Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Monday, 18 August 2014

Planetary grandeur

[Shortly after 08.00 clock Metropolis time I had turned off the engine, and since then Delta VII was drifting on her chosen path further along through the infinity of space. Only the additional units hummed and continued to fulfill their duty, to provide us with light, heat and oxygen and to keep the cockpit window from icing.
Nothing can be compared with such drifting in space. The engine is a deceitful friend. As long as it converts energy into motion and thus drives the ship, it pretends that even the infinity has its clearly defined limits. In a way it makes the people who entrust themselves to it, feeling the ship as a bridge between two habitable points: the start and the destination. But when it stops workingthe deception ceases. The measurable time fades in face of millions and billions of light years. Only the reliability of the machine allows us to return to the world to which we belong, in the world of men, before the realization of the endless tears apart the consciousness.]

  - Mark Brandis, Unternehmen Delphin

My Viper awaits me, fully equipped with deadly armament; two C4 cannons and two C2 burst lasers. Thanks to the super helpful fitting hints in this threat in the ED-forum especially from Zoe and all the vets who made an appearance there! I had fitted it already on Friday before I left for the weekend and patrolled some unidentified signals (US). It works fabulously; burst lasers crisps their shields from afar, shatter them with cannon fire from close up. Made a video, maybe for upload if I have time.

Sunday night, I set course to LP-whatever, some more challenge I look for in players who like to grief. Two US I take to get into the pilot seat again, feel how she steers and veers. After the hyperjump, supercruise frames in, and I am closing in on Freeport. This station is orbiting a huge red-brown planet with a ring, very similar to our Saturn. Maybe owed to my somber mood still left from the long weekend, its majestic sight draws me in. An extraction site pops up, right in the middle of the mighty ring, close to the station. Changing course.

This is what space games are about. Majestic. I let my ship drift along in silence, frameshift a bit and jump back to normspace, repeat. The planet looms over me, I feel almost drawn towards it, the visuallity instills a feeling of its mighty gravitational pull. I take back anything I said about planets not looking good. I can see mountains and valleys and I can really imagine how I, one day, will finally descend from orbit and touch virtual extra terra. For now, let pictures speak.

An US close to the ring beckons me; a ship lost its cargo of Coltan there, and I scoop them in front of the awesome background, so very close to the planet. It dwarfes you. Entering supercruise is soon bolted out again, too close to the planet, looming in two third of my view. I have to follow a precice escape vector as given by the computer. It makes me hunger for more, I need that planetary landing expansion, and I want it soon!

Two Cobras interdict me, and my Viper, a heavy cruiser by its weapon loadout, makes them suffer. Did I already write about how glorious the combat feels with this background scenery? I did, kind of? Well, you get my point then.

Before I reach this extraction site, another interdiction pulls me unceremoniously from supercruise. Four Sidewinders; I did not have a challenge like this since those infamous pre-beta combat missions! But confident I am, since my ship and weapon is so much more advanced since at those times (a Sidewinder with a gimpy beam laser and some missiles was all I had back then). However, on my first pass I miss the opportunity to obliterate a first Sidewinder, and things go to hell from here on. Two Sidewinders launch whole volleys of missiles. It must be six to twelve missiles which lit up my radar, they were launched close up and are crazily fast. I can do nothing but watch my shield fizzle and my armor melt. I triggered a boost, but this carries me far out of my cannon´s effective range, too late, and gives them a second occasion to lock on, and, noo, another volley incoming!

This is another true "Elite"-moment. After the second volley impacts, my hull is at 19%, but I stay on-target and shred the first Sidewinder. Three Sidewinders left, boosting out of range with only limited sucess, god, not another missile volley please... and I am heard. Laserfire scatters ineffectively over my battered ship´s hull, a dimlight of a shield re-engages, and I swoop in and tear through another Sidewinder. Or so it is in my memory. From there on, I regain control of the battle, firing and circling only subconsciously while my mind is just busy with keeping my act together. Then it is over. I manage to capture it on video, hope I can upload it soon.

But my next stop for sure must be Freeport. What an easy prey I would now be for another CMDR there...

However, I am lucky, so I think. Dropping out of supercruise,  manage to boost and FAoff close to Freeport. No other CMDR to be seen. However, my docking macro fails for some reason, I am stuck in the menu and I still speed like a bullet directly at the station. Normally I boost while I point a bit next to the station, but apparently, the battle left its mark on my nerves. I fly like a drunk. In the last moment I manage to switch the flight computer back online and counter-boost to my trajectory and thus avoid to become another splash on a space station´s impervious hull. Whew. Safe point.

Repairs cost me 2200 Credits, the 8 units of Coltan I have scooped along the way bring me 3200 Credits; all is well. Now it is finally time for a player hunt! With roaring engines I blast out of the docking area, right into the fire of five player Vipers...

Joking! It is quite the opposite. I start cautiously and scan every ship even before I dare to exit the station. No playership on scanners. Doesn´t mean anything, if some savy CMRD out there knows how to go stealth. I am sure they do. Finally out, I cautiously circle the station, always on the move, never presenting a fixed target. There, a Sidewinder, Backer#number-something. Easy prey, unfair. Well, it is just my itchy triggafinga, sorry! However, my fire just pearls off, his shields do not budge. Full salvo? Not possible! He accelerates and... vanishes? Weird, very weird. I throw off my caution as my experimental vein comes out. I actively look out for more players. After about 40 minutes, I have the following yield:
- CMDR Antonysmith: vanishes before I can engange
- CMDR [forgotname] jumps before I can get close
- CMDR unironed: never saw him, except for a chat line "hey, was this PvP?" - I have no idea pal, I never even did spot your name on the scanner!?? So I did not know how to reply, the comm system is awful, I am sorry!
- CMDR Denc: immune as the first, then vanishes
- CMDR [forgotnamealreadyannoyed]: vanishes before I can get close

So much for my first attempt for an active, own-initiative PvP. I did not go for haulers, as it is obvious that they would not want to PvP and I had a more "sportive" approach tonight.

I give up and set course again for the extraction site. This time, I arrive without any incidence and happily cruise around between all those asteroids. Every yellow ship is free for taking, as an anarchy system does not inflict bounties upon agression. I destroy a fair share of ships of all kinds, including one Anaconda (this time much faster than my first attempt, thanks to the powerful C4 cannons).

I see some Sidewinders firing blueish lasers at asteroids, so those must be the upcoming mining lasers; however, when my Viper approaches, they break off and either flee or attack. Apart from this, I spot nothing of specific interest. I get bored and boost out of the asteroid belt, taking some beautiful pictures with me (see above). This session ends; I have had some satisfying dogfights and a first rather interesting attempt at PvP. It is pretty obvious that the beta is not ready yet for true PvP or even player interaction. The social part of this game hast still to wait.

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