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Story - Just a Backwater World

Just a Backwater World

A storm was rising; the sullen grey clouds to the south had started to churn becoming darker. This was going to be a bad one. I strained to see through the front shields as the craft skimmed along at ninety. There were no wavelets yet, so I was trying to make headway before it broke.
Not for the first and definitely not for the last I cursed myself for ever following him out here. A good job he said, a frontier world with excellent prospects, in my defence I was young and glad to be out of Hypso. Truth told, in the early days it was good. I trained as a shrimper while he worked at Archipelago. Then it all started to turn sour. The colony became controlled by the Flagritz and suddenly there were lock downs with fewer passes given out. Then all communication ceased with visitors turned away by flagritz troops at the gate. As to what happened to Jack I can only guess. With no other authorities to turn to, there was nothing I could do. Even after it changed to Kastorian control there was no improvement, no communications in or out. I hate kastorians. That was more than ten years ago and gravity has taken its toll. This is a harsh world.

Without thinking I turn the craft in a wide arc to bypass one of the darker lagoons. There are things in them that have been known to reach up and flip a skimmer. The shattered remains are found a few days later along with the pilot, at least what is left after the shrimps have had their fill. I hate shrimp.



It is probably being in these waters that make me think of Jack. I am a few hundred clicks north of Archipelago or whatever it is now called. I doubt I have been down here for a few years though the algae blooms were especially large over winter round here so I thought I would try my luck. Even I have to admit it has been good with a reasonable haul already capped off. I say luck, though with the extra ballast I may have to dump most of it if this storm continues to spread at its current rate. Now that would be my sort of luck and there is nothing like a bloody great storm for dispersing the algae blooms and sending the shrimp scattering.

There is a sudden magnetic lurch and the navigator cuts out. This is a new one, storms on Puddle, the whimsical local name for what is officially referred to Mktkl on astronomical charts, probably because nobody can actually pronounce Mktkl. A few other lights flash and the HUD comes to life, scrolling up a list of seemingly random faults. I glance upwards at the first dark tendrils of the storm overtaking the skimmer. I didn’t think I was pushing it too hard but it is only a civvy craft and due for maintenance. Decision made I throttle down for a reboot.

First I isolate the breather as a precaution and then deploy the anchor and full exterior sealant just in case I have to go bottomside to ride out the storm. I choose a modest depth lagoon deep enough to not be affected by the oncoming surges. I doubt I will be diving. A reboot and I will be long gone before even the rain comes down.

That’s when the second set of lights start flashing. The HUD is spewing out information then the skimmer drops the last metre like a rock hitting stone rather than water. Despite the extra padding in the seat all air is expelled from my lungs. Tractors are down as well and the full 2g of the world has hammered home. It’s a bit like falling off a wall with somebody on top of you.

Living in Puddle for a decade has given me sufficient time to get used to brief bouts of high-g. Despite what you might read in the colonisation adverts it ain’t all ‘check me out I am super strong, capable of throwing boulders hundreds of metres’. I will tell you what it is, tiring and long-term exposure destroys your bones and when all is said and done, the boulders also weigh twice as much. People going ‘native’ on Puddle die young.
I check the HUD and it is flashing various systems off-line though the core seems to be fine. I opt for a complete power down and even open the floor plate to look below. That’s when the whole inside of the skimmer is lit up in magnesium flare brightness even down here. Despite closing my eyes the brightness is intense enough to give me an instant headache.

I am blinded for a few seconds during which I process the events. Loss of navigation, probably due to interference. Random system failures, possibly due to an em-pulse. Then the big giveaway, a bloody bright light. Some bastards are having themselves an orbital battle and they have just decided to drop a few nukes my way. Had my head not been below decks it would have been a lot worse of that I am certain.
Huffing with exertion and no time to lose I get to the tool kit and pull out the welders gogs. The skills you pick up being a shrimper on Puddle. Fixing a drive shaft by yourself three days out from the nearest habitat makes you feel proud, doing it for the tenth or more time, not so much. Thankfully these skimmers are low tech and most of the systems can be bypassed.

I have sacrificed the tractors and used the plating to harden the main drive processors. It is going to be a gruelling ride back but as least the rig will survive any further pulses providing that they aren’t too near and if they are, well, I won’t be worrying any longer will I.



The storm is almost on top of me with the occasional lighting discharges. While these are bright enough to cause the gogs to react, they are as nothing compared to the nuclear blasts, ripping chunks out of the storm and colouring the horizon a vivid green and blue. That’s when it occurs to me that the target cannot be anything other than Archipelago. They are nuking Archipelago. In all honesty I am not surprised, everybody hates the Kastorians even other Kastorians. Still I am thankful that it has dampeners or this storm would be nothing compared to what would have hit me by now.

It is a couple of days of hard skimming and pursued by the storm later that, still without communication I am treated to a spectacular pyrotechnics show. Despite it being the twilight of early evening the entire southern sky is lit up. The flashes are mostly fiery red though green and blue smudges can just be made out as escaping gases from ships are subjected to intense ionisation. These are as nothing to the sudden blooming of incandescent white. I have kept the gogs on just to be safe.

Finally I approach one of the smallholdings sited down here, more by luck than knowledge of the territory. Everything pretty much looks the same round here and I am without a working navigator. I plead my case and am given shelter and reprieve from the oppressive gravity. I feel like I have shed half my body weight. After a good scrub and some food I get filled in on news. Seems Archipelago was taken on by some human faction a short while back and another faction weren’t impressed so decided to reduce it to radioactive slag though in fact had their bombarding fleet reduced to dust and scattered across the surface of the Puddle. Apparently there has been some apologising somewhere though no doubt we will all be fitting rad monitors to our skimmers for the next few months.

