Topic: History and Zodiac House information

“The ancient people of Ol’ Homeworld used to make stories about the stars in the heavens above.  These stories became myth;  for eons, mankind watched Orion the Hunter draw his bow, Perseus come to Andromeda’s aid, and the two bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, follow each other through the void of space.  Nowadays, the stars make their own stories; the stars watch us as our world crumbles and suffers. . .

    “Y’know, it’s hard for mankind to agree on when we first began to suffer.  Most folks say it was when Adam and Eve tasted the first of the world’s sin.  Others might say civilization brought an end to our primal pleasures and set us on a bad path.  Though I can’t speak for others, I’ll say we were pretty well-off before Homeworld was scorched in an atomic inferno and drowned beneath spreading oceans brought on by melting ice caps.  Of course that was before my time and I might not know what I’m talking about, but I can look around and see what we were like once: magnificent and grand.  But now all we have are dying echoes of ancient glories and the grave of a once-great past to trod on. .  .

    “It’s Hell here now.  It’s ruins.  It’s almost a thousand years after the doomsday, and it still looks the same as the day it happened.  The only real difference between then and now is the number of people; what’s left of the continents is populated, although what its populated by isn’t the best company.  We’re all prisoners here, and it’s not just in the fact that the poisonous air limits our minds’ and bodies’ capabilities.  We are all criminals sent here as punishment. Luckily, there are chances for redemption. . .

    “High up in the night’s sky, the great Zodiac Houses rule their vast galactic colonies and war against other Houses.  Their war needs soldiers.  They need ruthless and experienced men and women who never turn down a fight.  That’s why they look to the prisoners of Homeworld.  We’re murderers, thieves, rebels, and assassins.  As much as they don’t want us in their planets, the Houses still need because they’re too posh and privileged to get their own hands dirty.  They recruit us by sending scouts to a House-owned prisoner camp located on what’s left of the world’s mountain ranges.  If any of the prisoners are found to show certain skill or combat abilities, they are granted acceptance into the Broncos Program. . .

    “The Broncos are basically guns for hire for the Zodiac Houses.  From their various camps around the world, they are dispatched missions to other planets for missions ranging from data retrieval to outright warfare against other Houses.  The Broncos are given weapons, armor, and, best of all, a way out of Hell. . .

    “Those Broncos a grand sight to behold.  They’ve got these metal suits that plug right into their bodies and give them enough strength to tear a person in half in an instant and enough firepower to single-handedly crush any prisoner uprisings, which do occasionally happen.  They also have breathing masks that adapt to the different toxins in the atmosphere by analyzing airborne particles, which is by far more advanced than the antique breathing masks given to the average prisoner.  I was almost a Bronco myself; I passed every physical and mental exam, but at the last minute one of the recruiters said ‘Sorry, pal, the suit doesn’t want to work with you’.  It was then I learned that suits were more than just hunks of metal. . .

    “The suits are an old technology that is being built upon.  Scientists wanted to find a way to boost human survivability before we went into space.  Production of the prototypes began in the year 2335 with the MIDAS Model.  The test results were a mix of success and failure.  On one hand, the suit enhanced the user’s strength far beyond expectations; on the other, the internal tensions and pressures within the suit would tear apart the poor soul inside limb by limb.  Needless to say, the models have improved in the last fifteen-hundred years. .  .

    “In 2375, we made our first step into the ancient unknown with suits with a few more safety measures than the MIDAS.  The first colony ship, the Iliad, left Homeworld for the Leo Constellation, more specifically a small planet that became known as Ithaca.  Once there, we realized we were not alone in the universe; the remnants of another society were imprinted on the planet.  Looming metal ruins covered Ithaca, and each tall spire and ziggurat held a secret, a piece of the previous society for next to find. . .
   
“We called the natives of Ithaca the Muses because after decoding the remnants they left us, we gained access to technologies beyond our wildest dreams.  The most noteworthy find though, was a naturally occurring substance that could be found almost everywhere except Homeworld; we called it Ithacite, after the first planet we discovered it on.  Ithacite is a carbon substance that is nearly unusable in its rawest form because it is too soft and malleable.  However, the Muses left of blueprints to machines that could purify Ithacite and remove all atomic instability and thus make the substance denser.  We found that after purification, Ithacite was the most durable known substance—almost 3,000 times stronger than diamond.  Pantheon Weapons, Inc., the company that created the MIDAS suit, became the first industrial company to utilize Ithacite and with great success.  They soon monopolized the weapons industry, and soon focused their attention to the survival suits. . .

Why did Suzy fall out of the swing?  Because she had no arms.
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Re: History and Zodiac House information

“Ithacite, being a carbon substance, is organic.  In fact, the suits themselves have qualities that could classify them as living creature, like the fact that they feed, require energy and produce waste.  They are fed and nourished by any type of waste produced by their pilots.  The suits’ food is then is converted into a crystalline substance that form in special chambers within the suit.  These crystals then can be broken down into energy to power the suit, or turned into ammunition for the suits’ weapon systems.  Pantheon Weapons, Inc. creates the most efficient war machines mankind has ever seen. . .
     
