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Here is where I am collecting evidence (particularly conversations) to piece together some information about Orz. But watch out, there are major spoilers here!

I'm having some fun piecing this together as I play through the game again, so I'm not going to look at the code for dialogue. My interpretation will shift a bit as I explore more.


Conversation with Orz Part 1

  1. Who are you? You are not Orz! We are Orz! Orz are happy *people energy* from the outside.
  2. Inside is good. So much good that Orz will always *germinate*.

Presumably, if Orz came from "Subspace" or whatnot and is now in Truespace, Subspace is "outside" and Truespace is "inside". So, Truespace is good. So good, in fact, that the Orz will *germinate* (transport/project to Truespace? reproduce in Truespace?).

Conversation with Orz Part 2

  1. Here is *bright* and *smooth*. There other place is *hurt* Orz too much tired for keeping together.
  2. Other place is **Frumple**. Orz are here now, but almost not yet.,,
  3. Soon Orz are really here! You are help Orz with *parties*.
  4. Orz are looking for you, and find you. So much joy!!
  5. Now *smooth* place all the time, and after now never going back to outside.
  6. Never!!

I think that pretty much seals it: Orz are never going back to outside, it is just going to stay in TrueSpace. "The other place" either means Orz's home dimension, or QuasiSpace. Orz are coming to stay in TrueSpace. See my theory below.

Conversation with Orz Part 3

(When stopped talking about Androsynth after Orz's first objections)

  1. Ahaa! I am told other Orz *cousins* you are *connected* for *camping*.
  2. I am so right!
  3. It is happiest days to not care about Androsynth anything.
  4. So now we can be *together* for friendly *dessert*.
  5. I am so right. I will tell them again.

Clearly, each Orz individual has its own knowledge. Orz who said this told other Orz that Humans would be good (to ally with? to eat?), and this Orz's idea has been confirmed by the fact that I don't care about the Androsynth. This Orz is going to tell them that it was right about Humans being good.

No, not necessarily. If "Orz" is a single hivemind consciousness then there may be *other* hivemind consciousnesses that, if they were in our dimension, would project as other alien species. I think this actually makes more sense, since the "cousins" seem to be the ones willing to absorb Humans while the Orz are satisfied having absorbed (or done whatever with) the Androsynth.

Conversation with Orz Part 4

(When I left without allying with Orz)

  1. Going. Yes. Orz is go with you same place for *party*.
  2. Nobody is forget.
  3. Next is *alliance* *party*. Always promise is good to keep.
  4. So much pleasure is coming, Orz and the you is change together as soon as *camping* is started.
  5. You are not even aware, and then everyone is so happy.
  6. You are not forget. Alliance is promise.
  7. Orz are wait.

Conversation with Orz Part 5

("You seem very... uh, trusting. Why is that?")

  1. We are not trusting. We like to be *together*.
  2. Do you want to be *together* with us?
  3. Always the other *sad animals* go away but first we have lots of fun.
  4. Too many fun is not enough! Do you agree?
  5. I think you *smell* like you do.
  6. This is the story about trusting.
  7. It is sad and makes many Orz *dissolve* or burst into several.
  8. Why is in that you are trusting? What a funny question.
  9. I am tired.

Taalo Playground

"What do you mean by 'Playground'? Can you explain some more?"

  1. Yes. Yes. You say words, then I say.
  2. It is fun *in between*. More fun than *dancing*.
  3. Many *gravity centers* in *heavy space* make good *party places*
  4. This is why we like the *New Town*. So many *Campers* and then what?
  5. Even the *Playgrounds*! Such a surprise!
  6. At this *Playground*, Taalo are making *Time jokes*. It is too funny for the Orz.
  7. Taalo are in *heavy space* and next what?
  8. They spread to *Pretty Space* because Dnyarri are chasing them.
  9. Now Dnyarri are sleeping, so Orz can *chase* them.
  10. Then we can have a *party*. They are even better *campers* than you.
  11. Do not feeling bad. You are good enough *campers*, but not yet.

Orz are going to have a *party* with Dnyarri or Taalo? Both races seem to have very powerful psychic powers. Dnyarri as they currently are would be easy to *change*, Taalo might also be, as they are probably slow.

  • Time jokes* are dimensional fatigue experiments, *Playground* is DF research spots?

"Why are you here at this planet?"

  1. I will tell. This is Taalo *Playground*. Do you know?
  2. Taalo is not anymore the *heavy space*. Many *camper* lives they are not here.
  3. To *play* with Taalo, Orz must *spread* into *Pretty Space*.
  4. There are so many good places for this here, Orz are happy.
  5. Of course you do not know Taalo. You are *Campers*.
  6. You cannot going to *Pretty Space*, too bad.

The *heavy space* is TrueSpace? *Pretty Space* is another dimension, possibly QuasiSpace? "many good places" = dimensional fatigue spots created by the Taalo and Androsynth and Arilou?

