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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Pi's Provision for Pummelling Pilfering Pirates


At the end of the last episode we left the Divine Puffhead Planets on the brink of the next stage of their Great Quest to find and colonize the Holy Planets of Pi. Techno-priestess Puffleribba had spent six years preparing the New Worlds Protocol which would allow the Puffheads to send colony ships to nearby habitable worlds. And of course at the top of the list, although it was not actually the most habitable planet in the vicinity of Pi-Phara, was the Holy Planet of Paphlagonia II.

The DPS Pioneering Spirit was completed in early 2207, beginning its three month voyage to Paphlagonia. As the news of its successful touchdown came back to Primordia, the whole planet erupted in a paroxysm of partying, parades, pageantry and praise to the Great Pi. Anyone would think the Puffheads had just colonized the final Holy Planet, rather than merely the first. But it was indisputably a milestone in Puffhead history, a day that would never be forgotten.

Meanwhile on the world now known as Paphlagonia Desert, there was no time for much celebration. The Puffhead colonists had to ensure their survival, and to a Puffhead, that meant a ready supply of peanuts, which were practically the only thing in the Puffhead diet. Growing peanuts was easy on Primordia, and vast tracts of the planet's surface were covered in peanut plantations. But on Paphlagonia Desert it was more of a challenge and the colonists had to set up sophisticated hydroponics plants to feed themselves. There were also solar power plants to put in place, and the beginnings of rudimentary mining operations. But a year after the Pioneering Spirit had first made planetfall, Paphlagonia Desert was a properly established colony.

But what of the rest of the Holy Planets of Pi? By 2204 through the fearless exploits of the three Puffhead Navy corvettes, the Puffheads knew of a total of five Holy Planets. Over the next six years, the corvettes continued their voyages of exploration far round the galaxy. However, there were many deadly dangers to brave among the stars. In 2207 Captain Fripp of the DPS Courageous encountered a strange species of crystalline entity which proved to be extremely hostile.

Alas, the pitiful weaponry of the Puffhead Navy was no match for these interstellar monsters, and Captain Fripp reluctantly followed in the footsteps of the fearless Captain Drubble in laying down his life for the cause of the Great Quest.

Captain Veerpa of the DPS Resolute came to a similar end when she stumbled upon a large nest of alien privateers in the Oxamon system the following year. Again, the tiny Puffhead corvette stood absolutely no chance of survival once battle had been joined, and Captain Veerpa's name was added to the Puffhead Roll of Honour of those who had given their lives for the Great Quest.

This left only Captain Thripple of the DPS Intrepid II, the ship built to replace Captain Drubble's lost corvette. In 2207 he came upon a system called Providence which contained a very large arid planet, perfect for Puffhead colonization. Unfortunately it was rather awkwardly situated in the Distant Arm, a region that was now effectively cut off from Pi-Phara by the Qwe'Pulci Sovereignty's closed borders. A year later Captain Thripple made another exciting discovery in the Plauen system, even further along the Distant Arm. This system contained not one but THREE Holy Planets, although two of them were relatively small moons.

Meanwhile back on Primordia, Archprophet Pagglerod had decided that a proper navy was now a priority if the Great Quest was ever going to succeed. In 2207 he began giving orders for the building of more corvettes. These however were not sent out on voyages of exploration but kept at the ready around the spaceport of Primordia. But they were still very poorly armed, and many a prayer went up to Pi to provide the Puffheads with more powerful weaponry. And then quite suddenly the Puffhead's prayers were answered.

As they conducted thorough scans of the nearby systems, the two survey ships Sacred Scrutiny and Sacred Search were making many fascinating discoveries, including remnants left by ancient space-faring civilizations. While exploring the Plograut system, Techno-priestess Praggla of the Sacred Scrutiny found the remains of what appeared to be an automated shipyard orbiting Plograut III. In fact, the crew of Scrutiny even managed to bring the yard back to life long enough for it to complete its current orders.

The result was the construction of a warship that was far beyond anything that the Puffheads were capable of building. It was armed with X-ray lasers as well as something called a disruptor, and was protected by ceramo-metal armour and deflectors. Clearly this was a gift from the Great Pi to help the Puffheads with their Quest. The yard had even given it a name in the Puffhead language, the DPS Dark Wanderer.

As it turned out, the provision of the Dark Wanderer was perfectly timed. Hardly had the ship arrived back at Primordia to join the growing fleet of corvettes, than reports came in of a disturbing development in the neighbouring Niamba system where the DPS Servant of Pi had constructed an orbital mining station back in 2203. Now the station had detected the presence of a fleet of strangely familiar looking ships which were heading straight for them. Techno-priest Picklethum made immediate efforts to contact the fleet.

This is the Orbital Mining Station of Niamba Ia. We perceive your posture to be potentially pernicious. Please identify yourselves.

Ahoy there, me hearties! My name is Cap'n Redpuff. We is the Astral Hunters, and we demands your immediate surrender, damn your eyes! Aarrr!

We cannot puzzle out your pronouncements. Please would you perorate in proper Puffhead.

Ahaar, lubbers! Wot's to puzzle out, eh? We is pirates, that's wot we is, an' we's comin' for your treasure ha-haarrr! So let's not make things difficult, see? All yous needs to do is surrender, nice and quiet like.

Pirates, eh? We will never put ourselves into your power! The Great Pi will protect us from you and your painfully ungrammatical profanities.

