Author Topic: Time's End AAR (TN start, custom race and solar system)  (Read 4004 times)

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Re: Time's End - Cosmic Existence
« Reply #60 on: September 03, 2021, 06:07:19 PM »
Despite the dreams of Ascension shattered as civilisations fighting over survival had disturbed the higher planes even though their enemies were still in 3D, Groaxians stayed strong, determined to discover yet another safety guarantee for all who seek enlightment across the swallowed planets, dying stars, and shattered galaxies. Just before hibernating at the end of 3520 AM hibernation cycle, millions of transcendent voices merged together in the largest Mental Synergy ever recorded through the entire history, expressing the united will to prevail and preserve all they valued.

Cosmic Existence

We have explored space,
We wield antimatter,
But the destruction happens at an overwhelming pace,
We all see as the galaxies shatter.

The universe is unstable,
Cosmic firefights rage across cosmic membrane,
No race is unbeatable,
No Ascension to a higher plane.

We have seen alien civilisations,
Seen them rise and fall,
Seen them raze cosmic foundations,
Seen them ready to exterminate us all.

Dark Forest Lords cruise around the dying universe,
Searching for their next prey,
We try to hide but a deadly broadcast no one can reverse,
Tempestsaurs Of Achernar have done their deeds without delay.

Dark Forest Disease corruption was running deep,
Our society divided and modified,
But now again in hibernation we can all peacefully sleep,
Lost Generation by the new Groaxian Conglomerate wisdom guided.

Hyperspace already into hyperblack holes disintegrated,
Riddled with Cracks, but strong stays the Wall,
Precursor technology used to see it evaporated,
Meanwhile yet another star explodes into lightining ball.

We understand gravity and antigravity,
We can pierce fabric of space,
But despite all our scientific activity,
There are phenomena no one can understand from our race.

War of a Different Time,
Ancient Vrilxel crashed on an alien moon,
Achernar spotted and their weapons prime,
Confused as we crews from their squadron.

As we know more,
The more we know we know nothing yet,
So much yet to explore,
What will we see no one can bet.

In search of a new Safety Guarantee we strive,
Dark Forest Theory applies but so does our determination,
We still want to finish the matrix and in hyperspace thrive,
We keep wondering about those lights, wondering whether they will bring doom or salvation.

We were gifted a perfectly balanced Monolith,
We have discovered a perfectly balanced Cube,
One serving for the civilisation birth,
The other serving as a destruction tube.

Both built by Humanity,
Both in the same Dark Forest,
As we resist destruction and insanity,
A friend or foe dilemma does not let us rest.

Now we all joined the mental stream,
We express fear and hope in one,
Just like the two sides divided and merged via a mental beam,
We are the one or else our civilisation would be long gone.

Preparing for the final stand,
Keeping Singularity Soulgrain Curvature Fluctuators at hand,
Together under one symbol we band,
Doing everything our journey might demand.

But as thoughts still flow through us,
Transparent to all who beyond matter can see,
We all know existence is beautiful, if you let it be.

Life is not a question.
There does not need to be an answer.

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Re: Time's End - Tizona Siege
« Reply #61 on: September 07, 2021, 05:00:50 PM »

3514-3528 AM hibernation cycles

While physicists kept themselves occupied with cracking the mysteries of higher dimensions and uncovered more about the soulgrain layer of the universe, Groaxians and Umbaras on board of Vaccines and Dragonbreaths skipped through hibernation cycles and light hibernation cycles alike, experiencing a brief moment of relativistic flight till Curvature Propulsion Systems left them on the verge of Tizona system, ready to cripple space programs, especially military space programs, of the enemy. But first things noticed were neither enemy ships or signals coming from planetary surfaces, but faint pulses of half-dead electronic scrap floating around countless wrecks in the system. They were both of Achernar and Umbara origin, easily matched with registered classes, a silent reminder of fierce battles that once raged between the two civilisations, a lot of Umbara leftovers likely being of the same fleet explorers had a close encounter with back in the solar watch when first Groaxians appeared in the system with a scientific mission.

As Human Space Fleet plotted a course towards Tizona III, supposed homeworld of Tempestsaurs Of Achernar, admiral decided to stop for a moment and analyze an interesting pile of debris that emitted stronger signals than other scrap floating around. But when Groaxians got so close they could already spot the wrecks as faint glowing points with naked eyes, first particle lances struck through Groaxian hulls. First ones to die never even registered in their last dying breath what killed with them and that the "wrecks" were of a much better condition than anticipated.

The ambush might have been a brilliant move, but it only got Achernar so far. Antiparticle retaliation alone was enough to destroy half of the small squadron within a blink of an eye. Achernar fired one more, that time much weaker already, volley, only for the Soulgrain Singularity Curvature Fluctuators to finish them off as they were fired sequentially, one after the other. First unstable black holes pulled Achernars straight at each other to smash aganist their hulls. As if that wasn't enough, frags from the ones destroyed by antiparticles, spreading out with a respectable velocity, had their trajectories easily influenced by the gravitational anomaly and turned into missiles that riddled enemy hulls with many holes. One battered vessel tried to flee the slaughter, but a few moments later intinsifying gravitational pulses got it, too.

With no survivors left after Groaxians demonstrated their immense power and technological advantage once again, the fleet stopped for a while to undergo field repairs, reassign crewmembers to make the most out of understaffed posts and block more methane from escaping into space as well as reinforcing critical areas of each ship. Not long after resumption of the journey, another Achernar fleet flashed on the radars, coming from two sides at once.

Sensing difficulty in outmanoeuvring two squadrons at once, fleet admiral decided to take a smaller risk out of the two and charge full speed ahead towards the closer one, overcharging weapons as well in an attempt to smash all ships from the formation at once. The plan worked out reasonably well. Once again Groaxians were shocked to witness their own destructive power as extreme gravity crushed their enemies with unforgiving force and antimatter explosions flashed before their eyes, clearly visible despite vast distances separating two fleets. On gravitational scanners it was possible to observe space itself shaking, rumbling and falling apart like a piece of paper until the destruction was over and it straightened itself once again. Not all ships were destroyed at once, though, but the two lone survivors were showing signs of heavy internal damage and critical life support system failure. Biological scans reealed only dead biomass splattered across them.

Encouraged by the success, crewmembers prepared for repeating of the same decastating strike on the second part of the fleet, but with it being much larger it refused to work out so flawlessly again. Moreover, a small calculation error caused a big engine output error and the fleet was flying way too fast to decelerate and dodge the incoming enemies. With nothing that could be done, everyone onboard braced themselves for an impact as two fleets closed in way too fast.

Explosions lightened up the eternal darkness in two points at once, though one was much, much brighter than the other. Still, a significant Achernar force remained a threat and on top of that, while most shots ended up miscalculated, two streams of particles punctured a single Vaccine at mostly same location. This helped reduce direct damage, but put the ship in a strong rotational motion. That alone maybe wouldn't be that problematic, but both beams struck the fusion fuel injector, making engines underpowered and releasing lots of precious hydrogen out into space.

Crew of the hapless Vaccine desperately tried to put it back under control as it spinned while maintaining former velocity and the rest of the ships recharged their weapons. But at the same time Achernar made an u-turn and fired its engines in the opposite direction to their movement vector, countering their speed and slowing down rapidly. Having detected the sudden manoeuvre way too late to intervene, Groaxians could only watch for a very brief moment as whatever distance separating the fighting fleets that had existed before stopped doing so. To make the entire situation more problematic, Tempestsaurs Of Achernar carefully positioned their ships right at the predicted flight path of Human Space Fleet, likely setting up for a suicidal showdown, accepting their own death for as long as Groaxians would ram into them with high speed, dying themselves.

Groaxian engines were powerful enough to slightly adjust the trajectory when there was still time for this, but when the distance eventually dropped to almost zero, Achernar opened accurate kinetic fire from up close. Ironically, this is what saved the unlucky Vaccine which still struggled to stop spinning, let alone slow down or apply corrections to their velocity to avoid crashing into hostile vessels. A few projectiles hitting its armor at key spots was all it needed to have its movement vector changed just enough to avoid mutual annihilation.

