Master of Orion

Master of Orion

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elpozoleolmeca  [developer] Apr 26, 2016 @ 5:48pm
The Survey Team - A Silicoid Short Story
We continue our short story series for Master of Orion as we shift our focus to one of the most secluded races in the game, the Silicoids. Stay tuned for more, and please feel free to ask questions about any Silicoid lore in the comments!

The Survey Team by Michael Buonagurio - Wargaming Austin

The Silicoid survey ship settled into low orbit around the blue-green world of Nirb. On the ship’s bridge sat crystalline figures of vaguely humanoid shape. Periodic small movements of two upper appendages were the only obvious signs that these shapes were living beings. Vragkra, the captain of the vessel, sat in a control node that resembled a huge open geode. In similar nodes sat Rilog, the engineer/sensor operator, and Grdaj, the pilot/navigator.

The peculiar sound of Silicoid speech, a continuous, cracking rumble underlain with a near-ultrasonic whine, filled the bridge. The three Silicoids were conferring over the choice of a landing site. Initial scans had detected rich deposits of minerals on the planet below, but before the Crag would allocate scarce assets for colonization, the resource threshold and quality had to be determined.
Nested in their nodes, the Silicoid crew members were able to tap into the glittering living rock that was the core of every ship and control the ship by piezo-electrical impulses. After some time, Vragkra came to a decision and issued an order. The diamond-based holo-emitter zoomed in on a small valley, blinking with promise over an orange overlay. Grdaj reached out to touch a crystal spike within his node. A brief pulse of static electricity sent a command to the engines. The ship responded by turning smoothly towards the emerald planet below.


On the lush planet below, Ti’kree barely looked up when thunder boomed in the pink light of an early morning. He sniffed the air and was vaguely puzzled as the scent of rain was not detectable. Absorbed in his task, weaving a roof shingle out of the fibers of a jabala plant, he did not immediately register the excited chatter around him. His neighbor, Ch’kra, shouted his name. He followed her pointing arm to see what was commanding the attention of the people of the Dilab. Ti’kree was stunned to see a large boulder flying through the air, now just dipping below the trees. The flying boulder was embedded with a dazzling crystal that caught the gentle light of morning and twisted it across the village.

As the village leader, he was the one the others turned to for guidance. He first consulted with the Spirits, villagers who were strong with the heart-power. Most of them had begun to pray, and Ti’kree called for them to contemplate peace. To the Fang, the best hunters and warriors of the people, he ordered that they take up their weapons. The object might or might not be friendly; in any case it was best to be prepared to either honor or fight. Ti’kree returned to his dwelling to don the garments of his rank before leading the party into the forest.


The ship landed with a heavy thud that caused the ground to ripple. The Silicoid barely noticed the jarring impact as they began to disconnect themselves from the control nodes. The survey team walked with slow, heavy steps down a corridor of shaped rock. Before leaving the ship, the captain attached a small metallic device to himself with a faint electrical snap and smell of ozone. Each Silicoid took the time to fit small weapons to their sides.

With a rumble, the hatch folded back while a short ramp stabbed itself into the loam. A pop of warm air rushed into the ship, which until that moment had been just slightly above the cold temperature of open space. Condensation began to bead, running in rivulets and pooling on the floor.

Once off the ship, the team began to open bays located on the outside of the ship. They withdrew peculiar instruments, part oddly vibrating mineral and part standard-looking machinery. As they moved slowly up a hill, the team was oblivious to the beauty of the environment around them. Lush forests, a clear running stream, the symphonic warbling of a brightly colored avian, scented flowers rocking in a gentle breeze—the Silicoids could not attribute value to any of these as they had no mineral content.

Upon reaching the top of the small hill, the team began to set up their instruments near the forest’s edge. A high-pitched keening began once all of the survey equipment was positioned. After a few moments the engineer reached out to switch the units off. Turning to the captain, a note of irritation could be detected between the crew members. The team began to pack up the gear and move back down the hill, the beings underfoot scrambling to get out of the way.


The villagers watched the strange creatures. There was much speculation as to the nature of these apparently living rocks. The Spirits touched some of the gemstones adorning their vestments or hanging from necklaces, wondering if these decorations would be perceived as good or ill. All agreed that these rock beings were ominous.

As they watched the living stones plant their totems, which emitted an uncomfortable sound, the Spirits came to a conclusion. The rock creatures were attempting to commune with the essence of the planet. Over the objection of the Fangs, they went out to meet these apparently gentle beings. Ti’kree gave his approval, quieting any dissent. The best warrior was allowed to accompany the Spirits as a guard.
The rest of the villagers watched from deeper in the forest as the Spirits supplicated themselves in greeting. The rock beings appeared to disregard them as they picked up their totems and began to plod down the hill. The Spirits glanced back to the watching crowd in confusion, not used to being ignored. The guard shifted uneasily, bringing his weapon to a ready position. The greeting party milled about, discussing what to do. Ti’kree started to call them back to consider their next steps.


