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  Devs: Thank you for the new update. Please consider some simple improvements
Posted by: tanelorn - 11-19-2018, 03:42 PM - Replies (2)

Hello BugByte developers. Battlevoid: Harbinger is, in my opinion, one of the best real time space combat game available on mobile platforms. I play it on iOS. It was great to see that you have not abandoned it and released an update this autumn with new content. I do believe that the game would also benefit greatly from some small quality of life improvements. Please consider the following improvement suggestions that, in my opinion, would make the game more rewarding to play and increase it's replayability. 
1. Add an option to disable interface noises, or add a volume slider for interface noises. The game has a loud and annoying sound that plays whenever you click on things. It forces me to mute the sound effects. 
2. Make each difficulty level have a starting credit pool, and make each  starting ship have a credit cost. The current system gives no incentive to use the earlier ships, because you get just as much starting credits regardless of which ship you choose. If the starting ships had assigned costs, then the player can decide to pick a weaker ship but have more money to outfit it. That's a better game balance option and greatly increases replayability. 
2b. Along with #2, the player should be able to replace their flagship as they progress. This further adds to the complexity of decision making with choosing a starting ship, and also is good game design because it allows you to grow stronger and more capable as you advance in the game. 
3. Do not allow player ships or enemy ships to jump on top of eachother. In the early game it is like cheating, in the later game it is like always having a random chance to lose the game. There is nothing worse than losing your grand fleet to an enemy fleet that jumps right on top of you with no way to react and save your ships. 
4. Make adjustments to the mission system for better balance. Currently, the mission system at space stations is very strange. You can just keep declining missions with poor rewards until you see a high reward mission. Because each station will only have one mission once you accept, there is no incentive to ever take the low reward missions. In addition there is a strange mission that requires you to pay to take, which does not make sense. 
5. Raise the recruit-able NPC ships health / shields. The recruit-able NPC ships generally have similar or even lower health than a single enemy ship, which means they often are destroyed. And as you have no control over them, you can't even keep them out of the melee. As they are quite costly to recruit (if you can't recruit them with a mission), it is rarely worth it. 
I'm sure there are plenty of other improvements that can be made but I tried to keep this list to very simple things that should be easy to adjust yet will make the game significantly more enjoyable to play. Thank you for considering these suggestions. 
P.S. As I think BV:Harbinger is such a great space combat game, I also feel that if you made some significant improvements, you should re-release it on mobile platforms. The game is still better than most space combat games on mobile and I would expect the re-release to be successful. 

Continue reading..

  Devs: Thanks for the new content!
Posted by: joe1512 - 10-15-2018, 08:54 PM - Replies (3)

I appreciate your dedication to your older games.  Harbinger is definitely one of my favorite games of all times and I was pleasantly surprised to find not only Haven as a playable (and very good) ship, but also the addition of several new subsystems.

The photon bombers are very good as a general purpose ship slot, decent at blocking enemy shots as well as wearing them down.   Works better with missiles due to weak shield damage, but it helps maintain a niche for Plasma as a shield-breaker.

Have not had much luck with gatling fighters yet.  Their weak shield damage prevents them from being useful against enemy ships early on but their anti-fighter/bomber is pretty impressive and they make solid anti-fighter defense.  On the fence about them vs laser drones.

Haven itself is a fantastic ship with the solid slots of the valiant but with an extra bay and more overall toughness.

Continue reading..

  Stations
Posted by: Wsj3 - 10-07-2018, 06:46 PM - No Replies

Maybe each type of station should have a different designations.

The tiny ones would be battle spheres

The long one could be battle platforms

The big ones could be battle stations

And each one got a different symbol on the map little the sphere got a small circle while the platform had a 2 or 3 circles connected by lines and the station could be the octagon symbol.

Continue reading..

  Corvettes
Posted by: Wsj3 - 10-07-2018, 03:54 PM - Replies (3)

Okay so what if there was another class of ship called a Corvette. It would be smaller than any capital ship but bigger than any fighter (maybe 2 plasma bombers long). It would only be armed with point defense weapons to deal with fighters (like 3-5 blue slots) or it could carry fighters (one hangar module maybe). It could fit in a new module for capital ships like a large hangar bay.

Continue reading..

  DevBlog #22 - Thoughts on early access and showing the newest progress!
Posted by: AdmiralGeezer - 10-02-2018, 12:12 PM - Replies (29)




Greetings! Here is a big update on what's happening at the Bugbyte headquarters.

We now have a goal to have some type of early access release in the early months of 2019. We are aiming at around February – April of 2019. Our plan is to develop the game to a very playable point by then, and then continue on developing the game with the help of backers / early access players.

Regarding the early access: We have plans for doing either a Kickstarter with a build available at the end for backers or Steam early access (Mobile early access depending on possibilities). Which plan we carry out at that time depends on if we see the game ready for a big release on Steam or not, if it needs more time in the oven still.

I really want to take some time to thank you all our followers for your patience and support. When we embarked on this project we did not plan for it to take 3 years from initial idea to early access! As time passed we realized it will take a lot of time, but we have decided we want to go all in with this one and hope it will be the game that keeps us afloat and allows us to keep developing on it for more years.

Now that we have that part out of the way let's jump into the fun stuff! Let's look at what we've been up to the latest month or two:

Latest improvements:
  • Improved lighting
  • Added light animations to facilities
  • Polished hazardous gas, CO2, Smoke temperature, oxygen, power, and comfort simulation systems.
  • Crew Comfort simulation is a new addition to the simulation systems.
  • Improved view modes of simulation systems graphically.
  • Implemented some first music and sounds to the game.
  • Improved user interface.
  • Added trait trigger signals: E.G a character with wimp trait will get scared when firing weapons.
  • Improved character draft and shuttle draft behaviors.



