Category Archives: Hardwar

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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Scavenger’s Rights

The pirates, though slow on the uptake, are a lot faster to act once they catch on. My moth is rather heroic in taking the barrage of bolts and missiles one of them sends my way, but I have no other countermeasures, and no hope of outgunning him. Once it’s clear I won’t get away without taking a beating, I drop the cargo, and watch helplessly as he picks it up, no doubt making an obscene gesture through his cockpit.

Rather coolly, he casually sits directly in front of a firing turret as he collects the cargo, calmly ignoring its fire. The turret, I might add, is attached to a police station.

I pay my taxe-ah… well. Actually, come to think of it, I guess I don’t pay my taxes. But I could! Damn cops. All too happy to sit around getting blown up when I bravely sit by and clean up the mess afterwards, but do they want to come and rescue me when I’m in danger? Nooo. They’re too bus… oh wait, here comes one now.

Yeah! Shoot him! Kick his ass!

The cop enters in a hail of plasma fire, rapidly stripping away the pirate’s shields. It’s about now that I notice that the pirate is flying a Death’s Head – a very combat-oriented moth, with the toughest hull and greatest weapon capacity possible. The cop is lucky he’s already used up his missiles, but still does a fine job of taking this guy down, while the other pirate in the white ship uses his superior speed to get the hell out of there. I pitch in, helping the cop take down the heavier ship.

In the process, some stray fire hits another cop who’s waiting in the lightwell, which rather annoyingly causes the police to register me as a criminal.

A few moments later, when I’ve finished off the pirate, they wipe my record by way of thanks. But there’ll be no reward for it. Gits. Still, I got the cargo of chemicals back. Rather than take any more chances, I head straight for the nearby Components factory to sell them, in the process doing an extremely rude blockout of another trader who was in the middle of docking. And then I cut in front of him so that I’ll get a better price for my goods.

Not a habit I want to get into, but my nerves were a little jangly after that last encounter, so I figured I’d make an exception. Plus I’m not sure, but the cop I shot might otherwise have come after me once he was done recharging.

That reminds me. New rule: Lightwells are safe zones. If I want to attack someone who’s in a lightwell, I have to wait until they leave. The exceptions are if they’re already on the ropes when I chase them there, and if it’s either that or I die.

Ah, here we go. This guy’s been hit by a groundbase missile (By far the most infuriating missile in the game to be hit by, these do some weird gravity magic when they hit, causing the victim to slam into the ground and usually bounce a couple of times. They can do tonnes of damage and render you immobile and helpless for several seconds, as well as dragging you away from any escape route for long enough that your attacker can just launch another one. I hate them), and not unwisely has decided to deploy his hologram – I think it’s the one on the left.

I hang around this fight, as my handy new target software is telling me that he has two valuable cargoes on board, so I’ve a good chance of making some money if he drops. He does so at the lightwell, so I snap up the 6 Machine parts he was ferrying and jet off to sell them at Shears Yard, taking me up to a cosy 9,398 francs.

Installing a laser now would set me back almost two and a half times what it did less than two weeks ago. Crikey. I can’t afford a better gun yet, but I install a set of flares and a pack of 10 Swarm missiles to ward off troublemakers. Swarm missiles are kind of self-explanatory; They’re a barrage of smaller heat seekers that are harder to evade, but do about as much damage.

I come to need them almost immediately. After another cheeky steal from under the nose of a victorious pirate, Elric Icechav, I fly off, before it occurs to me that the moth he’s in, a Neo Tiger, is considerably faster than my Moon Month. Ulp. It may be worth it though, as the cargo I have is a couple of Power Cells. I release a missile at him, though my timing is off and some of the swarm misses. He’s not impressed.

Before long I have to drop the cargo again. Damn it, I really need some better weapons if I’m going to keep trying this. Or maybe I should save up for an afterburner… hmm.

But hey, check this out: later that night, I run into him again, and he’s still carrying the same cargo. He’s too busy fending off another flyer to indulge me, but I pull off a quick game of chicken, diving just under him and spraying his undercarriage with a laser. The other party who was laying into him finished the job, but I’m able to scoop up the Cells again and this time, I manage to escape as the other locals fight amongst themselves.

Man, the luck’s really flowing my way so far. All these valuable cargoes just falling into my lap, everything I’ve jettisoned has come back to me again, and everyone who’s crossed me is dead. Not bad for a common skyena, huh?

