Posted: Thu May 08, 2008 4:27 pm Post subject: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri [Let's Play]
Planet. The single habitable planet in the Alpha Centauri system. It was to be a paradise, a utopia, free from the petty squabbles and powerplays of Earth. How wrong we were, and how blind… Planet was merely another form of Hell. I am Lady Deidre Skye, former Knight of the Crown. I was a scientist onboard the Unity, specializing in Biological sciences. And this record in my log of the downfall of the human race.
We landed in an area that could best be described as… barren. There was little here—some mineral deposites, and lots of this red jungle we have taken to calling Xenofungus. Eventually we will study it and give it a scientific name, but for now, it is merely what it is—alien fungus. Gaia’s Landing, as we have called our new home, has only basic fab facilities, but I told them to get to work on the ‘Former’ prototype I had designed prior to Planetfall. A group of security guards that had joined with us instead of Santiago petitioned me to scout the area, to which I granted permission—it would get them out of my hair, while I handled the important bits of survival, anyway.
But perhaps they were right in the importance of scavenging. They approached a small pod that had been dropped from the Unity alongside the colony pods, and found a small rover that they commandeered for Gaia. While it’s military applications are obvious, I think perhaps we could use this Rover design to make more efficient formers… later, however. The former was finished, loaded with a crew, and told to build a farm plot just north of Gaia’s Landing, and a road to facilitate travel.
Then, something both amazing and horrible happened. Scout Patrol 0-1 found… life. Not just plant life, like we had seen so much of so far, but animal life. They approached it, meaning to capture samples to take back to the labs. They never got that far—the worms, Mindworms we call them now, swarmed over them like a flesh-colored tide. The leader of the scouts, a man who called himself Abu Dhabi, shouted at his warriors to hold their ground—and most of them did, but enough died that I told him to bring his men back to Gaia’s Landing to recruit more soldiers before they ventured further.
Erik Mesoy, the member of the Scout Patrol that had commandeered the unity Rover, signaled into base today. He’d stumbled across another Unity Pod—this one had datawafers with information about energy use and, strangely enough, synthetic metalloids. He seemed thrilled with the discovery, but I’m worried—the only obvious application of this ‘synthmetal’ is in armor. I had so dearly hoped we wouldn’t need armor in this ‘utopia’… but we will see.
While the scouts were taking routes around this large freshwater sea we had found ourselves near, a group of colonists left Gaian’s Landing to form a new base—The Flower’s Preach—to the north. I watched them go, a small feeling of guilt in my stomach. They were going out into the unknown, wastelands to the north of us that might be swarming with god-knows what… Mindworms, perhaps more viral strains of them? But they went, not just fearlessly, but with smiles on their face and heads held high. I must act as strong as they feel, but in my heart, I am afraid… afraid that we may be alone, that none of the rest of the crew survived Planetfall.
My fears were unfounded. Soon after the founding of The Flower’s Preach, we found the security officer of the unity. Corazon Santiago, now styling herself the Colonel of the Spartan Federation. I initiated dialogue with her, fearing the worst—we had never gotten along. She was horribly aggressive and physical, and I preferred passivity and the world of the mind.
My fears were still unfounded. She seemed as grateful and thankful as I that there were other humans here. We initiated in trades of technology and maps, and signed a nonaggression treaty—a Treaty of Friendship, one of my assistants sarcastically called it. Trade routes have already opened up, though they are rarely used because they travel through the fungus.
More mind worms today, but… perhaps a sign of things to come. I watched in trepidation as Erik Mesoy’s Rover approached the worms, a man that had followed him—a Jareth Kim Marseille, I have no idea how he got into his Rover to begin with—leaped out INTO the mass of worms. My stomach turned, invisioning the horribly things to come… but they never happened. Instead, the worms… It is improper to say ‘surrendered peacefully’. ‘Came under the control of’ does not begin to convey what happened. What happened was a Joining—a Bonding. Jareth and the Mindworms became… a single entity. From what I heard from comms between Erik, Jareth, and Gaia’s Landing, the Mindworms are now like Jareth’s arms and legs—part and inseperable. I have deemed him a Handler, and I’m requisitioning his psyche files and genecodes to see what, if it’s something other than random chance, allowed for this to happen.
More settlers left to find the base Song of Planet—they wish to advance our infrastructure. They’ve settled near a large deposit of minerals, so that we may be able to build our Formers more quickly.
Erik Mesoy’s rover popped open another pod today… but it wasn’t a pod, as they thought. It was some sort of stasis chamber that held a mobile artifact of alien origin inside it. Erik suggested, and I agreed, to move it to the nearest base, saving for such a time as that base has the proper network material to access the data inside the artifact.
