Monday, January 7, 2013

Beyond the Gates of Antares fan fiction

I've been following along with the ideas going around on the Dark Space Corp website and forums for the development of a new Science Fiction gaming universe for their upcoming game, Beyond the Gates of Antares. Their Forums are currently very active, and there are a lot of interesting ideas being discussed there. I was inspired by the background information on The Gates of Antares Universe to write up a couple of short fan fiction stories that take place in my imagined version of that universe, based on the little information so far available. Let me know what you think of them. In the second one, Hansa Nairoba is a special character they are creating for the game to promote their Kickstarter Campaign, and some people on the forums have suggested the model should bear a resemblance to Rick Priestley, the creator of the game.

Sephareem gazed absently at his reflection in the polished stone surface before him. His bright green eyes were outlined with purple dye, and set in a long face of scaly orange skin topped with spindly shafts of quill-like hair standing up on end. He was beginning to think he might just look a bit ridiculous. This look had been the height of fashion when Sephareem had left his Concorde homeworld, but that was a long time ago now. He thought, and very much hoped, that the obsession with towering hair had been a quickly passing fad.

Not that it mattered out here. He had left his mundane life so that he could do something more fulfilling than compete with other NuHumans to see who could best keep up with the latest fashions. Slowly, a faint suggestion, like a gentle pressure in the front of his elongated skull, forced Sephareem's attention back to the strange symbols carved into the smooth stone surface. Undoubtedly, studying the ancient ruins on this long-forgotten world was of value to the greater shard. However, it clearly was not sating whatever unfulfilled urge had driven him to leave the comfort and safety of his home for this life of-

He froze. There were others in the sprawling temple complex. One of the drones had just spotted them, a ragtag group of Pansimians, devolved Revers, and other undesirables. Freebooters. Pirates. They were here to pillage ancient artifacts for their own gain, in stark contrast with his desire to recover them for the benefit and improvement of the Shard. This could not be allowed. These brutes must be opposed.

Suddenly he felt a twist, like a knot deep in the core of his being, at the thought of what was to come. He had never before in his life known any kind of violence, or even the thought of violence. He had spent his life under the protection of the IMTel, cradled in the safety of the Shard, but out here... Other Panhuman species might recognize the feeling as anxiety, but it was as unfamiliar to Sephareem as the markings on these ancient stones. A slight tingling intruded into the back of Sephareem's mind, and the twisting feeling was gone. Anxiety is for those who do not yet know what they will do, and worry they will do wrong. Sephareem knew exactly what he would do. He would enact the will of the IMTel, the network of intelligence that guided all those of the Shard, which could not be wrong.

Slowly, almost with a casual indifference, Sephareem drew his standard issue mag-pistol sidearm and proceeded down the crumbling passageway. The entire expedition party of scientists, researchers, and various drones all moved in concert towards their enemy. They were directed by the Integrated Machine Intelligence network formed of the countless nanomachines that saturated everything around them. Sephareem did not think about what would happen. The IMTel already had a plan to deal with the looters. He had only to do as it required of him, for the good of the Shard.

Hansa Nairoba
Hansa Nairoba sat hunched over the table with the pressure of his responsibilities weighing heavily on his thoughts. Soon he would once again be taking risks and making choices that could lead them all to great success, or complete disaster. Or anything in between. He sat in the officer's mess, such as it was, of his DSC class freighter. The room could hardly be said to live up to the "officer" classification, but it could certainly be called a mess. It had a much lived in quality to it, almost like a child’s bedroom with toys covering every surface. Hansa never could have enough toys, though most of his were the strange relics of long-forgotten conflicts.

Slouching in his chair, Hansa hardly seemed an intimidating figure. He wasn't particularly tall as it was, even for a Rever. Nor particular well-built. His head was shaved, and he sported a black beard speckled with silver. He was the very definition of a Rever. You could almost imagine him fitting right in with the prehistoric pre-humans who first set out to explore the stars. Although, of course, no one could know what those ancient explorers really looked like.

Hansa looked around the table at some of the officers, or as some might call them ringleaders, of his Freebooter band. They seemed carefree as they enjoyed a typical meal of ale and curried gruel paste. He had known them a long time, trusted in their skills, and would soon lead them into the unknown once more. The three with him currently were all PanHumans, and all very different.

Standing at the table to his left was Nevik, one of his trusted Lieutenants. Nevik was a ferocious fighter with incredible reflexes and, thanks to his PanHuman anatomy, capable of great speed. His legs were short in proportion to his body and set a bit off to the side, and he never seemed to completely straighten them. His arms were relatively long and powerful, with thick meaty hands and digits. When the need arose, he was capable of running on all fours at incredible speeds, which had come in handy on many occasions. His aggressiveness had proven itself in innumerable skirmishes, though his temper could sometimes be unwelcome, and made it difficult for anyone to call him a friend.

