Part 32: Bonus: Melnorme Spoilers
It's time to talk to the Melnorme, but we're gonna need a lot of credits first.
It's time to stop beating about the bush and find all ten Rainbow Worlds!
The first is here in Zeta Sextanis - Tanaka told us about it earlier.
Number 2: Gamma Kepler. No clues, but they're easy to spot once you know what to look for. Yellow planets, hugging the star from a close distance.
Number 3: Gamma Reticuli. A dangerous one, since it's in Ur-Quan space.
Number 4: Alpha Andromedae.
Number 5: Groombridge. The Slylandro give a hint about this one.
Fun fact: There was originally going to be a conversation with the game devs in this system, but it was dropped for being too self-congratulatory.
Number 6: Gamma Aquarii.
Number 7: Beta Leporis. The Supox have info about this one.
Number 8: Epsilon Lipi.
Number 9: Epsilon Draconis. The Thraddash know about this one.
And the last one is here, in Beta Pegasi - the first one we found in the primary timeline.
The Slylandro mentioned that the Precursors 'arranged' the Rainbow Worlds in some kind of pattern that alluded to their ultimate fate. Let's see what they were talking about :
There it is. The last message left by the Precursors. A massive arrow carved into hyperspace, pointing towards the Galactic Core.
What does it mean? The answer lies in the Star Control sequel we still haven't seen, and may never see.
VIDEO: I AM AN EXCELLENT CUSTOMER
This is the time of the month we Melnorme drive exceptionally hard bargains. Beware!
Now, what can we do for you today?
Your ship's log indicates that you have discovered the whereabouts of 8 of the Rainbow worlds which so fascinate us. In exchange, we will give you 40000 Credits.
I'm gonna be just going through and getting all of these in a row, so here it is - the full trove of what the Melnorme have to tell us about the galaxy.
Much of it will be things we already know.
While you probably believe that the Shofixti are extinct, having caused their sun to flare with a device identical to the Utwig's super-bomb, the truth is not so simple. There yet exists a chance to resuscitate this meta-marsupial species, though it will not be easy. The problem at hand seems simple: bring together two Shofixti of different sexes and the carnal gymnastics proceed. Given the short gestation and maturation time of the Shofixti, you will have thousands of the creatures in ten years, and millions in twenty.
Finding a male of the species is easier than flup; simply visit the Shofixti's blasted star system at Delta Gorno. Captain Tanaka or its sibling Katana shall greet you on your arrival. A warning! -- These warriors are old and fly in barely functional ships. If they mistakenly identify you as the enemy, do not return fire! Retreat and try to talk with them on their own level.
The females of the species will be more difficult to obtain. The only supply of such remaining in the galaxy is at Alpha Cerenkov I, included as part of General ZEX's bizarre and beloved menagerie. Fortunately for you, Captain, ZEX is considered... well... perverse, by his fellow VUX. This is because ZEX actually enjoys the presence of human beings. To acquire the Shofixti females, you will have to appease ZEX, or kill him.
The Ur-Quan are presently at war with a race called the Kohr-Ah. They are fighting within a large spherical region of space centered around the Crateris star group. Although it is probably too early to tell, it would appear that the Kohr-Ah are winning.
No doubt you are familiar with an alien race called the Umgah who live in the Orionis constellation. While they are renowned for their potent and often cruel sense of humor, they have outdone themselves in recent years. Specifically, they have used an unusual HyperWave 'Caster to impersonate the Ilwrath gods Dogar and Kazon. When the Ilwrath began tuning-in to 'the voices of their gods' on their HyperWave receivers, their priest caste was understandably skeptical, and counselled their many followers to ignore the blasphemous signals. However, in a surprise move, the majority of the Ilwrath then rose up and slaughtered the entire priest caste. Their reasons for this ghastly move included over-taxation, lack of 'quality death in ceremony' and the general feeling that the priests had made Dogar and Kazon's pronouncements overly complex.