The distance was still way too close for Soulgrain Singularity Curvature Fluctuators, but was perfect for accurate antiparticle fire that finished the Achernar ships left behind as Groaxians kept flying forward at ridiculous speed. But as the planets of the system kept getting closer, sensors warned about yet another Achernar force likely ready to engage just ahead of the current position of the assault fleet.

Human Space Fleet tried to circle around the enemy and fire, but Achernar ended up attempting exactly the same at exactly the same moment. Before anyone could react, two fleets closed in way beyond the safe distance for Soulgrain Singularity Curvature Fluctuators usage and Achernar were the first ones to blast with kinetic fire.

Groaxians started dealing damage with antiparticle beams, but it was obvious such a close range firefight was not sustainable if Achernar were to bring their own particle beams, unavoidable at distances involved. Separating from the enemies became number one priority, but that one unfortunate Vaccine still struggled with fuel injectors repairing and admiral categorically refused leaving it separated, predicting quick and certain death for everyone on board if it was to happen. As a consequence Achernar, despite weaker engines, had no trouble staying right on top of Groaxian time, at least before fuel consumption to keep accelerating would overwhelm the enemy while still being manageable by more efficient Dragonbreaths and Vaccines.

More Groaxians and Umbaras were slain as the brutal close-ranged firefight kept on going and ships faced at a time proved to be protected by more advanced armor designs withstanding even antimatter particles to some extent. With no better chances, a risky operation was performed: Groaxians roated their ships, fired engines with all the force they possibly could, preparing gravitational fire to send them in the opposite direction than enemy quicker. But as the ships kept slowing down, while distance increased as Achernar commands must have been lagging behind, more of their shots kept on landing because a slow target is an easy target. The armor of one Vaccine was already barely holding together. With no time to waste, a new order was given: to briefly engage Curvature Propulsion Systems. The distance from both fleets was too small to allow safe usage of them, but there was no choice. However, at the last possible moments one of physics consultants ran a brief simulation and suggested firing Soulgrain Singularity Curvature Fluctuators at the same time since space fluctuations of both of these devices used simultaneously should shape its curvature just right for the Achernar to get separated and their parts not ending up caught in warp bubbles which would lead to catastrophic results (for both sides, though). All in all, the maneouvre was very complex, but nothing latest soulgrain cybersoul mainframes would struggle with, and with a brief flash of red-blue light Human Space Fleet ended up a significant distance behind enemy forces.

From there all weapons could be fired freely, laying annihilation wherever they had been aimed. Achernar tried to split and circle around Groaxian vessels, but just couldn't gain enough speed fast enough. Meanwhile Groaxian forces calmly turned around again and flew past remaining enemies, wiping out whatever was left still flying and shooting.

With no more resistance in sight, at last the deep space journey was over and sensors could read first output from Tizona planets, by then much closer than when Curvature Propulsion Systems had been turned off for the final system approach. Tizona IV, V and VI were devoid of any signs of sentience, but Tizona I, II and III revealed Achernar structures on the surface. However, something strange was going on with the planets. While all there was on Tizona I were a few of small industrial complexes, Tizona II and III appeared bustling with life. However, Tizona III, believed to be the homeworld after last exploration of the system, looked only like a small colony in comparsion with what was going on Tizona II, which definitely couldn't be too developed by the last time Groaxians checked in.

Why would most of Achernar move from one planet to the other was not understandable, obviously if Dark Forest Lords had decided to wipe all nearby systems just to be sure then Tizona II was as doomed as Tizona III, and yet something must had caused Achernar to relocate... Unless it was the same story as with their appearances in Blutgang, crashed Vrilxel in Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or Groaxian ruins in Joyeuse again. With no further hints and nothing better to do, Groaxians turned towards Tizona I and proceeded with bombarding the undefended, exposed factories and mines. No hostile ships had been detected while particle beams (unfortunately antiparticles were useless because all antimatter within the weapons of Dragonbreaths would collide as soon as the beam met with the atmosphere, forcing Groaxians to switch to full matter mode) and gravitational pulses rained down on the scorching world, tearing through large areas of its surface until there was nothing left. And so the mission was technically complete - all detected fleets had been destroyed, a likely important industrial world (even if with only so much Achernar presence on it) reduced to ruins of ruins and overall there were no visible traces of any decent space-related hostile military capabilities left.

Before heading back to Qi, though, Groaxians decided to briefly check on Tizona III and try to figure out what had happened. As the planet became clearly visible on pictures transmitted by telescopes, it was noticed it looked a bit different than the last time. Most of the landmass had been covered in patches of white already, but there were some light green and light brown areas as well, but this time the two latter were almost completely gone, so the planet was basically white with light blue ocens. Still, nobody was able to link a possible biological curiosity that wouldn't get answered unless somehow in the future a scientific expedition would land on the planet, with a rather unexpected population shift. However, the planet was defended - laser beams connected with hulls of Human Space Fleet, but it was still too far from the surface to receive any damage - the lasers were simply too dispersed to do anything and Achernar must have been aware about it, too, since they stopped firing as soon as they began. Unfortunately, attempting to locate and eliminate these laser defense platforms would be far too risky, requiring Groaxian ships to close in and face fierce laser fire. Unable to progress any further, Groaxians stopped, but before they warped out of the system, they spent many solar watches monitoring Achernar activity. But apart life on the two planets, nothing was going on and Tizona remained silent, its space undisturbed.

Groaxians had finally gained the upper hand in the War of a Different Time. Next steps were up for the Conglomerate to decide on, though. But one thing was certain: these decisions wouldn't be as easy as military advantage might suggest, because Groaxian technology had already moved past a certain tipping point. Beyond it laid a vast land of destructive power and endless possibilities regarding warfare and soldiers serving in Next-Gen Human Space Fleet were already frightened by the force unleashed with just eight ships total. Eight ships were more than enough to lay waste to far more numerous enemy and quickly send its industrial colony into oblivion. And as the science progressed, officers could only imagine what kind of weapon would arrive next.

Two sides of the society had already been more or less merged and yet Conglomerate did not plan on reapplying genetic modifications, that time much stronger and more reliable, believing the drive for a perfect balance was much more powerful than past generations had imagined, hoping to get by just alright without reapplying the invasive solutions on a mass scale. On both sides a small tension existed, though, related to the military research. Scientists had already announced progress on another revolutionary project, which in itself was good simply because one could never be too protected in a Dark Forest, but sometimes it just didn't feel right for any Groaxian to hold that amount of doom waiting to be released upon the universe. Soulgrain Singularity Curvature Fluctuators were already terrifying as described by soldiers who had seen them in action.

As noted by the soulseekers, humans would describe these mild tensions as "unspoken, yet everyone being aware of", but for Groaxians there was simply no such thing as "unspoken" once enough individuals had thought about it in a short span of time.

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Re: Time's End AAR (TN start, custom race and solar system)
« Reply #62 on: September 08, 2021, 04:37:56 PM »

3521-3528 AM hibernation cycles

A group of extraordinarily skilled middlemen from Qusmont worked solar and cosmic watch to prototype a new soulgrain mechanic-based weapon, based on a brand new concept than the ones already deployed so far. It was a fairly straightforward idea of tearing a target apart at a soulgrain level, something no armor or energetic shields could ever protect from and even counterfire from other gravity- or soulgrain-based weapons would struggle to nullify or at least mitigate. The expected output appeared similar to what Invaders were using for sucking out and processing matter from conquered and destroyed celestial objects, at least according to monolith entries on the subject.

Surprisingly, before the concept could be weaponized in any reasonable way, it was proven it would be of invaluable help in terraforming. As if speeding up processes lasting for billions of hibernation cycles to take only half a century, maybe a bit more, wasn't impressive enough, scientists responsible for the project claimed if their technology was to be applied, maybe a dozen hibernation cycles or so would be enough to completely reshape a candidate planet to host genesian ecosystems. The basic idea was to abandon conventional approach to terraforming altogether and take advantage of the laws of soulgrain mechanics to change particles already present in a given world to the ones neccessary for Groaxians to comfortably live on the surface without any life support. A terraformation process would typically start by a rapid shift of atmosphere pressure and composition by modifying particles within the air to create same environment as on Genesis and while the cooling or warming and magnetic field generation still had to be handled in a classical way, surface modeling was also to be left for this miraculous technology to do the job, shifting some matter into water and accelerating land domestication by native genesian species by providing them easier access to food and whatever other matter they might need to quickly conquer the planet, preparing a perfectly balanced environment for Groaxians to inhabit.