Ahaar! The Great Pi is it? Well, we'll see wot the Great Pi can do against Cap'n Redpuff an' his desperate band o' cut-throats!


The approaching menace of Captain Redpuff and his ungrammatical mayhem

The Puffhead Fleet, now consisting of four corvettes and the frigate Dark Wanderer were immediately ordered to Niamba under the command of Admiral Pambla. The Fleet arrived just in time to save the mining station, drawing off Redpuff and his band just before the station's defences were completely destroyed. There then followed a desperate battle in which two of the four corvettes were blown to pieces by the pirates. But after several days of intense fighting, Admiral Pambla was victorious and Captain Redpuff and his band of cut-throats were no more. It seemed like the mining station, not to mention the Puffhead language, was safe for the time being.

As well as these lawless wanderers, several more alien races were discovered during these years. In 2206 the Kraxroz Interplanetary Hierarchy made contact. They were a fairly friendly though fiercely collectivist empire to antispinward in the Home Arm. In the opposite direction in the Home Arm were the Eruxo Confederacy who, being fanatically xenophobic and totally unspiritual, wanted very little to do with the Puffheads. This was unfortunate for everyone since the Holy Planet of Pedro II happened to lie within their space. And finally the State of Vsem-Klack was located beside the Commonwealth of Man, with whom they seemed to have a lot in common. Both were xenophobic and fanatically militaristic, so this did not necessarily mean that they would get on well together.

Thus in 2210, the map of the galaxy looked something like this, with the Holy Planet systems circled in red.


 
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stnylan

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One presumes the people on Paphlagonia are prepped to be priapic so to provide more Puffheads? :D
 

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One presumes the people on Paphlagonia are prepped to be priapic so to provide more Puffheads? :D
Alas in the pursuit of procreation the Puffheads are a punctiliously prim and proper people, i.e. not very prolific! :oops:
It pleases my person prodigiously to perceive those perfidious pirates perfectly perforated by Pi's puissant present! :D
Precisely! Perhaps Pi's prodigious present would have performed the perforations perfectly well on it's own, and I could have saved myself two corvettes...
 

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Pencilling in a Plan for Puffhead Predominance

By 2210 things were looking pretty challenging with regard to the Puffheads' Great Quest to secure the Holy Planets of Pi. Of the nine that they now knew of, two had already been secured by the Puffheads, three lay in space already claimed by other empires, and four were fairly distant and completely inaccessible for the time being. Archprophet Pagglerod reflected that the Great Quest was going to take a very long time to complete, if in fact it would ever be possible. Unfortunately, the situation was about to get a lot worse.

The DPS Intrepid II, under Captain Thripple, was exploring the lanes along the Hubward Arm, far beyond the Qwe'Pulci and had just entered a system which Pi-Trobi said was called Mirach. Suddenly the ship's sensors picked up an alien signal and Captain Thripple rushed to the video screen to see if anything decipherable was coming up.



Puffheads? Here in Mirach? Yes, I do believe it is – my how you've evolved! You seem to be all head and limbs these days. At least you haven't wiped yourselves out in any of the interesting ways primitives such as yourselves tend to do.

Er... This is Captain Thripple of the DPS Intrepid II speaking. Could you identify yourself please?

Sorry – so rude of us. We are the Larongo Forerunners. Unfortunately you have just entered our space, which we regret to say is not allowed.

Oh – um, we didn't mean to.

Don't worry. You do seem to be a long way from your home though. We will put you back there, although it may take some time.

Er – if you don't mind sir, we don't really want to go home just yet. We are on an important mission of galactic exploration.

Nonsense. Young primitives like yourselves shouldn't be running around the galaxy all alone. It's a very dangerous place.

Well, we are a brave and intrepid race and we...

Of course you are, of course you are! But there is such a thing as Health and Safety you know. Now, we are sending you a chart showing the borders of our space so you will not make the same mistake again. So, run along home now.

And then just as quickly as the communication had begun, it was over. The screen went dead. Captain Thripple only just had time to relay news of this encounter back to Primordia before the DPS Intrepid II was flung into hyperspace far from any lane. There was no way for the ship to navigate and all communication with Primordia was lost.

Back home, it was generally assumed that Captain Thripple and his crew had come to a grisly end, like so many before them. The Larongo seemed like no other alien race the Puffheads had so far encountered. For one thing, they seemed extremely friendly, and yet their borders were closed and the Intrepid II seemed to have been blasted into oblivion. They seemed to know all about the Puffheads from centuries past, and their technological level was almost god-like. But the worst part of it emerged when Pi-Trobi, now a young trainee Priest of eighteen, studied the chart of the Larongo's territory and revealed the names of the stars. Deep in the heart of their space, in the Panorama and Perpetuity systems, lay two of the Holy Planets of Pi.

Archprophet Pagglerod was utterly perplexed by this revelation.

Are you quite sure of this, Pi-Trobi? Perhaps there has been some mistake?

No Your Holiness, I am quite sure of it. Not only that, but the planet in Panorama is named “The Preserve”. It is perhaps the holiest of all the Holy Planets.

But this is preposterous, Pi-Trobi! How can the Great Pi expect us to conquer these worlds?

I don't understand, Your Holiness. Are you saying that you doubt the power of Pi?

Well, no but...

Do you doubt his provision for us, to accomplish the task he has given us?

Um, well...

Were we not reading Scroll 42 of the Book of Pi only yesterday, “The foes that you fear, are they not as ants beneath the feet of Pi? Will he not scatter them like stardust before you?”

