We do our usual Quasispacing and pop out here and head out there
Supox: Greeting Fellow Carbon Creature, may your roots always be well watered.
Captain: I am Captain Stubing from Earth. We come in peace.
S: I am Captain Ala-la'la. We come in peace.
C: Our starship is called the LoveBoat.
S: Our starship is called the Tender Shoot.
C: We are The New Alliance of Free Stars From Earth.
S: We are the Supox Utricularia from Earth.
C: You're from Earth??? Hey! Are you just copying whatever I say?
S: Oh yes, we apologize for the confusion, our homeworld is also called "Earth," or more properly "Vlik," which means "Perfectly Good and Nutritious Dirt." "Earth is pretty close, is it not?
C: Why do you copy our speech and mannerisms?
S: We learn and we adapt. We are symbionts. Our first step in making friends is always to copy them. This is our idiom.
C: Symbionts, how interesting! Please tell us more.
S: Our kind evolved on a beautiful planet orbiting the wonderfully green-hued star, Root. From the canopy of the great jungles to the shores of the azure seas, our species has flowered and grown well. Early in our evolution, we adapted to exist in symbiosis with other, hardier life, both flora and fauna, who supplied us with nutrients while we supplied them with reproductive assistance.
C: C'mon, plants can't be intelligent! Our top scientists and science fiction writers have proven it!
S: Yes. This has been confirmed by our people as well. Strange, is it not? Many of our people regard this inconsistency as proof of our divine origin.
C: So this is your neighborhood, huh? Any other sentients nearby?
S: We share this region of space with the Utwig, the Wearers of Masks. We have a strong cultural bond with the Utwig. They have been the foundation around which we have grown our starfaring culture. We are not only allies, but we are also friends. You should go meet with them. They could use some excitement. You see, they are a little depressed and morose right now. Usually they are most festive and fun.
C: Oh dear, what has caused the Utwig such distress?
S: They broke their Ultron.
C: Ultron? What's an Ultron?
S: The Druuge, the cruel, sallow trading race who sold the device to the Utwig called the device the "Ultron" and claimed that it would give the Utwig super-powers. Unfortunately, the Utwig believed the Druuge and bought the Ultron. However, the device DID make the Utwig very happy. Of course, we didn't tell them what we REALLY thought of the Ultron, that they were vapid fools to buy a piece of junk for a planet's ransom. We went along with the falsehood, and in doing so showed our own stupidity.
Then, one sad day a few years ago, the Utwig Proctor dropped the Ultron during a particularly energetic and festive ritual. Now the Utwig are morose and depressed. They feel they cannot ever achieve greatness because they lost the powers of the Ultron. They even gave the broken device to us, saying that they couldn't stand the sight of it anymore.
We are worried that the Utwig are so depressed that they may use their Ultimate Weapon. Here! Take the Ultron, maybe you can do something with it.
C: Er, ah, thanks, I think. What do I do with it?
S: We thought that if we could get the Ultron working again, it would cheer them up. So we tried to figure out how to fix the darn thing, or at least get some of the flashing bits working again. But for all the Druuge's falsehoods, the Ultron IS some kind of artifact, and we could not synthesize the necessary replacement parts. Perhaps on your journeys you will find the elements necessary to repair the Ultron. Then you could give it to the Utwig, and maybe they wouldn't be too depressed.
And that's pretty much all you see of the Supox, sadly. I always felt that they were greatly underused.
We head back to base first and have the good Commander analyze what we got:
SUBJECT: Ultron Device.
We put this thing through every test we've got, and came up with the same results as if we'd used a fork...nothing, zero, zip. If this thing ever functioned - which we doubt - it certainly won't now. Age and physical stress have long since robbed it of whatever "mystical powers" it might have once had.
SUMMARY: In the future, please don't waste our valuable time on junk like this so-called "Ultron."
But using the Rosy Sphere, Clear Spindle, and Aqua Helix fixes the Ultron! How were you supposed to know? I'm going to guess the Melnorme tell you eventually, under "current events."
