Galactic Gecko Space Garage

The Fifth Faction

Heroes aren't known for living forever. And in the world of galactic racing, that's especially true.

Not many people know it, but there was a fifth faction, once, an extinct faction. They fell into ruin slowly. Too much damage to their starships' hulls, too much damage to their heroes' minds. Corruption, maybe. Or just bad luck. Either way, the last leader of the faction locked up their garage one day and said "No more."

And it's said that with that, he locked up precious cargo, treasure that no geckos have seen the likes of in a hundred years. Materials that haven't been mined in centuries, maybe, or brilliant technology that's never seen the light of day.

You've managed to collect four plucky geckos who were willing to break all the rules of interfaction contact to work together, following rumor and hearsay and heresy to the farthest reaches of the universe. Only together could they solve this dark shadow of a mystery.

Together, you will find the key.


Turns out the clever gecko who last locked up the old garage had the genius idea of shooting the key into space.

He had dreams, big ones, of uniting the factions, dreams he saw die bitter and broken. But to get his key, you'd need a Martu's connections to find the racer old enough to have been there when they did it, and an Alura's charisma to convince them to tell you from where the key launched. Only a Targari could do the complex trajectory calculations, and, of course, few but a Barada hero would actually go out in a survival suit in deep space long enough to snag a traveling object the size of a garage key.

A really exceptional gecko could have done it all alone, or in twos or threes...but the chances of success are comparatively slim. Are you willing to take that chance?


The Enigma Crystal is a highly advanced piece of gecko technology, mostly lost to this age. This is, perhaps, the last of its kind. Although difficult to use, it can be manipulated to resonate with the frequency of a certain airlock, allowing access to whatever's hidden inside. The lock on the extinct faction's garage is effectively impossible to break without it.

Scientists studying lost tech from the warrior era are almost certain the Enigma Crystal has other purposes, but they are as yet unknown. Crystal hunting is be a perpetual task - you may form your team at any time. May the cosmos smile upon you.

Enigma Crystals are beautiful objects, shining brightly in countless hues. Cosmic colors. But rare even among the Crystals are so-called "Perfect" variants. They, of a single color, possess a singular power. Finding one of the 8 is surely the path to even greater wonders.

One strange thing about the garage belonging to the extinct faction is that long-distance surveillance has registered - for reasons unknown - heat signals inside. Not quite as hot as the body of a live gecko, but hot enough to show up on screen. If one were to get close enough to lay a palm on it, they would find the whole building slightly warm to the touch. And they would hear a metallic kind of whirr, and a rhythmic sound...and maybe find themselves in greater danger than they've ever been in their lives.

Or not.

Only the ones who hold the Enigma Crystal will know.

The planet itself reacts to intruders. Should a team of renegade geckos begin an approach, they’d find a dense storm formed suddenly over the entire planet. Impenetrable cloud cover strobing with the massive lightning strikes which boom beneath it, lightning strikes that’d disintegrate anything they touched. Hurricane rains. Cleaving winds. Hail. And thunderclaps so powerful they bulge out against the very atmosphere. Almost like the planet is puffing out its chest, warning off predators. Almost as if the planet knows it’s being invaded.

Interesting, actually. Most young geckos hear stories ㅡfrom parents or elders, in plays and performancesㅡ of an extinct Fifth Faction; but just tall tales, bedtime fables passed down through the generations. Storybook stuff. Any child could tell you about that brilliant Fifth Faction, those paranoid terraformers who guarded their secrets with religious fervor and ingenious means. Those that paid attention might go on talking about the Faction’s strange, lost contraptions: inventions that had no place in a race, for why would a racing ship need to think? Or speak? Or be worshipped like a God? Or be protected at all costs? But, anyways, these are just stories to be laughed off and left behind upon adolescence, faded and forgotten like their subjects.

But should a team of renegade geckos somehow maneuver through the storm safely, they might well remember those stories. As they skid down onto the planet’s quaking surface and espy, There!, the pulsing, overgrown garage of legend, they might wonder whether this ordeal ㅡthe storm, the secrecy, the Crystal shot out into deep spaceㅡ meant there was some greater, underlying truth to all those tales. And if so, was this all meant to just keep other geckos out? Or was it, perhaps, intended to keep something else, something much worse, in?

Unlike, say, the Targari, the Barada faction don’t exalt their elders. Actually, any Barada caught in excess of a certain age is captured and sent to face a no-doubt undesirable fate.