The speed of terraforming would depend on a lot of factors, for example planets with atmospheric pressure similar to the ones on Genesis would be handled much faster because terraformers wouldn't have to pull grains from matter on the ground to transform them into air lacking air (or vice versa in case of too high pressure), modifying the skies directly. Atmosphere composition also played a crucial role, for example it would be much faster to synthetise enough methane if the sky was full of coal and hydrogen particles instead of, for example, having oxygen and neutronium as dominant gasses. The most time-consuming task would still be having flora and fauna spread across the prepared lands, but a separate program of genetic augmentation for the species to adapt and shape the environment as they thrive much faster than they otherwise would yelded optimistic results, too.

First large-scale testing was conducted on Scrar'ix, since the planet was already close to reaching ideal parameters, with great success. What was expected to take at least twenty hibernation cycles more was done over a span of one and a half once a transport of matter manipulators for the local array of Qives arrived. Groaxians were finally free to leave their habitats and build first cities under the open sky, making the logistics on Project Ascension easier, too.

The technology was a blessing for still too small terraforming array assembled on Joyeuse B-II orbit (properly named as Ghuq'ans shortly after as new waves of refugees from the imminent Dark Forest Strike arrived). The planet was expected to reach full habitability within a decade or so. It has been named after the process of soul rebalancing all male Groaxians were to undergo every fourteen hibernation cycles, performed by injecting colonies of freshly awakened Craals for them to circulate through the body, evenly spreading their enzymes across the brain tissue to help discover potential health problems. If a particular Groaxian was unable to recalibrate his thoughts after having Craals crawl through his brain, it was likely the beginning of a Disconnection Syndrome, a dangerous disease making the patient's brain separate as if it was always occuring within female bodies during replication process and each part attempting to form a new Groaxian ready to take on the world. Since obviously male bodies were nowhere near prepared to give birth of their own, these half-existing Groaxian Wraths, as doctors used to refer to them, were unable to separate into organisms of their own, ending up with a few of independent consciousnesses inhabit the same shell, driving the patient to insanity. The disease wasn't hard to treat if detected early and being a result of a genetic error sometimes occuring as a side effect of the ability to communicate via Transcended Speech and the overal characteristics and capabilities of a Groaxian brain had been almost eradicated when genetic engineering really took off, but the process was still very important as regular Craals injections were simply healthy. And so Joyeuse B-II's name was there for everyone to remind the societal split and Lost Generation, but to also see hope of a new, once again merged, strenghtened community to arise, hidden from the incoming apocalypse and well-prepared to sustain Groaxian legacy.

Terraforming was just one of the many applications of matter manipulator. Perhaps the most obvious one came in the form of small matter manipulators gifted to Void Scavengers for improving the efficiency of their operations within Blutgang. With these new devices at hands, salvaging operations reached their peaks as the fleet was able to clear all the artificial rings from Blutgang in no time and as a bonus was able to process recovered materials into useful elements ready to be used in industrial production directly on board, saving time on resmelting and reshaping processes. Actually most of the industry became obsolete with the new technology, because a lot of steps in production chains could simply be skipped in those cases when it was easier and quicker to just directly shift matter from one resource to the other, without conventional hassle of logistics and fabrication.

But the new technology, originally emerging from military-focused research, was bound to eventually be used in the original field it was developed for. A new class of starships has been proposed, loosely based on the same premise as first line of dreadnoughts assembled by the Humanity, but with weapons far beyond what humans even imagined when the first Executor of theirs was leaving space docks.

Executor class Dreadnought      50 000 tons       1 949 Crew       24 370,8 BP       TCS 1 000    TH 20 000    EM 13 740
20000 km/s    JR 3-500      Armour 15-120       Shields 458-536       HTK 349      Sensors 0/0/0/0      DCR 160      PPV 179
Maint Life 4,26 Years     MSP 30 463    AFR 200%    IFR 2,8%    1YR 2 692    5YR 40 384    Max Repair 5000 MSP
Captain    Control Rating 4   BRG   ENG   CIC   FLG   
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Morale Check Required   
Artificial Gravity Field    AS Advisor    Autnomous Piloting System    Canteen    Combat Simulation System    Combat Trance Chamber    Cosmic Membrane Monitor    Emergency Repair Module    Emergency Treatment Section    Environmental Control Module    Equipment Repair Workshop    Flight Navigation System    Full Spectrum Deep Space Scanner    Gravitational Signal Filter    Hets Autonomous Farm    Hyperdrive    HyperSensors    Interstellar Targeting Array    Life Support System    Medical Bay    Meditation Space    Methane Recycling System    Onboard Armory    Onboard Hospital    Personal Storage    Recreation Space    Relativistic Navigation Module    Soulgrain Curvature Stabilisator   

J50100(3-500) Curvature Propulsion System     Max Ship Size 50100 tons    Distance 500k km     Squadron Size 3

Solid Core AM Drive  EP10000,00 (2)    Power 20000    Fuel Use 62,50%    Signature 10000    Explosion 25%
Fuel Capacity 4 752 000 Litres    Range 27,4 billion km (15 days at full power)
Theta S229 / R536 Shields (2)     Recharge Time 536 seconds (0,9 per second)

Soulgrain Phasing Bomb Launcher (5)    Range 600 000km     TS: 20 000 km/s     Power 96-12     RM 10 000 km    ROF 40       
Black Hole Generator (1)    Range 600 000km     TS: 20 000 km/s     Power 94-12     RM 80 000 km    ROF 40       
Soulgrain HyperDisintegrator (5)    Range 600 000km     TS: 20 000 km/s     Power 42-11     RM 80 000 km    ROF 20       
Beam Fire Control R600-TS20000 (SW) (1)     Max Range: 600 000 km   TS: 20 000 km/s     98 97 95 93 92 90 88 87 85 83
Beam Fire Control R600-TS20000 (2)     Max Range: 600 000 km   TS: 20 000 km/s     98 97 95 93 92 90 88 87 85 83
Solid-core Anti-matter Power Plant R128 (1)     Total Power Output 128    Exp 5%

Active Search Sensor AS16-R1 (1)     GPS 48     Range 16,6m km    MCR 1,5m km    Resolution 1
Active Search Sensor AS486-R100 (1)     GPS 192000     Range 486,8m km    Resolution 100

ECCM-5 (3)         ECM 50

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

Soulgrain HyperDisintegrators announced a new era in cosmic warfare. They were capable of emitting strong and intense radiation that was bound to reduce whatever it touched into a soulgrain state, disintegrating it into a chaotic mass of soulgrains, leaving no trace of it ever existing and no way to reasonably recover it, greatly accelerating entrophy by making even most complex structures collapse into nothingness and merging with the primary state of the universe. But what had been achieved with this particular weapon paled in comparsion with all the additional armament an Executor was meant to carry. Soulgrain Phasing Bomb Launchers were effective at much shorter range, but were a deadly threat on their own for whatever daring to disturb Groaxians. Taking advantage of soulgrain teleportation, it operated by teleporting small, unstable antimatter cores right at the target, making it possible to, for example, ignore all armor, shielding and all kinds of other defensive measurements of enemy ship by having an antimatter payload suddenly (anti)materialise in the engines and annihilate the vessel from within, leaving absolutely no chance for the enemy to deal with it. During their last stand with Invaders, humans had used something similar, but their early prototypes were much weaker than what Groaxians had already achieved.

Still, the title of most ominous weapon ever engineered went to what was initially planned as an improvement, simply next iteration, of a Soulgrain Singularity Curvature Fluctuators. However, during the development phase, a small black hole created by the improved design had proven to be stable. Not wanting to have a potentially dangerous black hole residing on the edge of Qi, concentrated fire of gravitational weapons of previous designs was used to speed up the evaporation process and modify space warp to effectively overcome its own gravity and let the light escape, ending the existence of the Eye of Darkness as later that one special black hole began being referred to.

