Story Arc and World Settings

Second Season Setting

The story opens ten years after the defeat of the bug queen and the end of the First Interstellar War. The Alliance (SICON and Tophet) is at peace and has spent the post-war years rebuilding the damage of the war. The Federal Fleet has continued to patrol the quadrant to locate and clean up any residual bug infestations. With this reduced responsibility, the SICON forces have been partially demobilized and many soldiers have reentered society as citizens.

The second season takes place on five worlds, some familiar, some not: Earth, Tophet, Erebus (a small world in the Tophet binary system), Charybdis (a violent oceanic world), and Lovell 547 (a large asteroid).

1. Earth: Still unified under SICON, the nations of Earth now turn their energies to rebuilding their world. Superficially everything seems peaceful and untroubled. However, all is not well. For a number of months, psychics have been disappearing across the globe. Their numbers are small and the incidences scattered so few people suspect any pattern in the disappearances. Carl Jenkins, the senior psychic in SICON, notices the disappearances. Unsure of its meaning he launches his own private investigation.

2. Tophet: A planet in the Tartarus binary star group, Tophet is a harsh volcanic world baking in the continuous day of its binary suns. Its atmosphere is a poisonous mix of methane, chlorine, and carbon tetrachloride. It is the home of a sophisticated race of beings, the T’Phetti (known colloquially as the ‘Skinnies’). After prolonged battle with the Arachnid Empire, Tophet was finally overrun and its people enslaved. SICON forces liberated the planet and its people gaining a resourceful ally in their war against the bugs. With the war ended, Tophet and Earth exist in a cultural and military coalition known as the Alliance. Ten years have passed since the war, however, and the Alliance is strained; an ever-growing faction in Tophet agitates for an end of the alliance with Earth. Many on Tophet feel that SICON has exploited their world and people, using the planet as a base of operations and recruiting Skinnies to fill the ranks of the military. It is noted with some resentment that while T’Phetti served bravely and with distinction in the war, none have achieved positions of substantial authority either in the SICON military or ruling councils of the Alliance. This discontent has been brought to a head by the recent unexplained disappearance of large numbers of T’Phetti, mostly those with psychic gifts. The anti-Alliance faction believes SICON and Intel are behind the disappearances, using the captured T’Phetti to fill the ranks of their covert operations forces. The story opens with Terran-T’Phetti relations strained almost to the breaking point.

3. Erebus (Tophet Minor): Erebus is another planet in the Tartarus binary, the sister world to Tophet Unlike Tophet, the planet is volcanically inactive and devoid of native life-forms. Smaller than its dominant sister, Erebus has a methane-carbon-tetrachloride atmosphere suitable to T’Phetti needs, making it the natural first site for a T’Phetti off-world colony. Several such small outposts have been established at the opening of the story. What neither SICON, Tophet, or the Erebus colonists know, however, is that this world is the home of a very unusual visitor. For over eleven years, Erebus has been the adoptive home of a human, a man named Freeman. Once the most powerful psychic in Intel, and Carl Jenkins’ former training instructor, Freeman is now a renegade from the Alliance. His presence will make this insignificant little world the center of a vast power play between three great empires.

4. Charybdis: A large world in orbit around the star MK1341, Charybis is a world covered in one vast single ocean. With no land masses, vast storms and cyclones rage unchecked over the planet’s surface. SICON has established a small base on this world: a floating surface staging area for the off-loading of supplies and materiel from space, and a larger primary base underwater. The planet has abundant aquatic animal and plant life, dominated by two semisentient species: a large, aggressive predator species attended by a smaller, weaker and less aggressive subspecies living in a symbiotic relationship with it. What SICON has discovered (and hence the reason for a base on such an unforgiving world) are the ruins of a vast, incredibly ancient and apparently extinct culture. Evidence suggests that this unlikely world may have been the original home world of the Arachnid Empire. It is to this strange world that Carl is drawn in his investigation of the disappearing psychics.

5. Lovell 547: A large asteroid, nearly twice the size of Earth’s Moon, this barren planetoid resides in a wholly uninhabited, minimally explored region of space. It has become the home of the resurrected Arachnid Empire. Before the Queen completed her journey to Earth, she produced the egg for her successor; an insurance policy for the race should she fail in her battle with the humans. The egg was transported with a small cadre of royal attendants to this asteroid where the new Queen hatched and began the work of producing a new race of bugs. When our story opens, the queen has produced a formidible army that occupies this worldlet, but has not yet expanded to any other worlds.

