Part 3: A journey of a thousand light-years begins with a single stepFirst things first...
: To: Oh Marr Re: FluxHawk a la King; Hey, I tried your FluxHawk recipe. Have you tried adding a touch of P'kunk oil?
Quickly! To GWS!
Well, thanks to a bit of off-screen mining, I've managed to rustle up funds of over 50K from the exchange market - enough for two sets of Level III engines for both the ships. NOW we can go pay the Vantu a visit with relative ease.
So; without further ado - Let's get through to Frontier Craft and get our ride upgraded. Alas, no paint job options.
I... uh... can't help but notice that...
well, that you're not human.
If you paid attention to the earlier Biotech briefs, you'd probably be able to identify Jimmy here as a Kaynik. But that earlier announcement said that the Kaynik were currently raiding ships throughout the sector. How comes blue and fuzzy here to Garriod station?
: It is my pleasure to be speaking with you.
This kinda sums up the Kaynik as a whole (when they're not channelling Dick Turpin); brusque and not keen on pretence. Let's see if if we cannae get a bit more out of tall, dark and handsome here.
: I would be grateful for information about yourself.
: ..then attend four hours o' engineerin courses.
: That's no easy routine fer a Kaynik.
: Heavy, dude. But how comes you working for FC in the first place?
: A large percentage o' Frontier Craft employees 'r Kaynik. We work here mainly fer tha experience.
Hmm. I'm sure that won't become relevant any time in the near future!
: You said that the Kaynik dinnae work well under your current work routine. What do you think about the Kaynik overall, then?
: We Kaynik prefer adventurous 'n tactical pursuits; 'course some of us realize tha value of professional skills.
: The majority o' my species 'r divided inta rival brigand factions. Those groups don't know tha benefits of allegiance 'n service.
: Just please don't start talking about bootstraps. I beg of you, not now. Not millions of light years away from Reagan's corpse in deep space. Please.
But therein we get the first idea that trying to ally with the Kaynik is going to be a pretty hard thing to do; they have no centralized representation - their government is listed as Anarchy - and most of the time you see 'em you'll be running into gangs of romantic business men with itchy feet and even itchier trigger fingers. You cannae sweet-talk yer way with the Kaynik.
What's that? An idea that you might be able to initiate contact with a bunch of Kaynik who are more likely to listen and talk than what is typical and from that form an alliance? Don't be ridiculous! Who ever heard of a sci-fi setting having members of a different species actually having DIFFERENT personality traits from each other?
: Maybe we can talk again later.
And with that, we're back to the main FC screen. To get the new engines installed, we first have to transfer the old engine systems out of our ships; sell them; then buy and install the new engines into our ships.
As you can see, ship systems are worth quite a bit of money; and the higher the Type of system, the more money you can get out of it. This raises a hint as to a much more fun way of obtaining funds than just through mining - but I'll get into that when we come to it. In the meantime, out with the old and in with the new!
: C'mon back real soon, now.
Well, after that I could do with a wee drink before we skedaddle. To the lounge!
Oh - it appears that we have someone at our table. Or we chose to sit at an occupied table. Actually, I'm surprised to find this guy here - I didn't think you could find him around so soon. Let's see what our fellow drinker looks like!
Oh. Oh dear.
: You get the number of that combine harvester, mate?
: Whoa... I'm sorry, okay?
: All right, then.
: I'm just in a mood today.
Gee, I wonder why.
: Do you want to talk about it?
: Not really.
: That's fine. I'll be on my wa...
Oh boy, here we go.
: Yes, a few... but I don't want to trouble you anymo...
: One that changes you forever?
: You could say that... but I really shouldn't intrude on your...
: Hey, where are you going? You can spare a few minutes!
: You seem like someone who can relate to what I'm saying.
: Very well, if you insist...
: My body was fresh, and my dreams all seemed possible.
: I was going to be someone special!
: Were you in Newfront?
Yikes, he doesn't seem to like NF that much.
: Er... I mean somebody outside of Newfront, Commander...
: My name is Samovar.
: Well Samovar, you've got to understand that my priorities in those days were different.
: And YOUR name is?
What, not Ahab? Not Quint?
: So what happened, Dodel?
: As you can see, things didn't turn out like I hoped.
