Splinter Group

Part one of an EV:O trilogy

Splinter Group - a short EV:O story
by Richard Farr
about 4800 words

What most people don’t realise is that every time a successful commander buys himself a shiny new starship, there’s a not-so-shiny, not-so-new starship to be disposed of. Some people have to content themselves with these ‘previously enjoyed’ ships. Especially those who have just arrived by escape pod, and haven’t managed to keep up with their insurance payments lately.

At Cerberus Station, Pirrip Flek and a few of his crew sat through a ship auction, glumly noting the high prices that the ships fetched. The rest of the crew were still down in sick bay. Crammed into just two escape pods, hygiene had been less than optimum, and almost everyone had suffered dysentery.

Studying the auction programme, it was clear that there were very few ships that they could afford, even at the reserve price. A few new hopefuls bought cheap shuttles and some widebrats got Kraits, but if Pirrip was to keep his fine crew together he needed a proper cargo ship. The only ships that suited his requirements and his budget, even vaguely, were a battered old Helian and a UE Freighter. Even in these, he would have been forced to put most of the crew in passenger accommodation. For someone used to commanding a bulk freighter, it was quite a comedown.

He was outbid in both cases. Even with the rest of the crew pitching in their own savings, getting off Cerberus Station and back into action was going to be difficult. As the auction moved on to smaller lots of salvaged equipment, Pirrip headed for the bar. Over piffle juice and gibbon mcnuggets, Chief Engineer Bullert outlined some options.

“We could afford a gaggle of shuttles...”

“Do you want to do the Pax run in a shuttle? I don’t.”

“There’s got to be other ships for sale. A private sale, maybe?”

Pirrip shook his head sadly. “No, I checked. It’s a local government rule that all ship transfers in this system have to go through Englook Aerospace, the company that ran the auction.”

“Sounds like someone’s got some pretty juicy holographs of the local government officials.”

“Maybe. Question is, how do we convince Englook Aero to sell us a cargo hauler for one hundred and seventy-four thousand credits? Call it one hundred and sixty thousand once we’ve paid off the hospital bills.”

“I think we need some juicy pictures of government officials ourselves.”

“Yeah. Check the Ultranet,” Pirrip joked.

“In my youth,” said Bullert, “I’d have got a surplus U.E. fighter, toasted a renegade or two, and looted the wreckage.

“You’re never certified to fly a U.E. fighter!” exclaimed Pirrip.

Bullert raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

“Anyway, we’re staying together. No way is one of us going off to play hero.” And no way are you flying off alone with all our assets, was the unspoken objection, understood by all.

“Patience,” agreed Heegel, but he was a Miranu. Patience came easily to his kind.

With five days until the next auction was due, there wasn’t much that Pirrip and his crew could do. One by one, they were being declared fit by the medics, briefly enjoying the freedom of being out of sick bay, and then realising just how limited the opportunities for fun were on Cerberus Station.

Pirrip found himself at a viewport, staring up into space. About a kilometre away, he could see the opposite side of the station’s torus section, people just visible as they walked past viewports. Much of the view was obscured as a large ship of unfamiliar design drifted into place near a docking port. Jets of steam flared, then turned instantly to drifting ice crystals as the old-fashioned manoeuvring jets fired.

“Stupid piece of junk,” someone said. A short, fat man had joined Pirrip at the viewport.

“You know this vessel?” Pirrip asked. As a trader captain, he knew that every ship in space had someone who loved it. Even the strange brown craft outside, lumpy with tarnished brackets and hardpoints, must be somebody’s pride and joy.

“Know it?” the newcomer growled, “I own it. Stig Englook at your service.”

“Englook? The auctioneer?”

“That’s me.” An ugly piece of jewellery on Englook’s lapel beamed a virtual business card to Pirrip’s organiser.

He returned the favour. “Pirrip Flek.”

“Well let me tell you, Pirrip Flek, don’t ever buy alien technology. I accepted those pieces of junk out there in part exchange, and I can’t even sell them for scrap! I can’t dock them here either, since they don’t have standard fittings...”

Pirrip saw that the large ship had been joined by two smaller craft, the same unattractive brown colour. They were being lashed in place against the hull of the large craft by space-suited figures. “Hmm,” he said. Englook’s claim that the ship couldn't be sold for scrap seemed an exaggeration, since the alloys that make up a ship’s hull retain considerable value, even if everything else is ruined.

Englook studied the business card he had been given.

