Not all ships in deep space, even small fighters, are pirates. Most ships will respond to hostile action with hostile action. If you attack a police ship or trade in contraband goods (see Trading), your legal status will be changed to OFFENDER, or even higher. If you destroy pirate ships, or Thargoid invaders, (or asteroids) you will receive a bounty payment. If you shoot at the Coriolis space station, its own defensive ships (Viper class fighters) will attack you.
The Cobra tradeship is fast, and has a very tight turning circle (though less tight at full speed); it is an ideal combat ship against small packs of enemy vessels. It will outrun many attack craft by speed alone, but it will not outrun a missile. Spinning, fast-slow, and duck-and-weave maneuvers are very effective against the larger, less maneuverable ships when then attack. A sudden decrease in speed followed by a tight 180 degree turn and an increase in velocity will often give you a big advantage over pursuing enemy craft.
You must be prepared to outwit your enemies. Speed of reaction will not in itself always be enough.
SIGNS OF DANGER
If you cannot make an interspace quick jump J towards the planet, there is a ship in the vicinity. It could be dangerous.
If the status screen, during flight, shows YELLOW or RED, prepare to engage in combat.
Laser fire striking the defensive shields makes a light screeching sound. Listen for laser fire striking the hull direct. Through damaged screens it makes a low, screeching sound. DANGER.
An incoming missile will be detected, tracked, and a warning message flashed on main screen.
Some star pilots are braver than others and pirate ships may break off and run in the face of stiff resistance. Some appear to know no fear – in particular Thargoid vessels, whose captains have had their fear glands surgically removed.
Lone-wolf traders – such as Cobra pilots – are constantly at risk from other Spacefaring types. An understanding of other loners, packhunters, and bounty killers is essential.
Bounty Hunters Unless you have achieved FUGITIVE status, and especially if you are highly ranked as a combateer as well as being a criminal, bounty hunters will not bother a ship as insignificant as a Cobra Mk 3. In fact, many bounty hunters favor Cobra trade-ships as they make an excellent disguise. But the real killers star-ride in the sleek, and highly efficient, Fer-de-Lance Lightspeeder, in which they live for months at a time. Bounty hunters can always be found outside Orbit Space, especially around worlds classified as “dangerous”. They are invariably of combat rating: DEADLY or ELITE. Bounty hunters rarely identify themselves to passing ships, and if pestered too closely will usually kill.
Pirate Vessels There are several ways of identifying a space-going ship as ” pirate occupied “, and this is essential since pirates and renegades will take any ship for their purpose, from a Worm to a massive Python. Pirates exist everywhere in the galaxy, but cluster mainly around unstable GalCop worlds, especially worlds run on a feudal or anarchic system.
Small ships hovering very distant from a planet are pirates. Large ships accompanied by a mixture of small fighter types are pirates. Ships that refuse to acknowledge identification signals are pirates. Around worlds run by autocracies, or clans, pirates will very often have been paid to leave trade ships alone. Piracy is a huge, and complex, business, and any life-respecting trader will learn the tell-tale signs of pirate presence.
Police In a Co-operative of Worlds as complex as the 2040 planets f the GalCop, the police can be as menacing as they can be helpful. The typical police vessel is a Viper GH Class PulseShip, which is very fast, and very maneuverable. They are on constant standby on every Coriolis and Dodec space station, and will attack – a pirate, or a fugitive trader – within seconds. They do not make arrests, they destroy. There are different police departments serving different purposes – narcotics, space- drunkenness, psychotic shooting, piracy, slave trading, etc. – but all have small fleets of these very fast Viper patrol craft.
Thargoid Invasion Ships and Thargons The Thargoids are humankind’s deadly enemy, and throughout the 8 galaxies there are at least 50 war zones between humanity and Thargoid. This highly technologically advanced insectoid race is also at war with 17 other space- going life-forms.
All Thargoid combateers are ruthless in combat, and some may be comparable with elite-status human combat pilots.
Though most of the Thargoid Space Fleet is currently engaged by the Galactic Navy in InterGalactic Space, a few of the smaller battle ships make occasional destructor-raids into human space. These ships are extremely fast for their size and invariably have anti-missile (ECM) Systems.
