Master of Orion

Master of Orion

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elpozoleolmeca  [developer] Jan 27, 2016 @ 3:35pm
The Harvest - A Bulrathi Short Story
Welcome to the fourth in a series of short stories that shines the spotlight on the lore of the races in Master of Orion. If you have any questions related to the Bulrathi lore, please leave them in the comments and we will work with our loremaster to get them answered.

It was almost serene; the waves crashed against the rocky shoreline throwing beautiful sprays of water that reflected the perfectly sunny afternoon. The beautiful city of Arctodar was a treasure of the Bulrathi home world, and it was home to the ancient Coliseum and annual Harvest event. The Harvest was one of the best Bulrathi traditions, pitting twenty-four Bulrathi criminals in a bracket-style fight to the death—all at a chance for redemption. Milo felt at ease, even as the crowd began to surge and scream in anticipation. This was not his first Harvest. He knew the day would be long and the matter at hand demanded his fullest attention.

Milo took a digital pad out of the breast pocket of his coat, scribbling a number on the screen. He admired it for a moment before passing it to his assistant, Tima. Tima rushed off, taking the pad with him, moving quickly with his head down and shoulder forward to cleave through the crowd. The Coliseum, perched atop the breathtaking cliffs, were crowded but nowhere near the staggering density it would reach during the final matches.

The fight below was just about to begin. It was early in the Harvest, an annual event where 24 Bulrathi criminals would fight to the death, so there were still many competitors left. As the two fighters entered the open-air arena, the roar from the crowd became overwhelming.
It wasn’t just Bulrathi present at the Harvest. The annual event was something of a tourist attraction to other races, with many Sakkra, Mrrshan, and Humans in the crowd. Sitting next to Milo, a Human and Sakkra caught up in the exhilaration were eagerly negotiating a bet on the outcome of the fight that was about to start.

The competitors below began to circle each other, one holding a pike and the other armed with a shield and dagger. The Bulrathi holding the pike seemed nervous and uneasy, the other seemed utterly calm—as if killing was second nature. A loud bell rang six times, a ring for each competitor already defeated in the tournament, and the battle began.
Tima suddenly appeared at Milo’s side, “Boss, they’ll need to see you.”

Milo took a moment to look back at the fight, just as the Bulrathi with the dagger buried his weapon deep into the enemy. The crowd gasped at the blood, but was clearly disappointed with the quick death and lack of action. Milo knew not to get worked up too soon; the initial twelve rounds were just weeding out the weaklings anyway.

Getting up from his seat, a section of log polished from innumerable Bulrathi sitting there before him, Milo quickly followed Tima. He let his assistant force a path through the seething masses until eventually the two turned down a darkened alleyway. They passed under an arched doorway and arrived in one of the many impromptu illegal markets that always seemed to spring up in association with the Harvest.

The stands were slight and vendors were edgy, ready to run at a moment’s notice if noticed by the local authorities. At one stall, a Sakkra trader waved around a mass of still-writhing tentacles in the face of a Bulrathi merchant who seemed unimpressed. At another, a one-armed Mrrshan haggled over the price of a glowing crystal with two Meklar entities.

Tima rushed into a tent and Milo followed cautiously behind him. He trusted Tima to make the right call, but walking into a secluded area with no backup made him nervous.
The first things that caught Milo’s attention were the huge, seemingly unblinking, eyes. The Psilon that stood before him was surrounded by a Human mercenary squad. Next to the powerfully armed and heavily armored Humans, the Psilon seemed especially small and frail. Milo looked around, but saw no one else in the room except for Tima, who took a watchful position by the door.

The “tent” was actually a back entrance to one of the private boxes on the ground level of the Coliseum. These boxes were rented out to the incredibly wealthy due to their spectacular view. The boxes were so close to the battle that bulletproof glass was installed to stop the thundering bodies of Bulrathi combatants from flying into spectators. Milo noticed that this room was oddly quiet compared to his general seating earlier—the box must have been equipped with audio dampeners to soften the screams of the crowd to a manageable whisper.
“So, I hear you’re the one who accepted my offer for the earworm?” The Psilon spoke timidly and twisted its small hands around anxiously.

“I’m just glad I found a buyer for this… thing.” Milo wanted to reach out to touch his pocket to make sure it had not escaped, but he did not want such a tic to give away his anxiety. He was sure that he could take down a few tiny Humans if a fight erupted… and the Psilon would be like kicking a mewling cub, but he didn’t want to risk damaging the goods.
“How rare to find one. Quite interesting, really. May I ask how you procured it?” The strange manner of speech from the Psilon was totally foreign to Milo’s ears, but not entirely unpleasant.

Milo shrugged, distracted by the muted sounded of seven bells signaling the beginning of a new fight. Trying to glimpse the fight through the giant windows he answered with mild disinterest, “Found it on a dead Darlok.”

