It had been quite a while since the good ship USS Enthusiast Gaming ended up crash landing in Omek Prime, all because someone had blown the fuse on the kettle which created a chain reaction of explosions that led to engineering. Hauling the ship into the atmosphere was no problem, but as for the crash-landing, it was more of a crash than a landing. After dragging Enthusiast Gaming to (what looked like a pretty crappy) space-port, an examination of the damage and superficial repairs showed we had a shopping list of four parts that we needed to put into the Destructoid MCV. The only problem was that we would have to brave a inhospitable landscape, murderous natives who have driving and shooting as their only set of manners and goodness knows what they were fighting that were a better aim than them. We'd need some fire support.
To back up the Destructoid MCV, Wes and Torchman tentatively put their hands up as volunteers for a first attempt at collectng the parts, called Operation Rubber Ducky. Torchman then got his off-roader destroyed following his attempt to ram a raider into the same cliff face, and spent the rest of the time on Omek Prime in the med-bay bed drinking from a straw, watching giant robot mecha shows under moderate sedation. The second effort found Wes with Zombie Corps with similar fortune; Zombie and the MCV got wrecked the moment they tried to get the first part, blasted by the reputed technical geniuses on the planet that are the TORVAK with superior firepower. Wes once again had to play the ambulanceman, getting Zombie's broken frame back to the med-bay to recover next to Torchman. Zombie was left twiddling his unbroken thumbs with videogames, with headphones on to block out the loud version of the Mobile Suit Double Zeta Gundam theme yelling from the monitor every thirty minutes. FakePlasticTree swallowed hard, got into the next 4x4 available and joined 'My partners don't last' Wes into the wilderness with a new MCV. After a while, there were signs that this third attempt could fair much better; they were given a helping hand by the drifter Adzuken after they fixed up her ride in the wasteland. Adding a spare Level 1 shield salvaged by Adzuken to help protect Fake's vehicle (and to calm his understandibly anxious feelings of being Wes' next crash-test dummy), the group continued.
After managing to gain another (Level 2) shield to Wes after helping return a guy that was left for dead in the wilderness, they approached some workshop woman who wanted something with the abbreviation CCA or something, and in spite of three efforts to obtain it by destroying TORVAK patrols detected with one on, they didn't get them! All the while, it made the raider and TORVAK influence in the area around the spaceship to increase hugely. However, their consecutive battles had an upside; the gang were getting so many items and parts for upgrades to the vehicles.
After a couple more battles, the team got the CCA for the mechanic, who turned out to be WILF of the Blues! She gave them the choice for a vehicle with two extra option or weapon platforms. They needed the firepower, so a vehicle with three weapons it was! Swapping out an 60mm cannon with a buzzsaw, they got going. Also during that and on the way to fix up after battles towards obtaining the omni-directional booster for the ship, a leech drone was obtained as well as a super cannon for the MCV. Swapping those with the couple of mine layers they had, they now had a way of getting some health back on the MCV and could virtually kill off an enemy vehicle at once with the cannon, alongside the ability to use an EMP blast and the single mine layer they wanted to keep on the MCV. They then got the booster from the crazy guy (he had a breakdown when he became disillusioned with the idea of being a rocket scientist) and took that back to base without any problems.
A couple of newcomers appeared; first was a hitchhiker who needed to get back to his place. When they returned the traveller and saw that he wanted to join them with a vehicle which looked like armoured, mini-gun laden camper van with a rainbow colour scheme, it was clear that this was the fabled Occams. When we bumped into each other back on the ship later on, I knew all that weird stuff he was talking about sounded familar(ly eerie). Adzuken needed to be somewhere else, Occams' vehicle had three weapon/option slots to Adzuken's two, so it all played out in favour. Occams was about to be part of our wrecking crew.
This also meant that an upgraded vehicle had to be abandoned, which meant I needed to ask for upgrades to the Occams-mobile to weather the raiders and the environment. The group was getting low on parts if I wanted a flux capacitor, so battles had to be taken when they started, with fuel and vehicle condition monitored closely. Good news was around the corner; when they returned to the absent-minded scientist who had the capacitor, he ended up offering it for only 200 parts, instead of the 500 he quoted the first time they met. Breathing a sigh of relief at the deal (and a technical steal), Wes and his team headed back towards the spaceship with the capacitor in tow.
During the trek to get the capacitor, the second newcomer offered their services to us after destroying an armour-evaporating weapon controlled by the TORVAK, but since I wasn't keen to abandon Fake and Wes as they were starting crew, with Occams joining us so soon, I decided to ask the occupant of the new vehicle to swap with our existing one. 'Sure', he said, and so Fake earned a vehicle with an extra slot for a weapon. Add to that the fortune of finding a Level 3 Shield in the wilderness, that meant three of the four vehicles had three slots for more weapons AND they were also equiped with shields above Level 2. Except WILF's vehicle, which didn't have a support slot. She said the static from the shielding effect would only make a mess of her hair anyway.
