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This is a brilliant, universe simulation game that allows massive exploration of the Virgo Supercluster. Check out the link there, and download it if you want to explore. Mad stuff, really cool.
The black billowing clouds rolled and boiled frequently belching horrific booms of thunder preceded by veiled flashes of crackling energy, and from their darkened bellies amidst the cascade of water the crafts descended one after one after one in spontaneous caravans.
The pale red light of dawn and the damp sweet smell of newly fallan rain did little in preparing the citizens of Supertropolis for the annoying sight of the spacecraft park overflowing with the distinct vessels of another band of Skytravelers. Skytravelers! Those nomadic secretive clans who roamed from planet to moon to moon to moon and back again. Never staying long in one place, but always bringing trouble. Yes, trouble, nothing but trouble in the minds of the locals for these wandering thieves would steal anything, and hackle about every price in any store and would not leave until they were satisfied they had gotten a deal. And then...they spoke a strange language amongst themselves. Well, that was certainly suspect to the fact they had a great many things to hide.
And as the obsolete tubular telescopes rose from atop the Skytravelers' opulent tricked-out crafts ablaze with gilt swirls of trim, the locals were reminded of these nomads' astrological interests which must surely be indicative of the practice of black-magic. And once again, the folk tale of the beasteer farmer began to circulate. Beware! For long ago, this farmer was known across the lands for his most prized herds of beasteers. But, along came a clan of Skytravelers who tried to purchase some of his breeding stock, but the farmer had no interest in dealing with such low-life and refused to sell. The wanderers went away speaking loudly in their unknown tongue, and it was that very night the farmer's most prized animal gave birth to a monstrous three headed beastcalf. As news spread that the farmer's stock was hexed it proved to be disastrous, and the farmer was forced into poverty as tales arouse of odd happenings to the many who had eaten the meat from his farm.
The extreme steps taken by the citizens of Supertropolis to avoid contact with this group of Skytravelers was indeed welcomed by the clan. For this was no ordinary gathering, but an assemblage of all the chieftains from every known band of Skytravelers in the star system. Perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime event where the ancestors of the past would anoint a new Supreme Chieftain and the current Supreme Chieftain would join the living dead in another realm.
So as the blood-red star rose and set many times, the telescopes scanned the skies and charted by hand the course of stars on ancient sky maps until at last the right time had arrived. Well within the midst of the spacecraft park and far from foreign eyes a huge mound of beasteer dung was formed into a pyramid, and as the star rose overhead blanketing everything in vivid red light the chieftain gathered around. The visible odorous vapors rising from the dung became increasingly sweet and addictive, and the assembled took deep breathes trying at best to keep the sensational scent locked within their breast. And as their heads swirled with unreal images, the vapors took on the form of untethered neon flashing colors across the entire spectrum until the outline of a horned beasteer appeared.
And from this form a hollow deep voice boomed, "Who has summoned the Council?"
"It is I." The Supreme Chieftain weakly wailed in the language of old. "It is time that I join you."
As if ignoring the situation at hand, the voice began a long rambling sermon touching on such issues as how many of the old ways were being forgotten, the number of youngsters no longer wanting to stay within the clans, etc. On and on and on, as the chieftains tried in vain to overload their lungs with the addicitve scent swirling around them.
And as the first voice faded another arose from the emptiness of the horned beasteer image and began a long tirade that often was repetitive of the first voice's offerings. And so it was, voice after voice after voice chastising the group for their mistakes until the red star kissed the horizon.
The first voice sounded again, "Chieftain, you may join us now in the realm of the living dead and become a member of the Ancestor Council. Do you come alone?"
"No, great ancestor, I bring my wife." The old one replied.
"Come join us them."
The old man holding the hand of his much younger wife climbed the mound of dung and the two disappeared into the emptiness of the beasteer outline. At which time, the hollow voice called forth the names of a dozen or so chieftains who were vigorously questioned about their knowledge of the ways of old. And then, when the last chieftain had been vetted in a flash the neon form was gone and the stench of the dung sickened all nearby.
At first all were puzzled at such an abrupt end until one screamed out in pain and upon tearing open his shirt to discover a horned beasteer etched into his skin over his heart. There was no doubt, he was the new Supreme Chieftain.
So, the town of Supertropolis awoke to find the spacecraft park void of the riduculous overly decorated crafts, and the puzzling towing mound of dung left behind. Such a nasty bunch! Good riddance! Not that there were no tales of stolen property and the likes for every bump in the road was attributed to those nomads, and even the murder of a female, although evidence soon showed she had died at the hands of her husband did little to dampen the tale of her scandalous affair with a much younger no-good Skytraveler.
Galaxiki is a fictional online galaxy that can be edited by its community. Each star, each planet and each moon is represented by a wiki page that can be edited by its site members. Users can make changes to solar systems, add creatures and write stories. One of the main goals is to invent and write collaborative stories, which requires users to make sure their solar system histories remain compatible.
