Canopus West

Significant Sentient Population

usually about 10,000 scientists.


Whoever dominates the sector


In combination with gravitational effects, in combination with scientific experiments a massive fleet of sleeping alien spacehulks can affect ships operating in the sector.


Although not the first legion in space the Tibrans were certainly pioneers when it came to space exploration, arguably even THE pioneers, although the majority of historians give credit to the Krils. The gate to Canopus West from Tibrar was first detected in the year 2053 however, the Tibran Royal Family held off on sending an exploration team through it based on the bizarre gravitational readings their scientists were detecting coming through the gate. To the best of their reckoning the readings were not natural and the signatures seemed to mimic the tiny signature of a spaceship. Only problem was that the signature/s detected coming through the gate were several million times bigger than anything the Tibran legion could produce. Paranoid, the Tibran Royal Family instead decided to devote their attention to the building of a complex planetary defense system and a defense fleet.

The next few years saw the Tibrans discover the Moons of Kaarp and Aquarious without any incident as well as figuring out how to apply cloaking technology to spacecraft. In combination with the fact that the gravitational signatures from the gate had barely changed in all that time, the threat dissipated as scientists assured themselves that the readings although odd were from some natural phenomenon.

In 2059, the Tibran Royal Navy send a small expeditionary fleet of cloakers through the gate. It consisted of the survey ship "Phantom" escorted by a squadron of attackers.

Upon arrival the Tibrans discovered the source of the signatures as their enemy warning systems went into overdrive and their scanners overloaded with enemy targets before burning out. That hardly mattered because through the smoky haze of their cockpits, looking out into the darkness of space the fearful Tibrans could see, with the sunlight glittering off their hulls, a gargantuan flotilla of alien spacecraft numbering in the tens of thousands with ships ranging in size from tiny single seat fighters to the 40km long monsters that dwarfed them. In the panic some of the Tibran escort broke to attack and were instantly destroyed by return fire, the rest engaged their hyperdrives and went screaming home, their comms systems overloading with nonsensical, panicking messages about millions of hostile enemy ships.

Meanwhile, the survey ship "Phantom", under the command of Capt. J. Shiid, after shutting down enemy scanners to prevent them burning out had quietly and calmly cloaked and begun scanning the sector carefully, sending home a steady stream of data. Before too long it was the only Tibran ship remaining in the sector and once the panicking spam over the comms to home base had died down the Tibran leadership became aware of the understated but steady stream of information the ship was feeding them. It was about then that the brave ships in hyperspace back towards home base and the brave souls killed in the fight were made to look like the complete idiots that they were. The alien fleet was quite clearly dead with even the most cursory visual scan showing freeze dried alien corpses still at the controls of some of the few fighter craft still intact. Deeper scans revealed the armada to be over 700,000 years old.

Whilst the alien armada was interesting, Capt. Shiid, in accordance with his training, made a thorough system report and named the sector Canopus West after the elite Tibran military training compound on the home planet, where he had received his education.

The sector is a fairly simple one consisting of only 5 major features being, a white dwarf sun, a gaseous giant planet (pictured), the massive armada of ships and a ring of rocky debris and small asteroids that borders the sector. All of these are held in orbit around a black hole at the centre of the sector.

The one planet, Canopus Majoris, is completely unsuitable for habitation with weather that is far too violent for any terraforming equipment to handle and a gravitational pull some 15 times greater than that which even the 'Dorfs' of Apollo could handle. It is not even possible to put a station in orbit around the planet because it's orbit is such that every 4 Tibran months it passes through one of the poles of the black hole and receives a healthy dose of x-ray radiation, enough to wipe clean all life off any planet. In addition, every 12 complete orbits around the black hole, the sun and the giant planet pass far too close to be comfortable. The only life in the sector is the scientists and their support staff who occupy small research stations in the outer ring of rocky debris on the sector's perimeter.