     “Using Artificial Intelligences, another technology salvaged from Ithaca, Pantheon Weapons created more efficient suits that could manage critical systems without the pilot, thus freeing the pilot’s attention to the task at hand.  However, the first suit to utilize an A. I., the PYTHIA Model, had to have a direct link to pilots mind.  Poor souls. . . each went mad in only a few minutes, the last calm words of each were that the A. I. talked too much. . .

    “Scientists solved the problem rather creatively; they created a sort of under-suit for the Ithacite exoskeleton.  I’ve worn one, and I can say it’s quite comfy.  They make it out of millions of strong carbon fibers that act as external muscles for the pilots; this makes movement in those bulky suits easier and more graceful.  The entire under-suit is also a way of housing the A.I. without plugging it directly into the pilot.  Instead, the A. I. communicates with the pilot in the form of electrical impulses that are sent and received through nerves in the pilot’s skin. . .

    “The suits have come a long way since those days; today, we have the HADES, the HERMES, the ARES, the HEPHAESTUS, the ORPHEUS, the APOLLO, and the ZEUS. . .

Why did Suzy fall out of the swing?  Because she had no arms.
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Re: History and Zodiac House information

“The HADES remains the largest functioning suit made by Pantheon Weapons is considered the most durable of the seven.  Standing twelve feet tall, it is favored by mercenaries who enjoy a good explosion.  The base model of this suit has a built-in Howitzer rocket launcher and an A. I. that specializes in terrain analysis, allowing the pilot to more easily find structural weaknesses in enemy bases and stable footing to allow more accuracy.
     
     “The HERMES is the smallest suit, standing only eight feet tall; however, its decreased bulk allows for increased speed and maneuverability, making it the favorite of mercenaries who enjoy mobility.  The HERMES pilot is the undisputed scout for any Broncos team.  Each suit comes equipped with a long-range target identifier, long-range radio, and an A. I. that specializes in enemy identification, allowing the pilot to determine rank and armaments of almost any unit, even when the target is cloaked.

     “The ARES is built for soldiers that love variety and close combat.  Carrying a wide array of weapons that serve all combat needs, the ARES is basically a walking armory.  The ARES arsenal ranges from basic handguns to machine guns to shotguns to rocket launchers and even to Ithacite swords.  The ARES suit comes equipped with an A. I. that heavily monitors supply levels in order help the pilot maintain ammo efficiency.

     “The HEPHAESTUS suit is designed to make sure the entire Broncos team makes it back to base in one piece.  The HEPHAESTUS pilot is the team’s medic that can repair other suits’ Ithacite exoskeleton and carbon under-suit.  In extreme emergencies, the pilot can even go through the under-suit to directly administer aid to another pilot and can extract pilots from unrepairable suits and place him or her into a new one.  The suit also uses newly developed nanobots that are programed to repair Ithacite-based armor and weapons. The HEPHAESTUS comes equipped with an Ithacite welder, a tow cable, and an A.I. capable of monitoring the vital signs and suit statuses of the rest of the team.

     “The ORPHEUS suit is the newest suit to enter mass production, but is still in the testing phases.  The suit has the lightest and most exposing armor of any unit, but boasts extreme destructive powers if it is ever able to get behind enemy lines. This suit is favored by covert-ops Broncos whose primary goal is total sabotage.  This suit holds an array of explosives such as land mines and time bombs, infiltration tools like the cloaking shield and grappling hook, and data corruptors like nanobots and computer viruses. The ORPHEUS also uses its nanobots to deconstruct Ithacite-based materials. This suit’s A. I. focuses on enemy monitoring to keep the pilot hidden and alert to dangers.

     “The APOLLO suit is the only suit in production that is capable of sustained flight.  It is favored by snipers for its ability to quickly take the high ground or make high ground of its own by using the jetpack to hover.  Earlier prototypes to the APOLLO, namely the DAEDALUS and PEGASUS, were successes, by the landing mechanisms and shock absorbers were prone to failures and even explosions. The APOLLO is actually a combination of these predecessors, taking the best aspects from each.  No APOLLO pilot has died because of the suit itself yet.  The suit comes with PEGASUS-class shock absorbers, an DAEDALUS-class landing boots which help distribute the pilot’s weight on the ground, and the APOLLO-class jetpack.  The APOLLO A.I. specializes in fuel management to keep the APOLLO going for as long as possible, whether on the ground or in the air.

     “The ZEUS. . . it’s the suit that every Bronco recruit strives to be put in.  It is the signature suit of a team leader.  The ZEUS is the force that literally binds the team together; this suit contains each team’s communication center.  Without it, the team has limited ability to communicate audibly or through the live video broadcasts.  The ZEUS is the least produced model because of the limited number of team leaders that are accepted into the Bronco Program.  Its A. I. is by far the most advanced, able to monitor the functions and stability of each team member’s suit and health and able to directly monitor and even assist other A. I.’s.

