The Let's Play Archive

Escape Velocity: Nova

by Decoy Badger

Part 2: Polaris - Part 02 - July 9, 1177NC: Scrabble

9 July 1177NC: Scrabble

First things first: I christen our new ship the Cunjo Crusader, and outfit it with whatever I can afford. Off to Hourglass!

I buy an IFF Decoder and a map, all that our depleted bank account can afford.

IFF Decoder posted:

This simple modification to a ship's standard sensor system software will allow it to differentiate between the weapons states of ships within your scanning range. Ships which have their weapons powered up and their sensors locked on you will show up as hostile (red), ships that come from recognized friendly governments will show up as friendly (green), unless they are acting in a hostile manner towards you, and all other ships will show up as neutral (blue).

Map posted:

This map will automatically update your ship's computer with information about the location and contents of the systems surrounding this one.
Maps are relatively cheap and great to have. Unfortunately, only part of the galaxy is covered by them.

With 4000 credits remaining, I squander them on gambling. 3 bets in a row fail, and I'm left without enough cash to afford the jumps to Hourglass. I'm forced to take on passengers to Diva and a metal delivery to Tau II, both planets relatively close to our planned jump path. Looks like the trip will be delayed a bit - hopefully the mating season won't start by the time we get there.

Ferry Passengers to Diva posted:

These passengers need to get to Diva in the Lalande 21185 system, and they are prepared to pay you 5000 credits.

Delivery to Tau II posted:

Take 10 tons of metal to Tau II in the Tau Ceti system. Payment is 15000 credits.
(This will be the only time I'll show the quotes for ferry/delivery missions - there's literally no variation beyond planet and system names when flying standard ships.)

Our first stop is to drop off passengers in the Lalande 21185 system - though it isn't in our map, we've been thoughtfully provided the coordinates.

The tick mark indicates that some mission-critical planet is there. Our planned route is marked in green, and we should be able to make it without refueling. You can see that the local governments on the way aren't too friendly - Kerella is a military outpost and they don't have many nice things to say to civilians. This gets driven home when we arrive in the middle of a raid! An Auroran Carrier battle group jumps in and obliterates the Federation gunboat on patrol, but not before a Wild Geese reinforcement fleet is called in. The carrier is quickly shredded by missile fire, but its fighters manage to escape the death-explosion and fight on.

Pictured: trying our very best to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. The Wild Geese fleet (large fighters) jumped in from the right, so staying above was the safest choice.

As the Geese mop up the fighter squadron, a lone Phoenix (Auroran missile fighter) gets pummeled by radar missiles and disabled, beyond the easy reach of the remaining Geese. I take this opportunity to attempt our first act of interstellar piracy.

19% odds? Not bad. Your ship has a crew rating, and your odds go up as your crew grows larger and larger or as you hire Marine platoons. In this case, we outnumber the Phoenix 2 to 1.

Things don't go as planned. Oh well, it's not as if we'll ever run out of Phoenixes.

We continue on, and make it to Diva. Our passengers pay us, and we're 5000 credits richer.

Diva posted:

Diva is right on the edge of civilized space. It borders on both the Auroran Empire and the navigational hazards of the wastes of the Vell-os wars. Despite this, it is a useful stopover on the way to South Manchester. Diva's many beautiful mineral outcroppings make it one of the wonders of the Federation, and the tourist season supplements what was once a flourishing trade with the western edge of the Colonial Council. Only the occasional Auroran raid stops people from flocking to Diva to take up more permanent residence. During these times the citizens of Diva shut themselves off from the rest of space and refuse most visitors.
I buy a map and visit the bar.

Diva's Bar posted:

The 'Cliff-face' has an internal climbing wall. It is always amusing to watch drunken patrons fall heavily back to earth as they attempt to scale the edifice for 'big cash prizes(tm).'
We bet on red and win! 4000 credits!

Racing posted:

"Once again Olar Grymswiler shows us why he's at the top of the GRN Pilot List year after year. Don't let his gray locks fool you; even though he was winning races when most of the field were still playing at Racing Pilots, he still dices with the best of them! Can't be unhappy with that one, Olar!"
And then promptly blow half of that on two more failed bets. We depart the planet slightly richer and set course for Tau II, picking up passengers for Tau Prime along the way.

The Tau Ceti system from space. Tau Prime, upper right, is a fairly idyllic eden. Tau II is the red hellhole we'll be delivering to. Tau III, left, is a gas giant of little note.