The Three Empires

The Second Season will be the conflict between three great powers: the Alliance (SICON & Tophet), the New Arachnid Empire, and Freeman’s Hive.

1. The Alliance: The Alliance, including SICON (Strategically Integrated Coalition of Nations) and Tophet, ended the first season badly battered but triumphant over the Arachnid Empire. Though seriously depleted by the war, the Alliance still commanded a formidable arsenal of ships and technological weapons enabling them to spread their influence across many star systems. In the ten years since the war, the Alliance has continued to mop up isolated pockets of bug infestation while creating a network to colonies and military installations to enhance the security of both home worlds. But with most of the hostilities over, public support for the military is waning on both worlds, and a phased demobilization initiated. In the ensuing peace, cracks have begun to form in the Alliance, with factions on Tophet advocating separation from SICON. Hence Season Two finds the Alliance still the ruling power in the region, but wracked with internal uncertainty and conflict.

2. The New Arachnid Empire: Hidden on Lovell 547, the new Queen has begun rebuilding the Arachnid Empire, creating armies of warriors, ripplers and transport bugs. Ever resourceful, the Queen uses the power of genetic engineering rather than technology to continue to enhance the abilities and capabilities of her hive. Since Her armies are still relatively small, She has sought to remain hidden from the prying eyes of the Alliance. With Her forces rebuilding, She fears the Alliance, and most especially its dominant psychic (Carl Jenkins), the man that was instrumental in the defeat of Her mother, the old Queen. However, the new Queen has become aware of a third rival in the galaxy, one that may pose an even greater threat than SICON and Carl. Since the Queen possesses powerful psychic gifts (and hence can telepathically control her subjects) she is sensitive to the presence of a new formidible psychic located on the sister world of Tophet. That psychic, as powerful perhaps as Carl and the Queen herself, is Freeman.

3. Freeman’s Hive: The enigmatic figure known only as Freeman was once an integral and influential operative of SICON and Intel. A psychic of formidable gifts, he became the father of the PsyOps branch, charged with locating and training psychics for use in the war with the bugs. His prize was Carl Jenkins, a student of extraordinary gifts. Under Freeman’s tutelage, Carl become a psychic of unprecedented power. With his own growing psychic abilities, reinforced by his experience training Carl, Freeman became convinced that psychics were the next stage of human evolution and hence the natural rulers of humankind. Needless to say his ideas were considered bizarre and borderline subversive by his SICON superiors; however, he was too valuable in producing psychic soldiers to cashier. Sensing his growing unpopularity he disappeared from Earth shortly before the end of the First Bug War. As a renegade he found refuge on Erebus, the sister world of Tophet. It was a sparsely populated world, easy to remain hidden in. It was close enough to the Alliance to provide him with the two things he desperately needed; information and psychics. Convinced that psychic adepts could be the foundation of a new dominant race in the galaxy, he began abducting psychics for investigation and study. He believed that he could build his own empire using the most formidible powers of the two dominant species in the galaxy: psychic gifts and independent intellect present in both humans and T’Phetti, joined with the genetic adaptability of the bugs. The power of the psychics melded with the procreative power and genetic adaptability of the bugs would enable him to build an army and a race without the need for machines or ships. By the story’s start, he has already been busy, creating new bugs, enhancing them with the abilities of psychics and the independent intellect of humans and Skinnies. (Much like Zanderbug did on Klendathu) His creations while impressive, are imperfect. Rather than bugs with trace samples of human traits, he seeks to meld the psychic human completely with the arachnid, to create a third entirely new lifeform. To accomplish that goal, he must discover the deepest secrets of the Arachnid’s genetic adaptability. That secret can be found on the Arachnid First World, the world of their origin, Charybdis. But three great barriers stand in his way. SICON with its men and machines that occupy Charybis, and the only two psychic intellects that rival his own: Carl Jenkins and the new Queen. Freeman hopes to somehow manipulate SICON and the new Arachnid Empire, keep them busy, while allowing him to reach Charybdis, take its secrets and complete the creation of his own empire. Then neither SICON, nor Carl or the Queen would be able to stop him.