The background story of Zandagort is continuously developing according to in-game events. Each chapter is a prelude to a server and a reaction to earlier servers.
After the principles of interstellar travel were put into practice at the beginning of the 32nd century, mankind swarmed out into space, and populated the entire Galaxy in just 200 years. History has shown, that peaceful coexistence is only possible if no nation, politician or army rules more than one terraformed planet. This was the most important protocol of the League of United Planets, which everyone observed. Until...
In 3492 contact was established with an alien civilization in the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. Unfortunately, it turned out that the aliens are living under the reign of the evil Prince Zandagort, whose main goal is to conquer the entire Universe. Soon after the contact their fleets set off towards our galaxy.
In this crisis the LUP got together to find a solution to the problem. Although it seemed obvious that the planets should combine their fleets, they could not agree on who should manage the resulting galactic forces. It was soon clear that negotiations have failed, and war broke out.
New Milky Way (s2)
On Doomsday, February 7, 4078, IsenMother, the last human planet was annihilated. Although the Milky Way, the cradle of mankind held up, she lost all her hospitability. Stars, gas giants, planetoids, comets, interstellar dust and nebulae, dark matter and the infinite emptiness of vacuum, but no habitable planets in sight.
The human race didn't go extinct however. From a lot of planets was it possible to evacuate at least a fraction of the population and the plants and animals required for terraformation. Thousands of Noah's arcs transported the refugees, until these fleets united and set off to find a new home.
So were gone long centuries. The ships sailed the boring lightyears, and apart from a small crew, everyone lied in stasis, for it was easier to maintain peace that way. Finally in 4450 they reached their destination, a friendly galaxy which they named New Milky Way:
Now that everyone was awakened from stasis and the compulsory confinement came to an end, separation and animosity of factions started again. Particularly that according to latest information, Zandagort having settled in our old home, continues our persecution.
"Who sails through infinite darkness,
Who shreads our planets to tears,
Whom we just call Evil,
Say, why don't you get lost?"
- prayer from the 51st century
Haven and Camelot. Two planets. Only that is left of the second home of mankind, of the New Milky Way. And the remains of thousands of planets and 100 billion people around them. Gloomy surroundings.
But as soon as the last war generation was gone, the urge in people rose to fling themselves again into the great adventure, outer space. Colonization was well prepared, the target galaxy was not far away. The brave set off into the not so unknown, the even braver stayed to protect their home, should Zandagort return.
The game follows the fate of the former, who in 5217 reached Trillian, the galaxy named after the legendary space traveller:
Whether Jean-Baptiste Pecca was a prophet as his followers held him or the evil himself as his enemies or just a tycoon with no scruples as the cynic, will probably remain unknown. What is for sure is that he was born during the Third Zandagort War, inherited Pecca Arms Corporation from his father in his youth and was barely forty when the war ended in 5821.
The victory, the first real victory over Zandagort was a significant boost to morale. More and more people felt it was time to take revenge on Zandagort. Pecca decided to lead this movement and was quite successful in it. Not because of his charisma rather his insight and unscrupulousness. He visited the remaining planets one by one to win them for his case. He always found his way to increase his influence. He bought local media corporations, corrupted or blackmailed politicians, made speeches.
In these public speeches he was proud and vengeful. And he seemed rather authentic on that. His life mostly overlapped the war, his home planet was annihilated by Zandagort, his company gave discount to anyone who underwent the same trauma. He was obsessed with xenophobia. Or at least it seemed so. But many doubted his sincerity and suspected the good old military-industrial complex in the background.
For his fiftieth birthday Pecca surprised himself with the Secretary-General's chair of the League of United Planets. He started preparations for the invasion immediately. His factories had been building spaceships since the end of war, now they were sped up to intense production. Thousands of recruiting offices were opened all around the galaxy to enlist the enthusiastic youth. Finally in 5838 the united forces set off. Pecca himself was on one of the ships after resigning his position.
Naturally his unscrupulousness brought resistance. Fighting spirit was gone with Pecca and the invasion fleets, peaceful and careful voices got louder. More and more people thought it had been a mistake to attack the aliens prematurely. They had already destroyed two of our galaxies, and this third one was barely spared. It would be wiser to leave them behind and let them find another enemy for themselves.