One such Barada Elder managed to escape before that could happen. She’s occupied an unassuming dwarf planet for time immemorial. Despite her age, she has an impeccable memory, kept sharp through relentless mnemonic exercises and meditation. But what for?

Because she knows that one day four strange geckos, one from each faction, might arrive on her solitary planet, having heard rumors of her and the athenaeum of obscure knowledge she guards. She will ask them what they seek. The boldest among them, likely the Barada, will growl, “Tell us about the Enigma Crystal!” Recognizing those long-lost words, she will invite them inside her tiny shack.

After scaring off the Spider-Crickets, she’ll open her vast notebooks and show the Geckos illustrations, schematics for the few thousand unique variants of Enigma Crystal. “Even the Faction which created them was unsure of their ultimate utility,” she’ll say. “They had boundless utility”: As keys to great treasures. As status symbols for the elite. Some claimed the Crystals could even open up channels to strange dimensions -- metaverses-- allowing bizarre things to leak through. “But there’s no way to know for sure. All the crystals are lost.”

The four Geckos will trade furtive glances. Ultimately, it’s the Martu who’ll unfurl a map lay it down flat, point to a star system in the northern quadrant and say, grinning, “Not for much longer. We’re off to find one now. This was our last stop.”


It’s a tenet of every Gecko’s education. “What do we do if we see a hypercube floating in space, class?” And all the little gecklings reply, “Stay far, far away!” Alas, some Geckos never learn.

Because if you’ve trawled the galaxy searching for just such an object, Kindergarten warnings shouldn’t scare you off. Four Geckos come upon this cube; four Geckos climb aboard. It’s barren inside but for a decrepit machine, rusted and chipped, its exposed wiring crusty with dried acid. A ship in this state would surely explode. A toaster would too.

The Geckos approach the contraption, and it pulses with electricity, buzzing faintly. Four circular trackpads illuminate around it. On each is the cachet of a different faction --Barada, Targari, Alura, Martu. Prepared, the Geckos place a claw, foot, or snout on the trackpad bearing their faction’s symbol. And the room floods with blue light. The machine emits a high-pitched drone, and the cube itself begins to spin, shift, change. The light is blinding, the sound loud as a supernova! Then? Nothing. Space silence. The Geckos look up. There: the Enigma Crystal, waiting on a pedestal.

As soon as the crystal is in your possession, a beam of light activates from deep within it and sweeps the surroundings. You feel the electric crackle on the back of your neck as it registers your irises and genetic profile, and from the rigid looks on your other team members' faces, they feel it too.

"Ownership team registered," the crystal says, in a surprisingly clear tone despite its age. Then it falls silent.

You suddenly feel a growing closeness to your companions...

Open the garage by placing the crystal in the door

You've spent a long time inside the locked garage. Hard to say how long - the Concordians, being droids, work endlessly, without any particular schedule. Because of your possession of the Enigma Crystal, they don't register you as a threat, and are content to ignore you as they repair themselves, fine-tune their instruments, and adjust massive circuit boards.

Their constant presence is almost soothing. If only you knew what they were for. You just can't bring yourself to leave until you do, and although it's gone unspoken, you know the rest of your team feels the same way. So you do some hacking. Some observation. And slowly, the horror - or wonder - of it all comes together.

The Concordians maintain a subatomic signal of a type that may be unique in all the cosmos, a type undetectable by all known technology. It shrinks the fear centre of the brain, it regulates hormones, it whispers quantum vibrations of unity and peace. And it's aimed directly at the brains of every leader in the universe, all the way up to the Emperor Prime.

Didn't you ever wonder why the gecko warriors all threw down their weapons in exchange for the race? It was considered a miracle, once. It still is. And now, you've seen the hand behind it - now, you know why the extinct faction locked their doors and fled, as soon as they knew the Relay was here to stay. Their gift to the cosmos. Their dark secret.

The Concordians control the universe. They've brainwashed all the gecko leaders into pacifists.

The Concordians are a droid collective designed by the lost faction, working endlessly towards a singular purpose. They're self-sustaining, heavily armed, and made to last.

The Concordians have spent centuries inside the locked garage, sending out a subatomic signal to the rulers of the cosmos. Shrinking the amygdala, regulating hormones, sending out subliminal quantum vibrations of unity and peace. Have they saved the universe? Or have they just brainwashed its leaders?

As they work, Concordians emit a screechy whirr. You hardly noticed it before, but now, listening close, you realize it's not a whirr but a melody. A song! Working tirelessly, the Concordians sing to each other. Were they programmed to? Or did they somehow teach themselves?

