Aurora - Dwarf Fortress In Space

Yes! I can never get too much DF-Scifi crossover erotica fanfiction!

The Professor’s work had unlocked an entirely new level of physics, with implications for all facets of Dwarven life. For now the possibility of building powerful weapons and speedy spaceships was ignored in favor of the possible changes at Dolomite. To a Dwarven mind the most important of these were the changes to Dolomite’s mining landscape. Now steel, rock, lumber, and even Adamantium were relegated to the civilian sector, the hobbyist miner, the training minor miner, and other tertiary markets. Taking their place were several new minerals. Some of which were known but unimportant prior to the discovery of the new refining techniques and applications, others were unknown until their theoretical existence was established and new surveys taken deep within Dolomite’s core confirmed their existence.

An enormous drive took place to overhaul the conventional industry into more advanced mining infrastructure that could tap into these newly located deposits. At the same time factories were overhauled with new advanced technology to bring their productivity into the Trans-Newtonian era. In anticipation for a future where these materials could be used to build more advanced spacecraft to conquer the stars the Dwarves existing orbital infrastructure was being standardized and enlarged. Lastly the universities and research labs across the globe dedicated themselves to further exploring the physics which the Professor had opened to them.

Over the course of 15 years Dolomite was forged anew. The outdated manufacturing and refining sectors of the “Modern Age” had been completely renovated and improved further still with new advances brought about by the greatly increased number of research institutions located on Dolomite.

Most Dwarves interests were firmly tied to the ground and below it, because of that no large interplanetary ships had yet been designed. However there were enough forward thinkers that research into spaceship components and theory had taken place. In addition several large shipyards had been constructed, both for possible future uses, and also to satiate the Dwarven lust for engineering on a massive scale. Currently there were three military shipyards and three enormous Commercial Shipyards that did not have the precision required for putting together the weapons and sensors needed for military craft. The naval yards could each build spacecraft of 8000 tons, and the civilian yards could build vessels ten times that size. The yards had from 3-6 slipways available for construction.

Regardless of natural inclinations, the Dwarves were soon forced to look to the stars by that most ancient issue that had befallen all Dwarven civilizations. They were starting to run out of things to mind.

Dolomite had fairly small amounts of many of the Trans-Newtonian materials, but Mercassium and Corrundium were by far the most important. Mercassium was critically important in the production of research facilities, and Corrundium was used in the production of mines. The way of the Dwarves is to mine in order to find the materials needed to mine some more, they would need more Corrundium.

The shortages had not reached a critical level, but already factories were standing silent because the mines were not able to feed them fast enough. The Dwarves would have to spread out throughout the solar system and dig out its riches.

The 3000 ton Rhesus was designed to scan the planetary bodies of the solar system. Though it was a commercial vessel it was small enough to be completed in one of the smaller military yards, which finally came to life and produced four of them. Over the next couple years these ships carried out initial surveys of the entire system, including the two comets that were 15 and 20 billion kilometers out from the system center (another two comets had shorter apogees and were within Saturn’s orbit at the time.

Unfortunately the survey results were fairly disappointing. Only three system bodies had significant (>500) amounts of Corrundium, an Asteroid and (of course) the two comets on the outer edge of the solar system; all in all there was only around 25 kilotons of Corrundium off planet, which was incredibly worrying. Mercassium was in far better supply, several hundred thousand tons was available at Mercury and several asteroids had their own large deposits.

The survey results were also disappointing for other reasons. Mercury was the only planetary body to have large deposits of several minerals. A few of the larger moons in Jupiter and Saturn also had a few deposits, but other than those examples none of the bodies with terraforming potential in the Solar System also had mining opportunities. Note, instead of the default gravity tolerance of .8, I chose a gravity tolerance of .85. Doing this opens up Luna as a terraforming candidate, which was my goal. It also adds one or two other moons to the list as well, although you can’t really get them hot enough for perfect livability anyways. Also note that recent releases brought in the ability to genetically modify a subsection of your population to have different environmental tolerances, and the last release brought in orbital habitation stations, so there are more terraforming options than a few revisions ago.

In order to collect these deposits work began on Dolomite to refit mining complexes into automated versions that could harvest resources in inhospitable environments. It was hardly a perfect solution of course, the machines would take no pleasure in their work, would not appreciate the beauty of the tunnels they delved and the valuables they uncovered, but it was necessary. Mule class freighters were designed and built in order to shuttle the Automated Mines to their destination.

In the meantime a preferable solution was devised. Ships could be outfitted with large Asteroid Mining Modules in order to process minerals from the ore of smaller bodies. This was not as hands on and direct a task as normal mining was, however it still allowed the heart and skill of the crew and commander to direct the mining, improving the results as only a Dwarf could. These mining modules also had the benefit of costing the same amount as normal mines, which were half as expensive as automated mines. Unfortunately the ships only operated in zero gravity, automated mines would still be necessary to harvest inhospitable planets and moons.

The Pickaxe class lovingly named in tribute of the tool that all Dwarves mined with in the ancient past. It was an immense ship, it carried 12 asteroid mining modules and clocked in at 90 kilotons it strained the capabilities of the largest shipyard available. Work immediately stopped on refitting existing mines, leaving only 20 operating; instead all Corrundium was used to build thirty Pickaxes in batches of six. During production Dolomite finally ran dry of all Corrundium deposits, however new Corrundium was sent to the planet as the enormous fleet of 360 orbital mining modules strip-mined asteroids and comets alike.

I know that this has been a pretty boring Let’s Play so far, unfortunately for all of you I am a really big turtler in games like this. I have no way of knowing what may be on the other side of the (still undiscovered) jump points, so I am quite content to stick around in Sol for decades and decades.

I’m trying to gloss over the boring stuff pretty fast, that last post was about 30 years of gameplay, so hopefully we’ll get through the next 35 boring years until the plot thickens soon.

While the shipyards began churning out Pickaxe mining vessels my idle surface factories returned to production as well. Work on Research Labs continued as fast as the Mercassium came in, but the other labs were devoted to Mass Drivers, Commercial Spaceports*, Infrastructure, and, most importantly, Terraforming factories.
*(Not Commercial Shipyards, which are player-controlled and build ships that are player-controlled, spaceports have some sort of effect on civilian industry. The exact relationship isn’t specified, but I gather they are related to the amount of money civilian shipping lines make, as well as how often civilian shipping lines can buy ships, as well as how frequently civilian mining outposts are generated.)

Even though there were few useful minerals on Mars the decision was made to terraform there first. It was currently the second most habitable body in the solar system, and because of that it would be relatively easy to terraform. Once Mars was made livable terraforming efforts would move to Mercury, which would hopefully be developed into a bustling mining colony.

A small fleet of freighters was constructed to facilitate this period of interplanetary development. Their main job was to ferry Infrastructure and Terraforming Installations to Mars constantly, although a few of them were occasionally called off to move Mass Drivers around the system. When the massive Pickaxe fleet arrived on an Asteroid and starting churning out refined Ores a group of Mules would carry a Mass Driver (or five, the pickaxes work super fast) and drop them off at the asteroid or comet in question. They would then return to their normal duties until the asteroid was depleted and the excess minerals had been sent to Dolomite, at which time they would be dispatched to move the Mass Drivers to their next post. In general the Mass Drivers could not keep up with the Pickaxes work, which had the mildly humorous effect of the Pickaxes leaving behind a string of mined out bodies that still had Mass Drivers struggling to send on their massive pile of stockpiled goods.

Fast forward several years and there were 70 Terraforming Installations on Mars, however only a fraction of those could be run by the small populace. The government fleet of Wagon cryogenic transports stood idle in Dolomite’s orbit as the civilian transports alone were shipping population to Mars faster than the civilian and government freighters could ship infrastructure. The short term solution would have been to increase the number of Mules in service that could transport Infrastructure to Mars.

However, the Dwarven government hoped that those sorts of shipping requirements would soon be handled entirely by the burgeoning civilian space lines. Indeed a lot of resources--in the form of the large commercial spaceport complexes on Dolomite and the massive subsidies paid out to the three existing shipping lines--were going into ensuring this would happen. Instead the Brewer class was designed; at 147ktons these ships dwarfed even the Pickaxes. These ships each housed five autonomous terraforming modules. They would enter into a very low orbit around a planet and begin terraforming without any support from the ground. It took a year for two of the Commercial Shipyards to retool for the new design; actually building them would take even longer.

In mineral news Dolomite finally suffered from a Mercassium shortage again. This hadn't been a problem since shortly after the Dwarves turned their eyes to space. The mineral income had grown dramatically, there were now almost 30 civilian mining colonies scattered around the system. Additionally, the Dwarven production had been focused on a wide variety of projects that required a diverse range of resources. However with large Naval Academies, suitable financial growth, and a switch to ship-borne terraforming modules more and more ground factories were being transferred over to research lab production. What's more the Pickaxe fleet--which was capable of more mining than all of the civilian stations put together--was currently on its way to a distant comet with sizable Duranium, Corrundium, and Sorium deposits, but no Mercassium. Since the 30th Pickaxe was completed so long ago the Dwarves had been stockpiling their precious Corrundium for just such a situation. Most of the remainder was earmarked for the production of 250 Automated Mines, which would finally begin the Dwarven exploitation of Mercury.

When the first eight Brewers rolled off the line they were sent to Mercury rather than Mars. The worker shortage at Mars was stabilizing as both the population grew and the Colony Cost shrank, leaving more people available to perform useful labor rather than basic maintenance. Also the recent mineral shortage had underscored how important it was to quickly increase mining income. Recent surveys showed that Dolomite would completely run out of Trans-Newtonian mineral deposits in little more than a decade. By that time Mercury would need to have the capability to fully staff Dolomite's 1000 Mines.

After a few years Mars reached a breathable, warm atmosphere and the population could finally leave their cramped accommodations for the clear (now blue) sky. It still wasn't the ideal habitat that Dolomite provided, however. The atmospheric pressure was less than ideal, and the temperature wasn't quite right. As the terraforming fleet in lower Mercurian orbit had the situation well in hand, the 70 terraforming installations remained at Mars until an ideal atmosphere could be achieved. Once you get to zero Colony Cost your citizens are perfectly happy and productive. Continuing to work towards the “ideal” conditions has no in game benefit, it’s just fluff, with one exception. Right now (although it looks like it will change eventually) most of the point defense weapons (not Mesons) degrade in atmosphere. The degradation scales linearly up to an atmospheric pressure of 1 atm, at which point space weapons which fire at the planet will cease to penetrate the atmosphere. Because of that there is a very tangible benefit to getting all your colonies to at least that atmospheric pressure.

Once Mars was livable the shipping industry began the long process of transferring the Martian infrastructure to Mercury, while the government transports went back to work transferring population to Mars full time. Though the Martian population exploded rapidly it was decided that transferring Trans-Newtonian industry to Mars was not a priority with the Dwarves’ limited shipping capacity, instead Mars rapidly became a center of civilian industry, in the coming decades more rock and bone carvers would call Mars their home than Dolomite.
It had become evident that the spread of Dwarves and the lesser species of Dolomite throughout the solar system was going to progress very rapidly, in order to continue expanding the Dwarves would have to spread throughout the stars. It had long been known that The Professor’s work theoretically allowed for the possibility of faster than light travel. The propulsive genius Bjarnhof Balsison had long lobbied for the funds to fully explore this possibility, but he had always been diverted to other projects. Now he was given free reign to research the matter.

Work proceeded quickly, as this theoretical work was much less difficult than the increasingly arduous refinements on advanced Dwarven technology. Soon Bjarnhof Balsison was able to verify that wormholes should exist between star systems, and that it should be feasible to safely transit them. New research into mapping out these wormholes and transiting them was immediately mandated.

Once the first accomplishments along these paths were taken a new class was developed based off of the old Rhesus Geological Survey Vessel. The Macaque had updated engines and other components, and swapped the geological sensors for gravitational ones. Four Macaques were sent out into the solar system to locate any jump points that may exist in the system.

In order to rectify the lack of shipping capacity the Ox freighter was designed. Where each Mule had 5 cargo bays the Ox carried 25. In addition with the large technology advancements that had been made in the two decades , as well as its large size, the Ox could transfer cargo more than 20 times as quickly as the Mule and could travel three times faster. Though the government was planning on building the Ox exclusively at this point it also designed a Mule II, at approximately the same size as the Mule so that Civilian shipping lines would have a smaller freighter available in addition to the Ox.
By the time the Oxen started coming off the line there were sixteen Brewers in Mercurian orbit, and they were well on the way to making it a comfortable place. It was decided that Luna would be the next colonization target. Luna had even fewer minerals than Mars so the military value was low, however having four heavily populated bodies in such close proximity would lead to very healthy trade and a larger civilian economy. Since none of the other colonizable bodies in the system (Venus, Callisto, Io, Titan) had particularly good mineral availability either Luna was the way to go. The atmosphere of Mars would be in perfect condition in a few short months, until those terraforming installations were available the Oxen would ferry infrastructure from Mars to Luna.

By this time the squadron of 4 Macaques had been completed and had finished their survey of Sol. A total of three jump points existed in the system. The Dwarves continued to develop their own solar system while plans on exploring the jumpgates were drawn up.


Enjoyed the read and looking forward to your next post!

It's alive it's alive!

As you all could probably tell from the 6+ months without any updates, I stopped playing Aurora for awhile there. I started to feel the draw again though, and just started up a new game. I was very happy to see that development on the game is continuing at a decent clip, Steve is now up to version 4.42. There were no huge new features in recent months, but looking through the changelog it looks like his has tightened up the interface for managing task groups, especially parasites (the game term for any smaller ships that are housed within larger carriers, be they fighters, corvettes, bombers, or combat drop ships). It's now a lot easier to manage wings of fighters, assign them targets, send them out, and order them back in.

Oh, another new addition is that after popular demand Steve actually added in a Dwarf Fortress naming convention. Before I used the Norse naming convention for the personnel, and "Fantasy" for the ship classes (with frequent renames of my own), but one of the players ported in the name generator from Dwarf Fortress as well as a species list, and Steve added that in.

I'm not going to commit to a log like with my last game, I don't think I'll have time for that, but I'll try to post short updates now and again. I am making a conscious effort to play a different game than I usually do. I normally explore until I run up against my first enemy (usually Precursors) then tech up until I have faster ships with longer range missiles than them and can take them out without danger. (This is made more difficult if the opponent was an actual race that may also have progressed in this time.)

So I am starting the game with a firm no-missiles policy. My backstory is that a World War III-esque event happened on Earth shortly after Trans-Newtonian technology was fully devloped, and there were catastrophic consequences as the fighting in space and on Earth wracked up a lot of collateral damage. I almost went as far as spawning in a low tech missile cruiser and liberally applying it's payload to the Earth in order to get an accurate level of background radiation and decimation, but decided that my starting population of 1 billion was enough of a handwave.

In the wake of the war the entire Earth's population is now consolidated into one power, but missile weapons are banned. Instead the space-faring laser of choice is the laser (which, not coincidentally in my backstory, cannot pierce the Earth's atmosphere to damage civilians). In addition an early priority of mine will be building large orbital defense stations that the Earth's population desires as an umbrella against future atrocities.

So I'll be going out into the great black Yonder armed with only lasers for protection, and I'm not entirely sure how that's going to work out. In order to slip into laser range I am also going to shift my focus from large warships to fighters, fighters, fighters. (Partly due to the recent changes that make that more convenient than in the past.) I'm hoping that I'll end up with a more interesting mixed Battle Force, closer to Star Wars than Star Trek.

I've already started the fighter slant actually. My extra solar survey ships are usually 3-4 kton survey ships. Now they are going to be similarly sized small carriers with four 350 ton sensor ships on board. They have the fuel to circle the orbit of Jupiter's furthest moon 5 times over, with a little extra to spare. The idea is that the mother ship will orbit a planet, send out it's sensor ships, recall them when that body and it's moons are surveyed, and move on to the next one.

If my ships aren't up to the task I have a couple contingency plans which I view as being the sort of compromises you'd realistically see in this situation:
1. Bomb pumped lasers: These missiles focus the explosive power of the missile into a highly powerful laser beam. They can't penetrate atmosphere and thus would probably be allowed, although I'd probably have to have a couple hard battles before I decided that public opinion had decided to allow this. A downside to these is that the mechanics for these are very old, and there have been several overhauls in related parts of the game since then, so even Steve isn't sure exactly how they work anymore.
2. In dire need short range, smaller missiles meant to destroy enemy missiles would probably be allowed. If I went down this route I would probably increase the number of orbital defense stations around Earth and make sure they were equal to the task of shooting down the missiles. I would also fluff that these stations were under more direct civilian oversight as a precaution against the missiles. The missiles would also be manufactured off of Earth and I most likely wouldn't allow a ship armed with these missiles to come within firing range of Earth.
3. In the unlikely event that I am getting my butt-kicked and decide that I really need long range missiles I'd probably make them produced out of the Sol-System and limit the ability of the ships to spend time in the Sol system.

Sounds very interesting. I look forward to it.

So this is the first game I've played that wasn't a conventional start. (Meaning I start with trans-newtonian technology and facilities). I generally play a conventional start because I like starting from the very beginning, but that takes a lot of time that I was hoping to avoid this time.

This has the side effect that now, for the first time ever, I'm broke. The reason for this is that the greatest effect on your income isn't technology, it's just straight up population. You then spend this money on pretty much everything you do. On a conventional start you are making almost the same amount of money as a trans-newtonian power of the same population, but your planetside industry is only 10% as effective, and you don't have the tech to do anything in space. Because of that you end up stockpiling years of income, so you have a massive balance once you actually spending it in bulk ten years down the line. What's more ten years down the line you have a much larger population, so your income has grown as well.

There are more direct things that you can do to increase your income, and while these things are generally afterthoughts for me they are now very important and I've shifted my priority to them to a large amount. 50% of my factory production is being earmarked for the construction of Financial Centers, something which I've never built aside from that first year of a conventional start when there is nothing better to build. I have put a much higher priority on the "Civilian Economy" tech line (which is one of the few direct benefits a Trans-Newtonian civ has). And have stepped up my colonization of the moon drastically. The more people in a colony the slower the growth rate, so you get faster population growth the more colonies that you have.

Additionally, once a colony becomes large enough it automatically starts producing and desiring luxury goods, which leads to the civilian freighters setting up a trade network that you tax behind the scenes, which is also a good source of income.

Luckily the game handles debt relatively gracefully. Once you go into debt all of your production is equally lowered so that you are forced to spend just under what you are making. What this means for me right now is that all of my production/research/mining is occurring at 70% speed. If I wanted to I could micromanage a bit to adjust where the penalties are, but I don't want to right now.

Yonder wrote:

I've already started the fighter slant actually. My extra solar survey ships are usually 3-4 kton survey ships. Now they are going to be similarly sized small carriers with four 350 ton sensor ships on board. They have the fuel to circle the orbit of Jupiter's furthest moon 5 times over, with a little extra to spare. The idea is that the mother ship will orbit a planet, send out it's sensor ships, recall them when that body and it's moons are surveyed, and move on to the next one.

This sounds like a great idea, but in reality will quickly turn into a micro-management nightmare.

Er. I said two posts ago that the game is up to version 4.42, it's actually 5.42.

Space twisted and folded with a silent scream.

Powerful jump drives aboard the alien cruiser tore open an unstable wormhole, letting the three small scouts follow the warship into the empty jump point in the next system. The rigours of jump travel play havoc with the delicate electronics, leaving the crew, computors and sensors recovering for a short while. Until that happened, the ships were blind and all but helpless, dependent on passive defenses.

Short? Make that a long while. Too long. The jump point wasn't exactly empty.

Whisker-thin communication lasers pulsed between the waiting 'Spider' class jump point defense platforms. Tiny no frills craft, little more than crew quarters and an array of one shot box launchers. No thermal signature to speak of, no shields or currently active sensors to betray them.

The first warning the intruders had that they were not alone came as the inner ring of platforms lashed out at the alien craft with high powered short range active targeting sensors, 'lighting' them up for all the defenders. The first five platforms split their fire, one Spider per scout, and two more at the cruiser. 100 sprint mode short ranged anti-ship missiles hammered through the void. Even if the aliens hadn't been recovering from the transit, the range was too short, the missiles too fast, all they would have gotten was final defensive fire and the automatic last ditch fire from the automated Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS).

Each of the scouts vanished in a nuclear explosion, the 20 missiles on each was a bad case of overkill. Jump point defenders tend to be a nervous lot, and react poorly to unannounced visitors. The cruiser did have a pair of CIWS, the very simple sensors and targetting computers had recovered quicker than the crew or the more sophisticated equipment. The small gauss cannons quickly laid down a hailstorm of rounds that actually hit several missiles. Well, that got in front of and were ran into, rather. Those missiles tumbled, shredded, the tiny amounts of fuel flared briefly before being lost in the hellstorm that raged over the cruiser's hull.

Thin layers of shields did little to absorb the fireball from the warheads that exploded around the alien ship. The dense armor beneath the shields did much better. While deeply rent and torn in places, it stopped almost all of the damage, leaving the cruiser still fit and ready for battle.

Then the outer ring of spiders launched.


One week later, the fleet salvage team swept through to clean up the wrecks. The bits and pieces were hauled back to Fleet HQ, but little would be gleaned from them. The JDP tenders escorting the salvage tugs pulled each Spider into the internal service bays, repairing and rearming before deploying them back around the jump point.

To once again wait for many long boring hours, until the next few seconds of screaming panic.


TLDR get off my lawn.

That's the last time I send my lads to return that sugar I borrowed, let me tell you !

So I have returned to Aurora to play the Laser game I said I was planning above. No missiles at all! I have not, however, started using fighters yet, it's still fairly large ships, but the lasers are new. I am fast approaching my first real fight now, and I'm looking forward to it. Here is the lead up.

In the early 2250’s Patrol 1 made the jump into the Los Angeles system. This system was a large one, with three Lagrange Points stable enough to permit intersystem jumps. A course was plotted out past each planetary system, taking advantage of the Lagrange Points to shorten the trip. No contacts appeared on passive sensors, and excitingly enough two of the several moons on a gas giant orbiting close to the sun (the third planet) had prospects for terraforming.

At the conclusion of the patrol the task group returned to the Sol pump point to refuel at the ‘Bridge’ Jump Tender, nearly all of their fuel had been spent circuiting the large system.

With the all clear given, two ‘Richter’ class Geosurvey vessels transited to begin a survey of all geological bodies in the system. This survey proceeded uneventfully until the Richter 003 arrived at one of the nearly-habitable moons of Los Angeles A III. The survey vessel forwarded images and other readings of what was unmistakably a long abandoned Alien colony! This had enormous philosophical, scientific, and economic ramifications for human life! Government leaders quickly commissioned that plans be drawn up for a troop transport ship that could bring a scientific team, along with a small escort, to begin examining these ruins for clues to their origins and makers.

In addition Patrol 1 was ordered to leave the Transit Point for the surveyed moon, though in the first patrol the task group had discovered nothing, a new pass with Active Sensors may find other artifacts or information about the ruins.

Sadly a few days later Richter 003 spotted even more evidence for intelligent life in the form of a salvo of 36 missiles speeding towards it at nearly 50k km/s. The Richter’s weak passive sensors spotted the missiles with barely any warning, and could not spot their origin. Bare seconds after they came on the scope, the missile salvo impacted the Richter, destroying it completely. Less than 30 crew members made it to their life pods before the destruction, including the Captain Louis Hammond.

The horrified Jumpship Captain transmitted telemetry of the event to Earth Command, which spawned an enormous hive of activity back home. After considering the situation, including Hammond’s formal request that a rescue operation not be undertaken for him and his men, Patrol 1 was ordered to return to the Sol transit point. The alien missiles were far faster than the Old War missiles the Hussar’s defenses had been based on. The entire Patrol could expect to extinguish less than one sixth of a salvo the size that had destroyed the Richter, and though each Hussar was far sturdier than the frail survey vessels, being larger with armor 4 times as thick, the remaining Strength 6 missiles would be more than enough to cripple or destroy a Hussar.

The next couple days crawled by slowly and tensely for the survivors and command, who all thought that each ping of a thermal expansion or thump of wreckage on the hull was the aliens collecting their prisoners. After a time though it became apparent that the aliens were uninterested in retreiving the survivors, each crew member was able to give their family a tear-filled goodbye, and many were interviewed by a number of media outlets. Two weeks after the attack the endurance of the life pods gave out, and the entire planet mourned their loss.

Every facet of the attack was pored over by people at all levels of the population. Why did the aliens not attack the first Patrol? Were they too intimidated to attack one 5000 and four 3000 ton vessels? Did they not detect the Patrol ships (which seemed unlikely given that their engine signature was much higher than that of the Richter, though the Patrol did not pass close to the moon with the ruins)? Did they detect the Patrol ships, but know that the Patrol Ships did not notice the ruins, so left them alone? Did they see the patrol ships, but could not respond in time to intercept them?

What about their origins? Were they a member of the race that built the ruins, possibly a long-forgotten automated defense system? Were they behind the disappearance of the race? Was it possible that the ruins were not as old as they appeared, and the inhabitants attacked? Was it another race that happened upon the Ruins as the humans had done, and were protecting their claim?

Perhaps the most pressing question of all, why the enormous salvo of missiles? Was this the work of a badly programmed or malfunctioning automatic defender, which only has one salvo size, or did the aggressor actually expect that such a large number of missiles would be necessary to destroy the small survey vessel? (And if it expected the small survey vessel to weather the assault, that would explain why it feared the relatively larger Patrol vessels). On the other hand, perhaps it was simply a mine field.

A large array of measures were undertaken to deal with this threat:

First all research projects that did not have immediate military utility and were close to completion were postponed indefinitely. Instead all researchers were tasked with implementing actual military equipment that made use of the advancements of the past decades.

A small but vocal planetary minority, including some members of the military, argued forcefully for allowing the military to once more field missiles, arguing that it made no sense to hamstring the Navy from fighting real threats due to imagined fears. This suggestion was overthrown. Most of the military was confident that existing capabilities would be sufficient, and much of the population still feared and detested the use of missiles in combat, and the fate of Louis Hammond and his crew members did little to dissuade that feeling.

Moreover some within the military and academic community pointed out that while decades previously the turn from missile weaponry did indeed lead to the adoption of inferior laser weaponry—such that the four 8000 ton immobile Shield bases could barely repel the missiles from a single 5000 ton Old War Cruiser—that was no longer the case. Understanding of laser weaponry now outstripped that of the Old War missiles—a 3000 ton Hussar could nearly single handedly take the same 5000 ton Old War Cruiser. A return to missile research would take time to allow the missiles to reach parity with current beam technology, let alone compete with the missiles which destroyed the Richter.

Luckily while new Naval vessels had not been developed in the recent past, a program of adding new Naval Shipyards and expanding existing ones had continued over the years, in preparation for the expanded capabilities that were projected to be necessary as the number and size of the colonies in Sol increased, and especially as other systems were eventually developed and ever larger civilian ships were laid down. Nevertheless some modifications and improvements were needed to standardize the shipyards which were in various stages of expansion.

Several decades ago plans were drawn up to update the Shield point defense bases in Earth orbit, and construct new ones over the other populated colonies of Luna and Mars. However, after the development of the Hussar Frigates that could quickly patrol the inner system as needed these plans were abandoned. A huge number of maintenance facilities were ordered, enough to allow Earth to support the 18000 ton warships that its largest yards would be able to field, and allow Titan, Luna, and Mars to each maintain a small group of updated Shield stations.

Additionally the fuel refineries, which had been deactivated years ago in response to a large surplus and a worker shortage on Earth, were prepared to reenter full time duty.

Lastly, for the first time since the consolidation of the world governments new ground forces were requisitioned. The small number of remaining training facilities went from their quiet, skeleton crew to bustling facilities and grounds training both offensive and defensive troops.

Over the course of a year blueprints for the various updated military hardware were created. Plans were drawn up for a wide variety of military vessels:

Gauntlet: This 18000 ton escort cruiser has nine Quad Turrets designed for destroying very speedy targets. Two Gauntlets should be sufficient to repel a salvo like the one that destroyed the Richter, assuming the missiles do not have ECM capability. Its 12 layers of armor have the ability to weather numerous missiles that break through the laser fire.

Buckler: A 6000 ton Escort Destroyer with three of the anti-missile turrets fielded by the Gauntlet, so six of these should stop a single salvo.

Skoryy: A 6000 ton Destroyer, this ship has a diverse armament of one defensive anti-missile turret and two Quad turrets with medium lasers that do twice as much damage but can only attack targets going half the speed. The medium lasers are able to fire as rapidly as the light lasers, once every five seconds.

Hussar Mk 2: The upgrade to the Patrol Frigate which has been in service for decades. This 3000 ton frigate mounts a single anti-missile turret, and can travel more than twice as fast as the other combat ships.

Louis Hammond: This class of Battlecruiser is named after the commander of the Richter which was destroyed in the Los Angeles system. The entire human race watched interviews and submitted questions to the Captain, as well as witnessing much of his two week death, which he faced with bravery. In short he was a revered hero for the entire population.
This ship masses 18000 tons and has twelve layers of armor, just as the Gauntlet Escort Cruiser does. The Hammond does not have weaponry designed to attack missiles, but instead has three of the heavier turrets fielded by the Skoryy. Its main armament is in 9 fixed heavy lasers which are more than twice as powerful as the medium turreted lasers, while only designed to fire at targets half as fast (This makes them slightly over 5 times as powerful as the missile-defense turrets, but at a quarter of the tracking speed). Though the heavy lasers can only fire a third as frequently as the light and medium lasers they are still thought to be worthwhile for their greatly increased penetration (penetrating 5 layers of armor and still damaging internal systems, as opposed to the medium lasers which can only penetrate 3 levels, and the light lasers which only penetrate 2), which will be especially useful if an underground base fired the attack on the Richter. Due to excess space it also has three medium lasers in fixed emplacements.
The heavy lasers can fire every fifteen seconds, and when they do one Hammond alone projects more damage than the entire salvo of 36 missiles which struck the Richter, and the laser weaponry will penetrate deeper into armor than the missiles. While the heavy lasers recharge the ship will still be able to continuously fire the medium fixed lasers and turrets

Tunnel: This 18000 ton ship can transit jump points with other ships its size, and carries the fuel and maintenance supplies necessary to support those vessels in the field. In the future a secondary Support Vessel will remain with the fleet to refuel and resupply it, while the Tunnel remains on the Jump Point to maintain communications, similar to how the current ‘Bridge’ remains on the Jump Point while the ‘Mess Hall’ supports the ‘Hussar’ frigates. However a constraint in the number of shipyards currently precludes a second class, instead a Tunnel will accompany the main assault fleet.

Sentry: This 13000 ton ship has massive and sophisticated passive and active sensors which dwarf anything developed by humans before. It has the endurance to operate for long periods of time, and speeds 50% faster than the main fleet. It also has a fully-featured mobile command center capable of directing an entire task force.

Shield Mk 2: A redesign of the 8000 ton point defense base

Soon the majority of the military slipways were working on one of the above military designs. Only a few yards were still in the process of being enlarged until they could begin construction on their assigned vessels.

This sudden explosion of military activity had its toll, however. The increased production ramp up shortly after the attack led to the first spending deficits since the mineral situation had stabilized as the humans established stable extraterrestrial holdings. Once the ship designs were drawn up and every shipyard began working furiously that yearly deficit ballooned enormously. Soon the nation was deeply in debt, significantly slowing the mobilization efforts. In addition the ever-growing shipyards—as well as renewed fuel production and continuous emigration—were causing a severe worker shortage on Earth.

In an attempt to reverse these trends many of the smaller commercial shipyards were towed to Luna to free up workers on Earth. In addition large numbers of Research Installations were once again shipped to Mars, which had surplus workers. Lastly, once the needed maintenance facilities were done all of the government factories on Earth were mothballed.

These measures succeeded in solving the employment crises on Earth, and halted the debt spiral, however the expense of producing the military vessels was such that the budget only stabilized, the government was still not able to start paying off its debt. Overall slowdown to military production was estimated at around 35%.

Soon enough the smaller destroyers started coming off of the line and began combat training in order to polish the skills of their crew and officers. More destroyers were ordered, and slipways were added to the shipyards so that still more could be produced at a time. More batches of Destroyers and Escort Destroyer’s were completed before the first Cruisers set sail, and those joined the military exercises of the original ships. Unfortunately due to the economic slowdown the expansion of the shipyard slated to produce the ‘Sentry’ Command and Control ships took longer than expected, once the shipyards were finished it took yet longer to assemble the ships.

Ten years passed before the combat force was mostly ready to deploy. The second batch of Cruisers was nearly completed, as was the last batch of Escort Destroyers, but everything else was finished. The new ships stretched another aspect of the Empire to its limit: there were too few trained officers to man all of the ships, leaving the frigates and some of the Destroyers Captained by arguably unready officers. In addition the pool of trained Enlisted Men was nearly drained. The last Hammonds due off the line would largely be manned by crew which had been rushed through their courses, likely making them slow to react in battle.

While waiting for the last warships to be created the final preparations began. The Task Force Flagship Sentry 001 set off for the Los Angeles system with a ‘Tunnel’ Jump Tender, 8 ‘Buckler’ Destroyer Escorts, 6 ‘Skoryy’ Destroyers and the four old ‘Tycho’ Gravitational Survey Ships. This fleet quietly moved around the system undergoing a thorough survey of any possible jump points. While this fleet was significantly more powerful than needed to deal with the exact attack that befell the Richter (able to continuously repel an attack 2/3rds greater) that was a buffer that left many uneasy given the unanswered questions about the attack.

However, given that several Geosurvey ships had moved around much of the system unmolested before the Richter was destroyed, and that the continuous guard at the Sol Transit Point had never seen sign of enemy ships, it was felt that the mission was worth the risk as long as the fleet stuck to the outskirts of the system.

The survey did indeed proceed uneventfully, and discovered two additional jump points. Even more importantly one of those jump points was found to have an enormous Jump Gate stabilizing the point. The survey fleet did not approach the jump point, however from a distance the gate appeared to be similar in age and construction to the ruins on the moon.

By this point all of the combat ships were completed and assembled. In total there were two ‘Sentry’ Command and Control ships, two ‘Tunnel’ Jump Tenders, eight ‘Louis Hammond’ Battlecruisers, eight ‘Gauntlet’ Escort Cruisers, 14 ‘Skoryy’ Destroyers, 23 ‘Buckler’ Destroyer Escorts, and five ‘Hussar Mk. 2” Frigates.

It was assumed that the enemy vessels would be faster than our own due to the high speed of the missiles, because of that the plan was to surround the enemy and make escape (or reinforcement) impossible. As such the orders are as follows:
The fleet will be split into four parts, the first part will be made up of two Battlecruisers, an Escort Cruiser, three Destroyers, and eight Destroyer Escorts. It will remain at the Sol Jump point and guard against counterattack. The second, slightly smaller force of a Battlecruiser, an Escort Cruiser, four Destroyers, six Destroyer Escorts, and a Jump Tender (This fleet has the furthest to travel) will head to garrison the empty jump point. A larger force consisting of a ‘Sentry’, two Battlecruisers, two Escort Cruisers, four Destroyers, and five Destroyer Escorts will head to the Jump Gate, which is judged to be the most likely location for the enemy to choose to flee, or for additional enemies to arrive from.

The remaining, largest portion of the fleet is the Flagship ‘Sentry’, three Battlecruisers, four Escort Cruisers, three Destroyers, four Destroyer Escorts, and the five Frigates (which are felt to be the only ships in the fleet which have a chance of successfully pursuing the enemy, though it is uncertain if this would ever be done given that the five frigates together would be unable to stop much more than a quarter of a salvo once separated from the larger ships). This portion of the fleet will make its way to the planetary system with the Ruins to seek out the aggressors.

All told each separate fleet has at least enough defensive power to repel at least a 70% larger salvo size than seen by the Richter, and the main fleet can repel more than three times a salvo. In addition each fleet can simultaneously output significantly more firepower in each time step than seen in the salvo. All told the Navy feels that it is well-prepared for the attack. There are still many troubling uncertainties about the strength and number of the enemy, however those questions won’t be answered without another engagement, and after more than ten years of preparation and sacrifice from the populous that action needs to occur now.

Ah! Yes, this is awesome! Kill the mysterious alien species! Especially if they have gills!

I've never touched this game and don't intend too as I have enough timesinks already but Yonder I will continue to read this story and live vicariously through you.

Prozac wrote:

I've never touched this game and don't intend too as I have enough timesinks already but Yonder I will continue to read this story and live vicariously through you.

Agreed on all counts. Thank you!

Thanks for the kind words guys!

Normally I wouldn’t start with a spoiler, but the enemy was such a letdown after ten years of preparation that I don’t want to keep suspense up for you guys as well. The Richter ran afoul of a minefield, and my enormous battle fleet arrived at the gas giant to find 8 empty first-stage mine buoys floating in orbit. Crisis averted.

On the 18th of October 2261 Point Garrison and Gate Garrison set out for their respective waypoints, once there all of the fleets would be nearly the same distance from their objectives, so that each would arrive to begin their operations at the same time.

Two weeks later Point Garrison, Gate Garrison, and Sol Garrison set off for their final location, each with a single low power Anti-Missile sensor to ensure they wouldn’t be caught by surprise.

After another week the two Garrisons arrived at each of their Jump Points, finding them empty. Vengeance arrived at a Waypoint that placed the third planetary system just inside the Flagship’s massive sensors (they had a resolution of 4000 tons, matching the resolution of the active sensors on the enemy missiles).

Sentry 001 powered up her sensors to reveal… nothing. The fleet cautiously approached the Planets outermost moon. It had nearly reached it when a salvo of eight Size 24 missiles was detected in orbit of the Gas Giant.

The missiles did not appear to have detected the Fleet, nor were they fired by an entity which had detected the fleet. They simply hung in orbit, waiting. Aboard the Flagship Rear Admiral Jay Smith considered his options. Worst case scenario seven of those buoys each contained 32 submunitions to launch at detected targets, on the other end of the spectrum each of those buoys had fired 4 missiles at the Richter, and were now empty.It was possible that the remaining mines were duds, (not in the game it isn’t) Admiral Smith didn’t want to risk it, while (possibly) only one mine had gone off at the Richter, it seemed likely that with a larger task force such as his own, all of the mines would be triggered to attack, and the resulting salvo would be greater than twice that which his fleet was designed to repel.

While Smith was confident his larger ships would survive the bleed through he doubted the same could be said for the Destroyers, and the Frigates would certainly be in trouble. He decided to approach to within firing range of the mine field and attempt to clear out some of the mines, once three or fewer remained he would approach with the fleet to confirm that the mines did indeed contain submunitions that matched those that killed the Richter.

Vengeance closed into 280k km from the missile salvo, well within firing range. Admiral Smith then ordered the Captain of the Hammond 001 to fire target the Mine Field with a single turret emplacement.

At this extreme range it took several shots to clear the field, but soon sensors reported only three mines remaining. Admiral Smith ordered a Cease Fire and had the fleet once again approach the Gas Giant. He ordered the fleet to pause several times along the way, but the mines never reacted. Finally, after holding position at 15k km away, Admiral Smith ordered the Helmsmen to close the distance completely.

Still nothing… the fleet stayed alongside the mines for long, tense minutes. There was no sign of Active Sensors on the mines, though it would seem reasonable that the mines would have similar, or more powerful sensors than their submunitions. It seemed likely that the mines were duds that did not survive the untold eons they had spent in orbit, although it was possible that there was some hidden trigger that was missing, perhaps the mines only targeted ships 1000 tons or smaller? That seemed unlikely.

Admiral Smith ordered his fleet to break orbit a close in on the moon where the ruins were discovered. They would await there for Command to decide what further experimentation to perform on the mines.

Command decided to send a remaining Richter and a Tug to Los Angeles, two of the Escort Cruisers split off from Vengeance to collect the non-Combatants at the jump point and bring them back to the Gas Giant. Due to the increased danger of allowing the small, unarmored vessels near the mine field two of the remaining mines were destroyed, leaving only one.

With that done the Richter was sent to once more survey the gas giant. The conditions were not identical to that of the first attack, mainly due to the two 18000 ton Escorts flanking the 1000 ton survey ship, but they were as close as they were going to be.

There was still no response from the mine, with that, and with the prevailing theory among academics being that a size 1 missile was the absolute smallest entity which could sustain a Trans-Newtonian drive field—making it impossible for the size 24 mines to launch 32 separate missiles, and making it more likely that each buoy launched four missiles—Admiral Smith ordered an incredibly anxious Tug pilot to bring in the remaining mine for study.

Sadly you can’t actually recover buoys in the game, either yours or other parties. However as a player knowing much of how the AI operates, I am confident that these 8 buoys each housed four of the 32 missiles that hit the Richter, and after all of this the Government would definitely want answers from this thing, and if some poor Tug crew had to get obliterated to find those answers then that’s a shame. As to the specifics of the buoy, mainly how large each submunition was (an important indication of their tech level for the capabilities I saw, as well as their thermal sensor strength, I won’t know that as a player unless I find some of these mines stored in the Ruins, but given the incredibly low range of the mines (they didn’t attack the Richter until it was literally right on top of them) I am guessing that the thermal sensor was very small, and almost all of the buoy was enemy missile, probably 4 size 5 missiles, then a little bit of thermal sensor and reactor.

Examination of the mine found that it was predominantly made up of four large, empty missile tubes. The irony was lost on no one that these weapons that had filled the entire species with fear and led to such a flurry of activity over a ten year period had been rendered inert in the same attack, and had been harmless ever since. The Navy was also pleased to find that the (apparent) short range and large size of the submunitions that struck the Richter indicated that while the alien missiles were indeed more advanced than the technology available during the Old War, they were not enormously so. In fact it was likely that the propulsion technology which had so intimidated the human race at first was probably not any more advanced than their own.

Analysis of the mines showed similar design and age to the Ruins and jumpgate, and Command judged much of the danger to be over. However to be safe the garrisons remained at each jump point. Half of the Vengeance fleet split off to return to Sol for training operations, while the rest (minus the two Escort Cruisers which remained with the Richter as it finished the system survey) went on another patrol of the system, searching every planet, moon, and comet for more mines.

Once this circuit done the remainder of the fleet returned to the Sol system as well. Taking absolutely no chances, the Garrison fleets were ordered to remain, as were the Richter escorts. Once forces had been landed on the moon and a large Observatory Complex was set up the Navy may stand down.

Though there was still scant information available on the alien race, popular opinion had already decided their fate. By scattering around armed mines with careless targeting systems and no timeout period this alien civilization showed a greater immaturity with their weapons than mankind had leading up to the Old War. The race had obviously wiped itself out in its carelessness, as Humans had come so close to doing

Hopefully the next update will be less boring. It probably will be because I just spotted an alien ship in our Solar System…

Wow. Awesome write up! I'm waiting for the next episode with baited breath.

The Vengeance fleet had been split into two parts in the Sol system, and were a few months into their Task Force Training exercises when alarms blared out amongst the fleet. An unknown contact had just been detected by the Sentry’s active sensors close to Saturn, and the 15 million colonists living on Titan. It was a small ship, only 2550 tons, however Admiral Smith felt that its proximity to human civilians warranted a full response, which Command agreed with. The two portions of Vengeance were ordered to reform and close within firing range of the alien contact.

At the same time the Zarina Aviles Farinas team was reformed in order to attempt to open contact with this new race. This team had been selected from qualified Administrators, Scientists, and Navy Officers and assigned to the Flagship when it traveled to LA, but had been dropped off at Earth and disbanded at the conclusion of the mission.

After the Richter was lost in the Los Angeles system part of the increased military build up included an allotment of new, state of the art Point Defense Bases, the Shield Mk. 2. These stations were immobile, but as heavily armored as the Escort Cruisers and carried 2/3 the armament, all at less than half the size. By the time the new bases came off the line, however, the first batch of ‘Skoryy’ and ‘Buckler’ vessels had been completed and were patrolling Sol. Due to that and the continued quiet at the Sol – LA jump point after the first batch of PDBs were completed at Earth, the subsequent batches weren’t redistributed to the other colonies.

After the fleet was completed and the LA system secured one Earth Shipyard continued to construct Shields (the only active Shipyard as the government tried to pull its way out of debt) however all of the finished vessels remained in Earth orbit. At this point there were 12 ‘Shield Mk. 2’ PDBs in Earth Orbit. Command immediately ordered the four ‘Bridle’ Tugs to deploy four of those stations to Titan.

Luckily plans to ship enough Maintenance Facilities to each of the three small colonies to allow them to support Shield bases had gone ahead, although they did not actually have the minerals required to maintain them. However one of the improvements to the Mk. 2 design was increased Engineering Sections so that the bases could survive lengthy Tug journeys and defend bodies while a supply train was established.

Once the tugs returned from Titan they would deploy four of the remaining stations to Mars, and then two to Luna. In the short term this would leave the Earth with only two bases as well, however four additional Shields were already under constructions, and an additional five were ordered from the Shipyard which normally constructed ‘Gauntlet’ Escort Cruisers.

Over the course of a couple days the Vengeance task group rendezvoused and closed on the contact. Soon they were close enough to get a reading on the vessel’s engine signature, rated at 160. It had also become clear that the survey vessel was heading on a course directly between two of the System’s gravitational survey points at a speed of approximately 3137 km/s.

The alien craft, codenamed ‘Atomizer’ at this point, was obviously a Gravitational Survey vessel, however it was almost three and a half times larger than our own ‘Tycho’ Gravitational Survey vessels (they were slightly smaller than ‘Richter’ Geological Survey Vessels because the ‘Richter’ holds an additional survey sensor. Based on Sol’s makeup it was guessed (correctly thus far) that Geological Surveys would tend to take longer that Gravitational ones since there were generally far more bodies in a system than survey points, and many of the larger bodies took a long time to thoroughly scan). At this point it was unclear what extra equipment led to the larger craft. The most likely contenders were passive sensors or possibly a Jump Drive. Active sensors were also a possibility, however the aliens had shown no indication of using them yet, and it seemed likely that upon communications contact with another race activating Active Sensors would be a reasonable first action.

Based on the craft’s tonnage, engine signature, and speed it was apparent that either from a lack of motivation or technology no effort was made to mitigate the thermal signature of the engines. At a best guess the craft used at best Magneto-Pulse engines—the same generation of technology used by our own Survey ships, although not as high performance. The newer fleet vessels used Internal Confinement Engines, one step higher, and blueprints for the next generation had just been completed.

Neither of the human survey vessels had passive sensors (something that may be remedied in the next design) because standard doctrine was for a jumpship to transit with the survey fleet and a small military escort. The Jumpship would remain on the point to maintain communications with Fleet Command for the entirety of the mission. Meanwhile the military patrol would make a preliminary sweep of the system (originally with passive sensors, since the Richter incident showed that approach to be insufficient an Active Sensor sweep is planned instead) before clearing the survey ships to begin work.

However a single ship could survey just as effectively, jumping in, surveying for jump points, and then either returning to the previous system or moving on to the next point. That would entail a very long trip however, and one with a lengthy delay in getting results to the Homeworld, unless some sort of courier fleet was used to relay data.

The speed also established a useful data point. The ship travelled more slowly than any human vessel. This in itself was not a reliable indicator of the alien races technology, in fact the ‘Tycho’ survey vessels had not been refitted since they were first laid down decades ago, so this alien races military ships may be just as advanced compared to their survey vessels, however it was still a welcome datapoint.

More data was needed to put a halt to this speculation. The Los Angeles jump point had been bottled up tightly for more than a decade, however the alien could have come from any of the other jump points. Due to the recent sharp increase in Tracking Station production on Earth the planet’s passive sensors could currently spot a thermal signature of 160 anywhere in the inner system, which included the first Jump Point. Patrol 1 and Patrol 2 were each dispatched to one of the other jump points in the system. These ships were ancient and far less effective than the state of the art fleet developed for LA, however they were available, and still compared favorably to the tech level displayed by the survey vessel.

Further consideration of the value of any scrap of intelligence of an unknown foe, fleet command began to think that it was a mistake to meet the alien contact with the full strength of the Vengeance fleet. Luckily the ‘Atomizer’ lacked the active sensors to determine tonnage of our vessels, but with even the most rudimentary passive sensors at this close range it could certainly isolate the strength of the thermal signature, as well as the number and unique identification for each class, they had also witnessed the typical speed of the bulk of the fleet.

The fleet was split again, all of the Cruisers peeled off to return to Earth, leaving only the smaller destroyers behind to guard the Flagship, the Frigates joined them, as they would soon be needed elsewhere. Meanwhile much of the fleets garrisoning the various LA jump points was pared down, in each fleet the majority or all of the destroyers were recalled to Earth to be available for a quick response and defense, the larger cruisers remained at their stations, keeping them away from the prying eyes of the aliens. The Sol Garrison was the exception. It stood at full strength, ready to transit and reinforce the Sol system at a minutes’ notice. The second Sentry craft was also recalled, it would be paired with the returning Mk. 2 Frigates to do a thorough sweep of the Sol system for additional survey vessels, or anything more sinister.

It was evident that we needed both more intelligence gathering capabilities, as well as a larger number of smaller combat ships that could provide adequate defense of an objective without giving away too much information about the Navy’s true capabilities. To this end a full run of four additional sentries was requisitioned, and each Destroyer shipyard began construction on five new ‘Hussar Mk. 2’ Frigates. This would triple the available number of each vessel. Lastly research began on new components that took advantage of recent advancements in Sensor and Propulsion technology. The ‘Mess Hall’ Support vessel had served well as the support vessel of the first line of ‘Hussar’ Frigates. At 5000 tons it carried additional fuel and maintenance supplies for the smaller craft, as well as passive sensors and a long range active sensor. A redesigned Mess Hall would allow this generation of Patrols to accomplish the same mission as the last: a cheap, moderate endurance, moderate firepower, and very fast and flexible fleet that can respond ahead of the heavy hitters.

Unfortunately Uridium stockpiles, nearly depleted during the production of the Fleet, have bottomed out, and shortages of this material—vital for the production and maintenance of Lasers, and important in other projects as well—have greatly diminished the speed at which this new construction can be completed. However, at least at first glance, the militarization following the destruction of the Richter a decade ago seems to have left the Species on good footing to face this threat even without further preparation.

Right now our greatest priority is finally spreading out into Extrasolar space in a big way, both to create a buffer zone to intercept more unwanted visitors before reaching Sol, and to secure access to more minerals, as the choicest deposits in Sol have been tapped out. It would be most favorable to expand towards this new Alien race, as that is both where the buffer is most obviously needed, and it is possible that the aliens will attempt to colonize mineral-rich bodies as well. Unfortunately there is currently no clue as to where these aliens come from, and as it is becoming apparent that our Universe may be a crowded place indeed it seems unwise to simply send jump scouts out in every direction, unless you accept the occasional loss of those survey pilots. As it is even the cautious and measured scouting has led to the loss of a fine ship and a good crew.

The three largest civilian yards are each equipped to construct ships of 150k tons, however this expansion was completed shortly after loss of the ‘Richter’ and only ‘Darwin’ Terraforming vessels of that size were built before civilian construction was suspended. It is time to design Jump ships of that size to allow both new and current Civilian ships (40k tons) to transit out of Sol and begin the exploitation of our new territory.

Yonder, do you pre-construct your ship components with factories?

MoonDragon wrote:

Yonder, do you pre-construct your ship components with factories?

Very rarely, I generally like to keep my factories working on more long term improvements to the planet, especially mines and research labs. If they are not busy doing that it's generally because of a severe mineral or worker shortage, so the Shipyards aren't my bottleneck.

I do need to keep that in mind as an alternative though, there have been a couple times where that definitely would have been the way to go if it had occurred to me, like when my Sentry was completely researched and designed and I was waiting for a shipyard to get big enough to build them.

A NPR minefield? Heh. New one on me.

I like the way mines work in the game. So much so, that I caused a change in the game due to mine warfare, the developer modified the mechanics to invalidate a tactic I used. A very cheesy tactic, so I was pleased by the mechanics change.

In my last game I had plenty of industrial base. To the point that my factories had only about 50% duty cycle. I had so many that they could easily overwhelm my mining operations if run at full capacity. But they could also crank out my ship components at a capacity greatly outnumbering my shipyards. If you construct all of the factory constructable modules, most shipyards will output ships in a matter of months, rather than years/decades. This is especially true for monster ships like terraformers with 10+ modules.

I just tried this for the first time. And here I thought dwarf fortress was complicated...

I'm very very slowly learning how to build an economy and survey for minerals and jump points. Couple things I can't figure out.

- How can I do anything with the Moon? It doesn't show up as a destination under ship orders.
- How do I tell when a planet is fully surveyed?
- What are crews of five for?
- How do I consolidate ships into a single fleet? I built three surveyors and ended up with three different task forces. I don't see any "join fleet" buttons.

I'm sorting through what tutorials and documentation exists, but they are rather dense. And the game lacks a wiki as far as I can tell.

Its been tough getting used to just how LONG stuff takes to get done. In DF things move super fast, the seasons just march past. But in Aurora things can take years to accomplish, sometimes decades.

I guess I can try and answer some basic questions. It's been a while since I last played Aurora, so some of these may be a little bit off.

In the fleet orders window, you have many un-checked checkboxes above the orders lists. Those are filters or what you want to display in the order target list (moons, asteroids, wrecks, fleets, etc). Make sure you check the "moons" one and select The Moon from it. Once you build a colony on the Moon, the colony will automatically show up on the targets list.

In the system view (F9 if I recall correctly), unsurveyed bodies will have nothing in the leftmost column. While surveyed bodies will have something (I think they get different symbols based on whether they have minerals(M) or not(S)).

I'm assuming that by "crews of 5" you mean teams (geology, diplomacy, etc.). They are teams that actually perform various specialized actions. Drop a geology team onto a surveyed planet, and they'll find extra minerals for you. Drop a Xenology team onto an ancient ruin and they'll figure out the alien race details, and enable you to recover the ruins with an engineering battalion. Diplomacy team you need to try and talk to alien races. Spy team you need for... well, I don't really know. I'm assuming that you can spy on alien races with them, but I don't think I ever really used them. A footnote though: geology teams' success depends on their skill. So, a more skilled team will find you more resources. With that in mind, you may want to try and skill them up first before letting them loose on some of your main mining colonies. They can also find minerals on bodies that had none to start with, but that will take a LONG time.

In the task group window, there should be tabs on the middle of the right side. You should be able to find a tab where you can switch ships from one TG to another. Also, you can give them orders to merge fleets (by also using the TG filter to enable TGs as an appropriate target).

Okay I'm starting to get into it now. I've been using conventional starts because I like seeing how things work at the beginning versus having a bunch of stuff I don't know how to use. So far I have managed to:

- Craft some speedy geosurvey ships that are currently zipping around Sol at 6000km/s
- Shift the same ships from the Shipyard TG into a proper survey fleet (this required me to activate DM powers, dunno why)

I was just about to tackle terraforming the moon and asteroid mining when my resources ran out and my economy crashed. Oops! losing is fun I guess.

Couple new questions:
- How would I go about training a good geology team? From what I understand I just have to drop them off on a rock somewhere and pick them up when they tell me there is nothing left to do. But this only works on a colony right?
- What do I need to start civilian shipping? I had a freighter designed with 5 cargo bays. But my economy tanked before I could make any starports. Are they required?
- How do I tell a freighter to "move here, pick up resources and deposit there". The commands I had on the list didn't seem to fit the bill. Or am I supposed to have the civilians do this for me?

Training a geo-team is done by dumping them on a surveyed body with a colony. Once there, they will automatically survey for minerals, and each time they find some, their skill increases - each team member improves, so the collective team skill improves. Once you have done this several times, take the skilled team back to an important colony (like, say, Earth) and let them (hopefully) find more minerals.

You can encourage civilian shipping by two things: Giving the shipping line money (so it can afford to buy a ship) and having a colony off Earth. Mars is a common first colony, for example. Unless you have some place for the shipping lines to move things between, there is no incentive for them to do so.

If you have a 'freighter', i.e. a ship with cargo bays, then its as simple as bringing up the F12 Task Group window, selecting the ship, selecting the colony with the resource you want moved from the 'System Locations Available' pane, set the ship to go there, select the load that resource option from the 'Actions Available' pane. Move to where you want it dumped, unload, done.

Example: I move the cargo ship to Asteroid 123, and have it load titanium and unobtainium, then move back to the Earth and unload and refuel. Then I could set it on repeat, or copy the orders a few times to have it automatically repeat just X times.

And yes, Aurora is very 'losing is fun!', expect to wipe several times before finally making it up the learning curve.

To add to good advice by Lt.Warhound...

When you build a ship, it will most likely end up in a Shipyard TG. I would suggest never giving orders to that TG. You're just asking for trouble--trust me on that. Instead, when you want to finally move the ship, select your Shipyard TG, then in the upper pane where the ships are listed, select the ship, then "split off a new TG". This should make a new TG with only that ship in it, called by the name of the ship.

Bugger... I have to run now... I'll edit this later with more info, unless others add to it.

Did some more practising. The whole freighter thing confused me a lot until I discovered that most commands won't show up unless they apply to a specific kind of ship. So if you don't have any freighters in a task group you won't get the option to load minerals and stuff. Managed to get some automated mines set up onto a comet and minerals flowing back to Earth. Learned a couple things in the process. Just for learning convenience I cheated my engine tech up to tier 5. So my scouts zip around at 10000km's and even my most sluggish asteroid miner can manage a brisk 2200km/s. This was probably a waste, especially on the asteroid miners since they barely move around at all. Also you really don't need many mass drivers. Sometimes you can get away with a ratio of 1-50.

I'll try to make more geologist teams and send them wherever the mining ships go. Looking at Yonder's posts make me think my efforts are a little too small scale. I have yet to make a ship bigger than 120 kilotons. Anything bigger just takes far too long. But I've also been a bit lazy about pre-fabricating ship components, that will likely help a lot.

One thing I'm not sure about is how many slipways I should be adding to each shipyard. Any more than three and it can take many years just to add another slipway. So would it be better to just maintain more shipyards with fewer slipways? Also, do orbital habitats count as part of the colony they orbit? From what I can tell they are designed to help support a population in a hostile place without the hassle of terraforming. I'm still not quite sure how to use them.

Lastly, can you give me a rundown of all the different weapon types? The official website has a tutorial for this... but its blank. Weapons, shields and sensors are something I haven't touched yet.

Tagged for Yonder's AARs. Thanks for reminding me to install this on the new computer.