The Let's Play Archive

Star Control 2

by GrandpaPants

Part 13

Before heading back to base, we Quasispace our way over to the edge of Ur-Quan space and set a course for Zeta Draconis. Along the way, I let myself get caught by a patrol, and meet these fellows.

Thraddash Introduction

Thraddash: So, what's this? SNORT! An unknown alien species? How wonderful! Someone new to fight! We, the Thraddash of Culture Nineteen - famous Ur-Quan Combat Thralls, know well the value of a good fight. Either you win and prove your superiority, SNORT! Or you lose and are vanquished. If the vanquished is lucky, it may survive to learn an important lesson from its defeat. This is the way of the Thraddash! We fight and learn and improve! All other cultures are inferior. This is a proven fact. What have you to say before we begin combat?

Captain: What can you tell us of your species?

T: Talk! Bah, talk is for sissies, weaklings like those of Culture Fourteen. For ten thousand years, we Thraddash have fought and died, learned and improved. Then, along came Culture Fourteen which claimed that all this - this perfect method - was wrong! That each time we violently transformed to a new Culture, we inevitably blasted ourselves back at least five hundred years in development.

Hmph! Some people just cannot accept the cost of progress. Indeed, the FOOLISHNESS of Culture Fourteen's peaceful whining was revealed, when they were conquered by Culture Fifteen after only a ten year reign. And did the change to Culture Fifteen set us back five hundred years? NO! SNORT! Two, maybe three hundred years, tops. The short span of Culture Fourteen's reign is objective proof that as a way of life, peace is a failure.

C: Thraddash of Culture Ninteen: We sense a bit of hostility here. Why?

T: Hostility! HARG! HARG! HARG! We are not "hostile." Hostile is unwarranted aggression! SNORT! If you want to know about hostility, let us tell you about Culture Twelve!

Culture Twelve was SO hostile that while they were on their way to their first great battle, Jugkah, the battlemaster, stepped on Gnusko the tactician's foot, causing him great pain. The annoyed Gnusko turned on his battlemaster, Jugkah, and sliced his body in half! This miffed Jugkah's troops who took it upon themselves to murder Gnusko and his elite troops. The REAL trouble started when now-dead Jugkah's master sergeants Muuhd and Pudt started arguing about how to kill Gnusko - simple crucifixion or the slower "Lead Tattoo" technique.

The argument was resolved when Muuhd and his five hundred troops were slaughtered by Pudt and his gang. Well, this probably all would have gone down in history as a great day of learning for Culture Twelve, were it not for the surprise arrival of Culture Twelve's original enemies, the Yajag and his cronies, who wiped out Culture Twelve's army, thus beginning the long and glorious Culture Thirteen. SNORT! Now that's hostility!

We, on the other hand, merely want to kill you.

C: So violent, Rhino-Dudes! What more can you tell us about your Culture Nineteen?

T: What!?! SNORT! More talk? It amazes me that you ever got out of the orbit of your home planet! Yak! Yak! Yak! Yammer! Yammer! Yammer! Sigh, very well, we will talk...for a moment.

Our Culture Nineteen is the most formidable ever to appear in Thraddash space. Admittedly, we said something similar about Culture Eighteen, BUT IT IS TRUE! With our rather swift defeat by the Ur-Quan and subsequent enslavement, we realized that it was time for a change! A new Culture had to be established!

So, of course, we began a thermo-nuclear exchange to decide who would lead this new culture. We were all quite disappointed when the Ur-Quan in orbit above our homeworld launched waves of fighters who intercepted all of our missiles. The Ur-Quan explained that slaves were not permitted to engage in such destructive conflicts, so my people, being superior, introduced a super-lethal poison into our opponents' water and air, thus ending the conflict, HARG! HARG! HARG!

The Ur-Quan were not particularly happy about this resolution and killed all of our leaders, which under the circumstances would have started a larger inter-Thraddash war, but the Ur-Quan appointed new leaders, apparently chosen at random, and explained that further disobedience would result in the destruction of our species. Frustrating, huh?

C: You mention the Ur-Quan. What is your relationship with them?

T: A foolish question! We are their slaves, dolt! What else would we be? When the Ur-Quan first appeared in our space over fifty years ago, coming from the direction of the Ophiuchi stars, we attacked them with gusto, zipping in to fire our Mark 6 blasters, and then theoretically zipping back out to prepare for another attack run. SNORT! Unfortunately, before we could zip out, our ships were either blasted to smithereens by the Ur-Quan's fusion bolts or were picked apart by the swarms of Ur-Quan fighter vessels.