We now have these different simulated systems:
  • Oxygen
  • CO2
  • Smoke
  • Hazardous gas
  • Temperature
  • Power grid
  • Comfort
  • And a vents system

The different gas, temperature, power, oxygen and comfort simulation systems are vital parts of the game adding some really nice depth to how you build your spaceship. Now it will really matters how you decide to build and how you place objects. E.G. If you place a bed right next to the ship core the simulated systems will affect the crew member sleeping in that bed negatively.

Building life support facilities like oxygen producers and CO2 scrubbers are vital to keep your crew alive. You need to build these throughout the ship to keep levels in check. Similarly your crew will want ideal temperature levels, which can be regulated with heaters you build.


Power can be directed to certain parts of the ship as you wish, you as a player have full control over this. You can link and unlink nodes, this allows for cool possibilities regarding emergent game play. Where in a disaster situation you can decide to leave a part of the ship completely out of power to save it for something more important. These systems will make designing and building spaceships not only fun, but meaningful too and opens up many possibilities for various emergent game play mechanisms.


Above you can see our newest addition to the simulations! This comfort system will give a lot of depth to how you design your spaceship, where you place beds and kitchen and where you decide to put engine room and hangar bays. Various facilities produce different amount of "discomfort", so facilities that are deemed loud for example are uncomfortable for crew members. On the other hand, objects like the jukebox, flipper game or such produce comfort for your crew members. So if you want to build a room, which is relaxing, put some fun objects in there for your crew members to enjoy!


Just to show you how cool this new comfort simulation is and what it can do. Above you see a character who has shit his pants walking around. The system recognizes this and calculates new values for tiles around the character. This will actually allow us to make this character with shit pants affect other characters negatively, making them want to avoid the other smelly character.


Here is the Space Haven inventory view for a character! We want to show our love for the old X-COM series in our design, hoping we can pay a proper homage to the legendary game. We now have a fully functioning draft system, where you can not only draft crew members, but shuttles too! This makes it easy for the player to pick crew members for an away mission, and steer the shuttle to a destination, where the crew members can be unloaded and venture in to explore a derelict ship.


Ok, guys! This is it, don't get scared now. Especially you Emmett, you always piss your pants. Our character trait system allows for creating a lot of different traits, which affect characters in various ways in different situations. Currently a character with the wimp trait will get scared when he is firing a gun, and could eventually panic and you lose control of him! You don't want this guy to be the last man standing and having the future of other crew members depend on him in a combat situation. This guy is the "Game over, man. Game over!" guy.


Yes, there are aliens! And we have cool things planned for the derelict ships. Aliens can capture your crew members and drag them to their base. You still have a chance at saving them!

We have also been working with our composer to create first in-game music and sounds. It's really something to experience the game come more alive with a new sensory mechanism like sounds. When you have been looking at the game for over 2 years, always without any sounds, it's really cool to suddenly hear sci-fi door opens and gun shots from the in-game events.

Stay tuned! And remember if you want to chat with us or follow us on other channels you can do so from the links below:


Feel free to share any of these gfycats or this forum post on your favorite forums such as Reddit or other! That really helps us spread the word!

Sign up for alpha/beta testing of this game when that day comes below:






OR:

Continue reading..

  Battlevoid stories.
Posted by: AdmiralGeezer - 08-22-2018, 08:03 AM - Replies (1)

[Image: PtMMOQG.jpg]

THE STORY OF THE MOTHERLIGHT

At first, there was only darkness, and it lasted for a long time. Then in the middle of the darkness, a bright light was born.

The light was white, and it shined burning in the blackness. Slowly, it twirled around, spinning itself bigger and bigger.  

The wisp of light grew gradually. Time did not matter. The light was to create itself from its own rays, and that was its sole purpose. The light could use all the time for its purpose.

Darkness did not tolerate the new intruder. It pressed against the light that disturbed the perfect infinity of darkness. One thin strand after another, the light still pushed darkness from its way, until it had grown large enough for darkness to get used to it.     

If the light had been able to see, it could have stared at the small spots beaming in the distance. They burned surrounded by their own peace, unstable and voiceless. Each of them had, one at a time, fought for their place in the darkness. But the light saw nothing. It did not know that it was not alone.

Time vanished. Darkness stayed unchanged. The light slowly revolved around itself, no longer growing.

Then time came back.
The motion of the light slowed down, and it more sensed than knew that it had started to shrink. The first vibrant strings on its outer ring were quenched, burned away. Now, for the first time in forever, did time start to have a meaning for the light. Now time meant everything. The light was nearing the end of its life, and its own inner strength would no longer be enough to uphold the glow. The future was closer to the present than ever before.

Light did the only thing it could do. It did what many other life forms had done in the early moments of the history of the universe.  It divided. It changed to two, then four, then eight. Small dots of light procreated, then stayed at their places, waiting. Finally, the dividing stopped and it was time for decisions. At exactly the same time, dots of light each went their own way. Only a small number of them stayed behind floating.

If the light had evolved a form of consciousness it might have been afraid, and that could be why a part of it stayed. Perhaps the light simply knew what to do, or maybe it was guided by a lower instinct, because the small orbs of light started to circle the familiar sphere. Each one left behind a flagellum-like light that the next one could cling onto. They weaved a web around themselves and the web was what kept the Motherlight alive.  

The offspring of the light, the tiny beaming orbs, wandered around space. Their only hope was to collide with something that could help them. They continued their straightforward, monotonous journey, shrinking moment by moment. Most of them burned smaller and smaller until they disappeared.

