This is not a work of fiction.
This is not a work of popular entertainment.
This is not even a work compiled by a fan with too much time on his hands.
What this is, is a compilation of letters, journal entries, and a variety of other historical documents concerning the final years of the Vasari Empire's failed conquest of the Trade Order in general, and the actions of the Vaashti clan, particularly the leadership of the Kamerun family, in particular. Though there are a plentitude of documents available concerning the Trade Order's side of the Vasari invasion, and the subsequent splintering of the Exodus Fleet, this documentation has not been consulted for this work--the author feels that Trader documentation of this invasion has been too heavily examined in recent years, without sufficiently rigorous examination of Vasari documents to present a complete picture of the invasion. This is a historical documentary, and as such, must be taken with a grain of salt for all perspectives--we have changed too much in the past thirty years to do otherwise.
Please post any comments elsewhere--I will try to update as time goes by, but this is a rather big story--it will take some time to complete it, and I wanted to post what I had before I forgot or lost interest. Because of this, I would rather that potential readers do NOT have to sort through others' posts, but can instead immediately find the last chapter they have not read and begin from there, without having to sort through various posts from others.
There are a few assumptions I have made here that I feel I should clarify before I proceed too much farther. Most of these regard the size, scale, and relative technological levels of advancement on the part of all three sides, although I have also made some entirely arbitrary assumptions on the part of how the Vasari and the TEC are organized. Most of these assumptions will be covered later on—but if you want to know the logic behind them, or you want to know the governing assumptions ahead of time, read on. Otherwise, skip to the first chapter, and ignore this preface.
First off, I must mention size. The Exodus Fleet has been on the run for some ten millennia, and in that time they have grown. What, if anything, they have learned militarily will be addressed in a moment, but in the meantime, we must contemplate the sheer scope of the likely fleet. Simply put, the Vasari have been building up to face the threat of whatever it is that they originally fled from. If the entire fleet of the largest empire in the galaxy could not stop this threat, one must assume that the Vasari would not have contented themselves to merely aim for the same sized fleet—and they, unlike their ancient empire, have had a long, long time to build said fleet. The Exodus Fleet may not be as technologically advanced as one might expect (after all, the Dark Fleet, when it arrives, does so in the same types of ships and at the same general tech level), but it must be assumed to be very, very large. Additionally, since the Exodus fleet carries the entirety of the known Vasari race, and said race must also be assumed to be getting to be quite numerous, I have chosen to declare them to possess quite a few ships—12 milllion capital ships alone, to be precise. All told, the Vasari arrive in Trader space with nearly 40 million combat vessels over the course of some seven years, carrying something like 135 billion souls (the constant births and deaths that occur even in phase space mean that this number is somewhat variable). This does not count the large numbers of Migrators or Navigators that also arrive in that time period (which add together to give another 40 billion Vasari), nor does it count the vessels which are constructed at a later date. The total number of Vasari who eventually end up in Trader space is almost distressingly small—the numbers given in-game are almost certainly inaccurate, since even the most developed planet, were it to have the population claimed, could not man a single Ravestra class Skirmisher, let alone a Jarrasul Evacuator. For convenience’s sake, I have chosen to accept that the numbers have a fairly close relationship to actual populations, and are not entirely arbitrary. My chosen number, considering Vasari ability to clone, direct reproduction, and so on and so forth, is to assume that for every population given, there are a thousand Vasari on the planet, living primarily in large cities in extreme Low Earth Orbit. The bulk of these colonists are transported in cold sleep, either onboard Migrators or Evacuators, as this would give them a greater ability to colonize worlds.
In other words, when they say that the Trade Order originally didn’t stand a chance, they weren’t kidding. By the time of this story’s beginning, some five years before the game itself, the Vasari Vanguard, consisting of a mere 20,000 capital ships and barely 200,000 lighter vessels, has conquered some 650 worlds in 523 systems, and is closing on what they believe to be the Trade Order’s home system. Bolstered by well over ten millennia of practical experience in interstellar conquest, the Vasari believe that they will soon be in a position to take over the entirety of Trader space…and all this before the main fleet has been called in and notified that it is safe to arrive. Even the Vanguard, itself only a tiny portion of the Exodus fleet, consists of over 20,000 capital ships, and almost 170,000 warships, all of which possess an immense technological advantage in terms of military hardware over the Trade Order. The Trade Order’s fall seems inevitable, even to those of the Central Worlds.
But the Trade Order has some advantages of its own, not least of which is its enormous size. The Trade Order the Vasari believe to have nearly conquered is not even 1% of the real Trade Order’s total size. In point of fact, it is not even 0.1%. To the best of anybody’s knowledge, the Trade Order includes well over 10,000,000 worlds holding something along the lines of 75,000,000,000,000 citizens scattered across nearly 2,000,000 systems (if you’ve been keeping track, this equates to six capital ships, 40 light combat vessels, and something along the lines of 350,000 Vasari citizens per system, assuming the Vasari manage to conquer the whole Trade Order). I say “to the best of anyone’s knowledge” because, even with the Vasari conquest reaching its height, the Trade Order is still expanding faster than can be accurately calculated. The Central Worlds alone, which comprise less than 5% of the total area “controlled” by the Trade Order, each produce more in the way of labor, finished goods, money, and raw materials than all 500+ systems the Vasari have conquered thus far combined. Only now, with the Vasari having penetrated almost two hundred light years already, have the Central Worlds begun to awaken to their peril. Several have banded together to provide the resources, men, and material to make a stand. They have chosen the Alukcev system to be the recipient of this aid, for the simple reason that, being the most developed system in the area, it is the easiest to ship supplies to. Despite overwhelming numerical superiority, despite the almost total lack of unity in the Trade Order, despite even the fact that they hold an almost crushing technological advantage in weapons, armor, shields, and systems, the Vasari really don’t stand a chance—if the TEC can hold together long enough, they will grind the Exodus fleet into dust, and, quite likely, destroy whatever pursues the Exodus Fleet when it, in turn, arrives. During the course of this story, the Vasari will have to confront and respond to this unfortunate fact—and how they respond will dictate the future of their race…assuming, of course, that they have a future.
