The Let's Play Archive

Star Control 2

by GrandpaPants

Part 3: Melnorme - Alien Races

Hello, and welcome to the Star Control 2 giant exposition post. This here's gonna tell you a lot of information about the universe you're about to conquer. Or unify, if you want to be all PC about it.

Hope you're literate!

SBC: I have good news to report, Captain. We have successfully integrated the Precursor technology into our fabricator system, and as you can see, we have already begun minor repairs on your ship, patching up some of the micro-meteorite holes. We noticed that your ship does not have an emergency war escape unit, so our engineers rigged up some for you and your escorts.

I'm going to interrupt for a second to make my job easier. The Commander says that I can escape from battle, but it'd cost me five fuel units. He tells us what the starbase can basically do, as well as takes all those minerals off my hands and netting me a nice profit.

You can ask him about more detail about what the base can do, the history of the last war, and about the precursors. I'll tell you what the base can do later, so unless you want to hear it from the horse's mouth, I'll just skip right on over that and get to some delicious history.

We begin by asking the Commander about a shit ton of races.

The Old Alliance of Free Stars
C: The Shofixti.

SBC: The Shofixti are a race of intelligent marsupials who had been "civilized" for only a few decades when the war began. They were discovered in the Delta Gorno star system by the Yehat, who adopted and then "uplifted" the Shofixti, giving them advanced technology and cultural definition. Shofixti are noble and fearless warriors, Captain. In addition, their incredible fecundity and rapid maturation rate kept Alliance ranks solid even at the worst parts of the war. You know, I once flew as an observer aboard one of their ships on routine patrol. We never saw the enemy, but I could never stop thinking about the "Glory Device" it had strapped to the bottom of its hull.

C: The Yehat.

SBC: The Yehat are a race of ancient warrior clans that have been traveling the stars for many centuries. The clans are highly competitive and sometimes even wage war on each other, but the clans are all loyal to the Queen and her royal family, known as the Veep-Zeeps. The Veep-Zeeps have been in power for over 2000 years, and it is said that during their rule, the Yehat never lost a battle.

C: The Arilou.

SBC: I'd like to think I'm not a bigoted person, Captain, especially when it comes to allies, but there is just something about those Arilou that gives me the creeps. One thing I'll say for them, though, they possess some technique for moving REALLY fast through Hyperspace. They never let us know what it was, but it sure beats the pants off our fastest ships.

C: The Chenjesu.

SBC: The Chenjesu were leaders of the Alliance, even though they refused to formally accept the title. I don't know if their silicon-based biology is just plain superior to our old carbon models or if their fantastic intellects were the product of an ancient, peaceful culture. Whatever the reason, I'd rather be taking orders from a Chenjesu than any other lifeform, definitely. One of the more amazing things about them was that they never use Hyperwave Communicators. They could send message naturally and their natural Hyperwave receptors were much more sensitive than even our best units.

C: The Mmrnmhrm.

SBC: We didn't really get much of a chance to learn about these mechanical beings, but I'll tell you what I know. They are the product of a distant, unknown culture who sent a giant Factory-Ark into our region of space many centuries ago. The Mother-Ark (that's what the Earth press called it) churned out millions of robots and finally broke down. I don't know why the Mmrnmhrm didn't repair the Mother-Ark maybe they can't. My personal guess as to why they were sent here is that they're on the leading edge of a colonization project, and once the Mmrnmhrm have tamed enough new worlds, the genuine colonists, whoever they are, will arrive and claim their due.

C: The Syreen.

SBC: Most raw recruits saw the Syreen as nothing more than warm, breathing pin-ups. Warm they are, and yes, they do breathe most magnificently, but Captain, they are more than simple joy units. Their history shows that the Syreen established and maintained a peaceful culture from their Bronze Age through their discovery of starflight. Before their planet was destroyed in a terrible cataclysm, their world was an Eden.

The Battle Thralls of the Hierarchy

C: The Mycon.

