Preface to Part I
With the rebirth of Aldebaran and transformation into a game for both Smac and Smax, I thought it was time to publish this first part of the story behind the game. This story survived on the web for 3 years, unattended by a neglectful Smack, in a yahoo account of all things. So it must be robust. After this excellent introduction by Kassiopeia, I'll add a few more details from our original plot discussions. The whole original project was the group effort of Kassiopeia, Cybergod, and me, Smack. Here are some links of interest to the first project and the new project:
Aldebaran-1: The Smac version
Aldebaran One: Release Thread
Aldebaran One: Website (don't laugh too hard)
Aldebaran One: Beta thread
Aldebaran-2: The Smac and Smax update in progress
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Aldebaran story by Antti Helin AKA Kassiopeia (Apolyton posting name). It should be noted that Kass is Finnish and any inconsistencies in English usage you may encounter are intentional. The timeline might shift here and there occasionally, but should have no impact on the plot.
This is the AC-fiction story "Aldebaran". It's original idea and plot are the products of the mind of Smack whereas I myself have used it as raw material to create this story. This story derives from the AC mod "Aldebaran" currently in beta-testing. For further info on the mod "Aldebaran", check the AC-Creation forum. Now, to the story.
FIRST PART - DEPARTURE
The SETI Program (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) had not proven the existence of alien intelligence on Earth, but some scientists on Chiron (With University in the front row) had exclaimed that on Centauri, some four light years from Earth, there would be different conditions with the so-called radio wave backround noise of the universe. Hence, a Chironian SETI program was started, with several radio telescopes pointed at all directions like an ear waiting for the alarm sound of a phone.
And in Mission year 2386, they were called.
From some hazy transmissions the Chironians could determine several facts. The first, and the most amazing one, was that on another part of the galaxy the offshoot of the human race had thrived, named cleverly by Prokhor Zakharov himself as Homo sapiens galacticus. The story of them was interesting.
Twenty-five years after the launch of Unity, two colony ships equipped with a revolutionary tachyon drive set their course to the far reaches of the galaxy, particularly the constellation of Pleiades. No scouts to Centauri had been sent after the Unity launch, because scientists were certain that Centauri was a dead system. Also, some pieces of debris were accidentally found, and it was presumed that Unity had been destroyed.
The fate of Earth was known by the Galactics, as they were commonly called. A scout fleet had returned to Earth to find a piece of rock shrouded in dust clouds full of radioactive particles. Earth had not survived.
The sphere of influence of the Galactics was over thirty star systems wide. Also, there were some other sentient species inhabiting that corner of the galaxy. One day, an unscheduled transmission was received from the Galactican communications beacon that had been launched to Centauri long time ago. It contained detailed information regarding the tachyon drive, which's secrets the official Galactic Alliance had refrained from divulging to the Chironians. It was a widespread theory that some radical element or faction of the Galactics had sent the drive data, and also a peculiar scientific piece of information:
In Aldebaran, only sixty lightyears away from Chiron, was an uninhabited planet that could support human life to some point.
MY 2383, UN Headquarters, Peacekeeping Forces
"Shera, Shera, Shera..." The crowd shouted in rhythm at the market square before the Peacekeeper HQ at U.N. Headquarters. Shera Nehred appeared on a balcony and the tranced masses started to just scream loudly, with no hearable message.
Miss Nehred stepped to a microphone and the people fell silent.
"Commissioner Pravin Lal", she said. The crowd started buuing even louder.
"Is the democraticly elected leader of the Peacekeepers."
The most radical parts of the crowd had prepared for a coup, to overthrow the "militaristic" commissioner.
"And I shall not deny that from him!"
A stunned silence. The opposition leader of the UN House of Parlament was going to let the evil commissioner continue?
"In exchange, I have been given two fully usable colony pods. All those who wish to follow me, can."
Another stunned silence. People were thinking... Would they leave their comfortable homes and restart as colonists again?
They would. "Hurray", the crowd started to repeat.
Shera Nehred smiled and returned inside.