Additionally, most Thargoid battle ships carry several small, remote- controlled “thargons”, killer-craft each equipped with a single, but highly advanced, pulse-laser. The Galactic Navy are developing their own deep- space RemCraft, and pay a large bounty for any thargon craft that are brought to them.
(N.B. Bounty on Thargoid invasion craft destroyed is very high. Thargoid battle-cruisers believed to be able to “hover” in Witch-Space (hyperspace) and destroy through-coming craft).
OTHER SPACE TYPES
Rock Hermits Pirates, aging bounty hunters, or planetary outcasts, who create living space out of asteroids. They usually choose large asteroids, and set up signal beacons to warn off miners. GalCop Law protects Rock Hermits, but since most of the asteroid is hollowed-out, there is little advantage to be gained by “mining” them anyway.
Generation Ships Before the development of the WS Thru-Space drive, in all its various forms, interstellar travel occurred in large, self-sustaining environment ships – Generation Ships – most of which have now been logged and their progress monitored. There are more than seventy thousand of these immense vessels ploughing their way through the galaxy, some of them into their 30th generation. The penalty for interference with such a vessel is marooning.
Space Dredgers These immense factory ships are to be found wherever there has been a war, or a Thargoid invasion, or a natural catastrophe. More than forty miles long, the dredgers are a life-form to themselves. The Dredgers are huge cities in space, feeding off debris and ruination. Heavily armed, and with fleets of reconditioned fighter ships, they are to be avoided at all cost.
(bars to the left of the scanner)
1. (FS & AS) Defensive shields take power from two energy bank sources, fore and aft.
2. (missile) Missile status depicts the number of missiles on board and whether they are “targetted” (purple) or “untargetted” (green) or ” locked and ready to fire” (red).
3. (LT) Laser temperature will rise during continuous firing of the ship’s laser(s). As the central housing overheats, a laser will temporarily cut out rather than destroy the system. (flight grid scanner)
4. The 3-dimensional scanner operates in such as way that you can pinpoint a ship above and below yours, as well as to the front, behind or to the sides. The vertical bars show this clearly. (bars to the right of the scanner)
5. (1,2,3,4) Energy banks will rapidly drain if defensive shields are taking excessive fire. Using lasers or an ECM System will also drain their resources. When the fourth bank is tapped, an ENERGY LOW message will flash onto the screen. Eventually, in normal circumstances, the banks will be automatically replenished by surface radiation absorption.
ITEM TECH LEVEL PRICE/CR
Fuel always varies
Missile always 30
Large Cargo Bay always 400
ECM System 2 600
Pulse Laser 3 400
Beam Laser 4 1000
Fuel Scoops 5 525
Escape Capsule 6 1000
Energy Bomb 7 900
Extra Energy Unit 8 1500
Docking Computers 9 1500
Galactic Hyperdrive 10 5000
Mining Lasers 10 800
Military Lasers 10 6000
Pulse lasers are initially housed only in the front of the ship, and so no sights appear across rear or side views until such time as you have sufficient credits (from combat and trading) to afford lasers for these mountings. As we shall see, with sufficient cash you will also be able to upgrade pulse to more powerful beam lasers.
The Cobra astrogation console accommodates a single laser-fire key (A). Pilots with joysticks use the fire button of course. Even fully equipped only one laser may be fired at a time. If a laster overheats it will not fire (observe the laser temperature bar).
Lasers are the principal armament of all space fighters.
Pulse lasers will be offered for sale at planets of Tech level 3 or above (see Trading). Beam Lasers will be offered at Tech level 4 or above. If a beam laser replaces a pulse laser the price of the pulse laser is refunded after the beam one has been fitted.
Pulse Laser Specification: Ingram Model 1919A4 Pulse Laser is recommended for all positional laser mountings, but is especially effective for rear-shooting. Fires intermittent laser “rods” 610mm in length, with a cycle rate of 1500 RoPM. The barrel is of high grade Allutium fiber, lined with tempered QuQorian Silica. Power provided directly from inverse energy banks contained in main ship’s drive. Each rod is capable of piercing 267mm of Flux-Locked metal.
Beam Laser Specification: Ingram Model M1928A2 is highly recommended for front shooting. beam lasers fire continuous laser strands, up to 150 in parallel. Barrel is Allutium + lined with tensioned plastiglass, and as with the 1919A4 Pulse laser, power is provided by main drive link. Beam lasers are capable of slicing through 410mm FL metal.
