For An Ornery Life

While a mystery gunfight rages above me, I take the cells and seek refuge in Riverside Parts. They’re not buying, and poking my nose out doesn’t reveal anywhere else that looks likely to be interested – the local moth shop is owned by Klamp-G, and it’s not currently trading with the public.

I head to Gamma instead. Even basic cells are worth flogging quickly. Once they’re gone, I pop into a nearby Breaker Maker to see what’s available.

Breaker Makers are repair shops. They fix damage done to moth structure and subsystems (engines, etc.), though they can’t replace corrupted software or charge batteries. They also stock assorted bits of equipment, and this one has an afterburner for sale. Fitting it would cost 12,000 quid. I have less than half that. Also, I’d need to pay for fuel. Hm. Well, I can’t afford anything fun right now, but that’s a nice round figure to aim for. Time to earn a living.

Outside, a pirate is circling in a Swallow, taking potshots at a Klamp transport ship. He’s poorly equipped, and this fight goes on for some time, until both flyers need to dock at a lightwell.

Jellyfist (for that is the pirate’s rather peculiar name) continues to pour laser fire mercilessly into the transport, but lasers are weak against shields, and he’s forced to recharge himself before he can finish the job. Eventually, the transport slopes off into a nearby repair station. What a total waste of time for all involved. And now for you, too! You’re welcome.

However! A few minutes later, the transport comes back out, and is again ambushed by the exact same pirate. This time he’s forced to jettison. Idiot. Jellyfist, for his part, does not appear to realise that the nearby moon moth who’s watched the whole thing is entirely without shame, so having his target drop cargo while I’m around will mean he has another fight on his hands.

Yoink!

10 fuel cells. I dash to the nearest hangar before Jellyfist can retrieve his drone and give chase. Sucker!

Fuel cells would power the afterburner if I had one, however I can’t fit them without my own hangar (you can buy items or have them fitted, but you can’t fit them while they’re in your cargo hold), so it’s easier to just sell them.

And! On zipping over to the trading post, I learn that there’s a plasma (sigh) ‘kannon’ on sale. This is the first time I’ve seen one for sale, and it’s at a good price. Installing it could turn me from a skulking, flighty hyena into a skulking, flighty hyena with a plasma kannon. But that tautology aside, I’ve been contemplating a more aggressive strategy all day. I don’t want to become a pirate or a bounty hunter, but someone who steals from pirates, and shoots back if they object? Well, what are they going to do, call the cops?

So, off I go back to riverside to the Klamp-G Weapons shop.

As I get there, a transport is docking. My shiny targeting system tells me he has another plasma kannon on board. He’d better be selling. Yeah, I could ram him off course, jumping the queue, but that’s not how I roll anymore. I dock alongside the transport, and sure enough, he sold! There are now two of them for sale, and can be fitted for all but my last 300 pesetas. Time to inst… what.

WHAT.

As I hover over the “fit” option, both plasma kannons disappear from sale. Someone.. there… there’s a bloody trader docked in here with me. He’s bought them both. Right out from under my nose. That absolute FINK.

Where is he… WHERE IS HE?

There! He’s bought them both, and is now going for the tunnel. He’s going to flog them, pricing me out. Bastard. Right. Right!

I’m going after him. He’s in a moon moth, same as me, and his cargo will make him slower. But his battery is maxed out, and he can afford to drop 14 thou on goods for resale, so he’s probably better equipped. It’s too risky to take him alone. As soon as he crosses paths with a pirate, I’m teaming up on the little goit.

Dan Cartling is his name. Oh, I’ll remember that name, Cartling. You’ve made yourself a stubborn enemy today. You know what you’re getting into with my reputation. You’d better hope someone else doesn’t kill you over an entirely unrelated matter when I’m in the general vicinity, Dan Cartling, because that’s totally my thing.

He heads through Reservoir towards Downtown without a peep. Damn it, somebody attack him! Gah. I’ve waited for days for these bloody things to come on the market, then when they do, the person in front of me buys the last two, and I can’t even beat him up or everyone will get upset. It’s like that kid with the Wii all over again, only this time I can’t just clout him and run.

He’s docking at Psycho Bob’s. Bob will mark it up and… yep. Seven grand to fit it. Too much.

Dan Cartling. You are on the list. In fact, you ARE the list, because everyone else on the list is already dead. Of course the irony here is that if I’d had the plasma kannon I could just kill you now, but then if I had it I wouldn’t have a reason to kill you. So er, you … I … I forget where I was going with this but anyway, you’re totally going down, if I ever run into you again and can remember why I was annoyed with you. And someone else who also wants you dead is nearby. Yeah.

A Swallow passes by not long after all this, piloted by Jed Starmonger, carrying 3 Extra Capacity Cells. He’s under heavy attack and is dumb enough to cling onto his cargo to the very end, and is soon scattered to the ground along with it. Shouldn’t have mongered so many stars, Jed! Or possibly, you should have mongered more. Either way, you need to monger exactly the right number of stars.