This is how the human race divided into four groups. A few million lived, if they still lived, in the New Milky Way on the planets Haven and Camelot. About 100 billion people inhabited the Trillian Galaxy. And those who were driven by restlessness either headed to Andromeda to defeat the aliens once and for all, or exactly the opposite way to get away from them. In 5923 the latter group reached their new home, three tangled galaxies:
Johann Malt was the captain of the 2nd Colonizer Fleet. And he had his own plans. Ever since the colonizer fleets left the remains of the Trillian Galaxy, he wasn't pleased at all with the idea of fleeing from Zandagort and his alien race. The key to survival is reproduction. This was the essence of life for 5 billion years. Then why sould we differ? Why not conquer all the galaxies in the universe and simply outnumber the aliens? Exponential growth is already part of our biology and economy. We just simply have to expand it beyond the boundaries of galaxies. If we set off colonizers every few millenia and send them to different galaxies, we could populate the observable universe in just hundred thousand years.
So in 5902 he sabotaged the automatic guidance system of the 2nd Fleet and set up new coordinates. He also adjusted the hibernators so when his fellow officers woke up it was already too late to intervene. Although he was tried and sentenced to death for this deed considered a coup d'état, he died with a smile on his face and a happy thought in his mind that he saved the human race.
In 5947 the 2nd Fleet reached the new galaxy:
Bering Fish Alliance (s6)
Why is it there are no fish at all? And why is it no-one asks this question? I remember my grandfather asking me when I was six, and my first reaction was: what is fish? Then he told me a strange tale that intrigues me since that time. He loved to tell tales and I loved to listen to them, and yet this was the only story that survived my childhood and is in my head even today.
A long time ago humans lived on only one planet called Earth. Where exactly Earth was or whether it existed at all, no-one knows today. But there's another thing no-one knows, or only a few people. That seas and oceans were not the huge empty water tanks as today, but were full of life. Fish, crabs, corals, algae and other strange creatures dwelled them. Some so small that it couldn't be seen by the naked eye, some so big as a house. Some lived near the shores in the sunlight, some thousands of meters deep in the pitch dark tranquility, bothered only by undersea volcanoes.
Humans loved these aquatic creatures. To eat them. This was the prevalent form of love those days. Just as these days. There even was a trade to catch fish, called fishery. It was such a typical livelihood that fishmen grouped into associations and corporations. One of them was the Bering Fish Alliance. It was no more unique than any other, except for the fact that it's the only one that still exists. Although there are no fish anymore.
In the middle of the 32nd century, a particularly mild winter came to Earth. Those days the sea froze in winter, but in this one year it happened otherwise. Whether this was the cause or something else, I don't know, but it's certain that this was the winter when the fish died out. In a single month. All of them. Not just fish but every creature that inhabited the sea.
This is how the Third Food Crisis broke out. Famine decimated the population, society collapsed, and emigration to other planets that started only two decades ago boomed. Dozens of colonizer ships launched every day, some so poorly equipped in the panic that the crew starved to death before the arrival. The hegemony of Earth over the colonies was finally ended.
Naturally it was the end for the fishermen too. Those who survived started a new life. Fish corporations dissolved. But the president of the Bering Fish Alliance at that time, a man called Hemingway, did not give up so easily. He was always susceptible to mysticism, and such an inexplicable disaster was a good medium for his fantasy. He formed the alliance into a secret society, and no-one heard of them since then.
When I asked my grandfather how *he* heard of them, he just hummed.
This was a hundred and thirty years ago. And how it came to my mind right now? I was waken up this morning from a hundred years of stasis, because we're reaching the galaxy designated by the Malt Directive to be our new home. Although shivering after the stasis (called PSS) lasts a few days, and every move hurts, I hurried to the observing hall to see where we arrived. I felt dizzy when I saw it. A fish shaped galaxy group.
I've been watching it for over an hour and it's no illusion. It does look like a fish. I asked a few people around but of course no-one mentioned fish. They don't know what it is. But I do recognize it, since my grandfather drew it for me. I'm not a religious man, but I don't believe in coincidences. And if it's not a coincidence that we're heading towards such a galaxy, there's only one explanation. That the Bering Fish Alliance really exists, even today, and it controls if nothing else our fleet. And I have to find them.
