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Wastes Of Space: A Space Engineers Diary - Part Four: The Space Race

The red car and the blue car had a race

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Last time on Wastes Of Space: The RPS crew managed to firm up their toehold in the alien hills of Horace’s World, under the tutelage of their peculiar assistance droid, ODD. Survey Officer Ligz went on an ill-fated mineral-seeking expedition, Science Officer Cox decided he was a god, and the increasingly authoritarian Security Officer Crowley used all the crew’s metal to make a hooning great space prison.

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383212

Matt: When we all went to space bed last night, the mood was a bit downcast. Officer Ligz had managed to upend the car ODD had lovingly built for her, while Security had squandered all our steel in building his cretin’s jail. Hubristically, Ligz woke up this morning with a stonking fresh bout of Moon Mumps, as did our commander – who I’m sure deserved them for being so snippy towards her Science Officer. Crowley, however, remains unpunished by the cosmos, meaning I am to be inflicted with his company today. Oh joy.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383215

Nate: Science seems a bit down that the moon mumps have taken half our crew. But it’s not all bad – it means we get to spend some quality time together! And it gets even better: while the Alices are borked, ODD has come up with some leisure activities to keep us from space-strangling each other, and we’re going to start with a race. A car race, where we have to build our own cars, and where the winning design will get to be the template for our mobile base. What an honour! I’m gonna really impress the Commander on this one. ODD goes off to build the race course – a 1km run to a beacon and back – and the two of us get our space spanners out and get to work.

The construction work begins…

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383223

Matt: Despite security’s sycophantic enthusiasm, I have the advantage, as I’m building off the back of the car I’d originally started building for Ligz. ODD keeps coming over to compliment me on my work being so neat, in between gawping at whatever Nate is doing. Whatever it is, he calls it “Gigantor”.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383229

Nate: Gigantor is so large it doesn’t have a chassis. It has architecture. Or, if we’re being honest, Orkitecture. It’s like a twenty ton drag racer on six monster truck wheels, with a bright red paint job and a massive grinding machine on the front. It’s also got banks of horrible flashing red lights, and a massive cargo container on the back, which I intend to quietly replace with a prison when my design inevitably wins the race.

BEHOLD GIGANTOR

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383236

Matt: Nate keeps falling into one of his many sordid mining burrows on his way to and from the assembler for fresh materials (ODD is kindly mining more steel for us), but the bastard still won’t admit he regrets digging them.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383244

Nate: You know, I’m kind of coming to regret digging all those holes. Alas, to fill them in now would show weakness, and I’m more toxically masculine than the wee of a boy tiger. To pass the time as we build, I begin to chat with science over the radio. Last time, I rather felt I was becoming the villain of the group, and I do feel I need to be seen as more of a “good cop”. Hearts and minds, you know? This is my chance to cement a rapport with one of the other colonists, so we can watch each others’ backs if things get hectic. I need… a friend?

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383459

Matt: This concept of “friendship” intrigues me, especially coming from someone who threatened me with a solid dungeoning mere hours ago. Still. It would behove me to have some allies amongst the insects. Crowley asks me why I went to space. I tell him I came to be free.

Matt’s car. Looks a bit like a circus crab.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383262

Nate: Somewhat awkwardly, I admit I came to space to stop others being… too free. Cox and I sheepishly pretend to agree that this clash of goals is no obstacle to our burgeoning friendship, and then fall uncomfortably quiet. As if to illustrate the pathetic fallacy, a meteor shower begins. Thankfully, nothing is annihilated, but it is quite stressful.

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383266

Matt: After a fruitless search for fallen meteors – which ODD says might contain space goodies like Uranium – we return to building and intense ideological conflict.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383271

Nate: Friendship has failed, and so I draw deep on my understanding of male social interaction, crack open a tin of sugar-free banter, and start being utterly horrible. I say Matt’s car looks like a crab that joined the circus, or a Mars Rover designed by Cbeebies.

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383273

Matt: The car competition is getting to Security, and he’s become a sort of Lidl-price Clarkson. Nevertheless, I have no time for such childish spats. I have a race to win. With our vehicles painted and lit up – mine in modest, scientific colours, Nate’s in ominous pulsing red, we ready ourselves at the start line, and wait for ODD’s starting pistol. Then, by the light of blazing meteors, as our robot chum blasts a centuries-old copy of the Top Gear theme over the radio, we began hurtling downhill towards the beacon. It is… wild.

