Part 5: Apr 24 2155 - Broadcast from the Rigel system
Time to upgrade the hell out of this ship!
Max speed: +75%. Turning rate: +90%. Fuel capacity: +85%. Crew capacity: +100%. Cargo bay size: +50%.
When it comes to combat, the Heart of Gold is still a serious lightweight, though.
Our next destination: Rigel!
LOOK AT US GO
In a mere four days, we've arrived at Rigel.
There's an alien ship orbiting Rigel III. That must be the source of the broadcast!
At maximum speed and maneuverability, life is much nicer than it was before.
We are the Zoq-Fot-Pik.
Make no hostile actions!
We come in peace, and with good will.
But if you make one false move, you're vapor!
Don't worry, my companion is just a bit nervous.
No, I'm not!
No, I'm not.
We are a scout vessel dispatched from our homeworld.
We have traveled far, through hostile, uncharted space to find you. We hale from the green dwarf star at coordinates ziggerfau-gerrrnuf, Ah-ah, Pahoy-hoy.
No, you idiot, in their coordinate system!
Oh! Er... Coordinates 400.0 : 543.7.
No, she is!
No, I'm not!
Yes, you are.
Cripes! We've been through this a million times!
That doesn't change anything. You're the Fot!
Faugh! Well, Captain, as you can see, this is a point of some contention.
Hurrah! Then we've finally found our saviors!
At last, our search is over! It is just as the Great Crystal Ones promised!
They look sneaky. I think they're lying.
Quit, fool! Can't you see our nightmare is over!? This ship is from the Great Crystal Ones' fabled Alliance, the Alliance of Free Stars!
Our planets are under attack from an invading horde!
We do not know who they are, or why they are here.
We are being blown to bits.
Fleets of alien ships appear out of nowhere, then unleash terrible destructive energies.
...they release these energies on each other.
...they favor combat near strong gravity wells. Their stray shots regularly strike the surface of our planets, often with tragic results.
...they have never found our homeworld, only our colony planets.
...all of our colonies have perished as a consequence.
In our ancient past, four species evolved intelligence on our homeworld. They were the Zoq...
...and the Zebranky.
We three, the Zoq, Fot, and Pik evolved in such a way as to acquire sustenance from many sources...
...from airborne zooplankton...
...from solar and ambient energies...
...and from rocky fungal clingers.
The Zebranky also consumed a variety of foods, namely: The Zoq, the Fot, and the Pik.
To survive the predations of the Zebranky, we banded together, annihilated the Zebranky...
...and formed the cooperative union you now encounter.
We are a relatively peaceful group of species.
Unless we're angry.
So we find ourselves in need of help.
We only need a LITTLE!
Because of our desperate situation.
'Desperate' is too strong a word. I think 'troublesome' is more like it.
I told you he looked like a creep!
No! We must try to understand. His ways are not like our own.
You mean his WHOLE SPECIES are jerks?
Let us give him one more chance.
Just look at him! He's a killer, I tell you!
Some of the vessels are huge, green battleships, which launch wave after wave of small fighters.
The other ships are black as space, and their hulls are carved with strange alien writing.
In combat, the two ships seem evenly matched.
One fires blasts of fusion energy, while the other launches spinning projectiles.
These are the words we have prayed for!
Hey! This trip's not a waste after all!
more than anything, we seek an ally to help us survive in a hostile universe.
We are having some problems of that general nature.
But we are only emissaries. You must meet with our leaders. They are wiser, more powerful beings!
They look just like us, though.
Fly to the star called Alpha Tucanae. The planet closest to the sun is our home.
And of possible, hurry.
We go out separate ways.
Next destination is Spathiwa, but I need to be able to buy back the fuel I spend. So, it's time for a mining run!
I spend a lot of time doing this, so I'll cut it down to the highlights. Rigel II's fourth moon is a Noble World. Nothing else of value here.
From here, I dive into Spathi territory at Eta Illuminati.
Some radioactives on Eta Illuminati VIII.
Planet VI provides noble gases, Rare Earth Metals (worth 5 RUs per unit), and alien life in the form of more wandering worms. They're worth barely any biodata.
I lose many lives and piles of fuel in an ill-advised quest to kill some giant space octopuses.
Heaping piles of radioactives.
As I head to Delta Illuminati, the radar picks up two other energy signatures heading my way. We ARE in alien territory, after all.
More heavy casualties trying to pick up Tzo Crystals.
Well, I'm here to talk to the Spathi, right?
I cut the engines and let the black dot catch up.
That... doesn't look like a Spathi ship.
VIDEO: WE COME IN PEACE
MISSION DESCRIPTION FOLLOWS: TRAVERSE SPACE RECORDING DATA. SEEK MATERIALS FOR REPLICATION. REPLICATE TO EXPAND SCOPE OF MISSION. CONTACT LIFEFORMS IN PEACEFUL MANNER. AFTER TEN REPLICATIONS, RETURN TO POINT OF ORIGIN. END OF MISSION DESCRIPTION.
PRIORITY OVER-RIDE. NEW BEHAVIOR DICTATED. MUST BREAK TARGET INTO COMPONENT MATERIALS.
And just like that, it's combat time.