My second assumption partially stems from the first, and is the best solution I can come up with as to why the Vasari don’t A) start out with inter-stellar phase drive, and simply over-run the Trade Order before anybody can respond. Simply put, both sides already have interstellar phase drive…sort of. Instead of the relatively cheap, simple, and easy-to use universal phase drive developed over the course of the game, all three sides in the game use a much simpler version, one which has been precisely calibrated for travel between a certain, highly limited number of stars, which are pre-programmed into the phase drive itself. With their extensive nanite construction technologies, the Vasari are able to re-calibrate their drives substantially faster than the Trade Order, but have not, yet, had the motivation to begin installing universal phase drives on all their vessels. The Trade Order, while knowing such things to be theoretically possible, had not yet reached a point where the considerable resource cost involved in developing a mass-produced version would have been profitable. The Advent, which will not appear until much later in the story, was not even aware of the possibility until they invaded the former Trade Order and encountered such devices for the first time. Advent research of the universal phase drive is more along the lines of back-engineering than actual development—hence the reason they can develop it so early. What can I say—group minds, awesome as they may be in terms of problem-solving, are fairly limited when it comes to generating new ideas.
The third assumption has to do with relative levels of technology—or, to put it another way, why the Traders can even hope to compete with the invading Exodus fleet. This assumption sort of flows backwards from the first and the second, although not entirely—simply put, if the TEC is so much more vast than the Exodus Fleet (and they would have to be), and if they possess a comparable level of technological understanding of the phase drive, then logically, they must not be too far behind in other areas as well. However, this cannot include weapons—not only does the manual say the TEC is not (no warfare for more than 1,000 years, remember?), but most of the TEC’s tech tree only reinforces this. In order for the TEC to develop weapons capable of inflicting damage to the Vasari vessels, therefore, they must possess some other advantage just as crushing as the Vasari’s weapons tech.
It is in the Cielo command cruiser (and the Akkan battlecruiser) that I have found my answer. Simply put, the Vasari are, flat out, not as advanced as the TEC in any non-military area of endeavor. Because of their reliance on slave labor, they are not as advanced in terms of economics, in areas of industry and production, or in general education (remember, they don’t WANT slaves to be educated—educated slaves might rebel, after all). While they do have a slight edge in terms of medical ability, the TEC is almost as good, and in terms of diagnostics and treatment without nanites, Trade Order doctors are, in point of fact, substantially better than Vasari chirugeons. Nor are areas such as mathematics or computing left unaffected—even at the beginning, the Trade Order’s larger base of highly educated citizens means that they have the ability to create codes that are, quite simply, impossible for Vasari cryptanalysts to crack, while the Trade Order, veterans of a millennium of electronic corporate espionage, have found it simplicity in itself to crack Vasari codes. Part of this discrepancy in levels of advancement is reflected in the currencies used by both sides—the Vasari use the Vasari Mark, a currency whose value is defined in terms of precious metals, while the Trade Order uses credits, a currency whose value is defined in terms of labor and energy. Because they are trapped in a mercantilist, slave-holding economy, the vast majority of the Vasari have no more ability to innovate on a large scale than you or I have of jumping from the Earth to the Moon. In short, the Trade Order can make ships and computers better, faster, and cheaper than can the Vasari—but, sadly, a lack of knowledge of warfare and weapons means that the ships will have real difficulty acting as warships.
My final assumption is not quite related to the other three, but it does seem to fit the circumstances of each side. Simply put, the issue is how the Trade Order (and later the TEC) and the Vasari are organized. The Trade Order, it is made clear from background material, are organized in terms of corporations, and for this reason, I have made the basic unit of organization just that—corporations. Each TEC faction played on any map is a separate, limited liability corporation, with larger groupings known as guilds (for obvious reasons). Most of these corporations have already started their own armament program, which is why the first capital ship is free (it’s a sunk cost—that is, the money has already been spent), but expanding said program is neither cheap, nor easy.
The Vasari, in contrast, are organized by ten millennia of flight in terms of capital ship crews and fleets. Simply put, the Vasari are organized into something like 1,000 separate clans, each of which control a varying number of capital ships, around which they base pretty much all of their affairs. Each clan, in turn, is made up of a number of separate families (and every Vasari faction on a map is an individual family), each of which is based around a single capital ship. Theoretically, a clan is supposed to have no less than eight separate families, and no more than sixteen, but the fact of the matter is that this rule is neither hard, nor fast. Many clans have far, far more than sixteen families, and many families actually possess multiple capital ships, as smaller, less prestigious families continue to acknowledge a sole figure as the family patriarch, and many families refuse to split off from their original clan, citing reasons ranging from familial affection to lack of nearby surplus capital ships to even having talents that are too useful to divide. This last is the reason most commonly cited for the exceptional size of the five largest clans, of which the Vaashti are ranked third, with 1171 capital ships and 302 component families.
These clans are all linked together, if that is the proper phrasing, by a single, unified command structure (termed Fleet Command), and by the Genetics Council, a separate body including representatives from every clan which determines which families have deviated far enough from their core clan in terms of genetic variation to warrant splitting them off into a new clan, and which genes have come to the end of their use for the Vasari race. Fleet Command, meanwhile, controls the deployment of all vessels within the Vasari fleet in times of war (which, these days, is pretty much all the time), as well as apportioning conquests to incoming families, maintaining the military academy for the training of officers, and, most importantly, enforcing the decrees of the Genetics Council.
Chapter 1: Glorious Imaginings
(Roughly 5 years before Sins of Solar Empire)
12th January, 9985 EY (Exodus Years)
Excerpt from the diary of Kamerun Jeias Vaashti
Today marks a momentous occasion. In a few short hours, I will be granted one of the most prestigious honors that the remnants of the Vasari Empire can grant—command of one of the Empire’s great capital ships. It is from beginnings such as this that the many heroes of the Exodus, almost without variation, have all begun their ascent to fame and glory. Everything the Vasari are and can ever hope to be stems from these great vessels, each of which has a crew numbering in the thousands.