As you know, there are weaknesses in the division between dimensions. For example, your vessel uses such weaknesses to enter HyperSpace. However, there are other weak spots in the galaxy which lead to yet different dimensions. One such portal exists nearby, between the Chandrasekhar and Columbae constellations. The portal opens only a short time each month starting on the 17th. Since we have never entered the portal, we can give no more information on this subject.
As you are probably aware, Ur-Quan starships -- you call them 'Dreadnoughts', I believe -- possess effective self-annihilation circuits which prevent other races from reverse-engineering Ur-Quan technological secrets. However, we have become aware of a shipwrecked dreadnought which has remained largely intact. You will find the remains of the ship on the surface of a blue world orbiting Alpha Pavonis. We suspect you will find at least one item of interest there, possibly two.
You may have noticed the presence of an increasingly large number of red probe vessels which move with great speed and attack relentlessly. We are sorry to say that this is our catalog item 2418-B. Do not blame us! We are not responsible for this violent folly! The product is not being used in a correct manner. Should you wish to confront the actual wrong-doers, we suggest you search the planets in Beta Corvi for the probes' owners.
Not more than fifty years ago, the Druuge were informed by the now-extinct Burvixese race of a powerful alien nation called the Utwig. The Utwig, the Burvixese explained, were pleasant, sophisticated creatures, but they were also terminally depressed and often spoke about ending their lives by activating a super-weapon, some kind of gigantic bomb which they had found on one of their worlds -- Zeta Hyades VI-B I think it was. The Druuge recognized the description of the bomb as a Precursor planeteering tool, which indeed was an explosive device of unrivaled power, and they set out to make it their own.
Though the revolting, criminal, insidious Druuge rarely leave their sphere of influence (it encompasses Algol, Almagest, and the Persei stars), they made a special trip on this occasion to the Aquarii constellation, where they made contact with the Utwig.
There is a device commonly known as the 'Ultron'. Is it now in your possession? Ah... I see. The Druuge sold this device to the Utwig, explaining that it was a Precursor 'Personal Magnifier' which would enrich the lives of their entire culture in too many ways to describe specifically. The Utwig, I am sorry to say, fell for the Druuge's foul ruse, and snapped up the Ultron immediately. Fortunately for us all, the Utwig did not pay the Druuge's requested price -- the super-bomb -- and instead gave them a collection of 'historical oddments and genuine artifacts' which to this day, the Druuge are trying to unload on unwary buyers.
The Utwig, who live in the Aquarii constellation, have grown very depressed of late. They accidentally broke the supposed 'Ultron' sold to them by the felonious Druuge. As a consequence, they are morose and melancholic and will probably be unwilling to help you fight the Ur-Quan. If you wish to gain them as allies, we recommend that you acquire the broken Ultron (as if it EVER worked) and find some suitable replacement parts. Our information indicates that you can find these items in three different places: a Rosy Sphere at the Druuge trade world, an Aqua Helix somewhere in Thraddash space, and a Clear Spindle, which is currently in the possession of the Pkunk.
Captain, that was the last current event we have for sale.
The Ilwrath are presently attacking the Pkunk in the Lacaille and Krueger constellations. These beings have slavish devotion to their dark gods Dogar and Kazon, which in the past few years has been used against them by the Umgah. If you need to manipulate the Ilwrath, we suggest you discover the Umgah's technique and duplicate it.
The Pkunk are a mystical off-shoot of the Yehat species who left their bird-brothers long ago to found a peaceful enclave in the Krueger and Giclas stars. At the present time, the Pkunk are defending themselves against the Ilwrath, who have been commanded to attack the happy birds by Dogar and Kazon. The Pkunk may be unwilling to make a formal alliance with you, but we have confidence that if you explain yourself honestly, they will help your efforts against the Ur-Quan.
