Part 9: Aug 14 2155 - The Vela Situation
+2 Eluders, +2 Landers, +33% Crew Capacity, +25% Cargo.
This set of upgrades will serve us well.
Now, to go to a very important star system!
Vela is just next door to the much larger Zeeman.
I'll finally be able to report back, maybe see if the precursor factory has--
I don't know what that ship is, but judging by the slave shield, I don't think I should try my luck.
Sorry, looks like Vela is off-limits.
With my new massive cargo hold, almost anything is worth picking up if the danger levels are low enough.
Next... wait a minute!
Computer! Overlay this map with the star chart from when we left Sol!
We're picking up an anomaly in the northwestern quadrant!
A new star has appeared on the map that doesn't match any known star charts!
Keeping an eye on that, for now I'll stick to the plan. Next stop: Zeeman.
With a supermassive white star, this is one of the hottest solar systems in the galactic sector. However, it has two things going for it.
First: It's a Melnorme trading post! There are several throughout the galaxy, generally near massive stars.
I don't have enough credits to get anything from them right now, though.
Second: It's one of the most mineral-rich systems in the sector.
I get a shitload of resources, and blow up one Lander in the process.
I think I'll come back here later, when I have a stronger Lander.
Next stop: Beta Mira.
I was told that this was the way to VUX space, but all I found here was more of this goddamn probes.
It's not a total waste of time, at least.
One of the moons gives me some much-needed biodata.
Maybe it was just in the direction of Beta Mira? I head a bit deeper into space in this direction.
The anomalous star is gone now.
Along the way, I spot some incoming starships. I pull over and let them come to me.
VIDEO: THE INSULT
To gain an intimate knowledge of our engines of war, simply place your hands over your eyes and count to three.
Look, vomitous alien. If you want to talk to one of our species without making them sick, why don't you go see Admiral ZEX at his world in Alpha Cerenkov? He (urp!) likes humans.
Augh! You are even uglier than I had thought possible! Can't you see you are making me sick? Please, foul creature, turn your head, or better yet, put a sack over it.
Never mind, I have adjusted my display so it is dim enough to be tolerable. In answer to your question, our response is simple. We must attack you because our masters, the Ur-Quan, wish it so! Now if you don't mind, stop nodding your head like that. We VUX do not share this range of motion, and it appears as though your neck is broken and you are a jabbering corpse. Ugh.
Do we need another reason? Ah! I understand. You refer to the First Human Encounter... the Insult!
What more can be said? On that day, your species proved its true crass nature. You see, we VUX pride ourselves on our open-mindedness, our ability to see beyond even the most bizarre and disguting face like yours, but that insult was so low, so totally reprehensible that we will never forget it. Yes, to be honest, that event pretty much fixed our attitude setting at 'ABHOR'. I suspect we will despise you forever.
Er... probably not. You see, although we VUX are highly reasonable beings, who would never judge a race solely on its (urk!) appearance, the magnitude of your Captain Rand's insult was such that we will probably never forgive your species.
Nope. I didn't think that would be sufficient. It lacked conviction. Sorry, but I'm afraid we'll just have to kill you now.
Well, that sure was an attempt.
I deploy Captain Kwimp to deal with the enemy.
The VUX Intruder has a special ability where it always warps in at extreme close range, facing the enemy. However, it only functions in multiplayer.
The Intruder is armed with a short-range gigawatt laser, extremely powerful but quickly burning through weapon energy. Since the ship is sluggish, the Eluder will only ever get hit if I make a mistake.
Its other weapon is a tracking Limpet Mine, which does no damage but slows down the movements of the enemy ship. The Eluder can outrun those, too.
Basically, the Eluder is a hard counter for the Intruder. It's too fast, and can fight from too far away.
So, Kwimp takes out all five ships single-handedly.
Well, as long as I'm this close, may as well pay Mr. ZEX a visit. He sounds nice.
This would be a good place to visit even if there wasn't a weird alien living here. There's a heckload of planets to plunder.
Several highly-profitable worlds later...
I am Admiral ZEX. Please do not be frightened. Unlike the rest of my species, I... enjoy humans. You may know me by my reputation, my leadership of VUX forces during the war with your Alliance. I assure you that this behavior, a sad necessity of those times, belies a much kinder, gentler being.
Please be welcome! We can get to know one another... expand our interspecies relationship. But wait. How silly of me. You aren't here for polite repartee. You have come for my Shofixti Maidens.
I'm not sure exactly why I need Shofixti Maidens, but they sure sound like a quest to me!
Ah, such a good question! But you always were a bright species. I will explain.
After the Great War, in which I played some small part, the VUX high council, in recognition for my services, granted me this planet, so that I might pursue my... hobby, without disturbing the general VUX populace. I am a collector, you see. I have the finest menagerie of... beautiful... creatures in all space.
Animals? Hee! Hee! Hee! Oh, no, Captain! Not mere animals! My menagerie contains only the most... beautiful... creatures in the galaxy! Each of my children, as I like to call them, has a wonderful set of traits which make them unique and special... especially to me! I have a complete variety of beasts from as far away as Procyon and Vega. No, this is not just some 'zoo'! I have worked diligently for many years to craft my menagerie, to gradually improve it. Perhaps you can't tell, but I am rather proud of it!
Alas, there is one creature, one GORGEOUS animal which I do not yet possess. I would give almost ANYTHING for that creature, Captain.
Because I like Humans, Captain. I respect and admire your species. I do not share the bigoted views of most of my people.
No, no, not all VUX, Captain! Most... but not all. It is true when the majority of my people view one of your species, they are forced to regurgitate, but there are those among us who have grown beyond such childishness to take a more liberal view. We, the few sophisticates, are not subject to the whims and fads of current fashion. Our likes and dislikes are strictly based on personal preference. We see the... beauty in you Humans. The value in a long-term... relationship.
You are different, yes. But personally, I like difference. In fact, I ADORE it. Your physique is so wonderfully varied! Your multitudinous rigid appendages, your tiny double eyes, your varied skin coloration, and the delightful patchwork of hair, covering only parts of your bodies, leaving other parts bare and smooth! Mmmmmm!
I value your species, Captain. I see you as just 'people'... like us VUX.
You have talked with my VUX countrymen, haven't you? They are closed-minded fools... bigoted in all ways. Call me what you wish, Captain. I choose to view myself as, well, simply open-minded... free to experience the full range of life's possibilities.
The VUX rulers could not refuse my military genius, couldn't ignore the many victories I gave them. But they could not tolerate my behavior, accept my desires as natural. so they sent me out here... a hero's exile! Where I won't 'poison' the minds of youth with my 'bizarre' ideas and 'perverted' lifestyle. Hmmph... bigoted fools.
You see, Captain, we are not all that different, you and I. We are different from the majority of VUX, and so we, in VUX eyes, are both monsters.
Hmmm... what an interesting proposal! I never would have thought of such a wonderful idea myself.
In answer to your question, yes! I accept your offer. Deliver the creature to me, and I shall give you the Shofixti Maidens. I will even provide you with a clue to finding the creature's native planet! My source for this information is an ancient wildlife handbook, written millenia ago by some unknown alien author. The pertinent passage goes as follows...
'...demise, It(!) basks in yellow light within the constellation Linch-Nas-Ploh.'
We have translated 'Linch-Nas-Ploh' to mean approximately 'the long thin creature who has swallowed the huge beast.' I hope it is sufficient.
Goodbye, beautiful human. I hope we can meet someday as friends... perhaps even more.
Full body shudder.
Well, we got a new quest, but it will have to wait for now.
Next time: Let's see how the Androsynth feel about that whole slavery thing.