Military lasers are the very height of sophistication. Costing fifteen times the price of a pulse laser and available only on planets at Tech level 10, it is an extremely effective piece of hardware. (See also Mining lasers under Non-Combative Equipment)
Military Laser Specification: Range and penetration twice as effective as the Ingram Model M1928A2 beam laser. This is Lance & Ferman’s entre into the laser market. Hitherto known for their highly effective and relatively cheap missile systems, in the military laser they have in effect created a whole new laser market. The LF90 is the current computer-aided model and comes with x4SUSAT sights.
Missiles are always available, whatever the nature of your destination world, though no more than four may be carried at any one time. They are extremely effective weapons and are carried by the larger star ships. Your ship’s computer will warn you when one is fired at you with a message on- screen. Unless your ship is fitted with ECM (see below) you will have to outmaneuver the missile, which will home in on you relentlessly. If a missile hits you, it can almost completely exhaust a fully charged shield and, if your shields and energy are low, may well be fatal.
Before a missile can be fired it must be locked onto a target. When fired, it will home in on that target and destroy it, unless your enemy successfully takes on of the precautions described above. The missile launch mechanism is very reliable and hardly ever jams. Missiles can be locked onto targets in any view (F1, F2, F3 or F4).
The targeting sequence is engaged by hitting the T key. The square missile status indicator on the astrogation console will then turn purple. When any possible target enters the cross-hair region the missile will lock onto it, the missile status block turning red. A beep will sound to inform you of this.
Pressing the I key switches on the ship ID computer. This computer will tell you the class of the next enemy ship to pass in front of your cross- hairs, and then it will automatically Lock a missile onto that ship.
The M key will then fire the missile. The U key (Unarm) will abort the sequence at any time before firing.
Missile Specification: Lance & Ferman Homing Missiles (4×4) are now recommended for all small class trade-combat ships, but can be fitted as part of a mixed design weapon rack. LF missiles have 2IL-135 guidance systems, and optional manual directional control overrides. Warhead packed with Terminal 9 explosive, and the 4×4 is invulnerable to all known counteraction, except ECM systems. Capable of Megazon Destruct Force 7. Prototype first used in 2987, during Ineran Wars.
Readily available and relatively cheap at 30 credits missiles are extremely effective weapons. T targets a missile when an enemy is in your sites (a bleep confirms this). F will fire it. U will unarm it. In the picture this ship’s energy banks are about to be substantially reduced.
An energy bomb will be offered for sale at a planet of Tech level 7 or higher, and can be used only once. It is activated by the TAB key and will destroy all other ships, asteroids, and missiles in the vicinity.
Energy Bomb Specification: Medusa Pandora Self Homing Energy Bomb (available at Tech Level 7 worlds or higher) is a tactical weapon capable of Megazon Destruct Force 13. Has heat radius of 900 km. Developed by Klaus-Kline laboratories for multi- role combat using “launch-and-leave” techniques.
The Orbit Space around any Coriolis Space Station is safe. The Stations own defences will come to your immediate assistance. Entry to safety zone is signalled with a large “S” on the astrogation console.
SHIELDS AND ENERGY BANKS
You ship comes equipped with fore and aft shields and energy banks. The shields protect your ship from agressive fire, and will be recharged from the energy banks. Constant fire will harm the shields. Once a shield is depleted, enemy lasers and missiles striking that shield will take energy directly from the energy banks and may even destroy items of cargo or ship fittings. When all your energy banks are empty your ship will be destroyed. Using lasers or an ECM system will also deplete your energy banks.
The ship’s computer will keep you informed of any damage to your ship and will also warn you when energy levels are dangerously low.
An Extra Energy Unit may be fitted at planets of Tech level 8 or higher, and doubles the energy bank replenishment rate. This is the energy unit with the copper colored top. No other unit looks like it, or lasts like it.
Defensive Shield Specification: The shields consist of hi-tense flux webs of Zieman-charged sub-particles. They are weakest where the laser and missile tubes pass through the ship’s hull, and along the central ship bank where the two shields overlap, and cause a stress zone.