Consequences of the latest breakthrough were of invaluable importance for the future of Groaxian civilisation. Brains of many boiled when they realised what had happened and what it meant. Black Hole Generators, a cosmic evil looming over Groaxian lives ever since they knew there were civilisations that wielded this power, now ready to be fired by their own hands. And it was only then when soulseekers were able to confidently say they finally understood Dark Forest Theory and the dangers of a sudden technological boom it mentioned, as this technological boom was what brought Groaxians from a primitive civilisation taking its first steps across the stars all the way towards a powerful and mighty race wielding the power of destruction and almost wielding the power of creation.

The one Exectuor that had been built was indeed an executor in the most horrible meaning. Outfitted with HyperSensors and Hyperdrive for easiness of navigation and travel across Cracks, with interstellar targeting array installed that would allow it to send doom across light hibernation cycles at a whim, with additional mechanisms for stabilising space around it to further enchance accuracy over interstellar distances, it was far more than what Groaxians would ever need to bring for the War of a Different Time.

The possibility of launching a Dark Forest Strike of their own lied in front of the Groaxian Conglomerate and the civilisation it guided as a whole.

Soulseekers entered an insanely busy period of their lives, constantly occupied with tracking and predicting all possible scenarios and routes that their race could follow from that dangerous point. Serving under a special Conglomerate order, they were the first non-military workers in history to ever receive doses of hibernation stoppers to squeeze as much performance out of them as possible. But all the endangering effort paid out as they delivered the results of their research on the verge of collapsing into madness and could all be assigned to proper genetic treatment to remove the toxic influence lack of hibernation had on their bodies and minds while Conglomerate received a solid pile of reports to work with.

At the beginning of these reports a detailed analysis of documented Dark Forest Lord-classed weapons was presented. First black hole generator built by Groaxians was nothing extraordinary. Even less developed humans had photonic missiles of their own by the time they brought fight with Invaders into Bootes Void. Even Precursors had their artifacts for collapsing hyperspace that turned out to be perfectly weaponizable. And, most importantly, an ability to broadcast stellar coordinates in all directions at once, while not a Dark Forest Lord-classed weapon on its own, also shared the characteristics of being useful as a world destroyer for less advanced civilisations and each civilisation was bound to at least think about such application for their broadcasting arrays at least once at some point.

The summary of the analysis was a solid proof, that no matter whether the will was good or bad, sooner or later each civilisation was bound to develop means to pose a direct existential threat to the others (or go extinct beforehand). However, nature of each race was unqiue and often strongly affected the technological path it walked. While some milestones were bound to appear similar or even the same due to sharing the same universe with the same laws of mathematics and physics, many deviations from each other existed among endless paths a particular race might take. And Dark Forest Theory aside, there was no strict physical law that would justify everyone building a world destroyer at some point and yet it seemed to be the way sentinet life operated.

Merging brainpower with genetics, biologists and xenobiologists, soulseekers began the most ambitious project aiming at discovering and mapping the nature of nature on the example of Groaxians ever undertaken, despite many research from the past touching on that matter. And with all the technology and knowledge at hands, the project was a success. After directly analysing links between biology and psychology of Groaxians, Zenn, La and Achernar and using data gathered by Humanity on Invaders, Yagidrerc and Substance (and of course humans themselves), a similar genetic sequence had been extracted and pinpointed in all of the examples. Of course it always took a different form, adjusted to the particular biology of a given species, but its meaning remained constant. Soulseekers and scientists agreed to call it a "Dark Forest Gene". The universal sequence encoded in all who live and think, like a mark of the universe itself, the spawn of universe itself, meant to contain its fundamental nature within.

No genetic engineering could ever get rid of a Dark Forest Gene because of its universality and omnipresence. It was a mandatory condition for sentience to evolve, so to get rid of it would mean to get rid of self-consciousness as well and become mindless animals unaware of their own existence. And it was precisely this gene that made it so easy for gentics to build on it, creating Bound by Dark Forest. And that engineering was much less faulty than scientific community agreed before the latest research of soulseekers. It was Dark Forest Gene that allowed applying Lost Generation strategy, but it was also Dark Forest Gene that allowed for the two sides to merge into one perfectly balanced community once again, with the help of the overall Groaxian strive for balance and stability.

Human stories encoded in the monolith under the cultural and historical databases sometimes revolved around the feelings and consequences of finding a traitor within a group built upon common trust. But the despair of Groaxians was indescribable when they not only found a "traitor" among them, but realised every single citizen of theirs that ever existed in the past or would exist in the future was such "traitor", carrying a Dark Forest Gene buried deep within the deepest pits of own soul. The very thing generations of Groaxians attempted to escape from through all these hibernation cycles that followed initial discovery of Dark Forest Theory lied dormant within each one of them since the solar watch their first ancestors formed their first conscious thought. Escaping from Dark Forest became a synonym of escaping from oneself.

There was nothing more to learn from the monolith. Groaxian civilisation was far more advanced than Humanity was by the time it had placed their gift on the surface of Genesis. The Era of Guidance had finally came to an end.

And by the end of it Groaxians were Dark Forest Lords themselves.


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Re: Time's End - Enlightenment Paradox
« Reply #63 on: September 13, 2021, 04:41:00 PM »
3529-3530 AM hibernation cycles

Tempestsaurs Of Achernar were still to be considered a potential threat and Conglomerate knew it. Technically there were no obstacles towards using the outdated, but still powerful against technologically inferior enemies, Ascension Pathfinders with tons of Bound by Dark Forest loaded on them, wielding next-gen plasma rifles and an entire new branch of sonic weapons reverse-engineered and then improved further. But after the realisations that the past few hibernation cycles had brought and the ominous presence of an Executor idling around Groaxian worlds made Conglomerate hesitate. As pointed out by someone, nothing had really changed - nobody had to give an order to use Executor and a conventional conquest of Tizona III would bring much needed answers and further data on Achernar as well as the chance at assimilating survivors, so something that, while less than ideal, still worked while breaking the rules of a Dark Forest, unaffected by all the problems with hyperspace and whatnot. Better to save a few and already deny Dark Forest its sacrifice than to exterminate everyone, as a popular thought circulating against Groaxians ever since Blutgang Invasion stated.

But Conglomerate still feared. Its members feared themselves. One order, one shot, a few hibernation cycles of waiting. That's all that was needed for the entire Tizona system to be removed from reality, with all Achernar and their military as well as non-military potential still left. Saving Groaxians bound to be killed in the process of a conventional invasion, too. Without anything better to do, Conglomerate announced a special conference to be held with the brightest soulseekers Groaxian civilisation had ever seen. The debate was to have two easy-looking subjects: how far had Groaxians already gone and how much further they could possibly go.

Some of the invited soulseekers recited the arguments about the existence of Executor not really changing much under the condition of not using this starship in the incoming homeworld invasion and some claiming the technological inferiority of Achernar and Project Ascension being nearly finished (even if it no longer served as a valid safely guarantee), at worst possible case of Achernar experiencing technological boom and quickly advancing to the level at which they could pose an existential threat even to four-dimensional Groaxians of the future still giving Groaxians plenty of time to figure a new solution before Achernar would grow capable of destroying them themselves. But most actually pointed out a different problem, seemingly beyond the original scope of the discussion. According to them, the entire question was posed wrongly. The very reason it had been asked was because Groaxians had gained the power so beyond their wildest imagination that they feared eventually succumbing to the Dark Forest Theory altogether, especially given the discovery of a Dark Forest Gene, but at the same time it didn't even assume the possibility of debating the act of conventional invasion in itself. They stated the original Conglomerate question once again and then compared it with the recordings of discussions that had been held prior to the first military starships reaching Blutgang and how much heat each act of opening fire generated, meanwhile after all these hibernation cycles of trying to deny the cosmic fate, Conglomerate ended up accepting conventional homeworld assault in itself without a blink of an eye.