: I got involved with some devious aliens. When I discovered their true objectives, I tried to get out. That deal cost me my credit, my ship and a number of body parts. It was a terrible experience.
: Caveat emptor, I suppose. Have you considered revenge?
: There's always someone tougher than ourselves, kiddo.
: Ain't I the depressing one... and you probably came here looking to relax.
: So tell me Samovar, how can I make it up to you? Not much happens in this sector without me knowing about it. Is there something I can help you with?
Dodel here is around in any Outpost lounge that doesn't have music playing in it. He acts as the grizzled veteran to our idealistic greenhorn - the Jimmy Malone to our Eliot Ness, the Abbé Faria to our Edmond Dantès, the Boss to our Big Boss as it were. He gives pretty good briefs about almost everything in the game, and he's a pretty cool character overall. While it is usually good to talk with him in any case, I'll leave the conversation options on display and get back to starting the mission.
: May our paths soon cross again.
: Maybe I'll see you later... oh, yeah, I almost forgot.
: ...and you didn't stop to help them?! Actually, if your ship was in as bad a shape as mine, I can totally sympathise.
: Don't judge me! I've got my own concerns!
: Anyway, you might want to see if there's anything left of 'em. They were at coordinates 066,039.
I hope you managed to take a record of that on paper or something. An in-game journal? Pfft, who ever heard of something like that? Anyway, we at least have yet ANOTHER thing to keep in mind in addition to everything we're supposed to be doing.
: Gee... these aliens sure are good-looking...
Say hello to the second choice for the thread title.
: Ooooh! Mi head... mushta drunk too much of tha Kulablade...
And with that, we're kicked out of the lounge and into the main hall.
Back on the ship...
By upgrading our engines; we've managed to cut down fuel costs by a third as well as flight time. NOW we can make some serious headway! First things first, where to find the Vantu? Well, I know their homeworld called Tavantal, but which of the four star systems is it? Well, they don't ACTUALLY tell you in this, game. You have to find out for yourself - but thankfully, such trial and error is not necessary, since I know the planet's location; viz - here:
So, without any further ado - let's get going.
Here's the star system of the Vantu - we've got three planets, which, in order from closest to sun to furthest are: Attanuat, Tavantal and Vutunt. However, what is probably most notable are those two green blips on the screen. Now, these blips represent other ships, and these blips can do one of three things:
1) Stay in position
2) Move away from you
3) Move towards you
And as it so happens, one is moving towards us. Well, I've put off meeting with the Vantu long enough (and I'd be kinda fucked if it was a hostile force), so we're gonna pull the ol' well-established tactical practice of a rapid strategic withdrawal
Finally, fucking finally, we get to our destination - the Vantu homeworld!
Now, THERE'S an interesting last picture. Those three 'unknown' listings means that there's three indigenous lifeforms on this planet not known to Humanity. If you manage to discover the species before anyone else, you get to name the species as you see fit. What's that? There's an established, sentient species who'd probably have named these creatures in the first place and to overlook that would be considered pretty damn patronising? FUCK THAT! We'll name these goddamn animals whatever the hell WE wanna name them and to HELL with anyone else!
Carl Linnaeus, eat yer heart out.
Upon arriving on Tavantal, we see the following immediately:
Let's get a bit more info on what it is we're seeing here:
All alien species have their individual atmospheric craft as well as interstellar craft; and each species usually carry around some of the animals they have on their planet as cargo - meaning if you are quick off the bat, you might be able to find some new species without ever having to land on the planet. But where's the sense of exploration with that?
Anyway, we've put this off long enough. Time to initiate contact, and channel the spirit of James T. Kirk!
Or... maybe not.
Thankfully, this game doesn't ever try to go down the 'Asari' route for any of the alien species. Each and every one of them are particularly... unique-looking, to say the least. I'll say this much; the Vantu are probably the best-looking of the bunch, i.e., do not make you jump back in horror the instant you see them.
However, they do have a particular type of personality, which seems to come through with their very first words - they're pretty damn self-important; and this'll only get more apparent the more we speak with them. Oh well; if we want to make a good impression, you can always go with flattery!
: I am humbled by your generous attitude.
Oh my God.
