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Stranded by skulduggery, Elite: Dangerous' Fuel Rats call for help

Among the many player-run organizations in sandbox space sim/MMO-lite Elite: Dangerous, few have the glowing reputation of the Fuel Rats: A philanthropic alliance dedicated to rescuing stranded players that have carelessly used up the last of their hyperdrive fuel out on the far fringes of charted space.

Yesterday, it was the Rats’ turn to be rescued, after one of their fueling bases of choice nearly fell under quarantine. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of people willing to lend a hand to these humble heroes of the spacelanes.

One of the bigger events to happen in Elite: Dangerous in the past year is the war against the Thargoids, a mysterious alien race from the original 1984 game. Once quietly hinted at through the presence of weird ruins on distant, airless moons, now they’re kicking over player ships out on the fringes of human-held space. Thargoid artifacts have become a frequently traded and highly prized commodity, but the biomechanical nature of their technology has a deleterious effect on human ship hulls, especially once enough artifacts are held together in one place.

Nobody knows quite why (although we can guess some band of jerks with nothing better to do was responsible), but a concerted effort was made to sell heaps upon heaps of Thargoid Sensors – which show up as ‘Unknown Artifacts’ on the radar – to Wollheim Vision station, one of the Fuel Rats’ primary outposts. Enough of this ‘UA bombing’ was done in a short enough time that the station’s systems started malfunctioning, threatening an automatic shutdown until repairs could be carried out, and the artifacts could be contained safely.

Problem is, repairing this kind of damage requires large quantities of Meta Alloys; expensive and heavy construction materials capable of resisting the corrosive effects of un-sealed Thargoid tech. Hauling in enough to do the job would be both costly and time-consuming. In any other situation, nobody would have bothered to get this done in a hurry, but these are the Fuel Rats, saviours of 40,000 players, according to their own estimates. Within minutes of the call for aid going out via Twitter, freighters were loading up and shipping out, ready to patch the leaking holes in the station’s hull.

The Fuel Rats’ frontier base is far from the only station to be threatened by this kind of toxic waste-dumping. Dozens more are currently shut down or on the brink of closing their doors, as reported by the in-universe GalNet News. There is naturally some debate as to whether this is an intended gameplay mechanic or something that should be patched, but Elite studio Frontier Developments remain quiet on the issue.

Still, it’s nice to see a community mobilize so quickly to help out heroes in need, and reflects well on Elite: Dangerous’ players as a whole. You can find more info on the Fuel Rats on their site here, or if you find yourself out on the fringes and running on vapors, give them a call here.

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Dominic Tarason

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