Off to get the sonic screws, we... well, we were given the option of buying them, but didn't have enough parts, so... hey, could we have been given a choice of coming back later?
No? Okay then, battle commences, except the focus wasn't just on our MCV, but the TORVAK miniboss MCV! Yep, the team destroyed it and got the screws, but I was lying if I said I wasn't concerned with them dealing with that AND the enemy MCV, which was as heavily tooled up as ours. So, after getting the item back a short distance to the spaceship, Wes and the gang set for the final ingredient for lift-off cake, the fuel. Somewhere around this, a group of raiders got scared off, who dropped cargo in the form of a very handy large laser cannon.
Back to the mission, this wasn't any ordinary tiger-in-the-tank we needed for the spaceship power, this was one, which I had found out earlier, that needed to take time to dilute and distill. So much so, that first, a way of speeding up time had to be invented just to get it available in our lifetime! Fortunately, after discussions with a couple of science-minded individuals, they cooked up the device to get the fuel sorted. A bit of two-and-fro travelling in our convoy to a couple of destinations and the fuel was ours! The convoy was refuelled with ordinary black gold, took off towards home, and found...
...an ominous vehicle circling the space-cruiser. As the gang got closer, the machine suddenly made a break to their direction. It seems that our deeds haven't gone unnoticed on Omek Prime and some big-wigs didn't like it. The first thing we had to deal with were two rectangular masses of metal, armed with a couple of armour-piercing lasers and a shield each. Fortunately, the team made short work of those vehicles or hovercraft or whatever they were (I'll call them Wrecked-Angles), but the concentrated laser fire was damaging, even making quick work of the shields installed on the convoy.
But then, the real boss appeared; a giant, hovering gunship, sporting two cannons at the back, a mine launcher and two laser cannons at the front. It took up the space of nine vehicle spaces, and could also use its ability to hover to set up a chance at settling right on top of one of our convoy vehicles! They had to steadily blow up each section of the gunship, whilst watching for the mines it laid AND avoid getting valuable firepower squished into oblivion. Guiding two vehicles to each side of the gunship, both targeted the rear guns whilst the Destructoid MCV offered the support of EMPing the shields and sending in super cannon fire, leech drones and mines. This was enough to wipe out the guns quickly, but the vehicles needed to be carefully driven around the mines and rocket barrages that would appear. As more of the gunship was damaged, FakePlasticTree suddenly found his vehicle stunned by a stray stun-mine... just as the gunship lifted off to move in his direction. Despite all efforts to pull the tooled-up machine out of harms way, the gunship landed on Fake's vehicle, crushing it in a instant. Fortunately, Fake just got out of the vehicle in time and decided to make a jog back to the safety of the spaceship to alert everyone, before making a quick break for the toilets.
Now it was only Wes, WILF, Occams and the Destructoid MCV against the gunship. The gunship was increasing the missile barrage, requiring deft handling skills to avoid getting napalmed. The gunship then started changing the angle of attack; heading up to a point just shy of the MCV, the gunship fired the front laser cannons, scorching the land in front. Any vehicle caught up in this had their shields and vehicles badly damaged, WILF in particular getting her machine down to a barely functioning, but still firing, heap.
Then, another two Wrecked-Angles appeared.
Realising WILF was a fly-on-the-windscreen point away from finding her truck written off, Wes and Occams radioed her to fall-back to avoid the laser fire, whilst they moved to the front of each of the Wrecked-Angles, keeping up their shields as defences. Knowing the gunship was attacking as the same time, their firepower and MCV backup did the work, obliterating the two hover-weapons, then changing their attention to the gunship.
The gunship was now in a sorry state, but not only was it continuing to fly, settling directly in front of MCV's path, but it brought out backup weapons! It spin around on its centre, firing the laser cannons in an arc as it moved. The laser fire clipped WILFs vehicle, sending it up in flames. Fortunately, WILF managed to jump out at the last moment, the heat from the explosion almost consuming her. Thankful that she didn't put on hairspray that morning, WILF made for the spaceport, passing Fake's dorm as he changed his damaged and thoroughly-pooped trousers.
Back in the battle, Occams and Wes realised that the only way to finish off the gunship and stay alive was to circle it and goad the lasers after the nearest vehicle. Emptying the last of their available ammo and energy reserves at the only parts of the gunship left looking undamaged, shields on their broken metal steeds depleted.... the gunship fell. It hit the ground. It exploded. The MCV and rest of the battered convoy stopped. It was over.
The MCV snaked towards the space-port with the vital cargo, the vehicles written-off (except for Occams' one, he pink-slipped it to the nearest person who looked the slightest bit depressed to cheer them up). The refuelling took a couple of hours, then the ship lifted off in a massive, victorious plume of dust. Occams and WILF were only too welcome to join the crew on a well-deserved voyage of discovery, relaxation and finding out what happens when humans make love in zero-gravity.
[This journey through the barren lands of Omek Prime was on Easy difficulty. Find out what happens next time when the good ship USS Enthusiast Gaming needs fixing... on Normal hardness!]