The creatures presently fighting the Ur-Quan are called the Kohr-Ah. They are an Ur-Quan sub-species who split off from the main species many thousands of years ago. Their present fight is a ritual reenacting of a major difference of opinion between two, rival Ur-Quan leaders after the Ur-Quan overwhelmed their slave-masters, the Dnyarri. The Kohr-Ah are immune to reason, having long ago lost the ability to see their situation objectively. They live in a self-maintained paradox: to ensure their safety and security, the Kohr-Ah fight an endless battle against all other sentient species.
I must warn you about some very bad people. 'Is this worth so many credits?' you ask yourself. I assure you, it is! The creatures are called the 'Druuge' and they are a callous and evil race. They care for nothing but profit and personal gain through unfair mercantile exchanges..
Why are you looking at me like that, Captain? It is not appropriate. As I was saying, these wicked creatures will try to sell you commodities at unreasonably low prices. Hoy! -- they almost give away fuel! Do not fall for their tricks! There are hidden costs -- secret tariffs! So that you may avoid them, I will tell you that their main trade world is Zeta Persei I.
Why are you smiling, Captain?
The Burvixese race evolved on the planet Arcturus I. They lived there in a relatively benevolent manner until the Kohr-Ah came and destroyed them during the course of 2 or 3 unfortunate days.
The Druuge were largely responsible for the Kohr-Ah finding the Burvixese. You see, the Burvixese were in long-distance HyperWave contact with a race known simply as the Gg. For decades the Gg and the Burvixese traded much valuable information, until the Gg came under attack by an invading race who you may know as the Kohr-Ah. The Gg warned the Burvixese that the Kohr-Ah located races by their HyperWave transmissions and that they had already discovered the radiations from the Druuge.
When the Burvixese were kind enough to warn the Druuge that a hostile alien race was homing in on their HyperWave radiations, the Druuge shut down all their transmitters and erected a powerful HyperWave beacon on the surface of the Burvixese moon. The Kohr-Ah changed course, attacked the poor Burvixese and sadly, destroyed them all.
The Thraddash are an arrogant, stubborn, and thick-skinned species who reside in the Draconis and Apodis star systems. They have little or no respect for anything but force, which they admire greatly. To make the Thraddash your friends, you should consider killing most, but not all of them. In addition, they guard some kind of sacred relic at the star system Zeta Draconis, though we do not know the true nature of this artifact. The Thraddash homeworld is at Delta Draconis.
After the war, the Chenjesu and the Mmrnmhrm chose to be slave-shielded on the Chenjesu's homeworld at Procyon. We suspect that they are melding their two species to form some kind of new, hybrid race, a race which may well be powerful enough to destroy the Ur-Quan single-handedly. However, by our calculations, this process will take many decades, if not centuries. Should you wish to talk to them, we recommend you invest in a HyperWave broadcasting system which is powerful enough to penetrate the shield around their world.
The Mycon are using this time while the Ur-Quan have their attention elsewhere to expand their sphere of influence as fast as possible. The Mycon colonize planets by launching tough spore-pods from orbit and injecting them under the planet's surface. Months later, after the spores have grown hundreds of thick, fibrous tendrils under the planet's crust, the tendrils suddenly thrust up out of the planet and create huge calderas, not incidentally filling the planet's atmosphere with the Mycon's preferred gases - clouds of super-heated steam and sulphuric acid.
Following the end of the War, the Androsynth began experimenting with Inter-Dimensional Fatigue, a process which is related to your faster-than-light drive but involves dimensions far more alien than HyperSpace. They had just made a major breakthrough when they were suddenly wiped out by a race called the Orz, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Actually, we don't know what the Orz did to the Androsynth -- they're just all gone.
The Arilou Lalee'lay are a mysterious race of IDF beings - IDF meaning, Inter-Dimensional Fatigue. They do not reside in this galaxy, or in fact, anywhere in this universe. While it is true that the Arilou are rarely seen far from the Columbae star group, they do make regular, secret visits to your world, and have done so for centuries. Ever since Earth was slave-shielded, they have focused their attention on the humans aboard the starbase, many of whom are now members of your crew. Though the Arilou Lalee'lay always smile and are never overtly hostile, we believe that they have a secret agenda which somehow involves your planet, Earth. These secret plans may or may not cause grief and woe to you Earthlings.
