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Meet The Matsudan: Their Story So Far…

4th Jul 2024

Dan Mapleston



INTRODUCTION

Since the inception of the Galactic Co-Prosperity Sphere (GCPS), humanity has come across many different races and planets. Some societies are happy to join the federation of planets. The benefit of increased trade, shared technology and combined knowledge is more than enough for them to see the light. The corporations behind the trade deals smile broadly as they sign agreements to share resources and appoint their own representatives on ancient councils or governments.

Conversely some societies need a little more persuasion. They’ve heard rumours that once the smiles fade, the corporations become more hard line. The suggestions and advice become instructions and demands. The small contingent of corporation security guards begins to grow and, before they know it, their planet and culture has been swallowed into the hungry maw of corporate greed. The Matsudan are one of the cultures that learnt this the hard way.

The Matsudan originated from a fertile and resource rich planet called Matsudo.  They are one of the most ancient races encountered by the GCPS and their society is steeped in tradition and the concept of honour. Originally, they were a race without great ambition for exploration. The Matsudan were relatively happy to stay on their own planet without the need for interstellar travel. Why look to the stars when you have everything you need underfoot?


MATSUDO GAMES

Across the planet their society was split into houses and a house would command their own region. The leader of a house would typically be passed down from generation to generation, with both females and males ruling with equal power. Some of the most ancient houses would be comparable to kingdoms on old earth, with each house leader acting like the king or queen for their region. The only time the line of succession would be broken would be if a member of a house had brought dishonour on the name. In these cases, the punishment was brutal and unforgiving. The members of the house would be executed, and their name removed from the records. As a result, only a handful of houses are known to have been punished in this way and their name is lost in the mist of Matsudan history.

War between the houses was extremely uncommon, as neither leader would want to bring dishonour upon their name. Instead the houses would prove their power by regularly taking part in the Matsudo Games – a tournament featuring extreme tests of strength and endurance. Each house would send their most powerful athletes to compete in wrestling contests, weightlifting tournaments and other displays of strength. To be crowned champion in one of these competitions was one of the greatest honours for a house and the contests were fought fiercely. A champion returning home after winning a tournament would be treated like a hero – and would often be allowed to marry in the house line. A great privilege and honour.


THE DESCTRUCTION OF MATSUDO

Unfortunately, the official fate of Matsudo is unknown. The Matsudan themselves remain secretive about its destruction. From data gathered there is mention of a great beast that rose from the ocean and destroyed cities as though it were a child kicking over their toys in a temper. Some records say the beast came after a house committed a great sin and it was sent to punish the Matsudan for their recklessness.

What is known is that as storm clouds raged in the atmosphere and the earth shook – either from the devastating vengeance of the beast, or a more natural cause – the remaining Matsudan issued a desperate cry for help to anyone that would listen. While Matsudo crumbled, a final plea for salvation that was shot into the stars, which no one really expected to be answered.

However, someone was listening. A race that was more ancient than the Matsudan themselves: the Asterians. While the Matsudan abide by a strict code of honour, the Warriors Clades of the Asterians live to bring balance to the galaxy. Perhaps sensing this wasn’t the fate that should befall the Matsudan, Clade ships appeared in the atmosphere above Matsudo and began rescuing any survivors they found. The planet itself was beyond repair and the remaining Matsudan watched from the spaceships that had saved them, as their home ripped itself apart.

With Matsudo destroyed, the Tesseract – the ruling council of the Asterians – agreed to take them to a new planet, which was quickly named Neo Matsudo. While the Matsudan had previously been content with their relatively simple life, the advanced technology of the Asterians awoke something inside them. No longer were they happy to just get by on whatever the planet provided, now they wanted to push their race to new feats of technological advancement.

 


THE RISE OF NEO MATSUDO

Houses now prided themselves on developing the latest cutting-edge technology. Rather than living outside in small settlements, the houses wanted to show off their advancements by building more and more elaborate skycrapers in the capital city of Dojomina. Over centuries, the capital became a glittering, sprawling mass of towering buildings that broke through the clouds as they fought to reach as high as the aspirations of those that built them. Inside each building, you would find each house and their followers. The simple village life was gone as the Matsudan strived for advancement.

However, their sense of honour remained steadfast and the punishments for dishonour were equally severe. If a house committed a sin, they were still executed, and their building was destroyed – wiping their legacy from the skyline of Dojomina. And so, the Matsudan continued to live to their strict codes of honour… until a corporation came knocking.

