Part 3: Polaris - Part 03 - September 5, 1177NC: Delivery ManSeptember 5th, 1177NC: Delivery Man
On to Cornwall! It's at the western edge of Fed space, which is luckily only a handful of jumps away.
Debris Field posted:
You stand around at the Debris Field Concert, watching hordes of teenage girls scream at them. The concert is to promote the band's new album, "Groove 'til You Vomit", and you don't think that you would have to groove too long before you'd bring up your lunch.
The concert goes without a hitch, but afterwards, as you wait for the band to come back to the ship, you see a number of unsavory types hanging around. You get the impression that they are waiting for the band to board the ship, and then tell their friends aloft which ship was carrying the band. You feel like telling them that if they want to kill them, you won't interfere, just so long as the thugs can guarantee that there won't be a memorial album, but a job is a job.
You watch as the thugs disappear, but you get the feeling that you will have some rumbles on your way to the next gig, on the planet of Syracuse in the Galvan system.
Reuse of art assets: an integral part of the EVN experience.
Originally, Cornwall was settled to provide an industrial base for further 'human' colonization into Vell-os space. Now, however, Cornwall supports the reasonably-sized Federation task force in this system by providing all the goods and materials they need. This task-force is perhaps the least active of any in the Federation, but remains an integral part of its defense. More than once, Auroran forces have launched surprise attacks through this system, and there have been encounters with odd alien ships from the ruined areas of what was formerly Vell-os space.
Syracuse Bar posted:
This bar is filled with a mix of tired workers and rowdy soldiers. You decide that staying here for too long might be a bad idea because you sense that some of the soldiers are itching to start something.
As we depart Cornwall, a group of marauders jumps in! It's... 3 Vipers and 3 Pegasi. The lone Federation Destroyer on duty tears up the Pegasi and two of the Vipers before I can even close in, leaving a sole Viper to deal with. It's the basic unupgraded class, which leaves it at a range disadvantage to our rockets. Since I can't outrun it, and the rockets travel slowly, I fire as it closes in then circle, keeping an asteroid between the two of us and firing to catch the Viper as it comes around.
I take a few blaster hits and lose shields, but the Viper is knocked out. Unfortunately, no revenge piracy can be had - you can't board most plot-spawned ships.
We encounter no other troubles on our way to Syracuse, stopping at Earth to refuel.
If this is illegal, I hate to see what the Feds do to Chuck E. Cheeses.
Debris Field posted:
Despite the possibility of death, you are still amazed that the entire battle went off to the dulcet tones of Debris Field chanting "Rock On!" and "Fire it up!" In between their noise, you managed to fend off the attackers and make it to Syracuse. Truth be told you wouldn't care if the band had been killed, but the money's good and now you just have to watch the show and get paid.
You are standing at the front of the stage, looking for would-be unsavoury types (And seeing them everywhere, since none of the fans seem to have washed in a decade) when you notice a commotion on stage. The lead singer appears to be on fire, as smoke and steam pours out of his joints and his mouth. Suddenly, it occurs to you that he's a robot, and he isn't singing the garbage coming from the speakers at all.
The crowd notices too, and you see a number of techs and spacies rush on stage to haul the malfunctioning unit away. Next minute, Sly Styles appears to the hoots and jeers of his disgruntled audience. He tries to calm things down, but the situation is well out of hand. You quickly vault onto the stage, grab Styles and hustle him off amid a barrage of empty cups and cans. A riot ensues.
After the Federal troops have calmed everything down, you make your way back to your ship. You have your money, but it seems that Styles is on his way to prison for false advertising and fraud. The Feds let you go, considering that you only joined this motley crew recently, and they kindly let you keep your pay. You conclude that if this is show business, you are better off avoiding it.
The world of Syracuse is a snapshot of the state of the Federation. It's a bustling progressive world hovering on the brink of overpopulation. Heavy industrialization has caused many environmental disasters, but the agencies charged with cleaning up do a fairly good job of hiding the mess. Not exactly a refuge of the rich and famous. Syracuse is a high-tech world on the surface, and low-tech when you start to get into the slums. Don't wander too far, or look like you have money. Some of these people are desperate.
With the band out of our hair, we're left with a quarter-million credits - not quite enough to trade up to a truly vicious fighting ship. I take another high-pay U.N. Shipping mission from Rigel III to Sirius Prime.
Syracuse's Bar posted:
This bar has two sections, one for those who have a little money, and one for those who do not. You decide to drink in the better half, as you are not too sure of surviving if you enter the poorer half.
Rigel III posted:
Rigel III is a horrendous mix of toxic atmosphere and toxic bacteria, with heavy gravity thrown in for good measure. It is no coincidence that the Federation Hostile Environment Training Center is located here. After a stint here, most troops will be very prepared to face just about any dangerous conditions you can name. Small wonder; Riger III is worse than anything else they'll ever encounter.
The package, some sort of probe, is picked up and ferried over. For some reason, there is absolutely no Pirate trouble this time.
Rigel III's Bar posted:
This bar is for visiting ship captains and the live-in training staff only. As a civilian you are treated a little frostily and with a bare minimum of civility.
