Part 21: Dec 14 2156 - The Crimson Corporation
Before I go anywhere else, let's check on the Arilou.
We have discovered something strange and frightening about the Umgah When we approached their vessels, we were instantly attacked, and the Umgah made no attempts to contact our ships or respond to our hails. Using our own psionic sensitivities, we determined that they are under some form of psychic compulsion.
The source of psionic control commands appears to be Beta Orionis, the Umgah's home star. We sent vessels to investigate this location, but none have returned... we fear they are destroyed.
We have had no success with our own investigations. Whatever controls the Umgah is a threat, but we seem unprepared to deal with it. Perhaps you and your crew are better suited to this mission. If you choose to go to Beta Orionis, take care, child; whatever controls the Umgah now knows of our presence, and it may take measures against us.
In the meantime, more exploration!
Sure enough, there are unidentified alien ships in the area.
Let's say hi!
I am an Officer of the Crimson Corporation. We are the Druuge. We are delighted to make your acquaintance, and hope that we can do business together. Should your desires be similar, please hurry to our main trading world at Zeta Persei I.
More than a culture, Captain, we are an organization -- the Crimson Corporation! Our corporation seeks only to improve our quality of life, and does so via the `Dribble-Down' effect.
Until we meet again.
I have a good feeling about these guys.
To the trade world!
VIDEO: CRIMSON CORPORATION
You have arrived at the Central Trade World of the Crimson Corporation, home of the Druuge. Be welcome and take advantage of our excellent deals.
We know that you have Mycon Deep Child egg case fragments aboard your vessel.
Would you consider trading them to us for a shiny new Mauler starship?
We note you possess a Vortex Spawner. In exchange for the simple device we will give you three Mauler starships... and fill your fuel tanks, at no extra charge.
This is the heart of our operation, the vital core of the Crimson Corporation. A million deals are made here each day, perhaps more. You would be wise to take advantage of all our services, Captain. You will not find better deals anywhere.
We are prepared to make a deal.
On second thought, neither of these are for sale.
Since this is your first time trading with us, Captain, allow me to explain our standard operating procedures. We will sell you fuel, ancient artifacts, even our own Mauler starships! All that we ask in return is that you assign some of your crew to serving here at our trade world on a permanent basis.
No, no, no, Captain! Slaves have no choice in their destiny, no freedom. We would never accept the permanent assignment of one of your people unless we knew that they had granted you the rights to make such a deal.
People as skilled as your flagship's crew will receive immediate posts in our starfleet. They will serve alongside our own Druuge starship personnel, sharing every duty.
This a great loss for us both, but we will not make an exception in your case. However, please try to be receptive to what I am about to say: We have taken the liberty of entering your ships's computer system to investigate the agreement signed by the Earthling volunteers who serve aboard your vessel. As we expected, we found that they have promised to obey you, Captain, under every circumstance, no exceptions. You are fully within your rights to deal with us in our required manner.
Should you change your mind, we will always be ready to work with you, Captain.
Return soon, Captain. Your patronage is appreciated.
Congratulations! We have now discovered every sentient race in the sector. Even if two of them are extinct.
Anyway, I'm not going to look into trade with the Druuge until I have something I'm willing to part with - I can't pass up the egg fragment yet, and my crew are my crew.
I go to visit the Syreen next, but...
It seems like the egg fragment alone isn't enough evidence for me to make any accusations. I'll need to learn more about the Deep Children first.
So, I'm going to take a moment to talk to the greatest fonts of hidden knowledge in the galaxy.
That's right, the Pkunk.
...are in the correct houses, and ambient psychic energies are in balance. All is well, and the universe is at peace. Well, actually 2/3 of our civilization has been decimated by the Ilwrath, but besides that, all is well. It is good to see you again.
If there was such a thing as a coincidence I would say 'What a coincidence that you should ask!' As it is, everything is for a reason. Clearly you ask because you are meant to ask. Just as I am meant to tell you that there are several fine Pkunk ships waiting for you at our homeworld. Use them in good health, and with love.
I can only tell you to contemplate the small gobbet stone. The stone is spewed forth from the gullet of a Wart Wumpet to land in a moving stream. Does a fish swallow the stone? Perhaps, but that is not the point. Is the stone round? Yes! Does it have little disgusting nodules on it filled with slimy viscous fluid? Only sometimes!
What is the point? The point is clear! Make friends with other species. Even the nasty Charg beast cannot defeat a pack of Ibids without the help of 7 or 8 Wrinkle Dogs. I think you see what I am getting at.
Let me call upon the spirits of light. Spirits of Light! Hellooo! Spirits!! Ah yes, I feel them approaching.
Spirits of Liiiight, what is in store for this strange but not altogether unpleasing alien creature?.... The Spirits now speak through me - I gaze with a strange intensity... Ohhhhmmmm.... You will have a greaaat baaattllllle... You will almost be destroyyyyed.... but because you made friends with a certain birdlike race.... they will come to help you at the last minuuuute.
Ah, the trance is past.
Goodbye Captain. When the crystal spheres once more rotate into harmonic union, we shall meet again.
Many of my people have not been sleeping well these past few nights. In fact, I myself did not sleep well last night. Well, actually I slept okay in the first part of the night, and then had a little trouble a little later on, maybe halfway through, until I got up and had something to eat.
Anyway, the reason we're not sleeping is because of a dream. Yes, a dream. We have seen that in the center of this region of space, near stars that form the shape of a cup, and are in a constellation that begins with the letter C and ends with the letter S, and whose letters rearranged spell `Asteric', two great armadas fight. One of black ships, the other of green. Our dream tells us that if the black ships should win this fight, they will destroy all life in this region. Captain, they are winning now. If there is anything you can do to stop them you must do it... please! Okay, that's all I wanted to say.
Since you are our friends, our good friends! We want to give you a gift... several Pkunk Fury starships, fully crewed. If you return in a year's time, perhaps we will be able to give you some more.
Farewell, kind human. Return soon.
So, we've got a lot going on now!
We suspect the Syreen homeworld may have been destroyed by the Mycon, but we don't have proof. Admiral ZEX's superbeast is hanging out in our cargo hold, waiting to bust out at a moment's notice. The Pkunk have tried twice to reunite with the Yehat, and I may not be able to stop them a third time. The Umgah have been conquered by a single Dnyarri, capable of repelling even the Arilou. The Kohr-Ah are winning the Doctrinal War, and if that happens, they'll erradicate all sentient life.
The Yehat want to ally with us, but they refuse to defy their queen. The VUX hate us because of the Great Insult. The Utwig are uselss because the Ultron is broken. The Druuge won't help us unless we can find some artifacts we're willing to part with, or sell them our crew.
Anyway, now that we've pretty much mapped out the sector, let's talk plot threads instead of destinations! Where do we go from here?
- Beta Orionis. The Dnyarri needs to be stopped, and fast.
- Mycon Space. We need to learn more about the Deep Children to verify our suspicions about Syra's fate.
- Alpha Cerenkov. Get this monster off of our ship, and get us the Shofixti Maidens.
- Talk to the Melnorme. They have a lot of information that could save us a lot of trouble.
- Make a deal with the Druuge. Things we can sell to them right now our the egg fragment (which may lock us out of the Syreen quest) or our crew (which would make us a slave trader).