Pirates have always been characterized by anarchy. They don't accept any laws or kings. After all they make a living from ignoring the law. At times there were attempts to force other laws on them, but these either failed or worked only for a short period. More pirate lords ended their lives naked in space than law-abiding citizens had rulers. Pirates have never been united successfully.
Any major collaboration or cooperation worked only if it was driven not by external laws but internal motivations. Such an example is laziness resulting in the passivity of pirates. This was not caused by peace treaties, pirates are simply too lazy to loot actively. Their latest well-known joint action was fleeing from the s4 galaxy group, which was the result of another vice of pirates, namely cowardice.
The description above reflects the position of official piratology. Therefore, as typical in academic history writing, it can be regarded only mildly reliable. And right here is the tricky part...
Interestingly pirates are much more aware of their own history than average people. This may be due to the absence of any centralized government, which could have forged history for its own interest. History is written by the victors, and although in the long run it is always changing who's the winner, there are eternal losers who never get their fair share of history, so some parts of the human history stay distorted forever.
But among pirates there are no real winners or losers, so their history writing is more reliable. The problem is it is hardly accessible. Inaccessible to be more precise. Or it has been until now.
Tinburg Jensen, who defines himself as a professional adventurer, just released a lot of information on pirate history in a blog post. He spent years in the company of pirates, for which he could expect long years in prison if the authorities could find him. He translated old shiplogs, collected pirate songs. After this publication probably the pirates would not spare him as well, so Jensen is now not only an outlaw, but an outoutlaw.
Piracy, like almost every other human activity began on the ancestor planet. In those days it was done the traditional way on water, only later did they switch to outer space. As looting was always uncertain, pirates made a living from fishing. Yes, fishing, the existence of which is denied by official history writing. But the pirates of course remember the fish. Which raises the suspicion that the mass amnesia on this topic came not by chance but in the interest of someone.
Many theories circulate about this among pirates. Each of these assumes that the most sensitive topic is the sudden extinction of the fish. If someone is responsible for that, he might have caused the oblivion. Since the direct consequence was the Third Food Crisis, the motivation should be sought in its effects.
Spaceship factories and the construction industry benefited the most from the acceleration of colonization. Previously they lobbied for tax relieves on extraterrestrial areas and ran major campaigns to convince people about the advantages of emigration, but all in vain, they couldn't achieve any boom until famine broke out.
There were obvious political interests as well. The drastic change in the population has overwritten the previous balance of power, which now clearly favored the colonies. And not only the leaders of the latter. The demographic-political balance that had set centuries ago on the ancestor planet led to a narrow elite, with no place for the up-and-coming youth. After the crisis there has been a complete generation change in the political elite in the next decade.
One very bold theory even suggests religious causes in the background. Dysonism flourished in those days, by conservative estimation 10% of the population believed that the human race emerged to spread life and civilisation in a totally uninhabited universe. The ratio was about 50% among scientists and engineers. The cardinals of the Church of Dyson were almost exclusively leading scientists, which is not surprising, as academic secularism had been gone a thousand years before that.
Like conspiracy theories general, all of the above seem plausible, although there's no real evidence. So you can choose according to your own liking...
But let's get back to facts and the not so distant past. When alien fleets appeared again in 6383, the pirates had already been preparing for some time. Only fifty years earlier came the first news on the hyperwave about the new galaxy, and this upset them for obvious reasons. Although there is no clear evidence, there is good reason to believe that the Bering Fish Alliance was originally a pirate alliance. The hope that such an ancient legend might come to life, mobilized the pirates. This was the real reason for their retreat, not cowardice.
But the basically anarchist nature of pirates was not suitable for such a long journey. So around 6500 far from every living planet in the outest outer space, civil war broke out among the pirates. The conflict ended thirty-five years later, when ten pirate lords contracted peace, defeated the remaining rebels and created the Brotherhood of Pirates.
Since then they arrived at the new galaxy, declared war on every alliance, and although they claim to be interested only in looting, with such a background, it is not so plausible...
Norwegian Wood (s7)
The radio started to play Norwegian Wood. Kitty who was until now sitting on the porch with her eyes closed, shuddered. She went to the device, turned up the volume and sat back. She loved this song. It reminded her of old times when she first heard it. She fell in love immediately. With the song, the radio programme and the radio presenter.
