The Let's Play Archive

Master of Orion 2

by nweismuller

Part 12: 2900-2910-War, War, and Betrayal

War, War, and Betrayal

The United Republic, under the Conservative leadership elected to deal with the Klackon threat, prepares for war. All across the Republic work continues on orbital fortifications, while a program to raise one hundred sixty million soldiers as mobile invasion forces begins on Earth. How the war will proceed is unknown, and although the frontiers are ringed with defenses, still the people of the Republic fear not acting.

In 2902, the Republic receives pleasant news- the spread of the Nations has put it within reliable contact distance of the Union of Peace, and the Union of Peace formally opens diplomatic relations with the United Republic. The first message transmitted from the Union of Peace goes as follows:

"With reliable communications, the Union of Peace and the United Republic must consider each other in the pursuit of their respective interests. It is the considered opinion of the Director of the Union of Peace that a mutual policy of peace, stability, and cooperation will be more beneficial to both governments than any alternatives."

The establishment of agreements to permit trade, information exchange, and a recognition of mutual borders is swift and painless. The Union of Peace, as it had stated from the beginning, fully intends a policy of cooperation.

A year later, negotiations with the Nations result in the United Republic gaining access to improved power storage technology for its ships, as well as data the Nations had compiled on regimens to develop telepathic capabilities in individuals to levels actually sufficient to be useful in real-world situations. Trained telepaths can silently communicate with each other over short and medium distances without fear of interception, making a valuable way to covertly pass messages, although reading the minds of the unwilling or reliable telepathic communications to the untrained are still beyond the reach of Human telepaths. The negotiations also lead to the Nations agreeing to break off hostilities that had arisen with the Star Empire and the Commonwealth of the Compact, buying some more peace in the galactic south.

The year also brings further advancements in coilguns and development of powerful, compact shield generators suitable for infantry and ground vehicle use. The first 120 million surface troops for the planned war are raised and ready, and are sent to rendezvous with the fleet on station.

Only a year later than that, in 2904, the Nations calls on the United Republic to join them in war against the Council of Enlightened Matrons. With the United Republic having no established agreements with the Council and with the border world of Sheol fortified by missile installations, the Great Senate sees no reason not to issue a declaration of war. It does not yet deploy vessels to that front, however, instead planning to first achieve its objectives against the Klackon. The RCSPS begins to dispatch covert commando teams in low-profile long-range insertion craft to Klackon space, hoping to gather intelligence on the Klackon and possibly seize useful technology.

In a year more, the London and the last 40 million surface troops clear harbor, setting four- and five-year courses to Lesath. The United Republic is also bemused by news of a huge wave of weddings and births sweeping one of the Gnolam worlds. Oddly enough, it seems that the trend has no more cause than 'love in the air'.

You Lucky Gnolams, you.

In 2906, the first 120 million troops join with the fleet, and a two-year course is set for Lesath while a formal declaration of war is delivered to the Klackon, along with a request for the Nations to honor their alliance and join the war. To the dismay of Republican diplomats, the Nations refuse to get involved. Stung by the betrayal of the alliance, Republican diplomats declare a formal dissolution of the alliance.

Other empires can lose patience with you and cut off negotiations, especially if you start issuing demands. This makes it so you must wait a few turns to negotiate again, so the actual alliance breaking happened in 2910. Still, given that any AI empire would immediately tell you the alliance was broken for you dishonoring a call to arms and that I broke it at my earliest opportunity, I'm placing the alliance breaking here.

When the assault fleet arrives at Lesath, Lesath Alpha is no longer the lifeless rock Republican explorers had first observed. Large quantities of frozen water now cover the surface, and primitive life has spread over the planet. Nonetheless, this does not present any obstacle to the invasion fleet, and it prepares to unload 40 million troops onto the surface.

Once anti-ship defenses around a planet have been cleared, you get the planetary assault screen allowing bombardments, invasions, or, under special circumstances, certain other options. We can see there are no ground forces defending Lesath Alpha, which means this invasion will be unopposed. Each transport you build carries four infantry units, and the occupation force left behind after a world is conquered is 1-4 infantry, enough to ensure that only full transports remain. The manual states transports are dismantled to provide fortifications, vehicles, and so forth to supply their troops, so there is no such thing as an 'empty troop transport' in the game.

