Voici la quatrième, et dernière, partie de ma méga-vignette consacrée à l'univers de RIFTSPACE par Irvin Jackson.
The Murdered World
The planet Gargannau was once a lush, green, highly advanced planet that was the home world of the saurian species, the Mogg'Theran. The Mogg'Theran gained almost all of their advanced tech from an ancient scoutship they uncovered on their world that belonged to an enigmatic race known as the Vorhasi, who some say are hundreds of thousands of years more advanced than any other known species. The Mogg'Theran ruled over 200 star systems known as the Empire of Many Suns, with four races serving as vassal states for more than 300 years. They built the 10 Great JumpGates and connected their region of the galaxy. Then, about 200 years ago, the Vorhasi arrived at Gargannau and told the Mogg'Theran that they had five years to evacuate their planet before they returned to destroy it. The Vorhasi had never been violent except to races that invaded their territory. Even then, ships found themselves disabled and wormholed dozens of light years back in their own territory. But everyone knew that the Vorhasi had the power to back up their threats. The Mogg'Theran marshalled their fleet, a massive armada of thousands of ships, bankrupting their empire in the process in order to throw everything they had at the Vorhasi when they arrived. But just in case they failed, they evacuated everyone that was willing to leave. Right on time, the Vorhasi arrived. One ship, barely large enough to be considered a cruiser, appeared at the edge of the star system. It sat there for about 30 minutes, then left. The Mogg'Theran thought it was a scout ship, and their massive fleet had scared it off. An hour later, the molten iron core and all the geological and biological processes of Gargannau simply...stopped. The core went cold. Life forms stopped processing energy. The temperature plummeted, and flora and fauna began to wither and die before the Mogg'Theran's eyes. Panic ensued as the race feared that whatever was happening to their home world would spread. But it did not. Even the few Mogg'Theran on the surface who would not leave were apparently unharmed. But besides those few, nothing lived, not even bacteria. The Mogg'Theran's empire, bankrupted and without their power base, fell as their vassal states revolted. The species, which was physiologically tied to their home world like Salmon are connected to their spawning ground, split up into massive nomadic fleets, some work for hire as mercenaries, some simply live on in roving fleets and a few others have departed for trips across the cosmos, fearing the Vorhasi may one day finish the job. The First Gate, once considered a wonder of the galaxy, floats dark, inactive and unmanned over a dead world. Why did the Vorhasi destroy Gargannau? Nobody knows. And the Vorhasi do not explain themselves. They have not harmed a single being since then. Some speculate that the Mogg'Theran were about to unlock some secret of Vorhasi technology that would have made them rivals, but the Vorhasi didn't destroy the scout ship. The Mogg'Theran took it with them, and all their research. Some say that the Vorhasi were forcing the Mogg'Theran to evolve, by destroying the home world they were physiologically bound to by instinct. But why? Others suggest that there may be another, more disturbing reason. There have been reports, scattered and unconfirmed, that Mogg'Theran psychics still on the planet heard something...alien...scream in their minds as the planet died. This has raised some questions that have no answers. Like what was a Vorhasi scout ship doing abandoned on Gargannau? What force could have disabled a ship by a species that can destroy worlds with no detectable weapon? And why are there reports that occasionally Vorhasi ships return to Gargannau, scanning it...as though making sure the planet, or perhaps something that once lived on or under it, stays dead...
The planet Murgal lies in the unsettled space between the Xintrin Merchant Guild and the Empire of Many Suns, near the border of the Free Colonies. Though it is listed as an independent world, in reality it is controlled by the Xintrin, who have turned the planet into a giant market and furlough spot for mercenary companies. Mercs from all over local space come to Murgal to buy ships and weapons, find jobs, rest and relax, settle old scores or catch up on the latest training techniques. The entire planet's economy is built around supplying and entertaining the roughest, most ruthless customers in known space. Throughout it all you can find Xintrin traders plying their wares, raking in billions of credits for themselves and the Merchant Guild. Other sellers, such as the Fahreen, are officially welcome, but unofficially bad things tend to happen to those who are not careful or who take too big a bite out of Xintrin traders' sales. There are two types of settlements on Murgal: Mercenary camps and No-Fire Cities. Mercenary camps are settlements dedicated to one mercenary company. Some are exactly that: camps. Others are fortress cities with docking cradles that can fit cruisers. The No-Fire Cities are independently run and cater to the mercenaries every whims. Most have giant bazaars for merchants, gambling dens, whorehouses, sporting and gladiatorial arenas, drug houses and everything in between. Very little is illegal to buy, sell or do on Murgal, except damage the lives and property of merchants. Doing so brings down the Murgal Guard, a Xintrin and human mercenary group formed to keep Murgal independent and (relatively) peaceful. They are known to have a tendency to shoot first, shoot a bit more, and only resort to asking questions when they are out of ammunition. The threat of that level of violence is just the kind of thing needed to keep control of the planet that has become known as Merc World.