Of course it was immediately blamed on the Dark Forest Gene, but at the same time this gene had existed indifferently ever since first Groaxian ancestors formed their first conscious thoughts, so how much quilt it really contained was debatable at best. Nevertheless ignoring its influence while next orders of war had been issued through decades wasn't the right path either. However, if the malicious gene was tied to sentience, it might as well be possible that it expressed itself more the more advanced a given civilisation would become. In order to verify the truthfulness of that statement, an experiment on a large group of Groaxians was conducted. During first stage, participants were asked to answer a few questions related to the problem Conglomerate was facing, such as "would you attack Tizona conventionally", "would you attack Tizona using Executor", "would you assimilate survivors or exterminate everyone" and so on ans so forth. Their answers were then to be evaluated based on their background and intelligence. However, the results weren't really of much use - differences between the answers of the smartest and the least wise participants were negligible and easily explainable by comparing their jobs, default mental configurations, whether they had cybersoul-based implants or went through genetic engineering etc.

That's where the second stage, already assumed to be the main part of the experiment at the start of it, begun. Most skilled Tempestsaurs were tasked with carefully removing bits of knowledge and civilisational awareness from brains of the selected participants. It was one of the most significant undertakings of mental engineering ever attempted, since precisely extracting certain category of thoughts and memories while leaving out all the ones necessary to have the individual remain functional and responsive was still one of the biggest challenges for scientists exploring Transcendent Speech. A total of four backups of each removal operation were to be kept, two in the form of digitalised data stored on a pre-calibrated cybersoul balance keeping personal assistant, basically an upgraded version of the commonly used portable device or cybersoul implant repurposed for more scientific experiments, and two other in the form of powerful groups of Tempestsaurs who had achieved the ability to isolate their own thoughts and break access to them, allowing for part of their brains to be able to store thoughts of someone else without the two sets interacting with each other in any way. The process of "dumbing down" was painfully slow and full of mistakes, but thanks to the extensive backup network and careful planning, no permanent damage had been caused to the participants, eventually leaving all their filtered thoughts stored for return after the end of experiment.

The second stage gave much more interesting results. The overall conclusion was that indeed the more advanced a civilisation becomes, the more Dark Forest Gene influences the choices made by its members, but at the same time something else was observed. In case of a group who had their memories about all military actions all the way to the moment Executor had left its shipyard kept intact, but lost a good chunk of memories and knowledge related to the work of soulseekers, Project Ascension or the bright side of human culture and history, they displayed significantly more aggressive approach which was expected, but surprisingly the "opposite group" consisting of Groaxians who weren't aware about latest battles and military developments, but knew all the details related to the "bright side" showed almost identical results, meanwhile the third group which was equally stripped from both military and non-military awareness past a certain point in Groaxian history showed a bit more pacifistic approach, generally kept in line with the trends within Groaxian society of the time to which the had been "brought back" mentally.

The experiment that served as a proof for the "Enlightenment Paradox" left everyone even more puzzled than before the original debate had been initiated. One would expect that it was military research that shall be feared, meanwhile it turned out that no matter whether a civilisation takes military or pacifistic approach, ultimately past a certain level of civilisational consciousness Dark Forest Gene takes over, as if it was tied to the level of development in general rather than whether a particular race would be rather combative or not. But still, the original "to launch or not to launch" question remained as solar watches went by. Back in the hibernation cycles of the Lost Generation it wouldn't be so problematic, but in a post-merge society one couldn't just casually throw military orders around putting it all on the shoulders of Bound by Dark Forest.

Another interesting topic brought during the debate was the mysterious race of Arilou who, according to the monolith, directly guided Humanity towards ascension (assuming they got it finished before black holes destroyed human-occupied systems...) during the period they referred to as their "Last Sunset". Based on the human descriptions of these mystical, five-dimensional entities that ascended there despite originally raising as a 3D civilisation, shortly after figuring out Dark Forest Theory Arilou became quite fierce warriors and had the blood of many worlds tainting their minds as Death Rays purged planet after planet, but past a certain point they just stopped walking down the extermination path and searched for a solution beyond which eventually brought them to quasispace, even beyond hyperspace. Various humans encoding their thoughts in the monolith reported Arilou gave vibes of never really giving up on outsmarting Dark Forest Theory in the first place and that the period of intense Death Ray pulses came only as a consequence of brutal mathematical precision and game theory of Dark Forest, but while they followed these strict rules for quite some time, they always thought "outside the space".

Trying to guess an alien culture described by another alien culture wasn't the easiest job, but still what soulseekers could pull from these passages translated to more or less the story of Arilou being consumed by Dark Forest Gene past certain point of development and for some dark period in their history they appeared as if they gave up, but it was more of them not resisting something they knew was doomed to fail back then while still trying to figure out an unconventional solution to the presented problem. After all, their Mechi were created in that time and while the project itself was a total failure, it was a perfect testament of their true intentions and their first serious, large-scale attempt at making them happen. Simply put, they knew when resistance was futile but also when to counterattack. And they made it to quasispace, after all.

And eventually Conglomerate decided to do exactly what Humanity once did - trust the guidance of Arilou, in its own way. The order for Tizona III invasion using conventional forces was eventually issued, prioritising short-term safety for the sake of peaceful Ghuq'ans colonisation and finishing Project Ascensions regardless of it not being much about ascending anymore, but while military commanders were in the process of receiving it, soulseekers simultaneously got tasked with, as Conglomerate phrased it "never giving up on searching for the solutions beyond".

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Re: Time's End - Battle of All Cosmic Fronts
« Reply #64 on: September 14, 2021, 06:58:03 PM »

3531-3547 AM hibernation cycles

Groaxian invasion forces had departed from Qi shortly after the decision. Human Space Fleet was sent first, a bit earlier than Ascension Pathfinders, just to stay on the safe side in case of Achernar reinforcements likely being called back to Tizona through the hibernation cycles that had passed since the last siege. The plan was simple: Vaccines and Dargonbreaths would scout ahead and clear any space forces remaining and a bit later Ascension Pathfinders would catch up and deploy troops on the surface of Tizona III with air support from Avengers and even orbital support of Human Space Fleet if really needed.

But what was simple in theory escalated rather quickly. Not expecting any significant resistance, Groaxians simply flew straight towards Tizona through the shortest possible path, predicting disengaging Curvature Propulsion Systems at the same coords as the last time, just to get towards the targeted planet the quickest way possible. And that was a big mistake, because not only had the Achernar called for reinforcements and not only had they arrived on time, but they placed a monitoring group right at where Groaxian fleet was spotted warping in to the system previous time, so the moment interstellar navigation systems deactivated interstellar propulsion radically shifting vision from the red-blue variants towards standard spectrum, Achernar ships were already awaiting the assault force with weapons charged. There were only five of them and only one displayed the capaibility to fire particle beams, but by concentrating their firepower they severely shredded the armor of a Vaccine and near-lightspeed particles scored hits in several critical systems, namely conventional engines, Curvature Propulsion System, cybersoul targeting mainframe and a few Soulgrain Singularity Curvature Fluctuators. Without all these systems, the unlucky ship was unable to fight and unable to flee.

The crew of the damaged Vaccine was occupied by patching holes in the ignition chamber. Thanks to the conventional engines being off because of maintaining a constant conventional speed while encircled by a warp bubble those who didn't die directly from the shots were still alive and there was still something to patch, but the ship wasn't going to fly anywhere soon, besides the conventional speed it had already maintained and a small rotational velocity gained after the impacts, that is. Rest of the fleet was able to rotate against the enemies and fire conventional engines with all their might until sitting at a comfortable distance to blast the enemy into pieces and then blast the pieces too, but the half-destroyed Vaccine was still a problem. Despite of initial misfortune, luck ended up on Groaxian side: because of the sheer advantage Human Space Fleet had over Achernar defenders, the latter fired their engines only a moment after Groaxians to get away from them. Because of that, the problematic Vaccine was left to its own devices, with the next volley still being way more than capable of screwing it over, but the distance from the enemies increased nevertheless. To discourage the enemy from attempting to finish off the starship, rest of the functional vessels turned around (rather rapidly since no significant speed had been gained yet) and began chasing the enemy, disrupting its cruise with micro black hole local gravity anomalies and rapid space curvature fluctuations. Gravitational weapons disrupted only three enemies, though, because two outright did not survive direct contact with weapons beyond their understanding and defensive systems:

Antiparticles were only required to finish off the monitoring squadron, leaving clear space ahead and five new wrecks. Fleet admiral decided to turn back towards stranded Vaccine and guard it while it would undergo field repairs restoring its maneouvrability and combat status. There wasn't much left to do anyways, because Ascension Pathfinders were expected to drop from lightspeed cruise at least half solar watch later, even from their perspective it must have felt like a tiny fraction of a tick.

