Author Topic: A New Era  (Read 10358 times)

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Offline Rabid_Cog

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A New Era
« on: February 18, 2013, 02:05:49 PM »
Introduction

“A little more to the right” US ordered the two drones carrying the big, bulky console.  Obediently, they shuffled a bit in the indicated direction, groaning under weight.
 “On second thought, rather move it over there” she said, pointing to the other side of what was soon going to be Swarm Hive’s new command chamber. The two drones groaned even louder. “And hurry, the launch is happening in less than an hour!”
The little corner of Lambda Hive that had been the previous Swarm Hive had been cramped back when all they had to do was manage a few factories and all the problems were dealt with on site, but a steady influx of volunteer infertiles and assigned drone workers meant that the tunnels were steadily overflowing more and more. Eventually, as efficiency began to suffer, Swarm Command was moved to an extension of the Academy. For obvious reasons, expanding on the surface was far easier than tunneling out new passages underground.
Of course, US hadn’t minded the bit of distance this gave her to the other queens at all. Security was a little better here and the proximity of Infertile students nearby gave IM a source of close, moderately trustworthy labour.
“US, the shipyards send word that they are almost ready for launch. If we want to watch, we are going to have to hurry” PC shouted from the doorway.
“Almost done, just need to get this screen connected” US replied. “Where’s IM?”
“Out back in the Memorial Garden.Again.”
“PC! I told you not to call it that. It’s just a pile of bloody rocks! Why is she moping around out there so much anyway? I swear the fresh air here on the surface is addling her brain.”
PC shook her head. “She isn’t moping, she’s… thinking. Puzzling even.”
“Well, whatever she’s doing, get her in here! She’s going to miss the launch!”

IM sat quietly on the ground, sipping water from a flask and breathing in the fresh air of the surface world as she stared at the small cairn of stones and pondered its meaning. It was nothing more than eight roundish stones stacked on top of one another, apparently in remembrance of HN-31 and her team. At least, that was what the drones had said.
The Henry Hudson had… been lost. Struck by a stray micrometeorite in deep space, IM and the rest of Swarm Hive could do nothing but listen powerlessly to the distress calls as the surviving crew slowly died from asphyxiation and cold. The Sir Francis Drake had taken over a month to reach the tumbling wreck and by then it was cold and silent. There had been no survivors, not HN nor any of her team that were being transported to their next survey location. Their bodies were only recovered long enough to make positive identifications before being ejected back out the airlock. To IM, it served as a brutal reminder of the harshness of space.
The little pile of stones was the real mystery, however. For even though everyone knew drones lacked the ability to take initiative or make decisions on their own, they had somehow gotten it into their heads to erect this little memorial. Nobody had told them to do it, not one of her infertiles and certainly not a Hive Queen. And yet here it stood.
The others were mostly ignoring it, even though the implications were mildly troubling. It meant that the drones understood the importance of what HN was doing and possessed the emotional investment to want it not to be forgotten. Perhaps most distressing was the fact that no order they had could in any way be interpreted to have them do this. They showed initiative, something they weren’t supposed to have.
‘And if they have their own initiative, for what do they need Queens, besides as egg factories? Why don’t they just lead themselves?’ IM wondered.
“IM!” a voice carried faintly from the entrance of the facility a few hundred meters away, breaking the silence and interrupting her thoughts.
“What?” IM shouted back, mildly annoyed, as the figure of PC came running over. Why the silly queen hadn’t just sent a drone was beyond her.
“You’re going to miss the launch!” PC shouted. “They aren’t going to wait for you!”
“I have time, it’s only…” IM replied and fished a chronometer out of a side pouch. Immediately she sprang to her feet. “Hell, have I been sitting here this long already? I’m on my way.”

A lot of things had changed in the last three years. Most important of them all, the first two prototypes of a new Transnewtonian engine had been delivered. Through some miracle of science, it converted raw nuclear energy directly into thrust. Not the safest proposition, but it worked like a charm. Soon, the first two ships mounting these engines would be completed and ready for operations in deep space. The first was the Myrkul II class freighter. Essentially the hull of the old Myrkul fitted with the new engines.
The second ship was the one that was really exciting. It had been a brand new design by PC, mostly, and it, the Balor class, was slightly larger than the old Swaard class survey ships at 2300 tons, but in that space it fitted roughly the same loadout that the Swaard had carried except for two (2!) of the fastest, sleekest, most powerful engines the Swarm had ever produced. It was, in reality, a big prototype. The exact capabilities of the engines were as yet unknown.

US watched as a drone crawled out from under the monitor and nodded at her. Everything was connected and ready to receive the data stream from the shipyard.
“US! Are we ready?” IM shouted down the corridor. The security doors hadn’t even been installed yet, but there was no time to wait for such luxuries.
“Almost, just booting up!” US shouted back and she could hear the skittering sounds of the others claws coming closer.
The screen flickered to life just as PC and IM rushed in and took their positions near the centre. The room was crowded with infertiles and drones, all curious to see the big event.
“Fuel valves are nominal” the emotionless voice of UU-78-OLP, assigned captain of the Endymion, the new Balor class vessel, echoed over the speakers. “Checking injectors… Fuel injectors nominal.”
They were in time, but only barely. The ship was already going over its final pre-launch checklist.