On a perhaps more important, and more practical, note, it also signifies that the Vasari Genetics council has chosen my genetic legacy as one of the select few (ok, the select many—there are almost twelve million capital ships in the Vasari fleet, after all) which is to be allowed to develop relatively independent of outside supervision and, if it is proven that I can handle it, may even result in the creation of a new family within my clan. This is, realistically, the best I can probably hope to achieve—the addition of a second family name to append to my given name, signifying my significance within the clan, but I feel that it will be enough of an achievement to make my name known for posterity, even if the name ultimately spreads no farther than my own clan. Of course, greater things are possible—but it is best, I think, not to dwell upon those until they begin to seem a little more within my grasp.
A notice has just appeared upon my viewscreen—the ceremony begins in less than 2.5 standard units. The student dorm in which I dwell is located upon a different vessel than the ceremonial hall, so I will have to hurry if I am to arrive on time. I shall resume this diary when I return.
The ceremony was everything I had imagined and more. The soaring great hall, the ancient banners, faithfully preserved from before we began our exodus by nanites specifically programmed for the task, even the vast number of new recruits, all combined to impress upon myself and all the other graduates both the age and the might of our empire, and to remind us all not only of how great the Vasari people are and have always been, but of how far we have come as a people in spite of the hardships and the turmoils that have accompanied nearly ten millennia of exile as a nomadic race of conquerers.
As for myself, I am both happy and proud to be among a handful chosen to lead the vanguard of our people into battle, crushing those who oppose us and scattering their ashes along our path. My orders—ah, my orders, my lovely, crisp, orders, printed on the paper so long forgotten that it has nearly vanished from our culture—my orders are to report to the system of Prauk, where I am to “assume command of the newly commissioned vessel Kausr and proceed at all speed for the Lusitar system.” Once there, I am to join with the fleet of Vasari warships assembling in-system, and place myself under the command of His Excellency, Lord Vasseto. Though I was most diligent in my studies of the current Vasari command structure, I must confess to being baffled by this name—though I am aware that the Vasseto family are members of the Kruppianur clan, His Excellency is a title normally used for commanders who have attained the fifth rank of command or higher, and are commonly listed as Hacu at the very least. Yet despite this knowledge, I can find no reference to any Vasseto having attained the rank of Hacu. The records available to students, of course, are naturally incomplete, the intent being to force us to find alternate ways of developing information and resources, but as of yet, the official records are all I have had a chance to consult.
My gene-mother may know more of this—I will have to consult with her, and my gene-father, at the earliest opportunity. Ah, well; I promised them tonight that I would write often anyway, and this seems to be as fitting a topic as any.
Maha Kamerun Nirini Vaashti
Strana System, Planet M
14th January, 9985 EY
After the ceremony and a day of “celebration,” I am scheduled to depart on the next available vessel for the Prauk system (where I am to take command of the Kausr)—a Ravastra class skirmisher, as it happens—and should be leaving sometime within the next few hours. Exactly when is uncertain, since the ship’s commanding officer, a Azat Templatis, has yet to finish rounding up his crew from the planet’s admittedly luscious drinking halls and dens of vice and iniquity. Rumor has it that the good azat is to be assigned as one of the Kausr’s escorts, something which I find hard to credit, unless he has married into one of the Vaashti clan’s admittedly fairly numerous family groups. Not unexpected if he has, but I do not think that he has—his vessel, for all its stark beauty, lacks the characteristic fanged prow so beloved of the vessels commonly used by the Vaashti families, something which would almost certainly have been present had his wife’s family supplied the vessel as is customary.
Incidentally, thank you for the graduation gift of fifty gold marks. It is a princely sum indeed, and I have already put some of it to good use, purchasing the data-slate upon which I am currently writing this letter, a half-dozer additional local power packs (for which I paid slightly less than half of what I would normally pay for a single Vasari power-pack), several packets of sulfur tablets for long phase-space transitions*, and, oddly enough, a pair of young male slaves who were going for far too much money at the local auction. In accordance to Vaashti clan-law, I have freed both of them, and I will be sending them on to you. Supposedly they will be boarding a Migrator headed your way before I depart, but just in case they do not, I have arranged for them to have a place to stay within the local Vaashti compound until and unless you can pick them up. Both of them are supposedly students of a rather obscure branch of mathematical enterprise called ekonomix, which apparently has something to do with resource distribution. I seem to remember Father was recently appointed governor of an asteroid mining colony—perhaps he could use some help in getting up to full production.
I have spoken to numerous veterans of the overall conquest in the past day and a half, and discovered that, far from being contemptuous of yet another native race desperately striving to hold back the inevitable expansion of the Vasari Empire, many of these veterans seem to hold a grudging respect, if not outright admiration, for the courage and tenacity of these creatures. Though the veterans’ replies were guarded, and often such feelings seemed almost hidden in a wealth of anecdotes concerning the locals’ almost total incompetence at war, the impression was inescapable, and most disturbing. Some have even hinted that local courage and native technology have been sufficient to outright destroy several Vasari warships, something of which I had not heard before. Surely the local sentients, who seem to be armed with nothing more than lasers and primitive ballistic weapons, would be unable to harm Vasari vessels of any kind? But apparently not—the veterans would not surrender any details, but simply shook their heads and went back to their beer.
I am afraid that this will have to be all I can write for now, for I see Azat Templatis approaching at the head of what looks to be the last members of his crew still on-station, and it may be some time before I can get a message on board a vessel headed back to you. Give Father my love, and keep some for yourself.
Your loving Son,
*Author’s note: Sulfur tablets serve roughly the same purpose for Vasari metabolisms as aspirin does for humans. Because most Vasari, like most humans, find long voyages through phase space mildly uncomfortable, it is customary for those who can afford them to take a couple of sulfur tablets upon exiting phase space.