I steal the booty, obviously. By the time his attacker targets me, I’ve ducked behind a building out of the line of fire, and cut low to the ground, heading for a Breaker Maker by the water.

Unfortunately, when I get there, the airlock is busy, as somebody else is attempting to dock, so I have to pull away and circle for the ridiculously long time it will take them to land.

An angry pirate launches a groundbase missile, then opens fire as my flare utterly fails to fool it. In a stupid panic I steer into the docking trader as my engines restart, and then get stuck inside the airlock. If I hang around in here out of turn, the building’s defences will kick in and wipe me out. Argh!

These damn moths always feel so maneouverable until you get into a fight. I manage to pull out of the airlock, but I’m disorientated and still under attack. It’s dark and my vision’s obscured by the building, so I can’t even tell where he is, much less fight back. Another burst of fire comes in from a different direction. Checking my radar, I see another pirate closing in. And another.

The smart move here would be to drop the cargo. It would also be the entertainingly spiteful move, because if I drop it in the water, nobody will be able to retrieve it. However, the triumvirate that is my brain includes a third member along with Smart and Spiteful, and its name is Stubborn. Stubborn is considerably more vocal than the others, and is also dangerously insane to boot. Smart and Spiteful agree to drop the cargo. Their conference goes something like this:

Smart: This cargo is of average value. We incurred no costs in securing it, therefore there is no loss to be made here. We should abandon it. There are three pirates willing to kill for it. They may even kill each other, allowing us to retrieve it again, plus the scrap from their wrecks.

Spiteful: I suggest we drop it over the water. That way nobody can retrieve it, but these pirates will all have incurred bounties for attacking us. Everybody but us makes a significant loss on this endeavour. However, I would also support a land drop, as watching them all kill each other would be hilarious.

Stubborn: I AM THE GREAT CASS OF TITAN. DASH YOURSELVES UPON MY MIGHTY WALLS, MORTAL INSECTS, FOR YOU SHALL KNOW NO OTHER PEACE.

Fortunately, circling low to the ground around the building seems to work. I suspect someone else might have opened fire on one of the pirates, too, but I was too busy worrying about those bloody groundbase missiles to look around much. I dock at what feels like the last second, but I took surprisingly little damage in the end.

Thinking about it, that kind of adds up. The plasma kannon is the most fearsome shield-eater around, and hardly any are being manufactured. Being hit with a barrage of lasers is frightening and disorientating, but I have high-end shields and my battery recharges them extremely fast.

All this is making the prospect of getting a better weapon all the more enticing. I like stealing cargo from under the nose of the scum, and these chases are dead exciting. But sitting here taking their blows like a sucker, without so much as bloodying their noses? No. No, I think I’m going to become Scavenger Plus.

And, after selling this batch of cells, I can afford to do exactly that.

Oh. Well. Okay, so, I need to figure out what’s preventing everyone from manufacturing any weapons I can actually afford. Ugh. This is the part of economy-based games I hate. I mean, I love it when games can do this, but I’m really quite bad at getting into the nuts and bolts of supply chains and deliveries and the like. Somehow I always seem to end up carting around the same 300 tonnes of eggs or whatever, looking for the one place that’s buying high, because I’m too lazy to memorise price ranges accurately, and too stubborn to just cut my losses.

But needs must, and I… oho, what’s this? It appears that one May Iceclaw is attacking a cop at a lightwell. May Iceclaw. One of the pirates who attacked me earlier. And she’s carrying another $3,000 cell. And her battery is getting low. And she attacked me earlier.

Spiteful: She attacked us. We have three times the energy she does, and our shields and battery recharge faster. And she attacked us. But! We should wait until she’s either worn herself out killing the cop, or the cop turns the tables so that we can stick the knife in.

Smart: Okay, we don’t like it when people kill cops, but really, this is a high-risk scenario. Her battery’s not THAT low, she’s in a much faster, stronger ship, and has a better gun, too. Her shield is full and we have no weapons that are effective against shields. Let’s just roll our window up, yeah?

Stubborn: WOE TO THOSE WHO CHALLENGE ME, FOR I SHALL OUTLIVE THE VERY SUN.

You see that smoke and those bits of metal flying through the air there? Those are what’s left of May Icelaw and her moth. Oh yes.

And that, my friends, is when Cass the Scavenger became Cass the Killer. I did it. Pirate down. A proper head-to-head dogfight, and I came out on top. Nobody challenges me for the spoils, and the cops send a small reward my way.

My path is clear: I must arm myself, hunt down those who trespass against me, and forgive them. I will forgive them with light, with heat, and with metallic, high-explosive hugs. Oh yes, I’m going to forgive the shit out of these guys.

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2 Comments

Filed under Hardwar, It's a Hardlife

2 responses to “For An Ornery Life

  1. Just read the entirety of this series, and loved it.
    Hardware was a great game, I never really got to play it but your article have made me want to go back and play again.
    Any way love the site, and will be back.

  2. Jan

    Nice Story! Gonna save one for every evening 😉 You don’t see people play this game very often anymore.. It’s a real jewel, one of the few nostalgic old games that isn’t a dissapointment when played again.

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