On the bridge of the Endymion, things were tense, to put it mildly. They were flying an untested ship with untested engines operating on untested principles based on untested theory. And if things went wrong…? Well, they were NUCLEAR thermal engines and nothing with the word nuclear in ever went wrong gently.
“Coolant systems nominal” UU-78 reported methodically over the comms system to the eggheads in the control room aboard the shipyard. The one comforting thought she had was that if things did go horribly, catastrophically wrong the moment the engines powered up, those same eggheads who built the thing should still be inside the blast radius.
“All systems good to go” was finally transmitted from command as she reported the last of her systems functional. “Two minutes to launch. Initiate drive power.”
“Power up the engines” she commanded, her claws digging into the sides of her command chair. The first place that things could go wrong was the moment those drives got a taste of power…

“Launch in 5… 4… 3…”
“I hope it doesn’t blow up!” PC quipped.
“2… 1… releasing clamps.”
As the ship was being launched from the shipyard already in space, the launch itself was nothing like the spine-jarring, filling-rattling ordeal that was a conventional planetside launch using rocket motors. Instead, it consisted of nothing more than a sequence of pops as the docking clamps blew off (in a very carefully calculated fashion so as not to accidentally propel the ship into its moorings) and a gentle tug as the maneuvering jets slowly pushed the ship out of its slipway.
A rousing cheer echoed through Swarm Hive from drones and infertiles alike. Nothing had exploded yet, and, all things considered, that was a very good thing.
IM quickly ordered silence as the captain of the ship spoke again. "We have cleared the yard. I repeat,Endymion is clear of the shipyard."
"Roger, Endymion, proceed with the first phase of testing."
Some activity became visible on the ship as it prepared for acceleration. At the moment it was doing little more than coasting.
"Why are we doing these tests anyway? I thought we already put this ship through its paces in the dock" one of the other infertiles asked.
IM turned to her. "Because this will be the first full scale test of this propulsion technology."
"And we have no actual idea how fast this thing will go" PC added. "Faster than the old Hecatesdefinately, but the question is how much faster?"
"How fast do you think?" US asked with a sly smile.
"Well... if I had to guess, we will probably reach five hundred clicks per second. It's designed for speed, though, so we might even make a thousand!"
"No way it will hit a thousand" another infertile said.
The concept of gambling was completely alien to the Wrix - since their concept of ownership was a bit off by our standards - but if it had not been, then at this point a furious frenzy of betting would have broken out, most likely with US-93 acting as bookie. As it was, they simply settled for arguing.
"Everybody shut up!" IM eventually shouted. "It's picking up speed!"
"Speed at hundred kilometres per second..." the pilot of the Endymion said impassively over comms. "Hundred and twenty... hundred and fifty... keep pushing the power up slowly... hundred and ninety... two hundred."
There was another short cheer from the command room. Two hundred was twice as fast as the fastest Wrix vessel had ever traveled and it had been phase one for the Endymion.
"Confirm, Endymion. Report power levels" the mission control unit ordered. In time this would fall under Swarm Hive's responsibility, but for ease of management, it had been left in the hands of the shipyard's own control centre for this test.
"Power levels at... holy crap! We're only using four percent of our juice!" the chief engineer on board the Endymion reported back, excitement creeping into her voice.
"Roger Endymion, but please give exact values."
"Uh, sorry, 4.5318% of maximum power."
"Roger. Proceed to phase two."
An undercurrent of murmured excitement was sweeping Swarm Command. Phase two involved pushing the engines up to half power or five hundred kilometres per second, whichever came first.

The pilot locked the throttle as the ship settled in at its new speed of 500 km/s.
"Hmph, that was easier than expected" UU thought to herself. The helmsdrone had, in anticipation of the somewhat larger power requirement that was going to be needed, pushed the engine power levels up quite quickly before realising that far less power was needed than was expected. The net result was that the targeted speed was reached far quicker than anticipated.
"Control, this is Endymion reporting phase two complete. Speed is five hundred, over" the captain reported.
"Report status and power levels, Endymion" Control responded.
"Nothing much to report, bit of vibration but nothing serious. As for power, it seems we are at..." UU checked her command console, "9.2543% of maximum. This bird has some serious power, I just hope the frame can hold it."
"Your concern is noted, UU-78. Continue to phase three."
Phase three was what scared UU-78 most. It involved pushing the engines to full power to see how fast the ship could go.

The speed went up and up. It passed a thousandkilometres per second without even noticing. Thousand one-hundred.Thousand  two-hundred. Thousand three-hundred. And still there was more power to give.
In the control room aboard the Gamma Yards (bit of a misnomer as the shipyards had long been under the control of Swarm Hive. Still, the name had stuck) the atmosphere was tense as well. Though their lives weren't on the line as those on board the Endymion were, they all wanted to see success.
In the corner, mostly unnoticed, sat a drone manning a rather less than important console. Despite his unimportance to this endeavor, he was especially nervous.
"Confirm speed one point seven kilos per second, Endymion. Report status and power levels" the operations commander in the centre of the control centre said into her headset.
"40.144 percent power, Control" UU's voice came back. "But the shaking is starting to get noticable. I'm worried about our structural integrity if we go much faster."
"Do you believe your ship to be in immenent danger?"
There was a short pause over the line. "Negative, Control."
"Roger, Endymion. Continue to increase power."
The  speed continued to increase, and with it the vibration on board the ship. It wasn't long before it started to get visible even over the comms link. At just over two thousand kilometres per second (back in Swarm Hive, a large cheer had erupted), the Endymion once again reported in.
"Control, we are at 2064 km/s and 73.725% power but the vibration has gotten so bad I feel it is unsafe to continue. Permission to abort phase three."
"Confirmed, Endymion. Your objections have been noted and you have per... please hold, Endymion. Emergency transmission from Gamma Hive inbound."
The drone in the corner blanched and held the little disc tighter in his hand. This was what they had been afraid of.
Gamma's face appeared on a second screen, next to that of the commlink to the ship.
"Endymion, ignore your previous orders from Control. You are to proceed with phase three at all costs" she stated simply.
"Gamma, your Majesty, with all due respect, this ship is not under your command and you cannot give orders here" UU replied carefully.
"Perhaps not, but we control Swarm Hive and Swarm Hive commands you. I am not alone: Kappa, Rho, Sigma and the entire Epsilon Conglomerate are in agreement with me on this. They should already be sending their confirmations of this."
Green checkboxes with hive names began appearing on the bottom of the screen, denoting hives who have signaled their agreement. A very notable red checkbox immediately appeared named 'Swarm' but everyone involved was aware how little that really meant.
"Your Majesty, please reconsider. This ship is valuable and this test..." UU tried but Gamma cut her off.
"This ship's only current value is in its capability to test these engines. Now increase power to 100% or don’t bother coming back!"
UU only stared at Gamma for a few seconds before finally shrugging. “I guess you are the boss.  Endymion, confirming continuation of Phase Three. Helmsman, let’s die gloriously, shall we?”