Sirius Prime posted:
Both Sirius Prime and its binary partner Sirius II orbit the quaternary star system Sirius. As a result of exposure to differing levels of radiation of various wavelengths (depending on the positions of the suns), Sirius Prime has developed life forms that have very heavy duty radiation shielding as part of their armoured carapaces. The Sirian Monkdillo, for example, has a greater ability to block theta radiation than the hull armour of a Federation Destroyer. Some of the Federation's best minds have been studying the Monkdillo and its fellow inhabitants for many years, but have yet to unlock the secrets of their shielding methods.
While we're here, a group of scientists show up. Why are they here? Probably attached to some physics Monkdillo research group.
Sirius Prime's Bar posted:
All of the monkdillos that have been taken for scientific study somehow end up here. The walls seem to be coated with monkdillo shells. The barman tells you that it's for your own good, lest you get radiation poisoning.
We can make any delivery, and no Aurorans or celestial mystic space-ghosts can stop us!
Launch Probe posted:
You are sitting enjoying a few moments of peace and quiet when you see a gaggle of what you presume to be scientists headed your way. You can tell this by the nervous looks and constant checking over the shoulder routine.
"Ah, are you Jack Burton of the Cunjo Crusader?" one of them asks as they get closer. You nod, and indicate that they should all sit down.
"Pleased to meet you," the designated spokesman begins. "My name is Jerry O'Donnell, and my colleagues and I are keen to employ you."
You wait, wondering if any of these people have ever been outside a lab in recent memory.
"We are studying the possibility of further systems beyond the Known Universe to the Galactic South, and are planning a probe launch in the space down there. However, we are unable to pilot a vessel down to our launch point ourselves. Is it possible, for a modest reimbursement, that you could take us there?"
You sit back, enjoying the thought of making them sweat a little.
"Two things," you say. "Where's the launch point and how much to get you there?"
"Well," a very nervous Jerry begins, looking over his shoulder, "we need to launch from the Kontik system, and second, we will be happy to pay you 50,000 for the trouble of getting us there. What do you say?"
You've heard all the stories about Kontik, and about how no one ever comes back alive from trying to study the place. On the other hand, 50,000 is 50,000.
I see an easy delivery mission to Sol and take it, given that it's on the way to another destination. Nothing unsual about it save this:
Launch Probe posted:
"I guess I'd be prepared to take you down there, but I have to stress that it will be a tough trip," you tell them.
"Yes, Jack Burton, we have looked over the maps. We know how long the trip will be and what it will entail. We are prepared to leave whenever you are. All we have to do is load the probe and our launching equipment. Of course, we will also need you to return us back to Earth once the probe is launched."
You nod, and tell them to meet you at the spaceport in the morning. They smile at you, thank you for your time, and head off. You catch yourself wondering what you have gotten yourself into this time.
Weird. What could that mean?
As a group of dockworkers unloads the shipment of medical supplies from your cargo bay you are a little surprised to see the traditional long hair and utilitarian jumpsuit of a Vell-os coming towards you. The nameless Vell-os looks at you oddly for a moment before smiling softly and walking away.
Two more high-pay delivery missions land us 150,000 more credits, leaving us with 525,000 credits. Time to get a new ship! I have my eye on a Pirate Thunderhead, and head over to Viking to acquire one. However, the Pirates have their eye on me, and I'm attacked by a marauding Pirate Viper. This does not end well for the Viper, and I manage to capture it!
I assign it as an escort, and make plans to sell if off as soon as I reach Viking. It'll collect a cool 11,000 credits on the market, not bad for our first act of piracy!
Viking is a mineral- and ore-rich world, and has been mined heavily, leaving a once picturesque planet polluted and overcast. Many of the ores and minerals mined here are shipped up to SD2 in orbit, and taken to various parts of the Federation to be used in the production of the numerous parts and equipment required by the Federation Navy. The contract was given to Hal Corp, a Federation-owned company, but the mining operation is highly successful, and any questions of nepotism have been answered by their productivity levels.
Viking's Bar posted:
This bar is geared to be a quick stopover for freighter crews while their ships are being loaded. The food is ordinary, the drinks are ordinary and the service could best be described as casual, but you can get everything in next to no time.
The P-38 Lightning: but it's in space!
We buy a Pirate Thunderhead. A fast heavy fighter, its Thunderhead Lances and high speed make it ideal for close-in strafing runs and general mucking about. It's one step below the Valkyries and Starbridges, but a damned nice fighter regardless, and armed with the Fusion Pulse Cannon to be effective at range. I outfit it with afterburners, a solar panel and extra batteries to power the burners, and strip out the default radar-seeking missile launchers in favour of cheaper rockets.
The Fusion Pulse Cannon, like most Aurora technology, is both crude and brutal. However, the weapon's stocky build and inefficient containment fields still provide a highly effective energy packet. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the weapon is the fact that the fusion pulses leave the barrel of the weapon while still at meta-reactive temperatures. It is for this reason that the FPC should not be fired at close range.