It's a social web2.0 site for science fiction, space and fantasy addicts. You'll instantly feel at home if you're familiar with Google maps, Wikipedia and social sites such as Facebook or Google plus for example.
Galaxiki membership and editing community stars is free. Some users want to own a personal solar system that cannot be edited by other members, therefore its possible to get a personal system by making a donation (you can give as much as you want, starting at $1). The site itself is being financed through donations and a small amount of advertising.
In July 2011 we've introduced Galaxiki 2.5, the latest version which offers more than 100 new features. It is now possible to edit most of the solar system physics, you can add or edit planetary rings and the site offers a new search engine. There are also lots of new social networking features including solar system ratings and comments, bookmarks, user awards and user status updates.
Galaxiki has won several awards - it was one of the SeoMoz Web 2.0 Awards winners, it was community site of the week in Linux Journal and it was site of the day on Yahoo, About.com and Pocketlint for example.
A little girl plays in a stream while her parents and friends picnic nearby. Not actually playing, this particular little girl, Melidu is on a grand scientific adventure searching the wild and dangerous river also known as ‘small stream’ for lost relics of an ancient and mysterious species that no one has ever heard of. Her parents watch from the meadow nearby.
“Why does she have to be so strange?” Her mother asks in a slightly exasperated voice. Her father smiles, “She’s not strange dear, she’s adventurous, courageous and above all, curious. I bet that someday she will lead an exploratory expedition to a new star system, piercing the cold dark of space to find another world suitable for new colonies.”
“Does she have to get her pelt wet? No self-respecting Kazarii willingly wades into the middle of a stream. It must feel awful and she’ll be tangled for days.” In fact, it was Melidu’s hypothesis that the best discoveries were to be had where others were unlikely to go, hence wading into a stream up to her knees was sure to produce some arcane discovery unavailable to her water shy peers.
Melidu meticulously inspected the bottom of the stream eyeing each pebble, water plant and occasional ghobi fish for something, anything unusual. There! Near the foot of a partially submerged stone about the size of her head lay a pebble unlike all of the others. It shimmered in iridescent colors brighter and more varied than a rainbow. A few short steps and she was standing over it. Her hand reached into the icy water and plucked her treasure from the bottom of the stream. Oh, yuck! The pebble was soft and slimy; the colors had come from algae growing on the pebble not the pebble itself. She tossed it back into the stream a little repulsed at the thought of slimy goo all over her hand.
Melidu bent over and swished her hand under the water but she discovered to her annoyance that the slime was still there. She tried rubbing sand from the streambed in her hands but that only left her with sand coated slime on both hands. Rubbing her hands against a nearby boulder hurt a lot and still didn’t clean her hands. Frustrated and becoming a bit scared she decided it would be best if she stopped for the day and sought out her parents.
Climbing the banks of the stream, she headed quickly, yet in a dignified, not scared, no definitely not scared sort of way to her parents. “I’m glad you’re out of that stream, your legs are soaked. They must feel awful!” “They’re ok mom but I got this stuff all over my hands and it won’t come off. I think it’s some sort of algae.” Her father came over to see what his daughter had got into. “Let me take a look at that. Yes, I think you’re right it does look like some sort of algae.” “Hold still dear while I spray it with some sanispray,” her mom said as she soaked Melidu’s hands in sanitary spray. The algae turned black almost immediately then gave up its relentless hold on Melidu’s hands, which were quickly wiped clean by her mom.
“I really wish you wouldn’t play with algae dear. The stuff is so disgusting.” Melidu looked at her mom with a bit of annoyance. “I wasn’t playing with algae. I thought I had found a really pretty, unusual stone but it was an ordinary stone covered in pretty algae.” Her father put on his semi-serious scientist face and said. “You know, it’s too bad we didn’t collect a sample. Even after several generations there is still a great deal we don’t know about this world.” Melidu found herself blushing; she had neglected to be sufficiently scientific because of her concern over getting the wretched stuff off. “You’re right dad, I’ll go see if I can find some more of the stuff. Where’s my specimen collection kit?” Her mom said, “You’ll do no such thing. Now that you’re out of that stream, I want you to dry off and rest a bit before we hike back home.” Melidu put up token resistance but she had to admit to herself that she was a bit tired. She lay down on the blanket the three had brought with them for today’s outing and was fast asleep.
Later that evening as she was preparing for bed, Melidu’s head began to pound with the fiercest headache she had ever had. “Let’s see what’s going on with you then.” said her father when Melidu told him about her headache. He had her step into the home’s medi-scan compartment and she sat down in the seat that unfolded automatically from one of the walls. A soft feminine voice surrounded Melidu, “What’s wrong Melidu?” “I have a terrible headache,” said Melidu. The scanner’s voice said, “I’ll take a look at you, I should find the cause of your headache momentarily Melidu, please remain still while I scan.” There was a moments silence while the medi-scan did its job and then, “There are large areas of vasoconstriction throughout your brain Melidu. Please remain still a bit longer while I administer some medication to relieve the constrictions.”