The occupation of major population centers is smooth and orderly, and surface force commanders rendezvous with RCSPS insertion teams to be briefed on what the RCSPS has learned. It proves that the Klackon have a 'species empathy' that is the primary motivator for any individual Klackon, bringing them a sense of comfort while near other Klackon and urging them to harmonise their mood with other Klackon about them. This species empathy renders Klackon utterly intractable, repulsed by the non-Klackon occupying places that could be filled by Klackon.

Newly conquered populations are depicted in yellow 'prison garb', and are less efficient and productive. One would expect members of Unification species to not be subject to assimilation, given how incompatible the mindset of members of Unifications would be with any other species.

What is more, this species empathy is chemically-mediated.

When normal Republican methods to establish footholds of popular support amongst liberated populations prove utterly ineffective, the RCSPS suggests a potential method for dealing with the problem. Population centers are blanketed with chemical agents that eradicate the ability of Klackon there to smell each other, leaving them bereft of the comfort of being around other Klackon and unable to sense each others' moods. Without species empathy as a motivator, Klackon become listless and despondent, refusing to work or eat, or break into frenetic bursts of meaningless fury against other Klackon. In desperation, the occupation authorities institute a program of issuing drugs to Klackon that stimulate the centers of their brain normally triggered by their species empathy, giving them a spike of comfort and a sense of well-being. Regular rations of drugs keep the Klackon docile, while bonus rations for good behavior provide an incentive for Klackon to cooperate with the occupation authorities.

Suddenly, previous despondent Klackon are awakened to a new sense of motivation, pushing themselves in work to please those who issue them drugs where previously they pushed themselves to bask in the well-being of the community.

... and yet, Unification species can be assimilated just as well as any others. Given that assimilation would mean an incredibly drastic shift in psychology for them, I made it somewhat... extreme, in the case of the Klackon.

With Lesath Alpha secured, the fleet presses on to Ezra. Meanwhile, long-range sensors at Sheol detect the hyperspace disturbance of an Elerian vessel bound for Hiraki, to attack or blockade Sheol. There are no mobile forces in place to protect Sheol, and it can only hope that its equatorial missile bases protect it and that it shall not remain under blockade for too long, as Sheol lacks any meaningful capability to grow food on-planet.

In 2910, the Vigilant, Alert, and Philadelphia arrive at Ezra, discovering a single inhabited world washed by radiation and protected by a ring of missile bases. The fleet commander issues the order to move in to engage, bombarding the planet from long range with heavy coilgun slugs while establishing a unified fleet point defense firing solution.

Planetary defenses launch volleys of long-ranged nuclear-tipped missiles, twelve in each wave, roaring across the void under heavy thrust. Heavy metal slugs slam into the surface, buckling and shattering defensive bunkers and attempting to stop the great waves of missiles. The defenses launch each wave in sequence at the three Republican Naval vessels, apparently confident in their ability to destroy each ship with a single volley. Half the missiles inbound in the first wave are knocked out by long-range defensive fire, and two more are destroyed by point-blank defensive fire from the Vigilant's smallest coilgun installations. The shield generators on the Vigilant whine as their capability to maintain a barrier is overwhelmed by the four detonations that follow, and layers of Isozaki Metal armor are boiled off the Vigilant's surface by the searing bursts of high-energy photons that bathe her- but the armor holds, and the Vigilant suffers no breaches. Nine of the twelve missiles bound for the Alert are destroyed, and it too suffers armor damage, but she fares even better than did the Vigilant.

The defensive installations, however, have contrived to coordinate launches so that the third wave of missiles is eighteen strong, bound for the Philadelphia. The last few missile launch stations are smashed into slag-filled craters with their crew killed, while the fleet's point defenses desperately fight to defend the Philadelphia from the hail of missiles bound for her. Nine missiles are destroyed, while nine more pull into range, and, in unison, detonate. The shields absorb some of the blast before the overworked generators fail to keep up with the energy being held back, and most of the remainder is absorbed by the ultradurable alloy of the Philadelphia's armor, but a rent is melted in the Philadelphia's flank, exposing the compartment behind to the searing fury of nuclear light and to the sudden exposure of the void. Seventy-six of the Philadelphia's crew are killed, and ten more across the ship are injured as the mighty vessel shudders under the attack, but one thousand one hundred thirty-four survive, and the ship rights itself. No further missiles are being launched from the planetary surface.

