I don’t manage to get far with Lynch’s cousin before confed pick me up. In my usual style, I hit the afterburners and run away.
When I get back to Lynch he tells me to find an employee of his who would be able to find out information about the artifact at Oxford library.
Before I get there, Lynchs bouncers (who was suspiciously absent earlier) attempts to get the artifact for Lynch by force. I shoot him down but the mission turns out to be a fake. There is no one to pick up and when I go back to find Lynch he has done a runner as well.
The obvious thing to do is head for Oxford and try to research this thing myself.
Oxford is a university planet and a bit of a change from anything I’ve seen before. The ship dealer even has wood floors.
I can’t get into the library without being and endowment sponsor. However they agree for me to fly four missions on the cheap instead.
The first of these is an escort mission, to escort the author of a book the Brotherhood of Man consider heretical back to Oxford. This guy looks suspiciously like Salman Rushdie which is probably intentional.
As soon as I finish talking to him the retro’s attack in force. This is by far the largest number of ships I’ve had to take out but two missiles take care of every one.
Next mission is to destroy some data pirates. Again I have to take on about 7 or 8 ships on my own to win the mission. The dual missile launcher is invaluable again.
Its back to escort duty next in what is near enough a repeat of the first mission.
And the final mission of the four is another escort mission. They get progressively harder but there isn’t a huge variety in these missions. They don’t really feel like proper escort missions – the ship I’m looking after just stays where it is and I have to keep it alive. Afterwards I autopilot off and leave it behind.
I get the mission done anyway and get access to the library.
I select a terminal…
and scan my artifact.
This brings up a page from a book mentioning an archaeologist who can currently be found on Palon so that must be the next place to go.
There are a host of enemies on the way into the planet but I afterburn past and conveniently the doctor is waiting in the bar.
He wants leave the planet but first I have to break the blockade of ships outside. He sends me to the nearby refinery base to find out more.
Breaking back out of the blockade is a lot harder than getting in as the ships follow me all the way through an asteroid field to the base. In the bar there I run into Lynn who is organising the resistance to the blockade. She tells me this is all being caused by two rival firms, one of which has blocked the planet to get a competitive advantage.
My first mission is to destroy some reinforcements being sent to the blockade.
The next mission is pretty much the same, just with a much harder set of fighters to destroy. I have to take down a wing of Centurions in this mission.
After this we get to destroy the blockade itself. I get a bit of help for this mission and its quite a bit easier than its predecessor.
Back on Palan, the doctor get me to fly him to Basra in return for a bit of cash and information on the artifact.
Its less than a surprise, when as soon as we take off we are attacked by some Kilrathi who want to get there hands on the doctor. This is the hardest mission of the game so far but still only needs the one attempt.
On arrival at Basra, the doctor comes up with the goods and then some. He has a similar artifact which when combined with mine makes some sort of interstellar map. Unfortunately the location of the X is in an unexplored system so my next job will be to sign on with the mapping company on the frontier.
He also tells me about an alien race called the Steltek, more advanced than our own whos empire spanned the galaxy millenia ago. This artifiact is allegedly something to do with them and he expects me to find a colony at the X. If this could be the key to super-advanced technology it would explain why everyone wanted it so badly. He mentions a myth that the Stelrek now live out a quiet existance at the center of the galaxy – I know there are aliens around from the intro if nothing else so I guess this is probably correct.
The plot of this game is definitely proving more interesting than any of the Wing Commanders so far. It’s not exactly complex but it good enough to make me want to push on and find out where its going. I’m curious to see what I’ll find at the X as I really can’t remember anything about the plot from 15 years back.