You may wonder why we didn't use our afterburners to escape. The answer is simple. Fifty years ago, our ships had not yet been modified for this enhancement! It was not until 2143 that Maintenance Engineer Reeunk invented the afterburner effect when he accidentally stuck his cigar in the aft fuel valve of the ship he was working on. WHABOOM!!! The ship took off like a farg out of hell, and Reeunk was fried to a crisp. Yes, we remember Reeunk with much fondness. Of course, we have refined the device and now that the entire fleet has been fitted with Reeunk Afterburners, perhaps NOW the Ur-Quan will let us fight at their side as TRUE battle thralls.

C: Why didn't you fight the Alliance, and where ARE the Ur-Quan?

T: We wanted to, OH how we wanted to! After all, we were the first battle thralls the Ur-Quan enslaved in this part of space. We thought we had priority! But the Ur-Quan thought we were too weak to hold our own in upcoming battles, so they left us here to guard the flank. If only we had been WHIMPER! stronger and less SNARF! troublesome.

Another reason the Ur-Quan would take us with them was because we kept picking fights with the new battle slaves, like the Umgah blobbies or those religious idiots, the Ilwrath. Where did they go, you ask? This is a secret, of course! We can't tell you! If we told you that they were fighting a secret war against a mysterious invader, you might find some way to use that information against our masters. So forget it! No secrets!

C: We wish nothing from you, save your friendship.

T: Perhaps, after we have made you our slaves, we can accommodate your wishes. Until then...

C: You are strong! We like strong! We be friends, now, okay?

T: We are strong. You are weak. And HARG! HARG! we HATE weak. We do not need weak friends! We only want slaves and teachers. Since you have nothing to teach us and refuse to be our slaves, then you are our enemy. Such logic must be obvious even to a stupid being like yourself.

C: We leave in peace.

T: What? You leave before the lesson begins? We have so much to teach you! Let us show you just one thing, it's called the "Surprise Attack."

And with that, they attack us. Over and over again. Each battlegroup has about 3-5 Thraddash Torch ships, which happen to be my second favorite ship in the game. They're ridiculously fragile at only 8 crew, but they're capable of taking down many of the heavier ships. The primary is nothing special, just a standard pellet bullet attack, notable for its extremely long range for sniping. The secondary is where it shines, though (no pun intended), as it causes an afterburner effect, increasing your speed and leaving behind a trail of fire that does 2 damage if someone touches it. Per fire spot. So it's a pretty effective way of getting out of a tight spot and making sure nobody follows.

To take them down, we can either use an Orz Nemesis or the Precursor vessel, which I armed with Hellbore Cannons before I ventured out into deep space. As you can see, the Precursor is more efficient, given its spread and damage, but the Nemesis can take on a full complement of 5 before it dies from attrition if you didn't deck out your vessel beforehand.

You can also just tell them to attack the Kohr-Ah, but that would kill them, and it's a bit premature for that. Besides, this way, I can recruit Torches back at base later.

Chatting with the patrols nets us a few more conversation options:
Captain: What has made you this way? Why are you so brutal?

Thraddash: Brutal!? You don't know the MEANING of brutal until you've heard the story of Culture Three! How brutal WAS Culture Three you ask? Culture Three was SO brutal that they maimed, tortured, enslaved, and in general brutalized...THEMSELVES!

You see, Culture Two had made a virtue of stoic resistance to pain, stubborn fortitude, that sort of thing. So when Culture Three came around, they had a problem. How were they going to impress everyone as being EVEN TOUGHER? Their answer? They would arrive at a battle, stand on a tall hill where everyone could see them, and chop off one of their own limbs! Then they'd wave it around, screaming and shaking it at their enemies.

It worked! It scared the hell out of their opponents! They ran like crazy! You could tell who was a real war hero back then by how few arms or legs he had left. War parades were quite different too. Instead of sturdy old warriors walking slowly past the reviewing stands, they tended to roll, and at a good clip, too. To you, an inferior alien, this may seem bluntly stupid - the product of a sick, primitive society. SNORT! You couldn't be more right! Culture Three was, as you can well understand, only the third Thraddash Culture and was therefore far from tempered perfection you have encountered here and now.

Captain: What has made you this way? Why are you so brutal?