Scout Patrol 001 found another alien artifact. I told them to escort it to Gaia’s Landing.
One final note, before I end this log. We founded another base: Greenhouse Gate, on the edges of the Freshwater Sea. It is planned to provide us with many organic materials to feed our hungry citizens
And so goes the first fifty years on Planet, when we were still full of idealism, and hope, for the future.
Last edited by ilovefire on Fri May 09, 2008 12:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
Erik Mesoy writing a diary. I've been overcome with various thoughts for day after day for a year now, sometimes sharing them with my friends, my superiors, my associates, and my third cousin Sirius Moremo. I count myself lucky to have had a family member along, and even more so that they came along with me. I'm starting this file because I'm tired of forgetting so much in all the hassle and the emergencies and the strangeness. It's probably 2101 Earthtime, but our dates are probably out of sync due to planetary orbit times and special relativity and cryosleep and I know not what. What I remember, which is backed up by the official datalogs, is that the mission to Alpha Centauri went wrong around 2100. Everyone on board the Unity began factioning. I followed Deirdre Skye, who of all the leaders seemed most likely to stop us turning Planet into a second Earth. I fear for what Morgan and Yang may be doing even now. Now it's a full Planet year after landing.
I've stuck with security detail, taking up arms along with a bunch of others and going out to explore Planet, because that was the closest thing available to my intended duty, which was recon. I was supposed to be part of a Rover unit, but those were jettisoned when we all left the Unity in escape pods.
As I write this, we're heading further north from Gaia's Landing, cutting our way through native vegetation like 17th century English explorers going up the Nile. It's slow going, but we've established supply lines, at least, and we're several months and a hundred miles out. We're heading towards a supply pod from the Unity that should have landed nearby based on observations during our own descent.
The years have passed glacially. Well, actually, it hasn't been hot or cold, due to our atmosphere suits. Thank goodness we got those on the escape pods, at least, or we'd have died as soon as we set foot on Planet. It's the third year after our escape pod touched down, hereafter PY (Planet Year) or AL (After Landing) 3 because dating our calendar by Earth's time seems ridiculous to me now. Last year we found the supply pod and eventually managed to crack it open. It contained a squadron of Unity Recon Rovers, which was awesome. I was assigned to take command of them, which left me busy and forgetting about this for a very long time. Not that I mind, because it's interesting to see what I wrote long ago without much continuity. Since then we've been able to use the vehicles' sheer bulk to make trails. We've found another Unity pod, this one containing seeds and planting machines tailored to Planet. It was about a month's travel out from Gaia's Landing with the brush trails we'd blazed, and we didn't understand the programming perfectly, so we activated them where they were rather than try to transport them back, leaving a nutrient-rich farming area in our wake before we got orders to keep exploring west. We're going to head a few miles more south first, though, where we expect to see the coast.
PY 10. We're back at Gaia's Landing, returning with prizes. It's good to get some proper rest. All sorts of news and rumors are flying about. Abu Dhabi, who was the commander of the patrol unit I was in before we found the Rovers, met hostile aliens in the field and overcame them. A Planet-adapted terraforming group has been assembled and has constructed a proper farm north of Gaia's Landing. We're on a sort of land tongue resembling Middle America between two great seas. Those are only the more reliable ones. And in case I decide to publish this or show it to someone else later, I should mention our prize; another salvaged pod from the Unity, this one full of blueprints and instructions on synthetic metal manufacture, with a great deal of industrial potential. History should look favorably on us for this. And now we're due for genetic rejuvenation therapy; four weeks in suspension tanks. Half a year from now we'll be out in the field again, cutting our way through pink and green and purple jungles.
PY 22. I can't begin to describe the sensation of relief and hope that our crew is feeling now. We've found ourselves able to dismiss the local anthropic principle, that we're among the surviving faction because if we weren't we wouldn't notice. We've met Corazon Santiago's followers. She used to be the security officer of the Unity; now she's Colonel Santiago. I still recall snippets of the ideological warfare from the Unity - Santiago was a survivalist to the core, insistent that with the mission tearing apart, we would have to ensure our own safety first. Earth might be dying, she had said, and it would be pathetic if we did not see to the last remnants of humanity. Deirdre had countered that that philosophy would lead to violence, infighting and a nasty approach to settements, and that we should take more into account that we did not destroy our new home as we had destroyed our old planet. I had gone with Deirdre instead, thinking about how even the Aboriginal Americans managed to drive two dozen species extinct. Still, Santiago had had a point, her followers were getting on well, and she was infinitely preferable to Yang, a totalitarian fascist intent on building a dictatorial police state to ensure safety and security. Of the six leaders and one upstart who had managed to form factions aboard the Unity, Yang was the only one I hoped hadn't survived the landing.