Tau II posted:

In stark contrast to the aquatic bounty of Tau Prime, Tau II is a rock. Battered almost continually by fierce moonquakes, the popular holovid sport "Niarr!!(r) XTreem(tm) Rocket-boarding" is broadcast live from this moon to an audience estimated to be in the billions. In this sports, dare-devils strap their feet into high velocity rocket sleds, and attempt to survive the twisting circuit of canyons, billiard-table smooth plateaus and death-defying jumps to collect big cash prizes. Participants in this sport are considered by connoisseurs to be veterans after a mere three races. The prize money and title of "Niarr!!(r) Widowmaker(tm)" are often enough to convince the title-holder to retire to a life of luxury on a much, much more tectonically stable planet.
Looks like we just enabled the death of some space-Tony-Hawk.

Tau II's bar posted:

This bar is full of cheering fans who are watching the "Niarr!! Xtreem(tm) Rocket Boarding" contest currently being shown on the wall to wall video screens. From the noise you guess that not only is the local favourite doing well, but also that the fatal accidents are flowing thick and fast.
I try to gamble on viper racing, but after some threatening looks I back off after the first bet. I lost, anyways.
Continuing on towards the Cunjo planet, we stop by Earth to refuel. I end up picking up some passengers along the way for Thraine. Now that we have some cash from our deliveries, I can afford some better weaponry, in this case a rocket pod.

Raven Rocket Pod posted:

An underslung rack for the self-loading Raven rockets. No guidance system is present; this is simply a holder for the rocket packs.

Raven Rocket posted:

Raven Rockets are the simplest chemical explosive projectile you can get. They are fast, but they have small payloads and are unguided. Raven Rockets can be devastating when multiple launch systems are installed, and because they have no active targeting systems most 'Point Defense' systems cannot target them.
Our first long-range weapon! Raven rockets are slower than blaster shots, but much more accurate and damaging. Their range makes us a sudden threat to lightly armed fighters - I can now start jumping into the fray.

I also pick up Gravimetric Sensors, another essential outfit. Given the scale of solar systems in this game, your radar apparently can transmit EM waves several orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light.

Gravimetric Sensors posted:

This software package will increase your onboard computer's ability to differentiate between the size of the sensor returns off any ships in your local area. After installation, you should be able to detect the approximate mass of any ship within range of your ship's scanners, allowing you to differentiate between large and small ships on your radar display.
Continuing on and nearing Hourglass, we come across a disabled Argosy. These types of ships usually end up as 2 things - a special passenger ferry mission which nets you 75000 credits, or a horde of pirates warping into the system to wreck you. However, the more expensive the ship, the less likely it is to be a pirate trap. I board it.

Drifting Derelict posted:

You match velocities with the derelict ship and dock with it. Passing through the airlock you are surprised to encounter the surviving crew of the vessel, who are overjoyed at their rescue.

"Thank you, Captain," says their Captain. "regrettably this ship is damaged beyond repair. If you would be so good as to transport us to Georgia, however, I have enough savings to reward you for this rescue. Could you give us a lift?"
A true Southern gentleman! I of course offer to selflessly rescue the crew. I also take the opportunity to try out our new weaponry on their newly abandoned hulk.

We finish off a delivery to Thraine (the only highlight is winning a racing bet) and another to Greenwich, and finally reach Hourglass on August 2nd, almost a month after receiving the mission and about 3 weeks behind how an actual chartered flight would perform. Good thing the Cunjo are very patient.

The Horizon system from space. Hourglass (left) and Chronos (bottom) are moons of Greenwich. You can tell the game devs were running out of Federation-appropriate names by this point.

It's a nice moon. The Cunjo greet us warmly.

Cunjo hunt! posted:

Charengo has just spent an hour guiding you to a well used landing site. All around there is dense forest, and the undergrowth is just starting to cover a huge number of deep craters. You set down, and the sensors are going wild. As soon as you do, Charengo and his team leap out of the hatch, brandishing their weapons with gusto. Behind them come the clients, three looking like they should be wearing brown underpants, the fourth eyeing the undergrowth intently. You cycle the hatch closed and watch. A Cunjo suddenly breaks from the undergrowth, flying through the air to attack one of Charengo's men. At least it would have, if a rocket hadn't plowed into its chest before detonating the beast into a rapidly expanding pink vapour cloud. The public servants leap to the ground, pointing their weapons in every direction at once.

Charengo lays about with a continuous laser, and in the space of a few minutes the clearing you landed in is three times the size. His men set up the mines and sentry lasers, and the camp takes shape.