The opening of the Lost Garage was a seismic event, one that sent ripples —literal ripples— of energy throughout the galaxy, smashing into planets, phasing through asteroid belts, affecting everything in their path.

Faraway geckos became woozy. Satellites stuttered in orbit. And in certain spots on certain planets, long-buried Concordians burst up from underneath rock or sand or seafloor, obeying a triggered directive to cease snoozing and return home.

In their flights back to the Lost Garage, a few of these Concordians rocketed through heavily-trafficked flight paths. Spacefaring Geckos just minding their business, and suddenly appears a strange droid outfitted with bizarre technology. Solitary Geckos, or those in Teams of 2 or 3, lucky enough to bring such a being aboard will find themselves at the center of a universe-wide conspiracy.

If you expected the cosmos to come to an end when you entered the locked garage - and, maybe, deep down inside, you did - well, it hasn't.

When you finally bring yourself to leave for a time, however, you do learn some interesting things. Your contacts, the ones who gave you the hints and tips and tricks that led you to the crystal and then led you here, have all vanished. Moved. Changed appearances, changed names. And in one case, very definitively turned up dead. Foul play. Of course.

You spend a few weeks feeling watched, and your compatriots tell you the same. But it seems like it was all only in your head. After a while, you settle down. Run a minor race. Nothing bad happens to you, and nothing too good happens, either.

It seems like the secret of the locked garage - the crystal, the Concordians - is safe with you, for now.

At night sometimes you can still hear the whirr and clack and hum of the droids, parsecs away, and the lone signal they beam out through the universe.

You've been minding your own business lately. Laying low after a particularly difficult race. (And by difficult, you mean an opponent repeatedly tried to kill you before you even launched.

One day your receiver tells you you're receiving an important message. You flip the switch and hear this:

We are the warrior's people,

on the most ancient planet.

Those who come to us

with the warrior's nature

will be given a mission

with great reward.

That's intriguing enough to get you out of your slump.

Now it's just a question of figuring out how to contact them back.

You arrive, eventually, on the home planet of the gecko race. The origin of the species. The place you destroyed before most of you took to the stars. It's ashen. Grey. Every part of it looks like it's been strip mined, and it probably has. You can't wait to get out of the small city - more of a settlement - which has one of the planet's only docking bays.

You bribe a hovertaxi driver to take you as close as you can get to the nature reserve. (You ask him about what life's like here, and he says, "It's not much, but it's home. We stayed where the ancestors are buried, you know?" You wonder if he feels like he's better than you.)

You get close enough that you can see the jungle in the distance, but you have to make the rest of the way on foot.

You're in there for what feels like hours, marking your way with minor radioactive traces and a hand compass. Your feet are sore, and you're making more noise than you want to be in a forest riddled with apex predators.

You're thinking about that. And then a spear - an actual wooden spear - comes sailing out of nowhere and impales the tree by your head.

It all happens so fast. You were alone in the jungle. And now you're in hand-to-hand combat with the most vicious gecko you've ever met, which is saying a lot.

You notice one thing about her, though: she doesn't fight dirty.

But you do. Within a minute you have her pinned up against a kapok tree.

She smiles.

"Welcome, warrior," she says.

Cautiously, you let her take you to a small settlement. Interesting: you flew over this region in your ship, but the large area they cleared just looked like trees from above. They must have come from the outside: this is modern cloaking technology. Similarly, some people are wearing traditional clothes (this amounts to some jewelry and a loincloth), and others are dressed just like you. Their arrival must have been recent.

"We came here," she explained, "to reconnect with our ancestors. But to do that, we need knowledge. And only the finest of fighters can bring us that."

She pauses. "We can offer you a ship. A better one. More suitable for what we're asking you to do. But you'll have to earn it."

The first thing out of your mouth is: "What do you want me to do?"

Instead of answering, she takes you to the center of the settlement. There's a bonfire going (when was the last time you saw an intentional fire?), and someone is playing a bongo drum made out of old engine drums and some kind of animal skin. Chanting old words, before the universal standard version of the language was installed by a former Emperor Prime. You can only make out some of it.

They seem to be heralding your coming.

You're more interested in the ship. Yours is coming apart at the seams and the maintenance on it is more trouble than it's worth. And this is all faintly ridiculous. But still, it's doing something to you. Something ancient. Maybe. So you decide to entertain them. At least for now.