The corner drone inside the control room was shaking as he slipped the disc into the slot next to his console. So much so, that the drone next to him grabbed his arm.
“Pull yourself together dammit! You’re going to arouse suspicion!” he hissed.
The corner drone pulled his arm away and hissed back, “Let go! I’m fine. This is my task.”
“Then what are you waiting for? Activate it. We are all ready.”
“Only if things go wrong. It might still be okay” the corner drone replied.
His neighbor only shook his head as he turned back to his own console. Over the comms system, they could clearly hear UU trying to keep the ship together as the speed climbed.

“2100 km/s, 81% power, but the shaking is really bad… 2110 km/s… 2120 km/s…”
An edge of panic was creeping into her voice. The word ‘NUCLEAR’ kept flashing through her head. If the engine shielding failed they wouldn’t even have time to realize it had done so before they all turned to gaseous form.  Unless only the radiation shielding cracked, in which case they would get to experience a slow, agonizing radiation death.
UU shook her head and focused on the speed indicator again. “2130 km/s… about 88% power… 2140 km/s”
The speed was going up far slower now and the increased stresses on the ship frame made them squeal in complaint. Somewhere from deep inside the ship’s hull a loud clank echoed through the hull. UU just hoped it wasn’t something important.
“2150 km/s… I can’t believe we’re still alive… 2160 km/s… come on baby, just a little bit more… 2165 km/s, 95% power…”
So close… so close… her hearts were racing and her entire body would have been shaking if it wasn’t already being thrown around like a ragdoll by the shaking ship.
“2170 km/s, I think this is about it control, we are at 98% power…”
“Keep going!” Gamma commanded over the comms. She still hadn’t broken her connection.
“2171 km/s… 2172 km/s… 21…”
Suddenly, a massive jolt shook the entire ship, snapping off several of the less well fastened fixtures on the bridge and sending a number of drones tumbling. A cacophony of metal screeching and grinding against itself from somewhere deeper within the ship nearly deafened her.
“Shut it down! Shut down the engines!” she screeched above the noise, but the helmsdrone had already reacted and cut the throttle. The ship lurched a bit as the engines powered down and then everything was quiet and still.
“Damage report!” she demanded.
“We’re working on it” one of the drones responded, its arms tapping rapidly at its command console, “but with only backup power its slow going. Doesn’t seem like we had a catastrophic hull breach though, because we are still alive.”
“Thank you genius. I suppose next you’re going to tell me we lost comms?” UU replied sarcastically. The little comms screen on her chair was pitch black.
“Huh. Guess we did. I’ll add that to the list” one of the other drones said.
“No, sorry, that was me!” one of the infertiles on the bridge responded. “Pressed the wrong button. I’ll have it back up in a jiffy!”

“It’s time!” the second drone hissed at the first.
“Not yet! We don’t know what happened!” the corner drone hissed back. The entire command centre was in an uproar, drones and infertiles rushing everywhere as they tried to figure out what had happened. Nobody even paid attention to the argument in the remote corner of the room.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what happened! The Endymion is gone and it’s time for us to act!” He reached across to his partner’s console, but was batted away.
“It’s my job and I’ll do it! Just give me a second to prepare myself, dammit! This is a pretty big step for us.”
“Then press the damn button already!” the second drone shouted. In the confusion, nobody but an infertile rushing past on some errand even noticed. She stopped and stared at them for a few seconds, but when the two drones only stared back, she continued on her way.
“Look what you almost did!” the corner drone hissed, barely audible now.
“It was you, wasting time!” the other replied.
“No!”
“Yes!”
“Control, this is Endymion” the loud, if slightly haggard voice of UU-78 sounded over the comms speakers and the entire room went quiet. “We are alive, if a bit shaken up.”
“Roger, Endymion!” the Command infertile responded. “What is your status? Are you heavily damaged?”
“Umm, we’re still busy checking, but so far it seems the major damage occurred in one of the cargo bays. We’re not exactly sure why yet, but it seems some of our supplies got loose and smashed two bulkheads into the neighbouring cargo bays. There is some hull damage, but no major breaches so it seems we are okay. Ironically, part of our damage control network seems to be the only serious damage.”
“You’ll be able to bring the ship home?”
“Seems like it. We checked the engine and its shielding as best we good and it seems completely untouched. And after checking our computer records, we have some good news, Control.”
“What would that be Endymion?” the infertile asked eagerly.
“For exactly 0.3 seconds the Endymion was at one hundred percent power and reached a speed of 2173 km/s. Phase Three was a success.”
This elicited a round of laughter from those in the control room.
“Good job, UU. Bring her home as soon as you are ready.”
In the far corner, a drone breathed a sigh of relief and quietly slipped a disc back into its vest pocket.

After returning to dock it turned out that the damage to the Endymion was caused by a small part of the structure of the ship that hadn’t been properly installed and had given way under stress, causing some secondary damage when the stack of engineering supplies that had been attached to it suddenly became a kinetic missile. The sources of the vibration – some of them badly installed parts, some simply badly designed due to lack of experience with such high speed craft – were tracked down and eliminated with the help of the numerous sensors that had been installed all across the ship. In another ironic twist of fate, one of these very sensors turned out to be a major contributor to the problem. Within a matter of weeks, the Endymion was fully repaired and overhauled and on its following test easily reached 100% power with only very minor vibrations.