In stark contrast, in many ways, stood J'Stalla, who towered over them all. His massive, bulky, and somewhat short-limbed frame was covered in shaggy hair. Everywhere he went was too warm for him, and his fur was always matted with sweat. The species of his world had adapted over long millennia of unrelenting cold to have many layers of insulation protecting their vital organs. Even his head looked like it had two layers of skull to keep his brain warm. And his personality was just as different from Nevik's as his body was. Hansa probably wouldn't have called J'Stalla a friend. Not because it wasn't true, but because it would have been redundant. J'Stalla was everyone's friend. While many people dealt with Hansa and respected his abilities, he knew few of them had anything kind to say about him. But Hansa doubted an ill word had ever been spoken of the jovial J'Stalla. And the big man also had the virtue of being able to blast away with weapons that would look oversized on most tanks.

Then there was Smythe. His variety of PanHuman had even more disturbing features. All of his limbs were long and spindly, with extra joints. His arms, legs, fingers, and, much to the benefit of Hansa's nightmares, his toes, were all extremely long and excessively articulated. This made him extremely dextrous and agile, and creepy as hell. He didn't have much of a neck, and in the middle of his wide head sat a cluster containing an untoward number of beady eyes. Many of them could see in different spectra, in a far greater range than Hansa could imagine. All of this made him an excellent tracker and assassin. Unfortunately, it also made him very good at his favorite hobby, which was terrifying the crew with his "hilarious" pranks. Hansa would unfortunately never forget the time he got about halfway through a bowel movement before spotting Smythe hanging from the ceiling of the latrine stall, at which point he involuntarily finished the job forthwith. Hilarious.

A voice came over the comm network, mercifully pulling Hansa from his thoughts. "We're approaching the target area," came word from the bridge. Hansa paused for a moment, preparing himself to go through it all once again. "Well, let's roll the dice," he said as he stood up. They all knew what this meant, and they always wanted to be there for the coming moment. One really never got over the spectacle and excitement of it. The uncertainty. The others took final sips or bites before making their way to the bridge behind Hansa, following him instinctively, as men had always followed him.

They arrived on the bridge to see Xander, their pilot, at the helm as usual. Another interesting PanHuman specimen, Xander, and the generations before him, had lived on a gas giant which had been colonized using massive artificial cities, which eventually grew to the size of continents. Colonizing a gas giant didn't sound easy, but the incredible abundance of them in the galaxy has evidently made it worthwhile at some time in the ancient past, and the successive generations had adapted to their inhuman environments. Coming from a place where sound was transmitted much more easily than light, many gassers relied much more heavily on their ears than their eyes. Xander's ears were large, sticking up a foot over his head, and could move to point at what he was listening for. His eyes, on the other hand, were small and black, and covered with large puffy lids of scaly skin. Despite his decreased visual acuity, Xander was an excellent pilot, and a wiz with any kind of technology.

All of them gazed out the view-port at thousands of colossal cylindrical towers, each a hundred miles across and thousands of miles long, stretching back into the abyss beyond sight. The Gates of Antares, the nexus of portals which allowed interstellar travel throughout the galaxy, and perhaps beyond space itself, if some theories are to be believed. "You were right, as usual, Captain", said Xander as he heard Hansa approach. "The area appears clear of hostiles."

This area of the hub was often traveled heavily by the Vorl, but Captain Nairoba had told his men that he'd gotten a tip the area might be clear. And for the time being, it appeared to be so. Before them lay countless gates that hadn't been traveled by man in many lifetimes. Almost anything could lie beyond any of them. Countless possibilities were now presented to Hansa, but ultimately he would have to choose the path they would take. As always, he would trust his instincts. His cast his eyes over the myriad Gates before him, like a tumbling pair of dice rolling across a table, the air heavy with a tense expectation. When they came to a stop, his fate was decided.

"That one" he said, marking his choice on a control panel. Xander acknowledged the order, set his course and increased speed. As all on the bridge looked on with a mix of excitement an uncertainty, the ship set off towards the unknown.

So, there you have them. The game is still in development, and taking fan feedback into account, so there isn't much information about it yet. But if you are interested, you can read the basics of the background here, and a little bit about the game here. If, like me, you'd really like to see this new Science Fiction game by Rick Priestley become a reality, I'd encourage you to contribute to their Kickstarter Campaign. They don't have any of the models sculpted yet, but they have said they will be showing works in progress as they go along. Plus, you can always pledge enough for the rules now, and change your pledge later if you decide you want to get some of the models. Kickstarter doesn't collect the money until the campaign closes (February 28th, in this case) and only if they meet their funding goal to fully fund the project. I'm definitely willing to pledge my support to see what Rick Priestley comes up with, since he has a great track record of making games I really like. You can also get involved in their forums to contribute ideas and give your feedback.

1 comment:

  1. Well written... not knowing a single bloody thing about the universe yet, I got a good sense of what was happening from your two pieces. Very descriptive without going too Melville, and even in a short bit of script you can start to develop an attachment to the characters. I, for one, would rather like to see you continue with this... I think I'm going to be terribly interested in where this goes.

    Well done, sir. Well done indeed.