It was a company known as House Kajima that discovered Neo Matsudo and they marvelled at the technology on display. Unlike the Forge Fathers and Asterians who fiercely guarded their best technological advancements, the Matsudan were keen to show off their prowess, as a very public display of the influence of their house. House leaders – known as Matsaris – would court the attention of House Kajima representatives and it was shown as a mark of respect if GCPS dignitaries joined a Matsari for a grand banquet.


THE PRICE OF PRIDE

Desperate to keep other corporations away from the planet and the technology of the Matsudan, House Kajima representatives were keen to play up their own culture of honour, strength and endurance. They spoke of their long traditions, dating all the way back to old earth and the Matsudan immediately saw a kindred spirit in the otherwise confusing sprawl of the galaxy. The Tesseract warned them of dealing with the corporations, but the Matsudan ignored the warnings, pointing to House Kajimia’s self-confessed philosophy of honour. After all, how could such an honourable people betray them? It was impossible. Or was it…

Such was the strong bond between the Matsudan and House Kajima, that the corporation even managed to introduce the Matsudan to the rest of the GCPS via the sport of DreadBall. The quarter-ton, incredibly strong, yet agile Matsudan were an immediate hit with the crowds and the Matsudo Tectonics became one of the most popular teams on the circuit.

However, House Kajima went to great lengths to downplay the technological might of the Matsudan. Instead they used the hungry media of the GCPS to portray them as simple lizards from a backwater planet that had little or no worth, aside from from their ability to play DreadBall. It was the technologically advanced House Kajima that was able to provide them with such remarkable armour, not the simple Matsudan.

With the technology acquired (or more accurately stolen) from the Matsudan, House Kajima’s share price rose drastically. Its board of directors revelled in the fame and expanded the corporation to incorporate an entire system of planets – the Kajima Belt. But, while the Matsudan pride themselves on honour, honour is quickly forgotten in favour of profits for money-hungry corporations. Betrayal was almost inevitable and when it came, it was swift and brutal.

It started with a schism within the board at Kajima. After the initial flurry of Matsudan tech that Kajima had used to flood the market, some were keen to push the Matsudan into developing weapons that could rival the Forge Fathers. Others wanted to maintain a relatively peaceful approach, preferring to market the agricultural and entertainment advancements of their associates. The disagreement led to a split within House Kajima and a new corporation was born: Kamono Tech. Up until now, House Kajima had kept the whereabouts of Neo Matsudo a closely guard secret – keen to stop other corporations discovering the tech that was making them billions. After the split, however, two bitter rivals knew the location and conflict was to quick to follow.


WAR ON NEO MATSUDO

Both corporations amassed an army of GCPS soldiers and headed to Neo Matsudo, intent on ensuring they were responsible for its future. When the ships arrived in Dojomina, the representatives of the Houses came out to welcome their guests and were almost immediately caught in the crossfire – unaware that a war they weren’t part of had broken out on Neo Matsudo. The realisation they had been betrayed was like a physical blow to the Matsudan. It was only the second time they had dealt with a race outside of their own and they had proved untrustworthy.

The houses quickly united – sharing the technology they had once used to prove their superiority. Previously unseen weapons – like the Ion Barrage gun and Shock Mauls – were distributed throughout those willing to fight and, for the first time in their history, the Matsudan went to war against an external foe. The retribution against House Kajima and Kamono Tech was devastating and unrelenting.

Just like the disgraced houses that are wiped from the history books, the Matsudan were determined to erase all trace of the corporations. Ships were destroyed. Weapons were demolished. None were spared. Both corporations were left bankrupt by the war. Their claims of the advanced tech of the Matsudans were shrugged off by everyone else – after all, weren’t these the simple space lizards that were only capable of playing DreadBall? House Kajima and Kamono Tech vanished into the background, as others greedily feasted on their assets.

And so, a new chapter of Matsudan history had begun. The betrayal by the corporations festered like a wound within Matsudan society. It ate away at their deep held sense of honour. There was also a sense of embarrassment among the houses. They had let pride get the better of them in their desire to gain the adoration and praise of House Kajima. And it wasn’t just one house that had been disgraced. Each of the houses had courted the attentions of the humans and each of the houses had been fooled.