“Captain Flek. And what do you command, sir?”

“Until recently, a bulk freighter, the Spirit of Lembris. Destroyed by pirates.”

It was as if someone had thrown a switch. Englook beamed. “If you’re looking for a replacement, I’m sure we’ll be able to do business. Why, this coming Gremsday I shall be auctioning several high capacity vessels...”

“Indeed sir. I attended your last auction, though I’m afraid I found most of your hardware somewhat beyond my price range.”

Englook’s light went out, as suddenly as it had appeared. “I’m sorry to hear that, captain.”

“Space is so much more dangerous than it used to be, I fear,” Pirrip let the conversation run on autopilot while he had his organiser send out a frantic message to Heegel and Bullert; drop everything and come here!

While Pirrip and Englook discussed the latest developments in the Voinian campaign, Bullert arrived at a dead run. “Oh, hello there!” called Pirrip as if the meeting was purely coincidental, “Stig Englook, meet one of my crew, Gregor Bullert. Out jogging, Gregor?”

Bullert, giving every appearance of a man who does not enjoy running and does not do it often, took his cue. “That’s right! Pleased to meet you, Mr. Englook.”

“We were just discussing this alien vessel,” said Pirrip, “an interesting curiosity, is it not?” He hoped Bullert would understand.

“As you say, an interesting curiosity,” Bullert replied. “Does it run?”

Many starship owners would be insulted by such a question, but it was clear that Englook seldom formed a close attachment to the ships he bought and sold. “Oh, it runs well enough.”

Heegel arrived, moving sedately. “Hello Heegel, fancy meeting you here!” exclaimed Pirrip. “Allow me to introduce Mr. Stig Englook.”

Recognising Heegel’s look of polite incomprehension, Pirrip added, “The auctioneer.” He was relieved that his Negotiator had arrived, but he wished the Miranu could be a little more devious. “We were just discussing that unusual alien craft...” He indicated the ship floating outside.

Englook had caught on, at last. He launched into his sales pitch, but he probably knew he was already too late. He had talked himself into a corner. “Very unusual, sirs. Virtually unique! The hull is fascinating; a composite construction based on an organic cellulose compound...”

Heegel looked towards Pirrip and puffed out his throat minutely. The Miranu equivalent to a conspiratorial wink. Then back to Englook; “Unique composite construction? Fascinating. Though probably difficult for human-qualified engineers to work on... and getting parts for it must be all but impossible...” The Negotiator knew his job well.

Presently, Pirrip suggested that perhaps Englook would like to join them for some sunberry dew. They went to a bar nearby and he ordered a bottle of the expensive beverage. Another dent in their finances, but traditionally a part of any negotiations. Pirrip looked pointedly at his Chief Engineer, and when that had no effect he kicked him under the table. Bullert looked longingly at the bottle of chilled sunberry dew, but he obeyed the obvious instruction.

“Do you know,” he said, “I’d love to have a closer look at that alien craft.”

“I thought you might,” Englook replied, issuing an electronic authorisation. “Be my guest.”

Bullert was thorough, and when he returned, Pirrip and Englook were halfway through their third bottle of sunberry dew. Heegel had accepted only a token amount of the drink; his race had an appallingly low tolerance for alcohol.

“Thanks Mr. Englook,” said Bullert as he sat down again. “Enjoyed it. Never seen such a ship. Did you know all the bolts in the vessel go counter-clockwise? Fascinating” He continued in this vein for several minutes, describing his visit to the ship as if it had been a holiday excursion. As he talked, he drummed his fingers on the table top, apparently absentmindedly;

Tap tap tap, tap ta-tap... tap tap tap, tap ta-tap... It was the most ancient cipher, the one which spacers still learn because you can get a message through with even the most primitive equipment. Armed with just a flashlight or a spark gap transmitter, or even by banging on a bulkhead. Bullert’s message simply said: OK.

As he listened to the Chief Engineer’s description of the ‘fascinating configuration of the methane-based life support system,’ Englook fought to hide his impatience. Eventually, faced with a growing list of oddities (or potential incompatibilities for a prospective owner), he spoke.

“As I said... it’s virtually unique. Could you see yourself at the command console of such a ship, captain?”

“Goodness,” said Pirrip, as if the thought had never occurred to him. “It’s not exactly what I had in mind...” He topped up Englook’s glass.

“It’s quite something,” Englook pressed. “A real head-turner, and a snip at two hundred and twenty-five thousand credits.”