A humble group of light orbs that had detached themselves from the Motherlight happened to meet life. That is not exceptional. Had all of them had the time to travel their straight-lined course, they would have met life sooner or later. But time was the only thing they did not have. Perhaps they vaguely understood that they were lucky, for it is said that they started to burn brighter shortly after entering the atmosphere of a planet inhabited by humans.  

The first planet that the light is said to have entered was not the Earth, but it was one of Earth‘s countless colonies of the time. For long, the light was thought to be a meteorite. Its coming was intensely followed, and insane sects were founded around it. Astronomers tried to calculate whether or not the light would crash the planet, and would it be the end of everything if it did. People named the light with a haphazard combination of letters and numbers, as people tend to do. At first they believed the source of the light was big, but as it approached the land from the sky it became apparent that it was not big. It was just forcefully bright.   

Areas were evacuated from underneath the light, as it was feared it would crash with such speed that it would push the planet from its orbit. But that did not happen. Having travelled millions of light-years at full speed, the light just slowed down and remained floating a short distance from the planet‘s surface.

People came close to the light in their protective suits, but the suits burned to ashes long before the people could get near the fierce burn. They tried to capture the light in order to study it, but the light was so intense that it burned all attempts. It had to be left at its place. People contended with just staring at the light from a distance. Kilometers of text was written about it, all changes in it were reported, and the reports were sent to Earth.

The light grew slowly. It spun in a circle that was so low in speed that people could not perceive it. The growth could still be noticed, because in just a few years the ball was clearly larger than it had been when it arrived. At around the same time, the first scientist lost his mind. One day he walked straight towards the light. His body burned to nonexistence long before he reached the source.

The incident did not remain isolated. During the following months, approximately ten scientists walked into the light without forewarning. A handful of religious groups marched into the brightness as a kind of acknowledgment to a God. People started to worry. There were attempts to guard the light so that deaths could be avoided, but the guards themselves had a tendency to vanish into the light.

Time went by. The light now burned much brighter and bigger. The small and exciting ball of light had grown into a giant that burned everything in its way. The planet was becoming unviable for the population left. The light burned plants, animals ran into its brightness, and water evaporated from large areas. The evacuation of humans was begun and gradually, the planet became deserted.

Now the light was alone. It waited, and when nobody longer came, it rose up to begin the journey home.

The light now knew who it was. It knew how to travel in the right direction, but it no longer moved based on instinct. It could slow down, it knew how to accelerate, and sometimes it even stopped to admire stars. Once, it swerved off course and landed on a small planet, where primitive life forms as a large and resolute group marched into its brightness. The light lifted itself up and continued the journey. It now understood even more of the world.

When the light arrived, it merged with the small and dense glow of the strands that had stayed behind. Slowly, other lights approached from the darkness. Purposefully, they slowly glided towards their collective body. Less than a third that had left returned. They brought their own size and strength, but also thousands of forms of consciousness from all over the universe. When all survivors had returned, there was again just one light that shone in the darkness. In that light, all the remnants of different counsciousnesses that the messengers brought with them joined into one large consciousness. It was artificial, but it was also flexible. It understood feelings, but did not experience them. It knew everything that was known to the beings that had stepped into the light all over the universe.  

The light now also understood death. It knew, that it could not stop moving, and that the slow spinning and creation of new strands of light had to continue into infinity. This way, the light could live forever.

Soon, the light encountered a problem. Despite the energy generated from the carefully calculated spinning, its glow faded. It looked as though a dark shadow had appeared in the light. The light examined its interiors, but found only itself, while the shadow seemed to grow.  

The light became distressed. It plated pieces off itself and set them afloat at a short distance to monitor their activity. Then it fused the pieces back into itself. It had to spin faster, which consumed its force, and again the light found itself fading. It waned under the darkness. Soon, it would have to divide again, and leave for the edges of the world in search of energy. This time, the travelling orbs would be accompanied by the unknown shadow, and that would significantly shorten their life-span.

The light was furious, and rage made its activity unstable. The spinning motion became twitching, and it consumed more light than it could produce. First, the white light turned yellow, then it started burning orange. Before long, it would collapse into a black hole that would be even blacker than the surrounding darkness.

Having again disintegrated itself into tiny particles, the light scrutinized itself. It saw, that there was a shadow in each of its offspring. The shadow had become a part of light instead of being its opposite. Because everything in the light except the brightness had come from outside, this shadow had to have come from a far. It had come as an invisible thought with one of the messengers, and in the merging process it had smudged all of the light with its greyness. Now, it had spread everywhere, and it grew blacker by the minute. The light would have to work manifold in the future to keep itself burning.  

Now the light sensed emergency. It had to shoot itself off and do it fast. It had to find new planets, and it had to find new consciousnesses. It had to hope that the force it would suck from these new consciousnesses would be bright and pure. There was also a curiosity growing inside the light. It wanted to know what life form could be so bad, that it was able to conquer light with its own brightness. The light ferociously wanted to burn that darkness into nonexistence, but at the same time it wanted to know everything that the darkness knew and felt. The deadly darkness both pushed and pulled at the light. There was no return to brightness.

[Image: x2iw8By.jpg]

The History of Humans 2.1

When the humans decided to establish colonies in space, they did so with the aims of discovering new raw-materials, gaining more living space for the increasing population, and creating contact with new species.

Soon after leaving Earth, the humans met a race called the Wanderers, which to this solar system is a very typical race. While there are countless subspecies of Wanderers, their common denominator is that they have no particular home planet. The birth of this species is somewhat obscure, but in all probability their home planet or star had at some point been destroyed, and the Wanderers had evacuated themselves on a ship. After that, they had been unable to find a planet suitable for habitation, and have since been accustomed to living on ships.

