no other man ever move. He weaves around them as if he controlled their movements as well as his own, and that each step taken was part of some elaborate (and painful) dance. By the time you begin to piece together what your eyes are telling you, the man has moved on further. It is amazing to behold.

Within moments he has defeated the men. You expect them to be smashed...broken...bloody; yet they stand, slowly for some, but they are not injured beyond possible bruises.

"Better, gentlemen, much better. Now go and practice among yourselves. I have business to attend to." He turns and walks towards you. "I can see you are impressed," Flannigan waves behind his head at the practice mat, "The skills of a mercenary are varied. Some situations require force, others non-force. It is something I learned during my time with the Aurorans. The House Heraan use a specific style of Martial Arts, which they call the Heron Style. I am a master, but I have started teaching my men here a variation of it. It is an amazing system."

You nod in agreement, and ask what the principal basis is.

"In learning Heron style, you are taught to read and direct the 'Weave' of combat," he replies quietly. "Subconsciously, all of us fight to a pattern and rhythm. Heron Style teaches us to detect it and control it. It isn't so much that you defeat your opponent, but he defeats himself, if you force the "weave" to do so. It is hard to explain, but once felt, and mastered, it makes all combat easier, from one on one, to mammoth battles between hundreds of ships. There is one teacher Karlaekar, to whom the most promising students are sent. It is said he imprints the ability to read and control the 'weave' on the student subconsciously. This makes their 'weave' unreadable, and therefore very dangerous."

You nod, even though most of what Flannigan has said escapes your understanding.

"So, tell me what happened when you and Michaleen arrived in Sol. Don't leave anything out." You tell Flannigan what happened. By the time you have finished, he has gone white with rage.

"Bastards," he says under his breath. "I know that Mic wasn't entirely blameless. But I sent him into that situation. I needed information on McGowan's organization. I needed to see what sort of man he was. I guess now I know. I made a terrible error in judgement. But so has McGowan. His man Pennant will die, and so will his Sol operations."

You ask Flannigan if there is anything that you can do to help, as you want to avenge Michaleen as well. He tells you to wait for him in the Bar. He will let you know in a little while.


You are sitting quietly in a corner booth in the bar, when a man walks in and walks straight up to you. "<PN>?" he asks you in a lilting voice. You nod, noticing that the man is very heavily armed, carrying a sawn-off shot-blaster, two heavy blaster pistols and a laser rapier.

"I'm Flynn Brereton. Eamon should be along soon, as should be the others." Others? You wonder just what is going on, when another two men saunter towards you. They are identical, with a shock of red hair, and are both very large. They nod a greeting to Flynn, and sit down. Again you notice the newcomers are heavily armed.

"I'm Sean O'Driscol," one of them says "This here's me brother Ryan." The other grunts, and waves for two ales. No sooner do the drinks arrive than a slim, athletic woman approaches. She sits, and begins to polish a throwing dagger. You introduce yourself, and she smiles shyly at you.

"I'm Tara. Tara Collins. I'm pleased to meet you."

"Don't mind her, but you're a girl," says Flynn. "I've been told that she talks more eventually, though I've known her three years meself, and nary an errant word does she say to me." Tara shoots a wilting look at Flynn, before returning to her blade. You are about to ask what is going on when Eamon Flannigan stalks into the bar, followed by three others.

"Ah, but you're a girl. I see you have already met the others," he begins almost brusquely. "These with me make up the rest of the Wild Rovers. The Rovers are the closest thing the Wild Geese have to Special Forces. The eight people you see here are the most resourceful individuals on all New Ireland. They are used primarily as spies, but are also capable of demolitions work, assassination, anything really. Now, I've called them all here to outline the plan against Pennant and the Sol Sector branch of McGowan's organization."

Eamon goes over the background of the situation, of how Michaleen was tasked to infiltrate the organization and assess its strengths and weaknesses; how he got into trouble when he owed the criminals a lot of money, and how the organization killed Michaleen. The Rovers are quiet throughout the meeting, silently drinking their drinks and listening to Flannigan. You get the impression that at any other time they would be a lot of fun, but that the current situation calls for a certain level of professionalism.


Flannigan concludes his briefing with an outline of the plan to come. The Rovers would separate and enter the Sol system. Each two man team would be responsible for the destruction of a different sphere of McGowan's organization. By the time each team had finished their tasks they would return to New Ireland.

"O' course, we're a man down. Or rather, we were 'til you arrived," he says as he claps a hearty hand over your shoulder.

You tell Flannigan that you would be honored to take part in this operation, and that you owed Michaleen that much.

"In that case," he continues smoothly, "I want you to go to Mairim in the Hannaford System. Flynn will go with you, and he will be in command of a team of our special operations commandos. When you get there you will need to locate the wreck of a freighter called 'South of the Border'. It crashed nearly 80 years ago on the icy steppes. McGowan has made the wreck habitable again, and has been using it as a Tobacco and Hammerhead processing facility. It is a handy arrangement for McGowan. Mairim is close enough to Sol that it doesn't take too long to ship the product back. However, since Mairim doesn't have any official government, McGowan has been able to have a steady influx of income without having any police trouble. I want you two to go and fix the situation. All of the workers there are convicted criminals that McGowan has been able to secure as part of a governmental work contract. It is a good indication that the Federation cares little for the state of its criminal justice system. Terminate them. Teach them the folly of dealing in destructive drugs. After that, meet me back here for the next phase of the operation.

"One final thing," he mutters, looking straight at you, "as the new member of our team, if at any time things get too out of hand for us to survive here, look up my friend, Professor F Cook, on Misfire in the Trishka system, and I won't be far away."

Let's go get some revenge!

Next time: More Ireland-worship!

We lucked out on this, I was fully prepared to savescum in order to get the alternate plotlines but they just fell right into my lap.