You stayed on Hourglass for four days. The public servants never fired their weapons, but still had some "very manly" holoshots taken with killed Cunjos. The fourth client made some kills on his own, but they all looked on in disbelief when Charengo and the guides explained that in the Auroran Empire, warriors hunt Cunjo with hand to hand weapons. All too soon, you have packed up and are heading home.

Hourglass posted:

Hourglass is presently under Federation quarantine, as a hostile species known as the Cunjo was introduced here by Auroran raiders, along with some of the small, oddly geometric native trees it feeds on. Every so often some foolhardy Aurorans come here in a primitive initiation rite, or to "test their strength," as they call it. Of course, most don't leave.
I stop by Greenwich to refuel for the return trip to Earth. Spoiler: Greenwich is space-Britain.

Greenwich posted:

Greenwich reflects the twin British desires for comfort and control. Although inhabitable by humans when first discovered, it was only barely so. In an effort to make it more habitable, the Federation launched its second terraforming effort (after the disaster on Mars), and it has been 100% successful. Powerful microwave satellites heat areas of the atmosphere to control the violent storms that used to rack the surface, while gas converter sailplanes high in the stratosphere keep oxygen levels at the comfort point for humans. Two small moons (Chronos and Hourglass) were dragged into orbit by hyperspace shunt to suck off some excess atmosphere. Designed by Graeme Stuart, and English engineer of great genius, Greenwich is a lovely place to live, but tends to be overcast many days of the year, to protect against overexposure to Horizon's sun.

Greenwich's Bar posted:

This very proper bar is filled with the requisite number of men, all with well-groomed moustaches, drinking pints of warm flat beer and speaking in boorish tones about inconsequential matters. Your immediate thought is to run screaming.
The game devs have some funny conceptions of the UK. Reading from the game, you'd figure they're all Irish, but the devs are actually a bunch of Tasmanians with questionable cultural literacy.

We meet someone very valuable while at the bar:

United Shipping posted:

As you step out of your hatch you are approached by a woman wearing a blue-black uniform.

"You are Jack Burton, Captain of the Cunjo Crusader?" she asks quietly and you nod, curious. "I am Samantha Virana and I'm a representative for the courier company United Shipping. We specialize in moving around small valuable cargoes like jewelry, business papers and contracts, etc. We have recently been on the look out for new pilots who would be willing to work for us. Are you interested?"
Hell yes! United Shipping missions take less space and pay far better than normal courier missions, on the scale of 50,000+ credits. These shipments tend to attract undue Pirate attention as well, which should net us some free and legal piracy-credits on top of the payments.

United Shipping posted:

"Excellent!" She exclaims, smiling widely. "Well, as it happens we need someone to head over to Kerensky in the Sibko system to pick up 2 tons of personal effects for a client on Altia in the Altair system. This particular mission has no real deadline, which is slightly unusual, as most of our clients want their merchandise delivered by a set time.

"Anyway," Samantha grins happily, "another United Shipping representative will meet you at the other end and will brief you further on what to do next. I'm sure I'll see you around in the future, Jack Burton."

With that she gets up, shakes your hand and leaves.
Finally making it back to Earth, we drop Charengo off and head out for Altia. Finally, some cash! No betting this time, we're saving up for bigger and better things.

Cunjo hunt posted:

"Well," Charengo smiles, "here is your pay."

He hands you a chip and you both watch the men unload the equipment. The clients are meeting their families and friends, showing them the staged holos and waving their arms around, miming the 'awesome' shots that killed the dread beasts. Only the fourth client has any claim on the events he's describing, and you and Charengo laugh quietly to yourselves.

Only a few short hours later all the equipment is unloaded and Charengo bids you goodbye. You don't think you'll ever go hunting Cunjo again, but at least you can say you have done it.
We head over to Kerensky to kick off our shipping mission, and manage to pick up another stranded crew while we're at it.

Natasha posted:

A navy as large and as active as the Federation's needs supplies, and lots of them. Kerensky is but one of the hundreds of supply depots scattered throughout Federation space. Spare parts, raw materials, support craft, food, ground vehicles and troops in suspended animation are all held here. Federation troops are rotated through here and many other depots every few years, to save on supplies and to maintain a huge reserve force in case of need. The depot itself is housed in a huge, tremor-proof building to protect its contents from the many tectonic disturbances experienced on this planet.

