Over a year ago, Rick and Tim got together to sort out a summary of the various story threads in Antares. Then lockdown happened. Here, at last, is that summary in a readable format (you really don’t want to try and make sense of our notes: there’s too much tea and biscuits involved).
The Antares story is not only shaped by the campaign supplements, but is also shaped by the players and the results of the games in the campaigns at the international games days (thanks all those who co-ordinated the games from all over the world) – and from a player-run, open campaign (thanks, Geordie!). Each faction’s effectiveness at gaining objectives is assessed and this, in turn, determines which of a number of options might occur in and around the vast machine that is the Antares Nexus.
We’ll start off with the events around Xilos…
The Battle for Xilos
During the battle, not only did the Boromites and Oszoni visit the controls of the machine, but the notable Concord NuHu, Yu Hamnu, also ventured into its core to discover more about what this great artefact was meant to do: was it a gate? Was it a control centre for Antares? Was it a completely new Nexus? Unfortunately, she had no time to unravel its secrets as, when Amano Harran upset the key, the timelocks around the Xilos machine collapsed and everyone was forced to flee.
Except Yu Hamnu did not make it out and was locked inside the impenetrable field that Xilos created around itself. To his deep regret, Hansa Nairoba failed to save her as he was busy helping others escape and fighting Nairobi off the rampaging Ghar. As soon as he reached the orbiting ships and found Yu Hamnu was left behind, Hansa remained in a frigate, frantically trying to find ways of penetrating the barrier and rescue – or at least contact – the remarkable NuHu, one of the few people with whom he has ever had a relationship that goes beyond war.
As of 1324-1325, the field expansion has slowed so there is still access to the existing Antares gate, but what is happening behind the barrier field is unknown. But Hansa has hope: there are signs Yu may be alive!
Interlude: The Prosperate
Tar Es Janar’s alliance with the Concord on Xilos was manipulated into seen as being a failure through co-operation with non-Algoryn (a result of the Nairobi Beasts of War campaign). Though seen as a figurehead by the progressives in the Algoryn political scene, the Special Division Commander Ess Ma Rahq managed to garner enough support to have him exiled – perhaps not as a proven traitor, but certainly one who failed to live up to the high standards expected of an Algoryn commander. His exile sent the progressives into disarray and into the gap stepped Ess Ma and her traditionalist faction.
Unsurprisingly, Ess Ma Rahq followed a significantly more isolationist policy, withdrawing from co-operation compacts and exercises, and focusing on the ideals of Algoryn supremacy. Ironically, the command of SD means the traditionalists generally use superior technology to the progressives – who may be happy to co-operate and ally with other factions but who stick with safer and more traditional equipment.
The Chryseis Shard
In the meantime, the terror of the Chryseis Shard arose and amidst confusion as to the cause. Though contracted by C3 intelligence to investigate, Prince Batu Delhren’s Shamasai infection was originally blamed – and attacked – before it was discovered it was an evolving Chryseis intelligence that had caused the devastation. The confusion and chaos proved to be to the advantage of no-one and eventually all the factions withdrew from Chryseis, an aggressive Algoryn presence being blamed for the lack of co-ordination and effectiveness but Ess Ma’s forces claiming they successfully quelled a potential invasion against Algor.
The Freeborn Vardos Gagathax were one of the last to evacuate the planet, their troop ship having been destroyed by over-zealous Algoryn under Ess Ma Rahq. They bought passage on the Cadix ship Serpents in the Dust – at exorbitant rates, of course – but took with them a captured Chryseis drone.
The Serpents in the Dust has not been seen since (see Geordie’s Chryseis Campaign on Nexus).
Discussions continued as to whether or not to obliterate the Chryseis planets, but nothing has yet been actively put in place; it is believed there are still Boromites in the planetary mines and Rebel Ghar are certainly present. Instead, the system has been interdicted by all and the presence of Concord and Algoryn squadrons led by heavy cruisers enforce the embargo.
The Dronescourge Returns
By 1324 the Xilos-triggered gate collapse was accelerating and expansion was becoming more and more erratic. Gates were opening to the past and low-resource or ancient gates were disappearing. Scientists across the Concord and Senatex were focusing on a combination of several factors that caused the collapse: the collapse of the Xilos timelocks (for which Amano Harran was blamed, destroying his reputation and career) and the Isorian’s use of a chronophasic device. Looking back, it seemed that, more and more, it was the use of chronophasic technology that caused previous collapses – use and development of such technology is not only outlawed but is subject to such strict reprisals that even the Boromite Guilds and Freeborn are hunting down scientists to give to the IMTel powers.
It is through one of the reopened, long-lost gates that the Virai returned. Quite where they came is unknown, other than it was somewhere in the Northern Determinate. Their spread was gradual as they rely on hitching lifts on unsuspecting ships, but wherever they were found, Freeborn informed the Prosperate and the Algoryn’s heavy-handed response kept them clear of Prosperate space.