DATA: We have determined that the so-called "Ultron" is in fact the "Appendages of Dawn" described in the Precursor fragment found on Rigel in 2123. In the partially translated Precursor text, the device is described as a "Mental Amplifier" which focuses the mental energies of the holder "for the purpose of discreet change." Unfortunately, human brain emanations do not seem compatible with the Ultron, nor do those of the allies species we have tested.
SUMMARY: Perhaps the Utwig, who claim to understand this device, can shed some light on its true function and power.
Go to the first planet of Beta Aquarii and find...
I hope you guys like your epic sci-fi with a slice of , because you're gonna get quite a serving of it here.
Utwig: Normally we would not bother to acknowledge your presence, but you find us in a state of moderate depression, instead of our normal cycle of self-destructive tendencies.
Captain: This is Captain Stubing, representing The New Alliance of Free Stars. Please respond.
U: What good would that do - I mean, why should we? We agonized for hours wondering if it was a cruel twist of fate, or simply a serious case of butterfingery. Ah, the lifetimes that have been spent in the pursuit of the elusive answer to this deceptively simple question has driven many of us down the dark road of self-destruction. Indeed, even as these words strike the ears of any who care to listen, the real question is: Does It Matter?
I cannot say, I wallow in a quandary, unable to determine what better atones for my part of the Great Sin. Should I engage in slow and painful self-termination? Should I commit myself to a long life of painful self-flagellation? Should I throw myself with enthusiastic verve at the problem of collective annihilation? I do not know. Even now my mind writhes in anguish of indecision, lest the outcome be inadequate.
C: Hmm, I detect that recent events have not gone your way. Why don't you start at the beginning?
U: *Sigh* All right, I'll try, but you know, it really doesn't matter. After all, we have a famous Utwig saying: when one loses the reason for existence, one tends to get less motivated. This goes hand-in-hand with the painfully appropriate credo "We broke it so we are paying for it." Of course, this isn't really accurate; the situation is so much more hideous!
Imagine, if you can, holding within your hands The Answer! Only to have it taunt you with its former potential! Ah, cruel irony! The loss of the Ultron grieves us all!
C: Um, yes, of course, the Ultron. We grieve. How sad. Now, what was it again?
U: Bah! It doesn't matter! Besides being of no concern to you, I find discussion of this matter, well, distasteful. *Sigh* The Ultron was not only the thing which assures total and complete meaning of life for you and I, it is Universal! I'm sure that you too are aware of this thing if only in legend! It granted us all limitless power and knowledge. It has been since, well, rendered inoperative.
C: Sniff. That reminds me when my pet dog Splib, ran in front of a...rock chipper!
U: You are kind. If we could wield the Ultron to resurrect your Splib, we would. But I suddenly a overcome with waves of depression. I must retire now to perform rituals of anguish. Waves of trauma wash across my being even now. I must go.
The conversation ends here, but you can always re-initiate it. Calling them crybabies causes them to attack you. Yes, that was the first thing I picked.
C: Do you know anything about the enslaving Ur-Quan?
U: We know nothing of this species you mention. However, while we are on the subject of evil and powerful species, we have encountered a particularly gruesome race that seemed to come from the direction of Arcturus. When we hailed them, they responded with mighty weapons that sent our delegation to their deaths...lucky fools.
The alien's dark crusty battleships are capable of guiding spinning mines into almost any location and, should an enemy get too close, a fiery corona emerges to inflict fearsome damage. In our skirmishes with the race, who called themselves the Kohr-Ah, we found that by using our own shielding capability we could sweep through the mines, absorb the corona, and then get close enough to the dark ships to give a lick of our own. In, truth, however, they are very powerful and ruthless.
When the Kohr-Ah started to press toward our homeworld, we thought that our deserved punishment was being administered. But then, a mystery? They suddenly became disinterested and veered away. Bah! Confounding frustration! With the Ultron, I could speak knowledgeable on this subject! To have this quality torn from our grasp emphasizes how meaningless our existence really is. This lack of meaning is what drives my species to the serious contemplation of a quick end!
C: Yes, that is really a pity. So what more do you know about the Kohr-Ah?