“A head-turner as you say. Who would have thought to find a spacecraft made from an organic cellulose compound?” Pirrip replied, “I wish you luck, sir. Two hundred and twenty-five thousand credits you say? What do you think of that, Heegel?”

The Miranu pretended to ponder, mimicking human body language. “I think that the orbital museum at Paaren might well pay that sum for such an interesting craft. Have you seen their display? Some most interesting craft there, including an experimental colony transport made almost entirely out of ice. And sections of the ancient ship that they found on Telnan, embedded in sedimentary rock. Fascinating...”

Fearing that the conversation was about to sink back into technical babble, Englook tried to take control. “Yes I believe it should fetch that price, if not more. A valuable investment, you see.”

“Getting that ship to Paaren could prove troublesome,” Bullert warned. “The life support is inappropriate, and the ship’s control systems are on their last legs.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing that couldn’t be fixed,” Englook bristled, “that’s a very robust craft.”

“I don’t know. There’s an awful lot of work required. Even if someone managed to figure out the alien hardware, they’d need to strip parts off the two little ones to get the big ship working properly...”

“But it’s not impossible?”

“Oh, no. Probably not anyway. A few days in dry-dock and you’d soon be able to ship her off to Paaren.” Bullert’s tone was helpful, but he was actually taking a certain amount of malicious delight in delivering the bad news. Everyone around the table knew that a few days in dry-dock would cost many thousands.

Heegel chipped in. “For a ship that size, fuel for the Paaren run would be about fifteen thousand, I expect.”

Pirrip could see the numbers clicking into place behind Englook’s polite mask. Expected sales value minus repair costs, cost for fuel, crew wages...”

He was tempted. “I might,” he gestured expansively, “let someone take her off my hands, for a reasonable price, to manage the refit and the trip to Paaren on their own account. I’m an auctioneer, not an engineer...” He smiled.

“Now there is a very interesting proposition,” said Pirrip. “I’m wondering how much you might be letting the ship go for, in its unrestored condition...?”

“Well, how does two hundred thousand sound?”

“Ah. You’re obviously more fond of wooden spacecraft than I thought,” said Pirrip, and made to leave.

“Look! I don’t like to see a man and his crew in a tight spot,” said Englook. “You seem a decent sort... call it a hundred and seventy-five thousand?”

Pirrip brought out his credstick and plugged it into the table terminal, paying for the three bottles of sunberry dew. As he did so, the display read:

Shared account: crew of the Spirit of Lembris.

Opening balance: 163,136 cr
Sunberry dew (bottle) x 3: 1,680
Service charge: 252
Closing balance: 161,204 cr
Have a good day!

Pirrip invited Englook to view this, and then he placed the credstick in front of him. “That’s everything we have. What do you say?”

Englook stared at him for a moment, eyes narrowing. “It’s getting hard for an honest man to make a living,” he said.

“You’re right there,” said Pirrip with a smile.

“Ah, go on then. And I hope she gets wood worm.” Englook beamed the credits into his own account, and gave Pirrip a receipt.

After the purchase of their new starship, the crew didn’t have a single, solitary credit between them. Fortunately, three of the younger crew members were able to get temporary jobs in the fast-food restaurants on the station promenade, so nobody had to starve. One of the first engineering jobs Bullert’s team faced was to make a standard airlock and docking clamp for the Big Ship. (It didn’t have a name.) Parts for this job came from a destroyer that had been damaged while pursuing pirates through an asteroid belt. Having the resources of a whole civilisation at their disposal, the United Earth Navy often replaced things outright when they might have been repaired.

Once equipped with a docking clamp, Bullert’s team pumped the foul methane atmosphere out of the ship, and docked it at last. Throughout an entire quadrant of Cerberus station, peoples’ ears popped from the pressure drop as a shipful of air was ‘stolen’. It would be kept fresh by life support systems salvaged from the escape pods that had brought the crew to the station. Once it was no longer necessary to wear a space suit inside the ship, the crew went to work cleaning out the interior. It stank. Aliens and alien vermin had left unmistakable evidence of their worst habits.

After ten days, work was progressing well and Pirrip commended Bullert. “It’s not so difficult, really,” he said modestly. “I’ve noticed there are a lot of similarities with some of the simpler devices I used to work on in the Navy. In fact, here and there, I’d swear we’ve got Voinian technology.”

