|Wikipedia lists 23 people with the surname Layton. I'd like to think he was named after Turner Layton (1894-1978) who wrote the sublime jazz standards "After You've Gone" and "If I Could Be with You."|
The lesson is: don't assume that just because someone only says a limited number of things on your first encounter, that's all they have to say.
Tonight, after screwing around the galaxy and wasting fuel for a couple of hours, I managed to run into the same "Noah 9" Mechans from the previous night. I spoke to them again, and they gave me all kinds of information that they didn't give me the first time. In fact, I had to speak to them four times before I finally seemed to have milked them for all their data. For all their promises that their databanks were open to me, they were awfully quick to terminate our conversations.
It would take a lot of space to write down everything I learned in subsequent visits, but these are the highlights:
- The Gazurtoid--the bible-thumping, "many-tentacled aquatic creatures" I already encountered--live in "tremendous colony ships." They are enemies of the Uhlex (whom I have not encountered, I don't think), and both of them were enemies of the Old Empire (Earth). The Uhlex have particularly powerful weapons.
- The Mechans believe the Old Empire's other enemies, the Numlox and the Phlegmak, were destroyed during the war. The Phlegmak had powerful bombs shaped like black eggs that destroyed many of the Old Empire's planets. (Anything to do with the Veloxi's "prophecy of the Egg?")
- The Old Empire allied with a particularly cowardly race called the Spemin. When the Old Empire first encountered them, they were in a pre-technological state, but the Old Empire helped boost their level. A fascist-sounding movement called the Secret Society for Spemin Superiority (SSSS) gained power and attacked the Old Empire with its own technology. When the Numlox and Phlegmak attacked, the Spemin begged the Old Empire for protection, which was granted, but they turned on the Empire again after the war was over. I'm guessing the Spemin are the egotistical slimes I wrote about at the end of my last posting.
- All those places on planets where I've been finding Endurium are ruins of the Ancients, not the Old Empire. Ancients ruins are usually found in Class M star systems.
- The Velox (the insectoids) were the first race the Old Empire encountered, and the Old Empire took much of technology from them. They are arrogant and isolationist.
- The Laytonites were a faction of the Old Empire, apparently led by someone named Layton, that believed the Empire was evil and should die. They were the ones that sabotaged Project Noah.
- The first Project Noah mission failed because a failure in a "ring device" made it impossible for the navigators to identify "continuum fluxes." I think continuum fluxes are the little wormholes that send you flying across the galaxy, saving time and fuel. I don't seem to have any problem finding them despite not having a "ring device."
- An Earth organization called the Institute--the ones alternately responsible for Project Noah--studied the Ancients. Two common beliefs were that the Ancients had originally seeded the universe with life and that they would one day return to judge mankind. The Ancients may have built a device called the "Crystal Planet." Don't know what that is yet. There might be some Ancients still living in Spemin space.
- There is a "Dead Zone," identified by the Institute, of flared stares progressing from the "coreward" (right) side of the galaxy towards the center. I have verified this through my explorations, noting that all the stars to the right of a certain point say "post-flare," those in the middle are about to flare, those slightly more to the left are "unstable," and the ones on the far left are fine. This would suggest that Arth has a limited time to live until I can figure out the cause. Notes in the Operations Room at Starport confirm this. I suspect this, then, is the main quest, and since the destruction of stars is progressing, it would seem I have a limited time to complete it.
My Mechan conversations gave me a ton of clues for exploration. Some of them were specific coordinates and planets (including direct coordinates for a station on Earth) and some were hints, like a fabled city of the ancients somewhere in a nebula near Spemin space.
One of the clues led me to a nearby star in which there were supposed to be some ruins on one of the planets. As I approached, I was challenged by a probe that shot a series of numbers at me and asked me to answer "yes" or "no." I tried to discern a pattern in the numbers, but I only got through three before I apparently answered wrong and the probe attacked me.
I destroyed it fairly easily, landed on the planet, visited the coordinates, and damned if I didn't find a "black egg" artifact. Does this mean I now have the ability to destroy a planet? If so, I need to find where the evangelical octopuses call home.
The Earth coordinates looked to be in the Arizona area. (Incidentally, the coordinates I was given, 12N, 104W, doesn't correspond with actual latitude and longitude on Earth, which would be in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico.) Landing, I found a ruin where messages told me of the last days of Earth before the solar flare and the location of another base in a nearby system. There was also an artifact called a "hypercube."
On Mars (which mysteriously has water), at the "Center of the North Pole" (which only makes sense if navigation is based on a Mercator map), I found the Institute's "Starflight Navigational Research Station" and a "ring device" artifact. If my conversation with the Mechans is to be believed, this should help me find fluxes. I'm curious what it will do that I'm not already doing.
I knew one of the two nearby stars was Mardan because I had clues about Mardan-2 and Mardan-4. One of the systems only had three planets, so by process of elimination I visited the other. On Mardan-2, I got just a bunch of cryptic messages about a lack of resources. On Mardan-4, I found (as was promised by the Mechans), a mining bonanza, including lots of Ancients ruins with fuel. I filled my hold and returned to Starport.
Most of the artifacts I found were worthless as usual. The ring device, the analysts confirmed, would help me find fluxes. The analysis of the hypercube seems to be screwing with me: is it a Rubik's Cube? If so, it's worth 15,000 MUs. I think I'll keep it just in case it does something important.
Back out into space. "The richest and strongest planet of the Old Empire," the Mechans told me, "was New Scotland, the second planet in the upspin end of the Staff Constellation." One theory is that I have to find a clue as to where the "Staff Constellation" is somewhere else. But I noted that Earth was described as being in the "Pythagoras Constellation" which, true to its name, featured three stars in the shape of a right triangle. Does that mean I need to be looking for stars in the shape of a staff? If so, there are a lot of possibilities.
I think I'll try heading into Spemin Space next and see if I can abuse some intelligence out of the treacherous bastards and perhaps find this fabled Ancient colony in the midst of a nebula. Does this game ever stop being fun?