But as the fleet of Starhunters and Ravens was about to emerge in Tizona, officers on the starships took notice of something registered by warp bubble interference monitoring systems. Something that shouldn't be there. Something Vaccines and Dragonbreaths had missed and Ravens would miss too, but not Starhunters, because due to their size Curvature Propulsion Systems were big enough to cause interference with space at which the thing was located. Stopping somewhere in interstellar space short of Tizona to meet an unknown entity wasn't strictly what Groaxians on boards wanted to do, but it was the only way to avoid potentially lethal interference and matter of the entity getting within warp bubble and getting compressed to plasma splashing against the hulls or something different, but equally threatening. And so Ascension Pathfinders were left stranded somewhere in darkness only to see an Achernar fleet of respectable size, detectable only thanks to the minimal gravitational influence it had over the fabric of space as the ships looked completely dead.

Groaxians expected to get blasted long before they would be able to gain safe distance and turn Curvature Propulsion Systems back on, but nothing happened. Achernar just stayed where they were and no shots had been fired. Not willing to risk, Ascension Pathfinders crossed the last bits of distance separating them from Tizona in a hurry, but the encounter was so unique that Human Space Fleet prepared a jump to the saved coordinates of the enemy, wondering whether they would still be there by the time Groaxians would reach them again. And they were.

Approaching it just like any other battle, Groaxian weapons blazed across the void, nullifying many of Achernar starships, but they all refused to move or fire at all. Seeing this odd behaviour, cease fire order was given and a risky boarding attempt performed. But all the precautions were unnecessary - the ships had stayed at their position for nobody knew for sure how long, dead and deactivated. Engines were non-functional, there was no fuel of any sort, life support systems were dead and no traces of oxygen had been left and the biomass emergency support chambers were all full of bodies of Tempestsaurs Of Achernar who never woke up before nutrition and oxygen recycling systems as well as power went out. A large fleet of derelict shells that would never fly again existed there, frozen in time and frozen in space. They all must have been very old not only because of their technical status, but also because a brief examination revealed their interiors were of a different design than the ships encountered during the War of a Different Time or even, at least according to some speculations based on demonstrated capabilities, Endpoint War. They had some primitive Curvature Propulsion Systems (or at least they appeared primitive based on the few non-fried parts left), but not even broadcasting devices utilising gravitational waves, let alone something more sophisticated.

And yet somehow database backups still contained readable entries in them. All electronic data had long been corrupted thanks to the long-lasting power shortage and overall decays, but the backups themselves, not based on electrical signals, but carefully assembled out of materials and patterns that would yeld decipherable messages in Achernar language when looked at via full spectrum scanners, were still usable and contained some interesting information. According to them, it was a virgin interstellar flight for the Achernar, but they had already knew about Dark Forest already. But soon after leaving Tizona, something went wrong. Based on the reports, a strange object entered their warp bubble, but it did not behave how it was expected. Suddenly space collapsed on the expedition and all stars moved around, engraving weird patters on the sky. Everything, as Achernar described it, turned "upside down" for a brief moment, then came some flashes and strange optical illusions and eventually the object disappeared, leaving stranded fleet with no power and broken everything that could ever break on board. Groaxians exploring their story couldn't do much besides wondering about the likehood of first Achernar explorers coming into contact with some bizarre technology wielded by Dark Forest Lords, perhaps another doomsday device, perhaps something else entirely.

As Human Space Fleet was about to return from its investigation, its refueling detachment, left behind since it was nothing but an uneccessary risk to take it to the possibly dangerous point of curiosity, got into a very tense situation when space around it began shfting and warping at a few different locations, spitting Achernar vessels shortly after. Maybe it was intentional, but their interstellar sync module or something similar was likely to have failed as the squadron appeared completely desynchronized and scattered around.

While heavily spread vessels were out of firing range, at least firing range observed by the soldiers fighitng in the War of a Different Time so far, one from the arriving reinforcements had landed right on top of the defenseless tankers. With Curvature Propulsion Systems not prepared for a quick getaway, following seconds were likely to end really badly for the surrounded squadron. However, the leader of the support attachement for Human Space Fleet was a creative middleman, even more than the average one even though creativity in extraordinary situations had been associated with them as their geneder trait since forever. The middleman was well-aware that truth to be told, seemingly unarmed ships all had a source of ultiamte devastation stored within them - antimatter. After a few moments of rapid acceleration, boosted by reducing weight via dumping some fusion fuel supply for the greater good of surviving the deadly trap, engines were partially turned off. Or rather not turned off in a classic meaning of this term, but rather the matter inputs of some of the annihilation chambers were shut down so that only antimatter would enter it and thus no reaction would occur. Later, overriding all automatic protocols and bypassing whatever safet checks were there to bypass, engineers from the engine control rooms forcefully opened the magnetic nozzles connected to the partially closed annihilation chambers, the ones from which during standard usage generated energy would radiate generating thrust. But that time there was no energy, only antiparticles, freed from their magentic traps and exposed to the vacuum. But since only some engines were shut and thus all Gragzeans still accelerated, dropped antiparticles had lower velocity than the already increased velocity of the ship that left them behind, effectively creating a deadly trail of antimatter behind the escaping ships.

The enemy right on top of the fleet apparently didn't expect such sudden and rapid acceleration from the Groaxians, so before it was ready to fire, refueling fleet was already beyond the effective targeting range of its kinetic weapons, so it tried to follow. But it didn't take long before its hull touched the stray antimatter left by Groaxians alongside its predicted path, the only path they expected it would follow to simply get closer to the "unarmed" vessels. Unfortunately, the antimatter charge was only good enough to blast several holes in the pursuer, but not outright destroy it. Still, it damaged its engines so it was no longer able to generate enough thrust for continuing the chase and other ships were way too far to catch up to Groaxians, by then utilising all of their engines again and not leaving any antimatter behind. Fortunately for them, it didn't take long from that moment for the Human Space Fleet to get back to the outer edges of Tizona and chase the hostile squadron down, easily evaportating it in the hail of antimatter explosions and gravitational anomalies. Commander of the tanker squadron would later receive a personal reward from the Conglomerate itself for the valiant effort of standing against the enemy and all odds.

But at the same time, light hibernation cycles away from the heat of battle, Genesian deep space monitors raised an alarm when a fleet of Achernar appeared over the system. Decades had passed since the last encounter around Groaxian homeworld and yet here they were, boldly warping into the core system. With main forces thrown far away at alien worlds, Conglomerate sent Pikes and Strikers forming the Human Space Fleet of old to battle, hoping particle beams and Phased Curvature Disruption Systems coming from legacy designs would be enough to hold against the unexpected raid. Human Space Fleet quickly raised above Genesian skies and hurried to meet their foes allowing itself to burn excessive fuel just to intercept the enemy as far from any of the three planets as possible, not needing to worry about getting stranded too much as long as they kept enough to slow down to speeds allowing reasonable rescue. But their excessive velocity is what casued the first issue as the old cybersoul mainframes were responsible for a critical error in range calculations, causing Groaxian ships to almost ram into the enemies as the latter pounded at them with kinetic fire.

