Explore and Exploit — Year 6: On the Move!

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Map of the known galaxy

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 1428.5

With the number of our colonies beyond the Galactic Bridge growing, we’ve made the decision to migrate our forces out of Midway to defend them.

I’m proud of them — not that this is an especially brave move. It’s not like they’re spreading their forces thinner or putting themselves at any greater risk. They’re just moving to a more forward choke point… but at least they’re not hiding anymore. Though that may have something to do with that minor victory against the Shevar last year.

The Hope System will be that next choke point, but at the moment the fleet is assembling at Chloros, here:

And the finished WS Gadgeteer will be joining them momentarily.

While Midway Prime starts work on something completely new:

This is the IS Finder-Keeper — our first invasion ship, loaded with invasion modules and phase bombs for planetary bombardment.

The Board doesn’t exactly have its eyes on taking the fight to the Shevar — but if we can surreptitiously claim a few unguarded planets while the other races do the fighting…

Well, that’s what this ship is for.

Today’s main event, though, is the Due Diligence’s arrival in the Shevar-controlled Delphinius System — scouting out the end of the red link from the Govorom home system.

Dang that is a lot of ships.

Shall I order them back through the link, warchief?

Yeah — they may be pushovers, but seven ships can still beat one heavily damaged one. Retreat!

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 1458.3

The Shevar are on the move!

Seems we teased them into the star lane with that little visit.

In response, ours has departed from Chloros.

From some trades with the Capelons, we’ve pieced together a nearly-complete map of the galaxy.

As you can see, there are two paths into Shevar space, both diverging from the Barataria System. That means they would still have to come through Hope, so the plan to set up a blockade there hasn’t changed.

But the amount of buffer room we have before the Shevar reach Hope is shrinking. Atropos II, the Govorom homeworld, has fallen…

That’s not our fault, right?

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 1500.0

Hope!

We’ve reached the Hope System, that is. And dug ourselves in.

Our two colonies here are shielded and armed.

With Hope I being home to an orbital dock where we can do repairs if needed.

And the Capelons, perhaps spurred on by the threat of the Shevar, have started contacting us regularly to work out trade deals.

So we may have new friends.

I try not to make friends with anything if I can’t locate its face.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 1540.4

Here we are in the Hope System — most of the fleet assembled and as ready to make a stand as the Dubtaks will ever be.

All combat-ready ships are here: the warships Gadgeteer, Amoroso, Midway, TechnoGuard, and Birthright. All stationed in plasmatron-range of the star lane out of our space.

Behind the defensive line: colony ships Exploitation, Possibility, and Fortuity. And the invasion ship Finder-Keeper.

While we’re waiting, everybody’s getting their systems upgraded and paint jobs polished.

Both the Birthright and Possibility receive new engines, generators, and star drives.

As for the rest of our ships — with the SS Startrotter destroyed, it’s only the CS Due Diligence left out there at large. Which… you may recall being on the run from a Shevar fleet.

Well — they’ve all just come out of the red link they were traveling through for weeks.

Man, it’s a party in Atropos.

The Due Diligence has come out of the link surrounded. And facing three more Shevar ships and the heavily armed planet that used to be the Govorom homeworld.

There’s no choice but to fall back into safety of the lane.

At the same time, “Alliance” ships are passing through Hope regularly on their way to the front lines.

You coming with, little Dubtaks?

We’ll, uh… be along shortly. Very busy refitting our warships, you see.

Convenient.

Quite convenient.

No, no — really! Look at this awesome new gadget we figured out how to make. It disintegrates whole ships!

How impressive. Well, we will be on the battlefront disintegrating Shevar ships the old fashioned way. Don’t wait too long or there won’t be any left to test out your new toy on.

Don’t worry. We won’t be far behind.

Yeah, definitely. Totally. Right behind you.

Appropriator — a word in private?

Sure, Gizmo. What’s up?

We really do need to show up for this war.

Why was I afraid you’d say that?

Do you really think this so-called alliance is going to hold up if we cower behind the other races? Or that the Marmosians have the number of ships to stand up to the Shevar alone? The Govorom and Kambuchka certainly don’t. And the Capelons and seem disinterested altogether.

Eugh.

Just keep that in mind.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 1572.9

We’re on the move.

If there’s one thing the Dubtaks fear more than fighting the Shevar, it’s making enemies of the Marmosians, Capelons, and Govorom all at once. So our fleet will make an appearance on the front lines after all.

Whatever difference it’ll make at this point. The Marmos have already swept through Arcturus…

That’s here, to refresh everyone’s memory:

And today a single enormous Marmosian ship has been actively thrashing it out with the Shevar colony at Barataria III, two systems further on:

The Marmosians win. And to the victor go the spoils:

Great! So they don’t need our help, right?

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 1608.1

The defensive line has completely relocated, from the Hope System, to Marmosian-owned Barataria, five systems closer to the Shevar.

The Shevar, of course, being right here in Atropos, one system over:

Along the way here, we laid claim to the uncolonized star system of Vernunft:

Tell them the bad news.

Well, the bad news is that this is as far as we can go while still holding a single choke point. Barataria is where the lanes fork — one leading to Atropos and the long red link, and the other going into uncharted territory. The Marmosian Enormous that had been here earlier took that unexplored route, leaving us to debate on whether to follow.

Ultimately, we sent the CS Exploitation to scout it out.

It’s found a string of Shevar systems: Syzygifer…

Stavern…

And a third star it will arrive at in a few days. Not without taking some scrapes, either.

The Shevar, and presumably everyone else, are still using orbital missile bases for planetary defense. They’re powerful but short-range. We, on the other hand, have just discovered tractor beams that will allow us to draw ships into range of our planets — making planets even more effective at holding our territory.

But on top of that, we’ve begun researching the Murgatroyd Hypothesis, which will finally grant us better orbital weapons than missile bases: the Short Range Orbital Whopper.

Stop. Time out. Pause.

…what?

Forget orbital whoppers. What. Is. That.

It’s… a, um… sensor system.

Gizmo.

Yes, Appropriator?

You’re a sensor system.

An extremely advanced, sentient sensor system.

I’m getting my strategic advice from a glorified telescope… We are not putting this part in the history books.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 1628.2

This is as far as the Exploitation’s exploratory mission got:

It didn’t end well.

The bigger news is that the Marmosians have made a move on Atropos. They arrived in Barataria with three enormous ships.

And there was some taunting involved from the Marmosian crews headed into battle…

But I believe it was my wise counsel that eventually convinced the Appropriator to rally the troops.

I don’t get “counselled” by my sensors. I made this call on my own.

Whatever the case, half our forces have broken off and followed the Marmosians into the star lane. The Gadgeteer, Midway, Fortuity, and Finder-Keeper remain behind.

The rest will arrive in Atropos in two days.

Hold onto your whatever stringrays have for butts.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 1630.1

Our fleet is about to exit the star lane into the Atropos System. The recorder will remain online for the ensuing battle.

Direct transmocomm link established with the Board. I’m sure they will have many valuable suggestions to shout panickedly at us for the next few hours.

Wonderful.

Alright, folks. Here we go!

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