Once off the hill the Captain removed the small metallic device. Interacting with it by means of his piezo-electric ability, he linked back to the ship. At his order, the ship’s main turret activated and rotated to a specified facing. A stubby weapon barrel took aim and began to hum. Suddenly a stream of ravening energy lashed out. With an ear-shattering shriek the hilltop was torn away, scalped down to the bedrock beneath. The intense heat shriveled all plant life for tens of meters on either side of the beam; the water in the streambed boiled away explosively. The avians burst into flames and fell to the ground as charred cinders.

The Silicoids were immune to the intense heat of the fusion beam, just as they were to the cold of space. They stood impassively, waiting for the excavation to complete. The people of the village had no time to react to the blast, not even to utter a cry of warning to those nearby. Standing virtually on the initial target point, they were incinerated before their minds could even register pain.
Once the beam cut off, the team lumbered up the hill to redeploy the equipment. Proceeding with their tasks, they took no notice as their bodies were impacted with solid copper bullets. They moved with only the slightest tones of annoyance until one projectile hit a micro-fracture within Grdaj’s crystalline structure.

A piece of the Navigator splintered off with a loud crack. A jet of glittering dust spurted from the fracture point. Within seconds the wound crusted over and sealed. An angry buzz arose from the Silicoids. They turned to face the villagers, already bringing their side arms to bear.


Ti’kree picked himself up off the forest floor. Treetops had burst into flame while rock fragments and splintered trees from the hill had swept through like an angry swarm. Glancing around he saw that some of the Fangs were injured and one appeared dead from the wave of natural shrapnel. With a voice split between fear and sorrow, Ti’kree ordered the Fangs to avenge the deaths of the others.

Without hesitation, they lifted rifles to their shoulders. The weapons were crude large-bore weapons. As each one fired with a boom, the projectiles appeared to have no effect other than sparking off the creatures. Finally one hit caused visible damage: a glowing shard cracked and spun off one of the creatures. This was followed by a puff of dust that hung in the air strangely. With the peculiar sound of rocks knocking together, the stone creatures turned, lifting their arms. Ti’kree briefly saw a flash of light; an instant later his carbonized body fell to the forest floor.


The Silicoids waited a few moments to make sure no more villagers lurked deeper in the woods. Reattaching their fusion pistols to their sides, the team continued the survey. Grdaj briefly bent down, picked up the detached fragment of himself, considered it for a moment, and tossed it into his maw where a brief grinding sound could be heard. All three finished the threshold survey, collecting several core samples.
Stowing the equipment and samples in the bays, the captain kept one sample. Breaking it into thirds, he gave a piece to the other two. Each then tossed their portion of the sample into their jaws. After the grinding subsided, an almost satisfied buzzing could be heard from all three. They entered the ship and closed the hatch, never glancing back at the blasted landscape and the forest fire raging beyond.

27 Years Later

Ro’kree and the few remaining members of the tribe huddled around a scrap of food. It was tainted, but the taste was not too bad, and in any event they were starving. All of them were also very ill—toxins contaminated the air, brown clouds of dust from the rock creatures’ deep core mines blocked out the sun, and when it did rain the drops were dark and oily.

When Ro’kree was a child, his father had gone out to meet the Namtar, the legendary gods of destruction. He had never returned, and his legacy had been a torrent of flame that burned the forest. Two cycles after that, the creatures had returned in force. The destruction of Nirb then began in earnest.

These stone beings were plunderers who cared only for what they could brutishly pull from the ground. They ignored the people of this world unless harm occurred to one of them. Ro’kree touched at the trophy that hung from his neck: a glowing shard that he had taken when they destroyed one of the Namtar. The black powder rifles were woefully inadequate, but they were the villagers’ only means of defense.

On that one occasion, Ro’kree had led an ambush that had killed one of the stone demons, at the cost of many Fangs’ lives. But even that bittersweet triumph had turned to horror when, in response, the Namtar razed all of the villages in the region. They then scoured the countryside for days to trying to recover every fragment of their destroyed brethren.

Many cycles later the Furred Ones had come to this world. They were creatures spoken of in the oldest legend of the Dilab, and their return to the world seemed to be the answer to prayers. The Furred Ones had fought a terrible war with the Namtar, a war of fire and thunder and destruction. But the Furred Ones had lost. Before they left the world forever, they tried to save as many of the Dilab as they could, taking them away in their flying boxes. Ro’kree had watched helplessly as the last box departed, his people unable to get to it in time.

Now they huddled in one of the boxes—a stripped and destroyed Bulrathi troop transport—waiting to die. Wracked by coughs, bone thin from starvation, and covered in oozing sores that never healed, every death was now a blessing.


A survey ship landed in the hellish caldera of an artificial volcano created when a deep-core mineshaft punched through the Nirb’s mantle. Leaving the ship, Vagkra and the team ignored the heat and sulfurous fumes. Entering a command center they made their placed a report and core samples on the table. Energetic buzzing accompanied by occasional snaps and sparks of static electricity filled the air.