OOC
A bit of fun to commemorate my return. This all takes place before the actual start of my game and just serves as an introduction.
Obviously a few things have changed since we last saw the Wrix a few years ago. Most of the main players are still there, except, obviously, HN and her crew of geologists. RIP HN-31. The biggest change is that of the star system Home itself. By necessity, I was forced to reroll a new suitable system and populate it accordingly. The important worlds are still there, details can be found in the other thread (http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,5660.0.html).
The Wrix technology has improved a little in the few years that have passed and they now have access to Cryogenic Transport, Construction Brigade, Nuclear Thermal Engines and the two engine types currently fitted to the Balor class (Endymion) and the Myrkul II.
I have not really altered the industrial capacity of the Wrix, leaving their total factories and mines as is, but I have also not altered their mineral deposits or mineral stockpiles AT ALL. This means that industrially, the Wrix are nearly exactly where they were when I last left off. It was just simpler this way than trying to gauge how much production would have occurred.
The Wrix will start with three ships: the Sir Francis Drake with conventional engines, the new Balor class starship, the Endymion and the brand new Myrkul II class freighter, both fitted with the new Nuclear Thermal engines. The Hudson had been lost to a collision with some bit of space debris.
The Wrix have not yet had time to apply their cryo transport or con brigade technologies, but both of those will get implemented shortly, especially with the recoverable facilities on First Stop. In addition, if you had read the construction thread (where I built the system) you might have noticed that I had accidentally dropped a big fat ruin on Wrixom itself. By accident. For now, I’m going to ignore this ruin as the Wrix are not aware of it, but it does exist and may be found at some point in the future. I may either bring it in purely through the power of narrative, or I might create some arbitrary rule to determine when and if the Wrix discover this treasure trove. Who knows what direction my whims go?
The solar situation (sun cooling down) is still a narrative only mechanic and doesn’t actually exist in the game. I have, however, lowered the temperature of Wrixom slightly by altering the atmospheric composition to simulate the cooling planet. Still within tolerances, but its effect is noticeable. Since we last saw the Wrix, the Home star has slowed its rate of cooling, but nobody knows whether that will last.
The various research facilities work on improving the NT engine designs in order to increase fuel efficiency.
So… that’s it. I will probably only do fluff pieces occasionally as I am rather eager to progress the game and see what happens.
I have my own subforum now!
Shameless plug for my own Aurora story game:
5.6 part: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,4988.0.html
6.2 part: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,5906.0.html

Feel free to post comments!
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2013, 03:21:20 AM »
1 January 2021
Our story starts with the launch of the first Myrkul II. It’s design is very similar to that of the old Myrkul class but the engine had been replaced with a new Nuclear Thermal design allowing much greater speed. As such, it is a freighter capable of carrying 5000 tons of cargo with a mass of just over 10000 tons. During testing, the ship achieves a top speed of 930 km/s, slower than the new Balor class, but still firmly dumping the old Myrkul design into the ‘completely obsolete’ box. Kappa’s new engines might have taken their time to arrive, but they sure delivered. Gamma Yards is also ordered to begin replacing the Drake’s old pair of conventional engines with a single NT engine. Some napkin math by PC indicates that with the refit, the Drake might be even faster than the Endymion due to its far lower mass. The Swarm Yards begin construction of a variant of the Myrkul II, the Myrkul IIB, where the cargo holds are reorganized slightly to hold the new cryogenics berths. These will be used to transport drones en-masse to other planets.
On the planet, plans are made to sink a few new mining shafts at some of the more inhospitable resource areas using the automated mines pioneered by Omega. At the same time, construction starts on several new factories.
The team of xenologists that had returned from First Stop begin teaching a larger group of drones at the academy how to repair and reactivate the alien structures, with the idea of eventually sending them back to the planet to bring the old buildings back online if they are able. Gamma, of course, sponsors everything.
I have my own subforum now!
Shameless plug for my own Aurora story game:
5.6 part: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,4988.0.html
6.2 part: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,5906.0.html

Feel free to post comments!
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2013, 04:56:47 AM »
6 January 2021
After undergoing several tests and a minor refit, the Myrkul II is finally tasked with shipping infrastructure to First Stop.

11 January 2021
In a rather surprise move, the Epsilon Group also launches a ship. While Swarm Hive had been aware that they were busy with their own ship production, what is surprising is that planetary sensors read the ship to be double the size of a Myrkul.
After several frantic minutes of panicking, contact is finally established with the Epsilon Group and it is confirmed that the ship is indeed a vessel designed to transport drones. However, construction had already started before the new cryo berths had become available and as such the ship used the more conventional, if far less efficient, system of simply carrying sufficient provisions and having enough living space for the drones en route. It also includes a few quarters of increased luxury for the transport of Hive Queens.

OOC
The Epsilon Group represents all my civilian shipping lines. With the new patch, civvies are now designing their own ships. Too bad they start off with a bloody spaceliner  ::)
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 11:17:57 PM by Rabid_Cog »
I have my own subforum now!
Shameless plug for my own Aurora story game:
5.6 part: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,4988.0.html
6.2 part: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,5906.0.html

Feel free to post comments!
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2013, 11:25:48 PM »
21 January 2021
Epsilon launches another ship, a freighter three times as large as a Myrkul. When asked about the size of her vessels, Epsilon simply stated "We want to get everyone off the planet, don't we?"

22 January 2021
Observation reveals that while Epsilon's vessels are far larger than that of the Swarm, they are also far slower. An agreement is reached whereby the Epsilon Group would handle bulk transport and regular shipments such as supplies while the Swarm's freighters handle smaller, time-critical shipments. The agreement suits both parties.