U: Aagghh! Your query once again painfully reminds me of the Ultron and what it was for the Universe! I could tell you all and correct ALL that is wrong with the Universe! All I can tell you is that the Kohr-Ah live to kill. Their stated purpose is to seek out new life and new civilizations...and then annihilate them. We seemed to qualify as such and that is why it is puzzling that after pursuing us with some tenacity, they suddenly turned away and headed toward Crateris.
Aangh! All this speculation would be unnecessary if only we had saved the Ultron! It would not have taken much; a diving catch, a thrown pillow, even a fuzzy wumpus would have broken the fall satisfactorily! Indeed, a panel convened to analyze the possibilities concluded that there were at least 623 ways that the Ultron could have been saved if we had been prepared! Aagghh! Let us cease our discussion concerning these matters.
C: A truly unique set of events put you in your current state. Am I right?
U: Hah! To say the least! Our past is one of a glorious and proud people coupled with a cataclysm that rocks the Universe to its very core!
It all began when the Chimt rose from the Murky Bog and the Utwig emerged as well. In these primitive we cavorted about our world oblivious to any sort of higher purpose. We took took everything at face value. Meanwhile, the tendrils of the Chimt infiltrated the vast sky canopies of Fahz and then the veils fell! Suddenly, the Utwig were stunned by a collective realization!
All immediately and urgently donned veils of every description! Hides, leaves, shells, rocks...even living drells were donned in the early days. You see, the face is the mechanism that expresses many of the primitive qualities that hinder sentience. Now rid of constant reminders of greed, rage, hatred, and lust, the wisdom of the Utwig was no longer hampered by constant reminders of the primitive urge.
Over many generations, mask etiquette was refined to a rock-solid foundation of our society. Sure, the Morality Riots were expensive, both in lives and infrastructure, but the result was better mask regulation; specification from your basic Mask of Gruelling but Necessary Activity to the most decorated Countenance of Stellar Representation. These were clearly defined. Recognizing the importance of flexibility, clear-cut and efficient procedures for revision and redesign dealt with the few anomalies. From that moment, when we covered the source of our intellectual oppression, we knew that it was a grand purpose that defined our destiny.
Are you still listening!?
Our entire development as a sentient species was coordinated to coincide with the appearance of a remarkable device: The Ultron! We were oblivious to its tragic implication.
C: Yow! Absolutely fascinating. But what exactly do you mean by tragic?
U: In order for you to truly understand the situation, you need to know more about the Ultron and its unique capabilities. You see, when the Druuge discovered the Ultron they knew that it was ours. The Druuge were compelled by intrinsic universal direction to take it to where it has always belonged. They brought it to us.
Oh, the Ultron! It assured total and complete meaning of life for All - the Universe! With the Ultron in hand I could sense not only your motivation and desires, but your purpose. I could act upon these things in ways that would most likely seem mysterious if not, well, daft.
Years later, you would herald our participation in your development as the turning point for your species. The Druuge were only one of the few to benefit in this way. Even now, they are puzzled by the way we rewarded them for the delivery of the Ultron to its correct place. In twenty four years, two months and three days, they will all dance the dance of Jubilation. Indeed, the Ultron has allowed us to fundamentally change the Druuge forever! The Supox too received many benefits from our use of the Ultron. They can testify to its power!
C: Hmm, sounds like things were going pretty well. So what happened?
U: Yes, things were perfect. What happened is, well, I...it is difficult to talk about. But I saw it happen. I witnessed the Chinz-Rahl celebration. I felt the Ultron fill the empty place that I did not know was there. I saw the Grand Proctor pass it to, well, they say that the Chief Groo did not know that it was so heavy and slippery. Perhaps it was a combination of factors. Some who reviewed the records claim it was actually a conspiracy! The commission investigation officially stated that the Ultron was rendered inoperative by the fall to the ground, yet many feel that the whole story has not yet been told!
As it struck the ground, I saw its glow fade, and then the painful void incapacitated all. All Utwig immediately donned the mask of Ultimate Embarrassment and Shame with a vow to wear it forever! Bonfires all over Fahz consumed all but this mask; no other mask was spared! The Visage of Ceremonial Orations in all of its contexts and revisions, as I'm sure you understand, all of the courting masks from the clever and intriguing Veil of Flirtatious Prancing to the infamous Lewd Monacle, all consumed by the hungry flames.