Well if there are any particular subjects you guys'd like me to ask the Vantu, just let me know in bold. In the meantime; let's break the ice by asking what this guy has to say about themselves, their species and humans - why not.
: So, what's the score with you guys?
: You would do well to show respect.
Oh my God.
OK, so maybe he has an inflated view of the Vantu aristocracy - what about if we ask him about himself?
: I think we may have gotten off the wrong foot here. Can you tell me anything about yourself?
: I do not share my personal affairs.
: I will reflect upon this encounter.
And off he fucks.
Yeah. The Vantu! Not the most... gregarious of people in the galaxy. To make people open up, you have to get an idea of how to get them to warm to you. Sometimes this involves a bit of flattery, an excessive amount of flattery and occasionally something else as well. These guys have some seriously swollen heads. If we want to get them to warm to humans, well, we're gonna hafta kiss some ass. As annoying as that may be.
So! Onto to Tavantal! It's chock-a-block full of Boron, Molybdenum and Tin - pretty valuable materials and always worth a check-up. As well as...
That's what a life-from looks like on a planet's surface. You get a simple diagram of the basic appearance of the creature. And a chance to name it by doing a Biotech scan on it when it's in yer cargo.
They also get individual animations for when you scoop them up into yer ship.
There's one last thing you can find on planets with 'abundant' amounts of sentient life-forms; cities:
These are essentially wee commercial hubs you can find on the planets which allow you to trade with the particular species. One sure-fire way you can make friends with aliens is to sell/buy things with an attitude most similar to them as well as selling/buying things from them at a loss. If you try and make a profit through haggling; people can become very shirty with you very quickly. Let's land and see if we can't paint this town red, eh?
Oh. Well, I guess he's already started it, eh?
Each species gets a distinct city screen with their own music and aesthetic. It's all pretty cool
Every time you start bartering with anybody, you get to try and adopt a particular personality. It's best to go with the personality that matches the species in question:
And it is pretty damn clear from the start which personality we should adopt for the Vantu.
Offering to sell goods puts you through to this screen - if you have anything in your cargo that people want. Usually everyone wants stabilium, but occasionally you'll get some people who declare that you have nothing that they want. We can get rid of the Molybdenum at least.
: My offer for the Molybdenum is 30
: There is little reason to charge over 29 credits.
: 29 it is. You drive a hard bargin.
Remember when I said the speech in some of this game can get a bit silly? ...yeah.
After selling the Molybdenum, we've got nowt else to sell - so let's try buttering this guy up a bit.
: I am humbled by your generous attitude.
: You're destined to lead others.
: Your honesty is commendable.
: I've never met a more impressive being.
: Your wisdom exceeds your years.
OK, that's as much bullshit as I can take. I'm gonna ask him about the Vantu aristocracy and then I'm gonna piss off. I did NOT travel god-knows how many light years so as to meet up with the an alien species modelled after the bleedin' House of Lords.
: I'm probably going to resent asking this, but can you tell me about the Vantu government?
: We Vantu once distinguished between social classes. Those with highest perception managed the direction of the masses.
: Our limited capacity for reproduction increased the value of individuals...
: Presently, all Vantu belong to the elite class.
Well... that's... certainly a unique way to end a caste system.
Anyway, we've got all we're going to get from these boys for now, so we're gonna shift it, try and get a few more minerals before heading to an Outpost to unload our goods, speak to Hawking, and then see about that location Dodel was on about.
: It is my pleasure to serve you.
Hey, at least they're actually, y'know, TALKING to us...
But I think I'd best wrap up this update for now. But NOT before going through the life-form discovery process.
: ..primary sense is olfactory... travels on numerous footpads lining underside... barbed sides deter predators... sustenance collected with extending mouth organ... egg colony expulsion fertilized by male during reproduction.
: ..visual and audio senses... leaps up to four meters high on multiple resilient legs... rings of colourful fur repels moisture and attracts mate... frequent eggs hatched following incubation.
: ..visual and taste senses... mouth harpoon used for consumption and protection... skin changes colour to camouflage... infrequent eggs fertilized by male at tree nest.
After each briefing we are given an option to name the newly identified creatures. Over time, the computer will discover unknown species (and planets). I'll be trying to find them before this happens. In the meantime... what would you want to name these new species (Names in bold, and keeping in mind max. length is 12 letters)?