This time we set our sights on Delta Gorno, to see about a Shofixti.
Shofixti: Attention huge alien vessel! Thought most of my sensory instruments are malfunctioning, my mass indicator shows the huge size of your vessel, revealing you are none other than a disgusting Ur-Quan slimewad! I am the glorious Shofixti warrior Tanaka. You killed my father, my mother, my many brothers, all six of my sisters...in fact, my entire species.
Prepare to die!
Captain: Don't attack - we're not the Ur-Quan! We're your allies!
S: A typical Ur-Quan gambit, which has failed. And now I howl the scream of death! Kyaiee!
And with that he attacks us. He's not much of a fight, as you can clearly see in his attack window screen thing. But we don't kill him, we run (costing us 100 RU in fuel!)
I might as well say something about the Shofixti ship. They suck, because they're basically fast moving bombs. That's about it. What is fun, however, is getting your friends to do a 5v5 Shofixti fight in melee.
We encounter him over and over again. Basically everytime he yells "Kyaiee," the conversation ends.
Shofixti: Ah, so the cowardly slug-spawn has returned! You were most fortunate last time, you hideous pouchless freak! But this time I shall surely destroy your vessel, you slithering eater of putrid hairballs!
Captain: No one insults us like that you toothless, piebald, impotent roof-rabbit!
S: You limp, bloodless sack of decaying flesh Ur-Quan! You die! Kyaiee!
S: I see you're back for even more humiliation, you flatulent, Ur-Quan pus-cup.
C: Those are mighty words from a dripping, snout-rotted little furball!
S: I will hang your withered reproductive organs from my posterior monitor! Kyaiee!
S: I'll kill you this time you pitiful, weakling fancier of herd animal excrement!
C: Look donkey breath - one more insult and it's vapor city for you!
S: Why you wallowing, phlegm-filled Dgrunti belly-licker, you...
...Ur-Quans never insulted me before! Who did you say you were?
C: I am the nice, friendly ally WHO YOU'VE BEEN TRYING TO KILL, YOU IDIOT, MORON RATHEAD!
S: Hyai! What a fool I am! When you failed to launch fighter craft, I should have guessed. Just one of those mistakes you make in war. Suddenly your words ring in my ears. Captain, is this true? Have the Ur-Quan been destroyed? Has the ultimate sacrifice of my people resulted in freedom for the Alliance?
C: Well yes AND no...mostly no.
S: HYAIEEE! I am a defeated warrior! A worthless shell! I must die!!!!
C: Don't do it, old Warrior! You still have much to live for!
S: Like what? My race is dead. My world is an airless rock. And I've seen all my FunRoms at least a hundred times. My life is over. I have already picked out a nice asteroid to smash into, so if you don't mind, I'll just go and kill myself. Unless you want to annihilate me yourself.
C: Shofixti, I am now your new commander. I order you not to kill yourself. You are to remain here and guard your solar system.
S: To fight again? Against the Ur-Quan? Yes. But no...I cannot leave my homeworld unguarded. I will remain here and keep a solitary vigil. Goodbye.
A VUX Patrol
We head towards Alpha Cerenkov and slow down to let a VUX patrol catch up to us.
VUX: Greetings from VUX! The last word in life form destruction! To gain an intimate knowledge of our engines of war, simply place both hands over your eyes and count to three.
Captain: VUX. We seek to learn more about you. Maybe then we can see eye to...eyes.
V: Look, vomitous alien. If you want to talk to one of our species, without making them sick, why don't you go see Admiral ZEX at his world in Alpha Cerenkov. He (urp!) likes humans.
C: Why are you so hostile toward our species?
V: Augh! You are even uglier than I had thought possible! Can't you see you are making me sick? Please, foul creature, turn your head, or better yet, put a sock over it. Never mind, I have adjusted my display so it is dim enough to be tolerable. In answer to your question, our response is simple. We must attack you because our masters the Ur-Quan wish it so! Now if you don't mind, stop nodding your head like that. We VUX do not share this range of motion, and it appears as though your neck is broken, and you are a jabbering corpse. Ugh.
C: Is there another reason you hate us? Come on, tell us the truth.
V: Do we need another reason? Ah! I understand. You refer to the First Human Encounter...the Insult! What more can be said? On that day, your species proved its true crass nature. You see, we VUX pride ourselves on our open-mindedness, our ability to see beyond even the most bizarre and disgusting face like yours, but that insult was so low, so totally reprehensible that we will never forget it. Yes, to be honest, that even pretty much fixed our attitude setting at "ABHOR." I suspect we will despise you forever.
C: What if we apologized? Could we talk truce then?
V: Er...probably not. You see, although we VUX are highly reasonable beings, we would never judge a race solely on its (urk!) appearance, the magnitude of your Captain Rand's insult was such that we will never forgive your species.
