One of the nice things about MoO3 is the
subtlety of the diplomacy system. Some deride it as random
but I have not seen this to be true. What can be said is that
there are multiple factors that influence the AI’s reaction
to you based on casus belli, diplomacy/treaties, and actions.
What seems to be random is, in fact, not random at all. It
is too bad that the creators of MoO3 were not more forthcoming
in explaining these factors since, in this case, the ‘fog’
and lack of feedback surrounding diplomacy has created considerable
This short story was inspired by one of my favorite tactics
in diplomacy. I hope you enjoy it!
The glow from the holographic projector faded, and the pleasant
maelstrom of sulfide and methane gasses swirled into the void.
“That did not go well,” First Diplomat T:Sar
said as she remembered the invectives and indelicate speech
that had been inflicted upon her hearing diaphragms. She was
clearly irritable and her third buoyancy sack was distended
and purple in hue, indicating that her irritation bordered
“They are Meklar,” Associate Wrehn responded,
“and they have always been contrary to our people and
our race. Even for land based beings they are irrational.
I would venture that their hatred extends to others of our
race, even the beneficent Saaemaal.”
“The Saaemaal have a stronger hold than we,”
T:Sar replied. “Their sway is large, and their systems
rich with the large gas giants we both prefer. They have some
of the unpleasant rocky worlds that infest our systems, but
not nearly as many as we. The Saaemaal are in the center of
the greater spiral arm. We are at the edge of the center and
have fewer opportunities. They have been fortunate.”
Wrehn trilled a third order agreement. “We must expand
to survive. What of the Silicoids? And the Raas?”
T:Sar belched a deep discordant. “The Silicoids are
allied to the Meklar and the Raas have spurned all our overtures
for a non-aggression treaty. We barely maintain trade and
research agreements, and we have no hope of more than this.”
Wrehn shifted, altering his neutral point as he floated to
the left. He turned to face his colleague. “The Emperor
will require a report. This is of primary importance. We must
make a recommendation.”
The First Diplomat was silent for a moment. “Yes, we
must. Our relations with the alien empires are at an impasse,
and likely to worsen.”
She forced herself into a calm, rational mode. Her body deflated
somewhat and the purple hue subsided to violet. The Associate
waited patiently, knowing that interruption of the First Diplomat
and Advisor to the Emperor would be massively counterproductive.
After a few hours her color melded to pink. Concordance.
She had reached a decision. “Tell the Emperor this:
Our diplomatic position remains tenuous and our prospect for
allies are few. Redouble efforts to reinforce the Fleet. Concentrate
on the Cynoid border near edges of the Silicoid Empire. That
is where the test will come.”
Diplomat T:Sar watched her failure unfold.
The scene was of destruction and waste. The Toliman-B system,
located near the Silicoid Empire, was the farthest part of
the Eoladi Protectorate. It was a choke point to the hostile
galaxy beyond, including the simmering Silicoid and ravenous
Meklar empires. Others lay beyond, of course, but they were
not of immediate concern. As might be expected the system
was jealously guarded. Two Eoladi armadas plus innumerable
system ships were in residence. Two cycles ago a disturbance
in the wormhole lines were detected. The signature traces
were clear: the intruders were Meklar. Their intent could
only be hostile.
As T:Sar watched wormhole points opened and the emerging
Meklar fleet assumed immediate battle readiness. The Meklar
fleet was formidable and it consisted of a missile, carrier,
and long range armadas. There was no communication, and no
announcement of war. They simply exited the wormhole and immediately
made for the third planet, which as a class 12 gas giant and
the most developed with 57 billion Eoladi and Darlok. It was
also the most heavily defended planet in the system.
T:Sar paid only superficial attention to the battle. She
noted that the Eoladi and Meklar forces immediately fired
volleys of missiles. Point defense destroyed many, and the
lead Eoladi missile armada took some serious punishment. The
Meklar fared worse since they absorbed the missiles from the
ground base and armada’s firepower. Fighters from both
fleets swarmed lead elements, and remaining point defense
erupted in spasms of fire. Fighters and some ships died.
The firepower of the planetary bases started to tell and
the Meklar carrier and long range armadas started to take
severe damage. Individual ships cartwheeled and exploded and
their formations jockeyed as they struggled to maintain coherence.
The last missile volley erupted out of the Meklar indirect
fire group and then they all stopped firing. Space around
the attacking ships wrinkled and then puckered as the enemy
fleet activated their jump drives. Their last act of spite
was the already inbound volley of Meklar missiles and the
remaining Meklar fighters that were left behind to savage
the Eoladi long range armada. The Eoladi fleet would not get
its parting shot. An Eoladi battle cruiser absorbed the missiles
and withering fighter onslaught and finally succumbed and
exploded. There were more pinpoints of light as point defense
eliminated the few remaining Meklar fighters.