SBC: The Mycons are hard to get a handle on. In fact, I'm not sure any human has ever had a real conversation with a Mycon. What we know of them we have learned from their corpses, which, I may add, have a nasty habit of coming back to life when thawed out from a decompression quick-freeze. Mycon ships seem to expend a significant amount of energy on life support. This is probably because the Mycon can only thrive in temperatures close to the melting point of lead. As far as we know, the Mycon are the only race to actively seek out the Ur-Quan in order to become combat slaves.

C: The Spathi.

SBC: Imagine a cowardly, mobile clam armed with a howitzer, and you've got a good idea of what it's like dealing with a Spathi. Although they tend to avoid battles as much as their masters will allow, once in battle, a Spathi Eluder is one tough cookie. I once heard a rumor, though I don't like to believe in it myself, that a rogue band of courageous Spathi broke away from the main starfleet, painted their ships black with bright red stripes, and formed the "Black Spathi Squadron," dedicated to performing brave and hostile deeds. Like I said, I'd have to see it to believe it.

C: The Umgah.

SBC: It's unfortunate that the Umgah fell to the Ur-Quan so early in the war, because I suspect we would have gotten along with these big blob creatures. At the very least it would have been entertaining. We know them a bit better than the other races, because they were eager to talk with our ships before, after, and during battle. The Arilou intimated that they had a relationship with the Umgah before the Ur-Quan arrived, but I don't know any details.

C: The Androsynth.

SBC: When I was flying combat missions along the Corward Front, there was nothing we feared more than the Androsynth Hit-and-Run Squadron. Their Blazer ships were more than a match for our Cruisers, so we stayed clear of Eta Vulpeculae, their home star. In addition, I think each of us aboard the ship knew deep down in our hearts that the Androsynth had a damn good reason for hating us. Our grandparents had kept them as slaves for nearly 50 years.

C: The Ilwrath.

SBC: I still have nightmares about those spiders taking me prisoner, using me as one of their sacrifices to Dogar and Kazon, their twin gods of destruction and torment. Those guys were almost as scary as the Androsynth to those of us in deep-space patrol. Their Avenger ships could appear out of nowhere and melt a Cruiser down to slag in seconds. Luckily for us, the bulk of the Ilwrath fleet was thrown against the Chenjesu and the Mmrnnmhrm.

C: The VUX.

SBC: The starship Far Voyager, under the command of Captain Jeffrey L. Rand, encountered the VUX near Beta Mira. Although the details are hazy, it is generally accepted that Rand offended the VUX starship Commander with an inadvertent insult.

C: Were there any alien races who weren't in the War?

SBC: None that we had made formal contact with. The Chenjesu implied that they had met two other starfaring species, one near the Giclas constellation, and the other directly coreward from Procyon. The Ariloulaleelay once mentioned having "some fun" with an alien race in Draconis, but like so much with the Arilou, they never revealed the whole story. I am sure there are hundreds more alien races in our galaxy, but beyond what I've told you, your guess is as good as mine.

War History

C: How did the War with the Ur-Quan start?

SBC: Earth got involved late in the game, in 2112, when the Chenjesu arrived in our solar system for the first time, so let's back up a few years to 2098 , when the Chenjesu's super-sensitive receivers detected a strange signal from the Ophiuchi constellation. Though even the Chenjesu didn't know it, it was the first sign of the Ur-Quan's arrival.

The Ur-Quan, having detected the presence of many sentient species, were beaming out an exultant hunting cry. The first direct evidence of the Ur-Quan's intent was the sudden conquest of the Umgah, a solitary, though not unfriendly, species in the Orionis constellation. The Chenjesu, distraught by the invasion, were further angered when the Ur-Quan turned their fleets on the hostile but weak Ilwrath race. A hastily assembled defense force of Mmrnmhrm and Chenjesu vessels turned the Ur-Quan fleet aside, but the invader moved into Spathi space, subjugating that race. With each new conquest, the Ur-Quan fleet grew larger as it added slave vessels to its ranks.