“When can we move out, do you think?” Pirrip asked.

“The Big Ship will be all ready for a shakedown flight in about five days. Give me another five after that and I’ll have the little ships ready as well. Fuel is a problem, of course. We’ve got manoeuvring reserves, but nothing to jump with...”

“Wait a moment,” Heegel interrupted, “you claimed the two small ships would need to be cannibalised in order to repair the large one!”

“Ah,” Bullert grinned, “perhaps my initial estimate was a little too cautious.”

“Hah!” the Miranu exclaimed, “You should have been a Negotiator!”

The day came when the repairs were finished. At least, the ships were as ready as they were going to be, on no budget. Bullert showed Pirrip around proudly.

“The truth of the matter is, any of my children could have made this ship spaceworthy again. It’s so simple, it frightens me.”

“It had better be simple,” Pirrip replied, “since we’re at about half strength on the crew roster.” In truth, Pirrip had never commanded such a large ship. Standing in the main hold felt odd. It was cold enough that he could see his breath when he exhaled and the only thing holding the vacuum of space at bay was a hull made largely of varnished wood. The shiver that went down his spine was only partially caused by the cold, he was sure.

Bullert had enlarged the cargo doors, and brought the two small craft inside. They looked them over together. “See this missile tube?” said Bullert, “Original Voinian, or I’m a fool.” Pirrip didn’t fancy being mistaken for a Voinian ally, but the United Earth Intelligence Net held no records at all of ships like his.

“These are new to me, though,” Bullert said, indicating the multi-barrelled weapon on the front of the little craft. “Again, they’re simple enough, but if you don’t have the resources to build blazer weapons, these mass-driver cannon are a pretty good substitute. They use an electromagnetic accelerator to launch iron slugs at high speed. Quite clever.” High praise from the Chief Engineer.

With the ship ready, it was Pirrip’s task to find some work to do. The problem was that they didn’t have money for fuel, and with so many ships and cargoes being lost, victims of either warfare or piracy, nobody was prepared to pay in advance.

After his fourth rejection, Pirrip decided to change his approach. With a ship that nobody recognised, he was at liberty to go for other kinds of work. Rather than presenting himself as a freighter captain, he introduced himself as a mercenary, hoping nobody would look him up and notice his ‘mostly harmless’ combat rating. He ordered that the two little ships should be launched and flown around among the streams of cargo ships coming up from the planet below. Their unusual shape prompted several people to hail them. From the bridge of the Big Ship, Pirrip responded to their greetings, and presently got a potential customer. His mixed bag of ore haulers were about to set off for Summer, and they needed a low-budget escort in case they ran into pirates.

“So many people change their plans, delay their departure... I shall want a ten percent deposit,” said Pirrip, who desperately needed the money to buy fuel.

While the merchant captain relayed this back to his employer, Heegel fretted. “I’m not sure it’s ethical to accept escort fees from people who don’t know our vessels are made of wood, captain.”

“Part of our job is to allay their fears, Heegel. We can do that a lot better if they think our ship is made of steel.”

Heegel scowled.

“And we might just scare off some pirates, you never know.” Pirrip turned his attention back to the communication screen.

“Very well,” his client replied, “I have an escort contract ready for you to review. What do you call your task force, commander?”

“The... er... Splinter Group.”

“How unusual. Very well - I wish to depart at seventeen hundred, local.”

“Turncoat!” yelled communications officer Adams.

With their convoy, the Splinter Group had made three jumps. This time, the jump back into normal space left the ore haulers terribly spread out. Lady Luck was not smiling upon the convoy; there was no way the stragglers could reach the next jump point any time soon. Turncoat class ships were no match for the Navy, but a highly effective pirate vessel all the same.

“Very well, it’s time to earn our keep,” said Pirrip. The calmness of his voice surprised him. “Bring us to bear, then launch the fighters. Chief, have those alien weapons ready to fire.”

As the Big Ship depressurised its cargo bay, dumping the fighters into space, the enemy vessel also launched fighters. Pirrip’s small wooden fighters stayed out of sight behind the hull of the Big Ship in an effort to regain the advantage of surprise. Three Krait fighters lanced their way towards the Pirrip’s erzatz flagship.

Pirrip’s fighters burst from their hiding place, causing the incoming Kraits to wobble as they struggled to assess the new threat and keep something in their sights. You could use the speed of fighters like those against them; they flash by so fast that if you’re not exactly where they expected you to be, they’ve gone past before they can make corrections. Blazer fire slashed all around, but none of the Splinter Group vessels were hit. They replied with their mass-driver cannon but the shells moved too slowly and the Kraits flew on unharmed.