10 February 2021
A group of Hive Queens meet with IM electronically to discuss the worsening mineral situation. While Wrixom is in no danger of running out of minerals any time soon, stockpiles of Neutronium and Mercassium are running low with Mercassium being dangerously low with only 600 tons remaining. Luckily, this is due to all the new science facilities being constructed recently and production is currently greater than demand so the stockpiles are growing. It is used in the construction of cryo berths, however, and as such it remains a concern.
Of perhaps greater concern are the Gallicite and Vendarite situations. Both suffer from low production due to scarcity and high consumption due to construction.
The best source of Vendarite is clearly determined to be Rube with over a hundred thousand tons of easily accessable ore and the added bonus of also containing significant amounts of Mercassium, also easily accessable.
Unfortunately, Rube contains no Gallicite. The largest, most easily accessable deposit of Gallicite in the system is, in fact, the planet targeted by the Swarm to be its new home, the third planet around Home-B, their sun's binary companion. This planet, henceforth to be called New Wrixom, has good Vendarite deposits but its Mercassium deposits are very deep and difficult to get to.
Neither New Wrixom nor Rube contain any Neutronium.
Eventually it is decided to focus all efforts on New Wrixom as it will be most able to sustain large scale mining operations and to ignore Rube until Mercassium once again becomes critical. As an addendum, it is decided to order the Swarm Myrkul II to begin transferring infrastructure to New Wrixom, but to leave the Epsilon Group doing transport to First Stop. The Swarm freighter's higher speed will make the vast distance to New Wrixom far less of a problem and it is imperative that both First Stop and New Wrixom are developed as soon as possible.

OOC
I feel like I'm skirting the edge of a mineral catastrophe. Four minerals with the potential of becoming significant bottlenecks in the near forseeable future... I don't like it. The Mercassium crunch is especially harsh, even though net production is positive. I still need it to build colony ships, but I really want to get a couple of research facilities down. Choices, choices...
I have my own subforum now!
Shameless plug for my own Aurora story game:
5.6 part: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,4988.0.html
6.2 part: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php/topic,5906.0.html

Feel free to post comments!
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2013, 08:01:17 AM »
20 February 2021
The Sir Francis Drake completes its refit at Gamma Yards. Due to mineral shortages, no further construction is started.
During tests, the little vessel reaches speeds of 2631 km/s, setting the record for fastest spaceflight. Gamma is very pleased that her ship is now faster than the Swarm's ship, even if it is far smaller.
In other record-breaking news, Epsilon breaks the record for the largest spacefaring vessel ever constructed when it reveals its top secret (Lambda knew but felt it too unimportant to inform Swarm Hive and risk burning intelligence assets) project and a ship of over fifty thousand tonnes takes up orbit around Wrixom.
IM's only comment was "Damn, Epsilon isn't screwing around."

2 March 2021
"It's a power play, but I don't know to what end" US explained. "Sure, she can impress the hell out of anybody, but what does she think she will gain?"
IM shrugged. She and US were sitting in the new bunker below the new Swarm Hive. Their topic of conversation was Epsilon and her grandiose display of transporting capacity. IM had become worried that Epsilon was gunning to replace Swarm Hive.
"If anything, this is good for us on several fronts" US stated.
This made IM give her a sceptical look.
"How is Epsilon completely showing us up with less resources at her disposal a good thing for us?" she asked.
"Firstly, she is almost guaranteeing the Wrix' ability to get off this rock before it freezes, so we are free to focus on fixing these mineral problems we will be having shortly. Secondly, she is drawing attention. Do you remember how I told you that several of the Queens would have your head on a pole given half the chance? Well, they care substantially less now. Epsilon is the new target of their jealousy."
"So you are saying we can ignore her?" IM asked.
US thought for a few moments before replying. "Perhaps not quite. If their evacuation is assured and we no longer provide anything then the Swarm will be disbanded. With extreme prejudice. But we have hardly been idle recently, have we? If anything, we are busier than ever!"
IM nodded slowly and stared vacantly at the big jammer humming in the corner. This time they had had it checked for recording devices from top to bottom. Lambda's recorder had been discovered - and had explained much - when they had moved to this hive. It had kicked up a small smegstorm, but by that time Lambda was so integrated into their computer systems that it hardly mattered. At least security was tighter than ever.
"I suppose it is also the ban on warfare we enforce and the scientific breakthroughs we made and gave Epsilon for free that has allowed her to construct these vessels without having to worry about being attacked by some jealous Queen" IM admitted.
"Exactly! But her biggest advantage is her total lack of accountability. Everything we do is second guessed by close to a hundred primadonnas who all think they should have our job. Epsilon does whatever the hell she pleases whenever she pleases. If she just decided to evacuate her own hive and leave everyone else then there is almost nothing anyone can do about it. For that reason alone, she will never replace Swarm Hive."
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2013, 04:30:13 AM »
21 March 2021
Using its new transport capability, the Epsilon Group reestablishes its mining colony on Rube with the Swarm's blessing. This neatly solves the Mercassium problem as the mineral can now be extracted without investing Swarm assets, it only needs to be shipped every once in a while. Epsilon had drawn the line at both mining and transporting the minerals for the Swarm.

21 April 2021
A startling new suggestion is made to a meeting of Queens by some infertile from Nero Hive few had ever heard of before. Instead of trying to get offworld before Wrixom can no longer support Wrix biology, why not just change Wrix biology? The idea is radical, but the infertile, LA-14-OZF, is almost certain that it is possible with some research.
After some discussion back and forth it is finally rejected due to the research time that would be required to make it viable. It is decided to rather stick with the current direction than risk everything on some plan that may or may not be able to achieve success.
It is at this point that IM remarks that these same biology alterations can be made to make New Wrixom and First Stop, both of which are mildly hostile to Wrix, more pleasant places to live.
In the end it is agreed that while the idea will not be implemented immediately, it will be considered again in the future.
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 05:17:41 AM »
16 August 2021
Research is completed into the improved efficiency engines. This provides no speed advantages but less fuel usage means longer range and smaller fuel tanks. The next project is finding a way to use the new TN materials in the construction of starship hulls, to make them lighter and stronger. It is hoped that this will serve to make larger ships more viable. It is decided NOT to develop a working prototype with this technology as the gains are too slight to justify the time expenditure.
Unfortunately, there are no infertiles available with any proficiency in working with Duranium so LA-14, the geneticist, is put in charge of the project.

