The Let's Play Archive

Master of Orion II

by nweismuller

Part 9: 540-560 YE-The Birds and the Bears

The Birds and the Bears

Early in 541, the fertile Nares-like planet of Tenesal in the Perseo system was colonised. Although somewhat smaller than Nares itself, the lush biosphere would be capable of supporting a large population and a highly productive agricultural sector, and hopes were high that the new colony would become a highly prosperous contributor to the larger economy and a suitable home for its colonists.

Later in the same year, metallurgical corporations in Narestan space developed a series of advanced titanium alloys with excellent strength-to-weight ratios. These new alloys seemed likely to revolutionise construction and shipbuilding, and to increase safety in vehicles and machines dependent on high-performance metals. Several years later, in 544, the red star Min was explored and surveyed, revealing the distinctly unwelcoming system around it.

Deuterium Fuel Cells we have already traded for, but we see their splash screen when we research the technology tier they are part of.

It was four years later, in 548 YE, that new genetically-engineered microbes designed to attack tumors, synthesise drugs, and otherwise help apply medical aid in a less invasive and more specifically-targeted manner were first placed on the markets. This breakthrough promised to revolutionise medicine, allowing for longer, healthier lives for the vast bulk of the Narestan population. The discovery was almost swamped in the news, however, by a new alien contact.

Probes launched by the Alkari species under their governing New Orion Empire had made contact with the Narestan colony at Renar, as new developments in power storage technology in the New Orion Empire had led to improved operational range for their ships and probes. After the work to establish mutual communications was complete, a message from Peerik Kree, current Emperor of the New Orion Empire, was conveyed to the Consortium for Xenogovernmental Negotiations, expressing his delight in contact with another species and expressing hope for a future of peace and unity. The negotiations that followed swiftly led to the Imperial government approving trade contacts and scientific cooperation between the Alkari people and the Narestans, with Alkari trade vessels putting in at Renar to haul cargos between the two civilisations.

The Alkari species are a warm-blooded species capable of gliding flight native to the garden planet of Alkar, with an unusually long history of cultural and political unity. According to Alkari legend, Alkar was once a colony world of a starfaring empire established by a wise and benevolent species known as the 'Orions', who taught the primitive forebears of the Alkari people the arts of civilisation and welcomed them into their society as beloved children. One day, legend says, a great war against the Orion Empire was launched by the darkest of enemies, and Alkar was devastated by terrible bombardment from the heavens. Following this, the Orions never returned to Alkar, and Alkari society relapsed to tiny bands of survivors unable to understand or maintain what technological infrastructure remained on the planet. Eventually a planetary government was re-established, the New Orion Empire, claiming to be the legitimate inheritor and successor of that ancient culture.

Alkar today still bears heavy cratering softened by thousands of years of erosion, and ruins of ancient Orion cities are carefully excavated for more clues to their ancient knowledge and culture. The New Orion Empire itself is a hereditary monarchy based on an ideology of a duty of service by the throne to the people. The power of the Emperor is at least theoretically unlimited, but ancient tradition and a sense of duty has thus far reined in the worst tyrannical excesses of an absolute monarch, at least to some degree. The Alkari people themselves tend to be fiercely proud and unified, although the throne still must enforce its authority by force. Alkari also prove to be excellent void pilots, their inherent instincts of flight helping them easily visualise complex three-dimensional maneuvers. Ancient grants of privilege and land or Imperial town charters make for a staggeringly complex legal landscape in which to conduct trade.

Six years later, in 554, the planet of Talabar in the Tur system was colonised by Narestan settlers. Talabar had small oceans and relatively sparse rainfall, but nonetheless the fertile valleys formed by its rain were fairly hospitable to life. A stable global biosphere stretched across the planet, producing a breathable atmosphere and landscapes of a spare and austere beauty.

This new colony proved to be within range of probes of the United Empire of Bulra, a single-system empire inhabited by the Bulrathi species. Early discussions with the Bulrathi by the Consortium for Xenogovernmental Negotiations led the United Empire's government to agree to permit commercial traffic over the borders, although closer scientific cooperation between researchers remained out of reach at that point.