Not QuasiSpace -- the "below" to which QuasiSpace is above. Pretty clear since you *can*, in fact, go to QuasiSpace, since there are no traces of the Taalo -- or any "cousins" of the Orz, or any traces of the Orz themselves, or any reference to the Orz sharing space with them by the Arilou -- in QS. The fact that Arilou are from "above" and Orz are from "below" makes it pretty clear that QS and Pretty Space are two different things. (Please note that Pretty Space, along with *below* and *outside*, are our only canon words for this place -- SubSpace is a fan invention.)

Report from Eta Vulpeculae II

---- Report from surface ----
Xeno-historian Kilgore here, sir. We have configrmed that these ruins are the remnants of the Androsynth culture. From the mass destruction we have witnessed, we can only assume that there was some kind of huge land war here within the past five years; however, there is no, repeat, no sign of orbital bombardment or invasion from space. Just a whole mess of buildings shot to pieces.
Probably the weirdest thing we've seen, or not seen, are corpses. There aren't any! It's as though something appeared out of nowhere, blasted everything with nuclear bazookas, then grabbed all the Androsynth and disappeared.
An additional report, sir, from science officer Bukowski. We have located an Androsynth scientific research station and I have been trying to make some sense out of what is left of their central computer.
As far as I can tell, about seven years ago, the Androsynth began experimenting with something they called dimensional fatigue phenomena. I can't figure out what this dimentional fatigue (or DF as they call it) is, but maybe if we explored another city, I would be able to find more information on this subject.
---- End of report ---
---- Report from surface ----
Bukowski again, sir. We have found another research institute. Well, the remains of one, anyway. The computer here's in better shape, allowing me to learn a bit more about the Androsynth's investigation into DF, dimensional fatigue.
It would appear that their studies actually began over ten years ago, after one of their blazer vessels discovered some Precursor artifacts in Alpha Lalande. As far as their scientists here could tell, the devices generated DF waves which would allow the user to see into other. Well, other dimensions --- realms of existence which share position with our own universe, but have a different, um, what should I call it, reality phase.
Anyway, the Androsynth had hoped that the dimensional fatigue technology would permit them to create new, faster forms of hyperdrive and hyperwave. Instead, when they began their experiments, they made contact with somekind of lifeform on 'the other side', a creature from an alien dimension.
The record is fragmentary here.
I see requests to the central computer for information -- data on 'reality aberrations', the 'mozquito mange' and, er, ghosts, poltergeists, and other malevolent supernatural creatures.
The requests grow more urgent, almost frantic, and then... the record ends.
---- Report from surface ---
Captain, this is ensign Hawthorne standing in for Bukowski. Sir, Bukowski has found something but in the process he has gone kind, well... kind of nuts.
When we first got to this city, Bukowski went wild because the scienc center was pretty much intact.
He locked himself in their computer control cabin and spent about ten hours alone in there. We could here him mumbling to himself, then his speech got louder until he was shouting. He was scared, sir, damn scared. We finally decided that we'd better check up on him, but Bukowski wouldn't let us into the room. He said that no one could ever know what he had learned. That just knowing was enough to alert 'Them'
He kept talking about 'Them', crazy stuff, sir, about how 'They' could see him now, and 'They' were moving towards him. Then Bukowski started thrashing about the room, screaming that he had to destroy everything before 'They' saw us too.
He did a lot of damage to the Androsynth's computer before we stopped him, and I guess he must have hurt himself in the process. He's cut up pretty badly.
You know, it's strange, he must have hurt himself worse than I thought. Now, when I look at him, it seems like he has even more cuts that just a few minutes ago, and boy, is he screaming!
Based on the damage Bukowski wreaked on the central computer, I don't believe that we will find anything more down here. I think we have learned all that we can from exploring these ruins, and frankly, with all of Bukowski's ranting, I'm getting a bit nervous myself. Call us back to the ship soon. Please.
---- End of report ----

Current Hypothesis

Nature of Orz

Orz is a single creature/entity from "Subspace" (or *below*), the opposite of QuasiSpace (or *above*). Orz psychically controls what we see as individual Orz, which Orz calls its *fingers*. Orz' *fingers* are members of other species which have been sequestrated (possessed or taken over) by Orz, and changed into the round, beaked, tentacled shape we encounter.

'They' and the Arilou

First, Orz are in fact "Them". Orz previously "invaded" QuasiSpace but were successfully driven off by the Arilou. The Arilou realized how dangerous Orz are and have been changing Humanity's "smell" to protect the Human race from being detected from the Orz. "Smell" refers to psychic ability, which the Orz can sense from another dimension. The Arilou have been supressing Humans' psychic ability so that the Orz cannot sense us.

No evidence that Orz ever invaded QS or had direct conflict with Arilou; since QS seems to *lack* the features that make TrueSpace (or "Heavy Space") interesting to the Orz -- ordinary matter, the potential to build corporeal machines and life forms -- I'd find it doubtful. The Arilou's interaction with the Orz seems to be limited to *jumping in front* or interfering with the Orz; they seem to view the Arilou as rivals who bother them rather than potential prey.