Earth joined the Chenjesu to form the Alliance of Free Stars at about the same time as the Androsynth stars fell to the Ur-Quan armada. Before the ink was dry on our agreement with the Chenjesu in 2116, a new race appeared in orbit around the moon and asked for admittance to the Alliance. It was the Ariloulaleelay. The timing seemed unusual and the Arilou were definitely weird, looking like Saucer Men from Mars, but we were too busy cranking up our moth-balled heavy industry that we didn't really pay much attention to it at the time.

C: What happened during the War?

SBC: At the start of the war, here on Earth we were working like crazy, churning out hundreds of heavy Cruisers and smaller support vehicles. The Ur-Quan were busy too. Unbeknownst to us, they had moved down toward the Luyten star group and were attacking the VUX, who only the Yehat knew existed. Our botched first contact with the VUX took place in 2119, and it was the single biggest mistake we made during the War.

After defeating the VUX, the Ur-Quan fleets ran smack into the combined might of the Yehat and the Shofixti, supported by our first wave of cruisers. Again, the Ur-Quan turned away from the hard spot to attack the weak, though we just thought they were running away. In fact, the Ur-Quan had found another independent alien race, the Mycon, in the Brahe constellation. The Mycon's voluntary submission to the Ur-Quan brought the return of the Ur-Quan fleets, now swollen with a hundred devastating Mycon Podships. The last entrants to the conflict were the Syreen, a race of space gypsies, who had escaped the Hierarchy by moving their vast fleet of slow moving habitats into human space. With the sides set, the last Ur-Quan offensive began.

C: How did the War end, Commander?

SBC: The Ur-Quan came roaring through VUX space, and tried to push past the Indi and Mira star systems. Their onslaught was barely repulsed and our counter-attack made hardly a dent in the Hierarchy forces, but we held the line - the Coreward front remained intact. Over the following ten years, there were many great battles between the combined Alliance starfleet and the Ur-Quan and their Hierarchy of Battle Thralls. Then, in 2134, a dramatic shift in the balance of power took place - this must have been about the time the science research mission was sent to the planet at Vela - our fleets were pushed back from the Indi-Mira line to beyond Raynet. Holding Rigel cost grievously in Chenjesu forces and the Ur-Quan, recognizing this weakness, shifted to focus the brunt of their forces on Procyon. That was the last we heard from the Chenjesu and the Mmrnmhrm.

A few weeks later, waves of ships hit us from all directions. When Ceres station, our outpost in the Asteroid belt, fell to the Hierarchy, we knew we were beaten, but we fought on anyway. Three days later, the Ur-Quan vaporized our last remaining laser forts on the moon, and the Dreadnoughts took up geo-synchronous position above Rome, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, London, Buenos Aires, and Washington. We'd lost the War and we knew it, but the Ur-Quan decided to make it real clear - and that's why if you check any of our most recent maps, you won't find Buenos Aires.

C: What happened after the War?

SBC: After the UN submitted their formal surrender, we were given a week to decide the nature of our servitude. The Ur-Quan demanded that the decision be made through popular vote. When all the votes were tallied, Earth had chosen not to fight for the Ur-Quan, we had become a fallow slave world. We were given a month to withdraw all of our people and equipment to Earth. Anyone or anything we left off-planet would be destroyed after the shield went up.

Then the Ur-Quan broadcast an odd message, all objects of human construction more than 500 years old were "to be abandoned." We didn't know what the Ur-Quan meant until they moved their Dreadnoughts to new orbital positions and open fire on the surface with their fusion weapons. In seconds, large sections of London, Paris, and European cities were incinerated. At first we thought they were going to annihilate us after all, and we noticed that they were striking such targets as the Giza Pyramids, the Parthenon in Athens, and Stonehenge. Curiously, the United States was almost untouched. The flaming rain lasted 40 hellish hours.