Not much changed in Kitty's life since then. She read cheap old space pulp fiction and dreamt of adventures and adventurous men. Normally everyone outgrows this period. But it was not exclusively Kitty's fault that she didn't. Daydreaming is the sport of the hopeless and hopelessness is rarely chosen.
Kitty's home planet was once a flourishing titan planet. Its prosperity stammed from the constant arms race, and although as a typical colony most of the profit was pumped out of it, the workers and miners could still make a decent living. And so would have it been till the end of times, were the planet not lying on a triple border. This geopolitically unlucky position led to systematic lootings and conquests. The local population could tolerate this, but finally after one of the empires occupied the planet, it decided to exploit it permanently.
Resources were quickly exhausted due to high production and the economy collapsed. This time not only the profit left the planet, but capital and finally the workers as well. Average lifespan jumped to 67 years in a couple of months and the youngest person was well over fifty. The planet was doomed. Its dwellers having tea and waiting to die.
Kitty was not young either, she was just over 61. And why didn't she leave the planet as the others? Perhaps she was too naive and did not believe it was the end. Perhaps she was too patriotic who loved this snowball so much she couldn't just leave it behind. Perhaps she was just too slow to decide and by the time she made up her mind it was too late. For it was too late now. No spaceship capable of flying, no man capable of driving was left on the planet. Nobody and nothing came here except for hyperwave radio broadcasts. The remaining population switched to self-preservation.
Kitty might have lived her life like this till the end, had not the long awaited adventure caught her up. A stray pirate ship crash landed near Kitty's house due to a failed engine.
Getting over the first shock she became very enthusiastic. The pirates were a bit scruffy but really friendly. Especially after they tasted Kitty's food. During their first lunch at her they joked about inviting her to be the chief cook on their ship. It took ten days to fix the engine. Although mines and factories had closed long time ago there were still enough spare parts. The pirates were preparing to leave. By this time they loved Kitty, this dear old lady so much as if she were their mother. So this time their invitation was not a joke.
Kitty could not sleep a bit that night, she was just flouncing in bed. All her life she was waiting for this. To set sail to outer space with a bunch of pirates and experience unbelievable adventures. And yet now that her dream was about to come true she became uncertain. She had to realize that dreams elaborated for fifty years outshine reality. Even this one and a half weeks were enough to see that these pirates were not exactly as she had imagined. What whould happen if she spent a month, a year or even more time with them? She would probably get disappointed not only in them, but in space, spacetravel and adventures. She realized that the perfection of dreams outmatches the reality of reality.
Next morning the pirates could not understand why she said no. Kitty didn't tell them the real reason, because she did not want to hurt their feelings. It's not their fault that they don't compare to the non-existent pirates of her dreams. She baked them a few pans of pine nut cookies as a farewell gift.
Kitty was sitting on the porch when they took off. She looked up to the sky above the snowy mountains but she only saw a blur of light instead of the receding pirate ship because of the tears filling her eyes...
She never heard about them again and died a few years later. So she didn't know that these nice pirates left the galaxy not much later. She didn't know that although they were defeated in the Pirate Civil Wars they survived and fled. She didn't know that once they arrived at the Cartwheel Galaxy they decided to give up piracy and populate it as ordinary citizens.
And she didn't know that a pine nut from one of her cookies was planted and from that single nut during the next hundred years a whole wood has grown. A norwegian wood.
Background Story: Stuck (s8)
"Still more than eight hours in this damn cabin! If only I could travel alone!" Captain Roberts looked at the women sitting facing him, and then he looked away quickly to avoid being noticed and getting involved in a conversation.
Not that anything was wrong with her. She was called Emily, a young pretty waitress from space station Draal. She was going on a vacation for a week to the beaches of the exotic Balduse Islands with her groom François who was a musician and in love with her.
Captain Roberts knew all this about Emily because she kept talking ever since they had gotten on the elevator. She had already told him half of her life. If she were given the chance, she would probably tell the other half as well.
The captain didn't like people. They are boring and they always talk about totally irrelevant things. Emily perfectly illustrated his problem with people in general. There was only one thing he hated even more than people - space elevators. Even though this was the first time he used one. If he could have, he would have omitted this trip, but the planet's governor insisted that he wanted to talk about the evacuation in person. This was the first time he had left outer space and he hoped it was going to be the last time.
