The Elite Dangerous cockpit HUD, looking out to a burning sun.

TIL Elite: Dangerous Is Ruthless

I’ve been able to enjoy Elite: Dangerous as a relaxing space simulator, exploring and earning credits with minimal effort.  Tonight shit got real.

I, CMDR John Santina, have had a pretty sweet career so far.  My reward for becoming a commander was a spaceship plus a thousand credits – for free.  I took to the stars, explored a few solar systems and took it upon myself to transport data and trade commodities.

I made a decent living.

Then, around a week ago, I’d powered up my Frame Shift Drive and was supercruising through the black abyss when a pirate interdicted my Cobra MkIII.  Until then, I’d managed to escape any attempts to steal my cargo, but this pirate…he knew what he was doing.

I was commanded to open my cargo doors.  I declined.  What ensued was a thirteen-minute battle.  When the space dust settled, I was victorious, albeit it with a severely damaged hull and cracks creeping along my windscreen.

I had almost died, very almost, but I’d been bitten by the bug.  Forget transporting gold bars, I wanted to fight for a living.

Since that day I’ve traded my Cobra for a Viper and taken to the nearest Resource Extraction Sites, making my name as an up-and-coming bounty hunter – a soldier of justice to be feared.  From Sidewinders to Pythons and Anacondas, I have claimed an untold number of bounties, and without breaking a sweat.

Until tonight, when the aforementioned shit most certainly got real.

First things first, I struck up a Wing with a fellow commander.  We’ll call him CMDR SWFBlade because, well, that’s his name.  We took to the RES site, as I usually would do, and we began bringing criminals to justice.  The credits were rolling in and my Wing-mate returned to base a few times to collect his money; I refused – too far to fly, I said.

I crept over the 1.5 million mark to 1.7 million by swooping in on an Anaconda on its last legs as Federation security rained hellfire upon it.  I’ll go cash this in after one more kill, I told myself.

Then, SWFBlade shot a stray cannon, missed his target and connected with the hull of a local law enforcement ship.  We became the most wanted fugitives in the area.

After weaving through the asteroid field seemingly for an eternity, I aimed for the distant stars and fired up my FSD.  I’d escaped, but it was a close one – my hull was held together with little more than prayers.  Let’s go claim these bounties before I get blown to pieces, I thought to myself.

What I hadn’t considered was that the Federation would still be pretty upset with me at the nearest space station.  It makes perfect sense when you think about it, but with the adrenaline pumping and having come precariously close to losing my astronomical haul, I wasn’t thinking straight.  That mistake would prove fatal.

Oblivious, I requested permission to dock and started to make my approach, salivating at the thought of my 1.7 million of bounties earned.  I’ll be able to buy that Vulture after this, I thought.  Security had other ideas.

No sooner had I reached the gaping entrance of the space station did the Federation security open fire on me.  I desperately dodged and weaved, attempting to flank along the side of the space station’s frame before boosting off into the darkness.  No such luck.

All I could do was watch as my shields were hammered into submission then sit, mouth agape, as my hull was decimated.

1.7 million credits gone.  Two hours of my life gone.  My heart broken.

I considered exploding with my ship, calling it a day right there and right then, but something compelled me to pull on my ejector seat.  I would live to fight another day.

I love you, Elite: Dangerous, I really do.  Even if you are the most ruthless game I have ever played.