The NERO Story
Imagine yourself on a mission to explore an Earth-like planet orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581. As the automation of your long-range space fleet wakes your crew from its long slumber, you pore over the reports generated by your ship's sensors during its journey through this unexplored region of space. The more you read, the more certain you become that the seeds of intelligent life have already visited this corner of the galaxy.
The planet is a miraculous find indeed. Easily accessible ore and mineral deposits, breathable atmosphere, abundant water, a protective magnetic field - this world is almost Earth's twin. And this journey across years of space actually worked! You are really here, and your crew and machines are alive and well.
There is only one problem: none of the robotic probes that were sent to the surface of the planet have returned. The fleet launched twenty-four satellites and five landing probes as it wound its way around Gliese, slowing down and waking up from interstellar flight. The data that the probes did sent back were fascinating - perfect geometric shapes the size of football fields littered the warm equatorial region. Highly systematic electromagnetic signals were emitting from strange structures inside these shapes. But within seconds of the first transmission, the reports from the landers seized abruptly...
An ancient legacy
Months have passed since the last ship parked in high orbit around Gliese-581-c. You now know much more about the world. And you have your work cut out for you. It seems that an ancient race has left a deadly legacy on the surface of this now nearly-lifeless world. An intelligent machine run amok has taken control of advanced replicator factories on the surface, and has created an army of humanoid robots that have driven out most of the planet's biological inhabitants. Your engineers managed to hack into several of these factories before the planet's AI realized what was happening and cut off all communications. Now, a war is afoot. You must use the AI's own armies against it. The only way to harden them against enemy control is to make them autonomous, unresponsive to direct commands, and the only way to win is to make them smart enough to capture all the production factories still under the AI's control and shut them down. To do this, you must train your robots to fight.
A fight for new home
Using the NERO simulation to quickly train artificially intelligent robots, you are able to gain new ground and capture new factories. However, the greatest challenge will come from the place you least expect - your fellow travellers. As it becomes clear just how valuable this new planet will be once it is cleared of the ancient AI, the fragile alliance that made it possible to mount such an expedition in the first place starts to deteriorate. More and more, your forces on the ground encounter competition from the Eastern Fleet. While it is clear that you depend on each other for your very survival, competition for territory on the ground is another matter entirely.