It took days after we crawled from our smoldering shelters to realize what the Ur-Quan had done. Our new masters had targeted every building, monument, or other manmade construction older than 500 years and destroyed it. In those two days, we lost most of the history of Mankind. In some cases, the Ur-Quan destroyed places we did not even suspect were significant. From their positions in orbit, the Dreadnoughts blew away a kilometer of land in central Iraq, vaporized several targets in the Amazon rain forest, punched a big hole through the Antarctic icecap to destroy something deep under the surface, and melted a broad swath of the ocean floor in the south-eastern Atlantic.

Then, just a couple days later, the shield went up and our contact with the outside world stopped. The next time I saw the stars was 8 years ago, when I was transferred up here to be the new commander of this starbase.

Ancient galactic races

C: What can you tell me about the Precursors?

SBC: Hell, you probably know more about them than I do, but here goes...about 200,000 years ago, when our great-to-the-nth-grandparents were just starting to play with stone knives and bearskins, a starfaring species suddenly appeared on the galactic scene and spread like wildfire. We've found evidence of their presence just about everywhere, from an orbital platform in Alpha Centauri to a stack of Dataplates on Pluto to some nameless widget found in a voodoo shop in New Orleans.

Though we've never found a Precursor body, or even a picture of one, we can conjecture what they looked like by examining the scale and layout of their equipment. Such an analysis indicates they were giants, say 5 to 8 meters tall, and twice as wide. I don't know if they looked more like a brontosaur or an elephant. Anyway, about three thousand years after the Precursors made their dramatic appearance, they vanished, poof! As far as we can tell, it took less than a decade to happen.

C: What about other races from the ancient past?

SBC: You mean besides the Precursors? Well, the only information we have is second-hand based on some research by a Chenjesu historian that I read at the Academy. Tzzz-Tzer-Tzak, the historian, found some evidence that there was a group of alien races who formed an interstellar empire not too far from here about 22,000 years ago. The only species in this empire actually lived in our region of space was a race of rocklike creatures who lived in the Vulpeculae constellation. The presence of the hostile Androsynth in that part of space severely limited Tzzz-Tzer-Tzak's research. We never even found out the race's name.

C: Is there any indication that aliens visited Earth in the past?

SBC: Yes, there is. Aside from the Precursor relics we have found on Earth - oftentimes in museums, mislabeled as "modern art" - we have discovered disturbing evidence of much more recent visitations. Perhaps you are already aware that during the mid-to-late 20th century, there were uncountable UFO sightings, as well as dozens of reported "encounters" with alien life forms. Although we can discount many of the reports as wishful fabrication or traumatic-translation, the military authorities of that time kept a secret record of the "incidents" which were legitimate. In each such case, the aliens are almost identical in appearance. They have white skin and minimal facial features, except for huge, almond-shaped eyes, which are often described as "glowing" or "luminescent."

This description fits, almost perfectly, the Ariloulaleelay. In most of the legitimate encounters, the people involved described being physically examined or modified by the aliens. In some cases, unusual pregnancies occurred, and in almost every instance, there were repeat visitations, so though the Ariloulaleelay were doing "check-ups" on their subjects. We never got the chance to confront the Ariloulaleelay about what they did to us and why. I wonder if we ever will?

And it's done. No more fucking talking.

Here's a shot of the starbase, with Earth in the background. It's pretty, so I added it here.

Here's where we can outfit the ship. We're poor as fuck right now, and will probably be even more poor after filling up our fuel tanks (rising gas prices :argh, but that will change. I'm usually inclined to forget about guns and all that because the ship needs to be the explorer, not the fighter. So I was thinking thrusters/whatever the mod is that lets me turn better, along with extra fuel/storage. Although, like I said, fuel will drain the fuck out of us.

Here's the shipyard, with our lone Earthling Cruiser, which sucks, and our capital ship, which also sucks. Unfortunately, we can only buy Cruisers and planetary landers right now, so fuck it, no point making the suck exponential.

Although buying a few landers is always prudent, especially if you accidentally drop on a planet that inadvertently opened a gate to Hell and your lander lands on an earthquake with fire searing across it. The galaxy is a pretty harsh place, sometimes.