An older Silicoid, identified by the darker hues of his crystalline make-up and slightly worn edges, contemplated the report. Picking up a sample, he placed a piece into a scanner while popping some into his facial cavity. The scanner chuckled out a positive response while an affirmatory buzz emanated from the elder. Reaching out to a communication node, he issued a command.


Ro’kree, the last of his race on Nirb, had traveled a long time since leaving the metal box. Hunched now above one of the demons’ cities, he watched as the creatures entered a large, sparkling rock. He could see them loading equipment into the large rock — the cursed equipment that had laid waste to the land.

Finally he watched the rock glow purplish-blue as it lifted from the ground with a dull boom. Angling its crystalline nose towards what used to be a clear sky, the ship disappeared into the murk. Wheezing with great pain, Ro’kree laid down on the grit of his world and breathed his last.


A smaller spark of blue marked the survey ship as it lifted off a few moments later. Following in the wake of the colony ship, it broke through the toxic atmosphere in time to see the coruscating flash of a jump drive activating. The team felt no satisfaction that they had discovered another mineral-rich world to which a colony ship had been dispatched to settle. Vragkra issued an order, and the survey ship swung away from the colony ship’s jump trajectory, setting its own course. A newly discovered system had shown signs of promise. There was much work to be done. The survey ship leapt into the black.
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Showing 1-14 of 14 comments
Panzerfanlol Apr 26, 2016 @ 5:52pm 
Love these. Thanks!
idpounder Apr 26, 2016 @ 7:44pm 
Interesting story. There is one odd sentence:

"Entering a command center they made their placed a report and core samples on the table."

I think that's supposed to read:

"Entering a command center, they made their report and placed core samples on the table."
브레이커 Apr 26, 2016 @ 9:54pm 
I need to manually conduct multi
seabo_76 Apr 27, 2016 @ 2:32am 
Dang Silicoids.
Poor little primitive natives :(
Azreal Apr 27, 2016 @ 2:35am 
i love this story, but every time, i start playing as them my game crashes :/
Torchfire Apr 27, 2016 @ 2:45am 
"Nirb" is "Brin" backwards. As in David Brin?

I find it interesting that the natives seem to be tribal primitives, yet they have gunpowder weapons...

So, Silicoids can go from near absolute zero to the heat of a fusion beam in rapid succession (they would not have time to warm up during the period) without any ill effects? Just what kind of material are they made of? Will we ever get to see a Silicoid anatomy chart?
No wonder why everybody hates the rockmen, if they find organics as a nuisance at best...
Just how would they react to another innorganic race, such as maybe a race of machines?
Birdie_Sparrow Apr 27, 2016 @ 8:42am 
I never picked up on Nirb is Brin backwards. I actually was using a random name generator and picked one I liked. I am a huge Brin fan so maybe my sub-concious went "OOO! OOO! Pick that one!"

In my mind the Dilab were not really primitives per se - they were technologically around the 1700s or so in my mind for tech. Even in that time period a LOT of the worlds population was living under houses with leaves for a roof (aka thatch, sod and so on).

They are made of specialized, living rock that can trace its ancestry back to a large crystalline, space faring being. There is back story on the Silicoids on this but we are not ready to release the refined information. That's a neat idea on Sili anatomy!

And its not that the find organics a nuisance so much as they do not even recognize them barring organics try to stop them. If they have no mineral content and dont harm or impede Silicoid plans they dont even merit a passing thought!
FourteenFour Apr 28, 2016 @ 9:18am 
would be nice if we had the racial modifiers from moo2 so that silicoid could truly not be friends with anyone
maobe Apr 29, 2016 @ 5:15am 
the story shows very clear what the silicoids are dwelling on and what kind of environment is "gaia" for them. they grow on mineral richness and turned a gaia-world to volcanic and possibly to inferno!
Trifler Apr 29, 2016 @ 4:07pm 
Meterex137 Apr 30, 2016 @ 5:15am 
Originally posted by Azreal:
i love this story, but every time, i start playing as them my game crashes :/
For me it crashes when I do anything to their destroyers. :/
Polar Bear Apr 30, 2016 @ 10:18am 
Originally posted by Azreal:
i love this story, but every time, i start playing as them my game crashes :/

I made it to turn 358 and then the entire save crashed, can't load the save either. It's sad too because I killed everyone but the Meklar and every time it got to Council Voting we both tied. I had several titans and declared war on them. That's when the entire game bugged out and ruined everything. End Game War=Not Possible Yet for the beta-testing?
maobe Apr 30, 2016 @ 10:21am 
It IS possible, but its still EA and it still HAS issues...
Ben Freeman May 5, 2016 @ 3:22pm 
Great story! I now know what race is my primary target in every game though...
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Date Posted: Apr 26, 2016 @ 5:48pm
Posts: 14