Part 33: Turns 387-416Turn 387
The Great Collapse continues. The Ego Fleet is now unable to leave Madyha where it was stationed to raid the outlying Publisher worlds, and will play no further part in our glorious conquests.
Note that 'Confirm' is not highlighted. The mission system is slowly disappearing into the void.
The Dolphin still moves, however, a fact the Publishers of Beta regret, as its horde crosses their sun.
All Zuul feel no remorse at the death of the Beta Publishers. Sometimes bad things happen. They can happen to anyone.
A deep strike at the Publishers' back lines reveals the three world system of Grayson is apparently entirely undefended, its inhabitants not fearing screaming monsters descending from the skies, burning their worlds and enslaving them for the rest of their lives.
They receive a rude awakening. After being beaten unconscious for transit.
The by now venerable original Goonfleet assaults one of the few remaining Publisher core worlds at Shaggai. Even with its older weapons, it still delivers plenty of death.
We arrive at the second-to-last system still in the hands of the Publishers. Incredibly, they still resist, and their desperation shows. They fling a fleet full of female colonists at a Goonfleet. Our Captains ready their best misogynistic jokes.
A particularly comically minded captain of a Khisanth Magus-class scores a joke into the planet below using a heavy laser.
"The Inquisitors came to my cabin last night holding a picture of one of my females."
"They said, is this your woman?" Shocked, I replied, 'Yes.'"
"They said, "It looks like she's been hit by a supply truck."
"I said, 'I know, but she has a lovely personality'."
On hearing of this, Greatfather orders all captains to be mildly flogged, and to learn how to be better at this whole chauvinism idea he picked up from the Customers. He is still amazed to hear that some humans were actually better at denigrating females than many Zuul. This cannot stand.
Now, it ends. In all the cosmos, only a single world remains that does not recognise the authority of Greatfather.
There can only be one solution. The Crucifixion Fleet launches from Melnitz, towards its destiny at Mu.
Greatfather stands on the bridge of the Crucified itself, deigning to come in person to this final battle.
His mind echoes around Mu, round its worlds, its stations and ships, and wraps itself lovingly around the bottles of disease placed upon its back.
Which are only there for show, because the Zuul can't research bioweapons. Clearly they forgot to tell their artists this.
"TO ALL BEINGS OF MU! Know this. The Zuul no longer require Publishers. We no longer require Customers. We certainly no longer require the Internet. We are free to make our own way now, free of the shackles of responding to your deadlines, to what customers want rather than what we want, and free from the judgement of the internet outside of the places we control.
"We have a new way, a pure way, the way in which artists should be funded, rather than relying on the whims of other people! Today, I announce our KICKSTARTING!"
An aide runs up and tugs nervously on Greatfather's arm. Greatfather turns, and is heard to whisper.
"...what? How could this happen? I set the limit for twice what we achieved with The Pit, because that's how success works, isn't it? You get double the money for deciding to do a completely different style of game.
"...oh. Right. Well."
Greatfather turns back to the bridge viewport.
"Today, I announce our TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO INDIEGOGO!"
"And make no mistake, this is a triumph! Crowdfunding does not care for such petty things as making sure you have a good reputation or not treating anyone who comes to talk to you with total disdain."
"No, crowdfunding is a magical solution to all the problems that some say we brought upon ourselves. To those people I say, look at how successful we were with SOTS 1. That clearly couldn't have been a fluke."
"After all, we did it with The Pit, by producing a very simple game, an accessible game with a great backstory. The lesson from this is clearly to make something much more complicated."
"And our next game will make great strides in complexity. Groundpounders will immerse players in our glorious universe by requiring them to use cards and dice while playing a computer game. Nothing keeps the fourth wall quite so solid as having a computer roll dice - dice actually represented in graphical form - in a game about vicious bloody infantry battles on alien worlds."
"But we must succeed. We must. Otherwise this universe - the one in which we stand - will continue to fracture and decay. We have seen our ships frozen in space. We have seen worlds changing at random beneath our feet. We have seen an extraordinary number of decimal places. And I say: no more."
"Victory is ours. Here, and in every universe."
"PLEASE GIVE US YOUR MONEY."
I have now contributed to Ground Pounders. My test for doing so was whether the game could actually hold together until victory, which it did. It didn't even crash when I won - it just returned to the title screen. What amazing programming skills Kerberos have.
Now, although I would like to show off all the other races, as you may have guessed from the frequency of updates, I have a lot less time than I did (Curse you, employment!). However, if someone else wants to rise to the challenge...