While armor damage taken was severe, at least Groaxians could be relieved to see no particle beams of the enemy. Proceeding to slow down a bit while rotating to "dive below" the enemy, they opened fire. While first particle beams pierced through Achernar spacecraft without any issue, Phased Curvature Disruption Systems were used to affect the shape of space around the taken flight trajectory, allowing pilots to easily use it as a slingshot to push the ships with full force at the Achernar who, in the meantime, attempted to gain velocity in the opposite direction to Groaxians. Still, they had no chance against superior technology (still superior despite being very outdated for Groaxian standards) and soon both fleets flew alongisde each other, exchanging fire but with Groaxians dodging the vast majority of the metallic missiles launched at them. At some point enemies attempted to engage interstellar propulsion, but gravitational weapons of Pikes were just enough to counter any space warp they attempted, forcing them to stay within the firing range of Human Space Fleet, leaving them all to perish under superior firepower.

But the unexpected Qi raid wasn't all Achernar had prepared. Another fleet, divided into two squadrons, was spotted by the extensive network of space monitoring drones in Blutgang. Unfortunately for Achernar, by the time of their arrival Executor had been finishing its patrolling tour around the system and it was the perfect occassion to unleash its power and bring the apocalypse towards whoever who dared to disturb the safety of Blutgang inhabitants. And if Groaxians themselves trembled in fear and their brain temperature rose each time they thought about the mighty dreadnought, then Tempestsaurs Of Achernar should already be on the run even before stopping at the system. Not that it would help them. Their end was destined the moment they even thought about entering Blutgang for another time.

For the opening volley the Executor was still too far to count on phasing antimatter bombs directly into interiors of enemy ships, but Soulgrain HyperDisintegrators were perfectly usable. These weapons made no sound Executor's crew could hear and no visual trace said crew could watch. The moment of firing was indistinguishable from the moment of not firing. The only thing that happened was a single flash coming roughly from the Achernar fleet's bearing and sensor arrays informed about losing track of one of the target. It didn't look like a photonic missile hitting a star or a black hole ripping chunks of rock until the entire planet would fall apart, but that's probably what was so terrifying about this weapon. No indicator beyond logs from sophisticated instruments used for measuring parameters of the fabric of space itself, yet targets were surgically removed from the plane reality each time it fired.

What followed after was a pure sluaghter. Propelled to ridiculous speeds, Executor came on top of the enemies, not giving a damn about kinetic missiles and particle beams losing all their kinetic energy in contact with powerful energy shields, used its antigravity flight assistant to rapidly lose much of its speed to align with the hapless Achernar and opened fire with all it got (except Black Hole Generator for obvious reasons). Ships suddenly blowing up for no visible reason as pockets of energy freed from the antimatter after touching matter suddenly appeared in the middle of Achernar engine and other ships magically disappearing as if a powerful entity beyond the common understanding decided to remove all their traces from the universe as if they never had came into existence in the first place was a terrifying performance watched by Groaxians in awe and terror until the deed was done and both Squadrons of Achernar fleet were no more.

Light hibernation cycles away the main battle still raged, too. With Ascension Pathfinders heading directly towards Tizona III, Human Space Fleet turned at Tizona II, because telescopes were able to identify dozens of targets steadily raising above the planet's atmosphere.

Having counted dozens of enemy starships, Groaxians had only one way to be sure they would not overwhelm their forces that might possibly have troubles destroying all of them in time. And so before they could get out of the gravity well of their planet, a powerful anomaly created by Soulgrain Singularity Curvature Fluctuators echoed across the space, with the gravity of unstable micro black holes causing all the ships to not have enough thrust to ovecrome the planet's gravity anymore and collapse on the ground. Groaxians watched as one after the other the starships smashed against the surface with energy so high it turned them into weapons of mass destruction and that alone was still nothing compared to the disturbances created gravitational anomaly caused, shattering large portions of the world below, with earthquakes on an unprecedenced scale and storms a nasty gas giant wouldn't be ashamed of.

And yet the way these weapons were tagrted allowed the planet below to survive. And surprisingly, most of Achernar population survived, too, simply because there weren't many Achernar living on the surface in the first place. Similar population density was detected on Tizona III, too, so the final conclusion was that in the entire system there were very little Tempestsaurs Of Achernar even before Groaxian arrival. This could very well mean War of a Different Time was way further from being over than anticipated, with Achernar fleeing towards a new home of theirs en masse, escaping Tizona both before Groaxian invasion and the inevitably incoming Dark Forest Strike. But even if that was really the case, Groaxians hoped to get the coordinates of this supposed new home straight out of heads of captured battle survivors and whatever they could get access to once on the surface of Tizona III.

And so after the fierce, multi-stage space battle path to Tizona III lied open and the invasion could proceed according to the plan. But questions about the future of Groaxians remained unanswered.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2021, 07:12:38 PM by Stormtrooper »

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Re: Time's End - Tizona III Invasion
« Reply #65 on: September 15, 2021, 04:51:18 PM »

3545 AM hibernation cycle

Ascension Pathfinders were all clear to approach the homeworld of Tempestsaurs of Achernar. White lands with brown or light green patches scattered around and light blue oceans awaited conequest and exploration. The garrison wasn't estimated to be very strong, since there were very few Achernar living down there, but depending on the autonomous machines usage their actual army size and strength could exceed what one might expect based on the population statistics alone. Still, not expecting much problems, Bound By Dark Forest boarded their capsules and prepared for rapid orbital falloff down to the surface of a world that looked asleep. Except it wasn't asleep, because before the final command particle beams started blasting through the armor of Starhunters. These behemoths were sturdy enough to withstand direct hit without any penetration, but pods about to be launched weren't really that though. Neither were the three Ravens accompanying the fleet, carrying Avengers with them. Three of them got destroyed while still in hangar as particle beam went in and out of one Raven. Human Space Fleet tried to assist with orbital strikes, but the defense systems bruied in the deepest depths of the oceans (or at least they gave an impression as if that was the case) weren't particularly easy to hit without risking wrecking the entire planet until there would be barely anything left to invade, denying Groaxians the answers they seeked. Not willing to hang around the dead zone any longer than strictly necessary, Starhunters synchronised the launch and soon all the orbital pods were speeding towards the alien world below. Avengers had a more difficult task since they had to drop from orbital speeds and enter the atmosphere while not getting destroyed. Particle beams had quite some trouble chewing at the swarm of Avengers, let alone the small pods with Groaxian soldiers in them, but Ravens and Starhunters were a different thing. Before they could reach enough velocity to get out of the dead zone, one of the Ravens suffered a critical engine damage and was not able to continue accelerating.

Particle beams and some kinetic fire support concentrated on that ship that quickly got left behind, not giving it any chance. All its captain could do was to call for evacuation and leave the vessel before certain destruction. It was only thanks to this that all the remaining crew survived when disintegrated fragments and debris from the fresh wreck began to spread in all directions.

Being too late to halt the invasion prematurely, Achernar kept on firing at the most vulnerable targets which undoubtedly were Ravens and woudn't stop until last one of them ended its service while still close to the planet. Starhunters and Human Space Fleet were lucky to get out of the firing zone without a scratch, but Avengers didn't have anywhere to dock anymore. Particle beam fire ceased, but metallic slugs kept flying from the surface towards descending invaders so first Bound by Dark Forest were slain and more Avengers crashed down before even first Groaxian was able to touch the ground.

Choosing landing location was a bit problematic, because on the whole planet it was hard to detect anything resembling a city worthy of direct attack. Because of that, a group of small outposts was chosen as a primary target, but taking it over would still be far from victory. What military officers hoped for, though, was to find some explanation about things going on in this world there. The initial landing zone was a narrow strip of a brown shoreline beyond which endless white fields were spreading. Oddly enough, there were no alien lifeforms to be seen anywhere. The brown ground might have a unique shade as if given to it by some biological beings, but these could be microorganisms at best since for the naked eye it was nothing but barren soil. Further from the oceans white fields stretched benath a pale blue-greenish sky. Groaxians were in shock upon witnessing these fields for the first time from up close. Xenobiology had already provided answers as to what these landscapes were made of and how Achernar spawn in Yatune caverns used it to feed itself. In some way this brought memories many older officers still remembered from Scar'am - a dead, almost extinct world. But in the previous example leftovers from Umbara bodies hadn't been covering the vast majority of the landmass to the point they were the main feature of the planet to be discovered from space even with naked eyes. Also, as evolutionary emulators were able to prove after being reinforced with data on Achernar biology, "overpopulation" would be a very euphemistic term for describing the demography of Tizona III if all the biomass accumulated on the surface would belong to the pre-extinction population. On the other hand, maybe that's how it was comfortable for Achernar. Groaxians had already gone through the shock of discovering how densely packed human cities were. Except Achernar had no cities on the surface.