Just under 20 years ago, the brave and suicidal Shofixti annihilated their species by exploding a Precursor device -- some kind of bomb -- in the interior of their sun. The resulting storm of solar flares cooked the life off the Shofixti homeworld and incinerated over a hundred Ur-Quan Dreadnoughts which had just entered the system to conquer the Shofixti. In actuality, there are still at least a dozen Shofixti left alive in the galaxy. One or two are at Delta Gorno, guarding the dead hulk of their once beautiful world. Others can be found in VUX space.
The Slylandro are a mostly non-solid, sentient race who live in a gas giant at Beta Corvi. We recently sold them a self-replicating exploration probe, which has somehow turned hostile and attacks everything it detects. If such encounters have angered you, Captain, please do NOT address your concerns to us. We possess a formal Waiver of Damages, authorized by a Slylandro Speaker and are in no way responsible for the situation.
The cowardly Spathi live at the single planet orbiting Epsilon Gruis. They do not actually live on their world, rather they reside on its airless moon. The reason? A xenomorphic species, which craves the sweet-flavored flesh of the Spathi has been transported to the surface of their planet and makes every attempt to devour the poor Spathi. I am certain that the Spathi would be forever in your debt if you were to eliminate these creatures from their planet.
What? You fear the alien creatures will find you a treat also? Fear not. Our data reveals the beasts are not interested in your species. Should you wish to consult with the Spathi Ruling Council, you will need to know the Secret Spathi Cypher -- a password, which is
Like you Earthlings, when the war with the Ur-Quan was lost, the Syreen chose to be slave-shielded. Their new world is at Betelgeuse. The Syreen's starbase is crewed by the starship commanders and crew who were decommissioned at the end of the war. Though the Syreen hate the Ur-Quan with a vengeance, they are unlikely to offer you assistance unless you reveal to them the truth behind the tragedy of their original homeworld, Syra, which was destroyed by the birth of a Mycon 'Deep Child' a century ago.
When the Ur-Quan entered Gamma Serpentis -- the home star of the Yehat -- their Queen made a sudden change of allegiance and allied with the Ur-Quan Hierarchy. They became Ur-Quan combat thralls. This act was viewed by most Yehat starship officers as ultimately dishonorable, the desperate act of a corrupt regent to maintain her throne. The Yehat's shame was greatly magnified by the Shofixti's show of courage when they destroyed their own star system to slow down the Ur-Quan Armada.
Captain, you have heard all that we have to say about aliens indigenous to this region. Should we learn more in the near future, we shall be certain to sell it to you.
Almost twenty-five thousand of your years ago, there existed near this region of space, an association of starfaring races called the 'Sentient Milieu'. This group formed over several thousand years to mutually enrich their respective cultures to provide a safe creche for emerging sentient species and to afford themselves a degree of protection from external hostilities via military alliance. Of the seven most active Milieu members, the most famous race -- indeed you know them well, Captain -- were the Ur-Quan.
The Ur-Quan evolved on a harsh planet orbiting a star outside this region of space. They were solitary predators, like your praying mantis, Captain, or polar bear, who had a very limited set of social behaviors, most of which dealt with sex. Since they had to compete for survival against many physically superior species, the Ur-Quan evolved intelligence and tool use, in much the same way as your own species. The Ur-Quan also learned to master their fierce territoriality to build a cooperative planetary culture.
When the Ur-Quan were discovered by the Taalo, they had just begun exploring their solar system in crude atomic vehicles. Although the Ur-Quan attacked what they thought to be an invader, the Taalo were patient. They explained the purpose of the Sentient Milieu, and offered the Ur-Quan membership. The Ur-Quan recognized the benefits that such a system provided, and once more conquered the hunting beast within themselves to become cooperative, productive members of the Milieu. This lasted for several thousands of years.