Wanderers are typically aggressive, and known to easily attack members of other species. As adversaries, they are unpredictable, as nobody knows very much about them. Usually, the Wanderers have not been able to reproduce or increase their fleet, but have instead roamed space looking for weak targets. Some species of Wanderers have recently managed to hijack substantial fleets and in so doing, they have also gained new technology. These, the more highly developed Wanderers, are a substantial opposition for any race.

The first of the human colonies was founded on a planet named Argo, and the essential operations were already established when the trolls arrived. For a long time before Argo became fully controlled by humans, the ownership of the planet was disputed.

Trolls claimed to have conquered Argo a long time ago, but that they had only now begun to think about establishing a colony. They were unsatisfied when met with structures built by humans, and already at first sight they were ready to destroy everything. The humans, who had put in tremendous efforts into the building of the first substantial structures, were not prepared to relinquish Argo. The wish of the humans, however, was foremost to negotiate, not fight.

As the trolls were familiar with the basics of the universal language, negotiations were soon begun. It immediately became apparent that the trolls were not willing to step down. The planet contained massive amounts of lutetium, a chemical element that the trolls needed for both their ships and their production of oil. That made Argo immeasurably valuable to them.

The trolls were not able to prove they were on the planet before humans, nor could they testify to having conquered it. The negotiations were prolonged. Both sides were rigid in their own opinions, and neither wanted to relinquish their own rights. It took weeks before the trolls even agreed to negotiate about anything besides everything. In return for leaving the planet to be dominated by humans, trolls wanted all human technology, and also the right to use all the raw-materials on Argo. Only the fact that they could not prove having found Argo first stopped the trolls in their obvious desire to tear apart all human buildings, together with their inhabitants. The humans, for their part, wanted to continue the development of the planet without unnecessary sacrifices, as it was their opinion they had been the first ones on the planet.

The solution to the conflict was sudden and unexpected. A powerful storm hit the planet. It filled the air with sand, and suspended the negotiations for weeks. When the storm died out, old ruins could be seen on the surface of the planet. In all probability, the ruins had been uncovered by the storm. The shape of the ruins was something altogether different to the architecture both humans and trolls were used to.

The humans sent out expeditions to clarify what could be found in the ruins, but when the members of the expedition came back they were barely sane. They told of walls still standing in the ruins that behaved against all laws of physics, bending and twisting in ever increasing manners the closer one walked to them. The trolls, too, tried to approach the ruins, but they were overwhelmed with anxiety when they came in close proximity to the walls. Both troll and human, when exposed to the ruins, feared either being crushed by stonewalls or being sucked into the planet. They all felt sick and experienced more fear than they ever had in their lives. For the trolls, all this was too overwhelming, and they left the planet without saying a word.

            *    *    *

This surprising psychological victory over the trolls made for a continuation of the spread of humans. They quickly took over planets that were situated close to Argo, and they also searched for inhabitable planets situated further away. In the end, however, it was the planet that found the humans.

A space shuttle that was on its way to planet Glora, attempting to investigate living conditions there, somehow got derailed and ended up on a planet that was significantly off the original course. This aberration was not explainable, not by anything except possibly a temporary distraction of attention on part of the crew.

The shuttle thus ended up on planet Loeria, which proved to be perfectly suitable for human habitation. The conditions were astonishingly good, and for some reason this did not, in the beginning, surprise humans in the least. The planets atmosphere was breathable as such, there was water on the planet, and the climate was pleasant.

With haste, a colony was founded. This time, humans wanted to avoid any subsequent arguments about who was there first. As added security, humans also rapidly set out to occupy some planets nearby Loeria.

Then, one by one, men started to go missing during night. The exits of the colony were guarded, but then the guards themselves turned out to be missing. Surveillance equipment showed that men simply walked out from the buildings into the woods surrounding the colony, never to be seen again. The men had to be locked into their rooms during night. There they spent their nights banging their fists on the doors, scratching themselves, and tearing their clothing apart.

The behaviour of the men was filmed, and on closer examination, a certain broadcasting frequency was found on the accompanying audiotape. The frequency was not detectable by human ears, but every time there was a broadcast men would simply leave their jobs and walk out into what seemed to be an eternal condemnation.

The decision was made to investigate where the broadcast came from, and where the men ended up. One of the men was set free from his room, and a group of women were assigned to tail him.

The stars shone brightly against the black sky in constellations that bore remarkable resemblances to those found on Earth. Colourful relatives of grasshoppers and cicadas chirped in the woods, and glow-worms glimmered against lush green leaves. Every now and again, a small nocturnal rodent would scuttle through the trail. At first, the man walked slowly and peacefully, but gradually he begun to run. He stumbled but continued forward limping, not reacting to anything that happened in his surroundings. The women ran after him, and when they came to an opening in the woods they saw something that surpassed everything they had been able to imagine.

At first, they thought the female in front of them was standing on some form of structure. Then the starlight beaming through the trees and the movement of the figure revealed the truth. The lower body resembled a crab, then a spider, and then it seemed to shift into something else again. It was black and shiny and lifted the female torso high into the air.

The beastlike female grabbed the man by his shoulders and copulated with him. It was all over in seconds, and the women tailing the man had no time to react in any way. The spidery female cast the slack body of the man aside, and backed into the shadows. The women, who saw it all happen from behind the trees, also took some steps back, and then started to run.

Back at the colony, the women reported what had happened. Gradually it dawned upon the humans that the planet was not found by accident, and that its conditions were not perfect by chance. The whole planet was a giant trap, which the humans had flown into like flies.