Nawab Kamerun Vitale Vaashti
Strana System, Asteroid Extractor V
18th January, 9985 EY
It is with great pleasure and no little trepidation that I am forwarding a copy of our son’s first letter to you—pleasure, for he did indeed remember his promise to write (that’s 15 silver Vasari kroner you owe me, by the way), and trepidation because passing on his letters to one who does not have military clearance is technically illegal. I have used a local print-caster to transfer the letter to hard-copy, because usage of the local hardware is not yet being tracked by Central Command. You will have to destroy the copy once you are finished with it. Still, the implications of just a few casual sentences within the letter are too dangerous to deny, let alone pass along to those most likely to be asked to make up any shortfalls or overlooked elements in Central Command’s strategy.
To sum up the disturbing sentences, it seems our son has bought and manumitted (that means freed) a pair of young slaves from a market in the Dussel system. Both of these slaves seem to have been students of some sort, something which probably indicates a fair degree of wealth on the part of their families, and a certain degree of intelligence on the part of the students. Both are declared to have primarily studied mathematics, with which we are familiar, but the branch our son was told they had studied is one that has no equivalent name in the Vasari tongue (at least, not that the slaver was aware), and which appears to lack any kind of analogous field of endeavor in the portion of the Vasari technical database to which I have access. I am hopeful that you will be familiar with a similar field of endeavor in Vasari space, for if you are not, we may well find that our foe is fully as advanced as ourselves, and that our successes to date have been largely a result of our comparatively united command structure and overwhelming initial numbers. If our enemies have access to extensive branches of mathematical and scientific knowledge which we lack, or, worse, of which we are not even aware, we could be facing a frustratingly effective foe with frightening levels of endurance. It is even entirely possible that the dominant local species may never be entirely suppressed, but engage in an ongoing guerilla war which saps our resources throughout the course of our occupation. This is quite obviously unacceptable, as our requirements for expansion have
I have sent one of the natives to you—I would send both, for you are in truth more qualified to evaluate the locals’ knowledge on what this ekonomix is supposed to entail than I, but the other is both badly out of shape, and apparently prone to space-sickness. As to why a supposedly sentient race would not take the first opportunity to remove such tendencies from their genome, I cannot say. You will probably have to use a hypno-system to give him the language, but take care to do this yourself, if possible, as most technicians are trained to use the hypo-teacher to erase any “inconvenient” memories along with teaching the language.
I eagerly await your reply, and look forward to hearing from you again.
Your loving wife,
Szlekt Kamerun Jeias Vaashti,
VIV Kausr, Prauk system
19th January, 9985 EY
It is with great relief that I read your letter that you are on your way to join your command. I had half-feared that you would do something foolish and manage to get yourself barred from ever holding command rank, but thankfully you have managed to avoid that temptation. Two of your classmates, however, did not—Szlekt Jurilus Kuchak was stripped of all rank and titles for malicious impersonation of a goat, and Maldyve Dunsi Iscangr was demoted to an unspecified rank for some unspecified (but presumably quite horrible) crime.
Out of curiosity, I have attempted to discover further details concerning the Kausr, including which family originally built it, what class of vessel it is, and any number of other tidbits that might or might not be useful to know, but have been unable to do so. The Kausr is simply not listed or mentioned anywhere in the Vanguard’s database, not even in the restricted sections of the Fleet archives. The conclusion, though odd, is inescapable—the Kausr is a new construction, a vessel either built within the last six months and not yet officially completed (probably because the central computer circuits have not yet set into their final positions), or a vessel that is at present merely a design in some shipyard database. Both of these possibilities are so astonishing, I am inclined to dismiss them out of hand—the Vanguard generally lacks the resources to spend any kind of serious time building new capital ships, and we most definitely lack the manpower to assign even a newly graduated szlacht the task of supervising its construction. For you to be receiving a brand new capital ship, either way, is either an unprecedented honor, or a deliberate slap in the face for the Vaashti clan. Neither option sounds like something Central Command would countenance.
As for the humans you sent with your letter, they both arrived more or less safely, although the fat one seems to have problems with space-sickness—something which could be a problem were he sent to join your father, and which has necessitated that he remain here with me. Although I am often doubtful of local sentients and their supposed abilities, I must admit that this native has been most useful to me, and although I cannot allow him to see any details concerning most of my work, his insights into that which he can be permitted to see are most valuable. I have currently assigned him a tutor in Vasari language and systems, in hopes of educating him in the superiority of our culture—with sufficient indoctrination, he may yet prove to be a valuable aid in our quest to find a way to halt the enemy which even now pursues us. More importantly, once he learns our language, I hope to be able to extract from him a much clearer explanation of this ekonomix that you mentioned—the one you provided, while concise and possibly even accurate, appears to be the limit of what we can get until we can understand him.
Be careful, and work hard and long to advance the greater glory of the Vasari and of your clan.
Your loving mother,
Strana System, Planet M
Maha Kamerun Nirini Vaashti
23rd January, 9985 EY
I have arrived in the Prauk system, and was ushered aboard my new command less than an hour ago. Unfortunately, the command itself is quite shocking—I have been given command over what appears to be a updated Skirantra class fleet tender, a vessel that verged on the obsolescent even before the Exile began, and the last of which was officially broken down for scrap metal over four thousand years ago. Worse, this appears to be an entirely new construction--it has, as I said, been heavily updated, and if it is an older vessel, has been refitted with modern weapons, modern armor, a slightly more modern hull design, and substantially more modern shield generators. In my considered opinion, it would have been easier to just rebuild the ship entirely than updating an old vessel, even assuming they had one. As to why a Skirantra would be built for the first time in over eight thousand years, that I cannot tell you, save that Central Command must have felt that there was an urgent and pressing need for its huge nanite bays after all. As to what that use may be, I cannot even guess—I have scheduled dinner with my immediate subordinate officers tonight, and plan to work out a program of intensive drills in what I believe to have been the traditional duties of Skirantra vessels when I meet with said officers this evening.