Kerensky's bar posted:

The bartender of this bar looks at you mournfully as you walk into this completely empty bar. When you ask why nobody is drinking here he says that the only time he makes any money is when troops come here to be put into suspension, otherwise nothing much happens.
"Suspension sickness" was quickly determined by Federation medical staff to simply be hangovers carried over 20 years of hibernation. We make our way to Altia to drop off passengers and complete our shipping mission.

Altia posted:

Thriving on an illegal trade of many goods, Altia is a quick one-stop shop for the more shady side of Federation life. Most things can be bought (or stolen) here, and the populace is rarely constant. If a pirate has stolen a shipment of goods from you, then chances are it will end up here. A more insidious warren of backroom deals (or stabbings) cannot be found anywhere in Federation controlled space. The streets are inhabited with a curious mix of beggars, thieves, pirates, corrupt policemen and 'legitimate' businessmen, who for the most part survive with only the minimum of bloodshed required. Nobody wants a war.
We're quickly greeted by Sean Clarke of United Shipping. Long story short, we are now official United Shipping couriers and are obligated to assistance from all U.S. ships. Woo. There's someone much more interesting in the bar...

Debris Field posted:

You are sitting in the bar, listening to the abysmal music blaring from a nearby juke-bot and sipping your latest brew when you notice a strangely dressed man walking towards you.

"Hey dude, you must be Jack Burton! You mind if I call you Spacy?" Without asking he sits down at your table and looks about. You are wondering what this is all about when he suddenly turns back to you, saying, "Man, I have no idea how you people ever do business in places like this. I mean, look at the types here. They don't even have any dress sense, man. Kinda makes you feel sorry for them."

You look at the bizarre collection of bright colours, odd cuts and stupid fabric that make up what this individual calls clothing, and raise your eyebrow.

"Yeah, right man, sorry," the man shrugs, "I should get down to the real deal. My name is Sly Styles, rock and roll entrepreneur and manager of the hottest band in Federation space, Debris Field. We have a major tour on, but the guy who was handling our security has gone and gotten himself splattered by pirates. Now, we only have two shows left on the tour, but the hardest part is that they're at the extremes of Federation controlled space. We could lose huge amounts of flash if we have to pull out," he notices the bemused look on your face, and pauses.

"Flash?" you ask him.

"Yeah, you know, Scrunner, Flash...Moolah, credits."

You nod your understanding, saying "So you want me to handle your security for the rest of the tour?"

"Yeah, rock on, man! Our old security dude said you were on the sharp end of the Electrotrancer, and I see he was right. That's exactly what we want you to do. It's only two more gigs and then easy days. We'll pay you 50,000 per gig. For that we need to get to the shows on time, have somewhere to stow all the gear, the band, myself and the other stuff. Our spacies are already there setting up the major gear, so all you need to worry about are the instruments and stuff. What do you say?"
Well, he does know our super secret nickname... must be legit.

Debris Field posted:

You nod, sticking out your hand.

"Boooyah!" Styles yells, grabbing your hand and pumping up and down at a rate of knots. "I should take you to meet the rest of the guys and start getting our stuff together."

You leave the bar and head across to a plush looking hotel. Styles breezes through a throng of teenage girls standing around on the pavement, slipping between them with practiced ease.

"You'll get used to this sort of thing quick enough. Happens everywhere we go."

Once inside you head to the elevator, which goes all the way to the top floor. Upon walking out you see the most filthy collection of individuals sitting around the worst kept hotel room in history. All around you are empty bottles, cans, food trays and overflowing ashtrays. The smell makes you gag.

Styles doesn't seem to notice, and calls you over to meet the band. Some dirty guys stand up, and you cannot believe that they are even a band, let alone successful. Styles introduces you, and you try to avoid throwing up at the smell. You make your excuses, saying that you had better go and get the ship prepped, asking Styles where the next show is.

"It's in the Full Noise Megadrome on Cornwall in the South Manchester system. We'll meet you down at the ship tomorrow?"

You nod your agreement before heading for the door. You hear the band begin to play as you walk to the lift, and hear the same abysmal crud that was playing in the bar. Suddenly you don't feel too good, knowing that you'll have to listen to this for a while.
And with that we end this chapter like all things should, smelling faintly of vomit and with a decent wad of credits in our wallet. If you haven't figured it out by the sheer amount of , EVN is more like a space combat game painted on top of a text adventure. Coming next time: We escort the band, and get with the violence! Suggestions for ship names are always appreciated - I'm longing for a Pirate Thunderhead heavy fighter because Starbridges are just too bland expensive.