The war between Havok corp and Scoria corp in the Rethe system wages on. It’s been going for fifteen years and shows no signs of ending. The auto factories make auto defence drones and auto strike craft that launch autonomous attacks on automatically repaired bases. A stalemate of endless construction, destruction and salvage with just two outputs; weekly reports that appear on screens in two different offices in two corporate towers on either side of a bustling city street. The only real humans involved glance briefly over their respective stats before approving continuation of hostilities.
Talon corp saw this spectacle and turned it into entertainment. A televised fight to the death between a hundred gladiators competing to become the last man standing. I sit in the cockpit of my interceptor, my adversaries scattered in a sphere around the system, also waiting for their ships to power up and the fight to begin. I see flickers of light on the horizon of Semnoz far in the distance as some forgotten battle rages on.
My interceptor is stripped down to the bare minimum, a warp drive, a blaster, a short range scanner and that’s it. If I want luxuries like shields or an afterburner then I’m going to have to find them. There’s chatter on the radio, a broadcast for competitors, thirty seconds till we go. Semnoz is the closest planet so I’ll head there, I know there is a ground base that will have a few crates and I also know about a few other hidden crate locations on that planet.
The final countdown, 3, 2, 1, and I’m powered up, my throttle set to max, heading directly to the barren ice planet. My scanner will only pick up bases and other ships up to 10,000km (or 10 megameters as the fans like to phrase it) so I’m going to have to get close before I know where I’m going. Warping in I head for the horizon of the planet and as I get close to the atmosphere Exether base blips up onto my HUD just over the horizon. I orbit until I’m a few hundred km from the base and then plunge into the icy air, skimming over beautiful snow covered mountain tops and vast frozen lakes.
Instinct and training makes me look back over my shoulders as I close in on the base and sure enough, up to my 4 o’clock another interceptor is warping to get behind me, hoping to catch me by surprise as I rush for the prizes. As I pass over the industrial steel towers I spot four crates that I can see. I flip my ship around to face the other interceptor to let him know that I know he’s there. We circle each other in warp for a single circuit, but time is of the essence so one of us needs to make a move.
I drop out of warp just as I’ve lined up on a crate and make a line for it. Now I’m out of warp my scanner can see what’s in the crate and I’ve got lucky, this one has a shield generator. I accelerate towards it hoping that the other pilot will ignore me and go get a crate of his own. Blaster fire starts raining down around my ship and I curse, wishing that I had an afterburner to help me dodge. I’m losing hull, down to 79%, but I hit the crate and immediately the shield installs itself and starts to power up. I loop vertically strafing as I go and line up the other interceptor in my sights.
He’s not moving fast, too eager to get the advantage of surprise to accumulate much energy, I second guess his strafe and check I have a clear shot and open fire. Fighting inside these corp bases is risky, competitors are treated as neutrals by default, but a stray shot could change that and turn the base defences against me. I get a good run of hits along his body and see his hull tick down below 50%. Getting the shield was a piece of luck and the couple of hits he gets back on me are absorbed comfortably.
The range between us starts increasing and I realise he’s backing off. I do a quick cycle through current targets and note another ship now within my 10Mm scanner range. I decide I need to get finished here and disengage, getting upgrades is more important than kills right now. I find the next crate, aware that the other guy will probably come back and try to get cheap shots on me as I scavenge.
This crate has a shotgun in it, no use to me as it won’t fit on my interceptor. On to the next, noting that the range to the other ship in the target indicator is reducing again. The next crate contains a long range scanner, pretty useful for quickly finding bases. I check the target indicator and decide that guy isn’t going away and needs dealing with first, I swing around a metal tower and as he comes into range I appear from the side of it and start shooting. I keep near the tower to bait him into hitting it and turning the base against him. I don’t have to worry, his attack is a suicide run straight towards me, even a blaster can make short work of an interceptor that’s not trying to dodge.
As the fireball fades I take the crate with the scanner and look for the last crate, when I see it I find that it has 1000 credits in it. Very lucky, I just need to get to a military base and I can get some repairs. The third ship is getting close now and I don’t see any more crates so I decide to bug out. Using my newly acquired long range scanner I look for a large base likely to have a repair facility. Glimmerfall in orbit around Cinder looks like a good bet, so I engage my warp drive and head for space.