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Moon Unit Flapper

Having taken my first risk, suffered my first loss, and then enacted my first swift and fiery retribution all in the space of a few hours, I’m feeling pretty good. My bank balance is just shy of five figures and my moth is well equipped for my role. I decide to wander further afield in search of opportunities – I need to decide whether to spruce up my Silver-Y with better guns and components, or to save up and just trade it in for a better model altogether. Maybe I should head to the mines to see about getting a foothold on the economy.

While doing so, I come across an abandoned shipment of ore almost immediately, and liberate it for the cause.

I sell the ore at Alpha and return to my wanderings. Come day 10, I’ve received a message from the cops, sent to all fighters, to come and check their wanted list. Looks like word of my shameless ambushing of the wounded and plain old kill stealing has spread. A fearsome warrior, Cass is more than a match for any pilot, as long as they’re completely helpless and very nearly dead. And possibly crippled. Could we get “crippled” added to that? No? Well, alright.

To celebrate, I find another cop shooting at a suspect, and unceremoniously steal his kill. I’m starting to feel genuinely bad about doing this as it’s kiiind of an exploit, however in this instance I have a good excuse – the suspect is carrying four salvage drones (you can carry moth equipment as cargo rather than fit it), which will sell for four thousand rubles each. The cops won’t care about cargo, so it’s mine, all mine.

Carrying this kind of gear is a beacon to pirates and even some hard-up traders, so I dock at the nearest trading post and sell immediately, taking my bottom line up to over 34,000. That should be enough to buy a new ship. I think it’s time I went shopping.

There’s nothing good on sale Downtown, so I fly via the Reservoir to Highrise, which is as the name suggests full of tall, narrow buildings, including many residential areas but a surprising number of shops. Including a moth shop.

Inside are a Neo Tiger, a Hawk, and a Moon Moth. All of these are better than what I have. All are within my budget.

The Neo Tiger is fast, but handles poorly. The Hawk is of average speed and handles quite well. Both can fit basically any upgrade and more weapons. The Moon Moth is the cheapest, and a bit slower than the others (though still faster than what I have), and can’t install the best engine.

However, it handles very well, and is significantly cheaper than the others. I’ll need cash left over to upgrade it (the model for sale doesn’t even have a cargo pod), so… what the hell. Now where’d I put my wallet..?

Look at that! Pretty sexy, no? A little on the lurid side, but I don’t have the patience to go into the game’s files and fix the paint job. Besides, I like primaries. I trade in my old Silver-Y, and am left with about 18,000 koruna. However, without a cargo pod and drone I will be the world’s crappest scavenger, able to salvage only what I can nudge along the ground and scrape up the wall of a shop into its airlock, a bit like that scene with the penny in Ghost.

So, it’s off to the nearby Trading Post, where I pick up a small cargo pod, then look up the cheapest drone for sale in town. This is listed as available in the Mines crater. Erk. There are two available, but I’ll need to be quick as they’re about a thousand cheaper than anywhere else. And away we go!

Here be tunnels! I should add that I’ve replaced the default tunnel and hangar textures, and though I actually kind of prefer the originals, I really can’t be bothered to reinstall everything. In any case, they look pretty much the same either way. The bar running parallel to the tunnel is a monorail, incidentally. The monorails flit about through all the craters, taking traders to and from their hangars to conduct business, as well as ferrying some generic passengers about. They can be targeted and shot down, and even ridden around in if you wait at a station for a while. I might do that one day; take a few days off, like.

You may have also noticed that the Moon Moth is a two-seater. It can be used as a taxi, though only in multiplayer, unfortunately, as AI pilots are too intelligent to risk getting in when I’m driving.

I get there just in time, I think, as one of the drones has gone and on the way out, another pilot is lining up to enter. Too slow, son. But I’ll let you have a go on my drone if you buy me a drink. No? Fine, have it your way.

Next up, I should get a price check on some better hardware. I have a laser installed already, but having a better ship and not upgrading the engine is just daft. After checking in at the local repair joint, though, I plump for a better power cell instead – this moth seems pretty power hungry, as I burned through two thirds of my reserves just getting here.

The Alternative Cell is the only one they have, and is a bit pricey at $4,428. It actually has a lower capacity than my current one, however it also recharges much faster, which will mean less time spent strumming my fingers in lightwells. Could be particularly handy if I draw too much attention and need to charge and bail.

As I’ve not been here before, I have a quick tour of the Mines area. Seems sparsely populated, and what’s this?

“Prison oubliette”?

What’s an oubliette? I must investigate!

O…kay. Docking here triggers a video delivered in the classic (read: dreadful) late 90s hammy sci-fi FMV acting style. Apparently pilots aren’t very welcome here. So um… why let me in, you dolt?