So far the crew itself appears to be performing quite acceptably, especially given the unsettlingly wide variety of families and even clans present. So far I have counted the distinctive features of almost 16 major clans, with at least glimpses of a number of much smaller minor clans present as well. Some of these smaller clans are so poorly represented among the Vanguard units that I had not initially been aware that they were part of the lead fleet elements at all; their presence onboard a major capital ship must surely constitute the bulk of their uncommitted manpower. It is a heady responsibility, knowing that the loss of this ship will not only bring disgrace upon one’s own clan, but also military and political disaster for several others. Despite this additional responsibility, however, I am puzzled—keeping a capital ship’s core crew, at the very least, as a single-clan unit is one of the fundamental rules of Vasari fleet construction. Without a core complement made entirely of a single clan, there is no way of knowing whether or not the training standards within the crew are uniform, or even if the methods of operation are sufficiently alike to enable a unified chain of command. I fear that, should something go disastrously wrong in my upcoming assignment, no force known to the Empire could prevent a mutiny, or, even more dangerous, a civil war from breaking out within the confines of the ship. This is, I suspect, something to be expected on a vessel as large as a Skirantra, especially on one with as little chance for glory as a fleet tender. Still, I am glad for this opportunity, as there is little doubt in my mind that I would not have gotten an equivalent chance for glory otherwise.
Give my love to Father, and keep some for yourself. I eagerly await your expected reply.
Your Loving Son,
Maha Kamerun Nirini Vaashti
Strana System, Planet M
24th January, 9985
I thank you for your consideration in sending the local sentient on to me, and I would like to personally assure you that the package of delicacies you included was most well received (although I urge you to be more cautious with such packages in the future—while Central Command’s Suppression Service may be less than totally effective at monitoring internal correspondence between Vasari citizens, there is no reason to take chances if we do not have to).
The local sentient you sent to me has arrived safely, and, in lieu of automatic hypno-teaching of our language, has been assigned to one of my mine supervisors, named Bi’lessi Garmun, who has somehow managed to acquire a rudimentary knowledge of the local language. So far, the knowledge gained is limited to a very few useful pieces of information—primarily the name of the two locals our son acquired (the one who gets space-sick is called Frank, and the one sent on to me is named Adam), and the fact that the locals seem to use something called a base-ten counting system in place of what they call a base-eight system, like the one that we use. As to what this means, I cannot yet say, but this Adam, while apparently quite capable of learning at least the rudiments of our alphabet and numerical system, has so far refused to use either of them, instead claiming his native alphabet and numerical system to be significantly superior to our own. While I have yet to have any opportunity to test the truth of this claim, the supervisor with which I have saddled Adam has claimed that he is already capable of performing astonishing feats of calculation—something which would be to be expected if he is, in fact, a student of advanced mathematical study.
Incidentally, I would like to caution you to be very, very careful with this Frank you have chosen to keep with you for the time being—the local language seems to be infectious at best, and I suspect that, even assuming we take no locals with us in our flight onwards, certain local terms and expressions will continue to spread like the plague. I have already received reports from Bi’lessi that he has had to discipline several of his technicians and security troops for using the term okay to signify assent or understanding instead of one of the more traditional salutes and statements of acknowledgement.
Please send our son my regards when next you write to him.
Your Loving Husband,
Maha Kamerun Nirini Vaashti
Strana System, Planet M
26th January, 9985
I know you have probably not gotten my previous letter yet, but I felt it imperative to request clarification as soon as possible—this is an issue that I do not feel safe in making a decision on my own, as it touches far more upon your specialty than it does upon my own. The local sentient sent to me, the one named Adam, has requested permission to communicate with his fellow sentient under your care, under the pretense of both consultation on subjects with which he is less than completely certain, and, most probably, of assuaging loneliness.
Please respond as soon as possible—I told Adam that I would get a response for him at the first opportunity, and to one his age, I suspect that it will be hard enough to wait the seven days needed to get the letter to you and back again as is, even without any further delay on our part.
Your Loving Husband,
Maha Kamerun Virini Vashti
Strana System, Planet M
January 29th, 9985 EY
I have arrived at the Lusitar system, and, as ordered, made contact with Lord Vasseto. He is, it appears, recently promoted, most probably to avoid the otherwise inevitable clan squabbles that would surely erupt with a fury in a fleet this size. Mother, there are over eighty capital ships in this system alone! By my count, there are at least seventy Kortul Devastators, four Antorak Marauders, three Vulkoras Desolators, and a few ships whose class the computer could not identify (perhaps the rumors of new construction were more accurate than I believed). All of this, as nearly as I can determine, is made up of a little over sixteen clans (only nine of which have deployed capital ships), ranging from the Vaashti, with a single capital vessel present, to the Jarsek clan, with a full complement of sixteen capital ships present. It is, as I said earlier, quite astonishing, and I think that I can safely say that I have never seen a similar gathering of vessels in all my born days. In fact, I don’t seem to recall a fleet of similar size ever being assembled in Vasari history—or at least, in as much history as I managed to learn at the Academy. Our foe must be mighty indeed to warrant such a force, even in his home system, where the defenses are usually the strongest.
I am due to report aboard Lord Vasseto’s vessel within the hour—I will write more when I return.
It turns out that one of the vessels the computer database could not identify is a Jarrasul Evacuator, brought here to deploy occupation forces on any newly occupied planets. The other two are both newly constructed capital ships, the Pharadei and the Pyrolis, a Marauder and a Desolator, respectively. Like myself, they are commanded by recent Academy graduates, but neither seems to have the mixed-clan makeup of my own crew. I have continued drilling my crew, and will hopefully have them fully up to spec within the next few days. I will have to, for we are to leave for the Alucai system four days from now. It seems that the enemy has established a series of perimeter bases around their home system, and that we will have to eliminate these bases before we can advance on the home system. Since this is a fairly un-prepared race of sentients, it seems unlikely that there will be much conquest involved beyond the preparation—I seem to have been given my commission just in time, for otherwise I would have to wait a good twenty years or more to take part in the conquest of a new people.