First squads that had landed immediately began fortifying the painstackingly cover-lacking neighbourhood, but against sonic weapons this was all in vain. However, defenders firing away or something were nowhere to be seen. Soon the song of hell was played, likely from many sources at once. Achernar were prepared. So were Bound by Dark Forest, but sonic shielding was a bit too weak for the job and countersonic batteries were able to focus only in one narrow direction to effectively nullify the deadly infrasounds. This all combined made first soldiers drop dead left and right, even if the casualties had already been minimised. But just as Groaxians regrouped and abandoned the idea of wasting time and effort on useless fortifications, giant machines were spotted raising staight out of biomass. They were all perfectly spherical. Biological substance was still oozing from them as they formed above it.

Whether they were the source of the sound warfare or not was debatable, but for certain they were the forces of energetic forcefields expanding outwards. The pulses didn't have much effective range, but the spheres itself could rotate rather fast and they swarmed Groaxian positions. Gliders were sturdy enough to still remain operational after direct contact with a forcefield, but even latest prototype of infantry power armor struggled to keep the wearer alive, let alone conscious and functional. Not to mention the spheres itself were capable of reaching scary speeds while being rather bulky, so whoever got under one of them during the chaos that ensued got splattered and essentially merged with the biomass leftovers sticking to their exteriors. Plasma weapons were ineffective agains them, especially after noticing that their heat signatures were enormous so a bunch of plasma shots couldn't really heat them up much.

Nevertheless they were all suspectible to antimatter missiles, obviously, and surprisingly also ultraviolet beams fired from Avengers providing air support were of great effectiveness. First combat spheres began blowing up or just falling apart as they rolled, but the amount of them that swarmed Groaxians was enormous. Still, it was all nothing for Phased Surface Gravitational Destabilisators, by then even more destabilising than they had been during Blutgang Invasion. Contracting space at targeted spots made the spheres collapse, splatter and pop up until eventually turning into plasma outburst and transferring to pure energy, raining down destruction on the nearby machines as well. At times an accurate antigrav pulse was all there was needed to lift the enemies off the ground and crash them against each other.

With each moment of focused fire Groaxian perimeter looked more stable and the chaos was being successively pushed away from it while casualties taken were being reduced, especially after noticing that the spherical robots were indeed infrasound emitters, too. It didn't last long until Groaxians were able to counterattack (or rather counter-counterattack to be precise) and march directly towards Achernar outposts. They were defended by a more conventional layout of particle beam cannons, infantry with sonic guns and some smaller spheres with kinetic launchers sticking out of them being probably an Achernar version of Gliders of some sort, but they all had no chance. If the Groaxian army had been only as advanced as during Blutgang Invasion, a breakthrough would have costed a meaningful number of killed and wounded, but all the Achernar fortifications, bunkers and squads were nullified by next-gen Groaxian arsenal to the point Bound by Dark Forest had little to nothing to do once they were thrown to charge the battered enemy position. The battle was easier than expected and soon the entire Achernar complex fell into Groaxian hands.

Expecting counterattack (or more of a counter-counter-counterattack), soldiers entrenched themselves rapidly on the new position and scientists brought alongside for the mission began tinkering with alien artifacts discovered inside. Providing input for their cybersouls by encoding sample full spectrum scan results that carried proper meaning wasn't the most convenient user experience, but it had to do. First noticeable thing was a counter displayed on each device, according to which the 527th Respawn Period should begin soon. Wondering what this "respawn period" was supposed to be about, Groaxians dug deeper until they uncovered everything. The small population of Achernar was small for a reason. Unlike for Humans and Groaxians, breeding wasn't something that was supposed to bring constant population replacements for them. It was a lenghty and spectacular undertaking, requiring preparing many, many resources a new spawn would consume to grow and gain strength. Because of that, during solar watch-to-solar watch lives Achernar were dying, but not breeding. Not at all. And each dead Achernar would rapidly decompose into white biomass that nobody would ever attempt to clean up. It was left on purpose to pile up. Its fascinating properties allowed it even to consume nearby plants and animals, accelerating its growth and the amount of nutritional value it had to offer. Past a certain critical point the biomass would expand rapidly and consume a large portion of native wildlife, leaving barely anything left to repopulate biosphere again. After that point last surviving Achernar from a given generation overseeing the whole process would merge with the white substance and soon afterwards first Achernar of a new generation would spawn, with more raising from the goo as solar watches would pass, raising and shining until barely anything from the old generation would have been left and the new one would be ready to take on the universe. And because of all that Achernar didn't even bother to build proper cities - they needed all the place for their ever-growing biomass, building only minimal facilities, outposts and underground systems dedicated to science and industry.

Several interesting implications popped up in the heads of Groaxian scientists and soulseekers regarding the culture and civilisation built by Tempestsaurs of Achernar. Firstly, if the theory of Universal Collapse was really true then cycle of their lives was a decent metaphor of the cycles of the universe, seeing each Achernar of old die until an essentially new world would be born, even if the conditions and genetic material stayed the same all along. Even more, this aspect of their biology might be a true explanation behind their half-suicidal Dark Forest Broadcast - it might as well simply be in their nature for them to expect a "wipeout" since under optimal conditions no Achernar would ever live to see the next generation. Secondly, in order to keep up with technological and scientific progress, an extensive automation array was a must have to keep up with diminishing workforce and lenghty and costly breeding procedure. While this might be the cause for Achernar struggling to raise their civilisation above the sky and then beyond Tizona, past a certain level technological boom was a given because of how the great degree of automation maintained out of strict necessity could reshape their entire civilisation. Said "automation" also took a unique path as it seemed that for Achernar their robots had always strong connection with the "intergenerational soup" as utilising as much of the natural processes as possible in their constructions was especially important when they still lacked technology and industry to assemble enough automatons to assume steady growth, simply to skip the gaps in cybersoul mainframe development and understanding.

Even the spheres Groaxians had fought were "guided" by portions of Achernar soup itself. The biomass posessed a natural self-defense instinct that would empower it to lash out at anything that weren't of Achernar of biology to guard the respawning process. In principle these spheres were just sensors through which the goo was able to sense intruders while the weapons were linked with the defensive mechanisms, getting triggered each time the soup "decided" to attack the threat. To make it all work flawlessly, the concept was enclosed within a sphere to avoid any complicated controls and movement. A sphere could just roll anywhere while its rotation and the like wouldn't matter, so primitive biological instinct combined with some extraordinary programming was all it was needed to make it work as a fearsome defense machine.

By admiring this design, Groaxians realised the technological boom of Achernar was about to begin, if it hadn't already launched, that is. Another thing they realised was that just like in their own case, civilisation of Achernar had been shaped by the biological characteristics of its members. Besides Dark Forest Gene, this seemed to be another common trait shared between sentient lifeforms, no matter how much differing from each other they would be. Another issue worth tackling was the instant question "what to do with surviving Achernar and Tizona III as a whole". Technically the most satisfying answer would be to do with them exactly what had been done with La, Zenn and what Humanity had done with Yagidrerc, except in that particular case the situation got a little bit more complicated. After some time new Achernar would start popping up out of the white fields of Tizona III until its inhabitants would form society large enough to be worthy of a planet with a homeworld status. And their estimated numbers were supposed to far exceed current Groaxian population on all worlds combined. Keeping Groaxian society with less than 50% Groaxians at peace and balance while struggling to fit two radically different natures into one integrated civilisation was anything but easy. Taking control of their planet before next Respawn Period was one thing, maintaining it all after the respawn another.

After gaining the foothold and learning more about Achernar-built civilisation and culture, Groaxians were able to remotely switch off defense layer after defense layer and seize the whole planet, but while it indeed held the answers they sought after, the knowledge they brought only complicated the decision making on the course of future interactions with Tempestsaurs of Achernar even further.