Orniraptor Mk IV
The Orni-raptor is an old, reliable Mogg'Theran-built light transport popular in the Empire of Many Suns. They are known to be durable workhorses that are well-armed and capable of long-ranges. They are also surprisingly compact, at only 118 feet in length. They lack speed and and personal amenities, but make up for it in their ability to take a pounding and their ability to be modified. They are popular among scouts, prospectors, and bounty hunters. There are also quite a few working planetary defense duty as patrol ships and in a few cases they've been modified to function as bombers. Smugglers and pirates tend to avoid them due to their lack of speed and creature comforts.
The Herald of Niflheim
The Ambassador from the Niflheim Sovereignty is known as the Herald of Niflheim. Far more than any ambassador, it is said that she knows Queen Sefa so well that through her the queen's will is projected. She does not need to confer with the queen to make decisions or even sign treaties. Rumored to be a powerful psychic, some speculate that she has a permanent mental bond with Queen Sefa that is unaffected by distance. Others suggest that she has some kind of hyper-advanced cybernetic quantum micro-transmitter that allows the queen to speak to her "live" across the gulf of space undetected. Whatever the case, when the Herald is referring to the Queen, she says "I", as though she were the queen, and she only refers to herself in the third person, even in private conversation and even when standing right next to the queen, who is usually content to let her speak on her behalf and has never been seen to disagree with her. It is said that the Herald owns nothing. No land, no money, no clothes, no ships. Not even her breath is her own. It is all considered to be a gift from the queen, thus limiting her ability to abuse her position.
Fall of the Hound
Henry "The Hound" McLaren is known to be one of the most ruthless and merciless pirates in the organized crime organization known as the League of Silence. He kills without a thought and often appears to have a bitter and sadistic cruel streak. The League of Silence uses him to find those who do not wish to be found. What's most interesting is that McLaren used to be a bounty hunter of both renown and character. For years he was on the side of the law. Then he went after the League's leadership. He disappeared for year. When he came back, he came back as one of the League's inner circle. No one is sure what the League used to get to McLaren, although he did come back with cybernetics replacing some of his body parts. However, McLaren is held up as an example that anybody has a price. There are a lot of people who would love to know what McLaren's price was, and if betraying all that he once stood for is worth it.
Captain Telekas is an independent ship's captain and adventurer who was once one of the best commanders in the Mogg'Theran Eighth Armada. However, his defiant nature often got him into trouble and he eventually resigned his commission. To the surprise and chagrin of the Admiralty, his entire officer's contingent resigned with him. He had enough prize money from captured enemy vessels to purchase the frigate, Glory's Blade, and has made a name for himself as a pirate hunter and explorer. He still misses his original ship, the Victorious, which is now in the hands of a new captain.
Absinthe of Malice
Absinthe is Mercurio's wife and personal assassin. When the going gets tough, he sends his wife to do the job. He usually is a bit reserved about sending her in, due to the large body count and collateral damage she's known to cause. Rumors say that she tracked his fleet down and killed his personal guard and asked to join. He told her she did not look like a pirate, so she cut out her own eye in front of him and put on one of his men's eyepatches. Not only did he let her join, but he proposed to her on the spot. Other rumors suggest the eyepatch is more than what it appears and has a variety of sensors and other abilities.
Mercurio is the current leader of the Carnival of Carnage, a raider fleet that paints its ships and members' faces in garish colors, like clowns of old. They are considered raiders instead of pirates because they seem to be in it simply for the thrills instead of for profit. Their bold and brazen raids have made Mercurio one of the most wanted criminals in the Free Colonies and he has even dared to raid into the Terran Protectorate itself. His most audacious plan allowed him to steal one of the Guardsmen's Stalwart-class heavy cruisers, the Indomitable, which he has renamed The Last Laugh and made his flagship.
Carol Hurley is a well-known engineer on the Sigma IV Transfer Station at Donovan's Jump. She is best known for custom ship modifications, but her rates are extremely expensive. She is also a fountain of information and often hires freelancers to find or retrieve rare parts.
Et voilà. J'en ai fini momentanément avec l'univers S-F 100% RIFTS d'Irvin Jackson. J'espère que ça vous a plu, voire mieux: que ça vous a donné des idées pour vos propres parties de JDR. J'aime vraiment beaucoup ce setting, et les illustrations "moches" qui vont avec, aussi il n'est pas impossible que j'y revienne un de ces quatre.