Explore and Exploit — Year 2: First Contact!

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portrait_gizmoTransmission’s coming in now.

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portrait_dubtaksFive new planets? Further orders can wait; show me the system!

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portrait_gizmo“Philadelphia.” It’s a yellow medium system; five planets. Philadelphia II, IV, and V all seem to be worth colonizing, but I and III are lifeless wastelands.

Philadelphia I, Enormous Husk-Class Planet
Philadelphia I, Enormous Husk-Class Planet
Philadelphia II
Philadelphia II, Large Supermineral-Class Planet
Philadelphia III, Small Husk-Class Planet
Philadelphia III, Small Husk-Class Planet
Philadelphia IV
Philadelphia IV, Large Tycoon-Class Planet
Philadelphia
Philadelphia V, Small Supermineral-Class Planet

[LPer’s Note: Husk-class worlds are entirely black, useless squares. Supermineral planets are made up mostly of white squares, but do have a much higher-than-normal percentage of production-rich red squares. And Tycoons (like Amoroso I/Alpha Base) have the most even distribution of square colors out of all classes. I’ll leave the eight other classes for when we encounter them.]

portrait_gizmoThree worthwhile planets and only two colonizers. What’d’you think?

portrait_dubtaksGrab one to claim the system, and keep going?

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portrait_gizmoSecond planet, then. Good size and production potential. If we develop it fast enough, we can start putting ships together here too.

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portrait_dubtaksAlright. Send the Fortuity on its way. They’ve still got some oats on board.

portrait_gizmoStop talking about your oats, please.

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portrait_gizmoKeep in mind that another species can come by and colonize one of the remaining planets. Might be an awkward first contact.

portrait_dubtaksYou really think another species would be out colonizing this part of space the exact same week as us? Do you realize how vast the universe is and how long it’s existed?

portrait_gizmoRemember how I’m the one who’s been out in space before?

[The number of ships you can build is equal to your star systems +1, so controlling systems is absolutely vital. This often means you’ll want to maximize your colonizer-to-star-system ratio by claiming only one planet in each system to start off. But if you leave any non-husk planets uncolonized, another species may come through and snatch it from right under your nose. A system with planets belonging to multiple races means none of them gets the additional ship allowance from it. “Stealing” star systems is a very effective way of waging war without openly declaring hostilities.]

portrait_gizmoAnyway, now that all that excitement is over — we also finished excavating those alien ruins on the homeworld.

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portrait_dubtaksNew tech?! Why didn’t you tell me?

portrait_gizmoSomething about pornograms. I believe your exact words were “Don’t bother me until that ship comes out of hyperspace.”

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portrait_gizmoHyperwave emission control is a branch of research way ahead of our general tech level. It allows us to add the Backfirer to our ships.

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portrait_gizmoSeems to be an unconventional form of weapon that blasts a ship with a portion of all its own weapons. But the power consumption’s higher than we can reasonably provide at this point.

portrait_dubtaksThat’s a letdown.

portrait_gizmoAlso, I began construction on our next colony ship.

portrait_dubtaksYou WHA–

portrait_gizmo“Don’t bother me until that ship comes out of hyperspace.”

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portrait_dubtaksI can’t believe you’d do this to me after all we’ve been through together.

portrait_gizmoCS “Possibility.” Thought I’d continue the naming scheme. It’s got a better power system, five colonizers this time, and I put weapons on — just in case.

portrait_dubtaksExpecting to meet some old friends out there?

portrait_gizmoNope. Just aware of how well you do first impressions.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0302.1

The crew of the CS Fortuity can put another system discovery on their resumes.

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The Rhovid System.

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Only thing in the system is a single planet so small it would almost be pointless to colonize…

Rhovid I,
Rhovid I, Tiny Special-Class Planet

If not for the alien ruins on the surface, or the fact that it’ll add another system to our growing empire.

[Special-class has a similar distribution as Tycoons, just with slightly less of everything but black squares. And tiny planets have so few squares to build on, they can never amount to much.]

The CS Fortuity is out of colonizers, but the plan is to continue on in a purely exploratory capacity and claim Rhovid with the Possibility.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0338.8

High alert! We’ve spotted an incoming ship coming through the star lane toward the Amoroso System. Right to our front door.

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See that pink blip? It appeared just yesterday.