“To hell with that,” growled Bullert. “Go at them head on. Make the bastards fly straight into a hailstorm.” The fighters moved to comply.

Optic weapons have a limited range, beyond which the beam is no longer sharply focussed and damage is minimal. However, when you accelerate a slug of iron to relativistic speeds, and turn it loose in the vacuum of space, it just keeps going. As a result, the Splinter Group’s weapons had a much greater effective range than those of the Kraits. The pirates found this out on their next attack run. Two of the Kraits were battered into scrap before they got off a shot, and the other spiralled away madly, having taken damage.

“Pirate Helian on an attack vector,” Adams announced the arrival of an opportunist, attracted by the radio traffic.

“Please don’t shout into the com, Adams,” someone grumbled.

Heegel got the captain’s attention. “I’m sure we can pay off a Helian. We’ve done it before.”

“Not an option. If we show we’re scared of the Helian, it’ll be that much harder to chase the Turncoat away. And we definitely can’t pay off the Turncoat; he’s probably operating on a shoestring, just the same as we are. He’s already lost a hundred thousand credits’ worth of fighters, and now he has to defeat us or it’s all been for nothing.”

Pirrip checked the alien radar plot, and made a quick calculation. “Group will head for the Helian. Hold your fire until optimum range. Maybe he doesn’t know how we got the Kraits.”

The Helian’s crew had seen how the two Kraits had been destroyed. Instead of charging head on, they fired off a salvo of needle missiles, and then veered away. Mass-driver fire pursued the pirate, but he escaped unharmed. About half the needles slammed into the Big Ship, gouging at the wooden hull. The rest tumbled by, and off into deep space.

“We have got to get ourselves some ECM,” Bullert moaned.

As the Helian circled, looking for an opening, the surviving Krait did the same, just outside weapons range. The Turncoat was a long way behind but if the Big Ship was forced to do evasive manoeuvres it would soon close the distance and join the fight. Pirrip couldn’t afford to let that happen.

“Splinter Group fighters, engage the Helian. Use your secondary weapon if you get a clear shot.”

The two little fighters leapt towards their target, surprising the Helian. It was a standard model with fixed, front-mounted weapons. Its captain had to make a decision; to turn and target the incoming threats, or to turn his back and run.

He guessed wrong. The wooden bodies of the fighters meant they were much lighter than the pirate craft. They could accelerate better, and their top speed was higher. They reached weapons range, clung tightly to the Helian’s tail, and chewed it to pieces with mass-driver fire. One of the pilots lobbed in a Voinian rocket to finish the job. The shattered hull of the Helian spilled its six crew members into space, wriggling momentarily.

Aboard the last Krait, the pilot saw the strange fighters attacking the Helian, and the Big Ship lumbering after them as best it could. He couldn’t resist the chance to make a strafing run. He approached from behind the alien craft, where none of its guns could bear, passed below and raked its belly with blazer fire. His attack left a number of smouldering holes right through the Big Ship’s hull, though fortunately the main hold had been depressurised when the fighters were dumped out, so it didn’t suffer explosive decompression.

The Krait pilot was surprised when, half-way through his attack run, his target came to a dead stop. He overshot, right into the field of fire of the wooden ship’s bow armament. Pirrip personally directed the swivel-mounted mass-driver cannon that shot a hundred lumps of electromagnetically accelerated iron straight up his tailpipe.

“Nice work Chief,” he complimented Bullert. “How did you manage to stop the ship so fast?”

“She’s got pretty good retros, captain, and we’re built to carry about 150 tons of cargo but we’ve got an empty hold right now. Effectively, we’re over-engined by fifty percent.”

“Nice to know something works around here. Uh-oh. Get us moving again, Chief. Soonest.”

The Turncoat was upon them.

“Fighters, evasive action,” ordered Pirrip. “You are not going to slug it out with that thing. Launch remaining rockets from beyond blazer range.”

A storm of needle missiles leapt towards them from the pirate. “Quick as you can!” Pirrip added. He knew they couldn’t survive indefinitely against this monster.