Battles for control of the sector are frequent because every legion desperately wants the advanced technological secrets stored in the eerie ships. The life span of scientists in the sector unfortunately tends to be rather short because if the sector changes hands, the retreating friendly ships tend to make a habit of leaving their science crews behind. The new owners of the sector proceed to pillage the research stations, stealing whatever data they can before interrogating the scientists. More often than not these scientists are blown up along with their research station before the new dominating force installs their own research facility. Although being abandoned is a large contributor to the early retirement of scientists employed in the sector, by far the predominant factor is the danger of performing experiments on the alien armada.

From thousands of years of drifting in space, bumping into each other and being hit by micrometeorites, every single ship in the flotilla is battered and worn, but considering it's age, the alien armada is in surprisingly good shape with around 62% of the recognizable ships still possessing power at least partially pressurization with life support systems still functioning. Although looking like patchwork quilts and badly battered, these ships are still operational. The other 38% are at varying stages of destruction from badly damaged to barely recognizable as ships. Huge amounts of scrap indicate that there was once a much greater number of ships but over the years, through constant attrition they gradually broke up. Scans reveal that there is not a single living thing aboard any of the ships and but many ship processes are still running under computer control.

The powered ships possess active, automated self repair systems. From afar, small all purpose bots can be seen occasionally zipping around between the silent ships collecting scrap and components from disintegrating powered down ships and using their acquisitions to repair each other and the powered ships. They have never been observed doing any work on powered down hulks besides helping to take them apart. It seems that once the mysterious power source of one of the ships dies, it is considered scrap.

The most impressive technology apparent in the alien flotilla is it's ability to manipulate gravity. One thing that is immediately striking about the ships is the way they are almost entirely motionless in space, from the giant ships right down to individual pieces of scrap, hardly anything is moving. Collisions do occur but they are much rarer than they should be. Gravitational scans reveal that occasionally, an amazingly complex system of gravitational fields briefly flits through and around the fleet seemingly propagated by the larger ships. These fields keep the scrap and dead ships generally in check and don't allow anything to stray beyond the perimeter of the fleet. Over the years it has also become apparent that the flotilla is not completely motionless with slight changes noted in it's orbit around the black hole. No one really knows why the ships do this but there is a suspicion they are harvesting power somehow from the black hole and are positioning themselves in such a way to optimise collection. Without any obvious signs of possessing engines, scanning data tends to suggest the ships move by manipulating gravity.

Every legion desperately wants the gravitational technology these ships possess and to unlock the secrets of their power source. Even the small powered alien ships running completely on computer idle are able to manipulate gravity with greater dexterity than the most advanced legion ships running under intense supervision and full power. There is just one small problem in that the another automated system of the ships is an active and very deadly defense system.

The extent and possible power of the alien weaponry is not known, as no ships have ever been observed to fire anything at all, but deployed around the perimeter of the fleet are nearly 200,000 automated turrets, floating in space which will fire at anything threatening. The purpose of these 'light' turrets seems to be to take out incoming comets, meteorites and so forth but the 'light' guns of each of these turrets pack more of a punch than even a PHI cruiser and can easily take out most legion craft in just a few shots.

The scattered turrets have an impressive array of weaponry including plasma cannons, laser cannons and a standard solid projectile cannon. Normally this wouldn't be anything special but complementing the array is some form of gravity based weapon which when used in conjunction with the other weapons changes everything. Gravity scanning during an incident is can be seen how the turrets somehow manage to manipulate gravity at any point in space to their advantage. When attacking, the turrets create so called 'gravity tunnels' ahead of their shots increasing the power and resultant damage of these shots by huge amounts. This seems to be particularly effective on 'dumb' projectiles. Nothing more than pieces of metal, in association with gravitic manipulation, these 'dumb' shots can accelerate amazingly fast and change direction with ease homing in on any moving target with blinding speed. In defense the same tricks are used to nullify threats. Incoming legion projectiles whether they be dumb or guided never seem to hit their targets no matter how well aimed as they are pushed off course by invisible gravitational fields. It is not uncommon for legion projectiles to stop in space, turn around and hit the ship that fired them. Similarly, energy weapons seem to run into trouble as well, being deflected away from their targets as the space through which they travel is made to curve unnaturally. Other times they are simply dissipated or slowed to be ineffective and occasionally they disappear entirely into tiny gravity wells. Although rare, the defense system occasionally employs gravity alone as a defense system, with attacking legion ships being know to suddenly implode under their newly acquired weight, or explode as they are powerfully attracted in all directions. Destroyed ships are drawn into the the armada where waiting repairbots salvage what they can. This is the only way scientists have been able to get any equipment up close to the fleet.