Ah – um, yes, Pi-Trobi, well remembered. But these things must be taken in context, as I've always told you.

This seems like a good context for that particular prophecy, Your Holiness. When the Astral Hunters threatened us, did Pi not provide the Dark Wanderer to help us defeat them?

There was a pause while the Archprophet pondered the words of the young Priest.

Yes, Pi-Trobi, you are absolutely right. Of course we don't know how we will ever manage to get hold of Panorama and Perpetuity, but Pi will provide us with a way.

Pagglerod's eyes strayed to the interactive chart of the galaxy on the wall of his office, with the Larongo's space now clearly displayed on it. He stared at it for some time. Pi-Trobi didn't dare interrupt his reverie. Minutes went by in silence. And then the Archprophet spoke again.

Yes, Pi-Trobi! I see it now - Pi has provided already! For the moment at least.

Pi-Trobi looked at the chart, to try to see what the Archprophet could be talking about.

There, look, Pi-Trobi! What do you see to spinward of Pi-Phara in the Home Arm?


Er – nothing Your Holiness. At least, nothing between us and the Eruxo.

Precisely, Pi-Trobi! That is what Pi has provided for us. A vast empty space right on our doorstep! And many habitable planets, although not all terribly suitable for Puffheads admittedly.

But what has that got to do with conquering and protecting the Holy Planets?

Don't you see, Pi-Trobi? If we are going to be able to take Plock from the Demi'Xanians, and Pedro from the Eruxo, yes, and Platinum from the Qwe'Pulci – and even Panorama and Perpetuity from the Larongo – we are going to need to become a great power in the galaxy. And the first thing we need for that is space to expand. And that is exactly what the Great Pi has given us!

Ah – I see, Your Holiness. So we need to start by colonizing Ellamir?

Yes, you are absolutely correct, Pi-Trobi. That is where our next colony ship will be bound. And after that – Culdax!

Um – isn't Culdax a bit far away, Your Holiness?

Far away from us, perhaps. But far too close to the Eruxo. We must get there before they do, Pi-Trobi. Before those pestiferous pagans have even realized what we are up to!

And thus began the Great Spinward Leap, as it was later referred to by Puffhead historians. It took several months, but by early 2211 the resources had been brought together to begin work on the DPS Perpetual Horizon, the ship that would put a Puffhead colony on the huge arid world of Ellamir V. The Spinward Leap was made all the more pressing with developments to antispinward, where things were looking increasingly cramped after a Luvvy Frontier Outpost appeared in Nekkar.

As it turned out, the spinward region was not entirely empty. Techno-priestess Pi-Dimbla in command of the DPS Sacred Search was en route to Urrom to do a full survey of that system. But as she entered the Cardorth system she was greeted by a familiar signal.

Ha-haaar! Who goes there? We don't wants no visitors thank'ee very much!

This is the DPS Sacred Search, we are just passing through. Please identify yourselves.

Aaaar, lubbers! This is Cap'n Redpuff, an' this here system belongs to me now, doesn't it?

Captain Redpuff? But your privateering posse was completely pulverized in the Battle of Niamba!

Ha-haar, not completely pulverized, no! Cap'n Redpuff is back from Davy Jones's Locker, isn't he? An he's buildin' up another fleet to come and get you. So lock up yer wives and children if you value 'em. Ha- haaar!

Don't think you can put us into a panic with your paltry provocations, Redpuff. Your pernicious plans are played out. The Puffhead Navy will be popping in promptly to punish your presumption.

Pah!

But even as Redpuff was pooh-poohing Pi-Dimbla's predictions, the Puffhead Fleet was already setting out from Primordia Spaceport. The pirate station in Cardorth was heavily armoured so it took some time to blast it to pulp, but it was not heavily armed and no ships were lost.

Whether Captain Redpuff managed to escape the clutches of death once again the attackers did not know, but at least the Cardorth system was cleared, and the debris from the battle provided yet more clues to some of the technological tricks the pirates had been using to improve their makeshift fleet.

Then in late 2211, nearly a year and a half after the disturbing disappearance of the DPS Intrepid II, the ship reappeared, back in the Pi-Phara system just as the Larongo had promised. This was somewhat reassuring in that it proved that the Larongo were perhaps as benign as they claimed to be after all. But it meant that further exploration of the far reaches of the galaxy was out of the question for the time being. The crew of Intrepid II were rather disorientated, but after a short period of R & R Captain Thripple was sent off once more, this time to explore more of the Rimward Arm, where so far no alien civilizations had been found at all.

All went well for a couple of years, and several more systems and lanes were explored. But then disaster struck once again in 2214 when Captain Thripple jumped into the Sethelbak system and found himself face to face with a huge swarm of the strange crystalline entities already encountered elsewhere.


The last moments of the Intrepid II

There was no time to turn and run, and yet another brave Captain gave his life to further the Great Quest.

By this time a specialized corvette assembly yard had been built on to Primordia Spaceport, and it was beginning to churn out new improved Peregrine-class corvettes equipped with deflectors and ceramo-metal armour. But Archprophet Pagglerod announced that the corvette exploration programme was being put on hold for the time being. From now on the priority was to build up the Fleet rather than to make more sacrifices in the search for the Holy Planets.

Meanwhile the colony of Ellamir Outback had been established in 2214, and the following year work began on DPS Pi Has Provided, the ship that was destined to put a Puffhead colony on the tiny moon of Culdax Ia, a provocative message for the Eruxo Confederacy. But the Eruxo did not appear to be interested in expansion, and the Puffheads' plot to populate these planets did not provoke any punitory proceedings on their part.


