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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
2234-2243
  • starkwolf

    Second Lieutenant
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    In 2234, the situation was tense. The closed borders policy of the Gulk' was proving a great hindrance to the formation of alliances. The Glyrran Sovereignty, FDS, and Cynn Assembly were all on good terms with each other. The Gulk' had no choice but to swallow their pride, eat their hearts, and recognize that the centuries of dominance they were used to having over their known world was at an end. If they wished to survive, they had no choice but to enter into an equal terms alliance with at least one of their neighbors.

    Initially, however, this did not mean they would open their borders. To add so many new species into their worlds, or even their space at once would throw their caste system into chaos. Gulk' above, Wussari below, but what about the newcomers? Even if the government officials could recognize this as a necessary sacrifice, certainly the people were not used to sharing their high position with such strange species and the risk of diplomatic incident was high. Opening the borders simply would not do. But keeping them closed led to a lot of hostility with their neighbors. The Erissu were the first to declare their rivalry with the Gulk', but they would not be the last. In 2235, the Cynn also declared their rivalry with the Gulk'.

    Cynn rivalry.png

    Emperor Darmug had gotten used to his headset in the many times he had come for his regular diplomatic meetings with Chancellor Dlurret. Although nothing ever came of these meetings, he had come to enjoy their chats no less. They shared a mutual excitement about the universe around them, an excitement Emperor Darmug was used to keeping private as it was not always shared by other Gulk'. But lately Chancellor Dlurret had become more aloof, and talked a great deal less. His invitations became more formal over time, and Emperor Darmug knew what was coming, he had seen it all too often before with the interhouse infighting among the Gulk'.

    As he entered the board room with Chancellor Dlurret, the chancellor's eyes looked not even as they looked when they had first met, but as Gulk-Furki's eyes look when coming across a stranger for the first time: suspicious and analytical. There only remained a hint of the warmth that the Emperor had known.

    "Greetings once again, Gulk'." The chancellor started. "I have some bad news."
    The Emperor nodded in understanding and spoke up "I already know. Our goals are not aligned, and you have called me here to make your declaration of rivalry haven't you?"
    The chancellor exuded disappointment in The Emperor's response. "While you are mostly right, you oversimplify the issues between our races."

    After a moment of awkward silence, the chancellor continued. "Frankly, my good friend Darmug, the more we learn about the Gulk' the less we like. Your people are inherently cruel and bitter, and most importantly after all this time you still refuse to open your borders to us, or anyone else around you. This does not sit well with my people, whose very purpose in breathing is to satiate their vast wonder of those that are not like them, to build bridges, to observe, and to welcome others in. Your history is filled with backstabbing, and while I call you friend today, it does not sit well with me that tomorrow, if 'our goals do not align' as you say, you may call me 'enemy'. We can overlook your generations of abuse towards the Wussari that you sadly fail to appreciate, and we can be patient with your obsessive need for privacy. But the potential occurrence of a Gulk' backstab we cannot accept. We must pre-empt such an occurance for our own wellbeing. I hereby declare the Gulk' rivals of the Cynn, on the basis of posing an existential threat to our own existence."

    After more silence, the Chancellor continued again. "Personally, I still think of you as a friend. But your ways concern me. If it comes to war, do not think that we will go easy on you. The Gulk' must fear us and only then can we dream of trust."

    Had he not received a declaration of rivalry from the Erissu years earlier, he would have nailed the chancellor with an intimidating one-liner. But times were dire for the Gulk'. He simply nodded and walked away.

    The very next year, the FDS and Glyrrans declared the formation of the Propitious Pact. A general sense of doom spread across the populace, as it was assumed the Cynn would join very soon. The result may very well be the end of the Gulk' as an civilization, perhaps even as a people. Quietly, some Gulk' even looked to the Wussari to try to understand how one may cope if they as oppressors were to become the oppressed under such a conquest as they now feared.
    Propitious Pact formation.png


    In an attempt to appease the potential future conquerors, Glorious Leader Darmug offered extravagant gifts to the Glyrran Sovereignty, but to maintain the veneer of strength also guaranteed their independence, as well as the independence of the FDS. Things however would not be as gloomy as they initially feared, however. While the Cynn were offered association status later that year, in 2237 the Gulk-Furki would be given association status as well, after agreement to many pacts, and not only the opening of borders to the FDS and Glyrran, but further a migration treaty. Surprisingly, not only did this not result in diplomatic incident, but further improved their relations. The race was on to become full members of the Propitious Pact before the Cynn.
    Association status.png Association status for Gulk.png


    On Gul, Glorious Leader Darmug was still concerned about his daughter's leadership abilities. While her unsettlingly kind methods were effective, he still found them unsettling. She had proved she was capable of making examples out of anyone that attempted to bully her, but she took extravagant risks standing up for others as well. Initially she struggled with drafting declarations, often being too loose in her wording, but she had improved much. She took to the responsibilities of leadership slowly, but steadily. But deep down he knew that training her in the old ways of intrigue and administration would be woefully insufficient for the challenges the Gulk' now faced. She needed training in diplomacy with these other starfaring societies.

    Princess Yndana walked into her father's meeting room covered in blood. "Normally I would have washed first, father, but I understand you wished me here immediately?" Her father grinned darkly "That same kid was spreading rumors about you today wasn't she?" Yndana responded with pride "Yes father, but whether she wishes to or not I don't think she will be able to say much of anything until she recovers in a month or two I would guess, but I am no medicus, could be longer." Her father cackled. "Well that is all very amusing and I would love to hear more details sometime, but right now I think it is time you start on a very important mission, I think you will like this one. "Need me to convince some Gulk' to get something done?" Her father smiled. "You are half right, not some Gulk', some Glyrran. A very important Glyrran in fact, it is time for you to learn the art of diplomacy. As my daughter and the future Empress of Gul, I am granting you full diplomatic authority to gain the trust of the Glyrrans." His daughter cocked her head. "Father, our enemies are numerous and I have never done anything like this before. I have talked many Wussari and Gulk' into things, and frankly I find convincing other Gulk' to be a simple task from a rhetorical standpoint. But an alien entity that I know nothing about is a completely different matter." Her father beamed with pride. "You are wise for knowing not to enter into negotiations without knowing who you are negotiating with. Do not worry, you will be provided with all the relevant information en route that we have. As for alien entities being 'entirely different,' you will find that statement to be quite the exaggeration. There are some constants that may surprise you. But be aware that what seems natural to a Gulk' may not be so for others, things you would have never guessed. But you are young and novel, I have a strong feeling you will do better than I ever could." Their dispassionate expressions did little to hide the warmth of their father-daughter bond, their pride in each other was radiant. Not breaking with this radiance, her father spoke up "The ship leaves soon, better get yourself cleaned up and head out as soon as possible." His daughter nodded and headed off.

    She returned with a signed guarantee of their independence, and talked at length about how much she enjoyed talking with their leader. The next day she would follow up with the FDS, and the pattern would continue in future dealings. In the following years, this guarantee was followed up by trade agreements, exchange agreements, and in time the Gulk' were granted association status into the Propitious Pact. With the Cynn already having association status, the race was on to become full members.

    Meanwhile, in 2236 on the opposite front, the Gulk' met the Tel'Akkur Holy Mandate. While initially hopeful for a future alliance with this impressive empire with which they shared much in common, to the horror of all Gulk' the THM formally declared rivalry with the Gulk' in 2237, and to make matters worse began strengthening ties with the Erissu Regime. By 2243, the formation of a federation between the two seemed inevitable. But as the exploration around the borders of the Serene Djunn Kingdom continued, the opening of a third diplomatic front began. The fearsome Sinrath League was enormous in size, but though hostile towards the Gulk-Furki communications with the FDS and Glyrrans indicated that they were hostile towards all their neighbors, and as the Gulk' did not share a large border with the Sinrath this would allow them to focus on the immense threat on the western front, and building ties in the east.
    Tal'Akkur meeting.png Tal'Akkur rivalry.png Sinrath contact.png

    [I imagine Jonnara's voice sounds like Captain Janeway from Star Trek Voyager]

    Captain's log: Stardate 2238.09.16:
    While Surveying the Ubliea system, we have encountered an alien craft, transmitted identification reads as the Sinrath vessel SISS Evanion. The ship has not made any hostile maneuvers and appears to be attempting to survey this system as well, we can only assume their intentions match ours: to place a claim on this sector.

    Jonnara was just finishing up her dessert worms, when she got a knock on her ready room door. "Come in."
    Her second in command, Chief engineer Bagrun stepped in. "Captain, the Sinrath vessel we have been repeatedly hailing has responded, they are asking to speak to you."

    As she stepped onto the bridge, the screen showed a large, ugly creature with tusks and a dour expression. "This is Captain Vanthrag of the SISS Evanion, why do you pester us captain?" he asked irritably.

    "If the purpose in your survey is to claim this sector, I am afraid you are too late. Our sensors indicate you have just arrived in this sector. We are half done and we have a construction vessel already on the way."

    The screen cut out. "The other ship has terminated communication, they are continuing to survey the system" explained chief science officer Vargon.

    "Never mind them" the captain replied, "they will realize the futility of their mission soon enough. Helmsman: abandon our biological study on this planet and set course for this system's star. We can come back to this later, but it is our hides if the Sinrath place a starbase here first."

    "Aye aye, captain" came the response.

    Captain's log supplemental: The survey of the Ubliea system is nearly complete. After the placement of the base, the Sinrath vessel left without a word. The system is secure.
    Vanthrag and Jonnara.png


    Author's notes: First, I want to mention that when working on a Stellaris AAR, I highly recommend playing some B5 themes in the background to get that excitement going, works wonders!

    Second, pictures and character encounters will be written later, as I have spent a lot of time on the computer the last few days and my family deserves some attention. Likely within the week this post will be edited to include them.

    Finally, on the last story I regret that it isn't as interesting as it could be if science ships were armed in this game (or I suppose if I was a bit more creative). Feedback on how I might improve future science encounters would be appreciated.
     

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    2244-2253: The Gulk' Errisu War
  • starkwolf

    Second Lieutenant
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    The Erissu-Gulk' War, 2244-2253

    In March of 2244, the GER sent documents claiming that the Gulk' colony on Obaeshoth was illegal, and an Erissu science vessel had actually surveyed and claimed the system long before the Gulk' base was ever built. Though an obvious fabrication, Darmug knew this meant war was imminent. But with no information on the strength of the enemy fleet: the question remained whether to reinforce the existing fleets with the new corvette-destroyer ship types recently created by the brilliant engineer Falitir, or to focus on getting the existing fleets to the border as fast as possible, an option Admiral Ketrilla favored strongly.
    GER Claims System_1.jpg Destroyer construction 6.jpg

    The look on Emperor Darmug's face was bleak as he told his secretary to call Admiral Ketrilla up to his meeting room, Admiral Khebb was still a few days away.

    "I have grave news, the G.E.R. has claimed the Obaeshoth System, as well as the right to declare war on us at any time to take it."

    "Understood, I will leave immediately and call back the crew from leave" the admiral responded already moving towards the door in a hurry."

    "Not so fast! Your destroyers aren't ready!" the emperor said reaching out to stop her. Ketrilla turned around respectfully.

    "Sir, it takes months to reach the Obaeshoth system even if we push our engines to the limit. Even if we take off now, there is no guarantee we can stop them if they declare war even in the next few days, but if they delay just long enough we might arrive in time."

    "Which will be of no use if your fleet is defeated anyway, we have no intelligence data on their fleet except that its strength is roughly equivalent. When you do engage them, you are going to need every advantage our engineers can offer." The admiral made no attempt to hide how upset his comment about losing made her.

    "But sir-" The Emperor shot a harsh glare her way. "That's an order."

    "Yes sir." Came the respectful reply.

    In the end, Darmug decided systems could be retaken, but to rebuild a lost fleet could be a very expensive mistake. However, to make his potential allies aware of this enemy, he sent his daughter to arrange a communication agreement with the Glyrrans.
    Glyrran Coms Exchange 2.jpg

    In November of that year, the GER declared war. Unfortunately, one of the new destroyer types was not yet ready. Originally, the intention was to assign all the destroyers to Admiral Ketrilla, but with the declaration of war occurring while she was still on Gul, she was sent to reinforce the border immediately with only 2 of the destroyers completed while Admiral Khebb stayed back to take the third destroyer as part of his fleet. But the Obaeshoth system was months away, and in October of the next year, system sensors reported that a jump by the enemy fleet into the nearby system of Dithaphoru was imminent, and Ketrilla was still two systems away. Shortly after, a second force was discovered ready to jump to Obaeshoth. It was a hard day on board the ships of Admiral Ketrilla's fleet, as they knew the systems would be taken before anything could be done.
    GER Declares War 7.jpg First Battle of Dithaphorou 12.jpg Attack on Obaseth 13.jpg Battle of Obaeshoth.jpg

    Admiral Ketrilla's voice came over the intercom.

    "5 hours is the soonest we may engage the enemy, if they change course and approach us soon. Though it should not need to be said, I will remind you that they have been bombarding Obaeshoth Prime, and if an invasion succeeds even once, we lose this war and we lose it fast. On this battle hinges any hope of winning the war. On this war hinges any hope of survival in this galaxy.

    Therefore, if you have any grudge with your crewmates, delay it. If any thoughts are intruding upon your mind to distract it, get rid of them. If doing your absolute best kills you, do it for your families back home so they can have hope for a future. But know that we come into this battle with the upper hand. Do not come into this battle expecting victory or defeat to come easily, but use every resource at your disposal to make this a victory, and find a way to acquire what is not currently at your disposal.

    Followers of The Untold, you will have 4 hours to pray in the prayer room and not a second more. I ask you all to pray not only for any anomaly that may bring us victory, but also for the unbelievers among us such as myself, for The Untold will not hear me even if he is real. Begin battle preparations.

    The ship was eerie. Gulk' doing things they have put off for years, followers of The Untold making mournful chants, and the hum of the engines gradually dropping in pitch as the power output was gradually reduced to conserve energy for battlefield maneuvers. This went on for hours before the red alert broke the atmosphere and the flagship's crew sprung into action.

    When the enemy came, they matched the Gulk-Furki's ships corvette for corvette, in a similar formation, lacking only in destroyers taking up the rear.

    "Drive hard to the center!" Came Admiral Ketrilla's order over subspace. As the GER ships moved to reinforce the center, having intercepted the signal, Ketrilla's ships had already moved to the outside in a pincer position, hitting the enemy corvettes on both sides at once. The G.E.R. had fallen for the trap Admiral Ketrilla had planned and drilled them for months. "Drive hard to the center" was a code to do the opposite, flank. "Break the center," however, meant exactly what it sounded like. She had a similar code for flanking, "Take the flanks" meant to breakthrough the enemy's center. "Crush the flanks" meant exactly what it said. Captains were drilled over and over on these maneuvers until they had it flawless. And the result could not have been better. The enemy corvettes were disrupted, badly damaged, and fled to the system starbase that they had captured months earlier. But by the time they arrived, the damage was too severe. Many GER ships fled. 4 were destroyed. Despite this, there was no celebration on the Gulk' ships, only concentration. Many long hours of concentration passed while they fixed up their own damage and waited for Khebb's fleet to arrive and retake the system.
    In 2246, Ketrilla arrived in the Obaeshoth system to find the Wildclaw Voidwings bombarding their settlement. The W-VW, which apparently lacked destroyer technology, tried to lure Ketrilla's fleet near the system's base, but Ketrilla's destroyers were far too powerful. By the time they got close, the battle was already won. Ketrilla lost 4 corvettes. Losses to the enemy fleet are unknown, but it is assumed they lost over half their fleet, as the next time the fleet was found, the W-VW was greatly understrength.

    But while Khebb liberated the Dithaphoru starbase, and Ketrilla the Obaeshoth system, the Coldsquall Voidwings attacked the Jabbah system. With no bases between Jabbah and Gul, work accelerated on construction of space defenses for the Gul system in a panic since it would be impossible for the ships to return in time, and in any case it was better to have them in position to counterattack. However, the C-VW would never attack the Gul System.
    Gulk defenses upgraded.jpg Coldsqual Voidwings at jabbah.jpg

    Although the C-VW would never attack the Gul System, Ketrilla and Khebb did launch an expedition into GER space. In the Battle of Stimsis, the remainder of the Wildclaws desperately attempted to drive off the Gulk', but the destroyers in Ketrilla's fleet alone were enough to hold them at bay, and when Khebb's fleet arrived they stood no chance, even with the base still fighting. Although no ships on either side were lost, Stimsis would fall to the Gulk'. But after having gone through three battles straight, Khebb and Ketrilla both needed to repair their fleets at Dithaphoru, delaying their mission which was intended to end with the bombardment of Ina Aerie. When they attempted to return to the mission, they found themselves involved in the Second Battle of Stimsis, as the Coldsquall VW attempted to retake the system. Though the performance of the fleet was woefully inadequate, superior technology would again carry the day as destroyer fire ripped into enemy corvettes.
    Intercepted at Battle of Stimsis 20.jpg Second Battle of Stimsis.jpg

    In 2249, the two fleets reached Qorrola and took control of the system. Bombardment of Ina Aerie began in September of that month, and would continue until the war's end. But as word of popular opinion in Gul was passed on to the admirals, it was not good news. Something more had to be done to inspire the populace. As the enemy fleets were weakened, Khebb left Ketrilla to the planetary bombardment and went to capture system base's in the hope of inspiring the people. At this point, both enemy fleets were greatly weakened, and they could not even defeat the system bases they hoped to capture on their own, although for a time Stimsis was retaken before Khebb brought it back under Gulk' control. In 2253, Khebb was on his way to punish the enemy fleet for attempting to retake Stimsis yet again, but at the last second was ordered to stand down. A white peace had been signed, there would be no territorial changes, but no humiliation of the enemy. However, the war finalized the theories that had been under development for so long, validating most of them.
    Supremacy completed 23.jpg Bombardment of Ina Arie begins 26.jpg A close war.jpg Devastation builds.jpg Peace at last 37.jpg Stimsis stand down 38.jpg

    With the war over at last, Admiral Ketrilla and Admiral Khebb returned as heroes. The town square was crowded with elated Gulk' celebrating the end of the war. The large screen on the wall of the town hall lit up, as Emperor Darmug's face lit up the screen.

    "Colonists of Obaeshoth! Today we celebrate the valiant exploits of our two great admirals, and the spirit of our people to endure, to adapt, and to one day dominate our galaxy! But I caution you not as to see today as the end of our struggle with the G.E.R. This struggle has not yet begun in earnest, for as the ancient proverb says, 'an unpunished enemy is a dangerous enemy.' We have yet to punish the Erissu for their transgressions in earnest. But do not think your celebration is in vain either! For today we have bought time to grow into a truly great power, and we have many heroes to celebrate. Not just these two admirals standing at the podiums before you, but each and every captain under their command. Not only the captains of the space destroyers ISS Ghum, ISS ISS Galato, and ISS Mendrak, but the captains and crew of all our glorious corvettes that kept the enemy at bay for our destroyers to deal their damage. We celebrate those who cooperated with the draft and made no effort to dodge it. Never in our history have our people ever been so cooperative, a testament to the spirit of you, the colonists.

    Most of all we must never forget the person that made this all possible, lead engineer Falatir, a great Gulk' who sadly passed away before seeing the wondrous results of his invention, the space destroyer. I knew him personally. He was a scientist that did quality work, kept his nose out of intrigue and rumors, and was known to treat even his slaves with a firm fairness."
    Falatir et al.jpg
    At those words, Maarna could no longer hold back tears. She went to the stalls to be alone, sneaking away while no one was watching and pressed her head against the wall, wailing loudly. Tears poured over her lower eyes as if those eyes were underwater. Maarna had been a Wussari slave under Lead Sociologist Yndana before being sold to Falatir. For all the torture, the mind games, the starvation, and humiliation that she and other Wussari underwent there, and for all the beatings and breakings she underwent trying to carry out Falatir's projects, one memory tortured her more than any other.

    The memory went as such:
    It had been a long day, working on dangerous cliff faces. Many Wussari had fallen to their deaths, but no more than usual. She was grateful she had not been among them. She was assigned heavy lifting jobs, but never in areas that were particularly dangerous. But she was very behind in her work, and was beaten severely for it. However, a halt had been called to the work early that day as Falatir had drawn up a new plan that had to be brought up with the foreman. As she walked to her quarters, barely more than a leaky shack, a Wussari she had never seen before spoke up. "You look like you are still in a lot of pain from earlier. I know of some herbs that will ease the pain, though it will hurt more initially." The Wussari was scraggly, not like the others. His face was unkept, and more than even most Wussari he looked like death itself. She said nothing, but nodded shyly as he applied the herbs to where she had been beaten. He taught her how to identify the herbs, and his calm, gentle voice contrasted with any Wussari or Gulk' she had ever known. She fell deeply in love with him, and very quickly their contact became more than the application of an herbal remedy. Time seemed to stand still. Until it didn't. And when it didn't, it was utterly shattered when the foreman walked in and with his powerful arms dragged both of them, one in each hand, to the hall of punishments.

    When Falatir was told what happened, he became enraged. "Just today I rescue you from execution, and this is how you repay me?! How dare you! Why would I ever, ever allow a runt like you to breed with a fine specimen like her?" Maarna's heart sank, as Falatir was good at taking things that, had she been Gulk' and treated with respect, would have been compliments. Instead he always found a way to make her feel weak, worthless, and in peril. Falatir reached with his fingers into her mouth and lifted her lips "look at those teeth. Look at them! Perfect alignment, strong, and healthy." He lifted her tail without a thought, as if showing off one of his inventions "Look at her form: strong, healthy, and capable. Until now I thought she was a clever girl too, but I see there is still some foolishness that needs to be bred out next generation. Why would you ever think I would let a mercy case like you mate with her? I thought execution was too harsh and so I bought you for cheap. Apparently I was mistaken." He called for the guard to give him the "relevant" form of execution. The poor Wussari's eyes widened in paralyzing fear as he knew what form that was, and Maarna screamed and cried for him to be spared, but he was led outside where his screams could be heard for miles.

    "As for you," he said turning to Maarna. "I thought you were too young for this. Obviously I was mistaken." He nodded to the foreman, whose hands were still covered in blood. The foreman lead in the Wussari that Falatir intended for her and locked them both in a room for the next few hours.

    That night, she snuck into the Gulk' residence and took a knife. She intended to make Rohrdan, the Wussari intended for her, suffer. Due to her and other's experiences with the sociologist, she knew just what hurt the most. As she crept into Rohrdan's shack, she found him laying awkwardly on the ground, carefully avoiding the cuts and bruises all over his body as every Wussari did when they slept. But as she quietly maneuvered into position to stab him, the very memories that taught her about how to inflict pain were also the very things that stopped her from doing so. Try as she might, she could not make her paws take any action to harm him. This was not by any means due to a lack of hatred. She just couldn't do it. As she herd the nightwatch nearby, she knew she had to escape. She returned the knife, returned to her shack, and tried unsuccessfully to sleep, tears still streaming down her face.

    As her mind reached the end of the memory, she heard a voice from behind her. "I don't know what you have been through, but when I am Empress things will be different." As she turned around, the situation felt so surreal. Princess Yndana herself had shown up to console her! The princess handed her a metal sculpture she said she welded herself of the ancient Wussari legend Thanos, and walked away. Maarna continued to cry, but now they were tears of hope, relief, shock, and joy, that the princess herself would stoop to show such kindness to a lowly Wussari. The experience was overwhelming, and did nothing to help her return to the ceremony. But it was a memory she would treasure forever, and until her dying day would always tear up thinking about.
    Emperor Darmug continued. "We must never forget the exploits of these great people. History will remember them forever. Neither may we ever forget every little act of courage that allowed us to win this great war. Alas, there are too many to give due credit to all. But to Admiral Ketrilla and Admiral Khebb, I award the Golden Wing with barbed arrows for her unwavering devotion to her force, for her brilliant positioning, and for her merciless bombardment of the enemy. As well as an executive mark of vengeance, to carry out with the full authority of the law, one act of extreme vengeance on one that has hurt him of his choice. With it, three marks of mercy, to relieve them of up to three acts that would normally be punishable by death or permanent mutilation, if it were ever to be necessary.

    I award the medal of ingenuity posthumously to Falatir, our glorious engineer, without whose grand invention victory would not be possible.

    In the meantime many things of note happened outside of the war. Before the war began, Falitir, the inventor of the destroyer ship type, died at the ripe old age of 81. He never got to witness the success of his invention. A ravenous hive, known as the "Ugarlak Swarm" was discovered on the side opposite the Gulk' of the Propitious Pact. To be on better terms with the FDS, Glorious Leader Darmug retracted his expansionistic war policy, a highly unpopular move at home, but one that would greatly improve his chances of getting the Gulk' into the Propitious Pact, though in secret he informed his advisors the intention was only to get his foot in the door, this policy was to be revised later. In February of 2246, during the early war, the Sinrath declared war on their neighbor, the Serene Djunn Kingdom. This outraged the Propitious Pact, both of whom would make a formal declaration of rivalry by the end of the next year. The FDS would sell alloys to the Gulk' during the war, although the amount was not large enough to make much of an impact on the war, nor was the nearest Gulk' shipyard in a position to receive reinforcements for the fleet. In 2250, the first meeting regarding the formation of a Galactic Market was held via subspace communication. Galactic empires were allowed to nominate one non-capital colony with a population with more than 20 population units (an obsolete measure whose exact number is no longer known) as a "center of commerce." Unfortunately, the Gulk' had no qualifying colonies. Although Obaeshoth Prime was close to qualification, during the war a large number of assault units were drafted from the population. In 2251, the latter part of the mid-war, the Gulk' received a gift from an unexpected source: The Cynn. Shortly after, The Cynn retracted their rivalry with the Gulk' and declared rivalry with the Erissu. Emperor Darmug wasted no time in rebuilding relations with this empire. Governor Hephanira was recruited by The Emperor to replace a wildly popular predacessor. His predecessor had always been unusually just for a Gulk, and over time also developed a reputation as a highly educated governor as well. Hephanira is showing himself to be a far more controversial governor, and one that does not have the princess's favor due to his focus on squeezing every bit of labor from state-owned Wussari slaves. His appointment was a source of great contention between Emperor Darmug and his daughter.*
    Ugarlak.jpg War Philosphy changed 5.jpg Sinrath attacks SDK 16.jpg Cynn Declare GER Rivalry 11.jpg Death of Falatir 8.jpg Falatir's Replacement.jpg TAHM-Cynn Rivalry 21.jpg Alloys purchased.jpg Gift from Cynn 29.jpg A new, harsher governer 31.jpg

    Chancellor Dlurret was not looking forward to his meeting with Grand Marshall Cassarram. He struggled to calm down his anger. But, just in time, he managed to compose himself. The hallway of the G.E.R. capitol was lined with various ancient weapons and strange symbols. Fascination clashed with his anger, but all kept well under the surface. All around him were Errisu wielding ceremonial weapons, long since past their era for any practical use in combat, but they seemed to have an emotional attachment to these weapons of their history. The Errisu wielding them adopted intimidating postures, likely an emulation of the postures adopted by some ancient legends, as it certainly didn't seem like viable positioning for formation fighting of their past, perhaps these were ancient dueling postures. He intended to drop by their cultural center after the meeting for more information, as he didn't have more appointments scheduled for a while yet. Finally, he came to the Grand Marshall's office.

    "We welcome you, great warrior of the Cynn, fellow rival of the lowly Gulk-Furki. You honor us with your visit today, and we hope dearly for a productive exchange that will see the Gulk' on their knees" the large bird exclaimed warmly with a thunderous voice, beaming with excitement to meet this species he had heard so much about.

    "I am afraid you misunderstand, Grand Marshall Cassram. While we did come here to discuss your newly declared war on the Gulk-Furki, our purpose in being here is to clear up some significant matters."

    "Then by all means," the large bird responded warmly, "ask whatever questions are on your mind."

    "Did you declare war on the Gulk-Furki because they appeared weak, or because you despise them?"

    "Actually, many decades before the Gulk' placed their base on our territory, we-" Chancellor Dlurret's patience had run out and he interrupted the Grand Marshall.

    "Don't waste my time, Cassram. You and I both know this has nothing to do with constructions or surveys, you want to conquer the Gulk-Furki outright and I want to know why and what your intentions are afterwards, your empire is already quite large."

    The Chancellor glared at Chancellor briefly, before bursting into laughter. "You understand us well, Cynn. Much better than we understand you apparently. To answer your question, both in equal measure. Their existence is offensive to us, although I suppose if terraforming proves unfeasible or impossible in the future, we might just have to settle for enslaving them. In any case, the only answer you need to care about is that we are eliminating your 'existential threat,' so some gratitude would be in order on your part."

    "Are you implying you would stoop to purging an entire species?" The chancellor responded visibly upset.

    "It is one among many options we have considered, the discussion is still ongoing with our advisers. Slavery is another possibility, but if you know of a place that would take them we could always send them far away. We will of course discuss the best way to get rid of them with you."

    The calm way the Grand Marshall discussed these means of dealing with the Gulk-Furki made the Chancellor's gizzard ache. How nonchalantly he talked of doing these things, it reminded him of his research on the Gulk' themselves. How perfect they seemed for each other, if only the mutual fear would reform them rather than continue the cycle of conquest and abuse.

    "So why do you believe you should be the ones to punish them?" The Chancellor asked genuinely.

    "Punish them? Oh no no no, you misunderstand. Their suffering is only a byproduct of us taking what is rightfully ours. Technically all these worlds are rightfully ours, as our forefathers and traditions promised them to us. In your case, however, we are willing to waive that right. But nevermind about the Gulk', they are vermin, completely lacking in honor. They are as insects, a plague to be rid of as soon and efficiently as possible. All races are insects compared to the glorious Erissu, but some like yours have a certain charm to them." At this point, The Chancellor had heard all he cared to hear. At least from what he had heard of the GF Emperor's daughter Yndana, that she had some real potential to reform the Gulk-Furki into something nearly acceptable to the Cynn. But as the day went on, the bold entitlement of the Erissu sickened him more and more. Even the Gulk' did not pervert justice so, they simply rejected its practicality. Shown a better way, they had proven they were at least slightly open to some reforms. But he could see no hope for the Erissu's entitlement in the near future. He did not stay long enough to give his declaration of rivalry to the Grand Marshall in person, after writing it up he left it on the GM's desk.

    When he got back, he found Emperor Darmug waiting for him.
    "You have some nerve to come here in person." The chancellor pointed out. The emperor pulled out a copy of his response rivalry declared against the Chancellor, and following the ancient traditions of the Cynn, he ripped it in half and spat on both halves before throwing it out, saying the words "I hereby retract my regrettable words with shame." The Chancellor was honored to see such respect shown to his culture, and by an enemy now seeking forgiveness. He pulled out his own declaration and did likewise, repeating the ritual in its entirety. He was not a fool, however. While he accepted new agreements with the Gulk-Furki, he was under no illusion that they had yet accepted justice as their guide. But for the first time, he saw hope for this twisted species.

    Author's note 1: I think from here on out, it is likely that I will get a basic story out first, and then add pictures and personal stories later. This may be a matter of hours or days, depending on what is going on with me irl and how good a job I feel I could do at the time. I suspect I made some typos, so don't be afraid to let me know (in particular I think I spelled "Obaeshoth" different ways but since they all get underlined I can't find which ones might be wrong). Once again, general advice is appreciated.

    *Planning on putting the story for this next session!
     
    Last edited:
    2253 to 2267: The end of a reign, the full reign of the enlightened Yndana, and Cognat's beginning
  • starkwolf

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    20190324095021_1.jpg
    Princess Yndana approached her father with respect, but distraught.
    "Father? Are you busy?"
    "This is the perfect time, my beloved daughter. In fact, this peace treaty with the Erissu has left me with little to do beyond checking the usual reports and signing the usual approval forms."
    "It's about that monster, Hephanira. I heard-"
    "That's the point already! You heard. Have you met the new governor yet?" He responded interrupting.
    "Her reputation speaks for itself." Yndana responded obstinately.
    "I am disappointed to hear you speaking like that, I thought I taught you better. Never use somebody's reputation as your primary source of information about them. You must always check them over personally when feasible. Come, I will introduce you to her."

    Princess Yndana's expectations for this meeting were not high. Hephanira was a name already known to many Wussari on Gul, more than any other Gulk including the emperor himself the name Hephanira was spoken with a fearful shutter. Wussari often could not be made to say what she had done to them. The idea that her father would make such a Gulk' the governer of Gul made her shudder.

    As they approached the governor's mansion, they heard a loud, powerful voice calling "come in!" from inside the house. As they stepped in, a giant Gulk' loomed over them, taller than any Yndana had ever met before. Her beak looked strong and sharp, as did her claws.
    "Welcome, glorious leader Darmug! And young Princess Yndana, how are you?" she said with surprising warmth, rare among the Gulk-Furki. But Princess Yndana didn't respond. Emperor Darmug spoke up.
    "Since my daughter is destined to rule, I thought she should meet my newly appointed governor. Say hello, Yndana." Yndana greeted the governor, unsuccessfully attempting to mask the suspicion in her voice.
    "I hope my resume is up to the standards of both my current glorious leader and my future one." She responded.
    Princess Yndana spoke up. "I have heard that you have an excessively abusive temperament-" she started as if she would add "to the Wussari," but she quickly mumbled the words instead, knowing that such a complaint was not likely to be taken seriously. Even the suggestion of being "excessively abusive" was not a charge a Gulk' would typically make except as a backhanded compliment.

    "Ah yes." she said with a bizarre smile. "I have something to show you that should provide some clarification."

    They were led to a room filled with horrifying looking instruments. But wisely Yndana immediately recognized that one far more mundane instrument was of the most importance, hidden away in the corner of the room: an audio machine. The governor appeared to notice that the princess had noticed the machine.
    "You mean... all this is just for show? A bluff?" She asked the governor.
    "Not exactly" the governor responded. "other Wussari must never know bribes can be given, so that device is so that when I pull one of them aside for a reward they think I am punishing them for something else they did wrong and it keeps our conversations private." The governor went on to explain the sophistication of her methods in maximizing the output and cooperation of the Wussari, a system that used a combination of bribes on the one hand, and a variety of different types of punishments that would be considered "lesser" by most Gulk' on the other.

    "You see, most Gulk' use a brute force approach. They think that the more physical pain they cause, the more motivated Wussari will be to work in the future. To make matters worse, they tend to be very arbitrary and will lash out more severely if they are in a bad mood or sometimes abuse them for their own amusement. I have been able to improve slave productivity by 10% simply by using a tiered system of punishment tailored to each Wussari individually, being consistent, never using punishment for doing the wrong thing when a cheap reward for doing the right thing will do the trick, and most importantly having informants among them so they can never get away with anything. Furthermore, you will notice that while each of these instruments can cause enormous suffering, the actual injury any of these instruments would cause is actually minimal. More traditional punishments cause to much damage to their skin and muscles, physically weakening them and creating a counterproductive vicious cycle. The best punishments are the ones that cause no physical injury at all, and most of the time actually need to be quite small for a small offense."

    The princess still looked unimpressed.

    "Think of it this way: in politics you always make sure to have something up your sleeve, right? Never allow your adversaries to know everything you have on them so you can always pull a trick when it is most needed. That's why you don't punish them most severely for minor offenses, you leave yourself nothing worse for if they do something more serious. All too often you will see a Wussari snap and kill their master before killing themselves, and it is a real tragedy we have not progressed further in out methods. But fear is a force multiplier: a scared Wussari will experience more pain than a calm one, as our lead sociologist recently discovered. That's why they must be scared all the time: more fear means less punishment. They suffer less, produce more, and everybody benefits."

    "While I see your point," Yndana replied somewhat disingenuously, "I feel you could benefit even more by elevating their perceived status in your eyes. By treating them with respect, you give them a cause to work for. The Wussari are famously communal, and if they see you as an honorable leader that treats them with esteem, they will go above and beyond to try and be worthy of that esteem."

    The governor paused for a moment. "A fascinating idea in theory, but does it work?" she asked.

    Emperor Darmug spoke up "It does for her, she's worked with the Wussari that way ever since she was little more than a hatchling. I can't say I understand how she does it, but she has always managed to reach them somehow and make them want to work."

    A lightbulb went off for the governor. "Imagine that!" she said emphatically, her powerful voice thundering across the room, "we will have to speak more of how you do this, I would love to learn more."

    Now it was the emperor whose face started to sour, and the princess's that started to show a glimmer of hope.

    "It seems you have corrupted another mind today, my daughter." The emperor's voice was a mix of endearment, humor, and a touch of genuine concern. In time, the governor would adopt many of Yndana's strategies, and the two would develop a close friendship, but they would always maintain stark differences in their overall outlook on the Wussari.
    heph2.jpg

    At the end of the Gulk'-Erissu War, a period of great calm swept across Gulk' lands. The Cynn formed a defensive pact with the Gulk-Furki, and both would continue to build relations and try to enter the Propitious Pact. While the FDS despised Gulk' slavery, they found many similarities between the cult of The Unknown and their own faith. Furthermore, FDS studies into the religion of the Gulk-Furki gave them the impression that their religion was one whose central influence was a humbling one that encouraged them to be open to change and not to view themselves in too high of a light. The galactic market established its central hub within Cynn borders, which was very pleasing to the emperor as it was still near Gulk-Furki borders.
    20190324095558_1.jpg 20190324100140_1.jpg

    In 2255, Glorious Leader Darmug died at 82, his daughter finally taking the throne at age 72.
    20190324101029_1.jpg
    The funeral of the first emperor to die in the age of space diplomacy saw new rituals, such as spacecraft flyovers and hosting the funeral outside during the night under the stars. After the military had given their formal salute and the various rituals had been completed, Empress Yndana stepped forward to give the eulogy for her father.

    "My father was a leader unlike any other in our history because he was put in a position no other leader in our history had ever seen. Throughout his life he felt the pressure of this, but he handled himself with discipline and demonstrated great cunning. He brought more stability to our people than we had seen in centuries, and in his heart he was a humble and wise Gulk, even with his title. Emperors of the past would have acted with fear when the shrine to The Untold was found, unable to accept the many things they had done that were against his wishes because they did not believe he was more than a legend. For centuries followers were treated with ridicule and humiliation, and most of us, my father included, did not believe. We were afraid of receiving the same treatment, and so many of us became stubborn. But my father demonstrated that it is more important to accept truth than fear pain in any of its forms.

    He was powerful and strong, yet wise and humble. How many of our historical leaders can we say that of? Until Glorious Leader Darmug, we lived in constant uncertainty and ruling dynasties changed frequently. I believe this is due to his wisdom and foresight. He was the first leader to take control during our expansion through the galaxy. He engaged in diplomacy with other governments, something that Gulk have not had to do since the ancient times. Mistakes were made, but with his humility he recognized them and fixed them.

    As his daughter, I can say that he was a good, protective father. He taught me well, and did not restrict my learning to what he himself could teach. At every turn, he considered the good of his family, and the good of Gul. Moments of vengeance were tempered with prudence, and moments of insight tempered with moments of humility." She paused, trying to compose herself. "He let me see when any other father would have blinded me to inconvenient realities, and for that I am forever grateful."

    The crowd continued to mourn silently for days, as was the tradition, enemies and friends alike. Regardless of personal feelings, the Gulk would always mourn their leaders, even as some of them plotted. It was their way.
    Princess Yndana sat distraught at her desk. Starting and stopping, writing and striking through, only to crumple the paper and throw it away and start over. After painstaking hours, over the course of a few days, she had the body of her work, but was yet unsatisfied. Her heart demanded absolute freedom for the Wussari, but her brain knew she needed allies and as leader it isn't possible to enact her policies in person. She couldn't afford to isolate her most loyal supporters. That was the compromise on her heart, and a single tear streamed down her face. She had to give them whatever rights might be doable. She was empress, and not about to play it safe. This was the compromise on her mind.

    Her young daughter, barely more than a toddler, walked up.
    "Mommy, why are you crying?" the young child asked with the sincerity that comes with her age.

    "Bring your friend Ba-Vi and I will explain." she said.

    "Come here, dat!* (1)" she called.

    "Cognat! Don't use such language with friends! They have stood by you and you need to stand by them."

    Cognat responded, confused, "but mommy, all my Gulk friends refer to their Wussari friends that way. I thought that's what we were supposed to do."

    Yndana's eyes soften. "Call your friend in here again, nicely this time like you would with your Gulk friends."

    By this point, Ba-Vi was already almost in the room, and her expression warmed to hear such words from her glorious leader.

    Yndana spoke up. "Cognat, put your hand Ba-Vi's chest. What do you feel?" (2).

    "Her heart." Cognat replied honestly.

    Yndana went on. "Put your ear against her neck. What do you hear?"

    "Her breathing."

    Yndana went on like this for some time, then made her point. "My dear Cognat, the reason I have you do all these things is to understand that, like you, Ba-Vi is alive. When you hurt her, she feels it. When you say nice things to her, she feels that too. That is why I was crying earlier, many Wussari are being hurt constantly, and it hurts me to know that they are being hurt. I want to change that, but it frightens the other Gulk. So I can't help them as much as I want."

    Cognat spoke up, "But grandpa Darmug always said that we are-"

    Yndana interrupted "I know what grandpa Darmug always said, he told me the same thing many times. They don't have a gizzard like we do, but at the end of the day, what does it matter?"

    Yndana turned to Ba-Vi "Ba-Vi, could you please bring that rail gun over here?" Now, the railgun was over twice Yndana's size and far heavier. Without a word, and without a struggle, Ba-Vi picked it up and brought it over, but Cognat couldn't begin to lift it and fell down trying. Yndana spoke up again "Our ancestors always respected physical strength. But the Wussari have always been much stronger than us. Does that mean that they are better than us and we should be their dats?"

    It started to sink in as Cognat responded hesitatingly, but understandingly "no."

    Yndana then spoke to Ba-Vi. "Ba-Vi, what do you like to do?" Ba-Vi tried to speak, but the words wouldn't come to her mouth. To be asked this by not just a Gulk, but the empress herself was very frightening. Yndana recognized the situation, got off the chair, and got down to the child's level, softening her voice and asking the same question again. Ba-Vi said she liked to run and draw when she wasn't working. Yndana continued to ask about what she fantasizes about life being like when she got older, and what she would do if she were a Gulk.

    Cognat spoke up again "mommy, why does it hurt when they are hurt? We aren't them. I don't even hurt when my friends hurt." A look of great sadness swept across Yndana's face.

    "Cognat, you are like a lot of Gulk. You might not feel the hurt, but I do. While there are practical reasons to treat them better, but being a leader is about doing what is right for everyone. Most importantly, The Untold reminds us that we are all made by him. He is mysterious, but we should consider that he has always reminded the Gulk through his prophets to be wary of our prideful tendencies. Is it not prideful to call the wussari 'dat' and use it so rarely with other Gulk? Remember, I am the empress of this world here, and one day you will be too. But he is over all of us, and none of us can dethrone him." A moment of silence came before Yndana spoke up again. "go and play with Ba-Vi again, but you go to the safehouse by this evening with Ba-Vi and the others. The other Gulk are going to be very scared and very angry, but don't worry, Goron and his soldiers will protect you."

    Cognat looked up. "Mommy, I am scared."

    Yndana replied honestly "I am scared too, my child."

    Yndana went back to work. A good title still eluded her. It had to deceive as many Gulk into sounding unremarkable as possible, but also had to grab the attention of any Wussari that heard. Then, it hit her (3) she would name it "The Thanos Act."

    Contained within the Thanos Act, a Gulk that executes a Wussari must provide documentation for the reason, and though the list of acceptable reasons was heartbreakingly long and petty, the Wussari could no longer be executed without reason. To do so was subject to severe punishments. Punishments too were limited, as were experiments that could be harmful to them. Even the lead scientists now had to prove the experiment was of value before they could bring harm to the Wussari. All documentation would be overlooked by a counsel of three of her closest Gulk, and two Wussari. Before the most severe punishments and execution, at least one verbal warning had to be provided.

    But, the most cunning part of the Thanos Act was that Wussari were no longer forbidden from the performing arts in public. Gulk whose Wussari could sing or write well could now make a lot of money for their owner. Not only did this new freedom excite some of the more materialistic Gulk, but from her knowledge of the Wussari the inspiration of their music, poetry, and stories had the potential to melt even the hardest Gulk heart, according to her research the original reason the ban was implemented in the first place.

    *Dat, a derogatory word derived from old Gulk used to describe the Wussari, less often used in a hostile manner towards other Gulk with the implication of similar treatment. Its etymology appears to be derived from "datal," meaning roughly "worth less than the dirt one walks on." (See author's notes)

    Her first declaration as empress was give the Wussari a number of rights, something previously unheard of. The initial result was mass rioting and open, flagrant defiance, but she had planned for this and with numerous agents that she had been placing for decades, put it down faster than she even anticipated: over the course of only a few days. She took to heart the research on stratified punishment, letting most of the rioters go with only a "tag" that she used to create a glass ceiling on how much influence they could achieve in their life. Minor agitators were given public corporal punishments, after that some were executed simply, and the worst offenders were executed per dolor. However, she knew that without the Wussari to take out their frustrations on, the people needed relief for their many frustrations. For this reason, she began a strong focus on economic prosperity, and her declaration expanding the rights of the Wussari could also help improve the quality of life by allowing them to perform in public. Growing up, her close Wussari friends knew many tales from way back in their history that few Gulk' ever bothered to listen to, and many knew how to draw from their suffering to write beautiful poems and stories that could melt even a typical Gulk's heart. That part of her plan also worked better than she had ever dreamed, allowing a Wussari by the name of Va-Kir to obtain a celebrity status and filling the Wussari with hope for a brighter future.

    The new heir was Princess Cognat II (I will expand on this later)

    The next year, the Glyrran Sovereignty declared war against the Sinrath, citing that the Sinrath's war against the SDK was "a crime against peace, and a war of raw conquest." That very year the SDK surrendered Durascadon and Diub to the Sinrath, and sociologist Yndana died of old age, and Captain Jonnara was transferred as her replacement.

    All the while, Glorious Leader Yndana continued to fortify against potential future threats.

    Scientist Monnobaki, previously a major leader of the cult of The Untold died on the 5th of December 2265, with many though not all his goals for the faith having been achieved. Upon his death, Scientist Jonnara was transferred to replace him and she transferred control of her cloning program to an up and coming sociologist by the name of Timaphona. A few days later, the Propitious Pact's war against the Sinrath ended, with many planets being wrested from the Sinrath League and an independant nation known as the Sinrath Polity being formed, devoted to peace and enlightenment (4).
    20190324111050_1.jpg 20190324111602_1.jpg 20190324111613_1.jpg

    Jonnara was just putting away a petri dish when she heard a knock on her lab door. Right on time, almost to the second. An eager, young scientist showed up.

    "My name is Timaphona, I will be your replacement. I hear you are being transferred to the physics department?"

    Jonnara, now an old Gulk, nodded. "Let me show you what we have found so far." She turned to a Gulk on her right. "Get Vi-Ma and Vi-Ba." The Gulk went to fetch two identical Wussari. "As you can see, the cloning program has so far been a great success. We are already capable of cloning Wussari, and the focus right now is on making it more feasible and studying the effects, so far we have not come across any that wouldn't be expected. Do you have any questions regarding the list of remaining objectives I sent?"

    Timaphona looked displeased "there was one that seemed bizarre, and vague, perhaps I misunderstood. "Reduce distress observed in subjects" he quoted. "I really don't see what role that plays in making this practice more feasible, unless we are planning on expanding to Gulk subjects? And what sort of distress was observed?"

    Jonnara responded "Slight inaccuracies have been found to have profound consequences. Many early cases did not make it, and one that did was nothing like the host, and had a severe speech impediment and malformed skeletal and muscular structure. As you will see in the lab reports, getting a clone that is accurate to every detail requires immense precision, and I have had to work closely with Rapalkin on nanobots to make sure the cytoplasm, RNA, DNA, and more is absolutely perfect. You see, it is simple enough to make a DNA copy from another embryo, we have been doing that for years. The problem is mitochondrial DNA is different, as is the structure of the cytoplasm. Furthermore, there is no point in just copying something that is imperfect, a degree of engineering is required to make it valuable. We aren't simply copying one to the other, we are basically re-engineering based on a template from scratch, which also ties in to the feasibility.

    To rephrase that part of the report, we need a way that we can directly copy all pertinent information across cells with no significant errors. Vi-Ma and Vi-Ba are the only ones where we have managed the perfect transfer of all information, but the cost and time was only useful in a lab environment, right now it has no societal value unless we can streamline the process somehow."

    "Why do you label it as 'distress' then? Isn't it simply that these subjects were dysfunctional?"

    Jonnara sighed. "It is part of the Thanos Declaration. All experiments on Wussari must be done in a manner that maximize good to society and minimize the suffering of the subjects, to the satisfaction of the council."

    "Isn't that going to slow our progress?" Timphona asked with frustration. "They are just Wussari."

    Jonnara stared at the young Gulk with her aged eyes "I am not happy with this either, Timphona, but Yndana is our Glorious Leader and her word is law. That is good enough for me, and it should be good enough for you. These aren't the olden days when dynasties sprung up and were torn down with equal ease, and we are better off for it. I don't want to hear that you made any fuss about this, we are her scientists and it is our obligation to follow her wishes."

    Timphona started as if to object, but as he started a glare from Jonnara stopped him from starting.

    "Due to the testing they endured, the council decided that this year is the last year any sort of testing can be performed on these twins. After that, their status is to be elevated to wards. I expected you to follow the council's decision to the letter, and for further information you can contact the speaker of the council on the meaning of the position, but essentially it amounts to they can no longer be used for experimentation or physical labor and their distress needs to be kept to a minimum, a sort of 'retirement' for Wussari. I think it is strange too, but these are strange times and we must adapt." She shot one final warning stare at Timphona "and don't you dare try to find a loophole or exploit. The empress has eyes. I have eyes."

    If it were most other Gulk, her warning would have been meaningless to him. But Jonnara, as the discoverer of the temple was not a Gulk anyone dared to defy.

    Jonnara's eyes softened. Well, the rest is in my lab report, I suppose now would be a good time to introduce you to the lab, I hope you find it comfortable." She said as she led him around, pointing out where everything was and providing pertinent information on the lab itself. "If there are no further questions, I shall leave you to your study."

    "No further questions." Timphona replied.

    Without another word, Jonnara left for the imperial physics lab.

    20190324111128_1.jpg

    However, as the focus went into building Gulk' defenses, engineer Rapalkin found himself butting heads with his Glorious Leader time and time again, arguing for a more offensive military doctrine. In the middle of 2265, he would found the Path to Victory Committee, a party devoted to expanding the influence of the Gulk' through direct military conquest. Yndana was surprised to find, however, that this did not seem to negatively impact relations with the Propitious Pact as much as she expected, and diplomacy continued mostly unchanged.
    20190324112023_1.jpg
    Empress Yndana died in 2267, and the long reign of her daughter, Cognat II began.
    20190324113343_1.jpg
    The ceremonies for the funeral were marred in chaos. Without regard for the consequences, untold swarms of Wussari pushed their way in, howling loudly in the most eerie, chilling tones. The military stepped in to open fire on the Wussari swarms, but Empress Cognat would not allow it, for a variety of reasons including most notably that it would have been against the wishes of the deceased. After the crowds were calmed, the rituals continued as normal, but with loud howling in the background, much to the irritation of most Gulk.

    It stopped only during the eulogy, where a slave known as Maarna had to be escorted amongst the hisses of the crowd by Cognat's personal guard. Though she had experienced such abuse simply trying to speak, her speech was so heartfelt and powerful that it put all of the Gulk speakers to shame. A friendship that had been built between the two unknown to the rest of the world stunned them all. Afterwards the howling continued, more powerful than before. No matter what twisted punishments were thought up to silence them, some of which had been illegalized under the Thanos Declaration, the howling could not be stopped. Some Gulk gave up trying, while others reveled in clauses they could invoke to punish them. But many, many others were eventually moved themselves by it. In life, Glorious Leader Yndana had uplifted the Wussari heart. In death, she melted the heart of many Gulk.


    Author's notes:

    1) Originally I was actually just going to use the B-word. Then I realized given the slavery situation the N-word might be more relevant, and then it hit me that it would be way too inflammatory and disrespectful to use either, rules aside. Using a fictional word I feel actually ended up being perfect anyway, as it could be a stand in for not only all the profane words we sometimes use, but also for a lot of the more hurtful language we use generally, even if it isn't a word but a phrase. "Dat" could be a stand in for all the ways language can be used in truly brutal ways. So, not my original plan, but I think this is even better.

    2) This felt cliche initially to me writing it. Still decided to use it due to the meaning and context, but I sometimes wonder if I should have been more creative and avoided this cliche altogether.

    3) Funny thing, it only then hit me as I was writing it at that point too. :D

    4) Yes, we actually have pacifistic spiritual warthogs now :D
     
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    2267-2281: The calm before the storm
  • starkwolf

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    The beginning of the reign of Empress Cognat II started out quite peacefully, although concerns remained about their (galactic) western front, and the expansion race against the SDK was still in full swing. The time had come for her to put the large imperial stores of currency, minerals, and food to work in a massive development project. She multiplied the strength of the empire's defensive network many times over, and greatly expanded industry on their two planets. Under her reign, the Gulk-Furki would grow to be a respected galactic power, but at the cost of a significant trade deficit.
    20190408125022_1.jpg 20190408132352_1.jpg 20190408133722_1.jpg


    Fortunately, The United Dyss Alliance, a large empire to the outer south of the TAHM (the only allies of the dreaded GER) would find themselves at odds with the Gulk's enemy shortly after Empress Cognat II took power. But to the north the Gulk' were not so lucky, finding they had lost quite a bit of potential territory to the SDK, and narrowly beat them to claiming the Korgas system and isolating a system claimed by the Gulk'.

    In 2269, the Propitious Pact and their associates came into contact with a vast empire to the south, the Zaacplot Administration. Despite their immense size, they seemed to be an empire of gentle giants, whose influence expanded to the fascinating planet of Sol III, colloquially known as "Earth." The history of the Earthlings fascinated the Gulk-Furki in how immensely diverse it was, and how much the constant clash of human nation-states contrasted with the early unification of the Gulk-Furki. Until influenced by the Zaacplot, humans seemed to be in a constant conflict of ideals. Just as a massive conflict was about to start, so shortly after the humans had gone through what they called "The Great War," the Zaacplot saved them from what could have easily become another very bloody war and took into custody almost a dozen of their most evil and warmongering leaders. Although threatened by this show of force, the Zaacplot shared much technology with all the human world, and skyrocketed their technological advancement. The Human Union was formed on the ideals of Jainism, Bhuddism, and Confucianism that the Zaacplot specifically favored. The Zaacplot historians reported that this had not gone as easily as they had hoped, as it conflicted greatly with many firmly held beliefs at the time, but despite the discontent the government that the Zaacplot had helped the humans to form to unite their world had been stabilized.
    20190408130533_1.jpg 20190408130542_1.jpg


    The scientist known as Bemlon further enhanced the faith of the Gulk-Furki, coming across some truly bizarre phenomena.
    Captain Bemlon sat bored in his ready room. When he built SASAD, the Scientific And Secretarial Advanced Droid years ago, he reveled in how much free time he would have to indulge in his own endeavors, and to be fair it had helped him focus more on captaining the ship. But Bemlon had long since discovered that there is such a thing as too much free time. While he was no longer bound to signing uninteresting and routine paperwork, and could have crew reports simplified and read to him saving him enormous amounts of time by leaving out the unimportant details while still providing him with the information necessary to run the ship, and furthermore SASAD could analyze debris many times faster than any Gulk' science officer, he began to miss the excitement of thumbing through his work, hoping for something interesting, even if a vast majority of the time it was a disappointment. He had started to put on weight, eating out of pressing boredom and watching his comrades enjoy the tales of his slave, Va-Ma in the mess hall.

    Va-Ma's public performances further supplemented his already substantial pay, making him one of the richest Gulk' even among the elite, yet on this spaceship there was little to spend it on, and return to Gul was as yet unscheduled. Once again, he decided to head down to the mess hall and treat himself to dessert worms. His diet, too, was slipping to become more and more unhealthy, and a lack of nutrition from Baff Beatles was making his joints ache. He sat in his usual spot in the back of the room, listening in on conversations and rumors here and there, occasionally turning his attention to his slave. It never ceased to amaze him how a single slave could have so many gripping stories, nor present them so well. In one moment Va-Ma would have the crowd explode into laughter, and the next shedding tears. He wondered what it would have been like if Va-Ma had ever met the legendary Wussari entertainer Va-Kir what a dynamic duo they could have been. Though he enjoyed watching his crew enjoy the stories Va-Ma shared, he relented that he could not do with Va-Ma as he wished. He always wondered what it would have been like if he could have made Va-Ma's performances more amusing by a well timed abuse or humiliation on stage, but the olden days of free reign over the Wussari were only a distant memory by now. New laws were no longer needed to further the interests of the Wussari, with each new Wussari celebrity their fans would protect not only their celebrity that they had grown attached to, but their close friends as well. The culture was growing slowly, but consistently towards protecting them even from their owners. He wasn't the only one that feared perhaps one day the Wussari would demand equality with the Gulk', and paying the Wussari and not the owner was already becoming commonplace in secret. His mind wandered to the olden days, before his time. It would have been nice to have something living to vent on he thought. He thought of making a droid but it just wasn't the same.

    His thoughts were interrupted by the intercom, a familiar robotic voice. "Attention required on the bridge: Captain Bemlon. Anomaly detected."

    With some pain, Bemlon got up, expecting some random debris field like the last time.

    Barely had he entered the room and he plopped down with a grunt on the captain's chair, expecting little. This, however, was rather bizarre. SASAD spoke up.
    "Ceramic object of unknown design circling Ceyecarro. Origin unknown. Purpose unknown, highest probability: container. Special features likely, but indistinguishable at current range. Probability of occurrence being natural: negligible."

    Bemlon turned on the intercom. "Chief Engineer Vartek, why are we not getting close readings on that ceramic container?" The engineer chief's voice was scraggly and high pitched from years of exposure to various chemicals he worked with. "Our sensors were not designed to recognize anything like this as pertinent: it is too small and composed of unlikely materials. Furthermore, the chemicals from the upper atmosphere of this gas giant give false readings. We know enough to know it is there, but beyond that it will be difficult to tell fact from fiction."
    "Any chance of scanning the object from the opposite direction?"
    "Won't do us any good, sir. Trace elements will still affect the sensors from the source. I will have to begin work on filtering the effects produced by the reflection off these chemicals and adjust the wavelength of the scanners. It will take some time, but it is doable."
    "Very good. Get on it then."

    As the days passed, the information coming back seemed stranger and stranger. Try as he might, Vartek could not separate the reflections from the chemicals, and despite severe punishments for laziness neither he nor his crew could work faster, and in fact progress was being hampered by the pressure. Bemlon had decided in his mind that if it were not solved within the week, the system survey must continue. Then Bemlon noticed it. It was faint, but clear. Bemlon got on the intercom.
    "Vartek, run the chemical pattern through our translation system."
    Vartek was extremely confused. "Sir? What do you mean?"
    Bemlon responded with more enthusiasm than he had experienced in years. "Treat each pattern as a character and run it through our translation system. What do you get?" After a few minutes, Vartek responded "Sir... you won't believe this. Answers. Answers to the questions that have been stumping our scientists for years. Sir... this is a relic of The Unknown!"

    Bemlon sat back in his chair. He did not notice his chronic joint pain. He was now a prophet, like Jonnara. "Why" had always beena question associated with the unknown, but he felt particularly unready to be seen as a prophet. Jonnara was a legend whom he had long admired. In her time she discovered entire space empires and made first contact numerous times. Back then the galaxy must have seemed a vast and unexplored space. Why would The Untold speak to a glutton and layabout like him that for years had relied on automation to do the hard work of his job? But, of course, none know the mind of The Untold.


    A long awaited war finally came between the ravenous hive of The Ugarlak Horde and Propitious Pact in 2275. Theories as to why it took this long range from a lack of preparation on the part of the Ugarlak and to theories that the Pact had done its job, deterring attackers. Little is known about the strange, apelike race, except their seemingly unending appetite. In the same year, the last of the great leaders of the Darmug generation died out. Jonnara, a legend of her people and the reviver of the ancient faith died at the ripe old age of 117. She had always attributed her great health to the divine, and her unyielding faith to three Glorious Leaders brought about a stability never before seen among the Gulk-Furki. Her loyalty was of enormous importance to Darmug, Yndana, and Cognat. With her death, Gul was quickly becoming the dangerous place it once was, and Cognat lacked the skillset in that area that her grandpa Darmug had. Her mother was an excellent reformer, but spent her life mitigating the impact of her reforms more than increasing stability. Stability would continue to degrade until, in the year 2280, space pirates known as the Outcast Armada were formed. Underground rivals Emperor Darmug was unable to purge, reactionaries upset by Yndana's swift and radical reforms, and citizens concerned about Empress Cognat's massive spending on large projects united to prey upon passing trade vessels to try and end the Darmug Dynasty. The ancient enemies, the GER began making aggressive claims on the Gulk' once more, and disaster seemed to loom ahead.

    20190408134845_1.jpg 20190408135224_1.jpg 20190408142351_1.jpg 20190408142453_1.jpg

    The geography of the galaxy, 2273:
    20190408133154_1.jpg

    Author's note: It is with regret that I am cancelling "The debris." I am just struggling to think of a way to make that particular encounter interesting and I really want to focus my effort on having a single, hopefully good scientific encounter story rather than spreading my efforts between two in the same chapter and risk doing a mediocre job at both.
     
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    2281-2292: Ascendance to federation!
  • starkwolf

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    Timaphon's tutor approached Cognat with some hesitation.
    "Beran, we have known each other for a long time and I know you to be respectful. Whatever it is, you can be frank with me. You know I keep this room free of bugs." She paused for a moment, then added humorously "the kind we don't like, anyway."

    Beran spoke up. "It's Timaphon. The truth is, he is really struggling in his studies. I can't seem to grab his attention. He is still drawing pictures during class."
    "What sort of pictures?" came Cognat's inquisitive response.
    "... lewd ones, and rather bizarre at that too. His latest spark* is a Zaacplot and a human."
    Cognat gave a puzzled expression. "Alright, send him in."
    After a few minutes, Timaphon walked in.
    "Yes mother?" he asked respectfully.
    "Timaphon, I am told you are not paying attention during classes. Is this true?" Timaphon nodded, head down and respectful.
    Cognat gave a look that was patient and caring, but frustrated. "Timaphon, I know it is normal for your age group to be distracted like that, but not only is your obsession stronger than your friends but you seem to have this odd fascination with other species. I hope you understand that when you rule, you will need an heir, and that isn't going to happen with a Glyrran, a Fellnoll, or a Zaacplot."
    Timaphon spoke up "It isn't that mom, it isn't that at all. I do like Gulk' women. It is just that sometimes my mind wanders. I thought you always said curiosity is a good thing?"
    Cognat was only slightly relieved. "Not when it interferes with much needed learning. You are supposed to be studying human cultures."
    "I am mom- mother!" he said quickly correcting himself to sound more respectful. "I can still name the collectivist and individualist cultures of Sol III, but humans have this thing called a "wedding." It sounds really exciting and humans of all cultures have these really cool rituals around fertility and mate selection. At best we just have a little fun, at worst we get pushed into having hatchlings with someone that was chosen for us. No special celebrations or anything."
    Cognat spoke up. "The grass isn't always greener on the other side, Timpahon. For most of their history humans were expected to mate for life, and like us it doesn't always come easily to them. Can you imagine if you were always stuck with the same mate for the rest of your life what that would be like?"
    Timaphon nodded. "Humans have taken little bits of other cultures for most of their history and incorporated them among other elements of their culture. Maybe we could do the same with weddings one day? We could-"
    Cognat cleared her throat to interrupt "We are getting offtopic. The point is, you also need to learn about diplomacy, especially as the Imperium becomes more and more powerful in the galaxy. There will be many other species to lord over, and we need to make sure we understand all of them."
    Timaphon objected "Mother, the Sinrath, Humans, and Gulk' have all used seductresses for espionage. The humans used their men for spying too. The Sinrath have always fought for mates, and that says something about their diplomacy. The Zaacplot have always taken care of other young for decades before they are taken seriously as potential mates, and that paternalism and maternalism can be seen in their diplomacy too. The Cynn-"
    "I get the idea, my child. You make a convincing, if perhaps very strained case for the impact of mating habits on diplomacy between species, and another time I might even study some of that too. But if you want to understand humans as they are now, you need to study the Treaty of Versailles, and the Zaacplot Treaty. There is simply no getting around that. I know you like to draw, and since you were always very good at it. You will just have to push through the distractions, that's final. But perhaps if your tests required you to draw diagrams instead of having oral exams, that would help?"
    "Yes mother."
    "I don't want to hear that you aren't paying attention in class again. Are the consequences clear?"
    "Yes mother," he responded more sullen this time.
    "Good."

    As he started for the door, his mother called to him.
    "Timaphon!"
    Timaphon turned around as his mother approached and spoke softly.
    "You know other Gulk' are going to make fun of you for drawing that spark art, right?"
    "They wouldn't dare" he responded confidently.
    "That's my boy!" his mother said with pride. "When you do your diagram for the Treaty of Versaille, I would like a look at it myself. Now go on, and enjoy your learning."

    *Spark: A slang term that developed about 2276, roughly equivalent to the 21st century human slang term "ship."

    In the year 2281, the pirate leader Darmug, named by his parents in honor of the legendary emperor, attacked the Acclum Physics Station in his first act of defiance. His rag tag crew of misfits and dissidents laid waste to the station and showed no mercy to its survivors. His crew ranged from rivals of the Yepar Dynasty that Glorious Leader Darmug brought to prominence in his reign, to reactionaries whose families resented the radical reforms under Empress Yndana, to those that feared Cognat's ambition would bankrupt the empire. Darmug the Pirate, as he came to be known, was actually quite fond of his namesake, his dissidence derived from the second matter. Though he resented the pettiness of the feuders as well as the arrogance of those in opposition to the current Glorious Leader, his force was greatly underpowered as it was and he could not afford to turn away any that might aid the cause. Any further discord would have to be dealt with at a later time, and this loose association of dissidents eyed each other with constant suspicion.
    20190507211736_1.jpg


    Ketrilla's second in command stepped into her ready room.
    "Captain Jurlek, I understand that my orders to go directly to Acclum confuse you?"
    "Yes Admiral," came his response, "Darmug the Pirate is greatly understrength, and this is a very bold move on his part. He has made no attempt to subvert the station from within or hide his actions, despite clearly putting this force together for years. It smells of a trap."

    Ketrilla nodded with approval. "Your wits are sharp, Jurlek, obviously why I put you in charge here. But I think his capability for stealth and intrigue has distracted you and caused you to overestimate his capability."
    Jurlek was clearly no closer to understanding than he had been before. "But admiral, isn't it better to overestimate an enemy that lacks in strength and has no chance of being a real challenge than to underestimate one that may be a real threat?"

    "Perhaps some wargames would get my point across better. I will play as myself, and you will play to your worst fears of what Darmug might be doing."

    The games went on for some time, but even when Jurlek managed to double his fleet size and surround Ketrilla, it was still impossible to defeat her fleet. But this only managed to confuse Jurlek more.

    "Admiral, I see your point that he couldn't hope to defeat us. But then why would he do this at all? It seems stupid or impatient, but we know he isn't either of those things."
    "How about we switch sides now. You will play as our fleet, and I will play as Darmug the Pirate."

    Knowing what she knew about the hopeless weakness of the pirate fleet, Jurlek immidiately engaged the pirate fleet in the simulation. Ketrilla immediately had the pirate fleet hail Jurlek's ships. Rather than outright surrender, she went on a long rant about why the pirates feared the Yepar Dynasty, and what it would do to Gul. When the rant was over, Jurlek ordered the fleet to attack, but nearly half of her fleet was moved by the speech and defected. The hopeless situation for the pirates quickly turned into a hopeless situation for the Imperial Fleet, and Jurlek's simulated fleet was destroyed. After the scenario, Ketrilla debriefed Jurlek.

    "The problem is, while Darmug does not have the resources now to win, his only hope is to acquire those resources directly from us, and while he is patient, we are growing much faster than he could ever hope to. This is why I believe he feels he has the need to take a stand now: this is the one and only shot he and his pirates will ever have of overthrowing the Yepars, and he has prepared meticulously for this day. That's the real reason why we are running on a skeleton crew and gave all the others shore leave. I went through everyone's files, including yours, and sent away anyone that would have an elevated reason to defect, and I suspect he has been planting his agents among us for years, considering how resistant many were to taking shore leave. Captain Vargut in particular was strange since usually he always pushes for shore leave and only just now showed any resistance to it. Don't worry about Darmug being warned, they are all under close surveillance. But, something that all the ships will be ordered shortly before the attack: we must not receive his hails until after the battle has commenced and he is broadcasting on an emergency channel. Any attempt to broadcast on a standard channel must be ignored, and any emergency broadcast before the battle must also be ignored. We must strike quickly, answering only surrender hails, and all prisoners must be immediately gagged, no delay."

    Jurlek nodded in understanding. "I never doubted the capability of the hero of Obaeshoth, I only asked for her to impart her wisdom on me."
    "I know" came Ketrilla's confident response.

    Almost exactly two months after his raid on the Acclum Station, Admiral Ketrilla arrived. It was far from the glorious battle over Obaeshoth Prime, the pirate fleet was no match for the main fleet of the empire. After the shields nearly gave out, the raider Attention Seeker defected, and the remaining raider ships were wiped out. Though some lenience was shown for the defection, much of the crew of the Attention Seeker were imprisoned in the imperial dungeon for years, coming out less than half the weight they entered when they were released. That same year, the GER also laid claim to the system of Moregard.
    20190507212153_1.jpg

    To the galactic outer east, The War of the Ugarlak-Propitious Pact Great Gorging was not going well for the Propitious Pact. Ugarlak ships had managed to wreak havok on their systems and the Glyrran Sovereignty in particular was feeling the pain. However, by 2283, The Glyrran Sovereignty had turned the tide of war, forcing the Ugarlak to sign a white peace or lose planets of their own if they continued defiant.
    20190507213228_1.jpg

    However, lead sociologist Timaphona's new project was creating a wild debate within the Council on Wussari Matters (CWM). Her program of neurological implants to create a Wussari army split the council down racial lines, with the two Wussari members staunchly opposed, two of the Gulk-Furki members strong advocates of her program, and one Gulk' undecided for a long time. It was decided that the program was acceptable only with numerous strings attached, but that Timphona would still be punished for improper admission of documentation. She was well beyond the deadline when she sent in the first documents to the council, beginning her experiments before the council had approved them and only acknowledging the experiments after they were close to completion. Her blatant disregard for the value of the council however only helped solidify its power, as their response to her disregard was swift, harsh, and public.
    20190507213523_1.jpg

    Timaphona had been addressing the council for hours. Finally, she had come to her summary.

    "...so in summary, the potential of this new device could save an incredible number of Gulk lives, should it come to war. Furthermore, the risk of surrender or desertion is virtually nil. Training speeds are enhanced and the overall danger to our soldiers becomes a great deal less due to typical impulses a traditional soldier must control themselves being entirely eliminated. Wussari are biologically more suited to being grunts, but this by no means precludes the possibility of keeping Gulk warriors for special operations.

    In regards to whether this involves excess suffering on the part of the Wussari, I am surprised I have been expected to bring this to the council in the first place. War is a horrific experience, that is not debated. But Gulk have been expected to do this for over a century, since we first went to space under our Glorious Leader Darmug. It cannot be said that we are expecting any more from the Wussari in this specific regard, hence why this was not brought to the council earlier. To force this society to bury this research would be blatantly anti-science, since it has already been completed.

    Thank you for approving my project, and may The Untold bless you all." She started to walk out of the council chambers, but was stopped by security.

    Fuming with anger, one of the Wussari council members known as Vi-Ka spoke up. "Nobody has approved your project yet! You went ahead with a project without our knowledge, fully aware that the threshold for suffering had been greatly exceeded to start your project without approval from the council. You further insult the meaning of this council by smugly assuming approval will be granted.

    To address your point that it does not exceed the expectations of Gulk soldiers, you are flat wrong on this point. Gulk serve a tour of duty before being released back into society, while you expect Wussari to serve for life. I would like to know what you intend to have done with Wussari soldiers once they become too old to serve. Earlier today you were extremely evasive about the long term dangers to Wussari with this microchip implant, and unless we get a straight answer every one of us is obligated to vote against approval. Furthermore, the potential of a Gulk soldier or unit to rout or surrender forced their officers to minimize duress. The implementation of this microchip implant will undoubtedly lead to horde tactics and meatshields during a time where plasma throwers and biological warfare is to be expected.

    Answer the questions about long term damage and age and you might convince some of the others to vote in favor, but either way this is an outrage. I, Vi-Ka, vote against approval of combat implants for Wussari soldiers."

    Taking the mic, peaking to the side to see Gulk security watching her closely with her laser gun still pointed in her general direction, she responded

    "I haven't given you a direct response about what will happen to the older Wussari soldiers because that is not my jurisdiction! I am a mere scientist, not a politician and not an officer. If you want to call an expert witness, than do so, but as this is a new technology I doubt they can give you a straight answer on the spot either.

    As far as the long term consequences, that has not been studied since it is not relevant to their performance in the simulations."

    Vi-Ka was beyond frustrated at this point. "You said quite clearly that there were, and I quote 'additional effects.' Name them now or I will motion to have you held in contempt."

    "Although a complete list is not possible, since I already explained that we did not observe them for an extended time, soldiers would occasionally demonstrate irritability and overall tension when not in the simulations. They were found to bicker with each other more than usual. A few reported nightmares, and a very small number of these woke up screaming during the night."

    At this point Vi-Ka had had enough. "HOW MANY? One more word that is not a number and I-"

    "-'will motion to have me held in contempt, yes yes I know." Timaphona responded mockingly. "An even one hundred subjects were studied for the sake of record keeping and to have a nice, large sample size. 85 of them showed increased muscle tension off duty ranging from a 25% increase to a 175% increase, with the average being about a 75% increase. I can make a handout for further details if desired. Bickering between them increased by 50% more incidents a week. 60 reported nightmares, of which 5 had been heard waking up screaming during the night. 40 of them described their nightmares as 'very severe' with the remainder describing them as 'moderate.'" she continued in a mocking tone "any more statistics you would want me to print on a handout?"

    Vi-Ka's frustration had calmed to exasperation. "You call 85% 'occasionally'? I thought you said you weren't a politician. Just send us all the lab reports, like you were supposed to do in the first place." She turned her attention to the rest of the council and addressed them. "I strongly recommend that anyone that votes to approve this project at the very least include a contingency that Wussari be allowed to retire to ward status at 50, if not sooner, and that further research be done on the long term effects of these chips, with a second hearing to re-examine this subject later."

    At that point, the Gulk council member known as Barann spoke up. "Although Timaphona was clearly mistaken about the need to bring this before the council, her behavior in these chambers has been unprofessional at best, but more accurately downright disrespectful. For this she will be held accountable.

    However, Vi-Ka has overlooked the fact that in all things it is still standard that the Wussari will have to suffer more than Gulk. It is the way of things and not about to change anytime soon. Over time, much of this suffering can be alleviated through further research. But therein lies the operative phrase: further research. We cannot stifle new discoveries like this that could greatly improve our society simply as the result of Wussari sympathies for their own kind. The improvement of our military more than makes up for this suffering, and in time perhaps we may even discover a way to eliminate suffering altogether."

    Timaphona spoke up "the technology to eliminate the suffering altogether already exists, sir, but we found that in the simulations it made the soldiers too prone to recklessness and so it was rejected in an early prototype."

    Barann continued "in any case, this project seems like a wise and glorious future for our kind. I, Barann, vote in favor of approval."

    At this point, another Wussari council member, Ga-Ba, spoke up. "The fact that the technology exists to eliminate their suffering altogether exists and is being rejected is disturbing. If they are to be used as grunts anyway, it is the least that can be done. Timaphona has demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the the Yndana Reforms. The removal of Wussari agency strips them of the one thing we have had for all these generations, attempting to remove it will lead to rebellion, and possibly revolution. Everything else I have to say has been better articulated by Vi-Ka than I could hope to. I, Ga-Ba, vote against approval."

    The Gulk council member known as Terrilla would tie the vote at 2-2 with her statement "My interpretation of the Yndana Reforms has never been as radical as Ga-Ba. To interpret the reforms so strictly is to essentially eliminate the practicality of Wussari slavery altogether. Wussari suffering is, was, and always will be the norm. However, the Yndana Reforms were designed to improve the practicality of Wussari slavery by eliminating needless executions, giving greater freedom for owners to profit from their Wussari in new ways, and most importantly and most relevantly to restrict how much time is wasted on research that reduces the value of a Wussari slave for experiments that do not have great enough value to society to compensate. Even with fairly strict interpretations, this project falls well within the parameters of those reforms. I, Terrilla, vote in favor of approval.

    One Gulk council member remained. A look of horror swept across the faces of the two Wussari members. Varmat spoke. "Despite the promise of this new technology, Terrilla's interpretation of the Yndana Reforms is flawed. In the first through fifteenth council cases, when Yndana herself gave her testimony to the council, she stated directly on page 5 of case 1 that "this experiment violates the dignity of the Wussari subjects, as a creation of The Untold, in irreparable ways at the benefit of mere entertainment for the Gulk. This cannot be allowed to pass." Her use of the words 'dignity' and 'creation of The Untold' indicate that it is far more than a cost-benefit analysis, but something which requires religious reflection as well. However, this very much straddles the line of what might be acceptable, which is more than I can say for Timaphona's behavior this session. I motion to come to table to discuss a compromise to be approved." This motion was carried unanimously.

    More hours were spent behind closed doors, and yelling could be heard from the main chamber. Finally, the council members stepped out. Varmat read the agreed compromise in the chamber.

    "We, the members of this council, have agreed to a conditional approval of the study on Combat Microchips for the creation of slave army.

    1) The painless prototype must be used, once developed to a viable state. No device may be used that does not eliminate the suffering outright, and proper disclosure must be sent to the army of the limitations this will have on their effectiveness.

    2) At such a point when a Wussari, based on their medical condition, is no longer fit to serve, they are to be granted ward status, under the commanding general or any person assigned by him to be their ward.

    3) Further research must be conducted to reduce the side effects of the microchip. The lead sociologist must provide monthly lab reports to the satisfaction of the council, until such a time as it is determined that the side effects are negligible. Failure to do so to the council's satisfaction is punishable by 10 minutes on the swinger.

    4) No Wussari under the age of 15 is to be chipped.

    5) A chipped Wussari is not to be assigned any other form of labor besides reasonable combat exercises."

    Varmat then turned to a new document.

    "On the subject of Timphona's conduct: we find Timphona in contempt of this council under the following violations:

    1) Concealing from this council information regarding a project, brought to completion without knowledge of this council, that requires approval by this council.

    2) Attempting to leave the council chambers without dismissal.

    3) Speaking in a disrespectful manner to members of the council.

    Therefore, the following punishments are to be assigned sequentially with the minimum practical interval of time between, in the following order:

    1) 10 minutes in the birdie boiler.
    2) 15 minutes on the swinger.
    3) 20 minutes of the Pain Rod
    4) 5 minutes in the bath of great burning
    5) 10 minutes in the splitter

    These punishments are to be carried out at the dismissal of the council.

    Timaphona's eyes grew wide with desperation as her punishment was read out.

    "Please, I meant no disrespect! It was an honest mistake! It will never happen again!"

    "The last part is the only part I believe." Varmat answered before calling the guards and dismissing the council as the guards dragged her away.

    Also in 2282, the Zaacplot began the assimilation of Sol III into their empire. Soon, to deal with the Zaacplot would mean to deal with a multi-species empire, among which the much less populous humans the Gulk-Furki found far more interesting.
    20190507214018_1.jpg

    Half a year later, the legendary Admiral Ketrilla, hero of the Battle of Obaeshoth, died at the age of 90. Her last words, said to have been spoken to her successor with great heaving, were said to have been simply "weak fleet, weak empire. Strong fleet, strong empire." Those words would be engraved in imperial naval colleges around Gul, and on every ship in her fleet.
    20190507214402_1.jpg

    By 2284, the pacifistic Zaacplot were counter-intuitively the most militarized empire in the galaxy, with a fleet substantially larger than even the SDK (2nd most powerful empire), Ugarlak Horde, and Sinrath League. The Galaxy gasped in awe at the greatness of this empire whose large fleet was never used, yet stood majestically against their neighbors should they attempt an invasion. However, 2284 also saw some real innovations in the works among the Gulk-Furki. Lead Physicist Darmuga was finishing up her advancement of traditional deflectors into proper shield systems for the imperial fleet. Noticing her development, Lead Engineer Rapalkin had begun work some time ago on a weapon he had been theorizing about for years: the space torpedo. Lead Sociologist Timphona, meanwhile, was performing statecraft simulations. Despite her mischievous reputation combined with her recent punishment for disregarding CMW deadlines, her developments would turn out to be entirely focused on the advancement of the Gulk-Furki Interplanetary Imperium, and not personal gain as many had suspected. When confronted with these allegations, Timphona expressed disappointment at the cynical assumptions being made about her.
    20190507215050_1.jpg 20190507215901_1.jpg

    The next year, the GER and TAHM officially formed the Akkur Entente, though it was of no surprise to any of their neighbors except insofar as this did not happen sooner, when their beliefs were formally unified.
    20190507220146_1.jpg

    Over this time period, many empires were discovered to the galactic far south, including the Serene Elaaminid Confederacy, Pallyrian Citizen League, the regime of Tir Baatna.
    20190507215323_1.jpg 20190507220729_1.jpg20190507222911_1.jpg

    Lead Engineer Rapalkin died at the relatively young age of 86. Sociologist Timphona was transferred to replace him, and Thalotha, now Lead Sociologist Thalotha, would replace Timphona in the sociology department at the Imperial Lab. This would be a difficult switch for Timphona, as she had always been fascinated with biology, especially the effects of offworld living. As diplomacy became more and more integral to the well being of the empire, however, it was determined that Thalotha's talents for studying diplomacy and statecraft were more needed in that department. But a suitable replacement for Rapalkin as a proper engineer was not to be found. Those that wished to study engineering found there was far more prestige in offworld engineering than theoretical engineering, despite the difference in pay.
    20190507221110_1.jpg 20190507221212_1.jpg

    In 2286, the great scientist and prophet Bemlon died at the age of 83. Although this is considered a young age to die, many were surprised he lived as long as he had due to his poor health, but his crowning achievement seemed to have stirred his spirit. In the process of recruiting a replacement, a real genius was found by the name of Darmull, and he was transferred to engineering, and Timphona eagerly awaited her assignment on board the ISS Cyssak the Dignified, a ship whose name was as old as the legendary Jonnara, yet was what the humans called a "Odyssius Ship," one that did not have a single part that had not been upgraded or replaced since the time it was first commissioned. But the prestige associated with the restored vessel remained.
    20190507221332_1.jpg 20190507221406_1.jpg

    Later that same year, the United Eruxo Bloc declared war on the Ugarlak Horde in the hopes of eradicating the hive that sought only to feast on the many species surrounding it.
    20190507221010_1.jpg

    In 2288, Hephanira was succeeded by her daughter, Yndana, named after the empress whom she had come to so admire. That same year, Lead Engineer Darmull decided he would try and emulate the success of the great, late engineer Falatir. Many advances had come since Falitir's time, allowing for the more structurally sound construction of much larger vessels. What Falitir's destroyer was to the old corvette's, Darmull's "cruiser" would be to Falitir's "destroyer." During Falitir's time, however, he was allowed to do what he pleased with his Wussari slaves. Darmull would find he could not start on his project without numerous exemptions from the council. Exemptions, however, they would provide for every exemption requested. Work on the cruiser would take the lives of many Wussari, and the horrors would move the single Wussari councilman that voted in favor of the exemptions to tears. But councilman Fa-Kir would stand by his decision, as a necessity to safeguard the whole planet, Gulk' and Wussari alike. He was found dead the next month, dragged out into the street, mauled, and hung upside down in the main street, ostensibly by a Wussari mob in the night with a sign that read "death to the killer of his kind".
    20190507223340_1.jpg 20190507223130_1.jpg


    Excerpt from Warrior Vuuret's journal, 2288-09-01:
    After all these years as a private, my morale is at an all time low. In my first entry, I was so excited to be a soldier of Obaeshoth, ready to defend it from an invasion from the Erissu at a moment's notice. To return home one day to speak of the valor or the Gulk' in their defenses or to claim a planet from that annoying, pretentious regime that dares to claim the right of conquest on the galaxy. I wanted to watch as the Wussari were slowly freed by the enlightenment of The Untold. I was a fool.

    Everyone is talking about how there no longer can be any war against the GER, they are so much weaker than us now. The stories we are told about the "light" slavery in this empire are highly understated, it is far from "light". Make no mistake, it is sickening to see how the Wussari are treated here, executed because they can't keep up with their work load, which I remind the reader is immense, or because they "disrespect" their master repeatedly. These Gulk make such a big deal because they have to be provided a written warning first and can't do anything they want with them. That said, I have heard many stories of the horrors of Wussari slavery before Empress Yndana, referred to here as Glorious Leader Yndana much of the time, and it is truly unspeakable. Things have improved, but any Cynn in their right mind would still be sickened by what hey see here, and my empathy for them is frowned on wherever I go. Any act of kindness I show them I have to do in secret, or rationalize how I am helping them work harder. I used to have more patience for this, but today I just can't hold back the disgust, outrage, and sorrow I feel for how little and how slow these reforms are, and how Wussari slavery is still far more awful than we have been lead to believe at home. It is a far cry from how we treat our indentured servants to which they are frequently compared.

    But my outlook on the Wussari is not the only thing that isolates me. Today I finally vomited at a mock raid. I love my comrades, I really do, don't get me wrong. Their concern for their family is truly touching, and despite their reputation for cruelty, they are capable of great kindness towards those they care about. But the things they plan on doing to the Erissu civilians, even the hatchlings, should a war ever come is something I don't want to think about, but I record this because when my tour of duty is up the Cynn need to be aware of. Some of these things are things our society has never explicitly outlawed as war crimes because we have no record of any soldier ever doing, they would simply be considered criminal acts on the level of Bluurette the Demon in our early history. I am told outright by those that don't know me that I "lack the heart of a warrior" because I refuse to do these things, but my whole company knows of my prowess in the simulations. They can't seem to convince others of it though.

    The Gulk-Furki are not this completely different species that everyone seems to imagine the Yndana Reforms made them. But their faith in The Untold is truly remarkable, it mirrors our own quite closely. You really see a different side of the Gulk-Furki when you bring it up. A pious side, a gentle side, and sometimes I even think they expose their very vulnerability in it, something which they never otherwise do. They get pretty defensive if challenged, I want to make that clear. But today I went to the temple with them. It is an experience like nothing else. Gulk' that have tried to murder each other in the past putting aside their differences and showing support, and the Wussari are talked much more highly of than anywhere else in this twisted society. You want to believe they are entirely different, but they are not. But their faith makes me think there is hope for this people yet.
    20190507223709_1.jpg

    By 2291, the war between the GER and their outersouthern neighbors, the United Dyss Alliance, and continued development of Gulk-Furki naval power had so weakened the Entente's position that they were no longer able to be taken seriously as rivals of the Gulk'. Cognat II followed up with a diplomatic meeting with the FDS, who were so impressed not only by their advancements, but also by their willingness to rival the Ugarlak instead that the meeting was immediately followed up by a formal initiation of the Gulk-Furki into the Propitious Pact. The diplomatic objective that had been so sought after since the days of Glorious Leader Darmug had finally been achieved! The position of the GFII went from the 13th most powerful space empire to the 4th, with only the UEB, FDS, and the Zaacplot being more prestigious by 2292. The Gulk' were ascendant in the galaxy, as they had long dreamed. But the dream, though closer, was not achieved yet. The Gulk' still yearned for undisputed dominance.
    20190507225805_1.jpg 20190507230210_1.jpg 20190507230257_1.jpg 20190507230421_1.jpg


    Map of the Gulk-Furki known galaxy, 2289:
    2289_map.png
     
    Last edited:
    2292-2300: The Growth Continues
  • starkwolf

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    As the power of the Gulk-Furki Empire grew from the 5th to the 4th most prestigious space empire in the galaxy, so too did the interest of other factions in the Gulk-Furki as a people. They would be visited from Sinrath from the Sinrath Polity and Zaacplot, who despite their disgust with the cruelty of Gulk' culture, found themselves immensely curious how their technology grew so fast.

    With the experimental subspace navigation in place, surveys in the Joinum, Himpra, and Rasalhague systems discovered habitable planets in all three systems. The problem, however, was that colony ships could not yet be equipped with these systems. Without access to subspace navigation, a colony ship would have to travel for almost a year through GER space. Still, Timaphon would not give up hope, and he continued to dream of what it must have been like during the reign of The Glorious Leader Darmug, when space must have seemed so empty. By force or by discovery, he hoped during his reign that he would get the chance to expand yet.

    In 2292, the war between the UDA and the Akkur Entente came to an end, with the United Dyss Alliance taking the Barban and Owlecryke systems. The defeat was a huge humiliation for the Entente as they quickly found themselves the laughing stock of the galaxy, claiming much but having little to take it with.

    Rapalkin's Armada had a new leader in 2292 as Khebba, named after the famous Admiral Khebb, took leadership of this new force, with the intention for the almost developed "cruiser" ship type to be added when ready.

    Also during this time, Governer Karb who had ruled Obaeshoth Prime for so long died at the ripe old age of 111. His replacement was Governor Hannakona, a promising governor with a long study in architecture, who looked forward to being directly involved in improving the designs of the buildings of Obaeshoth Prime for maximum value.

    After very unflattering reports started to crop up by alien visitors to Gul, a diplomatic solution seemed difficult. However, Sociologist Thalotha proposed a solution: she started the development of a specialized drug that could influence the perceptions of those it was used on. By requiring all visitors to Gul to take this drug, the Gulk' could influence outward perception of themselves indirectly such that they would not suffer diplomatically from either permitting unflattering information to be spread, nor by cancelling the migration agreements.

    A certain Cynn soldier had greatly strained relations between the Cynn and the Gulk-Furki with his expose. Empress Cognat II called the council together to discuss options.

    A small, dark colored Gulk' spoke up. "I have devised a screening to limit which species can enter. Certain answers to some of these questions will disqualify an applicant from entering at all, and on other questions they need to score at least 95%. We can say that this is so that they demonstrate an adequete understanding of our culture." But the room was not impressed, especially the Empress.

    "Lars, even if we had implemented that earlier it would have aroused suspicion" the Empress spoke up. "Now it is simply too late. Any other ideas?"

    The room remained silent for a while. Closing the borders would be taken as weakness now, and restricting immigration would probably not be much better. It was then that Head Sociologist Timaphona spoke up.

    "On my break time, I have been experimenting with a new substance that alters one's perceptions and creates a sense of bliss. If administration could make sure that all newcomers are injected with it, their reports back home would consistently be euphoric in tone. However, I haven't begun researching this seriously yet, but with my previous major project completed I could begin research on your orders, Empress."

    The Empress nodded. "I will work with administration on this, likely we could disguise it as an inoculation, I want a list of what would be believable that we are inoculating them against as soon as possible. If at all possible, make sure it works for Gulk' as well. Brainwashing dissidents is always more effective than allowing them to be taken for martyrs. If the commander defects, the soldiers will follow. And for those that don't, they can get a dose too. We have a lot of different species to consider, are you sure you can make it effective for all of them?"

    "With only one drug, it is virtually impossible, the neurology of Cynn, Zaacplot, and Glyrran have only the basics in common, let alone Gulk'. However, I could certainly create different drugs for each. Gulk' will be ready first, and Cynn should be ready soon after. The others, however, may take quite a bit of time."

    "Develop the drug for the Cynn first. We need their people on our side. When can you have this ready by?"

    "My Empress, it hasn't yet begun in earnest. You will still need an interim solution while I get this ready, a year at least for even the Gulk'. That is, of course, if consistency is a priority. If I am allowed to create a potency that will kill some while putting the others in an ignorant, blissful stupor, I can shave months off the time it will take for that to be ready."

    The Empress nodded. "It is a good starting point, work down from there. Defectors are always preferred over martyrs, so when it is completed I want you to continue to refine the formula. But a dead leader can't speak, so we'll take that when we can. Deprived of their skillset, the rest will be more prone to mistakes."

    Timphona then requested and received permission to be excused to begin her work while the rest of the council continued to consider ways of quieting the increasing dissidence.

    The drugs would be labeled the X series. X-1 would be for Cynn, X-2 would be for Gulk', X-3 for Zaacplot, all the way to X-33, designed for humans. These were in order of development.

    It was quickly discovered that the problem with Empress Yndana's order was that there were very few Cynn still living on Gul. Those that were had since become respected members of the army, and only from direct pressure from the Empress would they be ordered to participate in testing. When updated on the situation, the Empress rescinded her order that a more potent formula was to be tested first, due to the limited number of test subjects and the value of these immigrant troops to the army. With painstaking caution, Timaphona tested each iteration of drug X-1 on the Cynn, acting under orders. Unfortunately, with her very first test the judgement of the Cynn was not sufficiently impaired, and the first subject immediately recognized what the test was for. This presented a problem: he was a fine soldier and an asset to the army. However, the possibility that he could reveal the true purpose of these tests to his government made him a liability. "At least human soldiers can usually be counted on to be discreet. Cynn are such tattle tales." Timaphona thought to herself. After contacting her Empress, she was ordered to refer him to the diplomatic core.

    The next test managed to impair judgement, but rather than euphoria, it caused exquisite pain, since the neurological pathways in Cynn for pain and pleasure were so closely related, and the hormone was almost the same. This problem would repeat itself over and over. It would be a long road until the drug would be ready, much longer than her initial predictions.

    In 2295, Limithar took control of Khebb's Armada. He proved himself to be a valuable commander. The cost of the large fleet was placing a heavy burden on the treasury, and through regular maintenance and close record keeping, Limithar proved himself capable of greatly reducing financial waste. He took control during a time when the influence of the admiralty in the poltical system was skyrocketing, as the legend of Admiral Ketrilla was as inspiring as ever.

    One year later, the Glyrran Sovereignty issued a vote to end the Ugarlak threat once and for all. This met with unanimous agreement from the other members of the Federation. The Federation found itself at war with the Ugarlak once again, this time with the Gulk-Furki Interplanetary Imperium fighting as a member. But despite their technological advances, only prototypes were ready and not yet reliable. The war would have to be fought without access to this new technology, only ready for service 3 months after the war began. But Khebb would not see combat in this war, he died at the age of 94. His replacement would be Rhethan, a young admiral whose by-the-book demeanor was both his greatest asset, and his greatest weakness.

    Author's notes: I know this chapter was a little short, but don't worry, next one will provide plenty of reading, and more developments on the welfare of the Wussari await!
     
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    2300-2310: War & Chaos
  • starkwolf

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    The years of 2300 to 2310 are known as "The explosive decade."

    In the year 2303, The GFII reached its highest heights of prestige it would see for a long time, surpassing even the SDK to become widely considered the 4th strongest empire in the galaxy, and the 3rd place position held by the UEB did not seem far away. At this early point in the decade, things were looking up for the Gulk-Furki. Timaphona's "Subdermal Stimulation" project had been completed at the beginning of the decade, and the largely realistic excitement was expounded upon by an overwhelming euphoria among the populace, with dissidents reforming their positions in record numbers, ostensibly due to the incredible circumstances.

    Not only was empire expanding as a whole, but so were the borders of relevant diplomacy. With the TAHM and GER no longer a credible threat to the Gulk-Furki alone, let alone the entire federation, the Imperium decided to revoke its rivalry with both on the basis of "irrelevance" and declare rivalry with the Regime of Tir Batna, RTB, that had been growing increasingly arrogant in diplomatic meetings and were already major rivals of the Zaacplot. This rivalry greatly satisfied the populace who grew tired of their ridicule of all things spiritual, and further enhanced relations with their fellow federation members, the Zaacplot.

    But while relations within the Federation continued to improve, deteriorating relations with the Cynn were not slowed by the Subdermal Stimulation Project. One of the early test subjects revealed the plan to their government. In response, the Cynn cancelled their migration treaty.

    In 2302, Khebb's Armada, led by Admiral Limathar, finally engaged in combat against the Ugarlak Horde after over a year of space travel. They were seen as latecomers to the war, since the rest of the federation had been actively engaged with them for years due to their closer proximity. Limathar responded with great excitement and surprised, fully expecting that his orders to participate in the war were diplomatic and that by the time his fleet reached the front lines the war would be over. But as a distant war and with no combat experience due to the many years of peace the Gulk-Furki had known, Limathar quickly found that even though his logistical skills were keen, his combat skills were behind the likes of Ugarlak admirals like den Harak and den Rothorag.

    Khebb's Armada would first see action against the Avaconea station, uncontested by any enemy fleets. He would then move into the Calam system, where he began the bombardment of the Ugarlak planet of Nagrama, administered by the uncharacteristically just Govener Modrig. Shortly after the bombardment began, the enemy's 1st task force under Admiral den Harak would enter the system in an attempt to take control of the system. Although a more experienced admiral, den Harak's forces fielded only a single destroyer and 8 escorting corvettes. Despite his lack of experience, Limathar was able to drive him away due to his fleet of 9 destroyers and 18 escorting corvettes. den Harak was forced to retreat due to high damage and the loss of a corvette. Although it was a victory for Limathar, the battle exposed the weakness of his fleet's gunnery, averaging a 54% hitrate and a mere 7% evasion. Although by galactic standards den Harak's fleet was average, they managed a recorded hitrate of 76% against Limathar an 22% evasion.

    Task Force Utaris would be the next to try and force Limathar away from the planet under Admiral den Rothorag. His fleet of 7 destroyers and superior combat experience may have been a real threat to Limathar, but the destroyers were let down by a small screening force of only 9 corvettes providing escort. The Ugarlak destroyers UHE Wimdur and UHE Wimdraggion both took severe damage, among others. But despite the superior screening forces available to Admiral Limathar, both sides would lose 3 corvettes and it would cost Khebb's Armada one of their destroyers further. Although den Rothorag had been driven off, the losses suffered by Khebb's Armada under Limithar were unsustainable while enemy losses could be easily replaced, thus it could be considered at best a pyrrhic victory.

    Task Force Boska would attempt to slip past the system without engagement with a skeleton crew and an under-ranked commander, but its 6 corvettes were intercepted and 3 lost, but at the cost of a single corvette by Limathar. Failing to destroy a force so small without taking losses, serious accusations of incompetence were being leveled at Admiral Limathar. If he wished to return home, his command would have to improve, and soon.

    In 2306, the 1st task force again tried to break the bombardment of Nagrama, all losses had been replaced, but only a single extra corvette could be added to the screening force. Once again, den Harak had been driven off, but Limathar's maneuvers varied little from their previous engagement, and den Harak managed to destroy 4 of Limathar's corvettes before retreating. Had it not been such a distant war, Limathar would have been court marshaled and replaced well before this point, but with distance came security, and no replacement could be sent that would arrive at a reasonable time.

    Limathar's big break would come in the battle for the Occidan System where, at the cost of a single corvette, he aggressively pursued Task Force Utaris and destroyed one of their destroyers, the UHE Hethenion. Although this did not make him a celebrated commander, he was at least considered to have partially redeemed himself against a superior commander. He would then continue on to take the Nokkam System.

    In the Avaonea System, for the first time since the war began, it was Limathar that would find himself outgunned, with the Ugarlak fielding 5 destroyers and a cruiser in Task Force Kampus. Despite intense fighting, Limathar managed to drive off den Rothorag, trading two corvettes each.

    The long war and an uprising on Obaeshoth Prime was taking its toll on the Imperium's galactic standings, by 2310 it had fallen to 6th in estimated power and was continuing to fall. The Glyrrans, whom had proposed the war long ago with unanimous approval from the other members of the federation, agreed in 2310 to a white peace.

    But while the war was over, Obaeshoth Prime itself had been transformed into a warzone. In 2307, a large clandestine meeting of Wussari during the night had been discovered by a night patrol guard that fired into the crowd, killing one Wussari and wounding three to five others, with sources conflicting. Though it was only confirmed decades later, already it was strongly believed that the Wussari must have been meeting like this for months without detection. The Wussari crowd charged the lone guard and mauled him brutally, leaving him dead in the streets but only after he had called for backup. Some previously uninvolved Wussari would join the uprising, while others would collaborate with their masters. The Wussari crowd stormed the armory, arming themselves, and began taking out their vengeance, vandalizing homes and killing Gulk' wherever they were to be found, reserving special torment for any collaborators they got a hold of. Governess Hannakonna responded by declaring martial law. Any Wussari not within their shacks were to be shot on sight. As a result, the production of Obaeshoth Prime went into a freefall, and the Imperial economy was hit hard. For year after year, Gulk' lived in fear of their Wussari servants, and Wussari in fear of everyone around them, Gulk' and Wussari alike. Cynn soldiers unanimously refused to carry out orders to put down the rebellion, but were given only minor punishments due to their elevated status within the army and excused on the basis of cultural differences. Cynn medics were, however, permitted to treat Wussari and Gulk victims of the violence, but Wussari that had participated in the uprising would consistently refuse treatment, preferring to kill themselves rather than be sent to the processing facility on Gul. Violence would continue in bursts for many years to come despite the martial law order.

    In the back of an abandoned Gulk' factory, a number of cloaked figures stood around a fire, whining and speaking softly. Eyes turned as the largest of these hooded figures in the night spoke up. "Comrades, it is true that we have lost parents to horrific conditions, and young ones have been thrown out when they are inconvenient for our masters, I am disturbed by some of the suggestions I hear floating around this room. We must not let our experiences turn our hearts to stone. When the revolution comes, we must spare the innocent and the reformable from among the Gulk-Furki. If we kill their children, how can we then expect to live among them if the revolution succeeds? It will not be enough then to be their equals, which we will have to fight long and hard for, but they will have to be our slaves. This the Gulk' will never accept, and our glorious revolution will instead be a brutal genocide. If we do not make allies from among them, how do we expect to gather intelligence? They have always been in a position to observe us better than we can observe them. They know much about us, from what they are willing to learn, and we know only what they let us see of them. If we do not work gradually to convert from among them, we may yet win due to our solidarity and their petty divisiveness, but how then can either party find healing? They need only know the value of righteousness itself, then the justice of our cause will have meaning to them. Worst of all, some among you have spoken of outrageous casualties among our own kind, and acts of an apocalyptic nature. What value is the revolution if there is nobody left to free? Look what gains we have already made since Yndana's reforms! I have learned how to study the real history of the empire, an taught many of you. Our lives may be wretched now, but we have come a long way. Guardian, your master was punished for "excessive use of force," against your son. Soldier, yours was executed when he attempted to have you executed without going through the appropriate channels. Song, your master wouldn't have been allowed to let you compose for your keep before the Yndana reforms, we all would have been restricted to heavy labor and being test subjects. We must learn from this and use these subtle means to speed the process until all forces are in position for a bloodless coup."
    He bowed his head towards another hooded figure who then stepped up.

    "Great mentor, your ideas sound appealing on the surface, but your optimism is woefully misplaced. None of us were alive before the Yndana reforms, you can't presume to imagine what it would have been like. Empress Yndana herself had slaves. In all likelihood all she cared about was finding new ways to eliminate her rivals. You think we have improved? If this is improvement, we'll all be dead before we feel any different, and there won't be much difference for our children. And if our plans are uncovered? Nothing!" The hooded figured realized he was letting his voice get a bit loud, so he calmed down before continuing. "You are a dreamer, Great Mentor. Your intentions are noble, but your dream of a bloodless coup is simply impossible. The loss of our own kind is inevitable, and frankly they will likely embrace death. Who here wouldn't? They hold our kind close to them, but under guard at all times. If we avoid killing them in the crossfire, their masters sure won't care. And how are we supposed to hurt their bottom line if they have workers in the factories at all times? How do you suggest we force them to negotiate if they don't notice anything different except that they had to kill a few of us? How is that any different than what they already do? Only the threat of complete annihilation will win us our freedom."

    The large hooded figure stepped up again. "You pose challenges without responding to mine, Snarl. What good is your threat of utter annihilation if we are forced to make good on it? We are all angry, and for good reason. But in the name of Yndana don't turn this into futile vengeance when freedom can be accomplished with patience. Now is not the time. The Cynn are already sympathetic to our plight, as are other offworlders. Would you jeopardize their support for revenge?"

    Snarl stepped up again. "I regret that you see my strategy as anything other than pragmatism, Great Mentor. If you would have paid-"

    Snarl had just barely started speaking the words when the door flew open and a lone, young Gulk enforcer opened fire on the group, wounding many and killing a few on the spot, including Song and Great Mentor. Some say that Song was a decendant of Yndana's friend Marna, some that Great Mentor was. Still, others claim this to all be baseless legend since their breeding records were lost during the uprising. But in a fury of desperation, determination, and rage, the crowd after initially taking cover swarmed and beat the Gulk' to death, with Soldier taking his weapon. But more Gulk were on their way. Soldier directed the horde to overwhelm the armory, while he would go in the opposite direction and keep them busy with whatever suppressive fire he could get from his weapon. Although killed, his plan went as intended. The guards were overwhelmed, and soon each of the formenters of the plan was now armed with more weapons than they could use. As the night guards returned to the armory, having mistaken bystanders for the mob, their guard was down as Snarl and the others opened fire, not a single Gulk' survived. Snarl ordered part of the group to raid the less protected farms, while the others would collect other followers, gambling that the raid would attract the attention of the full force of Gulk' military and they would get their provisions from the palace instead of the armory and so left a very small force to guard it.

    But now the tide would turn, and his plan backfired massively. The full force of the Gulk' Military was gradually being brought to bear, and the armory would be targetted first. Though they managed to inflict significant casualties against the oncoming Gulk', most were merely wounded as they had to switch targets frequently. None of the Wussari defenders survived and the armory was retaken. The recruitment did not go well either. Most fled, thinking them hooligans. Many ran straight to their masters to protect them in the hopes they would not be associated with the uprising that had yet to show any real promise. But as infliltrators would take on the guise of loyal slaves, only to stab the Gulk', word spread and masters became more distrustful, ordering mass killings of their slaves. While this also produced insurrections, most fled and hid in the caverns, and the additional insurrections produced were not coordinated with the main group and quickly fizzled out. When the raiders returned from the farms, they were themselves ambushed at the armory, a place that had become filled with the scent of death, blood, and the horrible screams of the wounded. The raiders took aim at those providing medical aid to the Gulk', but when they were under attack the Cynn quickly moved to triage and aid the Wussari that were getting hit, charging into the crossfire and taking their patients to cover, some getting wounded or killed in the process. But when Snarl arrived, his forces showed no mercy to any Cynn seen giving aid to a Gulk'. Although this produced a rift, Snarl had been accepted unofficially as their leader. By the end of the night, the rebels were now exposed and slightly fewer in number than they had been initially, new recruits not quite making up for losses. But though the counterattack had failed, they were able to get a very large quantity of explosives from it.
    It was another early morning for Gu-Ra, although he didn't have to go to work right away, he would have rather done so due to the very unpleasant medical exam. Everyone was on edge since the uprising that night, including the examiner. As we walked under armed guard to his workplace at the factory, a massive explosion completely shattered the building, shrapnel narrowly missing him and killing the guards and his ears positively deafened by the noise, the wind knocked out of him as the shockwave knocked the breath out of him. For over a minute, he struggled to regain his bearings on what happened. When he realized, he ran desparately to the factory where his kin worked. Nothing remained. In the distance, he noticed a shadowy figure. While Gu-Ra had been regaining his bearings, this shadowy figure had been inspecting his handiwork roughly. Coldly commenting, apparently to a superior, Gu Ra could just barely make out the words of this figure: "Factory destroyed, no survivors.... Yes?.... Roger, moving to next target." Gu-Ra was filled with rage. Every friend, every family member. Everyone he knew and loved, his entire world taken out in a flash. And this figure he could barely make out or hear callously moving on to do this to some other place. In a mad rage he charged at the figure, tears streaming down his face from pain physical and emotional. The figure was walking away, but as he got closer he could see the figure was also Wussari. Though startled, it only made him more angry. As he got closer the wussari turned around and in a panic fired, wounding Gu-Ra. But Gu-Ra didn't notice at this point, he had become a rage-fueled madman. In the physical struggle that ensued the other wussari had struck him near where his hit had landed from the weapon, and Gu-Ra's stomach burst open. "Roger control... Yes?... Oh that, just attacked by a collaborator. The target has been destroyed... you are breaking up, my injuries?... Some, but nothing I can't handle. The mission continues as planned."

    As the day progressed, attacks on farms and factories were having a clear effect. While they hunted the dangerous fauna, the little that still remained, the Gulk' struggled much more in the ensuing famine. Previously they had exported food, and overnight were forced to import it. Production ground to a halt, and the planet was in a state of martial law. Although this was how it had started, the revolt would continue for many years, taking countless more lives. Snarl would eventually be killed, but his successor's tactics would all be heavily inspired by Snarl, while Great Mentor would remain an inspiration to the spirit of uprising and no mention was ever made of his differences with Snarl. Although Snarl's real name would never be known, later historians discovered the name of Song was Vi-Ma, and Great Mentorto be Ba-Ri. Although no single great act was ever recorded by Song, it is said that in the times before the revolt she kept hopes up. Now, there was only brutality, this time for all.
     
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    The Aftermath
  • starkwolf

    Second Lieutenant
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    As rebellion ripped through Obaeshoth Prime, new revolts popped up not only in Gul, but across the galaxy. Tensions between spiritualists and materialists, individualists and collectivists, and all the various groups would find themselves sucked into the Great Revolt, forming a coalition with one side or the other. Any that wished to remain neutral found it no longer possible as a great war of populace against government, government versus government, and government versus itself tore the galaxy apart, many governments already been weakened by the war against the Ugarlek, the Ugarlek themselves nearly capitulating from internal strife as the populace started to cannibalize itself. Agents of the Cynn government, long believed to be an honorable people, were caught in actions previously unthinkable for them as they funded and manipulated the rebellion across the galaxy to enhance their own prestige, a plan that backfired greatly.

    Almost simultaneously, it was discovered that the subdermal stimulant variant for humans harmed the immune system of many of them far more than expected due to the diverse genetic makeup of the population. A virus spread with great speed through the population, and became the first virus to mutate into a form that could infect every species in the galaxy. Although the exact cost of the virus is both controversial and the plague is ongoing, none doubt that the social impact has been immense, adding on to the costs of the rebellion.


    As for the rebellion, the outcome is still not decided, and many have questioned its methods, as well as what its end goal must be. Those thought to be unshakable have been shaken, and all that is known has been irreversibly transformed. Is it worth it? Only you, the reader, can decide that for yourself.
     
    Author's notes and commentary
  • starkwolf

    Second Lieutenant
    39 Badges
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    • Steel Division: Normandy 44
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    • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
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    Wow, that was a long journey. Thank you, those of you that have stayed with me. I apologize that it has taken so long, but the burnout was intense. After the burnout came certain events that I am both honored and disturbed mirrored my AAR so closely. I suppose the saying goes that history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Well, the chord was eerie enough to spook me. I wish everyone the utmost safety and healing in these trying times.


    At this point I consider my AAR complete, albeit much like my inspiration, B5, the ending was a bit jarred by unexpected events. I hope my AAR can have a real impact, and feel free to post comments and questions at any time. I will be editing this post as I think of things to add.

    As I think I mentioned earlier, much of the structure is inspired by Babylon 5.

    The Gulk-Furki themselves are heavily inspired by the Nausicans and Orion Syndicate from Star Trek, with a fair dose of my own ideas thrown into the mix.

    I would like to go over my inspiration for various species and characters here. My inspiration for Emperor Darmug was actually based fairly heavily on Ghengis Khan, but as this is a work of fiction I used a combination of his mythos and historical reality, as well as a dash of personality characteristics that I felt would just make the story more interesting as they came up. Though at points, I felt perhaps he was behaving a bit more like Joseph Stalin. But, I played fast an loose with it.


    With Empress Yndana, I noticed she had the trait currently called "Eye for talent" (that has to have been renamed, I was sure it was called something else in the version I played?). As I started to think about what insights would come to her, being empathetic stood out, and I could quickly see how she could make a very effective foil in many regards to her father. Things came pretty naturally after that, but I did want to balance that with her being a strong leader and an engaging character.

    The GER fell very easily into the tropes of Cardassians and Klingons, kindof alternating elements of each as it seemed most appropriate.
     
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