Guns: 2 (only one of which can be used at once)
Location: Parked outside the exit from Sector 4
Mood: Funereal. A little like this, in fact:
We’re alone, we’re very nearly helpless, we’re very nearly dead and we need to continue on into an even deadlier unknown than that which we’ve already faced. Unless…
I changed my mind. Rather than leaving the sector, I made one more jump. This sector was most likely less challenging than the one that lay ahead, so if I was going to recklessly search for cash to spend on repairs (when and if we found a frigging store), better here than there. Once again, we had the choice of aiding a civilian ship or fleeing. Grimly, knowing this was very likely it, I took on the pursuing pirate. Two drones deployed, two crew manning shields just in case. One hit to the hull and it’s all over. Shields don’t fail me now.
And we won. Without taking any damage. Amazing.
We now have 42 scrap to spend on repairs. If we can find repairs. It’s one source of stress dealt with, at least. But now we absolutely, definitely have to go to the next sector. Cross your fingers, and whatever Engi have instead of fingers, crew. This is it.
Here’s the map that greeted me upon arrival:
Look what’s just one jump away.
HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH
I have precious little cash, only enough to repair half the damage. I elect to sell my Heal Beam – this Engi ship has a craft-wide healing effect anyway, and the 20 scrap I can get for flogging the beam is far more useful to me right now. I only notice that I’m down to only 3 fuel just in time. Grimly, I cease to repair further damage and spend my remaining pennies on four new barrels. Back in the game. Barely, but at least I have to squint to see death’s door now.
Nothing. Typical. More fuel wasted.
A distress signal. For the second time we encounter a space station whose defence satellite has gone haywire. I can choose to fix it with my Ion Blast or my Engi crew. But which?
Engi crew. I’m rewarded with some drone parts and 48 scrap, which is King’s ransom to me right now. So, a dilemma – do I head back to the store for more repairs, thus essentially wasting two more fuel units (I only have 6), or do I forge on? VOTE.
No, too late, I’m writing this hours before you’ll read it and I can’t be bothered to wait. I opted for a compromise approach – retreating one jump, but not heading all the way back to the store. This is because I want to avoid a nebula cloud which will scramble my sensors and potentially contain nasty things that limit my reactor power. So I’m trekking around its periphery instead.
Like I said, going backwards. Nothing to see here. Though there are rumours that Bonz and Tacky were spotted in a clinch during the jump.
Ooh, a second store. Fuel and hull repair it is.
Wait a minute. What’s that?
DRONE RECOVERY ARM AUGMENT. Once a fight’s over, it’ll collect any drones I deployed rather than leaving them floating in space, wasted. That would mean I never needed to worry about drone parts again, and could comfortably deploy my two attack drones each and every fight. It costs 50 scrap.
I have exactly 50 scrap.
I only have 3 fuel.
Another compromise. I sell my system repair drone for 15. This will doubtless come back to haunt me, but my relatively high crew count means I’ve not had any call for it yet. This way, I can get the drone recovery arm and a few units of fuel.
I feel sick with anxiety.
Some passing Engi (man, I love the Engi. I practically am an Engi by now) have a gift for me: an auto-repair augment, which will fix up my hull every time I collect scrap. Problems a) I’ll get 15% less scrap. b) I already have three augments, which means I need to ditch one. My ship-wide auto-heal? No, that’s a lifesaver if ever invaders beam aboard. My drone recovery arm? I only just bought it, so no way. The 15% shield recharge time booster it is then. I spent 45 scrap on that a few sectors back: what a waste. If only I could put augments into storage rather than have to just abandon them in space.
A pirate ship pursues an unknown target. It offers us a missile-centric bribe to leave it alone. Pah, I have no use for missiles. Attack!
My 75% hull is very quickly a 50% hull, but I’m very much the dominant force here. Poor Steven has to peg it all over the place putting out fires and fixing breaches – he’s not the best man for the job, but everyone else is manning battlestations. The pirate, spooked, offers a second bribe – some fuel, plenty of scrap.
It makes me a coward, or a sap, or lazy, or all three, but I’ll take it. Maybe I’d have gotten something even better if I took ’em out, but my fuel remains in frighteningly short supply and I don’t feel like gambling any more.
My travel options are either into the nebula or into the waiting lasers of the rebel fleet, which is hot on my heels again. I choose a third route, and return to the store for fuel and more repairs. Boring, I know. Boring is safe though.
A fight against a Rebel, in the middle of an asteroid field. I decide to experiment with a different tack, as I’m bored of my hull getting shredded. I target my Ion Blast at the enemy’s weapons rather than shield generator. It’ll take longer to take it down – with those blasted asteroids pummelling us all the while – but hopefully, hopefully our foe won’t be able to duff us up in the meantime.
It works! We’re out of here with no damage, and a spot of bonus fuel and scrap for our troubles.
I could squeeze in one more jump before leaving the sector, but at the speed the rebel fleet is advancing, it would mean one definite fight with their advance guard before I could leave. Once again, my boring side gets the better of me. Let’s make like a tree and go through this wormhole to a different galaxy. For once, we leave not in bad shape. Hull’s at about 80%, there’s a decent amount of fuel in the tank, I have some new upgrades and NO-ONE IS DEAD. Five sectors down and no casualties! It can’t possibly last. Especially as the last, deadly stand against those damnable rebels is now just two sectors away.
To be continued