The DPS Pi Has Provided arrives at Culdax I


The Great Spinward Leap – the Home Arm in 2220
 
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It is most pleasing to perceive the positive path the Puffheads have proposed for puzzling out their problem.
 

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It is most pleasing to perceive the positive path the Puffheads have proposed for puzzling out their problem.
But, as Puffheads always say, the proof is in the pudding...
Powerful yet pleasant precursors. Perhaps they can be persuaded to part with a precious P planet -- but probably not.
As you say, probably not. But perhaps there is another solution. Strangely, as will be seen in the next episode, one seemed to pop up in the game.
 

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The Pressing Problem of Procuring Pedro


With the colonization of the tiny arid moon of Culdax I, the Puffheads had effectively laid claim to a vast swathe of their galactic arm. This had also brought them very much closer to the Eruxo, the first alien race with which they could expect to come to blows. The contentious issue was ownership of Pedro the Red Dwarf and the Holy Planet which orbited it, which happened to be located in Eruxo space. The fact that the Eruxo were an odious breed of xenophobic materialists made it all the easier for most Puffheads to see that Pedro needed to be taken by force, as soon as possible.

The one voice of dissent in all of this was, surprisingly, the young trainee priest Pi-Trobi who was now having his daily session with Archprophet Pagglerod.


Your Holiness I refuse to believe that the Eruxo are really that evil. Surely they are simply misguided. If someone were to explain to them about the Great Pi I am sure they would see the error of their ways. They might even be persuaded to give us charge of the Holy Planet of Pedro II freely, to take the responsibility off their hands.

You really believe the Eruxo could change that much?

Perhaps Pi will open their eyes to the truth. Your Holiness, please let me go and try to reason with them.

You Pi-Trobi? I wouldn't dream of allowing such a thing!

But why not, Your Holiness? Do you know of anyone else willing to go?

Well, um, no, now that you mention it, specific names of Puffheads that stup-, I mean, that courageous seem to escape me.

Well then, it will have to be me, won't it Your Holiness?

Archprophet Pagglerod stared at his young protege for some moments, feeling somewhat perplexed.

It is a mission of infinite danger, Pi-Trobi. But you must realize that.

It is a mission in the name of the Great Pi, Your Holiness. Are you saying that you do not think Pi is able to protect me?

Well, er, yes of course, Pi-Trobi, but...

But...?

Oh, Pi-Trobi, please don't do this. I cannot imagine that the Eruxo will ever be persuaded.

On the contrary, Your Holiness, I believe I must. And I believe they will be persuaded.

Thus began Pi-Trobi's heroic but ill-fated mission to convert the heathen Eruxo to become worshippers of Pi. He began by travelling to the Eruxo home world to seek an audience with Chancellor Lopetkin, which was not too successful.

It should be noted that Eruxo history was dotted with examples of aberrant tribes and individuals who had proposed various far-fetched religious creeds to their fellow beings, and there had developed a fine tradition of inventing ever more imaginative ways of dealing with these worthless types. It would be nice to say that the Great Pi protected Pi-Trobi from the ravages of the Eruxo's cruel adaptation of this tradition to deal with the first alien preacher to bother them, but alas, Pi-Trobi suffered terribly at their hands. His efforts to persuade the decadent and godless Eruxo of the existence of Pi fell on deaf ears. All that his tormentors extracted from his crazed ramblings was that he considered the world of Pedro II to be somehow special, and it was therefore thought fitting that the last days of his life should be spent chained to a stake on a small desert island somewhere in the seas of Pedro II. Mercifully he did not live long after this, and news of his end, with graphic descriptions of all that the Eruxo had done to him were relayed with great enthusiasm back to Primordia by the Eruxo.

At the same time the Eruxo declared the Puffheads to be their sworn enemies and warned against letting any more of these crackpot preachers try to enter the Eruxo Confederacy. Needless to say, the Puffheads were appalled and outraged by all of this. Archprophet Pagglerod was devastated and could not forgive himself for allowing Pi-Trobi to make this insane, suicidal attempt to convert the Eruxo. He immediately declared the Eruxo to be enemies of the Puffheads, closing the borders of Puffhead space to them. The Great Quest now became focused on the task of wresting Pedro II from the clutches of these cruel monsters.

But before the Puffheads could confidently take on the Eruxo, they needed a powerful economy, and a powerful navy. The truth was that in 2220, they didn't really have either. Admiral Pambla, head of what passed for a Puffhead navy, had been making repeated pleas for her ships to be equipped with more powerful weapons. She now proposed a daring plan. Perhaps if the navy was strong enough in numbers, they might just be able to defeat a small fleet of mining drones and then use the debris to find out how the drones' powerful laser technology could be replicated by the techno-priests of Primordia.

There were now 21 corvettes in the navy, along with the frigate Dark Wanderer, and Admiral Pambla now set off for the Hubward Arm, where a number of smaller drone fleets had previously been spotted. But when she arrived in the Ubliea system, she found that the drones previously seen there were gone. Evidently the Dima'Xanians had got there first. It was the same story in Avaconea, the site of Captain Drubble's heroic last stand. Archprophet Pagglerod was on the point of putting in an official diplomatic complaint to the Dima'Xanians for not leaving any drones for the Puffheads to destroy, when Admiral Pambla finally struck lucky in the Afrmyke system.

The Puffhead navy performed as well as could be expected with the weapons available to them, but the drones were not stupid, and concentrated all their attention on the Dark Wanderer. The result was that the battle was won by the Puffheads, but with the loss of the powerful frigate and just two of the corvettes.


The Battle of Afrmyke
The Fleet now returned to Primordia for repairs, while Techno-priestess Praggla of the DPS Sacred Scrutiny was ordered to Afrmyke to see what she could make of the remains of the drones and their mining station. Not only did she make significant progress towards developing a Puffhead mining laser, she also discovered that the wrecked drones had massive energy storage capacity which could in future be salvaged for Puffhead use.

We must now return to another of the strange alien races which the Puffheads had encountered out among the stars. About the same time as Pi-Trobi's mission to the Eruxo Confederacy, the enigmatic Larongo sent a request to Archprophet Pagglerod. The Larongo were apparently obsessed with the study of primtive alien races, and wished to have a sample group of Puffheads to come and live in a “Primitives Reservation”, as they called it.

Ordinarily, the Archprophet would have baulked at such a presumptuous proposal, but a rumour soon began to spread that this “Primitives Reservation” was none other than the Preserve, the Holy Planet known to be orbiting the star Panorama in the heart of Larongo space. Before Pagglerod had decided how to reply, Puffheads were queuing up to volunteer to be one the “Chosen Ones” as they had come to be known, granted the privilege of going to live on what was now believed to be the holiest of all the Holy Planets. Thus the Archprophet's problem was solved, and a group of Puffheads, chosen by a strict lottery, were sent off to live with the Larongo. It was a little worrying that nothing more was heard from them, but since the return of the DPS Intrepid II after its year long disappearance, the Puffheads had learned to trust the Larongo.

Only a month after the Chosen Ones had departed, the Larongo announced that their borders were now open to the Puffheads. This was of course very encouraging, although it was not of any practical use since any route to Larongo space was blocked by the Qwe'Pulci. Nevertheless, it gave hope that one day Puffheads might actually be able to visit the Preserve freely.

It was about a year later that another communication came from the Larongo, exhorting Archprophet Pagglerod to “Look outward, look upward, look beyond”. The meaning of this message was a little hard to discern, but it was accompanied by a data cache of advanced scientific works explaining how to build an orbital sensor array, a space observatory far more powerful than anything yet known to Puffhead astronomers. Clearly the Puffheads were being favoured by the Larongo.

Even though the Puffhead navy was larger than ever, and was now equipped with armour, deflectors and mining lasers, it was still not thought to be capable of taking on the Eruxo quite yet. Since they blocked the way to spinward, and the Luvvies and the Kraxroz blocked the way antispinward, and the Dima'Xanians and Qwe'Pulci blocked the way across to the Hubward Arm, the only way for the Puffheads to easily expand was into the Rimward Arm, where so far mining drones were the only alien presence which had been detected.

Techno-priestess Pi-Dimbla of the DPS Sacred Search had been ordered to begin doing thorough surveys of the nearest systems in the Rimward Arm. One of the most important discoveries she had made was the Helvan, a primitive race inhabiting a planet called Fernutopia in the Lawam system.

The Helvan were far more advanced than the Screk, and, even more encouraging, they seemed to have a very similar outlook to the Puffheads. They worshipped a supreme deity whom they called Fern, but most Puffhead xeno-priests agreed that this was actually Pi. Archprophet Pagglerod decided that the Puffhead policy of non-intervention in primitive civilizations should now be ditched. Clearly the Helvan could, with some gentle help and guidance, become valuable allies in the accomplishment of the Great Quest. To this end, the DPS Servant of Pi was ordered to Lawam to build first a Frontier Outpost, and then an Observation Post above Fernutopia. Finally, a team of xeno-priests were given the task of enlightening the Helvan and making sure that their understanding of Pi was accurate and complete.

As the Sacred Search continued to explore the Rimward Arm, another even more advanced race, the Rek'Thalar, was discovered in the Quannaga system. The Rek'Thalar were a peace-loving people who seemed content to mindlessly follow a strong leader. Moreover, they were already moving into space, having constructed a primitive space station in orbit around their planet, so it was decided that they could also usefully be put through a process of enlightenment and persuaded to help the Puffheads in the Great Quest.

Here then was the situation of the galaxy in 2232.

As can be seen, several more space-faring civilizations had been discovered further to spinward, beyond the Eruxo. These were all generally friendly towards the Puffheads, especially the Bakturians who were also a highly spiritual race, and were, it was to be hoped, fellow-worshippers of Pi. The Pirak's home world was unfortunately a Holy Planet, the planet Pirokko in the Pirazur system, but for the time being Archprophet Pagglerod was hoping that they could be enlisted as allies against the despicable Eruxo. The latter had by now colonized the Holy Planet of Pedro II, renamig it Buktryx Tymcrix which, as far as the Puffhead xeno-priests could make out, meant something like “Stinking Dungheap” in the Eruxo's foul tongue. The sooner it was safely in Puffhead hands the better.
 
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Precise planning and preparation to press perilous punishments upon the parasitic poop that is Eruxo civilisation!
 

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A Plea for Partners in Pounding Pesky Opponents


It was a hot sunny day on the dry plains of Fernutopia. Actually, pretty much every day was hot and sunny on Fernutopia, and Varbilnu ruffled his feathers to try to cool himself down as he trundled along in his electric trolley. It was much quicker to fly into town, of course, but flying four miles with several sackloads of grain was not an option even for a fit young Helvan like Varbilnu. At least they had recently paved the road from the farm so the trolley didn't bump so much as it trundled along.

The strange craft seemed to appear from nowhere. It was not like any Helvan flier that Varbilnu had ever seen, and it was near noiseless in its graceful descent to land by the road a few metres away from the trolley.

“By the Seven Heads of Fern, now what is that?” muttered Varbilnu to himself.

A door in the side of the craft opened and descended with a gentle hum to form a ramp. Varbilnu's claws clutched in fear at the trolley's steering bar. And then a hideous form emerged and began to scuttle down the ramp. To Varbilnu it looked like a giant black spider, its body encased in some sort of glass sphere, and its jointed limbs swaying and twitching as it moved. And then horror of horrors, more of the terrifying creatures began to appear and scuttle down the ramp behind the first one.

“By the Seven Heads of Fern...” said Varbilnu once again.

Techno-priest Plorgum looked round at his companions. They obviously hadn't landed quite where they had meant to. He waved his hand in a gesture that signalled that he would do the talking.

“Ahem, we come in peace, Helvan. Please - don't be afraid. We mean you no harm”

This was of course translated into Helvan clucks and chirps by the lingua-pod built into Plorgum's suit, but it did little to calm Varbilnu down.

It was perhaps unfortunate that the Puffhead First Contact Team numbered seven. Or perhaps, thought Plorgum rather recklessly, it was a lucky break for them.

“The... the... Seven Heads of Fern??” stammered Varbilnu, looking round the group of bulbous many-limbed aliens.

Plorgum glanced round at his companions once more, uncertain of where to take this. They all shrugged and waved their hands about aimlessly. No help there. Plorgum took the plunge.

“Er, yes, how very astute of you, Helvan. We are indeed the Seven Heads of Fern. We have decided that the time has come for your Enlightenment.”

Varbilnu threw himself prostrate on the dusty ground.

“Oh please – don't hurt me!”

“No, we are not here to hurt you. We are going to help you – you and your entire race! You have much to learn. Now – perhaps you could direct us to your capital city. We seem to have missed it on our descent from... er... Fern's realm.”

Varbilnu raised a trembling claw and pointed southwards.

“H-Helv City is that way, O Great Fern! About two hundred miles.”

“Last time you do the navigating, Krugglepip,” muttered Plorgum, as he ushered his companions back into the craft and waved briefly to the Helvan who was still lying quivering on the ground in terror.

“May the blessing of Fern rest upon you, Helvan,” he intoned, as the ramp hummed closed.

And so began the Enlightenment of the Helvan of Fernutopia. The damage done by Plorgum's rash claim to be “the Seven Heads of Fern” was patched up eventually as the xeno-priests patiently explained to the Helvan that Fern's real name was actually Pi, and that he definitely did not have seven heads. Many other things were gradually revealed to the Helvan over the following years until, in 2234, their Enlightenment was deemed to be complete. The Helvan Foundation was born and officially became a protectorate of the Divine Puffhead Planets.

The Puffheads' main preoccupation now became their preparation for a war against the Eruxo. Puffhead spies were slipping in and out of Eruxo space, bringing back information about their fleet size and tech levels. The Puffheads now had a slight edge, but the Eruxo were known to have a defensive pact with an unidentified empire, so Archprophet Pagglerod still considered the risk of starting a war too great for the time being.

A great deal of diplomacy was going on around this time as like-minded races sought out friends and pinpointed enemies. Generally speaking the Archprophet was ready to sign a non-aggression pact with anyone who proposed one, but he only entered into a defensive pact with the Luvvies, in 2241. It was gratifying to see how many empires shared the Puffheads' dislike of the Eruxo. No less than six empires considered the Eruxo as their rivals, including the Puffheads, the Luv Consortium and the Pirak Combine. Their previously unknown allies turned out to be the United Alvanian Kingdom, another race of xenophobes who lived to spinward of the Pirak. And in 2237 the Eruxo had signed another defensive pact with the United Nations of Earth, the weird race of bipeds suspiciously banished to Sol III who had seemingly been forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel in their search for allies.

By 2244 the Puffhead Fleet strength exceeded 2.5K and Archprophet Pagglerod decided that the time had finally come to move against the Eruxo. He invited Executive Hask'Teragg of the Luvvies and Grand Marshal Ol-So of the Pirak Combine to a summit meeting on Primordia to discuss a joint action against the Eruxo.



Archprophet Pagglerod: Executive, Grand Marshal, thank you for coming to Primordia. As I believe I made clear in my message of invitation, we are here to discuss a common enemy.

Executive Hask'Teragg of the LUV Consortium: The Humans of Sol!

Grand Marshal Ol-So of the Pirak Combine: The Alvanians!

Pagglerod: Errr... maybe it wasn't that clear. Actually I'm talking about the despicable Eruxo!

Ol-So: Ah yes, the Eruxo – a race nearly as despicable as the Alvanians.

Hask'Teragg: Nearly as worthless as the Humans!

Pagglerod: In any case, gentlemen, it is of no consequence which of them is the most despicable, or the most worthless, since a war against one will be a war against all three.

Hask'Teragg: Errr... a war?

Ol-So: Yes! We shall smite the despicable Alvanians! We shall wipe them from the galaxy with our invincible fleets! We shall...

Hask'Teragg: Guys, guys, aren't we being a little reckless here? We of the Lox'Ungrak-Va would prefer to seek a diplomatic solution. Some crippling economic sanctions, for example...?