This one won't be anything like the seconds-long battle at Earth. It's time for a real fight!
Top-right is the enemy HUD, bottom-right is my hud. "CREW" marks our crew complent slash lifebar, BATT marks ship energy - it's reduced when the ship attacks, and slowly regenerates otherwise.
The Spathi Eluder, Fwiffo's ship and the most rigid flipper of the Spathi fleet, is truly a ship suitable for the Spathi. It's very fast, and turns and accelerates on a dime.
Every ship has a Primary Attack and a Secondary Function. The Eluder's secondary is actually its main source of offense - the Backwards Utilizing Tracking Torpedo. As it runs away, the ship deploys BUTTs from the rear of the ship, which home in on the target at long range for 2 damage per hit.
In short - run away, spam missiles backwards.
The enemy ship is the Slylandro Probe, and it's no slouch either. Its engine system is unique, in that its inertialess and never stops moving at full speed - the thrust button instead makes the ship reverse direction instantly. Its speed is even higher than the Eluder's, too.
Its primary weapon is some kind of short range lightning weapon. Its secondary function consumes nearby asteroids and converts them into energy. The Probe can't otherwise recover energy.
After a long battle of attrition, Fwiffo sweeps in for a finishing charge with his main gun.
What the hell was that about?
I'm suddenly less keen on alien encounters. I dip into Alpha Illuminati, time for more mining.
Hubris gets the better of me, and I lose a lander trying to scavenge radioactives from an extremely hostile planet. The death toll for this trip is rising.
An attempt to get more biodata is cut short the instant I see more murder octopuses.
Sticking to safer planets now that I'm down to one Lander, I find a nice meaty Treasure Planet in Beta Gruis.
With my new thrusters, I'm able to outrun anything in HyperSpace.
However, once I reach Gamma Gruis, I find the probes are waiting for me here, too.
BEHAVIOR FOLLOWS DICTATED PRIORITIES. REPLICATION. DATA GATHERING. CONTACTING ALIEN LIFE FORMS IN PEACEFUL MANNER.
PRIORITY OVER-RIDE. NEW BEHAVIOR DICTATED. MUST BREAK TARGET INTO COMPONENT MATERIALS.
Second fight, same as the first, except I do worse.
A whole lot worse.
Fwiffo is the sole remaining member of his ship's crew. Again.
I redistribute some crew from the Heart of Gold and my Earthling Cruiser to restock Fwiffo's Eluder. It's my best weapon against these probes.
I think it's high time I got on with it.
But more of them are waiting for me when I escape!
Oh, wait. This is the ACTUAL owners of this territory.
I am greeted by the smooth and hostile face of our old enemy, the Hootmans... no, the Huge-glands, no, I remember, the Hunams!
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Oh yeah? Oh YEAH!? Well... You are, too.
Two aspects of your last statement defy the course of nature as I know it. First... 'Peace' as you call it, is an illusion. If you have 'Peace', you simply haven't yet seen the thing that's trying to kill you. Second... Peaceful missions through the Cosmos rarely require weapons large enough to punch holes through a small moon.
We can best be described as 'Meta-Mollusks', possessing the best qualities of both the clam and the Dravatz, which is not native to your world. We are intelligent and clever, though you would never call us cunning.
Each day when we awaken, we call forth the traditional Spathi prayer: 'Oh God... Please don't let me die today! Tomorrow would be so much better!'
I want to live forever, with no pain whatsoever, owning vast personal property plus a company of nubiles. If this is in your power to give, I beg of you to do so.
Sure, consider it done. Allies to the bitter end. NOT!
In case you have not forgotten, we are bonded to the Ur-Quan as slaves. The punishment for the plan you propose can be described as 'Death'.
This is a sad tale, so do not even try to contain your tears.
After the Ur-Quan demolished the Ilwrath, they turned the force of their Armada against us Spathi. The term 'rapidly subjugated' would best describe what happened next. When the Ur-Quan arrived at Spathiwa, there was a great ceremony. Part of that ceremony involved blasting portions of our planet's surface into radioactive dust, and this part we did not enjoy. But the worst was yet to come.
Our leaders were called into the command chamber of Ur-Quan Lord 1's dreadnought, where they were read a long and complicated document explaining the choices given to new slaves. When our leaders heard the term 'forever encased' and 'impenetrable shield', they grew over-excited, I'm afraid, and made a fatal error. The decision was to be transmitted to the Ur-Quan via one of two rods, one colored black, the other white. Our leader handed the white rod to one of the Ur-Quan's servants, signifying 'Fallow Slavery', but the servant somehow exchanted rods and handed the Ur-Quan Lord a black rod, indicating our desire to become fighting slaves! By the time we learned of the switch, it was too late - the Ur-Quan would not permit a change in status.
Following that most tragic day, we were forced to assume the role of an Ur-Quan star-thug. We tried to avoid combat, but the Ur-Quan gave us three warnings, each more strident than the last. When we learned that there would be no fourth warning, simply annihilation, we attended to our new role with improved vigor.
Oh, and perhaps you have already guessed - the Ur-Quan's servant who made the switch was an Umgah.
Look, can we keep this as a secret between the two of us? It's really rather embarrassing.
Next time: Spathiwa.