The Let's Play Archive

The Ur-Quan Masters

by ProfessorProf

Part 3: Feb 21 2155 - Exploring the Sol system

Lots of walls of text in this update, fair warning. Really, lots of walls of text in this game in general.


Ulp! Well... you're the one with the big starship. So be it - The Empire of Beeblebrox!

(The voice acting cuts off after 'So be it' and skips to the next line, for obvious reasons.)

Now Captain, I expect the configuration process for the starbase to take at least 2 weeks, so let's get to work...

2 weeks later...

We have successfully integrated the Precursor technology from your ship 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 warp escape unit, so our engineers rigged up some for you and each of your escorts. Now you should be able to escape from a bad situation with the touch of a button. But there is a cost, however - the unit gulps up five fuel units each time your Precursor ship uses it. Also, we now have a limited capacity to make modifications to your ship, to refine starship fuel, to build additional combat ships, and to train new members of your crew for the flagship and any ships you acquire for your fleet.
Captain, I know you're eager to get to work, so I'll be brief. If you have any questions - how this Starbase works, what resources we need, or just some background information on the galaxy - don't hesitate to ask.

Time to start putting all those base metals and radioactives I picked up to work.

The more minerals you bring us, Captain, the faster we'll be able to tackle the Ur-Quan.

This being the central hub for the rest of the game, Hayes has a staggering amount of extra information he can give us.

Each time I return to Sol, I'll ask him for a little more. For now, I really need to get caught up on the war situation.

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 exulting 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 furthere 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, rapidly 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 so busy cranking up our moth-balled heavy industry that we didn't really pay it much attention at the time.

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 biggest single mistake we made during the War.
After defeating the VUX, the Ur-Quan fleets ran smack ino the combined might of the Yehat and Shofixti, supported by the first wave of our 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.

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 the brunt of their forces to 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.

After the UN submitted their formal surrender, we were given a week to decide the nature of our servitude. The Ur-Quan demanded 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 opened fire on the surface with their fusion weapons. In seconds, large sections of London, Paris, and other European cities were incinerated. At first we thought they were going to annihilate us after all, and we noticed that they were also striking targets like 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,w e lost most of the history of Mankind. In some cases, the Ur-Quan destroyed places we didn't 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.

So, that's what we're up against.

Now that we have access to the Starbase, a whole new world has opened up to us!


Let's talk about what all those RUs are good for.

First and possibly most important is fuel - I can refuel at the Starbase at the fairly steep rate of 20 RUs per fuel unit. I'll be filling up the tanks every time I return from an expedition.

Next: Ship modules. The Heart of Gold has sixteen slots which can hold modules. Each module increases the ship's awesomeness, bringing our flagship closer to completion.

At present, there are five modules available for purchase. First is the Crew Pod, which increases the maximum crew complement of the ship by 50. We have one of these, and at 2000 RUs, a second one is currently out of our price range.

Storage Bays allow us to carry mineral reasources on board, to be deposited back at the Starbase later. We have one of these - each one can hold 500 units of resources, and costs 750 RUs to build.

Fuel Tanks expand our effective range, letting us move around the galaxy more before having to come back to the base. The ship can hold 10 fuel by default, and then 50 more for each fuel tank - we have one now, so the ship can hold 60 fuel. Building more will cost 500 RUs each.

Dynamo Units allow our ship to charge weapon energy faster during combat. The more of these we have, the more often we can fire our weapons, so if we want to build a warship, these are gonna be critical. They cost 2000 RUs each.

Ion-Bolt Guns are the only weapons we have available to put on the Heart of Gold. These are special in that they can only be placed in the blue highlighted module slots - the three at the front and the one at the back. Each time I fire during combat, all of them will go off, pointing in different directions. The front slot fires forward (and is our only occupied slot so far), the second and third slots fire shots in gradually wider spreads outward from that, and the last slot fires a shot backwards.

Ion-Bolt Guns cost 2000 RUs to build. Also, the more guns I have armed, the more Dynamo Units I'll need to keep the guns up and runing in battle.

There are other things we can add to the ship that don't take up module slots! The first of these is Turning Jets, which increase our abysmal rotational velocity. Currently, the ship is equipped with two pairs of turning jets, but it can hold up to eight, at a cost of 500 RUs per set.

Similarly, the outside of the ship can be fitted with Antimatter Thrusters. The more we have, the faster the ship accelerates, and the higher its max speed. Right now we have two pairs, but the maximum is eleven, at the same price of 500 per set.

Turning Jets and Antimatter Thrusters both operate in combat, in space, and in hyperspace.

Finally, Planet Landers. We have one of these, but it always runs the risk of untimely destruction - planets are dangerous places. It couldn't hurt to bring a few spares - the ship can carry up to ten at a time.

On the Shiphard, I can buy new Crew for 3 RUs apiece. I'll always be filling this up as well, but beyond that, I can use this screen to buy more ships!

The maximum fleet size is, counting the Heart of Gold itself, thirteen ships. Right now, the only ship type I can build is the Earthling Cruiser, at a cost of 1100 RUs. I have one already, as saw action against the Ilwrath.