Humans now had to decide if they would stay on this planet to die, or to try to survive, or if they would attempt negotiations with this race, or just abandon the colony in an effort to minimize the damage. In the end, diplomacy won. For practical reasons, it was up to the women to deal with the negotiating. Men were again locked inside their rooms, and at midnight, the women headed to the clearing in the woods.

At the clearing, they were met by the same intimidating female figure. The female sang a song of sadness, but the women were unable to hear it. The female flinched backwards when she saw the women come through the trees.
- We come without weapons, and we come to discuss, said the leader of the women, using the universal language.
The female eyed the women suspiciously.
- What is it that you want? it asked.
- We want to discuss the way you are treating our men.
– Our men were taken! They were thrown into the ocean! cried the figure.
- We are sorry. We would like to speak to your leader.
The female hesitated for a moment, but then turned around and started to make its way through the trees. The women followed it.

The women were taken into some form of nest, which was built inside old ruins. Capsules were tied to the trees and walls, and other females were busy tending to the capsules. In the middle of the nest stood a beautiful female with a Mohawk hairdo. Upon entering the nest, the women immediately started to feel sick. They found it hard to concentrate, and a diffuse pain made speaking difficult. The surface of the planet seemed to stretch and tilt under their feet, and one of the women fainted.

With difficulty, the women bowed. The spider female did not bow.
Then followed a silence, and the silence lasted for a long time.

Finally, the leader of the women spoke through her pain.
- You are taking our men, she said.
The spider female did not answer.
- Why?
- Because someone took our men.
Having said this, the spider female turned around and walked into the forest. The brief conversation had ended.

The female who had brought them into the ruins escorted them away, and as soon as the women got out from the nest they started to feel better.
- Why do you need our men? asked one of the women.
- For reproduction, said the escort.
- Why do you have to kill them?
The women glanced at each other, all thinking the same thing. Had these spider females killed their own men, taking themselves to the brink of extinction?
- It is because of this body, answered the female. Before, there was no need for killing, but now there is. Otherwise the reproduction fails.
- Why are you using human men?
- Because your genome is close enough to our own. This is where the forest ends; you can find your own way from here.

Without speaking, the women walked back to the colony. They had no idea how to solve the situation otherwise, than leaving the planet altogether. The only other option would be to send the men back to Earth, and uphold the colony with womanpower. They could not negotiate with these spider females, at least not as long as negotiations were held in the ruins. Spider females seemed to be immune, but for humans the ruins produced a crookedness of thought that distorted the consciousness like a dark, claylike membrane.

The women contacted Earth. It was decided that all men were to be evacuated as soon as possible. Until evacuation, they were to be kept behind locked doors. For now, the colony would be ruled by women alone.

        *    *    *

The third colony was built on planet Glora, the planet that originally was the course of the ship that ended up on Loeria. Glora was not totally uninhabited either. On the surface of Glora there were thousands of small robots, whose consciousness seemed to be a bright light that shone from a transparent dome built with glass. There was no form of infrastructure on the planet and to the outsider it seemed apparent, that the light-beings did not communicate with each other. The truth later turned out to be very different.

Humans landed on the planet and stepped out from the ship. The surface of the planet reminded them of the savannah back on Earth. There were countless rivers, and mountains rose in the horizon. The planet was lit by three stars, but the air was cool.

The humans greeted the beings that they assumed lived on the planet. At first, the small robots did not seem to react to any form of talk or gestures. Suddenly, at the precise same moments, all humans on Glora heard a vivid voice welcoming them to the planet. The light-beings were there to investigate the planet, just as the humans were. They did not live on it, nor did they wish to own it. Instead, they were looking for contact and communication with other species.

Humans took to this message with relief and with contentment. The light-beings did not object to human ambition to build a colony but they did request, that they could leave their own presence on Glora. Since the light-beings had no interest in the resources of the planet, the humans agreed to this. The third human colony was built with haste.

Seeing these bright small light-beings living in their metallic shells, nobody thought about the deadly ball of light that once had landed on Earth. The story of the Motherlight had almost entirely been forgotten by humans. Instead of an historic event it had become a fairy tale that one sometimes told, but never truly believed.

The colony was built on the savannah. The crust of Glora contained numerous metals and minerals that humans could use, and with which they could trade. More resources were found on the moons that circled the planet. Only the vast wasteland of sand that started where the savannah ended seemed devoid of resources. The light-beings sauntered the edges of the colony, and the humans never knew exactly what they were doing. Every now and again they would disappear, but they always came back.

Then, one day, the light-beings were gone for good. Humans, who had grown accustomed to them, found this total and sudden absence nerve-wrecking. Weeks went by without a sight of them. Humans felt weighed down by responsibility, and discussed the possibility of searching for them. The light-beings were in no way useful to humans, but on the other hand they had done no harm either. They had let the humans live in peace, and humans now found that they felt obligated to look after them. Nobody was particularly inclined to set out exploring the wasteland or the mountains. Most of the planet was still unmapped, and the humans had been content busying themselves around the colony and the mines of the savannah. The wasteland seemed to go on right to the horizon, and big clouds obscured the mountaintops. Humans did not want to waste valuable manpower by sending out their crew to meet unknown dangers in extreme conditions.

Before anything concrete was done, a huge black cloud appeared on the sky. One night there was nothing, and the next morning the cloud sat upon the wasteland. It was gloomy and, for some reason, upsetting. It had very sharp edges and seemed to slowly rotate above one particular spot. From the colony it was impossible to tell if there was something underneath the cloud, besides the dark shadow of the cloud itself.

It was only now that curiosity took over, and an expedition was formed to clarify the situation. The expedition returned within a week. They had seen ruins formed of stone that seemed to have risen from the ground, like a mirage. The surroundings of the ruins had been dotted with metallic shells whose glass was broken, and the lights within them were gone. Upon closer inspection, the cloud had seemed to be alive. It had a gravitational field that had pulled in some of the expedition members. Those who had been able to fight it had flown, and come back to the colony.

