Lore of Yore
Histories of the known universe... and beyond
The Mandurai Robotonists have got it cushy. Creating bio-synthetic forests and the huge artificial brain in orbit around the Gant Nebula has given the robotonists a certain sense of superiority. The Cosmic Brain was only programmed to catalogue solar flares: now it's thinking about starting a family.
A robotonist's product line ranges from the sublime to the downright bizarre. They live by the creed that imagination leads, which they use as a blanket excuse to muck about with genomes. The Cloister of Ligotechs files ethics complaints daily.
The facilities are secure—particularly the nuclear cage held at the heart of the Mandurai system's sun, from which advanced cybonics are streamed out through hyperspace. Nothing untoward can get out of a Mandurai factory, and if something were to get in—well, they make robots of war.
One of which is missing. An RK Pummeller is not where it should be in the storage facility on V'kanderplon IX. It is currently aboard a Vor-Rama host-carrier bound for the outward quadrenes where the Mecha-Priests have no jurisdiction.
Destination: Vorgak 3.
Of all the dangers faced by cosmonauts of the void, none are so pernicious and pervasive as the accumulation of space matter on spaceward surfaces during interstellar flight. In other words, pilots have a hell of a job keeping their windscreens clean.
While travelling through the luminiferous ether, a standard rocket ship can pick up millions of space microbes, photons, and particles, clinging to the electrostatic hull or tangled in the kinetic field generated by turbines achieving light-speed. While engineers have been able to prevent these particles from shooting forwards at the cessation of light-travel, and thereby saving any unwary planetary body in their path from being peppered by the tiny, hurtling projectiles, their solution means that rocket ships are left grimed with the greasy after-effects of space travel.
One of the most stubborn of these interstellar stains is solomite, a hardy mineral which clings to a spacecraft's hull in lumpy deposits, amassing in greater numbers the further a cosmonaut might fly. Solomite deposits have clogged turbine intakes, caked the muzzles of blazer cannons, and plastered themselves across portholes and windscreens the Fifteen Galaxies over. And no self-respecting space captain would be caught shimmying up a ladder to scrape solomite off their prized vessels with a squeegee.
Instead, a solution was discovered by the unassuming trawler captain Norah Venfield. Having completed a cargo run to Sessoon, Venfield stopped overnight at the nearby Nidifice Rest Stop, but in the morning awoke to a surprise. Her tramper, moored in its bay below an ark belonging to F.C. Wombell of the Great Galactic Travelling Menagerie, had acquired a coating of fat, furry slugs which had dropped through the ark's slats in the night.
These were truckles; silicon-based molluscs native to the moonlets and moss spirals of the Circle of Orion which grew fat and happy on space dust, carbon crystals, and solomite. These persistent critters eat as much as they sleep, and cling fast using mucus-covered suckers to stuff their furry bodies to bursting. While this proved helpful in wiping a ship's hull clean of pesky solomite, the problem then became the removal of the truckles once feeding was complete. Attempts at stroking, tickling, and singing the critters into a malleable state proved counter-productive, as truckles latch even more securely to their perches in sleep. One of the only reliable methods of truckle removal was to electrify the hull, which knocked the fluffy lozenges off, but with the unfortunate side-effect of outright killing the critters. Because of this, the profession of truckle sweeper saw a boom in several docks and ports across the British Empire, and many ex-truckles became tiny oddities in the gutters of a hundred worlds.
The phenomenon of a "spite house" became an unusual note in the history books of the Humans of Earth, being as it was a building constructed with the express purpose of annoying a neighbour, often to ensure the last word in a squabble. For Bernard Rasp, a descendant of the British colonists of Lars Luma, these quarrelling home-owners were all thinking too small.
Rasp, the son of forward-thinking activists Kevan Meric and Gesillé Rasp, became determined to rebel against his progressive and easy-going parents by growing up as straight-laced and irritable as possible. However, no one drew Rasp's ire more than a Mr. Desmond Groan, inhabitant of the neighbouring Lars Orbit world of Lars Proxima, who made a fateful visit to the sunward planet for a New Year's celebration.
There, Mr. Groan attended a street party hosted in Rasp's home town of Bobbins, and while fervently dancing to a selection of popular hits by Vamp and the Losers, accidentally spilled Rasp's ale. The affront so offended Rasp that he pursued a vendetta of strongly-worded letters against Groan for the next three years, and took to gazing up at the planetary body in the sky and muttering obscenities under his breath. Ultimately Mr. Groan, tired of having to pay for successively larger mailboxes, wrote a letter of apology to Rasp, hoping to end the matter.
This was not enough for Rasp, however. The sight of Lars Proxima from his front lawn now enraged him, and he spent the following year devising methods of removing it from his sight. After constructing hundred-foot fences and solid-steel dishes to block the planet from view, but which failed to account for the planetary orbits, Rasp searched further afield for a solution. It was not for another two years that he would stumble upon his final and somewhat extreme manner of revenge.
Happening upon a being named i'Fici'fit, rumoured to be an embodied descendant of the lost Pencans and working as a cosmic ecopoiesegist on Terra Arthus, Rasp paid a small fortune to have her construct a small nebula between Proxima and Luma. The cosmological engineer was as good as her word, and the resulting stellar growth did indeed obscure Rasp's view of Lars Proxima for the first period of its gestation. However, i'Fici'fit failed to impart the specifics of the nebula's size, and it soon developed its own gravity. This played havoc with the orbits of both Lars worlds, and pulled the pair into an irreversible collision course. While both worlds were successfully evacuated, Bernard Rasp refused to leave his home, and was last seen sitting in a deckchair on his lawn with a somewhat triumphant expression on his face as his world careened into Lars Proxima, obliterating both bodies.
Mr. Groan and his family relocated to the nearby colony on Vorgak 3, and said little about the Rasp affair, presumably from sheer awkward embarrassment. The nebula, having obtained a much larger mass thanks to the remnants of the planetary collision, was nicknamed Bernard's Spite, and its distinctive golden hue can be seen from Earth on a clear day.
The British Empire is expanding through the cosmos. Albion's reach extends far from Earth, encompassing worlds happy to become devoted subjects of the Crown and leave their silly civilisations in the dirt.
The third planet of the Vorgak Hegemony. The soil is fertile and the seeding fields provide rich nutrients in abundance for the local sporganisms. The Empire has need of riches and abundance.
Fifty-four Bristol Bombardiers rain from the Vorgak skies. Fire flows wild over the fields. Coral pods pop and burst. Flesh and spores burn above as, below, the primordial ooze remains untouched and vital.
The Unification Fleet descends, bringing Colonarks to begin the harvest. Terrafarmers set up camps and colonies near the morass of swampland, and Vorgak 3 falls under the green thumb of Britain.
As for the natives? Gone; pitched out into the dark depths of space. It is definitive: The Vorgak are no longer in the British way.
Histories of the known universe... and beyond