Give my love to father, and keep some for yourself.
Your Loving Son,
Nawab Kamerun Vitale Vaashti
Strana System, Asteroid Extractor V
January 29th, 9985 EY
Dearest Loved One,
I see no purpose in preventing such a communication—indeed, it may yet aid us. However, I would warn you—be very, very careful about the timing of such letters. The Suppression Corps may not monitor our mail very carefully, but it does monitor the mail of any local sentients, and they have been known to take offence at…odd things. Additionally, rumor has it that somebody highly placed within the Suppression Corps is “concerned” at the Vaashti’s continuing refusal to entrust those whose loyalty to us has yet to be proven with any kind of sensitive information or around our person for extended periods of time. It seems that, once again, the old rumor of Vaashti “softness” for conquered species has reared its ugly head, possibly with the aid of somebody from a rival clan. I don’t think that the Suppression Corps can break private Vaashti ciphers easily—but I would also not call any communications we make entirely secure. Fortunately, the Kamerun family is fairly minor in Vaashti politics, so I doubt that they will come after us directly, but watch your back, and what this Adam writes anyway—the last thing we need is a full SC audit just as the final conquest of the local races is being completed. Though innocent, it could take us years to prove it, and in the meantime, the Vaashti could lose any number of valuable opportunities simply because we do not have the resources to exploit them.
On a side note, it is good to hear that you have found one of your workers who can manage reasonable communication with this Adam. I myself have had problems finding a tutor, and I do not trust the hypno-system. Fortunately, I have the populace of an entire planet to draw upon—that will help my search immensely. The fact that Adam has not yet been able to grasp the subtle beauty, or the inherent superiority of the Vasari alphabet and numeric system is disturbing—it mirrors quite closely something that I had observed on the planet, and not given any notice—namely that instead of using the appropriate picto-grams, the locals are using what appear to be crude phonetic approximations of Vasari speech when making signs for the Vasari-fluent. When I do find that tutor, I may have to have him teach me the local speech and numeral system, just so I can find my way around.
Your Loving Wife,
Febuary 1st, 9985 EY
From the diary of Kamerun Jeias Vaashti
Although I would never admit it to my mother, let alone before my peers, I am still as yet unsure as to what is going on here. The Vasari are a very old race, well-used to conquests of other races, and on the surface, this latest race seems to be nothing more than yet another unprepared, decentralized race that has just recently unraveled the secret of phase space. Certainly the vessels we destroyed in the early stages of the invasion bore this out; un-shielded, under-gunned, and almost totally unprepared for the speed, size, and sophistication of Vasari fleets, they were almost without exception totally destroyed. But apparently they managed to transmit data back to the worlds where they were constructed, for those vessels are long gone now. While the latest incarnation of their fast attack frigates may be only slightly more powerful than their first in terms of raw firepower, they are smaller, faster, tougher, and, most disturbing of all, now seem to mount shields—a technology which, to the best of our knowledge, was at best not widely used, and more likely not even known to our enemies when we first arrived. Their technology may not have advanced to the point where it can match ours, as yet, but they have nonetheless managed an astonishing level of sophistication already—I have no doubt that, had they the ability to make this war last for another five or ten years, that they could have stopped our advance, and perhaps even hurled us back. This level of sophistication has, however, done them little good, and it is for this reason that the Vanguard exists—to send an expendable force of vessels of all sizes to test prospective enemy defenses, and to determine just how much force and how much return will need to be involved to make the occupation profitable for the Vasari Empire. Had the enemy been prepared, I have little doubt that the Vanguard would have been…expended, and the Dark Fleet would have looked elsewhere for its prey. Like so many other space-going races, however, the local sentients were not prepared, and within a few months their most industrialized worlds will have fallen to the Vasari people. A few fringe settlements may yet remain unconquered—but only if they choose to hide instead of choosing to fight. My Academy instructors were most emphatic on this, for we have been undertaking this task for much more than ten thousand years, and by now the variations are all well-known and planned for well in advance. My glory, I fear, will have to wait, if it ever comes. Ah, well—I shall persevere, and even a fleet tender in Vaashti hands is one more capital ship than we possessed before.
This conquest should be easy, yet…I cannot forget the tales of those veterans back in the bar. Logic suggests that they were merely trying to frighten a newly commissioned officer, but I have found the feeling that this was not what was actually happening hard to suppress. Most likely, though, this is nothing more than anxiety. Tomorrow, we shall enter phase space, and once there, we shall take part in what will be my first major battle. It would be understandable indeed if I were to be frightened, but…
Febuary 2nd, 9985 EY
From the diary of Kamerun Jeias Vaashti
While the battle is not yet completed, I may now rest assured. I have taken part in combat, and if it seems unlikely that I shall do so again, I have nonetheless acquitted myself with honor. The enemy was, as our scouts informed us, still in the process of fortifying this system, and had not yet completed the chains of defensive works that were still under construction. While individual portions of the system were heavily fortified, the enemy did not possess sufficient capital ships, or lighter vessels, to inflict serious damage upon our fleet. We still have yet to locate the final two enemy capital ships in this system, however, and it will take several days to make the minor repairs required by prolonged combat operations. This, plus the time required to re-tune our phase space drives, should give my crew close to two weeks with nothing to do…which is a problem. Skirantra class fleet tenders were apparently heavily over-crewed, and the upgrading of the design, while it did improve the hardware, also decreased the number of crew required to run the ship. At this point in time, nearly half of my crew is not needed to operate this vessel. I have already had fights break out between bored crewmen, and discipline is breaking down quickly—if I cannot find something for the surplus crew to attend to, I may well have a mutiny on my hands.