Just over twenty thousand years ago, when your ancestors were learning to chart the course of the moon and stars on animal horns, the Sentient Milieu spanned five hundred light years and included the membership of a hundred worlds. Like all other star-travellers, they had discovered ruins and relics of a far more ancient culture, which your species calls the 'Precursors'.
Explorers from many species spent their lives trying to piece together this ancient mystery, but of all races, the Ur-Quan were the most bold adventurers. Their scouts, flying single-ships, penetrated far into uncharted space, and landed on a million worlds. On one such mission, a young Ur-Quan made planetfall on a small, life-bearing alien world to identify some anomalous energy readings, occasionally a sign of Precursor installations. Instead the Ur-Quan found a small, hideous creature -- a Dnyarri.
Before the scout was able to defend itself, the Dnyarri creature took control of the Ur-Quan's mind, and commanded the scout to place the Dnyarri aboard the Ur-Quan's ship, along with hundreds of its evil brood. Then the Ur-Quan returned to the heart of the Milieu, landing on its capital planet. Within hours, every resident of the planet was a Dnyarri slave. Within a month, Dnyarri-compelled starships had spread the evil, psychic creatures across the entire Milieu.
When the Dnyarri took control over the Milieu, one race fought back -- the Taalo. These slow, quiet creatures were silicon-based life forms, but bore little resemblance to the modern Chenjesu. The Taalo were natural immunes to the Dynarri psychic compulsion; they were unaffected by the creatures' power, and the Dynarri would not permit anyone to exist outside their control, so they ordered the remaining races of the Milieu to attack and destroy the Taalo home planet. This planet was one of the few Milieu worlds located in this region of space. I believe you call their star Delta Vulpeculae. Their home was a moon revolving about the second planet.
I am sad to say that the Taalo were, indeed, eliminated. However, at the time of their devastation they had completed a device which they thought would give other races psychic immunity like their own. What happened to this device, this shield? It's hard to say. Maybe it was destroyed in the attack on their homeworld, maybe not.
In the Dnyarri's new empire, the Ur-Quan were the favored slaves. This is probably because the Ur-Quan were the most psychically sensitive, the most easily compelled. As the centuries of Dnyarri dominance passed, what was once the Sentient Milieu deteriorated and degenerated into a great galactic gulag. Alien races which did not serve with the efficiency and speed demanded by the Dnyarri were ruthlessly burned from the faces of their worlds. The agents of this genocide were inevitably the Dynarri's favored pet, the Ur-Quan.
After almost twenty-five hundred years of unrelenting Dnyarri control, there were only four living member races of the once-great Sentient Milieu. By this point, the Dnyarri had used genetic manipulation to split the Ur-Quan into two sub-species: the Green Ur-Quan -- scientists, technicians, and administrators who were responsible for maintaining the limited infrastructure of the Dnyarri civilization -- and the Black Ur-Quan, who filled the ranks of basic laborer and combat soldier.
Then, a chance discovery by an Ur-Quan named Kzer-Za led to the violent overthrow of the Dnyarri Slave Empire.
The Ur-Quan named Kzer-Za was a Green, a researcher specializing in repairing the mental damage inflicted by long-term exposure to the Dnyarri's psychic compulsion. By this point in history, the Dnyarri had grown lax in their dominance, and on occasion accidentally permitted their slaves moments of self-direction. Kzer-Za was able to use those few scattered minutes to compose a theory. From its observations, Kzer-Za realized that when a slave died, the Dynarri 'disconnected' from the slave's mind, lest it too be dragged down to death. Further, the Ur-Quan scientist uncovered the fact that when a slave underwent great pain, the Dnyarri temporarily disconnected -- but that the degree of pain had to be extreme, nearly lethal.
Kzer-Za chose its moment carefully -- it waited until it was near an open transmission unit. Then, in a short moment of mental freedom, the Ur-Quan injected itself with a dose of acidic poison, sending incredible waves of pain through its long body. In the few moments before its death, Kzer-Za was able to wrest control of the transmitter, to send word of its discovery across the planet, and into space as well. Before the Dnyarri knew what was happening, Ur-Quan everywhere were hacking at their own bodies with chunks of glass, burning themselves horribly, doing anything that would give them the few seconds of freedom necessary to find the nearest Dnyarri and crush the bleating creature.
