Continuing my FTL journey into the heart of doomed space-darkness. Read the earlier installments here.
A new sector! We're down to 25% hull, still don't have a proper gun and have spent all our money on repairs that didn't last long. Damn, we're in a tight spot. So do we exercise extreme caution or take big gambles in the hope of big pay-offs?
Here's the first dilemma. We run into some rebels, who miraculously don't attack us on sight. Wusses. Shall I demand surrender of their goods? You never know, maybe they'll be afraid of men called Steven and just cough up without a fight.
They don't cough up without a fight. And as well as fighting they prime themselves to escape, so I end up targeting their engine with my Ion Blast, rather than my usual tactic of hounding their shield. This means they get a few good hits in, and my hull's in even worse state. I win the fight, but for inconsequential gain.
I aim for a nearby distress beacon, hoping it will mean violence-free adventure. We encounter a small Federation ship being battered by asteroids. I don't much fancy wading into that, but fortunately we have a bonus option - send in our repair drone to fix up their shields, while we hang back in safety.
Except we don't. For my trouble, my hull gets messed up by asteroids anyway. This is desperate now.
On the plus side, the ship has a reward for me. A gun! An actual gun! It's a.... It's a healing beam. It uses missiles, but it uses them to heal my own crew. It's not a gun, it's an anti-gun. It's a smack in the face, a punch in the nuts, the final insult. I shake with pathetic fury, then punch the lightspeed button again. Please, a store, a store.
Another jump in which we're not immediately set upon. This is because the Rebel scout here is busy chasing after a Federation ship. We have the option to aid our erstwhile comrades or flee. My heart says get involved, be a hero, earn a reward. My brain says "two more knocks to the hull and we're dead."
For what might just be the first time in my life, my brain wins. I feel incredibly guilty as we disappear into the darkness. Then I pray for a store again.
I'm immediately offered an opportunity to make up for my cowardice. This time, it's a civilian ship that's being harassed by rebels. I dither again - this rebel's only one of those lightly-armed, crewless autoscout. It'll be easy. Easy!
Why do I never learn?
It was a shielded autoscout, rather than one of the easy-prey unprotected ones, and that meant it stayed alive for long enough oto launch a couple of missiles at us. Now we have one pip of hull left. One pip! Should even one shot gets through my shields, that is it. All over. Didn't even make it through four sectors. The shame of it all. Now my only hope is trying to reach a store without encountering any enemies. There's no store visible on the sector map yet, but there sure are a lot of unvisited jumps. Each one a deadly gamble.
There's one good thing to come out of this disastrous encounter. Another new chum beams aboard. Say hello to Ohm, the fifth crew member and third Engi. I send him/it to Weapons as he/it will be able to repair damage faster than puny Human Steven can. Academic, of course, as if we take any more damage it's all over. At least I can say I died an efficient man.
OK. Enough shilly-shallying. What's out there?
We run into a mercenary ship. There are our options:
2, I choose you. Because it means I'll find out where the store is, if indeed there is one.
There is! But it's three jumps away. Three terrifying jumps into the unknown.
I start heading towards it, but it's rapidly clear that the pursuing rebel fleet will have reached and subsumed it before I can get there. This means 1) the shop will be shut down and 2) I'll have an enormous fight on my hands. I scream an endless cream, and not for the last time.
I am, however, given a Hull beam by some friendly Engis en route.
As there are no other stores here and the fleet is two jumps behind me now, my only option is to head for the exit. With just one pip of hull left. This is so unbelievably, incredibly, horrifyingly, awfully, miserably bad.
But! I have a gun now. I also have an Ohm to go with my Steven. No-one is dead.. Well, we're all practically dead, but let's try and enjoy these last few precious moments.
I've got a reasonable amount of scrap by now, so I spend it on upgrading to an extra tier of shield. That's my only hope of surviving the fights en route to wherever the hell the next store is. It might be enough.
Oh sweet baby Jesus no.
Oh God. Oh God no.
I've just spent all my scrap on upgrades.
So even if I do find a store, I can't afford to repair the hull.
To be continued...