The Bulrathi were a massive, physically-powerful race native to the high-gravity world of Bulra. Powerful muscles, bones reinforced with a high metal content, and heavy bony plates armoring their vitals render them extremely resistant to injury, while their aggressive temperment has led to a tumultuous, wartorn history. Bulra remained politically disunified until only six years before the Bulrathi invention of hyperspace drives, when the United Empire finally crushed the last opposition on Bulra. Bulrathi society continued on as a fractious group of differing cultures held in line by the Imperial authority, which rules by aid of an extensive administrative bureaucracy under the Emperor. By this point, many Narestans had begun to consider the generally oppressive nature of alien governments they had thus far encountered deeply disturbing, although maintaining the peace and reaping the benefits of trade still were favored by Narestan people.

Over the course of the same year, the Consortium for Xenogovernmental Negotiations served as an intermediary for technology transfers between Mrrshan interests and interests within Narestan space. The Mrrshan had developed methods to generate and read focused tachyon pulses. Although no faster in travelling between star systems than the earlier communications probes, tachyon-based communications were considerably less expensive to operate once the initial equipment was set up, and allowed for a continuous stream of transmissions between systems where communications were previously limited to the most important messages bundled in mail packages via communications probes. The Mrrshan had also developed a means to induce the development of telepathic talents in selected individuals, which proved to be an extremely secure and private method to arrange short-range conversations, despite being unable to take information from an unaware or unwilling mind. The Mrrshan, for their part, gained access to some of the fruits of Narestan materials science and economics, helping to improve the profitability of many of their business enterprises and prosperity of their civilisation.

Given that the research cost of these exchanges wasn't very lopsided, I just did the transfers without consultation. They're worth it, especially given our poor spying abilities- Telepathic Training gives us a modest spy bonus.

Over the remainder of the 550s, Narestan exploration efforts continued, charting the contents of two new systems, while research and economic development continued at an accelerating pace. By 558, a series of techniques to gradually rework weather patterns, adjust the abundance of water, introduce an atmosphere or alter atmospheric composition, and introduce series of new organisms to gradually improve the state of a planetary biosphere from nonexistent to Nares-like had been perfected by major engineering firms. Although worlds with very hostile surface conditions due to irradiation or toxic environments were beyond the scope of these techniques, nonetheless they promised to radically alter the appearance of Narestan worlds over time.

The end of the decade in 560 proved to be a highly significant year. Security services on Nares had been steadily improving services over the past century of Narestan civilisation, while industrial firms continued to strengthen their position. 560 saw a notable economic boom on Nares and Sedal, with investment and industrial output surging. In the background, security services quietly began assembling covert investigation teams to track down fugitives and bring them to justice.

The assassin ability for leaders gives a chance each turn to eliminate a spy being used against you, or a defending spy in an empire you are spying on. This gives us a modest defensive layer, on top of the economic bonuses.

Meanwhile, a series of innovations in personal and vehicle weaponry saw rail rifles and particle rifles hit the market, along with light support weapons based on the same technology. These proved to provide greater firepower than older technologies, and swiftly grew to dominate the market. Continued negotiations, for their part, had begun to ensure closer relations with both the New Orion Empire and the United Empire of Bulra, which promised to help ensure the growing prosperity of Narestan civilisation and its continuing peace.

Narestan Civilisation as of 560

Nares and Sedal in the Tel system have seen dropping birth rates as improved medicine has reduced the death rate, and what excess births there are are largely absorbed by recruits for a new colonisation mission. Both have seen gradual process improvements in industry boost productivity and have benefited from expanded trade as the Narestan civilisation has contacted new alien civilisations. Nares is the site of construction for a new colonisation mission, and where its recruits are gathering, while Sedal continues to be noted for its training of security consultants across the span of Narestan civilisation. Nares remains, by far, the single most productive world in Narestan civilisation, as well as its primary source of agricultural exports for those worlds that cannot support their own population with industrial hydroponics.