Not so lucky were those beyond the borders of the Prosperate.
From Taskarr and all along the southern terminus of the Northern Interface the Virai were expanding into the Spill, into the Senatex and into the Concord. Time and again requests for aid from Spill kingdoms to the Prosperate were refused, or even subject to military intervention, leading to a collapse of many planets in the face of the Virai threat. Even forces such as Admiral Taras Kalemon’s privateer alliance were incapable of dealing with the Virai, especially with the lack of co-operation between the PanHuman Concord, Isorian Senatex and Algoryn Prosperate.
Another Algoryn Interlude
Despite the increasing use of advanced technology by the Algoryn SD, their success at keeping the Virai out and advantages gained in Virai intelligence (see the 2019 Games Day), Ess Ma Rahq’s isolationist strategy is seen to be short-termism at its worse, a strategy that cannot help but fail. Her firm grip on the Algoryn High Council began to falter and the Progressives once more pulled together, making approaches to the exiled Tar Es Janar to return as a leader – even if, for now, just as a figurehead.
Artefacts and Yu Hamnu
The situation turned complicated when, in 1325, ancient artefacts began springing to life at locations all around the Antarean equator. Artefacts previously thought dead intermittently displayed Yu Hamnu’s name (see the world-wide Campaign Day 2019) and, when not displaying her name, indicated points on the Antarean surface. Even more alarming is that whilst the locations changed, each device showed the same point which changed when a gate at the point disappeared: the artefacts were predicting gate collapse!
Artefacts that were thought to be non-functional suddenly became extremely valuable; all the factions sent military forces to gather as many as they could. Hansa Nairoba even left Xilos to seize some of the artefacts for himself, presumably so he could communicate with Yu Hamnu, though none could adequately question him on his reasons. Whilst the Concord refused him access to their own devices, stating the life of a single NuHu was not enough to justify giving away such vital artefacts, the Freeborn and even a band of privateers gained a handful from the conflicts on Dilexyon, Taskarr, Shamasai and Tolek and traded them to Hansa Nairoba.
The frantic scuffling also saw the Concord and Senatex take many of the artefact to back to their research centres, whilst the Algoryn SD took a fair number back to their own laboratories on Algoryn colony worlds. The Boromites focused on the worlds beyond the conflict and gifted many of theirs to the Under Fallen – an elitist Guild who are focused on the search for Old Earth and Borom but who are, as a result, experts in Antarean studies. Rumours abound that even the Ghar obtained some artefacts, though many assumed their interest was more as a result of panhumanity’s interest than for any real scientific insight!
So far, researchers have managed to reconfigure one artefact for Hansa for crude communication, but in doing so have overridden it’s triangulation ability so have not done so to any others. Hansa has taken the artefact to Xilos where he hopes to communicate with Yu Hamnu, even though communication – all one way so far – is sporadic. It is thought that Yu Hamnu had locked herself into a stasis chamber when the locks were released and is now travelling between a place of safety and a control centre, though the single description of a control centre seem to make no sense. She has built a miniature food fabricator, so can probably survive for now, but she appears to be alone, all those trapped on Xilos having been wiped out.
The little information Yu Hamnu has supplied adds weight to the theory that Antares is trying to drop connections that might lead to temporal anomalies due to the Isorian chronophasic device. The Isorians deny such a link, but across Antares the theory gathers strength and systems are being identified that may cause a risk so that the collapse may be halted by, perhaps, a complete withdrawal from such systems.
Rumours and conspiracy theories abound: that Xilos leads to a second nexus, one to where the Tsan retreated; that the Vorl caused the collapse in an attempt to halt the spread of panhumanity; that Amano Harran was paid to trigger the collapse by the Algoryn Progressives (or Traditionalists – depends who’s spreading the rumour!) to gain an advantage over the other or the IMTel nations; that the Isorians made the move intentionally in order to control the nexus. Wiser heads point out that such conspiracies do not help: what is needed is co-operation across Antares to prevent another collapse and avoid a return to the dark ages.
But the threat dominates the thoughts of so many that strife is rife across Antares. The many Concord shards are destabilising; the regimented Tsan Ra are calling on the Senatex to impose greater control and impose order; the Algoryn are heading for a civil war; Spill kingdoms are fighting amongst themselves for resources; Boromites are stockpiling and defending every claim with much more than words; Freeborn are thriving, though hard-put to support the demand for goods deemed necessary for survival; and the Ghar are taking advantage of the chaos to strip more systems of their resources and grow their Empire – there are even rumours of the waning power of Karg and that Fartok has been approached to bring his Rebels back into the fold.
Whether or not such rumours and theories are true is anybody’s guess. All that is known is that Antares is in chaos, the voice of reason is shouting to an empty stadium, and an all-out war seems inevitable.