Well, if humans are finally taking an interest in this backwater shithole my only hope is that they offer compensation for my skimmer and a chance to leave this world far behind. You can bet I won’t be the only one looking for a way off.







 
News
Is open for business...
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Bravo for Freedom ***

Naplian Forces have attacked three human pirate outposts in the Morroglyph system. A spokesperson for Naplia HQ told the press that the plucky duct-tape loving free people would continue their war against slavers and pirates in their home periphery.

One salty Naplian libertarian told the SSS, “The people of the Naplian Home Periphery are sick and tired of human criminals coming here just because their homeworld is an overcrowded hell. It’s time for them to go back home.”

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Igor of Fang and Horns * Admiral Loves Dick Turpin * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

.What is It?
..a wOrmhOle?.
…No.. worse..
….the KANG singularity!…
…..It pulls us IN…..
……lOOks sO familiar……
…….yet so strange…….
……..what is……..
………that?……..

*** Flagritz Liberalise Economy ***

In good news for all the galaxy the Flagritzi have vowed to liberate all slaves across their Empire. Furthermore, the hectapods have given up eating other sentient species; taking up a strict diet of veganism and soy chai lattes. Sales of turtle neck sweaters and Forbidden Fruit laptops have skyrocketed.

The news was cautiously welcomed by the benevolent Felini Tyranny who looked forward to reducing the War phase of their daily Nap-Lick-Nap-War-Nap-Eat-Sleep cycle to a perfunctory forty winks.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Baron Womble * A Short History of the DPP * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Empire Strikes: Solo ***

A massive fleet of some 1600 warships, including large numbers of super-heavy capital 300 and 400 hullers, attacked the DEN in the Solo system, catching them with their metaphorical pants down. The DEN gate platform and some two hundred DEN freighters were subject to antimatter missiles amongst other high tech ordinance.

Jack the lad, Viceroy of the Empire, claimed a victory for freedom and the Imperial (right of) way leaving the sullen Dewiek unusually unresponsive.

With DOM platforms firing on CIA ships, will the IMP now demand the DOM add them to the Do Not Fire lists as well? And what exactly is the nature of the DOM and DEN alliance in light of the sustained attack from the Empire? And will the DEN’s alien friends stand idly by as the Empire fleet camps in the vital gate system of Solo? How will the DEN retaliate for this action or are they ready to roll over and have their bellies rubbed?

All this remains unknown. All that is certain is the “feel good” factor across the DTR has increased, with citizens reassured that for some time yet, they may continue in their slumber with the easy assurance that their number is not coming up anytime soon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * New BHD Guy * DOM Statement * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** To Ur Is Dewiek ***

Dewiek forces had a hefty smackdown against the mysterious living ships known as the T’Cath (TCA). Seven adult TCA 400 hull capital ships, each firing eight of their notorious plasma cannons, were killed by a DEN and DOM fleet of some 700 ships.

Of the minimal losses suffered by the DEN / DOM, one-eyed Magnus and Nevets Motnhap of the FEL were amongst the dead.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Caribbean Congo Continues * Ur Witness Report * * Hive Briefing * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** The Long Quiet Season ***

Listen…
There’s no sound of anger or of annoyance,
There’re neither cruisers racing on the jump lanes
Nor there jump lanes for them to race on,
There’re neither monks chanting on the battlegrounds
Nor bells calling us to the True One.
There’s neither the lightning cracking of the sky
Nor the persistent Naplians pattering on my roof.
There’s no Dewiek arm in arm to admire the magnificent view
There’re no war drums to feed Human ears
Nor Hive sirens to steal the boredom away
There’s no unfamiliar wing creeping underneath the Falconian sun
Nor floods to enshroud the Aquaphid grounds
The land lies lonely out here
On this lazy summer’s day
There’s no pollution to poison the airs of Inversion
Nor forests to give them life
All I hear is the hushing sound of the wind
Assisting the sand to fall into beautiful undulations.

Whilst we’ve been away: * Operation Giantslayer * Naplian Liberation * Back in the DTTR * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Falconians Saved ***

The Imperials have cunningly saved the Falconian Republic from being consumed by the Dewiek Elder Nation and at no small cost to the DEN either. Whilst the new pro tem Consul crowed about the “victory”, all former FCN systems besides Acropolis have been taken over by the two warring Empires - Human and Flagritz.

Was it all worth it? For the IMP / GTT it clearly was, for the movement of a few hundred thousand troops is surely nothing to the cost they endured trying to and failing to knock the DEN out of Solo after the fact. The FCN now plucked off most of their navy and wider assets are a tiny nothing of their former self. The DEN may have resorted to some dirty namecalling but can the costs endured to save an enfeebled FCN have really been worth it? Time will tell.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * INDignation * FELicitous Caribbean * Nah Plan for Naplia * Mercs Trouble DEN * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Acropolis Now ***

The IMP and GTT have brought peace and stability to Acropolis.

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Goodbye Falconians ***

The galaxy bid farewell to the Falconian Republic as the Human Empire subsumed them into their expanding territories. This marks the second death of an alien civilisation at the hands of the IMP / GTT in recent years. Like the extinguishing of the nearby Ulians, no voices of opposition could be heard from other quarters. This marks a long-period of appeasement by the Detinus Republic and Dewiek Elder Nation.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * DOMination * &etc

 

Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic