In the vast expanse of space, no one can hear you scream; it is a place dangerous, the final proving ground, where on a grand stage the future of races is decided, often with coherent light and nuclear fire.
While those lacking sufficient might and unity to withstand an external threat often vanish from the pages of history, for some, violence is not the be-all end-all solution at hand, but a final recourse when reason has failed.
So it is for the Kiranti, a species attracted to other pursuits than war, despite being forced to battle far too often for their taste. Not wishing to waste the lives of their citizens in armed conflict, this frail species has for years been the most resilient supporter of diplomacy amongst those who sail the black silk between the stars.
"United we stand, divided we fall"
Never has the need for a united frontier been more pressing than today, with races more prolific and less enlightened than us pressing forward across space, to claim what is not theirs. Shall their spawn inherit what we invested the sweat of our brow into? Shall they claim what our spirits gave birth to? Shall the flame of culture be trod into the ground and another Long Night come to pass whenever a madman amasses an army and sends it rampaging across space?
Never has a shouted ‘NO!’ been more fitting that now.
Never has it been more important than in the days to come to know your friends, and keep them close, for alone we might not weather the storm to come. Know that the next time your instruments come ablaze with the light of hostile contacts, you will fare far better if you nurtured loyalty and friendship, lest you be forced to extinguish every malevolent light alone. You, Kel’Regar, you are fractioned; we can help to unite you. Humans, you suffer from liars and parasites in your midst; we will help you weed them out. Oraki, you are few; we will help you grow.
Let us not mistake pride and folly for dignity and independence. The nay-sayers may mutter from their holes, but we shall forge a legacy for the future, a new order made by our hands, for our kin, something we can be justifiably proud of. Within this Alliance, we shall prevail - unbent, unspent, unbroken.
And the Alliance arose, and they saw it was good.
While keeping such a league of vastly different beings from jumping at each other’s throats is a task akin to herding fleas, the Kiranti diplomatic corps shun no effort to reinforce the Alliance and forge new bonds. This is no altruistic endeavor - having experienced several close calls in their early interstellar wars, they wish to keep as many allies between themselves and blood-thirsty aliens; when their allies flourish, it’s even better.
As one of the hallmarks of this new league, they have constructed the Haven of Voices, a flashy and safe place for the dignitaries to meet.
We’re headed for Singal, then Trennen. Those little munchkins there just love the sweets and spices weve got in our hold. I am going to sleep, you take the helm. Dangers? None - except for our customers. Just don’t steer towards that yellow worm hole, or they will shoot us to bits. Yes, yellow. I know they usually are not, this one is. From what I heard, it would break our ship up anyway. Just steer towards the planet, and wake me when we’re there.
Two wormhole openings terminate in the neighboring Singal and Trennen systems, unusual in their properties. Long were they deemed not navigable, for no ship to head into them ever returned. After the Kiranti founded colonies there, excessive research into their nature was conducted; the potential danger or bounty behind them could not be ignored.
The generally rather inefficient Maiani Conversion Drive was the answer; it charges up with ambient energy to remove a ship from reality and rematerialize it some distance away. While in most situations, the charging process takes excessive amounts of time, it was only used as a secondary defensive measure, an one-time teleport, on some experimental battleships; its exceedingly high cost and maintenance requirements make it useless for everyday use. To sail along the Golden Path, that mysterious wormhole, it is suited best: the wild energies of the anomaly, which shredded any ship trying to pass, charge the drive within seconds after entering, and the wormhole propels it unerringly to its destination. Any traveler fortunate enough to witness this voyage will be delighted by the radiant patterns and shapes appearing in the wormhole’s walls. Everyone claims to have seen something different, surreal yet personal; Kessia, a navy pilot who traversed the Path dozens of times, put her visions into paintings, which she assembled in a collection named "the Aura of Dreams".
What allows their ships to travel the Golden Path the Kiranti keep secret; few would suspect a dead-end failed drive tech being used to accomplish that feat.
The Hidden Sun
What might the mysterious destination of the Golden Paths be? It is a system lonely, wrapped in a fold or bubble of space, sequestered save the two wormholes. Around a small, mellow orange star, three tiny planets wander, one of them gifted with water and life; the most distinctive feature are the vast nebulae that fill up most of this region of space, set ablaze by internal discharges and the rays of the sun, to play with colors that are hard to imagine.
On Havena II, sentient life has flourished, attaining a pre-starflight society. The natives call themselves Daumar, and are a curious breed, tall asymmetrical creatures, with one armored side bearing a strong clawed arm and one eye sensitive to motion hidden between armored ridges, and a less bulky side with two dextrous appendages and three eyes sensitive to various light bands. Three sturdy legs carry them along.
A standard 20 amino acid biosphere (the Johnnies and their Appleseeds got even here!) allows the Daumar to provide foodstuffs for the station, while their industry supplies many a part. The Kiranti are working on fast-tracking their development in turn, to allow them to join the star-faring collective when they are ready.
Beyond the third planetary orbit, the Haven of Voices spins - a space station with the purpose of housing the meetings of the Alliance in safety. Needing little in the way of military defenses, it features crystalline domes and transparent walkways, a sparkling shield protecting them from meteors and radiation. Indeed, the whole inside of the station’s ring is transparent, with a sphere filled with ionized gas located in the middle, shining resembling a sun. All of its surface is a giant canvas for the artists of Venria, covered in delicate patterns and beautiful images from nature and mythology, as well as adaptations of their allies’ great works. Carefully tended gardens provide an excellent background to calm tempers; they also house the meeting halls and accommodations. The service and engineering sections are hidden and off limits, built compactly and hard to navigate for anyone who is taller than five feet, or is of wider girth.
In all public spaces, newsfeeds from all of the Alliance are displayed on large wall screens, and projected on the clouds in space, with the emphasis carefully chosen to highlight the problems at hand.
All personnel is either robotic, displaying artistic and extravagant designs, or consists of educated, well-mannered Kiranti, many of whom actually belong to the diplomatic/espionage corps; their intelligence gathering is very unobtrusive and subtle, for they do not wish to evoke even the smallest bit of suspicion. Most often, they will appear to be naught but pleasant, cute girly service staff, going about their business. The Daumar are present in small numbers, acting as security personell, while receiving education in turn.
Likewise well concealed is all surveillance equipment, while obvious security cameras and their likes in some places are meant to draw away suspicion. The information they glean is usually used to learn how to handle the individual dignitaries (one can usually persuade a person better if his needs and wishes are provided for excellently, his allergy to fish is respected and a glass of his favorite wine sits in his hand).
Meanwhile, claiming logistic problems (they pretend only a few ships, of limited size, can cross the Golden Path) the Kiranti restrict the movement of less-than-important outsiders to the system and station, to increase security and make visitors more dependant on their host’s staff. None-the-less, the percentage of aliens residing on the station is steadily increasing, much to the worry of the security staff.
In areas intended for socialization, one can find a varied display of the best from Kiranti culture - music, theatre, art exhibits, cuisine and traditional sports are but a few aspects of how the hosts present themselves in a favorable light.
To honor their allies and guests, there are halls dedicated to each of them - one with assembled artifacts from Earth-that-was and an abundance of replicas, with the hosts performing musical pieces from great composers as if they were earthlings themselves; one with imported plants from Regar, assembled inside the dome as if they were a sphere cut from the multi-layered jungle, with Kel’Regar art located in hidden niches to be discovered. Many smaller critters populate the dome, while a few larger ones are kept as well, to provide exercise and challenge should a visitor wish so. A cool, gleaming chamber tells of the history of the Oraki people, with their philosophies and history outlined on the walls, and portraits of some of their heroes, such as Lilith-1, gazing down from steel pillars. While there is a Salvorathan exhibit, most of their number drift towards the small music club located inconspicuously near it; Saiella and her mates who run it are some of the few civilians on the station. The Ssaratha are delighted by the station’s low gravity and thick air, for there, they can easily fly; locales dedicated to their culture are spread out through the gardens.
"This one station is a tribute to our union, a symbol of diversity in unity. Look closely, and it will show you how those who are wildly different can create a whole more beautiful than any of them could alone."
Sweet words aside, the Haven of Voices has begun to serve as a main meeting point for congresses away from the public, encouraged heartily by the Kiranti; it is one of their projects intended to strengthen the Alliance, and receive safety in turn. Others include aiding Terrans and the Oraki in colonizing planets around the fringes of Kiranti space, or offering spare capacities of their vast shipyards for the construction of warships for their friends; during all of this, they stay loyal, cute, harmless, polite.
The Kiranti are less than united on their view of the station - especially the isolationist and supremacist fractions think of it as contraproductive, a waste of resources and source of dangerous contact with species that might exploit and endanger them.
While none of the enemies of the Alliance have been posted on the site yet, we assume there are enough of them to warrant the forging of such an union to defend against them.
*Bite the hand that feeds you: a new dangerous religion has flourished in the ranks of the Daumar, calling for the slaying of the aliens that exploit them and change their society for the worse. Under the guise of merchants, a contingent of armed Daumar infiltrates the station, bent on destruction. The PCs are diplomats, bodyguards, spooks or aides, and have to deal with the situation.
*Trouble in Paradise: involved in diplomatic circles, the PCs must see that the Plot Device gets from one emissary to another without being intercepted and most of all, without causing any disturbance.
*Guardians of the Gate: aboard the Argo, one of the few ships capable of navigating the Path, the PCs are crew. When the Evil Race decides to seize it to assault the Haven, an odyssey ensues.
*The Voices of the Path: on the trek through the wormhole, the ship stalls, and the strange entities that inhabit this subspace manifest on board, alien and threatening. The PCs have to learn how to communicate with these strange beings to gain safe passage, or how to blast them into bits so that they threaten no ship in the future.
*Bad Apple: a Changeling has hidden amongst the diplomatic corps. The PCs, from an elite agency, have to locate and apprehend him without foiling the vital diplomatic talks in progress. For an added twist, perhaps they are not affiliated with the diplomatic corps, and have to sneak aboard the station and secure their objective, and get out again without being caught.
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? Responses (18)
BUMP? No comment?
I read this last week and didn't comment on it. But since you really seem to want a comment on it I will oblige you. I think there are good things here, but they are too mixed up to be much use, and it wasn't a particularly interesting read. You spend too much time on the Golden Path stuff. I understand it is important plot device to explain why this version of Babylon 5 is safe, but it is over expanded upon. (Also Goldenpath?, sounds too much like a fetish movie) The descripition of the station is also really lacking. You list a few facts about the station but don't give us more than independent ideas about things such as the robots and the race specific areas. I was left wanting for a sense of life on the station. Perhaps a day-in-the-life on Haven type thing thread through the post would help me get a handle on the station as a place PCs can interact with and not just as a political or military mark on a map. Two subs (written by best buds) I have read use a nice and condensed method for portraying this
Moonhunter's Norhold sub is slim and not overly developed but it gives some basic information about the city that would enhance any readers or PCs sense of "being there". He describes the corridors, the doors and where people eat and hang out. You're second to last paragraph gets at this, but fails to paint a real picture of a scene. Again it just gives facts. Moonhunter's Norhold allows me to see the door, to move 90 paces down the low hall and see the N in the floor of the Central hall.
A good post that takes another tact is
Here axlerowes describes an island city. I have no idea what a single building on the island looks like (except maybe a windmill), but his entire description is about Character interaction with the setting. Where to eat, where to sleep, where to find a whore etc. Where you take third person view of the station, axlerowes takes an almost second person perspective. Nothing you wrote draws me into the locale within your submission.
So again what is the post about? Is it about the station? Is it about the political and geographical forces that facilitated the construction and current political role of this station? Is it about why one would go to this station? All those fold into one another yes, but one of those should be the central theme of essay or piece. Right now I have to give this one the thumbs down. I may change my vote later.
Thanks for the comments and the generous vote of (1) - it would not be NCN if he did not make a crude sexual comment :P
This is a very interesting location, with NCN's reference to Bab5 taken into account. Anything associated with that earns points for me.
I think this is an excellent idea - but I also think it needs a bit more focus or conflict. Are there rifts within the Kiranti? Are there enemies actively seeking it out?
Plot ideas would go a long way to suggesting how this place would be used. The restrictions mentioned would prevent PC involvement unless they were highly placed.
I think there is a lot of good stuff in here, but it is a little jumbled.
So maybe this is several posts, one about the wormhole, one about the Kiranti and so on. I do like the idea of linking a bunch of the sci-fi races posted on line together.
NCN please don't drag me into your posts.
So, updated with a little fresh content, plot hooks; restructured a little.
Echo wrote "In the vast expanse of space, no one can hear you scream; it is a place dangerous, the final proving ground, where on a grand stage the future of races is decided, often with coherent light and nuclear fire.
While those lacking sufficient might and unity to withstand an external threat often vanish from the pages of history, for some, violence is not the be-all end-all solution at hand, but a final recourse when reason has failed."
I think what you want to say here is that space is so vast (see Douglas Adams) that once warfare reached an intrastellar scale it was easy for whole races to be wiped out. That a single race can not stand alone against a whole galaxy of potential threats. I know you are also trying set a mood but the message is not coming through clearly.
Try something (I am trying to keep with your semi-biblical tone here): *On their home world the Kiranti had long ago put way the childish tools of war in favor of resolving disputes through comprimise and dicussion. As a result the Kiranti could focus the lives of their people and the resources of their planet into art and science. Once the Kiranti entered the galactic stage of intrestellar relations they first thought that Kiranti way was the exception and that most races had focused their energies on new fantastic forms of war. What they soon learned was the Kiranti way of peace was not the exception, but rather it was the survival of peaceful peoples that was the unusual.*
From there you can go into their early wars and their formation of the alliance and then Haven Station.
Again I think things you want to communicate are:
Space is violent and you can't avoid the violence
The Kiranti are not immune to the threats of space and they know it
The Kiranti prefer diplomatic or non-violent solutions to things, though they aren't opposed to violence.
I'm afraid you completely lost the tone here with your rewrite Axle. And to be clear - the best anyone can say is it is unclear to them. I understood the intent of the first paragraph.
I disagree I believe there is empirical nature to prose. Whether you prefer the sentence structure of D.H. Lawerence over Charles Bukowski is a matter of taste, but if we were to break down their work we would find similar levels of communication to the reader.
Though I may very well have lost the tone, and disregarding my rewrite lets take this piece apart.
"In the vastness of space no one can hear you scream"
What is being communicated here, and what does this phrasing seek to set as a tone? Does the Haven of Voices refute the above mantra by allowing a place where voices can be heard? These are things being hinted at but not expanded on, and thus lost.
I have been waiting all day to reply to this one, but I don't log on at work.
"the best anyone can say is it is unclear to them."
I shared this with my co-workers and they all thought it was hilarious. That was a direct quote from E.B. White's "Elements of Style" isn't it?
But I digress. You didn't really mean that, what you meant is that AR is a smug bastard for suggesting such a rewrite. Additionally, you are saying by understanding the 1st paragraph you are better then AR. Well AR did sound like a smug bastard and his comments were/are useless. If you want to rewrite something smart guy try this.
Right now we are putting together the manual for a new kitchen appliance, and when we write.
"The local mineral content on the local water source may effect the lifetime of this item."
"The lifetime of this item may be adversely effected by use in hard water conditions."
"The formation of mineral deposits around the (can't share) of this item will prevent it from working properly. Use of this item in areas serviced by hard water will result in the formation of the afore mentioned mineral deposits. Regular cleaning of the ***** will prevent the formation of damaging mineral deposits."
"The **** should be inspected and cleaned regularly."
If one wants to understand, one does. I do not write dry clinical prose, for I have enough of that at work.
Also, is it wrong to state that something is clear to you when someone claims it is unintellegible? We are not the same, nor are we equal in our capacity for understanding and comprehension.
So. To whom it may concern: take your overbearing aloofness elsewhere, and stop trolling. Thanks in advance, I will be much obliged.
A lone figure strolls out on to a grey field beneath a greyer sky, he vaguely resembles a once great rock icon who is now reduced to a kitsch mascot of hubris and the James Dean principal. The ground before the figure is barren and pock marked. He makes his way between piles of still smoldering conjunctions and broken down adjectives. The air is heavy with the smell of innuendo and in the distance he can hear the sounds of various insults, their motors still idling. He picks up a half empty case of punctuation marks and rifles through it. "Only semi-colons" he says with disgust, but before he can place the case back on the broken earth he sees something. There was something beneath all these broken and misused sentences. Bending down the figure brushes aside some dirt, and finds the remains of some ones good intentions. Examining his find the figure realizes that those intentions had attempted to ride onto this field upon untamed enthusiasm. The evidence is clear though, they-both the intentions and enthusiasm- met their end here. If only there was a place where voices could heard; a Haven for communication and the resolution of opposing ideas.
Echo and Valad you killed any discussion we could have had about the prose here by making this about whether or not one can even critize prose.
Echo if you think this work is perfect and with out need for revision then why ask for comments, Why not just say
I present a perfect work. Or you could say I present a work and I will except advice from a,b and c, but no one else. Then you bully poor little AR into an apology.
My point only was this.
You can provide your opinion - There is nothing wrong with saying "I think this sucks."
There is a problem, in my opinion, if you say "This sucks."
The difference is one is an opinion, the other is an opinion phrased as unsupported statement of fact.
Thats all. Besides, it is a fair debate - Axle though it hard to understand, I didn't. Nuff said.
This much better though I completely missed what the Daumar were in your first post.
There's a lot of good bits here. I'm still trying to figure out how they assemble in my mind. So for the potential, and making my mind grind, thank you. I feel, though, like I'm missing something.
A good, solid effort, and I will dutifully avoid the whole 'prose' issue. Instead, I'll point to my major difficulty with this. That being the whole "no context" issue. It takes me some time to get into what you are trying to talk about because I don't know that the Kiranti are a race. Likewise the Daumar don't show up for quite some time but they're somehow central to the point.
What I am trying to say is there's really no context given for how this all fits together. Lots of veiled references (like mentioning the earth that was) but no explanation for it all.
But like I said, good, solid effort and I can see a good diplomatic Bab 5 kind of campaign coming out of it.
PS though I have to say, I am REALLY curious to know if the Kiranti have some secret, long term, plan to get their enemies and allies to eliminate one another...
It is a tad bit of a shame that this has been voted so low. On seeing the vote and the comments that pulled it down I almost didn't read it.
While sci-fi isn't a strong point for me, and there are issues with the sub which I will not go into I pulled from this what Black Jack questioned. I feel as if the Kiranti could in fact be using this station as the ulterior motive to supply the war effort with ships and false hope of alliances. There is no more profession profitable that war profiteering.
This line is what made me think this way, "offering spare capacities of their vast shipyards for the construction of warships for their friends; during all of this, they stay loyal, cute, harmless, polite."
And kudos to the Douglas Adams reference... love it.