The battle is won.

Once the missile bases are dealt with, Ezra Alpha is no better-defended than Lesath Alpha had been, and the occupation of major population centers goes without incident. The ships of the fleet make contact with Republican Star Navy supply and logistics vessels to refuel and take on supplies for the rapid on-site repair work that follows. The London arrives at Lesath, and immediately sets course for Hiraki in an attempt to relieve Sheol.

Back in the United Republic, meanwhile, Fujiwara-Van der Meer Computing, working under contract for the Navy, has developed a system of adaptive intelligent expert systems to compensate for turret traversal error and movement lag calculations in fire control. Fujiwara-Van der Meer researchers swear that that the 'Rangemaster' systems under development develop individualised quirks and 'personalities' during simulation testing, almost like a horse or a dog being trained. With the ongoing refinements to weapons technology and the new Rangemaster systems available, the designs for the Reykjavik under construction and the newly-planned New Antwerpen are updated, replacing the primary rear turret with a triple-gun mount like the forward turrets and integrating Rangemaster systems into the targeting computers.

Revised Xenology Report: Klackon

The Klackon are a quasi-insectoid species with a rigid carapace of light but tough organic material providing some level of natural protection against minor hazards. Despite their insectoid appearance, they possess both a centralised, actively-pumped circulatory system and an endoskeleton anchoring their musculature, permitting them to reach nearly human size. A tiny portion of their population makes up a sub-sapient breeder caste, which lays eggs in large numbers which hatch into young Klackon. The sapient Klackon, which are all sterile and neuter, actively control breeder caste breeding rate to ensure new Klackon are born at a rate manageable for training Klackon into a role that contributes to the community.

Klackon in their natural state exhibit conformity and lack of imagination beyond that of any other known sapient species. Any deviation from agreement with the community is viewed as dangerous sickness and results in the death of the individual who set themselves apart from the community. The primary motivator for Klackon is a chemically-mediated 'species empathy' that aligns their interests directly with a percieved 'health of the community' and which serves as their sole incentive to work in the community; Klackon will willingly work themselves to death if they percieve this as serving the health of the community. Economic coordination is awkward by other species' standards and much output in their economy is simply wasted, but the tireless work of the entire community and a class of work known as 'inventorism' involving checking of inventory levels developed by different work sites ensures the Klackon economies continue to function with extremely high effective agricultural and heavy industrial outputs. Although Klackon effort in research is considerably less efficient per person/hour than that of other species, their willingness to work gruelling schedules keeps them from falling too far behind competitor species.

With species empathy suppressed, order and productivity amongst Klackon can be maintained by motivating them with drug rations that imitate the pleasure associated with the experience of species empathy. Drug-motivated Klackon are more unpredictable and volatile than empathy-motivated Klackon, and occasional flareups of hostility between Klackon provide them with a 'crime rate'. Incentive structures built into a drug motivational regime mean that drug-motivated Klackon value rest time more than do empathy-motivated Klackon, although they are still extremely and occasionally self-destructively industrious. There is some evidence that drug-motivated Klackon may begin to develop individual interests, but most Klackon remain firmly incurious and fixated almost exclusively upon drug-based rewards.

It would be a mistake to classify Klackon society as 'autocratic', but nonetheless it has no room nor desire for any concept of freedom or individual happiness. The Klackon are, and may remain, our most troubling challenge as a society.

The United Republic in 2910

The agricultural sector of Earth has been abandoned, while investment in technology firms and research grows. Previous plans for colonisation missions had been set aside while an army was raised for the war, but the equipment and ships for new colonies are once more being assembled while prospective colonists gather for the long journey into space.

The economy of Mars has continued to stagnate under the load of military spending, and the people of Mars have begun to grumble at the lack of improvement in their conditions over the past ten years. Planned missile bases are under construction, in the hope they will ensure the security of the capital system.

