Spotlights on aspects of the Omniverse
With the Conquest of 1822 by the British Empire, new life came to Vorgak 3 from across the stars. As the war machines of the Space Navy withdrew, great Colonarks descended on the smoking seminary fields, ready to plant new seeds into the planet's fertile soil. However, the Vorgak Spore Cradle was already teeming with native organisms, remaining hale and hardy even while the Vorgak themselves floated through the desolations of deep space....
The first colonists touched down at the landing site that had sparked the vast cleansing fires during the Conquest, and settled areas such as Shorn Cliff, Rowland Hill and Patty's Knob. There, terrafarms were established to begin transforming the Vorgak terrain into the British standard of arable land. Sir Simon Leigh of the Colonark Tythe was famed for officially planting the first potato seed tuber into Vorgak soil in September of 1823—although being hideously out of season, the entire crop failed to grow, and the more level-headed first mate, Rodney Moises, cultivated the first successful crop in the following summer. Moises later named this variety vorgatubers, due to its distinctive purple hue (a side-effect of the native climate). More traditional British potatoes were grown in later years, and both varieties continued to be enjoyed by the colonists.
Other fruits and vegetables grown by Sir Leigh's harvesters included parsnips, carrots (also purple) and a type of apple that caused a rash of vomiting across the Naggy campsite until the entire crop was quickly and quietly set fire to. After this incident, the demand for imported foodstuffs sent from Earth and other self-sufficient colonies increased, and within two years the first food parcels arrived from the Albion Reach.
Local delicacies were enjoyed by those whose tastes ran to the exotic, however. The lowly goppleberry proved to be a firm favourite among the servicemen of the Vorgak Command, then under the aegis of General Sir Archibald Bramwell-Fish. The sweet and succulent berry was virulent across the planet's central continent, flourishing in the original swamps prior to colonisation. Afterwards, samples were grown in greenhouse conditions, although over time these genetically-modified berries lost their distinctively vibrant purple hue to a duller colour—but no less flavour.
The goppleberry was one of the only examples of flora on Vorgak 3 to migrate to the outlying worlds of the Vorgak Hegemony. It was believed that as little as three seeds were spirited away by a Vorgak named Kolk while the British Bombardiers set fire to the fields of coral pods. These seeds survived the long transit through space, and were eventually re-planted on Vorgak Lower, obtaining vital refracted sunlight from the mirrored surface of the Lake of Stars. Later Vorgak such as High Commander Schlack would come to know the taste of goppleberries thanks to Kolk's quick thinking in their species' time of crisis.
With the indigenous Vorgak displaced, Humans became the primary species on Vorgak 3, and the world's sole sapient race. However, other creatures called the third planet home, from protozoan sporganic amoebae upwards. Native pigs, chickens and geese were perhaps examples of convergent evolution, sharing near-identical genetic make-up to porcine and anatidae families on Earth. None the less, colonists reported that bacon from Vorgak pigs (nicknamed porkgak) was tougher than Earth equivalents, and typically consisted of more rind than usual. This briefly gave rise to the peculiar profession of Rindmonger; butchers who would sell porkgak rind for use as fabric in gloves, sweaters and the punningly-named sow'wester rain hat.
Despite the presence of farmyard animals and waterfowl on Vorgak 3, other Earth animals such as elephants were not found in the planet's food chain. The lack of beasts of burden posed initial problems for the colonists, who found themselves struggling to carry building materials to their burgeoning settlements without the aid of drawn waggons and wains. The spread of anti-gravity ground vehicles saw its origin in these difficult early years.
Further, some of the planet's native species proved to be downright pests in the colonists' efforts. The lagonasp, a buck-toothed vespine, was a particular menace to gardeners and terrafarmers, and many crops were left with huge teeth marks should ignorant settlers plant their seeds too close to a lagonasp nest. Other veggie-snaffling critters included the furry bophop, the scrumping gepii and the lesser voryote, a pack animal which coordinated audacious strikes on settlement farms until the invention of the plasma fence by Mundy Marsh in 1827.
Pack mentality and hive minds were common to the creatures of Vorgak 3. In later years, soldiers of Vorgak Command's 51st Colonial, encamped halfway between Patty's Knob and the British embassy, contended with increasing aggression from the planet's insect population. In particular the so-called Vorgak harvestman (more properly the vorganda grandis) showed signs of pack coordination during an infestation that blighted crops in the year of the Invasion of Vorgak 3. These eight-legged creatures seemed able to identify and avoid infested crops in their raids, leaving entire harvests with nothing but infected tubers. Doctor Vermouth of the 9th Reserve made headway in studying these harvestmen, but the events of the Vorgak invasion put paid to his investigations.
Aggression appeared hard-wired into the genetic structure of many of the native life-forms, and in none more so than the Vorgak themselves. Their attempted re-conquest of their homeworld showed that their fighting spirit had not been beaten by the British victory years before. Under the divine leadership of High Commander Schlack, the holy fleet of the Fifth Vorgak Horde descended upon Vorgak 3 like a plague of lagonasps—and with implacable spore-zombies and deadly Battle Machines in tow, the Vorgak Empire had a sting or two in its tail.