An ECM System (literally Electronic Counter Measures System) is offered for sale at Tech level 2, and may be used any number of times given sufficient energy replacement. When activated by the E key, ECM destroys all missiles in your vicinity – including any that you have fired. Some enemy ships, especially traders, will have this and may use it against your missiles. Your ship’s computer displays an E on the console when it detects ECM broadcasts.
Anti-missile (ECM) System Specification: Radiant-Magnetic “wipe-out” using ion-saturation theory developed by Bell and Braben on riedquat 359. Electronic Counter Measures Systems use minute charged particles of InterSpac heavy Element dust, releasing their radiant energy and setting up expanding nuclear flux chains.
An escape capsule can be fitted in place of your cabin at any world of Tech level 6 or higher. If Q is then hit during combat the capsule will be jettisoned from the ship, be automatically tracked by the nearest world and will travel safely to a Coriolis space station. Your cash will be preserved but all your cargo will be lost.
However, this item comes with a widely recognized insurance cover which will guarantee you a new Cobra Class ship, equipped in like manner. The contents of the cargo hold is exempt from this protection.
Since the unique IR signature of a ship’s hull is used to file police records, abandoning your ship in this way will have the effect (unfortunately exploited as much by galactic brigands as trader victims) of clearing your police record.
You may see an escape capsule leaving an enemy ship. This will not harm you unless you crash into it.
Escape Capsule Specification: Recommended model is the Xeesian FastJet LSC 7, which can support two human life-forms for seven weeks, in moderate Suspended An.state.
Fuel is always available. You can refill your tanks to full (7 light-year) capacity – no less is permitted.
Fuel Scoops may be fitted to the hull at a planet of Tech level 5 or higher. These enable a ship to obtain free hyperspace fuel by ” skimming the sun ” – flying close to it at high velocity.
Since fuel scoops utilize powerful electro-magnetic fields to guide the solar winds into their converters, they may also be used to pick up miscellaneous space debris. Almost all pirate vessels are fitted with these so that they can blast their prey apart and sift among the wreckage, rather than attempt to dock with a hostile craft.
Once fuel scoops are installed, you can scoop up an object (such as a cargo canister) by keeping it in the lower half of the screen view areas while flying right up to it.
Fuel Scoop Specification: Fuel scoops are considered an essential for Deep Space, and dangerous zone trading. They have a standard design, and a standard fitment. They use powerful electromagnetic fields to guide solar wind or small space debris into their ReQax convertors.
CARGO BAY EXTENSION
One cargo bay extension can be bought, increasing the hold space from 20 to 35 tonnes.
Cargo Bay Extension Specification: Standard model is the Mariner Freight Chamber.
This is available from all Tech level 9 planets; they are fitted to the ship’s flight control system and enable it to dock the ship automatically. The auto-docking sequence is triggered by the C key and switched off by pressing C again.
Docking Computer Specification: The SinCorn RemLock D&A System is a sophisticated and expensive piece of gadgetry. It comes with MemnSomn pilot interaction to induce hi-cram sleep during the maneuvers.
The intergalactic hyperdrive is obtainable only from planets at Tech level 10 or higher, and can only be used once. The Inter-Galactic Hyperdrive is engaged by pressing G then H.
IGH Specification: although a number of manufacturers have supported a whole range of IGH motors, it is recommended you remain loyal to Xexor/Hikan who provide the standard hyperspace transit drives.
ASTEROID MINING LASERS
Asteroid mining involves the fitting of fuel scoops and special mining lasers to your ship. Ships which always carry them are known as “Belters”. They search for asteroids and, on finding one, use the laser to fragment it into pieces sufficiently small to be taken into the cargo bay.
Mining Lasers Specification: Kruger Model ARM64 Sp. Mining laser is highly recommended as both a trade and combat addition. Uses variable frequency laser rods of 200mm length, fired in wide beam, 100 channels/beam. Automatic debris-pattern lock ensures no fragments of large size of target asteroid impinge on ship space. can be fitted with a fuel and matter scoop.
KEY FUNCTION – COMBAT
A Fire laser
T arget missile
I Ship ID computer
M Fire missile
U Unarm missile
E Operate ECM
TAB Launch energy bomb
Q Launch escape capsule
F4 Equipment acquisition