Ol-So: Economic sanctions? Pah! That is for shopkeepers and women. We are the Pirak Combine! Recklessness is next to godliness, that is our motto!

Pagglerod: Well, ahem, that's all very stirring, Grand Marshal, but I don't think we need to be too reckless. We Puffheads will deal with the Eruxo, while you, Grand Marshal, can wipe the Alvanians from the whatever and so on, and all you have to do, Executive, is invade and conquer Sol.

Hask'Teragg: Sol? Err... Who would ever want to conquer Sol?

Pagglerod: Well, it would kind of neaten up your borders, wouldn't it?

Hask'Teragg: Are you trying to say our borders are messy, Archprophet?

Pagglerod: Well, no, perhaps not exactly messy...

Hask'Teragg: No, I'm sorry, I do not think this would be a profitable venture for us.

Pagglerod: Well, if that's how you feel – never mind. All we need from you, Executive, is a guarantee that you will keep your borders closed to the Humans, so we don't have to worry about them.

Hask'Teragg: We can certainly promise that, Archprophet.

Pagglerod: Excellent! So, Grand Marshal – you will join us? We wish to relieve the Eruxo of the Holy Planet of Pedro II, and would also prefer to take the Yunduk system from them, to keep our borders, ahem, as neat as possible.

Ol-So: We only wish to win glory and honour on the field of battle! To make space run with Alvanian blood! To make our enemies rue the day they ever started talking about charades!

Pagglerod: Excellent, Grand Marshal. But let me just slip this little “cede planet” war goal in for good measure – perhaps you would like to take Ebliuq from the Eruxo?

Ol-So: Yes, we will make the seas of Hajpoc Haxizabb red with the blood of our adversaries! We shall... Wait a moment. Did you say “Holy Planet”?

Pagglerod: Indeed I did. The Great Pi has entrusted us with the conquest of all the Holy Planets of Pi. So far, we have only managed to secure Paphlagonia and Plograut, but Pedro shall soon be ours too!

Ol-So: Curious – they all seem to begin with the letter P.

Pagglerod: Yes, indeed, that is how we know they are Holy Pla... Oh. Wait a moment...

Ol-So: So Pirokko, beloved home of the Pirak race – perhaps this is also a planet you wish to procure?

Pagglerod: Ahem... well, no, of course not, Grand Marshal. Of course, if a Holy Planet is already in safe hands, there is absolutely no need for us to worry about it.

Ol-So: Ah. Good. I mean, I wouldn't want to think you were an untrustworthy ally, Archprophet.

Pagglerod: Never, Grand Marshal! The Puffheads are a pure and principled people. We would never play false with our partners!

Ol-So: Right-o then! Let us draw up a declaration of war!

The scene is set for the First War of Liberation

Will the Puffheads succeed in their plot to wreak revenge on their odious neighbours?

Will their trusty allies manage to fight a war on two fronts?

Will the Pirak grow suspicious about Puffhead designs on their home planet?

Find out in the next action-packed episode!
 
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stnylan

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The perfidious Puffheads persuade the pointless Pirak to pugilistic parades to protect the perilous Puffs?
 

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The perfidious Puffheads persuade the pointless Pirak to pugilistic parades to protect the perilous Puffs?
It was perceived as a pertinent proposition.
Prestige and plunder will please the puissant Pi, particularly if they procure the P-Planet of Pedro!

Also, I perceive the pact with the Pirak will not be perpetuated permanently...
Indeed, I predict the plug will presently be pulled on this precarious partnership.
 

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Painstaking Preparation and Planning Pays Off


When Archprophet Pagglerod of the Divine Puffhead Planets issued his declaration of war on the Eruxo Confederacy in 2244, the Puffhead 1st Fleet, 19 destroyers and 36 corvettes, was already poised at the edge of the Culdax system ready to enter the hyperlane to Yunduk. The plan was straightforward. The fleet would clear any Eruxo defences in Yunduk and bombard the planet Bakirix Laxtric before the Army would land and secure the planet. Then Fleet and Army would move on towards Pedro to repeat the process there.


At some point they expected to meet the Eruxo fleet, and they hoped to defeat it. Puffhead intelligence was pretty certain that the Puffheads had more ships and better weapons than the Eruxo, but the difference in military might was not thought to be large. When alien fleets met in battle for the first time, the outcome could never be certain. But for the Archprophet, this was a Holy War to liberate Pedro II, the planet so hideously desecrated by the Eruxo. Surely the Great Pi, who had provided such abundant resources to build up and arm the Fleet to begin with, would also give the Puffheads victory against their evil enemies?

Sadly the great Admiral Pambla, heroine of battles against Captain Redpuff and his band, as well as innumerable fleets of mining drones, had died in 2241, and had been replaced by the far less experienced Admiral Pi-Gonfla. Nevertheless she was a crafty tactician and would surely be capable of dealing with whatever the Eruxo managed to throw at them.

Bakirix Laxtric, the planet in Yunduk, was a relatively recent colony and did not even have a spaceport yet. Admiral Pi-Gonfla was busy bombarding the surface, with twenty assault divisions waiting to land, when an Eruxo fleet was detected arriving in Markab. Its strength was approximately half that of the Puffhead Fleet, an observation which greatly boosted the Fleet's morale. The planetary defences were reduced to nothing by the bombardment and the Army landed, easily crushing all Eruxo opposition. Everything was going according to plan.