As they gained longer and longer periods of control, the Ur-Quan developed new tools and weapons to destroy their evil masters. The most gruesome of these devices was the Excruciator, a mechanism which was inserted directly into the brain, and generated a constant stream of agony. The Dnyarri could not bring themselves to make the necessary mental connection with these tortured Ur-Quan. They were slaughtered by the thousands. The Ur-Quan Slave revolt was won.
When the last Ur-Quan was free of psychic compulsion -- when the last free Dnyarri was dead -- the combined might of the Ur-Quan star fleets met in orbit above the Dnyarri homeworld. They had come together to make two important decisions. First -- how to punish the few frightened Dnyarri left below on the planet's surface. Second -- how to ensure that never again would the Ur-Quan be made slaves. The first decision was made swiftly. The Dnyarri would not be allowed to die; ah, that was too kind a fate. Instead, the creatures would be genetically modified into sub-sentience they would become dumb animals. These low creatures would be further debased by serving the Ur-Quan for all eternity in the most demeaning way the Ur-Quan could imagine -- acting as translators, making physical contact with other species, whom the Ur-Quan now considered grossly inferior to themselves and revolting. The second decision -- how to ensure their freedom permanently -- caused great turmoil.
Following the successful Ur-Quan slave revolt, the Ur-Quan met to decide how to ensure their freedom. The Green Ur-Quan, who called themselves the Kzer-Za in honor of the Ur-Quan who triggered the revolt, wished to establish the 'Path of Now and Forever', which required that all other sentient species must become slaves of the Ur-Quan or be forever imprisoned beneath an impenetrable force shield. Leading the opposition to this plan was Kohr-Ah, a charismatic fleet officer. Kohr-Ah proposed a simpler alternative, the 'Eternal Doctrine.' Simply put, this scheme called for the systematic eradication of all sentient life in the universe aside from the Ur-Quan.
Captain, if these positions seem to you extreme or unwarranted, you must remember that the Ur-Quan had been unwilling slaves for millenia, and that each of them had to remain in agony for years in order to defeat the Dnyarri. The followers of Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah were all on the brink of madness, but neither side would submit, and so they fought a bloody civil war.
This is the last historical item we have for sale.
The civil war between the Green Ur-Quan, the followers of Kzer-Za and their opponents, the death-dealing Kohr-Ah, lasted for decades. It is likely that they would have annihilated each other, were it not for a chance discovery by a Kzer-Za -- a Precursor Battleship! The vessel was huge, many times the size of the Ur-Quan's vessels. The Precursor ship sliced through the Kohr-Ah forces in days -- the Kohr-Ah were defeated.
However, in their victory the Kzer-Za were humble; they realized that there was a chance that they were wrong, and the Kohr-Ah were right. Instead of destroying the Kohr-Ah, the Kzer-Za let them go, directing them to make their way through the stars, travelling against the spin of the galaxy. The Kzer-Za would travel in the opposite direction, and when the two Ur-Quan forces met, they would fight again in ritual combat, with the Precursor Battleship given to the winner.
Captain, this is happening here and now. The Kzer-Za, the Ur-Quan who enslaved Earth, are fighting their ritual battle against the Kohr-Ah in a large area centered near the Crateris constellation. If the Kohr-Ah win this battle, Captain, the Kzer-Za will stand aside and let them kill us all. We believe it is your destiny to prevent this from happening.
We regret to say that you have exhausted our supply of genuinely valuable information. However we DO have many thousands of useless facts and that we will gladly sell you at a substantial discount. Are you interested?
Hmm, we thought not.
It has been a pleasure dealing with you, Captain. We look forward to your next visit.
But there won't be a next visit, as I'm shutting down this timeline. Next time, we return to the main playthrough and finish this war.