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)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A brief visit to the Empire

Levi-Montalcini City, Yakabugai system. My rank seems to have advanced during my last session; I am now "Merchant". But tonight, I want to put my hauling on hold. Actionnnn!

Initially, I want to buy a Viper, but it is not available here, so I go for the Eagle. As outfits, almost all components are here in "B" quality, plus an A3 shield! For weapons, I stick to my earned two loaned pulse lasers and the gimballed multicannon on top.

Launch, supercruise, aaand a first interdiction which I eagerly anticipate. Dropping out, deploying weapons, life support goes offline, along with thrusters and most other modules. WTF, I have a class B2 power plant! Yes, says my brain, but you also stuffed an probably powerhungry A3 shield and all those B want a sip of it, too... You really should have payed attention to the power readings in the outfitting screen, right, Mr. Noob?!

The Clipper destroys me moments after I figured out how to shut off enough modules. I even had to shut down a weapon to get me back online. As I then try to circle the Clipper, I am already at 30% hull and the Clipper immediately shows some advanced maneuvers, by entirely going into reverse thrust and firing away at me. I am baffled how fast those ships can sometimes flip around and kick into full reverse trust and how long it takes even with boost to pass them then. Anyways, with the first maneuver like this, the Clipper blasts my Eagle down to 7% hull integrity, then my boost carries me far away behind him, the Clipper must have thrusted forward again, then it flips and goes into reverse again, and before I even have a chance to get close or out of his firing position, my ship is done for.

I am very annoyed about my blunder with the power settings because, started on equal level, the Clipper would have provided for a really challenging fight, and I like challenges.

Next try. But interdictions are slow to come, and no Clipper. I also realize that I hesitate to go on bounty hunting, because I am still not sure about the reputation losses. I am still hostile with the Federation because I shot down "wanted" Federation ships. Probably a bug and of which I do not know if it has been fixed by now.

Instead, I decide to make use of my class B3 jump range of 14,42 / 13,82 ly and go to finally drop off my dusty old staple of Empire bounty vouchers in Liadin. This is a system which belongs to the Empire, with an extraction economy, set alone in the mid of Federation space. I wasn´t able to go there before, because some jumps to get there were out of scope for the starter frameshift drives.

On my second jump, my Eagle´s fuel tank is already half empty: Thankfully, the current system, LP 751-1, has stations, so I stop at Lamarr Ring to fuel up (my Eagle, being a small combat ship, has only room for an interdictor instead of a fuel scoop, and not even a d-scanner). There is also a black market. Commodities show that it is an agricultural system, with a high supply of all kinds of food and drink stuff, but a corresponding good "high demand" is entirely missing. So this station is useless for high profit trading.

Next stop: Chowei system, which has two brown dwarves next to the primary yellow star. Then another system which I do not bother about, then I am finally arriving at Liadin. There are three stations here, and I go for the closest, Kohl Terminal. The different welcome sound of the station menu and the logo make clear, this is Empire space. Security ships are called "Internal security", which gives me already the feeling of being host in a more opressive country. Roughly 20k CR of bounty vouchers  I can now finally cash in. The commodity market shows only a low supply/demand structure. I also buy all cartographic data in order to get a bit more aquainted with the galaxy, without having to have a d-scanner on board. I should do this more consistently in every system I pass by!

As I launch for checking out the other two stations, a Cobra of a CMDR zips by, and he hails me via voice comms. He is working on raising his reputation and we agree to meet at the sun´s nav point. I again forget that communication is cut as soon as I leave this instance, and I cannot see his ship in supercruise, so I hope that we are actually going to be rejoined at some point; I even forgot to write down his name!

As I enter supercruise, the hooting hailing sound from voice comm persists. I just can get rid of it by relaunching the game. After that, I travel towards the main star, but I do not see any nav point there. Weird. Some unidentified signals distract me. In the first, two "wanted" ships cruise about. I quickly destroy one, and as I make way for the other one, the security ships turn red on my scanner. I did not get where that came from, but I take my cue and frameshift away.

Another unidentified signal has a "wanted" Cobra, rated "dangerous". Could be a challenge! For a long time, the fight is just about circling and whittling it down. Then suddenly it happens, some kind of advanced maneuver with reverse thrust, and I get my ass handet to me. 7% hull seems to be the magic number for me, because this is again what is left after two such maneuvers from the opponent. I have no idea how to counter this. The opponent seems to turn on the spot while at the same time, I am not able to get any closer to him without a healthy boost (which usually also immedeately carries me well beyond close range), dodging fire seems also impossible even when applying maximum vertical thrust while shifting position to the opponents horizontal axis. Either I do not get something here or the maneuver is bugged. It sure feels like teleporting for me: For most times no problems to stick to him, and suddenly nothing is possible.

After this incident, I continue my plan to check for the two other stations in this system. Both have no sufficient demand/suppy structure, and most contracts from the bulletin board are off limits for my Eagle with only 2ton cargo capacity (I did not find yet a 4ton upgrade). Do I want now to raise my reputation with the Empire? If yes, how, if I cannot do most contracts for this purpose? Not sure what to do. The Eagle seems to be entirely unsuited for this plan. Not sure if catching "wanted" target would raise reputation; it should, but nothing is clear.

Out of curiousity; I check the close by Federal industrial hihg population system. Indeed, it is large, at least seven stations, a mix of agricultural and industrial dominated stations. I could probably try to look for a good trade route there, but no agricultural product comes close the the possible high profits of metals and minerals. My trade route in Yakubai remains unbeaten.

In the end, the best thing I can do is travel back to Yakubai, and either continue my grind there until I have an Asp. An Asp would allow me to both trade and fight, like a Cobra, but with a cargo capacity greater than a Type 6 and a total of six weapon mounts. After the Asp, there is a big "hole" concerning the next best ship; the Clipper at 21 million Credits seems to be the next big leap.

An unidentified signal close to the star of one of the many systems on my way back lures me in. It has only clean ships, no, wait, a "wanted" Orca at 5km out. This is something rare; passenger ships are usually not piloted by criminals. I make way towards it, but it is heading away from me and before I come within range, it jumps out. Before I can approach another "wanted" target, suddenly three red blips appear; Federation Fighters. They appear, as in, not turning from yellow to red. And there is some rather hostile sounding comm chatter. Don´t know if it is me or why I deserve this attention, as something like this did not happen yet. Since it is late and I do not want to antagonize Federation forces any further, I jump out.

Back in Yakubai, I do two more trade runs, but have to realize that the demand of tantalum has considerably lessened. I also spot a lot of CMDR ships, most of them haulers. Seems like more players learned to appreciate this system (or I have more readers of my blog than I believe...).

Leaving this session, I am a bit unsure about my course of action. Clearly, I should have a goal, which also gives enough room for emerging gameplay, like that exciting encounter with a Clipper which blew my canopy. I wish the game was a bit easier and more frequent on those assassination missions, or some escort missions; maybe I should start looking for conflict zones? Concerning the latter, I assume that the launch will kickstart lots of conflict zones, with the Empire background story emerging. Until then, I better get some more cash and have a good ship ready.

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