One, two, three... the fighters’ heavy rockets streaked towards the Turncoat. At the same time, pirate needle missiles hammered the Big Ship. Fortunately, it seemed that needle missiles had trouble locking on to their wooden target, and at least half of them flew by harmlessly. The Turncoat darted sideways, surprising one of the fighters and catching it within blazer range. The Splinter Group ship was ruined in seconds. It tumbled away, gushing fuel and air. On the radar plot its icon was replaced with a grey square. Disabled.

Before the Turncoat could finish it off, the Big Ship and the remaining fighter closed to mass-driver range. None of the combatants had any missiles left, and none of them was undamaged.

Pirrip was still optimistic. Pirates fought for money, and there was no money to be gained here today. The ore hauler convoy had regrouped around the jump point, and could leap away at a moment’s notice. The Splinter Group was fighting for a higher principle, and a hatred of pirates still burned hot within them, since the dreadful day when they had lost the Spirit of Lembris.

The pirate captain got the picture, and decided not to chance it. Live and fight another day. The Turncoat swung about, still firing, and then moved away. His speed was greater than that of the Big Ship, so he could choose to disengage. Fighter two wanted to pursue and finish the job...

“Let him go, fighter two,” Pirrip warned. “He’s trying to sell you a Python.”

Fighter one had been taken out by a lucky hit to the engines. When the mothership caught up with it, they were delighted to find that the space-suited pilot had survived. They dragged the fighter back into the main cargo hold, and Bullert said he would probably be able to fix it up again, especially if they could find a planet with some good hardwoods.

They also boarded the Helian, and effectively doubled their profits for the trip. The leader of the ore-hauler convoy was fuming by the time Splinter Group returned to escort duties; where most captains content themselves with looting credits, ammunition, cargo and fuel, Bullert’s team had also dismounted two blaze cannon, a needle launcher and anything electronic that didn’t look completely burnt out. “It might be nice,” he explained, “to have a navigation system that uses an alphabet we’re familiar with.”

In the months that followed, a mixture of honest trading and further looting of pirate vessels furnished the Big Ship with blaze turrets to cover her blind spots, a supply of needle missiles and some shields. Bullert even managed to obtain some Dospect plating, reinforcing the wooden hull to a more respectable level. The main cargo hold was partitioned, with much of the reclaimed space being given over to equipment and ammunition. A small boat bay was added so that the refurbished fighters could be launched without dumping everything else into space - something which Heegel said was bad for business.

Unfortunately, with all these modifications, the Big Ship no longer appeared quite as baroque, alien and mysterious as it once had. To be honest, though it was substantially improved, it was an ugly jumble of styles, including those of Earth, the renegades and several alien races. At last, when one of the crew members cracked a joke, it acquired a name; the Frankenfreighter.

Ugly? Undeniably. But somebody loved her.

o o o o ENDS o o o o

Author’s note:

A little artistic license has been applied in this story. At the time of writing there was no facility in the game for buying used ships at a special price - although that arrived with EV Nova.

It is not possible to carry fighters in cargo space, of course, and there is no such thing as an Emalgha fighter bay. Plus, of course, there is no ship classified as a ‘bulk freighter,’ as the Spirit of Lembris is described. Still, I hope you enjoyed it!

I hope you enjoyed Splinter Group? It was written many years ago, but never before published to the Chronicles. (It used to be on Grybs' website. Whatever happened to Grybs?)

Parts two and three could follow, if... er... Does anybody still come here?

Actually, the Chronicles have been recently enjoying an upswing in popularity and visiting.

Great things are in store here...stick around, VA - you may soon have a far bigger audience. ^^


Like my beloved Komak stories...

More are coming soon, all you have to do is wait.

I liked it, a fresh look at the EVO universe.

Although I still think you should have called it "Disco Bison". 🙂


ElGuapo7, on Aug 19 2005, 08:33 AM, said:

...I still think you should have called it "Disco Bison". 🙂
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The Disco Bison is a hard, hard ship. I've taken down the Voinian Dreadnought (and its prototype) probably a dozen times, but I've only once killed the 'Bison.

The Splinter Group are not super-powerful or invulnerable. If they were it would be much harder to write stories about them. The best way to make things interesting is to have people win despite their crappy ship. Look at Han Solo's struggles with the Millennium Falcon in the Empire Strikes Back...

Similarly, although it's a space combat game, very little of the EV:x derived fiction describes space combat.

Anyway... anybody ready for Part 2?

Oh, I know it's a tough hombre, but it's a cool name. Admit that much. 🙂

Ready for pt 2!

heh, i aked for this like two years ago