Part 19: Turns 171-180Turn 171
The Internet fleet mysteriously vanishes from Ixion as rapidly as it arrived. They leave behind one of their gates, which our Defence Fleet removes with speed.
At Dorsai, the Publishers fire a strange new weapon at Martin Cirulis.
Martin reports that it appears to be some kind of contained ball of disruptive electromagnetic energy. Apparently it tickles. Our Inquisitors expect it was designed for the Publisher's campaign against the Internet. It certainly does not stop the Bloodweaver doing what he wishes with his tentacles.
Mother's ships remain packed in a tight formation, despite the obvious danger. He Who Shapes is able to take out two of her vessels in a single sweep.
Bafflingly, they fail to learn their lesson.
Our War Astronomers pick up the trail of the mysterious Internet fleet now behind Ixion, moving deeper into our territory towards Corvus. Sensors indicate the gate it built at Ixion has given it sufficient force to propel it forward at least another 4 light years, but after that it will be limited to subliminal speeds - unless it builds another gate. However, this will be sufficient to take it to Corvus in two turns. Corvus will build defences.
A whole two Internet ships greet a panoply of Shoeless.
The RAPTORS!!! head in, and Ixion is avenged.
Our Inquisitors have finally pulled the secrets of a point defence laser out of the minds of Mother.
The stage is set for a new generation of Zuul vessels, ones less willing to be subsumed by the massed missiles of slave colonies.
While most of our Inquisitors put their minds to work on extracting information from other minds found as spoils of war, a side-project to improve our medium mount weapons bears fruit.
Once you complete a salvage project any remaining funds for that turn are spent on the main research project, so don't neglect to select one even if you're not overtly spending money on it.
Another potential project comes out of a forward scouting mission to ensure that Earth remains free of Human life. It surprised a colony fleet in the act of attempting to resettle their homeworld. They were denied permission.
However, our Inquisitors would prefer to finally solve the Point Defence Mystery before commencing any new projects.
Greatfather declares a day of gladness and rejoicing across the Empire, although rejoicing is limited at the news another Internet fleet approaches Ixion.
The AI has successfully built gates to aid their assault fleets. We'll get a lot less notice in future, although one turn's notice is enough to beat them.
Our War Astronomers note that the Internet fleet approaches its own gate at subliminal speeds. They hypothesise that the gates can only propel a certain weight of Internet cubes in a single push.
We'll get less notice - unless the AI sends some kind of MegaCubeDeathFleet. Not that it's necessarily a problem - note Neruz's explanation of Loa mechanics earlier in the thread.
With the completion of an upgrade to our large mount weapons, Greatfather embarks on a ship designing spree. Martin Cirulis has little interest in effective design, and is happy to delegate engaging with the Zuul who will actually fly the vessels to Greatfather. However, the proposed replacement for the vessels of the Awful Fleet pleases him greatly.
In honour of it being the last to die in a horrible maelstrom of fire and missiles, the first new Awful ship shall be the Rip Van Winkle, laid down at Dosadi.
I've swapped the Camel module for an energy booster, because this design just pushed past the threshold. The addition of Plasma Focusing means that it still retains an Endurance of two turns.
For non-frontline ships like supply and salvage vessels, Greatfather decides to forgo armour upgrades in favour of simply refitting the new weapons onto old ships.
A quick note on refitting. You can refit ships with new weapons in the same line (i.e. Green Beamers > UV Beamers) by selecting 'Retrofit Design' on the design screen and then only upgrading weapons, although you can change modules however you like. You then need to take that fleet to a system with a Level 3 Naval Base (manual says Level 4, but it's wrong) and right-click the ship to be retrofitted and select 'Retrofit'. A word of warning. You can normally change all the weapons in the particular mount by right-clicking the weapon you want. This doesn't apply to medium mount weapons when retrofitting because BUGS.
Others of particular importance, such as Bore Ships, are redesigned entirely to take advantage of our many advances in technology. Well, our many technological thefts, at any rate.
Putting Plasma Focusing on our Bore Ship design increased its endurance by five turns. It's a great tech for Zuul.
Our new missile technology allows us to design a new defensive platform, the Only as Confused as You Choose to Be and a much more sophisticated missile boat.
We also design the 'A' version of the F22 Raptor, to be carried on the next generation of Shoeless.