Nothing to do here, and though prison mine beneath offers lots of material for sale, it’s not at a price that will bring a profit. Moving on, I fly past a separate Lazarus mining area, and then a Klamp-G one. They really do have their fingers in every pie here. Seems like the smart thing to do would be to team up and super-oppress the underclass, like Oceania and Eurasia, or Cameron and Clegg.

I also find a hideout for… well, look:

Sith manor. Well that’s not ominous or anything. Think I might be giving Zak Airbrain a wide berth if I see him. I like the clever ploy of basically naming yourself “harmless fool”, though. Might have to borrow that one next time I’m hatching a sinister plot to eat all the ewoks, or whatever it is Sith do.

The mines, it seems, has nothing much in it but mines. Bit of a coincidence. Boring, though. The bottom of the supply web is here, or at least a major part of it – ore and gems go into pretty much everything on Titan – but I’m not kitted out for trade, nor do I know the routes. Besides, it looks like prices are poor right now. No, I need to be getting back to where there are crowds and crimms. Plus I could do with better software. Back to Downtown!

Like a good citizen, I stand by and do nothing while a heroic cop tries to stop a pirate and bites off more than he can chew. I will definitely watch Crimewatch next week – I could maybe apply to be in the reconstruction. Just picture the appeal for witnesses, with me in the background snorting into my tea. Brilliant.

But yeah anyway, the cop bites it pretty hard. I swoop in and tidy up. No cargo, as police usually only carry doughnuts and a picture of a black guy with a bullseye on. The next day, as there’ve been no kills in the area, I stop in at a Software Shack and upgrade everything (though I can’t afford night vision or autopilot), pretty much empyting my account. If I were a trader this would be game over, but as long as I have my drone and a working engine, all is well for the life of salvage.

On leaving the hangar, my new power software reveals that my new cell was an even better deal than I’d thought. Its recharge rate is so great that in daytime, I can cruise about at 2/3 thrust and still charge my cell just from the ambient sunlight. I won’t ever need to visit a lightwell unless I get into a fight or fly flat out for long periods. Efficiency, thy name is Cass.

Later still, I come across a long and drawn out, but clearly one-sided fight. Two pirates are laying into someone with a bunch of chemicals and enough defensive gear to … well, to cause a long and drawn out fight. He’s here letting off several flares to see off an incoming missile, but is either a terrible pilot or has no decent weapons, as he barely touches his attacker. He even has a hologram system installed, and makes liberal use of it to throw off his attackers. However, he fails the second part of the standard hologram procedure, as he neglects to escape or counter-attack afterwards. What a timewaster.

You can just about see his hologram there. The idea is that it flies off and your attacker is confused and goes after it while you skedaddle and/or wheel around and shove a pulse laser up his nostril. This guy failed to do either, so the pirates eventually finish him off.

I can only assume the trader must have sunk all his money into that cargo, or the poor dope would have cut his losses. Oh well. They’re my gains now! Hey pirate dudes! What’s red and yellow and is closer to the booty than you?

Yoink!

I’m away man. I’m in. I’m bad. I’m real. I’m… I’m under attack. Crap.

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Privateer Emotion

Chaos! Lovely, destructive chaos. I have little idea who’s here, and the three or four dogfights going on all round me are impossible to track, but I can guess. Cops shooting pirates, pirates shooting traders, gangsters shooting each other, and somewhere at the bottom of it is me, waiting like a vulture for the explosions to start.

I’ll be honest; the next few minutes are a bit of a blur. The competition was right there with me, but all the animosity above us meant that the world was raining scrap and discarded goodies down on us all. I was like a drunkard in a brewery, snatching jealously at everything in sight and constantly checking through every target on radar, looking up at their frantically firing vessels with naked avarice. There may have been some drooling.

Once people started to go down, I lost count of how much metal I picked up, however when I was first to pounce on a cargo of 5 tonnes (or whatever) of food, I knew I had to get out of there. Quit while you’re ahead, right?

The nearby Shears Yard were happy to pay me about 500 apiece for the food, presumably to feed their workforce. They don’t want the scrap though, so I head off back to Downtown Recycling and sell off the metal that I’d managed to nab before my rivals, taking me up to a pleasant 3882 ducats.

Not a bad result really, considering how many other people were competing for that haul. I probably came off better than anyone – even the victorious fighters were badly shot up, and the other bottom feeders were far too slow to grab much. I swing by the scene once everything’s sold, but everyone’s dispersed.