8 January 2022
Development of a new alloy is completed that is both workable and extremely durable. It is considered a quantum leap in armour technology and it isn't long before every hive on the planet starts refitting their armored vehicles with it. The fact that every hive has equal access to the technology does help to prevent any trouble from arising.
One of the researchers from the earlier fuel efficiency research believe they may have found a way to increase power by sacrificing a bit of fuel efficiency. Follow up research is authorised.
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2013, 01:29:16 AM »
3 March 2022
The Myrkul IIB finally launches from the Swarm Yards orbiting Wrixom. It is a freighter that has been reconfigured to transport live cargo in suspended animation.
As its first mission is being planned, Gamma contacts Swarm Command and demands ownership of the vessel, citing a clause in the agreement reached over First Stop. At first, IM protests, but a quick check of the logs from several years ago reveals that Swarm Hive had indeed promised Gamma the first vessel capable of transporting large numbers of drones to come out of its shipyard. Defeated, IM is forced to give in and orders the vessel handed over to Gamma who immediately begins transporting large portions of her hive to First Stop.
The shipyard immediately begins construction of another Myrkul II class freighter. Infrastructure is not being transported quickly enough.

26 August 2022
A proof of concept model is delivered by the researchers working on the high powered engines. Unfortunately one of the findings of the team is that such engines would NOT be suitable for fitting to civilian craft. As such, it is decided not to proceed with a full scale prototype and instead the researchers are assigned to work on some new toys for themselves which would likely help them work faster in the future. Unfortunately, a lot of work would still need to be done.

Edit: OOC
I hate biology researchers! It's the most useless field and you always get the most researchers for it. Not having a construction/production researcher is REALLY annoying.
Forgot to post this OOC last time.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 01:42:19 AM by Rabid_Cog »
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 01:45:35 AM »
21 September 2022
The second Myrkul II slips out of Swarm Yards. It is immediately assigned to begin shipping infrastructure to New Wrixom while a second Myrkul IIB begins construction in the shipyard.

26 February 2023
The last planned mining shaft is sunk near the frigid arctic circle and work begins on a new research facility. Mercassium had accumulated sufficiently to allow its construction.

6 September 2023
By this time, due to the work of Gamma's Myrkul IIB, First Stop has over a million drones on it. In exchange for the promise of future Mercassium shipments, IM agrees to use one of her Myrkul II's to transport mining equipment to the planet. With an availability of 0.6, it is one of the best sources of Mercassium in the solar system and the Swarm cannot allow petty grievances to get in the way of progress.
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2013, 05:14:42 AM »
22 November 2023
After over two years of training, planning, equipping and shipping drones and equipment piecemeal to First Stop, the 1st Construction Brigade is finally on the planet. Under great scrutiny by the other hives, they begin excavating the ruins. Gamma had agreed to allow observers at the dig site from other hives in the Swarm in exchange for full rights to whatever was found.

OOC
Yes indeed, I have cheated a bit and moved one of my construction brigades to First Stop using SM mode. I figured since I can theoretically transport drones and their equipment and I do not need to do a combat drop, why do I need the military transport tech? Surely freighters and colony ships can move a brigade given enough time.
Of course, if I hit a vault of bots I'm going to be in trouble. Oh well.
Also, there are now 10 salvagable installations on First Stop thanks to the recreation of the system.

26 November 2023
The second Myrkul IIB is completed. The Swarm is finally able to start moving drones to New Wrixom which has already had several thousand tons of life support infrastructure deposited on it. After a quick meeting it is decided that a multi-hive drone contingent will be sent to the planet to begin preparing proper hives. Of course, Gamma is omitted from this group, but with her own colony vessel she is hardly bothered.
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2013, 01:18:33 AM »
7 December 2023
"Why was this thing made a priority? It looks like a garbage heap" drone GFT-51180 asked his fellow member of 1st Construction Brigade.
"Original surveys determined it to be some sort of deep space scanning structure. That means it is most likely military in origin. And you know what that means" GPT-51161 replied.
"Military tech. Yeah, I got it. So are we ready to switch it on and see what we got?" GFT asked.
"Generators are hooked up. Go ahead" another drone replied.
"Rogeo."
GFT  stuck his bony arms deep inside the open metal panel on the side of the building until he reached the two wires he was looking for. After bracing himself against possible electrocution, he gingerly touched them together. There was a loud crack as the charge jumped between them and a soft hum began eminating from the building. On top of the structure, an alien doohickey began rotating.
"That was anticlimactic" GPT said.
"Yeah. Next building?"
"Next building."

OOC
The deep space tracking installation gives me a second pair of eyes in the system. Not particularly useful yet, but its still worth more than a single factory.
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2013, 06:18:57 AM »
27 February 2024
After numerous failed attempts at repairing a second tracking station, it is concluded that the structure is beyond repair. Effort continues on the next structure.

7 March 2024
Another research facility is inaugerated on Wrixom. This puts the total number of research facilities on the planet at 6.