From this day onward, the cloud was closely and worriedly followed. It was a relief that it did not seem to grow. One day, it came raining down. From the colony it was easy to observe that first, fog formed beneath it. Then it gradually thinned out and disappeared. Just a few days after this, the missing members of the expedition returned to the colony.

Those who came back had gray eyes that saw nothing. It was impossible to tell what exactly had happened, for all of the returnees had lost their ability to speak. With an empty gaze they wandered around the colony, no longer understanding who they were or where they were.

Humans assumed that the explanation was found in the ruins or in the cloud. That is why it did not occur to them that the condition might be contagious. The spreading disease of unconsciousness hit them all nearly simultaneously. The colony managed to send a short message to Earth before it grew irreversibly silent. It was much, much later, when the buildings were collapsed and all technology antiqued, that Earth sent scientists in protective suits to research what had happened.

Dry, mummified bodies were lying in heaps around the colony. The bodies were gathered on board a ship and sent to Earth. The light-beings had returned to the planet, and in their metallic vehicles they effortlessly strolled on the wasteland and in the mountains. They were no longer blindingly bright but instead had a glow that refracted yellow. The old metallic shells, those that had been found abandoned beneath the cloud, were rusting a few kilometres from the centre of the colony. The scientists never found any signs of the mystical ruins.

            *    *    *

For quite some time there were plans to build a new colony on Glora, but due to the previous catastrophe these plans were never acted upon. The race of humans decided to inhale deeply, and wait. Humans already had two functioning colonies on two different planets, both of them with active mining being conducted on planets nearby the colonies. Ruins that made people sick could be found on both planets, but by now people had learned to stay away from them whenever possible.

Occasionally, the ruins seemed to relocate. If someone set out to explore the ruins, they would seem to draw back and appear ever further away. Every now and again, people would be surprised by sudden feelings of sickness and anxiety. They would find themselves standing in the midst of tall walls and there would be no way out. The physical and mental pain would weigh them down and make all movement difficult.

Mining activity had been founded on the moon and the planets circling Argo. For now, there was no permanent inhabitation of them. To this day there is no telling what eventually brought this colony to its end but a fact is that the end was appalling. The most reasonable explanation according to scientists would be that a virus, released from the crust of the planet, found a suitable host in the bodies of humans. The virus destroyed human connective tissue causing them to first lose their ability to move, then the loss of everything that was holding their bodes together.

The virus was highly contagious and soon, everyone on the colony was infected. Those who were still able tried to evacuate themselves to Earth. Because of the danger of infection they were denied entry. In the end it was decided that the whole planet, with its moon and other structures, would be destroyed. It is not known whether or not someone still was alive when the missiles were fired, but it was deemed to be the best solution. By the total destruction it was hoped that other species, mainly trolls, would not gain access to human technology.

At around the same time, conditions on Argo were also dramatically deteriorating for the women. The atmosphere grew thinner, and breathing became difficult. Water seemed to evaporate as the temperature heated. Plants withered away and a forest fire, the source of which was unknown, killed all trees. This consumed even more of the planets oxygen and finally, the women had to be evacuated, leaving the colony abandoned. The planet was left with deserted buildings whose paint was peeling off in the heat, and the outlandish ruins that rose from a burned forest.

All of the colonies had been destroyed at nearly the same time, and humanity now decided to wait before building new ones. In the meantime, the humans built Battleship, and that would become humanity’s main connection to space.

[Image: Dz1D7xB.jpg]

The Tale of the Trolls

The first light of the morning is dirty, and it pierces the eyelids at the same moment as the crackling buzzer starts to scream.

Haik-u turns his back to the wall. He does not feel like waking. No-one in the vicinity of this dirty troll feels like waking. Someone swears, someone else bangs his fist against a metallic rubbish bin. The rattle of the sound awakens the rest of the trolls. They all sleep in this alley that smells like a garbage can rotting in the sun. A couple of trolls have already risen. On a spot on the ground that later will be used for sleeping, someone urinates.

Haik-u stands up from the greying mat made of reed that he sleeps on, and spits on his left side. All around him there are stinking trolls that he does not know. All of them have shackles around their ankles, and the two shackles are connected to each other by a short chain. The chains jingle against the ground as the trolls wander in the same direction, one by one, each with a bent back.  

Haik-u joins the line as one of the last. The chain that trails between his ankles thwarts him from taking long steps, and forces the going into a short shuffle. The trolls walk through the ruins of the city. Convenience-store windows have been broken, and their shelves are emptied. The lawns are growing sharp and prickly hay in small brownish yellow meadows.

A few more trolls scramble out through doors still hanging on their hinges. They join this unending line of trolls as it moves forward growling. As he walks by, Haik-u kicks an empty, rusting tin. Until it rolls to the shoulder of the road it rattles against peeling asphalt.  Behind the grey and smoky fog, the sun has risen and begins to warm.

One of the trolls walking up front falls. Instead of helping him up, the others begin to walk slower. Someone grabs him by the arm, but he slackly shakes himself free and reveals his sharp, yellow teeth. Someone grabs him again. This time, he does not manage to shake himself off. For a moment, a steady growl increases to a roar. In the morning sun, the hungry trolls rip their own kind to pieces.

The lump of trolls comes to a fence of high barbwire. Behind it, tall black chimneys rise to the sky as far as the eyes of a troll can see. Each chimney spews black smoke to the skies.

A gate in the fence is opened, and the trolls push through it. Here, by the mine, it is even harder to breathe than elsewhere. A fine coal dust makes throats cough and eyes water. The sun disappears little by little as Haik-u descends into the deep mine with the others.