Sadesal's population has stabilised at approximately five billion, and has become a growing contributor to Narestan research and trade. The shipyard over Sadesal has been dedicated to manufacturing commercial freighters, expanding the shipping capacity of Narestan civilisation. It and Tanan are also the primary gateway ports for Mrrshan and Meklar trade, although improvements in Mrrshan fuel bunkerage have meant that many Mrrshan freighters have begun plying a route directly between Tel and Yoth to serve the markets of Nares and Sedal.

Tanan's growth to approximately three billion inhabitants has seen it progress from a fairly marginal contributor to interplanetary trade to an undeniably profitable part of Narestan civilisation. Growth of employment from its previously tiny research community has greatly increased its contributions to the advance of the frontiers of knowledge.

Talesen now exceeds four billion persons in population, and is another site of major commercial shipbuilding. It is a mature colony that is a major contributor to the wider civilisation.

Renar is a highly productive industrial center whose shipyards have been dedicated to the construction of a formidable new drone carrier, the Sentinel, but one dependent on outside imports to upkeep its high level of development. The world is the primary port of call for Alkari freighters entering Narestan space, and so trade easily covers any shortcomings of the local economy.

Tenesal has already developed respectable local industry and infrastructure. Modest agricultural surpluses and a minor local technology industry help cover needed imports that support the economy while the population grows, the economy diversifies, and local business practices are improved. The world is anticipated to eventually be a major agricultural exporter, although as of yet the agricultural sector is limited primarily to industrial hydroponics.

Talabar is the youngest colony world of the Narestan civilisation, and still in the process of fully building up robotic industry on the planet. The world serves as the primary port of entry for Bulrathi traders into Narestan space.

Alien trade volumes have more than doubled over the past two decades, while corporate investment into security against industrial espionage has dramatically increased. The New Orion Empire, unknown to the Narestans a mere 20 years ago, is now the single largest alien trade partner of Narestan civilisation. Scientific cooperation with Bulrathi researchers is still being established, at fairly significant expense, but should show its benefits sometime in the future.

Overall investment and innovation have shown healthy growth over the past two decades, while Narestan shipping capacity to serve its needs for trade has more than doubled. A colonisation mission to the Xendalla system is only two years out- Narestan civilisation has spread over six systems and shows no signs yet of stopping its growth. Contact with new alien civilisations has helped accelerate the growth of the Narestan economy and boost living standards for all its people, and many hope that further exploration will lead to even more new alien contacts. A peaceful system of trade extends across all of known space.

Investment Proposals

Technology Acquisition
The Meklars have access to advanced magnetic acceleration technology that could be built into modern security drones; they ask for information on Narestan consumer positronics in exchange. With access to Meklar weapons technology, it seems likely Narestan researchers may be able to pursue other avenues of investigation rather than reinventing void-ready mass drivers.
Please vote yea or nay on trading the Meklars Holo Simulators for Mass Drivers; this will ensure we can get shields for our ships in a reasonable timeframe.

Research Priorities
The experience of Narestan colonies on irradiated planets has led to continued efforts to develop more effective ways of protecting settlements against radiation than the simple expedient of nearly burying settlements currently most used. Some researchers believe they may have promising leads on ways to negate incoming radiation through destructive interference, but a great deal more research is necessary. Other projects under way include a series of studies funded by different industrial interests into a wide array of incremental improvements in technologies for every field of the economy, likely to lead to improved productivity for a workforce educated and trained enough to take advantage of them, major advances in controlled industrial agriculture that could be deployed on every world in Narestan space, or a series of minor research programs funded by different elements of shipbuilding industries.
Please vote between Planetary Radiation Shields, Astro Universities, Subterranean Farms, or Tachyon Scanners/Merculite Missiles as research priorities.

Continued innovation continues to promise continued improvement in Narestan prosperity into the future- one can only hope this promise is fulfilled.