8 April 2024
"So it has power. Now... what is it?" GFT asked.
They had managed to get the latest facility up and running, the only problem was they had no idea what it was supposed to  be. Inside were syringes, tubes and tanks of all kinds, but no clues as to what they were supposed to do.
"No clue. Hey, GII, did you find any databanks inside?" GHT shouted at a drone coming out.
"Just one" the drone replied. "Just appears to be a list of gibberish."
"Gibberish? Are you sure you ran it through the translator correctly?" GFT asked.
"Dead sure. We're gonna have to send it back to Wrixom and get the eggheads to check it out."
GHT sighed. "Gamma isn't gonna be happy. She wants to keep everything we find."
GII just shrugged. "She can keep it, but that isn't gonna help her much. Oh, I also suggest we send a floorplan and a description of the place along. Who knows, maybe somebody back home can figure out what this place is."
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2013, 01:44:34 PM »
9 April 2024
LA-14's hands shook as she read the printout. As she flipped the pages, she became more and more sure.
“Do you know what this means?” she asked softly.
“We were kind of hoping you could tell us” US replied. “That’s why we had you flown in from your rather busy work. We’ve managed to determine those words could be some kind of chemical compounds, but none of our infertiles had any idea what they could mean.”
Gamma had finally relented and passed the data from the find on First Stop on to Swarm Hive. Some drone had also been a little creative with interpreting her orders and included a highly detailed floor plan of the structure.
“This” she said, tapping the stack of pages, “is confirmation of all my theories. These are not simple chemical compounds, they’re proteins. And if I’m not mistaken, they have some sort of DNA altering functionality.”
“So these are plans for some kind of bioweapon?” US asked, alarmed.
LA just waved her off. “I suppose it could be used as a rather weak bioweapon if you were determined to do so, but I have a different theory. I wasn’t quite sure, but after looking at the floor plans of that place I’m certain.It looks rather like some kind of twisted medical facility, I think a genetics treatment centre.”
“A what?”
“Genetics treatment centre. A place that alters your genetic code.”
US just gave her a blank, if slightly horrified, look.
“Look, all you need to know is that using this place we can probably alter drones to be able to walk on First Stop or New Wrixom with NO environmental gear. No rebreathers, no heat suits. Nothing.”
US turned thoughtful for a few seconds. She wasn’t generally slow on the uptake, but this was downright alien.
“So what you’re telling me,” she said, “is that we can adapt ourselves to the conditions on other planets?”
LA smiled. “Yes. Among other things...”

OOC
A genetics facility. Oh boy… this changes things a bit. I had originally intended to use terraformers to nudge First Stop and New Wrixom into the fully habitable range, but this gives me other options. I know genetics things are generally too garbage to make them worth the research time, but here I already have a fully functional genetics facility. That saves some construction costs. And I’ll have to research terraformers first anyway.
Also, storyline wise, this is the first possibility the Wrix have discovered of surviving their global freeze without leaving their homeworld. It will probably trump some fantasy of perhaps one day altering the atmospheric composition of an entire planet.
Meh, I’m torn.
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2013, 04:48:40 AM »
24 May 2024
The first of two twin potential military structures on First Stop is found to be beyond repair. Although schematics, or at the very least derived schematics, of what the structures are supposed to look like are available, some of the required components simply cannot be manufactured due to a lack of the correct materials or skills/production processes.

29 May 2024
Using salvaged components of the other building, the second twin comes online. The long light strips coating the roof flicker several times before finally settling into a bright, even glow.
“What is this place?” GFT asked, somewhat awestruck by the complex machines that seemingly reached up to the roof.
“Dunno, factory of some kind if I had to guess” GHT replied and pointed at what appeared to be a mold of some kind along the wall.
“No way. I worked in a construction factory back on Wrixom for three years after I was born. This looks nothing like that” GFT replied.
“Alien factory?” one of the other constructors guessed.
The sound of running skittering claws came from deeper inside the facility. From around one of the tall machines came a drone running and carrying a very unmistakably shaped elongated metal object with stabilizing wings.
“Hey! Look what I found in… whoops!” The drone stopped mid-sentence as one of his claws hooked onto some of the machine parts lying all over the floor and sent him sprawling. The other drones scattered behind the biggest, most solid bits of machinery they could find as the missile hit the metal floor with a loud clang and skidded to a halt. A few seconds passed before anyone moved.
“Be careful with that you imbecile! It could have had a nuclear warhead!” someone shouted from behind a machine.
The fallen drone got up and dusted himself off.
“No, it’s fine!  It’s just the shell of the missile, see? No engine and no warhead” he shouted back as he picked up the missile and pointed the end at the drones now peering out from behind their cover. This allowed them to see right through the empty missile shell.
“Phew, that was close” GFT commented. “And now we know what kind of factory this was at least. I think Gamma is going to be very pleased.”

30 May 2024
Gamma was decidedly less pleased when she discovered that not only did the facility contain no functional missiles or components, all databases had apparently been wiped and/or destroyed with military precision. Someone had clearly abandoned the facility and had not wanted to let any technology be captured.

OOC
Ordnance Factory.Useful as a plot device, but not for much else. Later, when war is the order of the day, then maybe I can put this bad boy to good use.
As an aside, yes I am aware that a size 1 missile should weigh about 5 tons and cannot be carried by a single drone, even if it’s only the casing. The missile the drone found was actually a bit of ordnance used by the ground forces, not starships. Those missiles would have to be considerably lighter and may as well be built by an ordnance factory.
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Offline Rabid_Cog