Later in the day, a cop shoots down a pirate who was sharing a lightwell with me, allowing me to scoop up his wreck and a large pile of sheet metal he left behind. Sheet metal is one of the things the recycling centres and such make with the scrap I provide, so my selling it off at Central Industrial could be the second time I’ve sold it at no cost to myself. How poetic. Maybe we should work a scam together: I bring scrap, they process it and sell the result, and I quietly shoot down their customer and sell it back to them again. Repeat to fade. Or possibly police sirens.

Come day seven, a message from Junkyard allows me to locate their building with my new fancy software. They want junk and I want cash. If only there were something we could do!

I go to visit them in Riverside crater – as you might expect, this has a river running through it. It’s also home to a lot of bars and suspicious derelict warehouses. Rumour has it that there are drug dens all over the place here. I wouldn’t know of course, being usually far too drunk to care.

The junkyard is the tallest building around – my engine even threatens to stall as I approached their airlock. After my delivery, I have twelve grand in the bank. Time to make some investments!

I drop in on a nearby weapon shops owned by Klamp-G, the second major company/faction in town. Selection’s poor, but I sign for some flares, which the salesman assures me won’t clash with my platforms. I suspect he may have been patronising me.

Next up is software. I install Navigation, and upgrade my radar and shield to maximum. Radar will improve my range, and shield will absorb more and recharge faster. Even a weak moth like mine can take a fair few shots before giving up, but it’s best not to reach that point in the first place – repairs cost money, and you can be structurally intact but still be seriously combat- and flight-impaired. Some weapons specifically damage your moth’s CPU, which can wipe out your software entirely, so good shielding pays for itself in no time.

An extended fight between two neo tigers – a pirate and a Klamp patrol – results in a boring stalemate. On my travels I buy some chaff from another weapon shop.

More fruitless scuffles happen throughout the afternoon. Slow day. It’s not until the next morning that I chance upon a cop laying mercilessly into a pirate, Ciaran Mafiablade, as he tries to recharge.

I decide to weigh in. I’d call it my first fight, but it was nothing so dignified. It was, in fact, a naked kill steal, as the guy was almost dead before I opened fire. My laser is very rapid-firing, so I get the kill shot, and shortly thereafter a message from the cops offering me a £2,000 reward for doing 3% of the work, while the guy doing the rest gets nothing. A career in management beckons. Thanks for the help, Constable Sucker! Good luck with that promotion, yeah?

I’m such a dick.

For the rest of the day, pretty much nothing happens, so I focus on shopping. Prices are high for better weapons. Even lasers are now selling for twice what mine cost. Should look into getting into their supply chain when I have the money. I happen to be docked at ‘techparts’ in Downtown the next day, thinking they might sell equipment, when a message comes from Downtown Munitions. They want computer components, and guess what Techparts sell?

I’m not a trader, but opportunities to make easy money are not to be sniffed at on Titan. Though it’s risky, the worst that can happen is I get attacked on the way over and have to sacrifice the cargo to escape. That’ll cost me most of my cash, but hey, it’s not like I worked very hard for it. Buy! Buy! Sell! Soy!

I buy four Arbitraries of computer components at about £1,600 each, and use my new nav gear to target the munitions plant. It’s about halfway across the crater. As long as no pirates come my way, it’ll be a quick and simple flight.

Naturally, a pirate comes my way almost immediately.

Dean Wildbane is his name, and my computer helpfully warns me that he’s targeted me, giving me a few seconds to hit full throttle and dive for cover. Dive! Bogeys at 6 o’clock! Er… vaguely homo-erotic banter! Gratuitous volleyball scene (I haven’t seen Top Gun)!

His opening volley comes from off screen – in my silly panic I forgot to check my radar, but he’s at full shields, so there’s little I can do anyway. Lasers, like mine, are close to useless against shields, and at night the combination of taking damage and firing a lot will drain my cheapo battery in no time. I could hit him with a missile, but I’m already committed to fleeing.

My shields don’t hold out for long. After several seconds of fire, it’s clear I’m onto a loser here. Times to cut my losses, and dump my precious cargo. Bastard.

I lower myself to the ground, trying to get into a position to try a sucker drop. This is what it sounds like – you drop the cargo so they’ll stop shooting, then you immediately pick up the cargo again and leg it, hoping it’ll buy you a few seconds.

Annoyingly, in this case, I don’t have the speed or manoeuverability for it. Gah, it’s incredibly frustrating, just sitting here watching this git scoop up my resources lik… hang on.

He’s picked up the scrap. And he’s leaving. He… he took the cheapest item in the game, and left behind £7,000 worth of computer parts.

Dumbass.