Anyway, we've gotten a permanent communications link established between Gaia's Landing and Sparta Command. (Santiago's followers are now the Spartans, while we're the Gaians.) Talks are peaceful, treaties are being made and Santiago has offered us blueprints on and maintenance data for Recon Rovers in exchange for our similar data on terraforming units.
PY 25. Life goes on. We visited Sparta Command and got our Rovers repaired half a month after my last entry. Word from Gaia's Landing is that the new generation is numerous enough and coming of age to such an extent that two more bases are being built near home; The Flowers Preach to the north and Song of Planet to the southeast. Such poetic and hopeful names.
PY 27. Madness. No, not me, I'm still Erik Mesoy and I'm sane, as near as I can tell. We encountered a boil of Mind Worms, the only non-plant life known to exist on Planet, the same sort that attacked Abu's patrol two decades ago. And now we suddenly know much more about it. Jareth, one of the other Rover pilots, has abandoned his vehicle and gone to form some sort of psychic link with the boil. I don't understand it, and it gives me shivers, but living friendly Mind Worms are a stroke of luck for our understanding of Planet's ecosystem.
PY 45. I thought I had lost this file. What I do appear to have lost is the notes I've been keeping in the meantime. They were largely unimportant, though, as I cannot remember them. We've been far to the south, to the Spartans, west from there, north again, and are now perhaps six hundred miles northwest of Gaia's Landing. What we've found now is highly important: a technological artifact of nonhuman design. We're taking it back to The Flowers Preach, the nearest base, for analysis. Either there's a civilisation (or WAS one) on Planet, or else there are other spacefaring races somewhere.
PY 49. The genetic rejuvenation therapy is wearing thin; I'm starting to show signs of age again, say my fellow Roverites, and I think they are, too. We're going to make one final tour to the new base, Greenhouse Gate, before going back to Gaia's Landing for more therapy. The base has fourth-generation native Planeteers; I look forward to seeing them. _________________
ErikMesoy: Aaaagh, my brain.
ErikMesoy: I just saw a bishie-fied hydralisk.
Alien: oh gods
ilovefire: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MONTRESOR
ilovefire: LINK ME
The former security man now a captain of an exploration unit, Abu Dhabi, glanced grimly around the landscape. It was red, as always. In the fifty years he'd spent wandering around the xenofungus jungles of the Planet, this colour has grown to be as boring as outmeal. Not that he could get proper oatmeal anymore - not since the Landing. There probably wouldn't be any for decades, before any significant amount of nostalgia restaurants sprang up. He hoped the treatments would keep him alive until then.
Ambiguously, however, the fauna of the Planet made things more interesting - both the natives, and the new arrivals. Abu couldn't decide which he disliked more, the Spartans, whose leader was a colossal bitch and the followers were trigger-happy obeyers, or the mindworms, who laid eggs in your brain. Most of his people had died in the first encounter with the latter. The Spartans were civil so far, but he judged that this behaviour wouldn't last.
He took one more look around with his binoculars, then went down to the others, trying to think happy ecological thoughts - to keep any nearby worms away from him and his explorers. They had a long way to Gaia's Landing, hauling that alien artifact home. _________________
Jareth flurbled at the lovely landscape as it sped past outside the rover. So many hues of reds and pinks and orange, the tangly plants wriggling upwards towards the sunlight, around each other as in a giant group hug. He'd never grow tired of Planet. So beautiful.
The mood in the rover was largely a happy one. He liked that too. It tickled the brain in an entirely satisfactory manner. They were heading towards one of the bases, it'd be interesting to see. The last base they were at had tickled the brain in so many ways it was enough to flurble by.
Jareth flurbled again, and crawled over to lean a couple tentacles on the pilot's lap. Lovely tentacles. He loved this body, could scarcely remember anymore what it had been like being different. He was happy it had worked. Having devoted his life on Planet to understanding them, us, the mind worms... It was the ultimate experience, being one, he flurbled again at the memory of the Joining. So lucky it had worked. He hadn't been sure, but had to try it. There was no choice, and he had realized afterwards, that all his former life had simply been leading up to the Joining.
The pilot chuckled at him, and he flurbled happily. _________________ Got Sig For Great Justice
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