He was born on a battleship. There was nothing surprising about this, most of the spacehips' crews were born on ships and space stations. Most of them, however, were eager to step on a planet's surface. They say sunset is one of the most beautiful phenomena in the universe, and for those who were born in space it was a miracle.
Captain Roberts did not share their enthusiasm. But now he would have watched a thousand sunsets, if he didn't have to ride this elevator. First of all, he was sick of the planet's natural gravity. Even though there is no physically detectable difference between natural and artificial gravitation, thirty out of a hundred people can feel the difference, and three percent of them get nauseated and dizzy. And, beyond that, he just realized after leaving the geostationary level that he had agoraphobia. He was not afraid of death since he had been trained to cope with it his whole life, but of the falling itself.
Malfunctions, however, are extremely rare. He had read an article about it not so long ago. Accidents happen once in a blue moon. But the captain had a vivid imagination and, since he had peeked into the blueprints of one of these elevators, he developed dozens of deadly scenarios. A drifted SPS or a mis-measured meteor could easily tear the tether. An icicle frozen in a wrong place pushed under one of the stabilizing rings by the ice scrapers could damage it and it would immediately explode from the many gigapascals of tension in the tether. If it ripped at least a tenth of the threads, the shockwaves would damage more and more threads and rings and the resulting cascade would mean the end of the elevator.
Captain Roberts, in order to divert his attention from these thoughts and to avoid “speaking” with Emily (or more precisely: listening to her), got out his handheld computer and checked the target galaxy. But this did not interest him either. Strictly speaking every galaxy is just the same. And neither its shape nor the “good spots” could excite him. He will be told where to go and he will go there.
Emily does not know it yet, but her vacation is going to be interrupted. If she's lucky, she will be in the first round of the evacuation. If not, she will die relatively fast and relatively painlessly since there will be no second round. A Zeus fleet of about ten million equivalents is mincing the empire planet by planet. Since there is no fleet to match it in size and speed, only the most important planets are defended. Emily's planet is not among them and the aliens will be here in three days. Until then only a portion of the inhabitants will be saved, at best.
They were about fifteen thousand miles above the surface when the elevator bumped and started to slow down with a terrible crash. Captain Roberts grabbed the seat's armrests in terror while Emily screamed continuously. It took almost two minutes for the elevator to stop. The noise ceased and Emily became silent too. They looked at each other in shock.
The captain recovered quickly. He immediately called the first officer and handed over control to him, so he could manage the evacuation as acting captain. And, of course, he asked for a mechanic to repair the elevator and save them.
Emily was not a silly woman, she understood the situation immediately. The captain decided to breach the protocol because of the extraordinary nature of the situation and told her everything. If he gets out alive and is caught he would be tried for his crime but he felt he could take the risk.
Of course he prohibited Emily from warning François. And oddly enough Emily didn't even think of that. Perhaps due to the fear of death or perhaps something else, but Emily started to take interest in the captain. She started to flirt with him. Or at least she tried because the captain was totally immune to female body language.
He suggested instead that they play Pick-up Sticks until the mechanics arrive. Actually this was the only thing Captain Roberts enjoyed, pulling out sticks from a pile. Even having to play with others didn't disturb him. Emily, as she had no other choice, joined the game. Soon resignation took over her and she wasn't bothered by the possibility anymore that she would be spending probably her last hours playing with a bunch of sticks.
The mechanics never arrived. The first officer (or acting captain to be more precise) exploited the situation to finalize his new rank. He didn't tell anyone about the captain's situation, especially not the mechanics. And in the big rush no-one has noticed that an elevator was broken.
Emily and Captain Roberts played Pick-up Sticks for three days, while watching the evacuation and, finally, the arrival of the aliens. The captain showed Emily through a telescope the 3 feet long bombs thrown out from the Zeuses. The bombs detonated near the surface and the high energy gravitons emitted by them created an irregular black hole which devoured the entire planet. In the end the fluctuating singularity was torn to shreds and radiated in just a few minutes.
But our heroes, quite understandably, did not see anymore. Their bodies were trickling out as gamma radiation, their souls lost in the information paradox.