Population growth on Nieuw Vlaanderen has begun to slow, but it has nonetheless exceeded 17 billion persons within the past ten years. The reorganisation of NordPharm is complete, which has led to a boom in the local economy. The refinements in crop genetics local to conditions on Nieuw Vlaanderen have rendered the agricultural sector on Nieuw Vlaanderen so efficient and so productive that it is now the sole bulk provider of food in the United Republic. Neither Earth nor New Greenland can compete any longer with Nieuw Vlaanderen farmers. A spin-off group from NordPharm, the Institute for Psychic Advancement, has established itself in New Antwerpen, the planetary capital, seeking to develop techniques and training methods to push the potential of psychic training in the United Republic. The Reykjavik is near completion, and will be the most advanced ship in the Navy when it is complete.

Conditions have improved somewhat on the Forge since the system-wide recession has passed, but the demands on the skilled workforce remain difficult to keep up with. As such, many portions of cities on the Forge are now shabby and out of repair as less important tasks slide in favor of maintaining the modern infrastructure needed to keep the Forge working at top efficiency. Still, with access to NordPharm medical labs on planet, the health of the population is excellent, and their spirits are as high as can be expected under current conditions. Work is well under way on the New Antwerpen.

The Anvil is undergoing a boom. Although it still lacks widespread access to consumer positronics, lagging behind more established worlds, the completion of radiation shielding has made the maintenance of the planetary infrastructure far simpler, cheaper, and safer, and the planet has enjoyed great gains from the system's recession ending. Under these conditions, staffing for the new naval base in orbit is easily found. The population continues to grow slowly, now exceeding six billion persons, while missile defenses are established about the equator.

The new military load on New Greenland's economy stresses its ability to attend to everything that must be dealt with on the world. It is now fully fortified, although the war gains against the Klackon render this less important, with Weg now well behind Republican lines. The population has grown to over six billion persons, and the drop in agricultural investment on-planet has been a boon to the technology sector. Kirsus' small Psilon community has been the nexus of a group of companies and universities pushing at the forefront of science, and Republican Psilon Innovations, Limited, a company founded by Kirsus herself, leads the way for the New Greenland tech sector. Settlers flow through New Greenland on their way to Thor, preparing to establish a third colony in the system.

Wotan's population has grown past two billion, but the strain on it is little less, as staffing and supply requirements for the missile base network stretch local resources thin. Output of industry has suffered as waste sequestration requirements are up, and many Wotaners believe local interests would be better served by more commercial trade and pollution processing, rather than establishment of a new naval base.

Over the past ten years, Laaxaayik has gained a new naval base and a rudimentary technology industry, when the supply of equipment and skilled personnel on-planet was already hard-pressed to maintain what was in place. Conditions on Laaxaayik are now amongst the most difficult in the United Republic, with a constant round of deadlines and minor emergencies that leave every worker on the planet, from the lowliest janitor to Jacob Hamilton, president of Snowbound Metals and Mining, Incorporated, the largest local Puppeteer firm, scrambling from crisis to crisis and from overtime day to overtime day with hardly a minute's rest.

Conditions have slipped on Cherenkov; now it is not only relatively backwards, it also struggles to maintain the naval base in orbit. Cherenkovites appreciate the additional security from Klackon attack, but they largely feel as if their hard work has gone with too little reward, and they hope to see things improve for themselves soon. Puppeteer technology has begun to be deployed under Conservative programs to expand the local industrial base, although many Cherenkovites believe that protecting the planet from radiation before expanding mining is a more pressing concern.

The population of Naraka has grown to over three billion, and the larger pool of workers has eased the previous strain on the local economy. This does little to alleviate the cynicism of Narakans about the naval base in construction, whose support costs are confidently predicted to once again stretch local resources beyond their limits. Narakans in general are highly disaffected with the Conservative Party as things stand.

If there is a planet with a harsher state of affairs than Laaxaayik in the United Republic, it is Sheol. The environment remains an irradiated nightmare, the local economy is overloaded by stresses, and an Elerian warship is a year out, ready to interdict trade, cutting Sheol off from needed supplies- and food imports. The only bright spot for the inhabitants of Sheol is that they have missile defenses in place, which may be the difference between immediate death at Elerian hands and a harsh but survivable period of blockade, rationed food, and slow starvation, which gives them the chance for rescue.

Lesath Alpha (a translation of the Klackon name for the planet) has 'assimilated'- at least as far as Klackon seem capable of. With the threat of revolt gone, civilians seeking to take advantage of the opportunities here have moved in to employ Klackon workers. Most feel deeply uncomfortable with the situation, but cannot resist the opportunity to work with such tireless and uncomplaining workers. The ground garrison likewise hates the work, feeling like there is no comfortable solution to what can be done with Klackon. The local infrastructure is minimal, mostly notable for a series of laboratories established by the Klackon before the planet was occupied, while Klackon workers assemble missile defense stations about the planet to secure the Republican frontier.