The ability to dump raw power into your propulsion system to temporarily increase your acceleration and top speed has been around since we were trapped within Earth's biosphere, and has followed us out into space. The afterburner chews power at a prodigious rate, but losing a little power is better than getting caught in the middle of a fleet battle.
Most traders who have been working in space for more than a few years have at least one of these fitted onto their vessels. In over a thousand years this simple design of several interlocking superconductor rings has remained virtually unchanged and has provided extra energy storage for countless numbers of ships, giving them that extra jump that everyone so often needs.
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The sidebar changes graphics whenever you change factions and ship types - it's a nice touch.
Heading out into the pirate-infested wastes of the Galactic North, I quickly discover that "piracy" is usually equivalent to "watch Rebel capital ships demolish Pirates before you can get a shot in." Despite that, we still get a few notable kills. First, a Pirate Carrier launches a full complement of 4 Vipers at us. I lead them from the railgun-hurling mothership, exploiting their tendency to clump in order to draw them out into a line, then turn around and afterburn head on into their ranks, wiping out three in a single pass with the Thunderhead lances and the last one later on. They don't even survive the beams long enough to be boarded.
I take on a few more marauding Pegasi and Vipers, but fail to capture any of them - and they never carry anything decent either, until a Pirate Argosy comes along and engages me. It carries enough close-range armament and armour to present a serious challenge, so I abuse the AI's following tendency to pull off the Monty Python maneuver.
The Monty Python maneuver is simple: Match speeds with your opponent, fly outside of their maximum range, turn around and fire until they are no longer a threat. My Fusion Pulse Cannon slightly outranges their chaingun, and I easily disable them.
This one carries 11,000 credits - not bad for half a minute's work. The hulk is useless to me after I plunder it, so I finish them off.
After a few more pirates bite the dust, I take a trip back to Sol to sell off some plundered cargo. Gods know what the scientists on board think about all this piracy business. However, when we get there...
You have barely entered the bar when you are knocked backwards by the flying body of one of the bar's patrons. The burly individual knocks you to the ground, and as you stand to give the offensive ruffian a piece of your mind (if not a piece of your boot) you notice that the man was sent flying your way by a red bearded giant fighting on the far side of the bar. As you watch, a number of men attack him, only to be beaten back by his prodigious strength. A man comes at him from the behind, smashing a bar stool over his head. He staggers and begins to stumble. His sneaky attacker begins to draw a knife, and you feel as if you should help the man before he is stabbed in the back in a cowardly attack.
You quickly jump into action, smashing your fist into the other man's face. He falls backward as your fist comes away stained with blood. The giant shakes his head, and with a roar launches himself at the remaining ruffians. As you watch the fight ends in a quick and brutal flurry of blows. In a matter of seconds the floor is strewn with unconscious bodies. The man turns to you and offers his huge hand.
"Thanks for your help," he says in a thick brogue. "Can I get you a drink?"
You nod your assent and he turns to a dazed looking barman and orders two drinks. You make a mental note to not drink in Dockside bars any more, and turn your attention to the man beside you. He stands about six and a half feet tall, and looks as if he could pull apart Leviathans with his bare hands. He has a shock of bright red carrot coloured hair, and very pale skin. He turns to you and hands you a huge drink, as black as pitch and as thick as fresh cream.
Many hours later you and your new friend, Michaeleen Houge, stagger from the bar. The manager slams the door behind you and locks it quickly, and you get the distinct impression that he was not happy that the two loudest patrons were also the last to leave. You head back towards the docks, when Michaleen curses loudly. You follow his gaze as best you can, and see a heavily modified Thunderhead being locked down by the port authorities. Michaeleen shouts abuses at them in a strange tongue, but it makes no difference. Before they leave, they give him a notice to the effect that he had outstanding storage debts, and that his ship was impounded until he pays them back.
"Ah, but that would have to be the life of a wild rover," he sighs wistfully, waving an unsteady hand at his locked ship. "I spent all me money on whiskies and beer, and now I've none to get me ship out of hock."
He slumps down next to the ship and puts his head in his hand. Your heart goes out to him, and you ask if there is any way that you can help him. He explains that he has to be in New Ireland in the Tuatha system before the end of the month so he can be best man in his cousins nuptials. He says that if you can give him a lift, you can stay for the wedding and the party after. Apparently one is very serious, and the other involves a white dress. You have had far too many 'pints' to figure out which is which.
Do you give him a lift?
It's November 19th, we've got plenty of time and nothing to do (besides head to the galaxy's edge). I take on our new friend. This also seals off the Vell-os missions, stopping us from getting railroaded onto one of the less pleasant storylines.
You awake in the morning with a heavy head, and there is far too much light in the cabin. The instruments are too bright, and you cannot remember ever feeling quite so awful. Michaeleen doesn't appear to be much better, but takes a very philosophical view of your predicament.
"Just remember that you can only start to feel better when you feel this bad at the beginning," he tells you with grim humour.
Somehow, it does make sense in a bizarre way.
Next time: All sorts of hijinks on New Ireland!