Why did Suzy fall out of the swing?  Because she had no arms.
Knock, knock. Who's there?
Not Suzy

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Re: History and Zodiac House information

“I’ve seen the skirmishes between rival Houses on distant planets. . . I think it was the Leo and Aquarius Houses I saw last, and it was an awe-striking to see these ancient Houses battle, the first two Houses to begin their imperialist campaign into the cosmos. . .

     “The Leo House is the most ancient House, having roots in the settlers aboard the Iliad itself.  The Leos want nothing but to continue their reach into galaxy.  Right now, judging by the snippets of news that reach Earth Homeworld, the Leos control more plants than any other House. . .

     “The Virgo House, from what I hear, is a gentle ruler of the planets it conquers.  They believe they own some sort of moral high ground because they can prove through their genealogy that their ancestors left Homeworld before it was tainted by atomic fire and the footsteps of us prisoners. They’re snobby folks with lives of luxury, but I hear they don’t give up planets without one heck of a fight. . .

     “The Libra House is considered by most to be the opposite of the Virgo.  Whereas the Virgo House allows prosperity for anyone under their rule, the Libras are equalists, or as the ancient societies of Homeworld would call them, Communists.  In fact, most believe that it was Libra extremists that high-jacked a space transport carrying an experimental atomic weapon in an effort to put Homeworld in the same desolate position as most of her colonies.  I firmly believe this because I can trace my ancestry to man that crashed the ship into the American Northeast and brought on the worldwide flood.  I think it’s fitting that his line ends on the same planet, with me, a murderer just like him, separated only by a thousand years. . .

     “The Scorpio House is quiet.  Since its formation, it has expanded little.  Its goal is to merely survive while war is waged around it.  The Scorpios are well-funded though, meaning that they tend to have the best Broncos to defend and conquer with.  Even while having such advantages, the House prefers to expand slowly, waiting for the war to thin out all opposition. . .

     “The Sagittarius House has an eye for the decadent.  It seeks out only planets that could bring it fortune and resources.  They often control Ithacite-rich planets and planets with other exotic minerals.  The House’s end goal is to control all the galaxies resources and trade with the destitute rival Houses. . .

     “The Capricorn House seeks only fame.  The House wishes only to be remembered in history, no matter the cost.  The Capricorns stage massive battles in hopes of creating one epic massacre that lives on in legend, even when all the Houses of today fall. . .

     “The Aquarius House’s goal is to seek out the remains of other Muse-like civilizations.  It hopes to advance technology in the same way that the Leo House did upon arriving at Ithaca.  The Leo and Aquarius Houses are the two largest Houses in terms of size and dominion and constantly battle over key planets; Ithaca has been the site of many battles because of its technological importance.

     “The Pisces House strives to end the war entirely and assimilate the Houses into a single ruling family.  The Pisces primarily use warfare in an attempt to break up the other Houses, but also uses politics and intermarriage to bring Houses together.  The intermarriage thing is pretty effective too; I was overjoyed when I found out I was going to be engaged to a Pisces woman.  Of course, that was before I was sentence to be Earthbound. .  .

     “The Aries House conquers for the pure thrill of war.  This House is known to often leave no enemy survivors after a battle.  The other Houses avoid battle with them as much as possible. . .

     “The Taurus House seeks galactic stability.  The Tauruses believe that the Houses can coexist peacefully by setting up strict treaties and having distinct borders.  This House has expanded almost as little as the Virgo House.  It’s managed to set up an alliance with the Pisces House.

     “The Gemini House is on a quest for exploration.  The heads of the House are obsessed with knowing every detail about every star and planet in the galaxy.  The Geminis are inherently distrustful because they prefer to find things out on their own.  They fight other Houses because they want to see the planets for themselves in order to study it; however, they care less about technological findings than the Aquarius House, which it has managed to sign a shaky alliance with. . .

     “The Cancer House simply wants peace by any means, even if it takes the destruction of an entire planet or a massacre at a House’s embassy.  The Cancers have destroyed four planets so far: Troy, Ismara, Thrinacia and my birthplanet of Asphondel.  They’re dead worlds now, even more so than Homeworld. . .

     “But then again, what do I know?  I’ve been Earhtbound for almost twenty years now, watching the Broncos come and go, watching new prisoners arrive and old ones die, listening for every snippet of news I can.  It’s not enough though. . . I can’t piece together everything that’s going on the galaxy, not from here. . . and it’s not like me to care. . . except. . . nothing feels right anymore, like some great cosmic scale has been tipped.  Don’t believe me? Look up. There used to be not so many ships in the sky, each one filled with Broncos or prisoners.  Something’s happening, but I lost my chance to know exactly what when they kicked me out of the Broncos. . . but it’s not too late for you.  You may not know it, but I’ve had my eye on you since you landed.  I think you have a shot at the Broncos; if you make it, you’ll be able to know all the things I don’t about the fate of the galaxy.  The Houses are ramping up for something big. . .

     “Now go! The nearest camp is uphill that way.  You won’t find out anything staying Earthbound.  Make it into the Broncos, and you’re free with the galaxy before you.”

-Colby Virgo, sentenced to
Life on Earth for
The murder of
Six people

Why did Suzy fall out of the swing?  Because she had no arms.
Knock, knock. Who's there?
Not Suzy

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