Minutes later, I’ve flogged them to net several hundred quid – the gross being about 35 times as much as what the pirate will have made by stealing my metal. Several hours later still, I’m busy cruising round Downtown, counting my money when … oho, what’s this?

Why, hello there Mr. Wildbane. It looks like you’ve been shot to buggery since you robbed me. And now your shields are down, you’re stuck in a lightwell, and I’m approaching from behind with a fully-charged laser that’s best used on unshielded opponents.

Oh dear. Whatever will I do?

DIE DIE THIEVING BASTARD PIRATE DIE

Okay. Okay. We got him. Think I should take a little time off now. I’m not a killer, I’m a sc-

Oooh! Shiny blood money!

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Food Flight

And there it is! I just realised I hadn’t shown a lightwell properly before.

That’s one right there – the big glowing thing that looks a bit like a dumbbell. Simply hover in the middle and wait, perhaps scrabbling to grab the spoils if you’re woken by the explosions of some poor rube’s moth. Easy.

You might have noticed I’m in Gamma crater. This is largely because I got lost. But no matter – I have no enemies, and am currently the least profitable target on Titan for anyone, so I may as well explore a little.

Ooh. I’d forgotten about this. A couple of the tunnels connecting craters are partially natural caverns. These are popular ambush points, so wise traders generally don’t hang around here very much. Tricky areas to fight in, too, as there’s little room for fancy flyin’ tricks.

Nothing going on at the moment though. There doesn’t seem to be much traffic at all, in fact. Tum tee tum. I stop off at an inn for a while, just for flavour.

Back at alpha, I finally run into a fight. Lazarus corp have apparently decided they don’t like the vaguely racist-sounding Claude Darkback, and explain this to him in their native language of lasers. He doesn’t take the hint and they have to repeat it until he dies, presumably of embarassment. Cuh.

More scrap for me! He was carrying some scrap of his own in fact, so I wolf both pieces up like a dog at the dinner table.

I chill briefly at a lightwell with a survivor of the same shootout, whose name is April Silverchav. Which is a little unfortunate. I don’t say anything though, and try very hard not to think it either lest she kicks my head in.

After (probably) charging enough, I fly off and frankly, am baffled for quite some time. The amount of traffic has dropped an awful lot, and nothing much is even showing up on the radar. Come midnight of day 5, I receive a “calling all filthy jackals” message from Downtown Recycling asking for scrap. With nothing else going on, I use my new system to target their building (although only after flying around the whole crater trying to find them manually, to no avail. I am nothing if not a luddite), and pay them a visit.

Much later in the day, another fracas outside Alpha Trading Post sees someone drop 5 units of food practically in the airlock. Violating my “keep well out of trouble” policy on the grounds that being a filthy scavenger is all about moments like this, I zoom in and grab the cargo before whoever killed its former owner can stop me.

Nobody attacks, but I dock at the trading post immediately, and flog it for 500 Yen apiece. Instantly, I am elevated! Over three grand in my account means it’s time for another upgrade.

With my cargo gone, only the most vindictive pirate would harass me even after a cheeky steal like that, so I’m safe to simply fly off to a weapons dealer in Downtown, possibly while whistling.

In exchange for a third of my cash, the genteel and professional Psycho Bob installs a laser for me, and after some deliberation, I also plump for a pack of 10 Sprat missiles.

Sprats are very basic heat-seekers. They’re best used on unshielded targets, and can be fooled by both flares and chaff, but they’re not to be ignored, as they pack a fair punch and may distract an enemy for a few moments while I scarper. With my leftover cash I buy Flight software, improving my ship’s controls, and finally power software, which will finally give me a breakdown on my ship’s general health.

You can see the power readout in the top left – the top bar is energy (or ‘power’, whatever), the middle is shields, and the bottom cycles between main ship components – ‘structure’ being the most important, as this is the integrity of the moth, without which I am just a shouty lunatic in an extremely heavy airborne chair.

So, six days after taking to the skies, I’ve scavenged up a set of basic software and a bare bones combat loadout, without firing a single shot. Not bad. Now I just have to figure out where the hell everyone has gone. I’ve barely seen anyone all day. Maybe business is booming in another crater and nobody told me. That’d be just like them, too, the spoilsports.

Fortunately, I discover the cause before I even realise it. It’s not an economy thing.

Downtown, I notice a large flashing purple light in a corner. Clustered up around it on my radar are over a dozen moths, hovering motionless. On moving closer, my controls are disabled by the source of the light. An unknown craft, hovering silently for a while, then plummeting to the ground in a fireball.

On its death, everyone’s moths comes to life, including the many people who’d been immobilised twenty feet from their worst enemies. Chaos ensues.

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