The Matsudan were also humbled by the fact they ignored the warnings from their saviours, the Asterians. They had been warned by them not to trust the corporations, but their hubris had got in the way. As one, the houses pledged to adhere to the advice and instructions of the Tesseract. After all, if it wasn’t for them, Neo Matsudo wouldn’t even exist.

Meanwhile, the technological brinksmanship of the houses dissipated. Instead of proving their house had the upper hand through technical superiority, the houses shared innovations and pushed the advancement of the Matsudan race ever forward. However, still keen to demonstrate the strength of their house, the Matsudo Games returned with a new fury. As well as wrestling and endurance, the ways of war crept into the games and now athletes were tested on their marksmanship or skill with weapons like the Shock Maul. The Matsudan always wanted to be prepared, in case the corporations should ever return. Matsudan players were also encouraged to keep playing in the DreadBall leagues. It was decided it was important to keep up the appearance of a backwater culture to stop any more corporations taking an interest in Neo Matsudo. It also helped to have spies within the GCPS who could alert the Matsari if a corporation was showing too much interest in Neo Matsudo.


A CALL FOR HELP

And for decades it remained that way, with the bulk of the Matsudan military remained in preparation for a war that seemed still far away. Their experience of inter-species combat was temporarily limited to specialist teams engaging in only minor defensive skirmishes.

But while the Matsudan remained largely in status quo, the inexorable reach of corrupt corporations spread across the galaxy. Although Neo Matsudo remained untouched, others were tainted by its insidious grasp. The scales of balance began to tip steadily in the favour of the corporations. Entire planets were wiped out by greed… and the seemingly aloof Asterians watched with keen interest.

Although they were not ready to throw their full force behind a galactic rebalancing, the Warrior Clades recognised that something needs to be done. Remembering the promise of the Matsudan to heed their warnings in the future, the Tesseract turned toward their protegees for assistance. Representatives met with the Matsudan houses and explained the terrible influence the corporations were having on a galactic scale. They emphasised the dishonourable actions of House Kajima and Kamono Tech were being played out on hundreds of planets every day, and that the corruption of humanity would spread until honour was nothing but a distant memory. Enraged by the reports of the Asterians, the Matsudan pledged to help restore balance.

Eager to distance themselves from any conflict, the Tesseract shared the designs for the highly advanced Marionettes and drones the Clades use in combat. Although typically controlled by the mind of a skilled ‘pilot’, Matsudan engineers adapted the Marionettes and drones to use cutting-edge artificial intelligence. In battle only a few Matsudan are required to accompany their mechanical counterparts, but the combination is truly devastating for any that get in the way. The Matsudan fight with honour and integrity but they will not make the same mistakes again…


NEW WEAPONS FOR A NEW ERA

Since the recent events on Pluton III, where a Mazon Labs experimental facility unleashed entities known as ‘Nightstalkers’ into the known galaxy, the Matsudan have become a vital weapon in combatting this new threat. Their deep sense of honour, and willingness to put others before themselves, has led to effective battle tactics (and disciplined precautions) to combat these void-bound horrors and the dangers they bring.

A unique combination of discipline and the deployment of AI-controlled technology on the battlefield helps to keep the Matsudan war effort steady in the face of their terrifying foes. Though the enemies may be new, tradition remains a strong cultural touchstone among their expeditionary forces. The comforting hymns and prayers of the Gyoji can be heard echoing across encampments, and faithful Mastsuyamori bloodhounds are often found accompanying small strike teams into combat.

Occasionally a Matsudan warrior will fall to the whispers of the Nightstalkers, and their deep-seated sense of honour is finally broken. Rather than risk spreading the curse of the shadowy terrors to their fellow warriors, these ‘ronin’ will lead from the front in a final display of their bravery, before retiring to a life of solitude where they will eventually succumb to the horrors of the darkness.

Recognising that their enemies from beyond real-space could come in all manner of terrifying forms, heavier equipment was also required on the front line. Originally developed by the advanced engineers of House Daida, when the Asterians called upon the Matsudan to fight against the Nightstalkers, the Daidarabotchi was put into mass production across the different Houses. Armed with weapons such as the Shirudo Shield or Heavy Fission Beamer, the Daidarabotchi is a formidable mechanised weapon built to go toe-to-toe with whatever titanic nightmares may emerge from the void…


CHECK BACK TOMORROW: pre-orders for the new Matsudan are set to go live on Friday 5th July 2024, shipping from the 24th!