Welcome to Episode 2 of “The Usurper Menace.” I am Hagu, jikkyousha extraordinaire and leader of the University faction. How long will our horrors of science flourish in the absence of the wonders of war? …scratch that. Switch it around. Now let’s jump back into the game’s story. Oh ho ho ho! Yes, thanks for that, Tali. Well, if I had any enemies, they’d be in trouble. Needlejets are incredibly powerful, although you can’t exactly invade bases with them. Missile Squad? Don’t mind if I do. Now, because Needlejets are so powerful, and are usually only attacked by other, similarly powerful Needlejets, giving them armor is kind of a waste of resources. Maybe a day will come when I actually have cause to use a jet. Hey- Heeeey! Gyah! What do I care for your suffering? Pain, even agony, is no more than information before the senses, data fed to the computer of the mind. The lesson is simple: you have received the information, now act on it. Take control of the input and you shall become master of the output. — Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, “Essays on Mind and Matter” Sorry about that, Secret Project completions really pop up out of nowhere. Now, The Virtual World is another useful project for the University, reducing drone count by turning Network Nodes (used for research) into Hologram Theatres. Guess what faction gets a free Network Node with every base? If you guessed anything other than the University, you can’t take a hint and I feel bad for you. All right, let’s get that thing connected. Oh, drat. I might not have an open Network Node… Stupid thing always says this line twice. Do I have any open Network Nodes? Mmkay. Make some room, and THEN you can open the pod. Wait. Why are these all the… all the same… Oh… Oh no. Oh NO! I forgot! The Usurpers! They’ve taken all the bases on this continent for themselves! And Lady Gaia! My treehugging ladyfriend is quite clearly doomed! If only I had prepared an army to repel these accursed aliens! Okay. Open the pod. Ah, and with this, we make a new discovery about the mindworms. Interlude! From the Book of Planet, mission year 2199. Dang. It’s Yang. Well met, Jikkyousha Hagu. I am now called Chairman Yang, and act as the voice of the Hive, whose intent is to found a society based on the principles of security and control. I must caution… WHY?! Why always with the threats! “Give me 50 credits or else.” NO. Wait… Did we just go to war because I wouldn’t pay him 50 credits? I think I will enjoy liberating his brainwashed citizens. But I don’t think he’s in any position to attack me at the moment, so I’ll just continue with my military preparations. Aw, there goes the Command Nexus. Well, now, I’m just going to have to hope that the pod up north, there, is actually an alien monolith, which can repair my rover. And I get the PSI defense bonus. Whoa! It’s Bill Gates! Glad to see he isn’t being trampled by the Usurpers, or… other factions, for that matter. Welcome to Planet, Jikkyousha Hagu. You bring many unique talents to our new world. You see, nobody but Good Guy Morgan would greet me like that. As factions, we have some degree of compatibility, though. You want to talk to Doofus? I don’t see why not. Heh, Industrial Automation. I’m sure you would want that, having only eyes for money. I don’t really want your map, but, douzo Hmm, the commencement of trade… It would benefit me, of course, but the thing about Morgan is that he always gets the better deal. Well, that’s another treaty of friendship. Ah! He’s got the Manifold Nexus in his territory. Which, uh, grants him a +1 to his ecological rating. I’m sure that’s useful, for the rampant polluter that he is, but if I had that, I might be able to capture native mindworms. Would you kill that stupid Spore Launcher! Another interlude? Oh, no… It’s… it’s waking. Oh, no. This is not going to end well. Another interlude, from the year 2218. I have Conquerer Marr of the Usurpers on Channel 4. Shall I put him though? Do I have a choice? Greetings: Jikkyousha Hagu. Progenitor identity: Conqueror Marr. Leader: the Usurpers. Intention: to harness the tremendous power of the Manifold experiment. Most pleased: your progress on Manifold Six. So they call this place Manifold Six, huh? Impact rover– aw, here come the threats. Is this going to be a rerun with like, uh… Yang? Six hundred energy- that’s more than 10 times what… Yang… wanted… Now I’m at war with the aliens. Not a very surprising development. Ah- shoot, this means that The Marine Institute is kind of in danger, if I don’t complete these Trance Sentinels soon. Ugh, the waters are no longer safe. At least, the northern waters are. [sigh] You know what? This means I need air power. [groans] Conquerer Marr is just blanketing the leader board down there. Hey, it’s Gates! G’day, Gates. Ah, Jikkyousha Hagu the Obnoxious. [laughs lightly] Want to buy a map of Marr’s territory? No thanks. I can get it myself. Through cooperation we can… achieve mutual satisfaction of needs! Cyberethics for Ecological Engineering? I think so! That’s Gates for you. He knows how business really works. Excellent, excellent. Now, Environmental Economics for Intellectual Integrity? Even though their tiers are different! This is philanthropy, this is! I’m quite impressed, Gates, or Morgan. Y’know, I shouldn’t have changed his name. Yes! Tree Farm! Ah- Air Power? It’s yours! Pact of Brotherhood? Sure! He’s going to get mad at me when I switch to Green economics, though. Oh well. Ah, the Planetary Datalinks is useless to me, really. But nobody’s going to steal my t- HEY! Hey, hey! There was a mine there…! NOOO! PLANET! This is NOT the time!