Author Topic: Bonfire in the Sky  (Read 673 times)

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Bonfire in the Sky
« on: May 03, 2014, 08:04:01 PM »
Bonfire in the Sky

http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=234

Scenario Name: Bonfire in the Sky
SMAC/ SMAX: SMAX
Author: Darsnan
Date of original posting: 10/4/08
Original host site: Apolyton

BACKDROP: In MY 2433 several factions discovered the wreckage of a
Progenitor interstellar spaceship on the farside of Nessus. After much
investigation it was determined that the ships star charts were intact,
and that the hyperdrive engine could be cloned.
By MY 2452 the first fleet of scoutships had been built and sent out
with a mandate to investigate all of the habitable planets catalogued in
the ancient Progenitor ships star charts. The results were mixed: some
scoutships returned with exciting news of “Eden-class” planets, while
other scouts return with tales of planets who have degraded over the
eons. Still other scouts fail to return at all…
By MY2475 the "Diaspora of Man" had begun in earnest, with interstellar
colony ships being sent out to the far reaches of the Milky Way as fast
as they could be built.
However once at their destinations, some peoples found the life of a
colonist was a difficult and arduous task, and in some cases
overwhelming, either from poor planning, or from the planet being more
difficult than first gauged. This happened often enough that the Peace
Keepers had set up a fleet of starships specifically designed for the
transport and relocation of refugees from worlds that weren’t as
hospitable as first thought.
There were also several other starships which belonged to the
relocation fleet, however they never showed on any roster, nor did the
Peace Keepers even acknowledge their existence. Crewed by Hive personnel
trained in the methods of riot police, these ships were at the beck and
call of planetary governments, and were employed primarily in the
forcible removal of minority factions who either wouldn’t or couldn’t
take a hint that they were unwanted on their current planet. Once
removed from their planet of origin, the UN had set up a protocol
whereby these unwanted peoples were humanely moved to a new planet, and
that said peoples were allowed to pick which planet from a list of
standing fallow planets.
The Hive had come up with its own version of this: instead of allowing
the refugees to choose from the standing list, they instead used these
transports as scoutships, exploring previously unmapped regions of
space. If they found an Eden-class planet, they claimed it for
themselves. If they then found a lower class planet, they “encouraged”
the refugees to resettle to this newly discovered world, and then just
backdated the standing list with the newly discovered planet. The system
worked: the planetary governments, who footed the bill for the
relocation, didn’t care where their unwanted went, so long as they were
gone. The Peace Keepers were happy in that they didn’t have to be
involved in what amounted to an unpopular and darker side of the ongoing
galaxy-wide colonization effort. And the Hive was happy because
essentially they were getting paid to explore new environs, with the
side benefit of adding new planets to the Hive domain.

The Harbinger was a ship that belonged to the Black List. It had
recently stopped off at a planet whose world government consisted
primarily of the Conscsiousness and their close allies the University
and Morganites, and who had deemed that there was no need for the
minority factions consisting of the planet-loving Cultists and Gaians,
nor of the bible-thumping Believer colony. At the request of the
Consciousness government, in the same sweep the Hive had collected up
other undesirables who fell into two primary groups, those labeled as
Drones, and the others collectively considered brigands, or Pirates.
Once the Hive Special Operations groups had herded the refugees aboard
the Harbinger, the mindgames began: each Faction was segregated and
isolated into generic holding pens, with no communication with anyone
save their Hive Overseer. To all intents and purposes each Faction was
entirely alone, and were completely dependent on their Hive Overseer for
any additional circumstances that inevitably cropped up. In this
environment the Overseer then doled out both rewards and punishments,
all selectively tailored to condition the Factions to be responsive to
their individual Overseer: everything was geared to break down the
psyche of the refugees, so when it came time for them to be introduced
to their new world, they would view it as a Paradise and eagerly grab at
it.
The Harbinger, after exploring several dead solar systems on the
fringes of known space, had decided to explore a small cul-de-sac of
promising stars, and on their third solar system they had hit paydirt: a
nominally habitable world, it fit the criteria as a perfect dumping
ground for their cargo, and after a little “negotiating” with the
various Factional leaders, each group had been transported down to the
planet’s surface, with those Factions who had proved more tractable
being rewarded with their choice of landing locations. Those who had
been more obstinate, such as the devout Believers and rebellious Drones,
were unceremoniously dumped a safe distance away from the other
Factions.
While the process of colonization had been going on the Harbinger had
also been scouting the solar system for any anomalies that might prove
worth investigating, as artifacts of previous civilizations had been
discovered in other quadrants, both in space as well as on planetary
surfaces. In this case the search had proven fruitful, as some sort of
artifact was discovered orbiting another world in this solar system.
The Harbinger, once its cargo had unloaded, proceeded towards the world
in question: as data accumulated it appeared the world was a gas giant,
with an eccentric orbit taking it well out of the normal paths traveled
by the other worlds in this solar system. To an observer on another
world (such as the one where they had just disgorged their carago) the
gas giant would appear as a bright star, alternately brightening and
growing dimmer depending on where it was in its orbit.
As the Harbinger traveled across the solar system a strange thing
occurred: another artifact appeared on their screens! In this case it
became apparent very quickly that the artifact was another spaceship. It
also became apparent very quickly that the spaceship was not of human
origins, and that it also was headed right towards the artifact the
Harbinger was targeting. The Harbinger’s captain, taking the view that
possession is nine/tenths of the law, quickly accelerated his ship
towards the artifact, only to find the alien spaceship increasing its
speed as well. The two ships bore down on the prize, moving into orbits
on opposite sides of the gas giant, closing swiftly towards their prize.
Just as both ships were clearing the fringes of the gas giant, the
artifact, which had appeared to be a derelict single-seater spacecraft,
sent out a scanning pulse, probing the two oncoming spacecraft.
Immediately after this the small spacecraft jumped to life, and shot
down into the ever-thickening cloud layers of the gas giant. Almost
immediately a chain reaction within the gas giant began, one that the
sensors on the Harbinger determined would very quickly lead to the
gas-giant becoming a proto-star, and if the captain didn’t react
quickly, would also consume the Harbinger in its initial burst of
radiation.
The Harbinger frantically spun about, accelerating hard and attempting
to break out of the gravity well as quickly as possible. However it
became apparent very quickly that they would not be able to break clear
of the gas-giant before it erupted……

