Episode Two - The Next Generation
Stardate: Thursday. About half-past three.
The PC Gamer team have interrupted their work day to complete the Siege of Hamak, a fully voiced and scripted episode of Artemis. This is it: we're now out of the combat simulator and into… the simulator. We have no idea what situation the game will throw at us. We just know that, at some point, voice acting will be involved.
We've also made some personnel changes. Our idiotic Welsh engineer has been ejected from the nearest airlock, replaced by PC Gamer's second biggest Star Trek fan, Tom.
Tom O'Francis: “What? You started without me? How could you start without me? I'm at least the second biggest Star Trek nerd on this team! While I was out wasting my time playing Diablo 3, you were all cavorting around the alpha quadrant? I will never-”
Wait – I'm over it. I've just seen how many sliders I have. This is the happiest day of my life. “What's our mission?”
Uhurich: “Tom, you should really know this mission – you were the one who sent us the .zip file to extract into our Artemis folders.”
O'Francis: “Ah, yes.”
Uhurich: “Wait, everyone shut up a second. We're being bombarded with messages. I'm going to play them. Tim, say, 'On screen' so we sound like we know what we're doing.”
Captain Tim: “On screen.”
Uhurich: “Thanks.” I play the messages from a Captain Haynes and an Admiral Weeks. Two things become apparent. One: we've been asked to go and collect something called a 'ramscoop' at the Hamak space station in the bottom left of the Hamak sector, before pitching back out into space to collect wibbly nebula bits to give us energy for some reason. And two: fan-made missions in Artemis sometimes come with voiceovers. Exuberant voiceovers.
The crew cringes through three messages, as an over-enunciating Haynes explains why she calls Weeks 'Squeaks'. I quietly delete the messages so we never have to listen to them again.
O'Francis: I've heard from the crew that their last engineer recklessly squandered their energy reserves and had to be fired into space. As the new crew member, I realise that Pulaski's Law dictates I'm the most likely to be hated by the fans, so I'm keen not to make the same mistake. I keep all auxiliary systems on half power and resist the urge to overcharge our warp engines for a speed boost. I am doing excellent engineering.
Science Officer Smith: I'm looking at the space grid and I've just worked out which little dot is us. We're down in the bottom left of the map, surrounded by what we scientists call purple wibbly stuff. We're headed towards the space station in the bottom right. We're heading incredibly slowly towards that space station. No, no, I'm wrong. We've stopped. We're out of power again. “What the hell, new guy! Wait, I mean: This seems illogical , Captain.”
O'Francis: “Some kind of anomaly, sir! In as much as I thought we'd be OK when we are in fact boned.”
I don't understand it – usually the old girl speaks to me. Granted, that's sort of dependent on me paying attention to these readouts saying we're running out of energy. Look, I can fix this. I'm cutting off power to tactical, weapons, manoeuvring, shields and impulse engines. There's definitely no downside to this. We're now regenerating power at one point every minute.We'll be back to full in... 1,000 divided by 60, carry the six recurring... 16 hours and 40 minutes.
I am doing excellent engineering.
Captain Tim: “Team: fix this shit. Now! I have a meeting with Ads in an hour.”
T'om, Son of Martyn: We're stranded in space. Upside: no enemies. Downside: we can't move. With no enemies, there's nothing for me to do but polish my forehead ridges. Wait – what's this? “Guys! I can convert one of our torpedoes into energy!”
O'Francis: “We could also eat the crew for food but I think we should probably avoid that until we have to. We've only got 16 hours and 39 minutes left.”
Captain Tim: “Do it! Eat them all!”
Uhurich: “Don't worry guys, we can just restock on torpedoes at the Hamak station. I gave them a call a few minutes ago, and after I'd told them their parents were terrible creatures and they'd never amount to anything, I asked them to build us some weapons for free. I can't see why they wouldn't.”
T'om, Son of Martyn: I load a shovelful of torpedoes into the mighty space furnace powering our vessel and our energy reserves leap upwards. It's not a lot, but it might be enough to reach the station. It's a crazy plan, but it could just be crazy enough to work.
Senior Ensign Senior: Sweet weapons-grade energy flows into the engines. I can fly again! Time to pick a random direction and go as fast as I can that way.
Science Officer Smith: My scanners are down, as Engineer O'Francis has put all of the ship's limited power towards the engines. I ask for some juice and instantly see the station. “Set a course for 110°, Helmsman! Because space is two-dimensional.”
Senior Ensign Senior: “Aye aye, sir!” We're not even slightly going in that direction and there's no power to manoeuvre. I turn the ship as fast as I can. It slowly arcs towards the station with the grace of a deluded whale.
T'om, Son of Martyn: Thanks to Rich's earlier order, the station has built up a nice stock of torpedoes and as soon as we arrive, my supplies replenish. I also have a nuke, which I now know fires in a straight line and explodes in a burst. A large burst. A burst we should not go into.