Additionally, Orz is the Ultimate Evil that the Spathi are afraid of: as of yet, Orz lies beyond all sensors, in another dimension or between that dimension and this one. Orz will arrive in several years and sequestrate all life forms.

  • Very* doubtful, since the Ultimate Evil has absolutely no detail about it and appears to be completely irrational and a product of Spathi paranoia. The Spathi are *aware* of both the Orz and the Ultimate Evil and never make a connection between the two. It may be fair to say that what the Orz represents may in fact *be* the closest thing there is to the Ultimate Evil, but it's farfetched to say that it *is* the Ultimate Evil (that, in other words, the Spathi somehow actually knew about the Orz threat and understood it ahead of time).

The Androsynth

The Androsynth discovered Orz while experimenting with Dimensional Fatigue, which allows you to look into other dimensions. The Androsynth thus revealed themselves and our dimension to Orz. Orz tried to *change* the Androsynth into *fingers*. However, *changing* the Androsynth was a slow process, and not all could be *changed* at once. Ships have a small crew, and thus all can be *changed* before any of the crew notices. On the Androsynth homeworld, the *unchanged* population noticed the Orz "invasion" and tried to resist. Orz fought back, using its *fingers* to wage a large land battle on the surface, all the while *changing* more Androsynth into *fingers*. Orz eventually *dissolved* or *changed* all of the Androsynth.

Evidence actually points *against* the idea that ship crews were the first to be *changed* -- the first DF-based "reality aberrations" appear to have taken place on the surface (poltergeists, hauntings, "mosquito mange") and the ships did *not* attack the surface -- Bukowski finds no evidence of air-to-air or air-to-ground combat at all and claims the combat actually took place entirely within the cities themselves, leading us to suspect there was no invasion. The changes slowly happened, one by one, right in the population and the final war was a mass riot that broke out in the cities among neighbors and friends.

Transition to TrueSpace

However, having learned about TrueSpace when the Androsynth revealed themselves, Orz thinks it is better than where it comes from, so Orz itself is moving to TrueSpace, a process which apparently takes many years. It is easier for Orz to survive and thrive in TrueSpace than in other spaces, especially QuasiSpace (where the Arilou can resist them with their superior psychic abilities and/or weaponry). For one thing, there are more life forms to *change*, like the Androsynth and Humans. So, Orz is going to establish itself in TrueSpace, and then *change* or *dissolve* all life forms. It is the intent of the Orz to to "ally" with the Humans and then slowly *change* the Humans and the Humans' allies. While the Humans are being *changed*, the Orz will help fight the Hierarchy, with the intent of *changing* the Hierarchy races once they are defeated, or perhaps while they are being fought.

The Arilou don't think the protection they put on Humans has worn off quite yet, and you do get a chance to talk to them after allying with the Orz. I'd rather postulate that the upcoming event is not the Orz itself spreading but other Orz "cousins" infiltrating other races, one for each race.

Arrival of Orz

The sequel to Star Control II was going to focus on the Orz as a threat. From the TFB chatlogs:

<_Stilgar> Fwiffo- was it your intention to make the Orz the "bad guys" in StarControl 3?
<Fwiffo> In our rambling thoughts about SC3 we did seriously consider having the Orz assume a much larger and more ominous role, opposed to the return of the Precursors.

In Star Control III, Orz probably would have arrived in TrueSpace, and been opposed by most, if not all, of the other life forms. Of course, that didn't happen because Accolade hijacked SC3 and got rid of or suckified all the interesting races like the Orz and Supox. I haven't checked, but this is my guess for the story being planned for the TimeWarp project.

Old Hypotheses

Androsynth (Version 1)

The Androsynth experimented with their psychic abilities and/or dimensional fatigue (they are likely connected), and thus became "smelly". Orz sensed them and changed all the Androsynth into what we see as Orz ships and individuals. While the Androsynth had enough psychic ability to attract the attention of Orz, they did not have the psychic ability to resist it. Orz itself has not moved to TrueSpace yet, but rather psychically controlled and changed the Androsynth across dimensions. Thus, the Orz ships and individuals are the *fingers* of Orz -- they are individuals being controlled by Orz. This process of controlling new individuals is what the Orz means by *germinate*.

Orz Terms

Here are what I think some of the *asterisked* Orz terms mean. Some terms are nonsense (*enjoy the sauce*) and others are pretty clear (*conclusion* means decision, eg not to join Orz). These are (some of) the ones that need interpreting:

Term Meaning
*camping* The event or process of Orz *changing* a species
*camper* A species to be *changed*
*change* To sequestrate (control) another individual
*dissolve* To annihilate an individual who resists *change*
*happy camper* A *camper* who easily or willingly is *changed*, without resisting
*finger* An Orz slave; a *camper* who was *changed*
*many bubbles* Said of *campers*; Refers to either: each individual having his own consciousness; being composed of many biological cell, or perhaps atoms
*smell* (noun) State of mind; psychic presence
*smell* (verb) To sense or detect someone else's *smell* (noun)