MY 2387, 14th Annual Global Trade Summit, Morgan Solarfex, Morgan Industries
"The most important matter at hand is the new revolutionary technologies obtained by the University in the past mission year", Nwabudike Morgan said.
All the seven faction leaders had gathered around table at Morgan Solarfex, negotiating the commercial transactions and situations of the future mission year and discussing and commenting the mission year that had already elapsed.
"Technology is no matter to us", Sister Miriam declared. "We do not wish to leave Chiron. This is our Promised Land, and we shall not leave it. And you cannot force us, like the Israelians were driven off from their own land." Her comments were generally disregarded.
"The SETI Program was run by interfactional staff", Pravin Lal mentioned.
"Hence, all results of communication with Homo Galacticus should be shared with all the factions."
"I will agree to this at some point", Zakharov murmured. "I will divulge you any astronomical information, and all technology from this moment forward, but I want payment for the Tachyon Drive. I will share all blueprints for, say, three billion energy credits per faction. And I won't sell them to anyone beforehand. If someone wants it, now is the best time to get it."
Morgan sighed. "We all know that the Tachyon Drive isn't the main reason we are here. Zakharov, you have Planet Busters."
Lal slammed the table. "I was not informed, Morgan! The use of these horrendous quasi-nuclear weapons is utterly and totally a violation of the UN charter punishable to the highest degree!"
"I am sorry, Brother Lal, but I had no time. A University citizen desired the citizenship of the Morganites. I personally admitted him a Morganite ID chip, in exchange for some information about certain University projects."
"Oh, you'd be better off just probing it out", Zakharov sighed. "I will sell you both techs, for ten billion credits. I guess that if everyone has them, nobody dares to use them." But, even after losing his "ace in the hole" for hefty 70 billion credits, he still had a few tricks in store.
Mission year 2386, Peacemaker Headquarters, Peacemaking Forces
"Chiron is too small for us", Sheran Nehru said to her closest officials.
"Where ever we try to expand, we run into other factions. I suggest that we buy a foil fleet with our last funds from the Morganites and found a sea base to continue our plan", Nehru said and then resumed the task of reading the documents regarding the Tachyon Drive, sneakily probed from UN Social Council.
Astromathematics Unit, New Arzamas, University of Planet
Chied Mathematician Kelle Hourten was chatting with his colleagues over lunch.
"The theoretical speed of a tachyon drive ship is one thousand times the speed of light." An admiring whistle.
"let's not make this too easy", Hourten smirked and continued. "If a Unity class ship travels in forty years to a star four light years away -"
"It travels in a speed equivalent to ten percent of the speed of light", chief astrophysician Jim Hoffman said.
"Precisely, Jimmy. So, that's ten thousand times slower then the tachyon drive. Then, what's the lenght of the journey to Aldebaran? Roughly sixty lightyears, I remember hearing."
He started sribbling to a napkin. "I think that with acceleration and deceleration, the ship will make it to Aldebaran in eight years." "And to Earth it would take only six to seven months."
"No wonder Zakharov's so hot on building the damn ship, it's less then a decade. We wouldn't have to recreate the cryostasis equipment of Unit, we could build a more basic model that would have to work only for 96 months."
One of the interns from another table asked suddenly: "What's the big deal with this tachyon drive? And how can it's speed be a thousand times the speed of light? That's like against the theory of relativity by Einstein, right?"
"The theory of Einstein hasn't been proven false, son. That theory however applies only to the physics of the dimension we are now, and where we live. The tachyon drive uses tachyons, particles which move almost at the speed of light, to propel itself to light speed. But the ship does not just stay at the brink of the light barrier. It crosses it, and when that happens, the Law of Neutralising Impossibility takes place. It, well, the only way we can describe, "sucks" the ship by bending the space-time continuum to another dimension called "hyperspace", where the laws of physics we know aren't valid. And in hyperspace, the any kinetic energy is multiplied a thousand-fold. That way the ship can travel at 1000 c, "c" meaning the speed of light."