On the starting grid…

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383276

Nate: Fuck the curtailment of individual freedoms, this was what I came to space for. Gunning all six of my vehicle’s massive engines, I thunder down the slope, hollering for pure joy. Needless to say, it’s only moments before Gigantor ramps up an ill-placed rock face, flips twice, and slams roof-first into a ravine. Piss eggs.

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383279

Matt: I cackled at the sight of Nate’s upended failure of a car, then manage to upend my own in an almost equally dramatic failure. There our vehicles lie, smoking, mere metres from each other, like two big robot turtles that have done a fuck. Oh well. Time for the pistoning to commence.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383281

Nate: The last time I flipped a space car, I had slunk away and let the others do the pistoning, but now I have no choice. If I want to stay in this damned race, I have to get Gigantor upright, and that means learning about pistons. In a small voice, like a schoolboy who’s eaten some tippex, I ask ODD for help.

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383285

Matt: ODD tries to help us as best he can, bless him, but we’re hopeless. Even though he’s a robot, he can’t help but laugh at our abject failure to drive one kilometre downhill.

To be honest, I can see why ODD was so amused

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383288

Nate: Eventually, after several piston-based false starts, I make what amounts to a big red willy on the roof of Gigantor, which I then use to begin levering it out of the canyon. It’s working, but it will take time.

The slow work of mecha-willying Gigantor’s way to freedom begins

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383290

Matt: Finally, I’m vindicated for making a vehicle of a reasonable size. With a little pistoning I’m free in no time – but my jubilation is curtailed as I slide down the hill into yet another hole, which ensnares me even deeper in the earth than before. But I have a plan. I double down on Crowley’s willy strat, affixing another piston to the end of my comically long front structure, and humping my way free of the mountain, to the disgust of everyone involved. But it is not enough. For the longest time, I lie stuck at the bottom of the hill. Simply not moving, no matter what ODD suggests. I hack off my car-willy. I empty my drills. Then I remember: I’d left my handbrake on. Oh yeah.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383292

Nate: Finally, I get Gigantor upright – but there’s no time to lose. Science has made it free too, just moments before me, and is already at the halfway beacon. He’d have won already, if he hadn’t forgotten the handbrake. But as it is, there’s still everything to play for: it’s time to Vroom like it’s the end of a Halo game.

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383294

Matt: Accelerating, I loop around the checkpoint, only to get damn near demolished by Crowley, as his vehicle blasts down the hill like a bollocking from a giant metal Jeremy Paxman.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383295

Nate: Phew, that was close! Desperate to turn as quick as I can at the beacon in order to catch up with Cox, I spin so hard I go into a power skid, wiping out a stand of trees, the beacon itself, and one of my wheel assemblies. Gigantor flips once again, and comes to rest upside down in a sad nest of its own broken parts. There’s no way I’m getting it out – it’s time to forfeit the race.

SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383296

Matt: Victory is assured, but I still want to finish the race. I didn’t do all that pistoning to win by default, after all. So I pick my way up the mountain, deciding to opt for the hideously treacherous terrain that had given us so much trouble on the way down. ODD implores me to drive around it. But I ignore him (for I am a god), and speed up – majestically cresting the gaps we’d plunged into before. I jumped the bloody gaps! And there it is – the finish line. I am the winner, and my vehicle design will become immortal.

SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383299

Nate: I congratulate Science Officer Cox on his win. Or at least, I do out loud. We are ‘friends’ after all. But beneath my congratulations are a deep, simmering resentment, and a quiet conviction that I will have my revenge. We’re gonna need a bigger dungeon.

Read on here for Wastes of Space part 5, in which it’s time to build a base on wheels, and the search for Gold begins..

This week more than ever, Matt and Nate owe their lives to ODD, who is played by the wonderful Sam Pinney using a voice changer over discord. If you want to follow Sam (on twitter, rather than like, into battle or anything), you can find him at @ginbrogueshats. He’s a terribly good fellow.

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