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Re: A New Era
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2013, 06:25:03 AM »
20 September 2024
There was a final flash of light as the laser cutter finished its last incision and switched off. The glowing metal of the wall down in the basement of the ordnance factory rapidly cooled from white hot to a dull orange and a large team of drones began pulling on the cords already imbedded in it. The sound of tearing metal echoed through the large storage room as the last part of the wall slowly toppled over and crashed to the floor with a heavy crunch of crushed scrap.
“Why would anyone put a vault behind a wall?” GFT asked as they began converging on the massive metal doors now revealed.
“Isn’t it obvious? This is where all the missiles and weapons are stored” GHT replied. “Hiding it behind a false wall seems like a good way to prevent it falling into enemies’ hands.”
GFT shook his head. “The wall was two feet thick and made of solid duranium. There was nothing false about it.”
“Be quiet and see if you can figure out a way to get it open.”
GFT and GHT were brothers, as were all of Gamma’s drones, but they shared a special bond. Their eggs had been laid within seconds of one another and as such they could almost be considered ‘twins’. It was only after beginning their training at the Academy on Wrixom and being free of the throngs of drones that form the workforce of Gamma Hive that they had found one another and had been nearly inseparable since. Despite their differences, both claimed that their close cooperation improved productivity.
“There is some keypad thingy over here, imbedded into the wall” a drone called from off to the side.
“And I found some writing on the doors” GHT called back.
Drones scurried everywhere, but it wasn’t long before a drone who had learnt the language reached the writing. A large group were already clustered around him, curious what the strange markings said.
“Hmm, this is a bit tricky” he stated and scratched his head. “That over there means ‘war’ or ‘fight’ and this word is ‘storage’ or ‘containment’, but I’m not sure what the rest of it means. Most likely technical jargon of some kind. Oh, and this bit at the bottom means ‘Do not open’ or ‘No access’ or something.”
“Do not open? That sounds ominous” GHT said.
“I wouldn’t worry about it too much” the translator drone said. “These aliens stuck that warning on anything that wasn’t supposed to be interacted with on a daily basis. It probably just means that access is restricted to certain members of their society.”
“Is that a fact? I still say something isn’t right here” GFT said from the back of the group.
“Are we going to have to get the eggheads back here to check this out?” another drone asked.
“No” GHT stated with finality. “Gamma wants this kept a secret. Besides, it will take too long to get them here. Our Queen wants this open pronto. How’s the keypad look?”
“Unpowered.Or possibly just busted. Or perhaps not a keypad at all, I have no idea” the keypad drone called back. “Regardless, it’s not doing anything when I press these things that may or may not be buttons.”
“In that case let’s just grab the laser drill.”

The laser slowly came up and positioned itself directly over the centre of the big metal doors.
“The advantage of cutting through doors instead of walls is that you don’t need to remove the whole thing” GHT lectured as he and GFT watched from off to the side. “If you can reach the locking mechanism, then just removing that allows you to manually open the door pretty easily.”
“I still don’t like this” GFT replied. “It’s a bit silly to have the locking mechanism exposed if it’s supposed to be keeping people out, isn’t it? I can think of a hundred ways to protect it, or at least hide it. Maybe it’s supposed to be keeping something in…?”
“Like what?” GHT said laughing.
Their conversation was interrupted by the flash of the laser cutter quickly and easily zipped through the lock. Several drones in heat resistant gear crawled through the hole as soon as it had cooled down a bit and it wasn’t long before a few loud clanks reverberated through the room. The drones had manually slid the locks back.
Several other drones began pushing, slowly easing the door open until a small crack of blackness appeared between the two massive doors.
“See? No big scary monster has come charging out” GHT mocked. “What do you see inside?”
“It’s too dark to see anything. Wait, no, there is some sort of light…” the drone at the door began, but stopped due to his head having exploded in a shower of chitin and brains.
Then everything went to hell.
Four legged spider-like metal droids began pouring out of the crack in the doors, each with a tail mounting what seemed to be a small light. Whenever the light flashed, however, it blew holes in whatever was in front of them.
Drones scrambled to get out of the way while the few that were armed tried to return fire and cover their comrades. The droids seemed to prioritize them and even went so far as to fire a second shot to destroy their weapons after killing them with the first. GFT and GHT found themselves crawling rapidly towards the exit as drones and shelves around them exploded in blasts of metal and viscera.
Before they could reach it, however, a spider droid dropped down right in front of them, its tail light glowing ominously. Thinking quickly, GHT leapt over its domed metal body and began grappling the dangerous tail, which flashed and knocked a chunk out of the floor where he had just been lying prone.
“Don’t just lie there, help me!” he shouted at GFT who was still lying there, paralyzed with shock.
At his brother’s urging, GFT began moving and also leapt for the thing’s back. The domed shell was hard and slippery, however, and he struggled to find purchase as it tried to throw them off or bring its deadly tail weapon to bear. GHT was managing to force it up, preventing it from depressing low enough to hit them, but it was taking all his effort.
GFT managed to hook his foot claws around the edges of the metal shell just as the monster crashed into a pile of rubble in its frenzied attempts to throw off its unwanted passengers. Though his claws could do nothing against the hard back of the creature, he instinctively scrabbled at anything that seemed like a weak spot. The four tubular ‘eyes’ at the front… some exposed wiring at a joint… it wasn’t long before the metal spider was blind and crippled but still it refused to die. It was like riding a tiger. As long as they clung on to its back it couldn’t hurt them, but the moment they got off that little tail would swivel and blow them to pieces.
“This isn’t working!” GFT shouted in panic.
“When I say now, jump clear!” GHT shouted back above the din of drones dying and metal being shredded.
“What about you?” GFT asked.
“Shut up and do what I say!” GHT screamed back.
He seemed to compose himself momentarily, then reversed his efforts, pulling the tail down to aim as low as possible, right at his twin.
“Now!” he shouted as the little light began glowing brighter.
GFT jumped clear just as the light pulsed and a beam of the invisible energy punched through the creature’s own back, blowing its insides across the floor. He landed hard, pain lancing through his side and a quick glance revealed that his jump had been less timely than he had anticipated. The chitin at the side of his chest was exposed, the flesh seemingly having been ripped away.
“What’s the matter with you? Run!” GHT shouted as he landed next to him.
“I’m not going to make it. You run, I’ll try to slow them down” GFT said in a pained voice.
GHT just slapped him on the head and began dragging him towards the exit. “There is nothing wrong with your legs, so move! Enough drones have died today.”

The drones escaping from the factory along with GFT and GHT quickly spread the word and a thin defensive line was formed outside the alien colony. Now, better armed and better prepared, the constructors began to have better luck at holding the mass of spider droids back. Unfortunately, the latest escapees reported even bigger things coming out of the vault as they fled and a quick tally of numbers revealed that they had already lost 35% of their number.

OOC
Yep, I opened a vault. Yay. I can see a lot of casualties in my future.
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