T: NO! We will not answer any more of your foolish questions! Instead, you will answer OUR questions, such as...who is responsible for those berserk red probes that keep attacking our ships? Are these devices your robot emissaries of death? Hmm? No! Don't answer, I can see it in your eyes. You've given it all away! SNORT! I know the truth now. The only thing that confuses me is WHY do the probes approach from the direction of Vega?

Back to the subject of the probes! We found one orbiting a strange planet in the Epsilon Draconis system. The planet causes our scanners to malfunction, producing a wildly colored image. The probe seemed to have studying it. Is this true? SPEAK, HUMAN! REVEAL THE TRUTH! CONFESS YOUR CRIME! Well, if you will not cooperate, we will have to extract the information from you in more painful ways.

Obviously, the Epsilon Draconis planet is another Rainbow World, whose radioactive goodness I plundered with delight, all the while slaying Thraddash.

Entering Zeta Draconis I, we find what appears to be the Thraddash homeworld.
Thraddash: WARNING! You have entered Thraddash Secured Space! There is nothing valuable here! Go away!

Captain: Explain your presence here, Thraddash.

T: It is none of your concern, human, SNORT! Now leave this world before we get REALLY mad!

C: So what's so special about this world? Why all the guards?

T: Very well, since we have a huge number of ships here, I guess there can't be much harm in explaining this to you, PROVIDED YOU LEAVE WHEN WE'RE DONE! So listen carefully.

Below us...
...on the surface of the planet...
...on the dark continent of Funt...
...high on a mountain... an ancient shrine...
...resting in a special ceremonial cradle...
...glowing with its magical blue light, is the...
...NO! I've changed my mind, you don't get to know the answer. Sorry.

C: Aw, geez. Come on. That was UNFAIR!

T: Okay, okay. I guess you're right, it was a bit cruel. I'll tell you. Let's see, where was I? Oh, right...
...on the surface of the planet...
...on the dark continent of Funt...
...high on a mountain... an ancient shrine...
...resting in a special ceremonial cradle...
...glowing with its magical blue light, is the...

...the most revered of all Thraddash relics, the sign of any Culture's authority.

Asking to land gets me an ass whupping from an infinite number of Torches, so we use the escape unit to get out of dodge. After some amount of fights, you finally get a different response from the Thraddash:

Thraddash: Admirable! Admirable! We have never witnessed such awesome combat capabilities! You have destroyed so many of us! We are humbled in your presence! We thought you were a weakling, a coward, a pitiful sniveling wimp. We were wrong, so wrong! WHIMPER! You have shown yourself superior to ourselves, indeed, even the Ur-Quan!

We wish to learn from you, thus improving our Culture. Give us your wisdom, mighty Teacher! What is the secret to your success? Wait, I've got it! It's the way you respond to our hailing calls each time we meet! Just as they say, first impressions are so important! So tell us, please! Tell us how WE should present ourselves?

Captain: I know for a fact that rhyming in introductions wins big points.

T: Rhymes? Like in poetry? SNORT! Isn't that kind of, you know, not-tough stuff? SNORT! What am I saying! You are the Great Teacher! You know best! If rhyming is necessary, then Teacher, we will be rhyming all the timing.

Now that we understand the nuances of introduction, Great Teacher, we have an even more significant question. Your devastation of our battle forces have shown us that our Culture Nineteen is inferior to your own, therefore, we will adopt your methods, your techniques, but what shall we name our new Culture?

C: I think it is important that with this new direction, you decide on your new name.

T: You are wise, Great Teacher! I will think long and hard on this matter...GRUNT! It must reflect the profound changes in our social order. GRUNT! It must clearly explain the nature of our civilization. GRUNT! Yes! I have it! The perfect name is...Culture Twenty! We need to learn so much from you, such as...

How should we act in our new Culture? What is our direction, our ethical base?

I included a screenshot of the choices because they all amused me, and it was hard to choose.

C: Look, if you really want a model for your Culture, then be just like us!

T: Aha! I see it now. We proceed carefully, we take no undue risks. We slowly build up our strength and only attack when we have overwhelming odds on our side! In dealings with others races, we shall question them mercilessly, trying to drag out every last bit of information, and if they are not cooperative, we will threaten them with instant death!

We will be just like you!

We have much work to do to implement these sweeping cultural changes. Transferring from the allegiances and mores of one culture to another is a difficult and time-consuming task. We beg you, great warrior from Earth, give us time to make the changes you suggested. Return later to see our brave new world.