Even the most fundamental fixtures were committed to this irreversible fate. The Mask of Natural Bodily Excretions once hung in every lavatory! Most of the public facilities have removed the disposable mask dispensers, but every once in a while I still see such a repository, always empty.
*Sigh* At that time, many suggested that we use the Precursor relic as a form of self punishment. The proposal was that we collectively go to the second moon of the sixth planet of Zeta Hyades (at coordinates 850.3, 937.2) and use the ancient planeteering device to end our existence. After much discussion, we decided that we deserved to suffer. We can use the Bomb if we ever decide the time is right, in the meantime , we atone for our grievous mistake with our collective misery. I suddenly sink into a chasm of depression, I must go.
C: Hey guys, guess what I've got! We've got THE ULTRON! Wanna see it?
U: Gaaah! Should I set my gaze upon such a sight that I might suffer sleepless nights for years on end! It is a symbol of the collective Utwig failure. It is our ultimate tragedy! AAAHHH!! Every divot, every crack on its surface is etched forever in my soul! Remove it from my sight lest I purge my...hey! That is not the devastated Ultron, it is the image of the Ultron BEFORE! ...a trick? A TRICK!?
Oooh! I had no idea that any species could sink so low! How dare you try to manipulate me with that cheap stage prop?! Why it's not even...
...Hey, wait a second, it looks like...CAN IT BE? YES, IT IS! A MIRACLE!! OH HAPPY DAY!! JOYOUS OCCASION!! You have our eternal thanks, good Captain. You will be immortalized as the blessed figure that delivered unto us our future! We will revere your very likeness! Let me take the Ultron...yes, I feel the link, the knowledge, and...the Power.
Hmm, it seems there is much to do. Indeed, it seems that you should proceed to the second moon of the sixth planet of Zeta Hyades and take what you find there; we no longer have need for it, but the Ultron reveals that YOU will! I thank you for your part in the grand scheme. We now recover that which is our via destiny and proceed to perform our essential service for the universe.
BUT WAIT!! The Ultron throbs and whistles! Matters of significance are being relayed to our brains. It has been so long since we communicated with the ultimate in such a manner, but slowly, the truth is revealed...our destiny!! We have been directed to join with our Supox allies and attack...
...no, wait, that's wrong. Sorry. We attack...YOUR ENEMIES...the Ur-Quan and the Kohr-Ah! ...no, that's not quite right either..what? Oh, okay. We must strike ONLY the black ships, only the Kohr-Ah! Now, Captain, we must leave to prepare our battle fleets. Wish us luck!
Onward to Zeta Hyades VI, only to find...
Druuge: Fancy meeting you here, Captain!
Captain: Druuge starship captain. Justify your presence here.
D: We, the appointed representatives of the Crimson Corporation, merely come to obtain the fair and reasonable payment for our goods! We traveled to this region of space years ago to sell the useless Ultron device to the Utwig. We knew even then of the weapon on the surface below us - this was to be our price!
But the Utwig used a clever ploy to cheat us! I had convinced the morose Utwig fools that the Ultron was the answer to all of their pitiful dreams. "Powers?" the Proctor whined. "Will it give us the powers we crave?" I assured them that, yes, the Ultron would give them the Second Sight, the Ultron would allow them to see into the past and the future, the Ultron would imbue each of them with unique secret powers of great significance, the Ultron would ensure that their races huge potential for greatness would be fulfilled.
Then...a mistake was made. Enough foolishness! We will take the Precursor device from the surface and then leave. Thereafter, I may see fit to bequeath the entire planet to you, Captain, for your invaluable services in the past, provided you leave now!
C: This Precursor artifact does not belong to you. It is rightfully ours. Stand aside.
D: LIAR! It is WE who are the genuine owners, not you, Captain. Those many years ago, when we offered the Ultron to the Utwig, how they capered and laughed at their good fortune...Fools! Then they begged to hold the device, just for a moment. To close the deal, I permitted this...a glorious mistake!