Not only will the automated defense system intercept incoming shots or ships but it will also trace the origin of any shot and strike back with seemingly limitless range. Scientists even tried positioning themselves on the opposite side of the black hole in the rocky rim and firing multiple nuclear missiles from there before quickly changing positions to hide in a hollowed out rock camouflaging their station elsewhere. Not only were the missiles stopped and disassembled by maintenance drones for salvage, one of them was spun around and even though it's backup timer had run down, it was out of fuel and the researchers repeatedly sent the auto destruct signal, it somehow found it's way right back into the docking bay of the camouflaged research station before detonating.

No one has yet determined what happened to the aliens who once piloted these ships. All evidence suggests that they all died simultaneously and the lack of battle damage to the ships and the fact that they were not salvaged indicates that there was no fighting involved. One clue is the position of the 100 or so motherships that dominate the view right at the centre of the fleet. Resembling enormous ant lions they are arranged in a large ring, all aligned the same way with the pincer like structures at the front of the ships pointing right into the heart of the black hole at the centre of the sector. The odd ring of rocky debris that borders the sector spins around a plane that is almost perfectly perpendicular to the plane of the ring of ships.

The popular theory is that the black hole is not a natural feature of the sector and was in fact created by the ships using massive gravity manipulation devices. The theory is that the fleet is in fact from another galaxy entirely and that in much the same way as the legions fight for domination of sectors, this massive fleet once fought for domination of entire galaxies. Some go so far as to suggest that the aliens are even from another universe entirely. The commonly held belief is that the aliens were in the process of exploiting some kind of as yet not understood gate for transit to their desired destination, or just using their technology to create their own gate when something went horribly wrong resulting in the instantaneous death of all biological life in the sector and the creation of the black hole. Whatever the theory, no one really likes to think about the alien ships if they can help it. The knowledge that there may be alien forces out there capable of squashing the combined force of all the legions like a bug is a scary one indeed.

With thousands of ships, automatic systems humming away, waiting, ever vigilant, for their long dead masters to awaken, looking at the dead fleet is a spooky experience reminiscent of walking through a ghost town with the distinct feeling of being watched by someone, something with dark intentions, seeing something move rapidly in the corner of your eye and looking, to see nothing at all. It sends a cold shiver through even the most hardened battle veteran.

Flying in the sector can have unpredictable effects depending upon what the scientists are up to and the response they are eliciting from the armada. Flying too close to the ships will earn the careless pilot a reprimand likewise being too close to the almost continual line of fire between science drones and armada turrets may result in damage from the odd stray shot. Usually a friendly shot that has been redirected.

Likewise, the gravity effects of the armada's defense system can affect legion ships fighting in the sector. Gravitic manipulation by the defense system and the main fleet creates eddies in the normal gravitational fields throughout the sector. When aligned correctly attacks and repairs can get an effect similar to a watered down gravity tunnel, with greater success as a result. Likewise, the opposite situation can occur with shots and repair nanobots being slowed, dispersed or just plain redirected off target. Many pilots think that the ghost ships deliberately affect battles, maybe because the AI is getting bored but in reality, gravity scans show that it's just normal eddies and flows. If the turrets have been using gravity tunnels nearby recently, then chances are you will feel the opposite effect and likewise if they've been using sinks, the eddies will tend to work in your favour.

Canopus West (last edited 2013-04-17 19:21:09 by ecvej)