Overseer Shin sat down in the now-empty cargo hold that had served as
the housing unit for the Believer Faction they had just transported. He
and his crew had been charged with cleaning up and organizing the bay
for the next group of refugees that they would pick up. The work had
gone relatively quickly: it wasn’t just the thought of the Watcher Eyes
that dotted the walls of the bay and of who might be monitoring them,
but also of the thought that once this was done there were no other
pressing duties for the foreseeable future. Shin had been meticulously
generating a list of serviceable items the Believers had left behind
when the Harbinger’s emergency claxon had sounded. Shin and his work
detail were about to leave the bay when the bay’s cargo doors slid
closed, trapping them in the area. Shin looked around, seeing only the
empty bay, and the accessway to the launching area. Of course - they
could ride out the emergency in the planetary shuttle! Shin quickly
hustled his people down to the shuttle, herding them into what had only a
few hours previous been the last link to civilization the Believer
faction had seen before being delivered to the newly discovered planet.
No sooner had the door closed than a horrendous rending sound drowned
out everything else, and the bay of the Harbinger was ripped opened by
the first gouts of energy from the newly forming proto-star. The shuttle
tumbled free, and was quickly swept away by the huge surge of energy
erupting from the now boiling gas giant’s surface. Shin had only a
glance of this before the shuttle’s polarizing shield slammed down,
masking off both the visible and invisible radiation. What he had seen
of the Harbinger in that instant though was enough to tell him that the
ship had been completely destroyed, and that the only reason he had
survived was because the shuttle was designed to withstand the
temperatures of orbital re-entry, and thus had been impervious to the
heat and blast that had destroyed the Harbinger.
Shin took the controls of the shuttle, trying to stabilize it against
the maelstrom that howled outside. As the gas giant receded, the shuttle
became more manageable, and finally Shin was able to relax as the
initial surge of energy from the proto-star left them in its wake.
The polarizing shield, a facet of the resonance armor which had saved
their lives, automatically lifted as the levels of radiation and visible
light dropped to acceptable levels. What Shin saw as the shield lifted
filled him with a deep sense of dark irony: in the center of the viewing
field lay the planet Shin and his team had just deposited the refugees
on to. It appeared that he would again get to meet those people he had
just “assisted” in finding a new planet to call home. Only this time the
circumstances would be significantly different.
Shin, deflated with this turn of events, leaning back in his seat to
try and make sense of everything. As he did so his communicator came to
life, interrupting his reverie before he could even begin to sort out
the events of the last few hours. Idly Shin wondered which of the
Factions on the planet below were calling him, and if even an offer of
succor was too much to expect under the circumstances. Shin punched the
communicator, only to be confronted by a strange reptilian-like alien.
The visage on the screen fuzzed and wavered, and Shin could see smoke
emanating from several panels behind the lizard-like creature. Even with
the difference of alien body language Shin could tell the alien held a
malignant apathy towards him, a loathing of pure hatred emanating from
the creature as it glared back at him. The creature, a small trickle of
blood dripping from a gash on its forehead, rasped and hissed something
into its communicator, and an eerie, tinnish voice echoed out of Shin’s
communicator, “this will be settled on the planet below”. Without
another word the communication screen blanked out.


After the shuttle had landed on the planet surface, Shin sat outside on a
rocky outcropping, gazing up at the alien sky. The new pseudo-sun,
Bonfire was what Shin’s people were calling it, was rising in the east,
and Shin wondered what had really happened at Bonfire: had it been some
kind of trap designed to destroy anyone snooping around this solar
system, or was it truly a bonfire, designed to signal someone else in
the galaxy that trespassers had entered this solar system? Shin’s mind
was already numb at the turn of events, however he, as leader, didn’t
have time to dwell on how horrible their predicament was. And truly it
could have been worse, as at least they had the modicum of supplies that
his team had packed away in the shuttle: it would be enough to start a
colony, to give him and his people a glimmer of hope on this forlorn
little world…….



Directions

1) In your alpha centauri/Scenarios subdirectory create a folder called
"BitS", and download and unzip the attached files into it.
2) Start up SMAX, then select "Scenario", "Play Scenario", and then go
to the subdirectory "BitS" and choose the scenario “BitS”. The game will
automatically load up with the Hive.

Enjoy!

D

 

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