Ezra Alpha has only just been conquered, and the local Klackon still have not been properly brought under control, so the world remains under direct military administration. Although the infrastructure here is also minimal, a series of installations that somehow 'bleed off' the excess gravity on the world are in place here. Unfortunately, Republican scientists have been unable to discover the secret of these installations yet.

The United Republic maintains trade and friendship with four of the seven other great governments of the galaxy, and is at war with two more. Its previous alliance is gone, betrayed by the Nations in its moment of proof. The RCSPS stands at 200,000 staff, half of whom oversee an ambitious intelligence operation by a relatively small network of military-style commando teams inserted into Klackon territory. So far, their success has been minimal, but they have avoided any serious losses or setbacks while working against the Klackon. There are concerns that the loss of active cooperation by the Nations in crossing their territory may lead to loss of contact with the Union of Peace and the Commonwealth of the Compact.

The recovery of the economy in Hut, the gains from the specialisation of Nieuw Vlaanderen in agriculture, growing populations, and the addition of Klackon territory have fueled a growth in the total size of the economy of the United Republic, despite the local worries on many of its worlds. Transport capacity has exploded under a program of commercial shipbuilding, supporting the centralisation of agriculture than has occurred. The Union of Peace has lost the star of Fascia to Klackon advances, while the United Republic has achieved its intended war aims. Scanning from the naval base around Laaxaayik detects a fleet of four Unified State Naval vessels positioned as a permanent force at the Sabaki system, and a Council of Enlightened Matrons warship is only a year out from laying Sheol under blockade.

It is a time of tensions, anxiety, and moral questions that plague voters across the United Republic.

Citizens from all across the political spectrum are horrified both by Klackon society and by the measures needed to bring them under control without killing them. The question arises: is it more humane and moral to destroy Klackon populations or to occupy them and control them via drugs? What has been done at Lesath and Ezra has been done, and destroying the populations now would clearly be unacceptable, but many people are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of occupying Klackon populations in the future.

Primaries also debate the merits of allying with the Union of Peace or retaining current relations. The Union is clearly fighting a difficult war against the Klackon, and an alliance may ensure continued contact- but an alliance also is hardly needed to ensure the Union continue to fight the Klackon, and alliances may result in awkward entanglements.

The Conservatives face outright voter revolt if they expend Republican surface forces against Klackon planets with any surface garrisons. Expending Human lives to 'liberate' Klackon who have little real capacity to appreciate it is a political non-starter. Nonetheless, the Conservatives intend to secure the defensive line they have claimed at Lesath and Ezra, continue to build up industry, defenses, and the fleet, and crush the Council of Enlightened Matrons and liberate the Elerian people. They then shall prepare to shift their focus south to deal with the Unified State. Nanotech industrial tools and improved techniques in shipbuilding that may lead to the capacity to build truly mighty warships are planned for sponsorship by the Conservatives.

The Social Democrats have no interest in prosecuting an offensive war against the Council of Enlightened Matrons, but do wish to ensure that Sheol is secured against the attack. With the Council's fleet broken, the Social Democrats hope a peace can be brokered, allowing active colonisation pushes into the last unclaimed portions of the western portions of the galaxy. They shall also ensure that the usual programs of incentives and payments they wish to institute are established on the border worlds and fortify the new Klackon worlds. They hope to research xenoecology, then push into genetic research that may eventually result in breakthroughs in Human psychic potential.

The Liberals believe that now that war has started with the Council, it is best to finish it decisively, pushing to liberate the Council's people unless the Council actively sues for a peace beneficial to the United Republic. On the other hand, they believe the Conservative military buildup has gone on long enough. They wish to cancel the New Antwerpen, allow the civilian economy to recover from its years of war focus, and maintain peaceful relations with all who are willing to be peaceful with the United Republic while protecting lines of trade and the Klackon frontier. Civilian investment in research may lead to breakthroughs in economic methods, xenoecology, and civilian applications building on the cutting edge of the new intelligent expert systems developed for Rangemaster.