On a side note, I saw for the first time the enemy’s short-range warships today. Though ineffective, they are nonetheless…interesting. My instructors told me that these vessels are one of the only holdovers from before our arrival—that before we arrived, these vessels are believed to have been responsible for the bulk of all enforcement and defense throughout the enemy systems. Though largely ineffective, they have an undeniable elegance, almost an air of romance about them that makes it easy to see why the enemy has persisted in their use despite the fact that they have yet to destroy a single Vasari vessel. The danger, of course, is that this romance and elegance could persuade their crew that they are worthy investments of time and skill—something that, without substantially heavier firepower, they most definitely are not.
Maha Kamerun Nirini Vaashti,
Strana System, Planet M
Febuary 5th, 9985 EY
As you suspected, the Kausr is indeed a brand-new vessel, and, also as you suspected, the nanite systems have still not yet completely stabilized. This is not entirely unexpected—the Kausr is a Skirantra, after all, and they do take some time to fully stabilize. In point of fact, the Kausr is probably taking longer than normal, due to the simple fact that, because no Skirantra has been used for more than four millennia, nobody is really familiar with all the systems aboard the vessel, let alone used them in combat before a few days ago. Just as an example, I have (so far) located no less than six fully functional reactor cores, any one of which would be more than enough to power the vessel and all systems aboard, and all of which are built to share the load across the entire vessel. Relics of a design dating from the days when no one reactor could possibly hope to power an entire ship the size of the Kausr, I guess. And keep in mind that I still have crewman tracing all the power leads—we don’t yet know for sure just how many reactors this vessel has (although I get the feeling it’s just six—at least, once we disconnected four of them from the main grid, the power surges began decreasing in frequency). Additionally, the flattened hull and the angular prow spike are most definitely major design flaws by today’s newer, more modern standards—the flattened hull means that most of the pressure from impacts originating above and below the ship is transmitted to the sides, and the angle where the prow spike is vulnerable as well, again transmitting all the stress of any impacts landing at that point to the superstructure of the ship at that one particular point. Still, it is a worthy vessel, or at least it will be by the time I am through with it—I have, I think, stumbled upon a solution, or at least part of one.
Two days ago, a particularly unlucky (or stupid, I cannot decide which) crewmember on board the Kausr managed to dump half a thousand kilograms of combat-grade repair nanites into space while doing a routine combat training. While replacing these nanites did require dipping significantly into the ship’s antimatter reserves, it also had an interesting effect—namely, the nanites in question, obedient to the laws of motion, spread out in a wide cloud, covering several nearby starships with large numbers of active nanites which then attempted to repair the vessel in question. Since no damage had yet been taken, they were unsuccessful…but it does raise an interesting possibility, and I have ordered the Kausr’s nanite factories modified accordingly, something which I believe will eventually give us an advantage when the conquest is over and Fleet Command tries to decommission the Kausr.
Hopefully, I will have the time to write to you again soon. In the meantime, give my love to Father, and keep some for yourself.
Your Loving Son,
Febuary 5th, 9985 EY
From the diary of Kamerun Jeias Vaashti
A most interesting proposal came to me today from one of my crew. It seems that this crewman has been among those who have not been given something useful to do onboard the ship. Instead of sitting on his hands, however, he has chosen to find something useful to do—and he has indeed found something to do. Whether or not it is useful, I do not know.
It seems that this crewman, one Hsasi Bhroos Jandali, has been watching the combat footage taken by the Kausr’s bridge crew, and showing it to some of the other under worked crew members. They have gotten together, and had an idea. It seems that some among them feel that they can…build such a craft by modifying the standard shuttle template every Vasari capital ship comes equipped to build. More, they feel that they have the ability to make such a craft a viable combat force. I truly doubt this, but…it is a claim worth investigating, and they have clearly put some thought into this—they have the figures to back their claims, and, as Hsasi Bhroos has pointed out, all of them are expendable. If this attempt is not successful, then the ship has not lost anything. If it is successful, then the ship has gained much.
I have instructed Hsasi Bhroos to carry out the experiment, and given him all the backing I feel to be practical. Atmospheric-capable shuttles are notoriously hard to hit, and the ultra-light warships the enemy has been using have been even more so. If they can be armed heavily enough to cause noticeable damage to enemy warships, then the Skirantra, with its immense manufacturing bays and massive storage and launch facilities, may be worth re-introducing to the fleet for a third time after all. I hope so—the Skirantra, for all its obsolescence, is a beautiful class, and even if not what we first think of when we talk about a warship, is still an undeniable symbol of both our past glory, and of how far we have come since then.
Febuary 7th, 9985
From the diary of Kamerun Jeias Vaashti
Hsasi Bhroos has displayed an impressive ability to organize and lead a number of Vasari sailors from a wide variety of clans and families. If his project succeeds as well as it looks like it will, I will recommend him for a much higher position in the Vasari Empire—how the Genetics Council missed this one, I will never fully understand, but I am glad they did.
Although he started largely from scratch, he has already been able to generate a wide variety of potential designs for these ultra-light warships, each tailored to a specific task, from the interdiction of escaping civilian vessels, to the destruction of heavy capital ships, and everything in between. These designs have included everything from manufacturing details to proposed doctrines of use, and I have authorized a full eight hours of run-time on the ship’s computers for the purpose of test simulations. My staff is going over the final details of these programs as I write this, and though discrepancies have appeared several times (an indication that not only were these proposals created by different times, but that they were created more or less simultaneously), so far only one design test has had to be thrown out—the inclusion of a command variant, while doubtlessly effective, cannot be tested due to the simple fact that the number of variables exceeds the onboard computers’ ability to complete any reasonable simulation within the allotted time. We will investigate the possibility of using more advanced deployment doctrines at some point in the future if these basic doctrines and concepts prove to have some merit to begin with—eight hours, though potentially sub-par, will probably be enough to give us enough basic data to complete more thorough projections.