The moment the High Proctor touched the Ultron, her body arched and her eyes rolled back in her head. She began to babble meaningless phrases and howl like a beast. We had expected the Utwig to fall for our Sell, to buy the useless device. But never with such gusto! Their self-doubt and lack of clear reason left them vulnerable to our every manipulation. But then, the Proctor's body relaxed, and her eyes slowly closed.
When they reopened, her visual orbs shone with a wild and frightening light. "This is all we could have dreamed of...and more!" she intoned. "And now, Druuge, as to your price..." I opened my mouth to speak, but before I could utter a word, the Proctor interrupted "Wait! The Ultron feeds your thoughts directly to me. Do not speak! I know what you desire."
What could I say? That the Ultron was a farce and could do no such thing? I was stunned and silent. The Proctor continued. "You Druuge of the Crimson Corporation desire an object of great antiquity! Something of secret function and value. Very well! It shall be done."
And with that we were led to a small vault. The Proctor ceremoniously opened the door of the vault and explained that because we had been of such great service, ALL of the treasures within were now ours! Inside we found a hodge-podge of ancient and useless artifacts: a glowing rod, an absurd trident, and more such junk. I could see no way to salvage the disastrous situations at that time.
But when I heard of you, your travels, and your foolish quest for freedom, I realized that you could be the agent of our justice, and lo! It is so. You have heard our justification. It is valid and unassailable. Now GO! And do not return.
C: Regardless of your feelings in this matter, we will now take the device.
D: No! You will not! We know your soul, young Captain. It is no brighter than ours! We acknowledge our greed. We revel in it. You are the dishonest one! Hiding your shame in shadows, you fabricate justifications, rationales! In the end, we are just the same. But now you stand in our way. You will not be moved. Therefore, we will add your true name to our Ledger of Hatred, but first...
Die, child, DIE!
At this point in the game, the Precursor vessel is a pretty badass ship so it takes on all five with relative ease. Easier than anything in our entourage, anyway, because Druuge are giant pains in the asses. None of our ships can outrange them, and all the ships that can catch up to them die in 1-2 hits. Luckily, a volley of homing Hellbore Cannons takes them out.
Look what we have here.
We found a huge Precursor device on the planet's surface - a giant black cylinder set within a simple defensive grid. We have already neutralized the grid - well, actually Jenkins just drove through it by accident. But that seemed to work.
The artifact is covered with Precursor script and although we can't translate all of the writing, it is pretty clear that it is a warning, repeated again and again. The energy output of this artifact is scary - it rivals all our ship's engined at redline! If I may be so bold, Captain, I would advise that we not experiment with this device until we are back at the Starbase.
We shall now return to the ship, with the black cylinder device carefully stored in the cargo area."
Back at base
SUBJECT: Utwig Bomb Device.
DATA: Analysis has yielded little information about this device, largely because of our technicians' unwillingness to open it, or even remove the bomb from your ship. That aside, here's what we do know so far:
The device is correctly defined as a Bomb, one of enormous destructive potential, but it is not of Utwig origin - nothing about it relates to the technology we see in the Jugger ship. We believe it to be of late Precursor origin, thought it somewhat resembles certain Chenjesu technology. Its original function? Probably a planeteering tool for dispersing unwanted moons.
SUMMARY: Unless there is a strong reason to do otherwise, DO NOT ACTIVATE THIS DEVICE! LEAVE IT ALONE!
Any experimentation should be conducted at least 12 AU from this starbase...and preferably a bit further.
We also get the Utwig Jugger and Supox Blade plans.
The Jugger is one of the heavier ships, being slow and powerful. Its primary takes up no energy to use, so you can spam its spread of needley shots over and over again. It's pretty good to take out projectiles, too. The secondary is great, but takes a bit of skill to use. When you activate it, you activate a shield that constantly drains your energy, but you don't take any damage in the meantime. The catch? Your energy doesn't regen at all. Instead, the damage you would normally take gets converted to energy, so I hope you have fast reflexes, or else you're gonna be left with a slow ship with a short range attack.
The Blade is rather unremarakable. It's a light ship, so it's fast. Its primary is just a standard machine gun type, and I never figured out how to get the secondary to work. What it's supposed to do is allow you to strafe, which sounds good in theory, but it's fairly difficult in practice. The Supox does have one of the better victory jingles, though.