"How does a ship then get back to normal space?"
"It has to slow down to a speed less then one c, so that the space-time rift can be released and retract."
"But then it should decelerate 999.1 c before that! No retro-rocket can do that!"
"A simple retro-rocket system will do, because when the kinetic energy is a thousand-fold, it will neutralize also a thousand times faster than in normal space. This all would be more simple if in hyperspace time would go a thousand times faster than in our dimension, but it doesn't. And if it would, everyone on board would age a thousand times faster - not too nice, dont you think?" The intern shook his head and returned to his lunch.
Economical Ministry of Hive, Drone Mound, The Human Hive
The Economical Minister Matsumura Harada was having a fierce argument over his commlink with the Chairman himself.
The Hive was a socialist system, so Matsumura had always been frustrated due to the fact that the Hive regime gave no appreciation to him. Drones did't need wages, they would settle to food and a roof over their heads. And when the economics were totally planned and under total goverment control, Matsumura found no challenge in the post of the economical minister. It was generally considered as the job the most dangerous political opponents would be placed, to "extinguish" them.
"We need to build an energy bank here, Chairman."
"I am not allocating funds to maintaining such facilities, not in Drone Mound or anywhere in the Hive."
"If we can't access the stock exchange, our funds -"
"Our funds aren't of anyones concern. If we have no credits to build it, we make the workers do it. In the perfect society, there's no need for private entrepeunering or paying salaries to employees."
"This is ridiculous -"
"The whole idea of the Economical Ministry is ridicilous. We have no need for such elaborate and useless organisations. Now, I must attend to matters of most importance. Chairman Yang out."
The video screen darkened. Matsumura sighed. "This can't continue like this", he muttered and called his private secretary.
Mission year 2390, newlyfound Gaian embassy, University Base, University of Planet
Lord Richard Brighton looked at his beautiful leader.
"Lady Deirdre, I am honored to speak with you."
"The pleasure is mine, Sir Richard. I apologize for not attending the celebrations of the opening of the University embassy."
"I am sure that whatever you tended to, it was far more important then this humble establishment."
"Richard, I have a reason for my call."
"I regret to inform that the Gaian Council has not agreed to initiate the construction of a colony ship to Aldebaran."
"Why is that milady?" the disappointed ambassador asked.
"I know that you were one of the most eager to colonize Aldebaran, but the Gaian factories are now solemnly dedicated to the construction of", Lady Deirdre sighed, "Quasi-Nuclear Missiles."
"I knew also that there were many not-so devoted minds in the Council, but this is a shock." "Actually, they might have a point, Richard. If we remain as the only faction without them, we might be an easy target."
"But, why not to build the ship also?"
"The Planet Buster project is currently consuming all available industrial efforts. The Council has decided that the final decision to launch a ship to Aldebaran will be postponed until further notice."
"This is bad news milady."Lindly lowered his voice and said: "I'm thinking of visiting Gaia's Landing soon."
Deirdre smiled. "A wonderful idea, Richard. I think that the Nanohospital opening celebrations would serve well."
"Are you sure you can't transfer me there? Even for some low-level desk job?" "That is the matter of the Internal Councillor, not mine. If I would use my authority, our little affair might be discovered."
"You are wise in your decisions, and I submit to them."
"Good. Now, I have some other matters for you also. I want that you have a Planetpark built to the embassy grounds for you and your people to use." "A wonderful idea, milady."
"Start clearing an area, and I will send you a piece of Planetmind in a biocontainer on a Needlejet."
"As you wish, milady."
In the meeting room of Morgan Industries, CEO Morgan decided on the same grounds as the Gaian Council that the Morganite efforts wouldn't be directed to building a colony ship, but to construct Planet Busters.
And because the Believers, Spartans and the Peacekeepers had no desire to leave Chiron, they followed the Morganites and the Gaians.
But in the Peacemaker Ocean Base, University Base and Drone Mound, colony ships nearly identical to Unity were built.