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I’m slightly more optimistic than the Appropriator, at least. We can’t assume these aliens will be hostile, but I suppose it’s Dubtak nature. They’re scrambling around to hide themselves like they’ve always done when something scary comes bounding through the brush. Like they did when my previous masters set down on Amoroso II. The only difference now is that you can’t hide planets — and we’ve got three of those.

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It should go without saying that I’m recording this log alone today, since the Appropriator is at home cowering under his bed.

On the plus side, in case things go south, that orange marker in our home system is the newly-finished CS Possibility, complete with the weapon systems I went over the Appropriator’s head and installed. All we can do now is wait.

In other news, research into advanced chemistry has reached its conclusion, allowing us to switch almost entirely from agriplots to artificial hydroponifiers, which are twice as effective.

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We’ve also had our first successful attempt at stealing research, which has brought us “advanced interferometry”: better sensors as well as the systems required to invade colonized worlds.

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Lastly, the CS Fortuity is continuing to travel away from us, and has discovered the Feculon System — this distant galactic elbow of sorts:

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Provided we survive the next few days, Feculon is a promising location for further colonization.

Feculon I, Large Congenial-Class Planet
Feculon I, Large Congenial-Class Planet
Feculon II, Small Husk-Class Planet
Feculon II, Small Husk-Class Planet (with ruins!)

[Congenials have extremely high numbers of white squares, and very low percentages of all others.]

The Fortuity is already underway to the next system, but my main concern right now is finding someone to drag the Appropriator out of bed within the next few days so he can make first contact.

I’m crossing my circuits that he doesn’t get us all killed.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0348.2

We’ve positioned the Possibility in weapons-range of the star lane through which the alien ship will be arriving. Missile batteries are primed.

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The Appropriator is here in the office with me… though he’s — yeah, he doesn’t seem to have much to say. Mostly he’s recovering from the post-vomit shivers. It’s not generally the Dubtak Way to greet the unknown head on, but we’re as ready as we’ll ever be…

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portrait_gizmoPut your diplomat hat on, boss.

portrait_dubtaks…eurgh…

portrait_gizmoAlso, keep in mind when you introduce yourself that you may not want to use your full title. Other cultures don’t look so favorably on “appropriating” as the Dubtaks.

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portrait_dubtaksOh sweet God of Gadgets, Gizmos, and All That Is Good in the World. He is… very large.

portrait_gizmoYou’ll do fine. Probably.

portrait_dubtaksWhat… do I say?

portrait_gizmoI’m literally providing you with a script.

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portrait_dubtaksWe are, um… the Dubtaks. We look forward to many, er, interesting encounters.

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portrait_dubtaksuuuhh… Great. Awesome. It’s… been great I hope we’ll speak again soon goodbye.

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portrait_gizmoNailed it.

portrait_dubtaksI felt the need to go off script…

portrait_gizmoHow are you the same Dubtak who did a B&E on an alien dropship?

portrait_dubtaksI was bolder in my youth?

portrait_gizmoWell, what are we doing about these Marmosians?

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portrait_gizmoThey don’t seem to be attacking, but they are moving for the star lane toward Philadelphia.

portrait_dubtaksSo what?

portrait_gizmoSo we might be about to lose control of that system.

portrait_dubtaksCrap. Follow them.

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Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0359.7

The visiting Marmosian ship has been parked in the Philadelphia System, a short distance from the star lane, for two days. I can’t image what they’re doing.

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portrait_dubtaksLying in wait for us, probably.

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portrait_gizmoThe CS Possibility just came through the lane. It’s headed for Philadelphia IV.

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portrait_gizmo…and the Marmosians are following?

portrait_dubtaksDammit. I told you they were toying with us! We’ve got a race on!

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portrait_gizmoWe don’t have the engines to keep up with them. They’re going to take the planet.

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portrait_gizmoWell… how does it feel to be on the receiving end of this Finding and Keeping racket?

portrait_dubtaksFeels like we’re gonna need to Find and Keep some of those engines for ourselves.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0441.6

It’s been a season since we first encountered the Marmosians. We followed them for a time as they continued on their way through — and eventually out — of our space.

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The Marmosians must have run out of colonizers, since they made no attempt to set down on Philadelphia V or Rhovid I. We took the latter, to bring our system count up by one.

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As we continued tracking their progress, we also colonized Feculon I.

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That brings our total number of star systems to three, plus the contested Philadelphia System. And already 60% of the CS Possibility’s colonizer units are gone, so a third colony ship is under construction in orbit of the homeworld.