Melidu smelled a whiff of floral scented air and then her headache was gone. The feminine voice said, “I strongly recommend a follow up appointment with a Mediciner at the earliest opportunity.” The medi-scan always recommended a follow up with a Mediciner regardless of the problem, headache, splinters and fractures all required follow up equally. This recommendation would have been ignored but for the fact that the medi-scan used the word “strongly.”
A few days later and a Mediciner’s assurance that there was nothing wrong with Melidu saw her traipsing about outdoors looking for interesting specimens. The nightmares began nearly three months later.
I stood there for a second my jaw slack with shock. I realised that this might be considered suspicious so I tried to turn it into a smile. The Zionite looked repulsed so I quickly stopped, settling into hopefuly a more business like face. I tried to sound steady:
“Of course gentlemen, I’ll be happy to show you my, um, humble abode” I mumbled.
They immediately all pushed past me into my apartment and began rifling around amongst my things. One Canthin roughly tipped over my bed and looked underneath. One of the other Canthin moved into the kitchen and I sidled after him in order to see what would happen. To my surprise Karjan was no longer in the room. I quickly realised he had somehow squeezed out of the tiny window above the fridge. It was still open and a draft was coming in from the street. I went over to the fridge and pretended to get a beer. I offered one to the lumbering Canthin brute behind me and as he grunted angrily and turned away I took that opportunity to close the window. After more anguished ruffling and mess making from the brutes and their Zionite captain, I was summoned into my living room.
“Humph, well we’ll be keeping an eye on these premises and if the criminal returns we will be onto you both. Harbouring a criminal is a grave offence”
“But what criminal Mr Zionite sir” I replied, petulant, but he and his cronies had stormed out.
Sighing I got to work sorting out my apartment righting the bed and picking my things up from the floor. The flesh bar upstairs had turned up their music and the incessant electronic beat was beginning to give me a headache. I headed back into my kitchen and got myself a glass of water. As I drank I thought about Karjan. What had he got himself into this time? We had all heard about some of the stuff he had supposedly done during his years in finance but there were special laws for that sort of thing. Bankers were generally exempt from such basic galactic laws such as fraud and perjury (or at least they were until the collapse) so it couldn’t be any of that stuff. I wondered what he hadn’t told me. I needed another drink. As I poured the amber liquid into the glass I lit up another prohib and wondered what to do. I needed to find Karjan, for one thing despite some bad feeling he was still the oldest friend I had. But how to find him? If he was telling the truth he had no way of getting off-world anytime soon, his ship was docked in orbit and out of gas. But he could be anywhere. I decided quickly that if I was going to do anything I would have to get out of my apartment and start searching now.
So, I headed up the short flight of stairs that linked my basement to the alleyway outside and from there I strode meaningfully out into the street. Fortunately this little backwater where I had found myself wasn’t the largest burg I had ever been in. Most of the area was storage for the multicorp. Something told me Karjan wasn’t going to be spending the night hiding in an metal crate. It wasn’t his style. So that left the parade of shops, the shuttle dock and the plethora of app buildings (apartments I mean). The apps would be difficult to search and looking in all the shops would be long and tedious task. So I headed to the shuttle port.
Unfortunately Karjan was nowhere to be found at the shuttle port. I did catch sight of one of the Canthin waiting in the recreation lounge but I managed to duck behind a Cula vending machine before he spotted me. As I headed back home I looked in the shops that where still open but Karjan was nowhere to be seen. The café-bar where we had talked earlier that afternoon had closed for the night- the windows were darkened.
I returned home dejected. The red flashing neon of the flesh-bar seemed inviting in the cold night air. I checked my pockets, I had enough money. As soon as I entered the sweaty smell of the bar assailed me, I had to squint to see in the low light, and the pumping music momentarily deafened my ears. The bar was half full at best, a number of patrons sat at tables each with a female of their same species. I took the crumpled money out of my pocket and handed it to a Herreni in dirty white suit. He showed me to a table. The Herreni presented me with a menu of sorts. On it where a list of names, Cassandra, Marvette Florente etc. etc. I was just scanning the list when I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned in surprise behind me was another man dressed in the standard white suit of a flesh-bar compere. His face was shrouded in shadow.
“Karjan is not here Jac,” the mysterious creature said “You must ensure that Galean and his cronies do not find him, they are not good people Jac not ISF either. You must stop them.”
And with that and without me able to get a word in edgeways to ask the mysterious stranger who he was or how he knew Karjan he was gone. I would like to say he disappeared in a puff of smoke but what actually happened was more prosaic. Just as I was about to speak there a sudden spluttering from the bars sound system and then both the sound system and the lights cut out completely. I was left scrabbling in the dark. I heard the voice of the stranger behind me:
“Take this, I hope you don’t have to use it”
I felt the stranger slip something into my hand. Then the lights snapped on. I whirled round but there was no one there. The other patrons and I looked round confused. I looked down at what I had been given; it was a ISF issue laspistol. It seemed that things had suddenly gotten very serious.
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