And now the Eruxo fleet arrived in the system, a somewhat foolish move perhaps given how badly they were outnumbered, but clearly Pi was confounding the judgment of their commander. The two fleets met in the historic Battle of Yunduk.


Rather alarmingly, the Eruxo were armed with deadly antimatter missiles, something the Puffheads had never even dreamed of, and several Puffhead ships were blasted into oblivion by these fearsome weapons. But this was a slow business, and meanwhile the Puffhead mining lasers and disruptors were raining a deadly barrage upon the smaller Eruxo fleet.

The fighting lasted for several weeks, but in the end the Eruxo fleet was completed destroyed. Admiral Pi-Gonfla had lost just two destroyers and five corvettes, and she now took the Fleet on along the hyperlanes towards Pedro. No more Eruxo ships were found until they reached Gatria, where an enemy destroyer and corvette were lurking. Detaching a small force to cover them, Pi-Gonfla pushed on to Pedro.

The Holy Planet of Pedro II had a spaceport which had to be destroyed, which cost the Fleet five more corvettes, obliterated by Eruxo antimatter missiles. But once this was done the bombardment and invasion of the planet was as straightforward as in Yunduk.


The destruction of the spaceport in Pedro​

The news of the liberation of Pedro II ought to have been met with wild rejoicing back on Primordia, but alas, tragic events there overshadowed the news from the front. Archprophet Pagglerod was by now old and frail, and the strain of the war had told on his weak frame. He now lay sick and near death, anxiously awaiting news from Pedro. When he was told that the Holy Planet was now in Puffhead hands he lay back, peaceful at last, and whispered “Praise be to the Great Pi”. Then he breathed his last.

Thus it was that the days following the capture of Pedro were a time of mourning rather than rejoicing. The Archprophet was succeeded by his brother Pi-Gabzo who, though ten years younger, was still old when he began to reign. Archprophet Pi-Gabzo's first move, after overseeing the lavish state funeral of his brother, was to try to open negotiations with the Eruxo, who ought by now to have seen the writing on the wall. However the stubborn insectoids would not give up. Perhaps they thought the Alvanians would yet come to their aid, but in fact the Pirak seemed to have dealt decisively with that threat, and were themselves now beginning to invade Eruxo space.

And so the Puffhead Fleet moved on to the Athuna system. By this time, however, a small Eruxo fleet had slipped through the Puffhead lines and were menacing Yunduk, so Admiral Pi-Gonfla sent off a sizeable force to make sure they were destroyed before they could do any harm. Alas this left too few ships to easily take on the well-defended spaceport in Athuna, and Puffhead losses in that battle were higher than anywhere else. Nevertheless, the losses were not in vain. As soon as the planet Pobbnic Tymcrix (the abominable Eruxo name for Athuna III) had been captured, the Eruxo agreed to hand over the planets in Yunduk and Pedro and the war came to an end.


The despicable creatures now came over all remorseful and apologetic. Apparently the colonization and naming of Pedro II (now mercifully renamed “Pedro Islands”) had all been an unfortunate misunderstanding. But Archprophet Pi-Gobza was having none of it. Reports from the Pirak Combine fleets showed that the systems of Persistence and Purgatory, both now within Eruxo space but very near the Pirak border, each had a habitable planet. In other words, the Eruxo controlled two more of the Holy Planets of Pi. The problem of course was how to make sure they did not fall into Pirak hands before they could be liberated by the Puffheads.

And there was more disturbing news. In 2245 another alien empire was discovered, the Interstellar Fafossan Sovereignty, far to antispinward in the Home Arm. Their empire only consisted of three planets, but one of them was the Holy Planet of Proteus II, which they had named Carcana. The Puffheads now knew of no less than sixteen Holy Planets, and so far they had control of just three of them, and one of those had required a costly war to conquer.

And of course, Archprophet Pi-Gobza now faced the new challenge of managing an empire made up of two very different species. How were the xenophobic, godless Eruxo ever to be enlightened? Pi-Gobza began by ordering the construction of a vast Mausoleum for himself on Pedro Islands, in fact on the very island where the saintly Pi-Trobi had spent his last days, and where his body was now buried. Surely the presence of such a holy monument would have some effect on the wretched Eruxo?



What will Archprophet Pi-Gobza's next move be in pursuit of the Great Quest?

Will the Eruxo of Pedro and Yunduk ever accept Puffhead overlordship?

Will the Puffheads be able to rescue Persistence and Purgatory from the Eruxo before the Pirak get there?

And will the Helvan be of any help?

Don't miss the next portentous episode to find out!
 

BPM

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What will Archprophet Pi-Gobza's next move be in pursuit of the Great Quest?

Will the Eruxo of Pedro and Yunduk ever accept Puffhead overlordship?

Will the Puffheads be able to rescue Persistence and Purgatory from the Eruxo before the Pirak get there?

And will the Helvan be of any help?

Don't miss the next portentous episode to find out!
Find out in the next exciting episode of Dragon Ball Z P is for Puffheads
 

stnylan

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The Proclamation of Pedro: planets prefixed with P are claimed a priori by the Puffheads, who now must proselytise to the poor piddly populations who deny Pi.
 

BPM

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The Proclamation of Pedro: planets prefixed with P are claimed a priori by the Puffheads, who now must proselytise to the poor piddly populations who deny Pi.
For what prolonged period of time did you spend procrastinating and pondering upon the perplexing problem of preparing a paragraph of P's before you postulated and provided this pleasant piece of work for the Paradox peasantry?