T:Sar looked on with no satisfaction. They had won, but at
great cost. The Toliman-B III had not been significantly harmed,
but the two defending armada has been damaged to below 70%.
The Meklar had lost perhaps a third of their ships before
It would be a long grinding war.
Some days were a sore trial of patience and understanding.
The New Orions, creators and head of the Galactic Council,
had decided to support the election of the Zulzrila race to
the Council. T:Sar recoiled, for the Zulzrila were the one
of the two known empires of the hated Ithkul, a scourge from
the Time of Terror when the Antarans had dealt death and destruction
throughout the galaxy. It was almost beyond reason why any
sane race would propose that the Ithkul join the Council or
support the irrational petition. No one knew who petitioned
for the dread Ithkul to join the Council, but the only race
that supported the Ithkul’s election to the Council
were the New Orions. That singular note of support was enough
since the New Orions wielded enormous influence – the
measure passed and now the Ithkul were a member of the Council.
All hated the Ithkul, or Harvesters, who consumed not just
the body but the mind. They fed not on lower forms of life
but the highest, those intelligent beings, subsuming their
intellect to their will and then, when their host was reduced
to a husk, it was discarded and another unfortunate was selected.
To her this was more of a horror than mere enslavement, or
even death. Somehow knowing that these parasites would subvert
the mind made it all the more repulsive. These beings treated
all other intelligences as cattle, no more, no less. And why
the New Orions would approve their inclusion to the Council
could only bring dark thoughts as to their motives, and their
It was clear that these Ithkul were hated not just by the
Eoladi but by all other intelligent races, even other Ithkul.
Using her sources from the Council it was clear that the Ithkul
were at war with everyone except the New Orions. Even those
races that were relatively far from the Ithkul, such as the
Eoladi, were not immune from their search for new hosts, such
was their dark ravenous appetite. T:Sar reflected that this
was a good thing since the maw of war might consume their
fleets of death at every turn, and that their endless wars
of aggression would lead to weakness. In the end, their dark
need to consume others would be their downfall.
But this was not so. Their power was waxing, and their ships
numbered in the hundreds. Moreover, the maw of war was consuming
the fleets of all races except the Ithkul, who seemed to grow
even as others declined through war with each other and with
the Ithkul. Even the nominally friendly Raas were reduced
and Ithkul fleets were in orbit around their undefended planets,
where they were enslaved and eaten or bombarded and destroyed.
Such was the pattern of the Ithkul.
T:Sar reviewed the history from the last 50 cycles and it
painted a bleak picture. The Ithkul were literally consuming
their neighbors and were expanding in every direction. Already
the Raas Empire was in a fight for its life, and now the Ithkul
infection had spread to the outlying Meklar and Silicoid systems.
While the Silicoids need not fear being consumed they were
not immune from being their slaves, or simply destroyed as
inconvenient non-food cattle. Only the Silicoids had fleets
that could defend their border systems; others were prostrate.
It did not take a great leap to see that soon the Ithkul
would advance to the Eoladi Toliman-B system, the vital Eoladi
choke point that defended the home systems. There were other
ways to break through to the home systems, but that would
require the Ithkul or any other invader to conquer the numerous
and populous Tachidi Hive systems, and even then they would
reach the only newly claimed Eoladi frontier colonies. These
could, at need, be sacrificed. It would be a sore loss, but
it could be borne.
That would not be, however. The Itkul were both insatiable
and dangerously intelligent. They would not take the long
road to their rich Eoladi feeding grounds if the Silicoid
and Raas defenses finally failed. No, they would send their
endless fleets to the heart of the modest Eoladi Protectorate.
T:Sar felt herself grow violet, agitation and fear growing
by stages. Others that advised the Emperor were fixed on their
historical enemies, the Meklar. The emperor listened to their
whisperings, expanding his dreams of conquest and assimilation
of their age-old racial foe.
This was not her belief. The threat of the Silicoids and
even the Meklar had passed. The time had come to deal with
the true threat to the galaxy: the Ithkul.
T:Sar composed a new recommendation to the Emperor:
The threat to the Eoladi has shifted. No longer are the
Meklar a bane to our existence. That test can be borne, for
they are weak and struggle with their wars with us, the Ithkul,
and the Raas. As they wane the Ithkul wax, growing even as
they consume our neighbors. Planets belonging to the Meklar
and our friends the Raas have fallen, and entire systems have
been penetrated and used as feeding grounds by the Ithkul.
These Harvesters are a true bane. Soon they will test us,
and they will be much greater than they have been: time is
not our ally. We must try ourselves, with every resource at
our disposal, to eradicating the Ithkul, the Harvesters of
Primordial terror. They must be not just reduced, but eliminated.
In doing so we preserve not only ourselves, but we give hope
to others; in preserving ourselves we will ensure the survival
of our friends and potential friends. It is my belief that,
if we undertake this great task, that we will reap rewards
beyond simply removing this danger.
on - Part Two