C: Well, I'll try anyway. The People of Earth Hereby Apologize to the VUX!
V: Nope. I didn't think that would be sufficient. It lacked conviction. Sorry, but I'm afraid we'll just have to kill you now.
And they obviously attack. The VUX Intruder is a fun but, in the end, a subpar ship. It's just so slow and it relies on medium range lasers for damage (although for lasers, I believe they have the longest range). It does have two things to compensate for its slow speed, however.
First, its secondary are the limpets, which I always affectionally called the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia attack, since that's what your ship model looks like eventually. Each limpet slows down your speed and turning rate significantly, until the VUX can out maneuver you and fuck around for fifteen minutes while you make your way to the planet to end the damn melee. The second advantage is the fact that the Intruder normally warps in at point blank range, for an opening barrage of lasers and/or limpets. For some reason, the story doesn't do this, but the melee should.
I just used the Precursor vessel against them, but most things should work, like the Eluder.
We finally make our way to Alpha Cerenkov and meet with Admiral ZEX.
VUX: Ah! Human visitors! What a treat! I am Admiral ZEX. Please do not be frightened. Unlike the rest of my species, I...enjoy humans. You may know me by my reputation, my leadership of VUX forces during the war with your Alliance. I assure you that this behavior, a sad necessity of those times, belies a much kinder, gentler being.
Please be welcome! We can get to know one another, expand our interspecies relationship. But wait. How silly of me. You aren't here for polite repartee. You have come for my Shofixti Maidens.
Captain: Admiral ZEX, why don't you attack us, as all other VUX have?
V: Because I like Humans, Captain. I respect and admire your species. I do not share the bigoted views of most of my people.
C: Ah, Admiral ZEX? Why do you like us? We thought all VUX hated humans.
V: No, no, not all VUX, Captain! Most...but not all. It is true when the majority of my people view one of your species, they are forced to regurgitate, but there are those among us who have grown beyond such childishness to take a more liberal view. We, the few sophisticates, are not subject to the whims and fads of current fashion. Our likes and dislikes are strictly based on personal preference. We see the...beauty in you Humans. The value in a long-term...relationship.
You are different, yes. But personally I like difference. In fact, I ADORE it. Your physique is so wonderfully varied! Your multitudinous rigid appendages, your tiny double eyes, your varied skin coloration, and the delightful patchwork of hair covering only parts of your bodies, leaving other parts bare and smooth! Mmmmm! I value your species, Captain. I see you as just "people," just like VUX.
C: Whoa, Admiral ZEX! This is just a bit too weird. Are you some kind of perv-...er, aesthete?
V: You have talked with my VUX countrymen, haven't you? They are closed-minded fools, bigoted in all ways. Call me what you wish, Captain. I choose to view myself as, well...simply open-minded, free to experience the full range of life's possibilities.
The VUX rulers could not refuse my military genius, couldn't ignore the many victories I gave them. But they would not tolerate my behavior, accept my desires as natural, so they sent me out here, a hero's exile! Where I won't "poison" the minds of youth with my "bizarre" ideas and "perverted" lifestyle. Hmph...bigoted fools.
You see, Captain, we are not all that different, you and I. We are different from the majority of VUX, and so we, in VUX eyes, are both monsters.
C: We require the Shofixti Maidens. We are prepared to use force if necessary.
V: Hee! Hee! Hee! Oh, Captain, that would be such an unfortunate mistake, a grave error on both our parts. We have so much to learn from each other, so much to give each other. It would be such a sad loss if we were to fall back to the mindless blasting and killing that has marred our two species' relationship up to this point.
Admittedly, as THE acknowledged VUX military genius, I would find it interested to face your ONE powerful, alien starship with my huge personal fleet of Intruders, but oh! What a mistake it would be. Also, I think it only fair to warn you, Captain, that in my campaigns I collected many interesting items. Amongst these treasures is a Precursor artifact, a warp nullification field, that prevents nearby ships from making emergency Hyperspace maneuvers, from running away. I note by the scars on the rear of your vessel that you have made many such escapes.
So you see, Captain, if you attack me, you will face the greatest military tactician in VUX history, commanding an almost infinite number of enemy combat ships, and the battle will be to the Death! Surely we can find an alternative.
C: What are you doing here, Admiral ZEX?
V: Ah, such a good question! But you always were a bright species. I will explain.
After the Great War, in which I played some small part, the VUX high council, in recognition for my services, granted me this planet, so that I might pursue my...hobby...without disturbing the general VUX populace. I am a collector, you see. I have the finest menagerie of...beautiful...creatures in all space.
C: A menagerie? Is this a collection of animals, like a zoo?