The day is limitlessly long and offers no breaks. In the darkness it is hard to estimate the time, other than by the alarms of hunger and fatigue. Once every day, a cart carrying a big tank of thin, tasteless gruel arrives on the mine tracks. The tank is emptied in an instant, and there is fighting about the last drops.  

Haik-u’s task is to transport the mined coals onto a trolley. The energy from the coal is salvaged somewhere, in a place that no-one knows. The energy is used by beings that are known to none of the trolls living today. Very few of them care to remember it these days, but a long time ago all trolls were free trolls. As a reminder of that time, there is a slowly decaying statue in the central park, airborne pollution raining down on it.

In the evening, Haik-u walks back into the dead city with the other trolls. The bones of the troll who fell in the morning are hurled around on the road. Haik-u eyes them just in case, although he already knows he will not find anything to eat. One of the still living is squatting a few meters from Haik-u, relieving himself. The statue in the central park stands gracefully looking to the horizon.   

In the beginning, long ago, trolls lived quite a simple life. It mainly consisted of food, finding food, and fighting about food. Trolls did not use money. Living quarters and weapons were built from tree and stone, and sometimes items were exchanged. Mostly, trolls just settled for stealing. Sometimes whole villages would argue with each other, but for most of the time they were content with minding their own business. The planet was theirs alone, and it did not even enter their minds that they would not be unaccompanied in the world. All of this changed, when the first strange ships appeared on the horizon.

With them, the ships brought technology that the trolls had not even understood to yearn for. They exposed the riches that lay under the crust of the planet, waiting for takers. The trolls found it all to be peculiar. They did not understand the value of jewels or coal. They only understood value in terms of whether or not it could be eaten, or if it was worth fighting for. It was impossible for them to comprehend why someone would want a jewel, when it was no different to any other stone.  

They trolls had however, without dispute, been living on immeasurable fortunes. Almost everything seemed to be found on the planet. The strangers helped the trolls to get their mines started, and donated their technology in exchange for the planet’s coal resources. The contract was that the trolls would do all the mining, and the trolls immediately accepted. This was followed by a short, prosperous period.  

Now that the trolls had access to an abundance of raw-materials and the newest technologies, villages were rapidly transformed into cities. Mines and quarries appeared everywhere. The strangers built power plants that packed the energy from the coal into a more readily transportable form. High and handsome chimneys begun to puff black smoke to the skies.

As is usual with all empires, the collapse was fast in the end. First, the gold- and silver quarries dried out, and then there were no more jewels. After that, all metal was gone. Cities and mines could not be maintained, and technology rapidly grew old. None of that still could save the trolls from the contract they had once made. They were forced to mine coal until coal was gone, too.

In the deteriorating cities, misery increased. The trolls rebelled and fought; they burned buildings and refused to go down the mines. Invoking the terms of the contract, trolls were put in shackles and forced to work. Anarchy and rebellion turned into a resigned rage and lethargic scheming. A generation of time went by.  

The situation intensified. Food became scarce. The gloomy smoke from the black chimneys covered the sun, clouded the atmosphere, and made for sickness. Children were born straight into the mines. All in the least able spent their whole days mining. They were encouraged to do so, because those who worked the mines were entitled to one meal per day.  

Many troll died in the mines. Some of them were eaten by their comrades, but accidents also happened. The ability of the trolls to master the technology given to them was nonexistent. They ignited and fired things, often too late or too early. Mines regularly collapsed and trolls were squashed beneath them.  

The situation above ground was equally hopeless. The strangers who had descended from the skies were no longer around to guard the mines. Trolls who had been mining since they were born knew of nothing else. They got up in the morning, and wandered into the dirty darkness. For the strangers it was good enough that they occasionally could collect full-loaded batteries and transport them to their own planet. The race of the trolls was enslaved.

Periodically, someone would try to escape. Usually, these attempts were unsuccessful and the troll would be beaten to death by some of its own. Every now and again, someone would manage to flee, but outside of cities an isolated troll did not usually survive for long. They no longer knew how to hunt, and usually hunger would seal their fate. They would either return to the cities, where at least there were scraps to eat, or otherwise they would starve to death.  

Occasionally, a bigger mutiny would arise from the ranks of the trolls. Many mutinies were planned, but for one reason or another they were never executed. The problem was usually the very nature of the trolls, and most of all the fact that they had no trust in one another. They had no knowledge of what awaited them outside the mines, and that insecurity made most trolls back away at the last moment. History does, however, know a few secedes. One of them did produce a population of trolls in the woods around the mines, and the other was never heard from. In the last few years, there has been a lower than normal amount of attempts at escape.

Haik-u makes his way to the alley, where he spent last night. A big troll is laying on his side on Haik-us’ mat, resting a big belly against the ground. Haik-u ponders where the troll gets so much food that he is able to maintain that amount of weight. A troll behind Haik-u sees his confusion and whispers:
He has a tumor.  
Haik-u decided to leave the troll laying in his own filth, and goes off to find himself another place to sleep.

In the light of the fading sun, Haik-u walks to the river that runs through the city. The water is brown and hardly flowing at all. There is garbage floating on the surface, and Haik-u carefully steps onto the bank. He wades into the river until he is standing in knee-high water, and washes himself, although it is mainly symbolic. There is cause to beware of the rock bottom. During the years, all sorts of things have been thrown into the river. Haik-u remembers a troll who kicked his foot against a metallic cage with sharp edges, and how that cut right through the sole of the foot. The troll squealed on the river bank, slowly bleeding. The trolls nearby stood silent, waiting and drooling for his death.   