For now, I won't buy any of that. There's still work to be done!

It's about time to scour the solar system for resources.

As we saw before, each dot on the map is usually a mineral deposit. The color of the deposit indicates its value.

The teal dots on Venus here are Commons, the least valuable of all minerals. At a rate of 1 RU per point, they're basically never worth the trouble of collecting. The grey dots are Base Metals, worth 3 RUs per point - these are about the lower end of what's worth bothering with, if the planet's not too hostile.

The three numbers to look at for determining whether or not to land on a planet are Temperature, Weather, and Tectonics. If Temperature is over about 100 degrees, you'll start to see dangerous hotspots on the surface, like we saw on mercury. If Weather is Class 3 or higher, you'll see deadly electrical storms on the surface. If Tectonics is Class 3 or higher, you'll run the risk of getting hit by earthquakes.

In short, no chance in hell that I'm setting foot on Venus.

By comparison, Mars is perfectly safe. It's nothing but base metals, but the risk is zero, so I do a quick mining run.

Only one of Saturn's moons is significant enough to show up on navigation.

On Titan, I suffer my first casualties of the mission!

All damage in this game is measured in the lives of the crew. If you take a hit, you lose crew. If your ship (or in this case, the lander) runs out of crew, the ship is destroyed.

In scouring the planet for metals, I lose five crew.

In orbit around Neptune, Triton provides more base metals at no risk.

It costs 0.5 fuel to land here - the bigger the planet, the steeper the fuel cost, in a range form about 0 to 3.

Jupiter gives us four moons to explore.

Ganymede: Nothing but commons.

Callisto: Literally nothing.

Europa gives us a source of Astatine, a Radioactive! These are the second-most valuable kind of resources, at 8 RUs per point.

What isn't radioactive here is simple Corrosives, only worth picking up since I was already down here for the radioactives. They give 2 RUs per point.

Io is a more dangerous planet, thanks to Class 4 Tectonics - Earthquakes wipe out another 5 crew while I explore. However, I get a big fat pile of radioactives for my trouble.

Uranus has nothing we can land on. So, that just leaves...

Pluto! Looks like it was a planet after all.

There are two interesting things on the surface.

The first is a single deposit of Exotics. These are by far the most valuable of all resources, at 25 RUs per point. Almost always worth any risk to acquire.

The other was revealed by the Energy Scan - it appears to be some sort of alien starship.

Let's say hi!






This is Spathi Captain Fwiffo. I know you are going to torture me, so let's just get this over with right now. The coordinates of my homeworld, Spathiwa, are 241.6, 368.7, and the ultra-secret Spathi Cypher, which is known only by me and several billion other Spathi, is 'Huffi-Muffi-Guffi.'
Sorry about that little mistake with your landing vehicle! I was so startled when it approached my vessel in a threatening manner that... er... my automated defense systems fired on it when it got too close. I hope nobody got hurt!

Of course, of course! As I said, I am Captain Fwiffo of the Spathi voidship StarRunner. Our sensors have tracked your entry into this system, which you are no doubt here to conquer, and while you are certainly welcome to do so, we would be greatly appreciative if you would please just go away and forget this star system ever existed. If you don't go, it will greatly complicate our master-slave relationship with the Ur-Quan, who stationed us here to watch over the Earthlings.

Whew, thanks! For a minute there, I thought you were going to kill me!

About 20 years ago, this region of space was dominated by a loose confederation known as the Alliance of Free Stars, which was composed of the aliens native to these parts who didn't want to be enslaved. They made a valiant effort against the superior Ur-Quan forces, and it looked like they might miraculously defeat the combined Ur-Quan armada, right up to the point at which the Ur-Quan totally defeated - indeed annihilated them.

When the Ur-Quan armada entered this system to subjugate formally the Earthlings, the Ur-Quan presented the humans with the standard slave options: Join the Hierarchy as combat thralls, and retain some autonomy, including the right to travel through space, or become a 'fallow' species and return to pre-atomic savagery on the surface of their homeworld, encased for all time beneath an impenetrable force shield.
The Humans chose the latter option, and so were swiftly imprisoned on the surface of Earth, but the Ur-Quan didn't trust them to obey the restrictions, so they chose a small group of Hierarchy combat starships from the Ilwrath and Spathi fleets to create the so-called Earthguard, and stationed them at a base on Earth's moon.

Originally, we were stationed on Earth's moon, which made us Spathi a bit uneasy, because with each passing day, we grew more and more worried about the sneaky Earthlings making a surprise attack, though the Ilwrath kept telling us that was impossible, since the Earthlings had no ships or weapons whatsoever. That made us feel a bit better, but when the Ilwrath left, again we grew fearful, and decided to make a strategic redeployment to Mars.
later on, we decided it would be prudent to relocate to Jupiter's moon, Ganymede, then later Saturn's moon, Titan, and finally here to Pluto.