So we do come back and talk to the next patrol of these lovable bullies.

Thraddash: We are the rhyming simons...
...blancmange rhymes with orange... is the place...
...the stars in their courses...
...cannot catch the horses?

SNORT! This is hard! We of Culture Twenty are glad to meet you here in space, oh wise Teacher from Earth!

C: Have there been any great developments here that I, your Great Teacher, should know of?

T: This doesn't really counts as News, Teacher, but War is truly magnificent isn't it? The gut wrenching sight of molten warships! The boiling blood of depressurized soldiers! I just love it! Don't you?

C: So how is the new Culture developing? Things are proceeding well, Captain. We have discovered one item which may interest you. There is an unusual world orbiting Epsilon Draconis, in close solar orbit. Though it radiates energies which scramble our sensors, we can detect many radioactive substances on the surface. We suspect that this is one of the so-called "Precursor dumps" described in some ancient text fragments we found in Alpha Apodis. The text goes to say that these Dumps are in some kind of pattern, though what the pattern may be remains a mystery. For now, that is all.

We finally head to the planet, since we're their Great Teacher now. Hopefully that means they let us on without having to commit genocide. Not that we're above genocide, but Torches are handy ships.

Thraddash: Blood is red, bruises are blue, when strangers come here, we run them through! HARG! HARG! HARG!

Good one, eh? Hoy-yo-HO! The super-strong human has return to this, our most important planet. We, Culture Twenty, bid you welcome.

Captain: What's so special about this planet?

T: We orbit here guarding that most precious of our relics, that which we hold most dearly, that which has been the heart of all our cultures (except for Culture Nine, and they don't really count). We guard the object which transcends mortal realms, the Aqua Helix!

C: So what about this "Aqua Helix" thing? Does it do any tricks?

T: The Aqua Helix is our most precious relic. For the totality of our historic memory, the Helix has been with us. It guides, motivates, and rewards. It is the twisty-thing that launched a thousand ships! It is the relic all of our cultures have held most...oh yeah, I said that already.

We know the Aqua Helix is great largely because all of our previous nineteen cultures have known this to be true! If the Aqua Helix wasn't anything special, WHY would we spend so much blood and passion over the little thing? It would be a colossal waste, an absurd travesty!

Actually, this is what Culture Nine said during their two-week period of dominance before Culture Ten wiped them out. Anyway, we remained convinced! We are Thraddash and all Thraddash know the significance of the Aqua Helix. Therefore, the Aqua Helix IS great! The matter is resolved.

They finally grant us permission to land on the planet and "investigate" the Aqua Helix.

Captain, we have discovered some sort of alien shrine here on the surface. The building is immensely old, at least 2000 years. Inscribed around the perimeter of the cylindrical shrine are innumerable hieroglyphs which document the history of each of the nineteen Thraddash cultures.

From what we have seen, we have learned that the Thraddash have risen to star-faring technology at least three separate times, only to nuke themselves back into the stone age again and again. The real surprise, Captain, was what we found inside the shrine!

We knew the Thraddash kept something down here, but we didn't know what it was until we went inside the shrine. In the exact middle of the structure was a tall dais of white stone. Set atop this dais was an immense aqua gemstone, somehow shaped into a twisted ribbon, like a DNA helix.

The Aqua Helix emitted incredible light pulses, illuminating the cavernous shrine like a giant strobe light, at least it did until Private Hendryx decided to see what would happen if he grabbed the artifact. The helix immediately ceased glowing and has remained quiescent ever since.

We will bring the Aqua Helix back aboard the ship for further study.

So naturally, we steal their artifact of great historical and culture importance and get the hell out of there. For some reason, they still send in starship commanders so that we can buy Torch ships, despite our heinous larceny.

Back at base, we have two new artifacts which mean two new science reports:

SUBJECT: Rosy Sphere Device.

DATA: The specimen is 5 centimeters in diameter, perfectly smooth, and composed of a blood-red translucent substance. Tests show that it has typical ferro-magnetic properties, but it is utterly non-conducive.

SUMMARY: Probably a Precursor tool - function unknown.

SUBJECT: Aqua Helix Device.

DATA: This device is composed of a light blue, super hard substance which rates Mohs-13. The object is composed of a flat ribbon of homogeneous material approximately 1 meter in length, and it is twisted in a perfect helix. Focused ion and nucleo-magnetic scans reveal little about its interior.

SUMMARY: Unknown design. Unknown origin. Unknown function.