Mission year 2391, Wolf359, Galactic Cloning Farm Theta
The Galactic Cloning Farms were the political prisons of the Galactic Alliance, at the same time also producing new citizens to the GA.
Citizen Awen Llawella had been arrested two days ago, for attempting to overthrow the local GA regime stationed in the system Wolf359.
She was eating her nutrite ration as the force field of the cell was disrupted. She heard some gun fire, and in seconds she was facing her closest companion.
"Terenec, you have liberated me from illegal captivity."
"Come, Awen, quickly. We have commandeered a colonization ship destined to Aldebaran One. There we can create our own nation."
"The United Noncomplicity Front, with it's own colony... Wonderful, Terenec. Goodbye Wolf359!"
Mission year 2392, Centauri, Low Chiron Orbit
The surveillance satellite glided in harmony with the green-red planet. It was geostationary, so that one spot would be always under it's watchful eye, instead of rotating the Planet taking pictures from all over it's surface. This satellite belonged to the Peacekeepers, and it's telescopes had been fixed to the main factory base of the Human Hive. One of the thermal boreholes had looked stragenly different, and soon after the satellite had been deployed it was revealed that the "borehole" was actually a resourcefully disguised missile silo, where a Planet Buster was under construction. In few months more of these "boreholes" appeared, and the Peacekeeper Probe Forces estimated that the Hive now had ten of these missiles.
When Santiago and Miriam found out about this, they unveiled their missile silos that had been hidden underground to warn Yang that any attack would be retaliated at equal strength.
Mission 2392, University Base, Institute of Innovative Tactics
"We need more testing, Academician", the chief of Project Hunter-Seeker complained. "The weapon system just isn't reliable enough."
"The factions are arming for a nuclear war. Except this faction. All resources have been dedicated to the colony ship, because I'm counting on our trump card. We must have something better then those harsh and blunt nukes. We need the HSA-weapon. If it is technically ready, you must prepare it. Connect it with PlanetNet and MorganNet via the main Network Node here. Then hook it up with the main quantum chamber at sector three."
"We need more power than that, sir. But if I can test it I can -"
"Then take the chamber of sector four as well. Cut down the electricity systems at Domes G to J, and disable the tachyon field if necessary. You have Provostial authority."
"Yes sir", the chief of Project HS sighed, and disconnected the commlink.
< The whole concept of the HSA-weapon was quite original and ingenious. It would be, if it would work that was, like the Hunter-Seeker Algorithm; formless in it's defense but perfect in it's offense. The HSA weapon system would be able to infiltrate via the datalinks any computer and data network linked to PlanetNet or MorganNet. It could erase all data, or override the computer systems and do virtually everything, even launch the Planet Busters or make the machines disassemble themselves on molecular level using their own nano-repairers. To accomplish this, all that was needed was a huge quantity of energy for a short period of time and a command from the weapon operator. The only problem with it was, excluding the hurry Zakharov was in, that Planet Busters in flight were impregnable. Nobody would be stupid enough to link the guidance system of a PB missile to any public data network.
Nobody was ever going to know exactly what happened. For some reason, the first Planet Buster was launched, and then that strike was retaliated, and then a third party launched... In a few minutes, the atmosphere was full of missiles going to striking at their targets in some twenty minutes.
Drone Mound, Aerospace Complex
Yang looked at his ministers.
"Where is the minister of economy?" he asked. "It seems that we must abandon him then. Well, the new Hive at Aldebaran will not need a minister of that area -"
"Not so fast, Yang." The economic minister.
"Matsumura, you made it in time." Yang was surprised.
"Your hired hands were useless." Some thugs appeared to the sides of Matsumura, equipped with quantum rifles. Their special tattoos revealed that they were members of the Neoyakuza that had struggled under the Hive regime. The Neoyakuza's leader was unknown - until now.
"Matsumura! Cease this and we may take you with us."
Matsumura smiled and prompted his henchmen. After ten seconds he looked at the seven bodies and said: "Come, companions. We are commandeering Shimoda.