Then she takes you to the back of the settlement. To your surprise, they have a small (but functional) spaceport. And there's a disassembled - sort of - spaceship in the middle. It was designed to come apart in three equal sections. A hunger awakens in you. Star lust, they call it. Or maybe you just want a new toy.

"We need you," she says, "to find people who - should they still exist - we have reason to believe are old. Older than any of us. With this ship, you'll be able to fly...relentlessly. Without refueling, even if it takes you a year."

"And the catch?"

She looks you in the eyes.

"We need you to find the lost faction."

Three trials, she explained, for all three parts of the spaceship. And then it's yours for keeps.

Plus, you're aching to know about the lost faction, too. Who isn't?

The first one won't be hard, you told yourself. You have to kill a lizuar. They're pretty small, and after all, you have a blaster and they don't.

Lizuars are essentially animals. They have a weak resemblance to geckos, and the warrior ancestors (apparently) believed they were a corrupt evolutionary branch. Killing one, according to these strange people, is a rite of passage that purges your baser nature.

As the sun sets and you head deeper into the jungle, you begin to feel watched. You start to sweat. You're not as quick on the draw as you could be - the gecko you were fighting earlier engaged you in melee before you even thought about your gun.

You decide to draw it in advance this time.

Not five minutes later, you have this instinct. The same feeling of being watched, but worse.

You decide to listen to it. You whirl around just in time to catch a lizuar pouncing from a tree and headed straight for your head.

One blaster shot solves that problem.

But now you're nervous. What could the other trials be?

Labyrinth. Bereft of sound, thankfully, except for the ones you make. There's nothing in here but arachnids. It can't be easy.

You're used to navigating by sky, and the lack of that, it bothers you. You're pretty sure you've gotten turned around, oh, six or seven times. You're not sure you'll ever make it out of the underground. Not that you want to, considering there are armed guards at the entrance, making sure you stay where you're meant to. Until you find it.

And then you do.

It's beautiful, in a way. And you recognize it the moment you set eyes on it, in a place of honor at the labyrinth's heart, a cracked and broken ceiling raining down light upon it.

It's the first spacesuit. One of them, anyway. The first thing your ancestors wore when you took to the stars. It's black rubber - no, hide. Maybe even gecko hide. Black and maybe rotten.

You put it on.

And it tightens around your skin. Hard enough to choke you. And you hear a voice inside your mind.

The damn thing's haunted.

Little warrior, the voice chuckles. Tell us who you are. Impress us.

You know you'll die if you don't. And so you do. You tell them about the journeys you've taken, to the farthest reaches of the known universe, nothing there but sparse asteroids. And light. You tell them of braving the cold when you were marooned on a snowy comet. You tell them of combat with your first and last rival, whose head you claimed. ("Head you claimed." When did you start talking like that?)

And then it lets you go. And the warriors at the entrance give you the slightest nod when you emerge, and you feel...accepted. Maybe honored. Maybe even loved.

You're still wearing the damn suit, but it feels like a second skin now. Maybe an itchy and uncomfortable one, but some part of you feels right in it. These were your ancestors, after all.

The third and last test is a drink. A simple drink. The warrior gecko smiles when she hands it to you, and it seems genuine. But there's something about this you don't like. You drink it all, though. You're no coward.

You were right not to like it. Almost immediately, you feel a fever trace fire over your body. You start convulsing. Febrile seizures, you think.

And then you see it. And you remember it for the rest of your life.

Geckos. Tall and broad, nearly naked, running soundless through the jungle. You see the paintings they made in the underground, long ago washed away by the lush and humid air. The paintings tell you stories, ones you would never repeat offworld. War. Heroism. Even love. Even love. And the way they gazed, always, towards the stars.

You come to, hearing her soft, urgent voice. "Did you see it?" she asks.

Tears are in your eyes. All you can do is nod.

Feasts. Fires. Drums. Something that looks like a fiddle, but isn't. They've been celebrating you for the past three days, and you've been celebrating the assembly of your new ship.

It's beyond beautiful. The best cloaking technology, first of all. Faster than lightning, takes curves like a champ. There's nothing you can't do in this.

And, somehow, you want to do this. For your own reasons, now, but also theirs. It's in your blood, you realize.

Everyone gathers to watch you take off, and they watch you for a long time. You see them over your shoulder, gathered in the clearing as you depart, before the artifical image of the canopy blinks back on.

You turn your eyes back to the stars.

The Journey Continues...