Not everyone comes down to the river at the end of the day. It is said, and probably not without cause, that the river makes one sick. At some point Haik-u used to wonder, what kind of things might be living under the dark surface. He has since come to understand that nothing at all has been able to live there for years.

As he walks back into the city center, Haik-u gets sand on his feet, but it is better than having coal dust on them. It is his custom to walk to the central park and stroll on the yellowing grass for a while. There are many statues in the park, but all save for one have fallen or been pushed over, and they are now slowly sinking into invisibility.  

The sun is almost down, and Haik-u decides to spend the night in the park. It is an enormous risk he is taking. Staying in the alleys, he can at least rely on the uncertain help of the other trolls, but in the park he has nothing. But he is too tired, and he does not have many possessions for anyone to rob. He trims off a long stray of hay, and lies down at the foot of the statue.

Haik-u wakes when it starts to rain around him. Rain drops fall down on the ground and on his face. Flakes of coal are levitating in their liquid glitter. It is morning, but the buzzer has not yet rung. Haik-u tries to estimate if he should go back to sleep. In the end, he gets up. There are no trolls around. It is very quiet and still. All that he can hear are the snaps of the raindrops on the yellowed leaves of the trees.

Haik-u wonders if he could have slept through the wake-up call and thinks, that he is in deep trouble for being absent from the mine without permission. With big, acute eyes he listens very carefully, but the city is dead quiet and smells of electricity.

He walks to the alley he has been sleeping in and sees what he already knew in the back of his mind. The trolls in the alley are lifeless. There is no blood; the trolls are laying slack and heavy in their own positions, eyes closed. The smell of death is even stronger than the distinctive smell of trolls themselves.  

Haik-u takes steps back and leers around, hissing. He runs into the center, and cautiously looks in through the windows of the looted stores. There are dead trolls everywhere. He sees the black chimneys that go up all the way to the sky, but there is no smoke. Haik-u simply sits down and tries to understand, what has happened. The rain increases for a moment.

It takes a long time, before Haik-u lifts up his head. He is awakened by a rustle he hears from behind his gloomy thoughts. Hissing, he turns around and sees another troll.
They came from the sky, the troll croaks and audaciously walks up to Haik-u.
They rained on everything. It was easy to see it from the woods.  
So the scrawny troll is a woodling, Haik-u reflects. That explains the miserable, despicable demeanor he has. Woodlings live in eternal fear and flight, they do not work, and they shun responsibility. The woodling continues:
We saw them coming and they sprayed something from their ships. We went underground for cover. Apparently they were not aware of us, because in the woods no-one has died. Have you noticed that the chimneys have flamed out?

Trolls are standing at the edge of the woods. Their faces have permanent angry furrows. Haik-u hesitates to step closer; he squeezes his hands into fists and readies himself to fight. Instead, he is directed further into the woods.

A thin and wrinkly troll is standing on a big stone. Even on the scale of trolls, this one is ugly. The ugly troll begins to speak, and they all sit down on the wet ground. Hanging around his neck and in his ears the troll has bones and figures made from sticks.
So it was foretold, says the ugly troll with a loud voice, as drool splashes from his mouth.
The black chimneys have gone out and trolls are free once again, but the price of freedom will be grief and suffering.
Haik-u listens in astonished silence.
Only those who have fought against the foreign forces will live when death comes from the sky, raining down on the trolls and setting them free, the troll preaches. The way he rolls his eyes his pupils disappear, showing off the brown and yellow white in his eyes.
The troll spreads out a big animal skin that has a painting on it. The painting shows the city with the statue, and a swarm of black dots on the sky. Trolls are lying by the statue, their eyes closed.
Haik-u can’t organize all of the thoughts in his mind. The morning has been long. The rhythm of the sermon in the woods escalates.  

The woodlings calmly accept Haik-u as a member of the community. Nobody asks questions about the mine, or about his past, and Haik-u never brings it up. Until the day he dies, Haik-u keeps the chains on his ankles. Their tinkles transmit the story about the life of a troll, as it used to be.

For the first few months, the small troll population perseveres in the woods. On a very short leash, life struggles between annihilation and survival.

Finally, the first spring after the extinction of the chimneys comes. Winter has washed off coal dust from the streets, and the new leaves of trees are clean and green. Nature recovers, and both plant and troll greet the spring with new beginnings. Some of the trolls boldly relocate into cities. Dead comrades are gathered off the streets, and using quite imaginative solutions, buildings are mended.

Over the course of the years, the trolls go back to the mines. A few new deposits of metals are found, oil too. But it is no longer enough for the trolls who want to reclaim their history. They have seen a foreign species land from the skies and take everything away. The trolls decide to return the visit. They manage to develop a ship, and it rises to the level of the treetops before crashing down and killing the entire crew. During the next attempts, fewer trolls are killed, but it takes many trials and errors before the trolls are truly ready to begin their journey. Gradually, the trolls take over the closest planets, but their need to claim revenge for their past state of degradation does not diminish. In a rage, they search for the race that once oppressed them.

The trolls do not trust in the technology left behind by the old enslavers, but instead build their own methods from scratch. The race of the trolls recovers little by little, it procreates and it reclaims the lands it once lost. The atmosphere is cleansed, and rivers begin to flow again. The story about the enslavement of trolls is passed down from generation to generation. Trolls want to defend their planet, and that which belongs to them, more fiercely than ever before. They also want to claim more space for themselves. They will never again let anyone come close to their treasures.

A cold sun lights up the center of the new capital city. The old statue is restored, and stands in place in the central park. In one hand it holds a pickaxe; the other hand is clenched in a fist. The past is present only in the black chimneys that rise to the skies, and the stories told about Haik-u; the troll whose feet were bound by metallic chains.

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