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The High Board of Executives believes this region of space is the “birthright of the Dubtak people,” and that we must put our feet down by allowing no alien species to lay claim to… more than they already have. Unless that species wants to fight for it, in which case they can have it.

The Fortuity is returning homeward while the Possibility takes over its colonization duties. The last system it discovered on this leg of its journey was the Elwyssen System, here at the “bottom” of known space:

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It’s a three-planet system with nothing but more alien ruins to offer.

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Elwyssen I, Tiny Chapel-Class Planet
Elwyssen I, Tiny Chapel-Class Planet
Elwyssen II, Tiny Primordial-Class Planet
Elwyssen II, Tiny Primordial-Class Planet
Elwyssen III, Small Primordial-Class Planet
Elwyssen III, Small Primordial-Class Planet

[Chapel-Class is fairly poor for colonizing: decent numbers of blue, but mostly white and black. Primordial is even worse, with 50% black and only 6% split between red, blue, and green.]

However, the big news today is that the Board has demanded we make contact with the Marmosians and attempt to gauge their level of development. For threat-assessment and for potential “acquisitions.”

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The Appropriator is thrilled.

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portrait_dubtaksH-hello. We would like to possibly… give and take things?

portrait_gizmoWhat the Grand Approp– I mean the Grand… Fleet Master is trying to say is that we may have gotten off on the wrong foot. The Dubtaks hope to establish a good relationship with all of our interstellar neighbors, and perhaps it might begin with a friendly exchange of knowledge?

portrait_marmosiansI see.

portrait_dubtaksPerhaps an exchange of… research?

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portrait_dubtaks…but our research is more advanced!

portrait_gizmoShh!

portrait_dubtaksHow about star system scans?

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portrait_dubtaksHow dare–

portrait_gizmoShut it. You’re on thin ice with the Board as it is! Don’t screw this up.

portrait_dubtaksMaybe star lanes?

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portrait_gizmoThank you very much! Here’s to a continued relationship between our peoples.

portrait_marmosiansYes. Goodbye, little Dubtaks.

portrait_dubtaksIf he calls me little one more time…

portrait_gizmoEasy, little buddy.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0513.5

Breakthrough!

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The ruins on the otherwise insignificant colony in the Rhovid System have provided a huge scientific advancement: megafacilities, the ultimate factory.

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Megafacilities contribute twice the production as a regular factory, and a planet covered in them can pump out a top-of-the-line ship in days. We’ve already begun building them on Amoroso I and II, and on Philadelphia II — our planned ship-production site.

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There’s also an uncertain but stable relationship taking shape between the Dubtaks and Marmosians, built mostly upon the exchange of star lane knowledge. I’ve discovered that there is no word in Dubtakian for “trade.” The closest thing is a word that roughly translates to “stealing while accidentally leaving something behind.” But I’ve expressed to both the Appropriator and the Board the value that trading has in building relationships with alien species. I think they’re coming around.

portrait_dubtaksI am betraying everything I’ve ever believed in.

…Like I said. A work in progress.

But we have been able to expand our maps of this region of space, a step at a time.

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In addition to the second-hand information, the CS Fortuity has explored three of those systems itself. The Corpuscle System, the Marmosian’s system of origin:

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And the Syntor System:

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Both of which are owned entirely by the Marmosians, and connected to each other — and to our home system of Amoroso — by the Chippendale System, here:

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Chippendale I, Small Special-Class Planet
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Chippendale II, Tiny Supermineral-Class Planet

Also on the topic of exploration, the CS Possibility has colonized Elwyssen III on its way “south.”

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However, its journey has ended at the next system, Ephemera:

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Ephemera I, Enormous Husk-Class Planet
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Ephemera II, Small Congenial-Class Planet

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Ephemera III, Large Cathedral-Class Planet + ruins [Same class as the homeworld. Very high blue and low black.]
The Possibility expended its last colonizer on the third planet, which we’ll be calling Defense Post 1.a1_02_81Why? The same reason the Possibility will remain in Ephemera, with its weapons trained on the star lane.

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This is our first red link — a super-long type of lane that links distant areas of space. Traveling through it could take many months, with no idea what could be on the other side or what could come shooting down the pipeline into our space once we sent our only combat-ready ship through.

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But this is as good a place as any for building up our defenses. It’s a choke point into our space, the only way in is through an extremely long lane, and it’s got two planets where we can build up orbital weapons and shield systems. Someday we’ll find out what’s on the other side of the red link…

But not today.

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