V: Animals? Hee! Hee! Hee! Oh, no, Captain! Not mere animals! My menagerie contains only the most...beautiful...creatures in the galaxy! Each of my children, as I like to call them, has a wonderful set of traits which make them unique and special, especially to me! I have a complete variety of beasts from as far away as Procyon and Vega.
No, this is not just some "zoo"! I have worked diligently for many years to craft my menagerie, to gradually improve it. Perhaps you can't tell, but I am rather proud of it! Also, there is one creature, one GORGEOUS animal which I do not yet possess. I would give almost ANYTHING for that creature, Captain.
C: If we went and got the little critter for you, would you give us the Shofixti Maidens?
V: Hmm...what an interesting proposal! I never would have thought of such a wonderful idea myself. You are a genius, Captain! In answer to your question, yes! I accept your offer. Deliver the creature to me, and I shall give you the Shofixti Maidens.
I will even provide you with a clue to finding the creature's native planet! My source for this information is an ancient wildlife handbook written millennia ago by some unknown alien author. The pertinent passage goes as follows:
"...demise, It (!) basks in yellow light within the constellation Linch-Nas-Ploh."
We have translated "Linch-Nas-Plos" to mean approximately "the long, thing creature who has swallowed the huge beast." I am afraid this is all that I know. I hope it is sufficient.
Scanning the galaxy nets the Lyncis constellation, which kinda...sorta looks like a thin snake type thing eating a giant something. So off we go into Quasispace and head towards there. Well, the good admiral wants us to capture something beautiful, and we all know cute and cuddly creatures aren't really dangerous, so we dispatch a lander and set out pew pewing the little furball...
...and instead find some demon...head...thing. Not a full demon, mind you, just its head, which may or may not be better. Let me tell you, if I didn't deck out my lander in Melnorme technology, that thing would've wrecked some serious shop.
We have finally trapped the hideous beast which has been so hard to capture these past few days. I swear, we emptied our stun batteries into that thing over a dozen times before it even slowed down. A few more shots to its barbed head, and it went down, but we only had few seconds to get it into the magnetic restraints before it started thrashing around again.
Even as I make this report, that darn monster is shrieking like a steam engine and trying to tear its way free. I hope we know what we are doing, bringing that thing aboard. If it gets free inside the ship, Captain, well...I just don't want to think about it. Returning to ship.
We take a detour to base to get it analyzed:
SUBJECT: Hostile Alien Creature.
DATA: This is newly-promoted, junior scientist Hawkins reporting. Dr. Chu - y'know, he's the leader of this section - he's still in sick bay. He's been there ever since that thing took a swipe at him and he got too close to the cage. I guess it's got like, triple-jointed arms or something, with spikes and razor plates all over.
Uh, data? Oh yeah, right, right...Subject is a Xenoteratomorph - a big honkin' one I might add. It eats everything - plants, animal tissue, wood, ceramics, plastics asbestos fibers, several types of metal, chairs, a desk, and about half of everything a security officer wears. What it doesn't eat, it chews, and what it doesn't chew, well it breaks up into tiny little pieces. What? Summary? Oh, oh yeah...
SUMMARY: The sooner you get this thing off this starbase, the less likely it is that thing will get loose and kill us all. Uh...I, uh, I guess that's it.
Back to Admiral ZEX:
Captain: Admiral ZEX, we have captured the hideous monster from Delta Lyncis. Let us make an exchange.
V: Ah, a most excellent piece of news! My chiton rasps and moistens with excitement! I have been looking forward to this for so long! Hee! Hee! Hee! My subordinates stand nearby to receive the beast from your ship, Captain. Effect its transfer and then...we shall give you the Maidens you desire.
C: Ah, Admiral ZEX, aren't you forgetting something? The Shofixti Maidens?
V: Oh yes, no problem. Even now my subordinates are bringing them up from the surface. So let's not waste time. Send that delightful beast over, immediately!
C: Look, we believe in 1 for 1 trades. We will transfer the beast when we see the Maidens.
V: Captain, Captain, we are both creatures of honor. If I say that the Shofixti Maidens are on their way up from the surface, then they are. You will have them shortly, accept my word...now please, Captain, the beast?
C: Now see here ZEX! Humans and VUX have had a pretty storm relationship. Why should we trust you?
V: Really, Captain, my honor is impugned! You have maligned me and I am deeply hurt. I thought we had built some trust between us, different thought we may be, but no, I perceive now the same bigotry and misunderstanding which brought our two species to war! This was our chance to cement a good relationship between Human and VUX. With my influence, the High Council could easily have been swayed to view the Human cause in a more favorable light.
C: Okay, the beast is ALL yours! But be careful, it's a killer!
V: Ah! My new child is on board. Such a big one, isn't he!? And so frisky! I am delighted beyond words that you have given me the beast, Captain, but I am afraid that there has been a slight change in our plans. Regrettable, but necessary.
Oh, my beautiful, luscious human, I had thought that the hideous, violent monster you have given me would complete my collection of Ugliness, my Menagerie of Monsters...I was wrong! YOU, my human love, are the most vile, the most fierce and wretched! My collection could never be complete without you. I need you, Captain.
But alas, I fear you will not give your consent willingly. Am I right? Therefore, sub-commander DAX, terminate communications, warm up my modified Intruder, engage the Precursor warp nullifier. Hee! Hee! Hee! Prepare for battle!
(Lights go off)
Sub-Commander? Why has my main console become inoperative? The transmit mode is locked! What do you mean the central system computer is damage? How!? ..the Beast!? Escaped!!
No, Sub-Commander, this is impossible. It couldn't escape from our strongest containment system. IT'S WHAT?!! Decks five and six?! Eleven crewman!! Sound the alarms, you fool! Where is it now?! Engineering, report!
...Engineering?! Sub-Commander, seal Bulkhe- Sub Commander...are you listening to me? What are you staring at? PAY ATTENTION SUB-COMMANDER! Give me a report on its posit- WHAT ARE YOU STARING AT!
...behind me? WH-wh-what-wh AIEEEEE!!!!!
The Death of Admiral ZEX
Now that that's done with, we hop onto the planet and grab the Maidens.
In the VUX Commander's menagerie we have found what appears to be functioning cryotanks containing a dozen bipedal creatures. We can't be sure, but through the tank's fogged viewports we think we can see young Shofixti females inside the freezer units. We have transferred the cryotanks to the lander and are returning to the ship.
SUBJECT: Shofixti Maidens.
DATA: Subjects appear to be 16 Shofixti females, all in young adulthood. Subjects appear to be in good condition, with little to no freezer burn or other degeneration. Hibernation maintenance units are functioning normally, and resuscitation equipment is easily activated.
SUMMARY: We can wake them, but why? What shall we tell them? That they are an extinct species? Until such a time as we feel we can induce artificial parthenogenesis or otherwise give the Shofixti sexual viability, our recommendation is to keep them as they are...asleep.
I'm sure Tanaka will be glad to see this.
Shofixti: Greetings Captain. It is good to see you again.
Captain: So what were you doing here Tanaka?
S: I guard the homeworld. I seek revenge against its destroyers, the Ur-Quan and their vile battle thralls. I await the return of the hero Daikon and the rebirth of my species.
C: So what happened to your ship?
S: On my way home, I encountered a VUX Intruder. Before I destroyed it, the VUX was able to affix some of those vile limpet things to my ship, and I had to return home at a greatly diminished speed.
I did find one thing interesting though as I skimmed through the edge of Yehat space. I dropped into Zeta Sextantis to recharge some of my depleted energy cells, so I moved right next into the extreme inner system. There, right next to the sun, I found a very strange planet. It messed up my sensors somehow...that's why I could not recognize your ship at first. I've never seen a planet like that before, so maybe you should investigate?
C: When we were fighting, why didn't you use your Glory Device?
S: During my battle with the VUX, I decided to employ the weapon. But I guess I used too much gusto...and the switch broke.
C: Where is your life-filled homework, Kyabetsu?
S: My people blew up the sun, heh, heh, heh! Or at least they caused it to flare like a nova, destroying the many hundreds of Hierarchy vessels that had invaded our system to enslave us Shofixti.
C: If your sun went nova, how did you survive?
S: I wasn't here when they made the sun flare. I was assigned to a Yehat square as a forward scout performing a deep recon in Mycon space. We were sent to investigate reports of unusual Mycon activity around Beta Brahe. I was the first ship to enter the system. My scanners showed a small fleet of Mycon clustered around the planet conducting a test of some device. The unit was small, not even half the size of my ship.
When the Mycon activated it, a glow began to radiate outward. I crept closer, to get a better look. Suddenly there was a flare, like a newborn sun, blinding me and overloading my sensors. When I recovered my vision, hours later, the Mycon and their device was gone. I was able to affect repairs on my sensors and depart the system, but I had been cut off from my squadron, and had to travel home alone.
C: No, wait, Shofixti! I have an important duty for you to perform.
S: What might that be?
C: What would think about procreating wildly?
S: I am intrigued, Captain, but what are you talking about?
C: We have obtained females of your species.
S: Great leaping mounds of happiness! You shall be honored forever, Captain, as the savior of the Shofixti race! I have been granted the ultimate reward...er...duty. This humble warrior will take the Shofixti maidens you possess, gently wake them, and then perform ribald feats of unsurpassed fertility! With their consent, of course. Our people shall be reborn! Your name shall be recorded in our most sacred writing for all time! Thank you, Captain, and farewell...I have urgent business to attend to.