We decided that if the Earthlings figured out we had abandoned the base on Luna, they would be more likely to try something sneaky. So, we rigged up some old service androids and ordered them to drive around on the lunar surface in bulldozers, endlessly pushing around the same piles of dirt. In addition, we connected the base's local radio transmitter to an audio Melnorme FunRom, called 'Winky's Happy Night', hoping that they would think we were still there.

The Ilwrath contingent were supposed to be the toughest ridge-crest, er... the most rigid flipper, no... ah yes - the BACKBONE of the Earthguard force; but they departed the system en masse not long after the last Ur-Quan Dreadnought vanished from this region of space. They claimed to have received a direct order from their Gods of Evil and Darkness, who had grown dissatisfied with the Ilwraths' passivity, and wanted them to kill or at least torture someone soon.
Personally, I believe they just got bored and went off to have some fun.

Well, when they were pushing up into HyperSpace 18 years ago, we asked them that very question, and I think they said something to the effect of "Real Soon".

Our masters don't really keep us very well informed about their goings on, so all that we know is that immediately after the subjugation of the last Alliance race, the Ur-Quan gathered their dreadnoughts and departed towards the edge of the galaxy, commanding us to obey the slave laws or face their wrath when they returned.

Over the past years, it became necessary to redeploy strategically some of our Earthguard forces to our homeworld in case of a sudden surprise attack by a vicious, unrelenting alien race which we Spathi call The Ultimate Evil!

As yet, the Ultimate Evil remains largely unmanifest, and its powers and exact intentions are still a bit obscure, since it lurks just outside the range of even the most sensitive, long-range detectors, which we feel gives conclusive evidence as to The Ultimate Evil's nefarious intent.

Dozens - that is to say, scores and perhaps even hundreds of my brethren stride through the corridors of this specially modified, super-efficient, mass-destruction-oriented starship, which could lay siege to an entire planetary system should we choose to do so, which, fortunately for you, we have decided not to do today.

I am undone! You are far too clever for a poor Spathi like me, and now I must submit to your superior, alien intellect. I guess I am not revealing any truly important secrets if I tell you that each of my species's Eluder-class Voidships typically holds 30 Spathi crewmen, though at present my vessel, the StarRunner, is not up to full complement, due to the needs of my homeworld in their resistance against The Ultimate Evil, and in fact my vessel is somewhat understaffed right now, seeing as I am the only Spathi on board, which is a bit frightening as I am sure you can understand.

Since it was our most powerful and unforgiving masters, the Ur-Quan, who stationed us here, we knew it would be grossly stupid to disobey them completely, but we decided that it would be okay to send just one ship home. We used one of our most ancient and solumn rituals, Puun-Taffy, to pick the lucky ship. Then... some months later, we decided that it wouldn't REALLY hurt if we sent one more ship home, and then later we sent another, and then another... well, you get the idea.
Alas, as fate would have it, when the final ritual was performed, I, Fwiffo, was left here alone, for as even the most immature encrustling knows, there must always beone Spathi who picks the short Ta Puun stick.

How true, Captain, how true! In truth, just between us, during the past seven years I have been quite ill at ease, and yet now I find myself enjoying your company, this witty dialog, and the presence of your huge, powerful, death-dealing starship which - being my friend - you would certainly feel compelled to use in order to save me from any hostile lifeforms who threatened me with death.

Happy days and jubilation! I discard all prejudice and hesitations and accept and celebrate your offer of protection, and your undying commitment to my well-being!
I must wax melancholy for just a moment, though, and make sure you understand that any other Spathi ships we meet at large in the galaxy are not going to be quite so responsive to your friendly gestures as myself, since they bear more heavily the yoke of Ur-Quan enslavement, and are also apt to talk themselves out of allying with a totally unknown alien, which I, having been left here alone, cannot do.
Welcome me aboard, captain!

My fleet has expanded from two ships to three! Back to the starbase!

Not a bad job, Captain.

Now, thread! Loyal crew! It's time for TWO votes!

First vote: Resource Allocation. Vote for something to buy, and whatever gets the most votes, that's what I'll buy first, purchasing more than one if I feel it's appropriate. If I still have RUs left over, I'll buy whatever got the next most votes, and so on, until I run out.

To recap, your options are:

For our second vote, we must pick a Destination!

The crosshairs in the lower left is Sol, and the gray circle is how far our fuel supply can take us (but not take us back). We've met two alien races, so we can see their spheres of influence.

Further information picked up from conversations so far:

The Ilwrath we encountered said it had been preying on the Pkunk in the Giclas cluster. Could their enemies be our potential allies?

According to Hayes's intel, the first race conquered by the Ur-Quan - the Umgah - are native to the Orionis cluster. Looks like that's still out of our reach.

The VUX were around the Luyten cluster, which it looks like we COULD reach, but it's far enough that we wouldn't have fuel for any meaningful amount of planet explorations. Probably a bad plan.

The Mycon were supposedly all the way out here, another no-go.

And Fwiffo revealed the location of the Spathi homeworld here, in Epsilon Gruis. Maybe if I visit Spathiwa myself, I could secure us a proper alliance?

In short, which will it be first?

Vote for either resource allocation, destination, or both.