Febuary 9th, 9985 EY
From the diary of Kamerun Jeias Vaashti
The simulations are complete. Though unable to complete the runs for all three designs, the results from the first run are moderately satisfactory. Combining a scaled-down pulse gun with a pair of phase missiles, the result displays a consistent ability to deal damage to enemy vessels and defensive structures and avoid the bulk of expected return fire, while at the same time allowing the transporting ship to remain at the outer edges of any local gravity well. Though the process does take time, this means that even the heaviest of enemy positions and fortifications can potentially be reduced by a single Skirantra class vessel. Due to the more angled armor and heavier firepower and shields, no simulation could be run as to the new ultra-light’s effectiveness against capital ships—something that disturbs me greatly, but not enough to deny production of a new and potentially useful weapons system. Hsasi Bhroos reports that he believes that the ship has enough on-board storage capacity to support five of the new ultra-lights and still leave sufficient space for the necessary supporting crews. I have ordered additional pilots trained for these vessels, despite being assured that there are enough and more than enough in Hsasi’s group of enthusiasts to fly all five ultra-lights. Mistakes happen, and this is a new and untested system—I want replacements should the worst happen.
Febuary 13th, 9985 EY
From the diary of Kamerun Jeias Vaashti
Production of the first five strike vessels (as I have decided to call them) is now complete, and the pilots and support crews have been assigned, all from the original project group, as Hsasi Bhroos requested. While I remain dubious as to their real effectiveness in battle, I do not doubt that to design and manufacture what has the potential to be a totally new weapon of war is a major accomplishment, whatever the outcome. To also train crews in at least the rudimentary tactics of their deployment is even more remarkable, especially when this is down while developing and maintaining a close working relationship with the ship’s already existing command staff, and is something I intend to record in the official log before we depart the day after tomorrow.
Tomorrow the real-time flight training in expected tactics and deployment will commence. So far, the best deployment we’ve yet seen of the enemy’s strike vessels has been ineffectual at best—only the unusually heavy armament of the converted colony ships combined with the recent deployment of the enemy’s new Gauss platforms have given them the chance to even slow us down so far. Within a day at most, the drives of every ship in the fleet should be tuned for the trip from Alucai to Alukcev, and we are to make the phase jump within twenty-four hours of the final readiness signal. Hsasi Bhoos’s warm-up and drills on the deployment patterns he and my executive officer have developed over the past week will, unfortunately, be all too short—but the strike vessels themselves should be substantially more effective than the enemy’s, even despite the larger numbers the enemy is expected to deploy. The benefits of a higher level of overall technology, not to mention substantially more experience both as a race and as individuals in the arts of war cannot be denied, after all, and are often surprisingly pervasive.
Maha Kamerun Nirini Vaashti
Strana System, Planet M
Febuary 14th, 9985 EY
The last ship has just reported that its crew has finished the rather arduous process of tuning the engines for the phase-space jump to the Alukcev system. We are to set out for the system tomorrow, jumping in staggered waves so as to provide the maximum phase space disturbance in order to prevent anybody from departing the system for at least two days after the last ships arrive. By that point in time, projections on the expected resources available to the enemy fleet and the numbers of ships we know we have destroyed indicates that we should have completed the conquest of the majority of the system’s population, with the rest to capitulate within sixteen standard units. Barring any unpleasant surprises, we should be able to deploy to our peace-time post-conquest positions within the next two weeks, and begin the final conquest of any remaining enemy colonial possessions soon after that. Based on what I’ve seen as the level of resistance and the time it has taken us to get to this point, I estimate our final list of newly conquered worlds to consist of somewhere between 576 and 640 worlds—a vast empire, and one that, with only a few generations, we could easily expand to rival the old Empire. If these worlds are even half as productive as they are numerous, the combined surplus could, with very little luck necessary, give us sufficient resources to make our stand and defeat the Silence within my lifetime!
Of course, whether or not they will prove to be sufficiently productive is, as yet, impossible to tell—we will have to await the defense of their home system* to be able to determine just how industrious they could be if united. This, in turn, should give us some idea of how productive we can expect them to be once conquered. This is their home system, their last bastion of safety, and the one system that they would put the full measure of their effort into defending. It has inconceivable to almost every race we have encountered thus far that their home system is, ultimately, expendable (the Beetlegeusians and the Mindalorians proved to be the exceptions, but neither possessed a high enough level of technology to be able to drive us from their systems before we were ready to depart). For most races, the bulk of their heavy industry and technological development lie within their home system—for these races, evacuation simply does not seem to occur to them as a viable alternative. Although this particular race has proven to be remarkably willing to allow a dispersal of heavy industry, commerce, and technical development, all indications lead to the Alukcev system as their heart—without this system in their possession, our conquest is assured, and they must know this.
All in all, I believe that we stand poised on the brink of the pivotal battle for what appears to be a rather prosperous alien race that is in the midst of its second or third wave of settlement and expansion.
Civilizations in this period of expansion generally possess something like two hundred major colony vessels in various stages of repair. Intel databases I have access to have accounted for 167 of these vessels either destroyed or damaged so severely that the crew was forced to abandon ship. While the number 200 is probably not precisely accurate, Vasari experience has held consistent that races without major militaries in this period of expansion tend to turn first to their colony ships to provide warship hulls, due to their durability, redundant systems, and high degrees of internal compartmentalization. If this is an especially productive and astute race, we should soon be seeing converted merchant vessels as well as converted colony ships and the armed private space vessels that seem to comprise the bulk of the enemy fleet (as is expected at this stage of their militarization)—we may even see one or two of these converted merchantmen in the initial stages of the conquest of the locals’ home system.
We depart tomorrow. Intelligence has assured us that the conquest will be, if not quick and easy, then at least quick and glorious. I hope to bring glory and fame to my people, my family, and, most of all, to my clan. Give my love to Father, and keep some for yourself.
Author’s Note: No, the Alukcev system is not the Trade Order’s home system. The Vasari, for all the effort they have put into the conquest thus far, do not really understand just how vast an extent of territory is encompassed within the Trade Order’s domain, and have mistaken the first majorly developed world for the Trade Order’s home system. It is this lack of comprehension that allows the TEC time to form, to learn how to most effectively employ its vast resources, and to deploy an increasingly effective defense of Trade Order systems.