The Psilon stepped back in an agitated manner, clumsily bumping into one of the mercenaries. The Human mercenary looked comically gnarled and weathered beside the fluttering Psilon.

“A dead Darlok? What condition was the body in…?” The Psilon was so excited that his words were coming out in a jumbled mess.

Milo interrupted him quickly and growled, “No, no. I don’t care much for things already dead. I took what he was guarding and went on my way.” He saw the disappointment in the Psilon’s big, freakish eyes and felt pity for the odd creature. “I found the body when looting a deserted Meklar ship.” Milo suppressed a shudder as he remembered the creepy, derelict ship.

The Psilon nodded quickly. Milo had never been so close to a Psilon before. A few of his brood siblings had served on mercenary jobs for the Psilon. Said it was easy money, if you could stand the aggravation of working for them, but Milo preferred to work on his own. This Psilon was becoming annoying, even in this short encounter.

“May I see the product?”

The Human mercenaries seemed just as bored as the Bulrathi, paying more attention to the fight that was occurring outside the window. Milo reached inside his pocket and pulled out the vial. Inside, a mechanical slug thrashed around wildly before stopping suddenly. A glowing purple eye looked between the Psilon and Milo.

The Psilon inched close to Milo, so close that it made him physically uncomfortable. Those large eyes held the look of fascination as he quietly asked, “Is it offline?”

“Yes, it hasn’t sent out any signals as far as we can tell.” Milo shrugged his massive shoulders. “No one has tracked me down over it.” The Psilon looked anxious to see the device closer while Milo wanted the unsettling device out of his hands.

“Here, take it.” Milo handed the vial over in an awkward manner, trying to avoid direct contact with the Psilon. The Psilon didn’t notice his hesitation and shuffled away with the device, mumbling to himself.

The fight was occurring directly outside the box window. It was a much better match than the previous fight, as Milo looked over and saw two Bulrathi in a snarling tangle in the dirt, going claw to claw. The Bulrathi in the crowd were raving, as this was the true nature of Bulrathi combat: the tooth and claw.

Shaking his head and tearing his eyes from the combatants, he looked to the Psilon, “Are you going to pay me, or are we going to have a problem here?”

The Psilon popped his head up from observing the tiny robot. “Of course, naturally.” He gestured to a mercenary who pulled out a digital pad. The Human was focused on the small screen, gloved fingers taping on the screen before giving the Psilon a nod.

“Funds cleared, boss.” Tima piped up from the corner as he looked up from his pad.

Milo slapped the Psilon on the shoulder, probably a little harder than the strange, slight creature would have wanted. The sudden movement and contact caused the mercenaries to step forward almost as one. Milo was too focused on his good mood and impending payday to notice. “Good. Now, we watch the match!”

The Humans moved to the window while the Psilon looked uncomfortable, but went along with the crowd anyway. Milo noted with pleasure that the two combatants were bloodied and ragged, taking wide and furious blows at each other.

Milo placed his hand on the Psilon’s shoulder, “You see, the match is good. They have to fight with every bone in their bodies! A fight to the death without a struggle… that is a travesty.”

The Psilon rose on the tops of his toes in an attempt to see the fight closer. “Oh, what a waste of resources. It seems the smaller fighter has incurred less damage, leading to victory. But he still has suffered too much damage to advance in later rounds. An illogical strategy.”

“The Bulrathi face their enemies face to face. You can’t plan on killing the next enemy until your current enemy is dead, am I right?” Milo nodded his head emphatically, and Tima raised a fist in agreement.

The smaller of the fighters suddenly lunged to the left, delivering a sidekick to the knee of his opponent, breaking it with the impact. The fallen Bulrathi howled and the crowd went wild. With a quick and decisive movement, the victor slammed a massive paw over the victim’s throat and slashed, effectively ending the fight.

Everyone in the room shouted, carried away by the blood sport. The Psilon looked disturbed and a little paler than normal, but otherwise the mood was light with everyone getting paid. Tima, now mingling amongst the Humans, laughed loudly at some jest and began ordering drinks for the room from the refreshment console. Outside, the cool and perfect breeze carried the scent of blood through the crowd of frenzied Bulrathi.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 comments
Castinar Jan 27, 2016 @ 3:45pm 
Love these shorts...keep them coming please!
Sinjen Blackstar Jan 27, 2016 @ 6:12pm 
Another good story..sadly too short I'm waiting for the novel to be delivered to my Kindle.
Creepy K Jan 30, 2016 @ 5:35pm 
AWESOME! how do we get into testing the game out?!?!?! I can't wait :D
tRhianor Feb 27, 2016 @ 12:50am 
I love the stories, a great way to get a feel for the races and bring them to life.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 comments
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Date Posted: Jan 27, 2016 @ 3:35pm
Posts: 4