I’m sitting here at Fullerton in the Mbukuravi system pondering the last few hours. For me these have been real hours spread over several days but for the galaxy as a whole it has been somewhat longer as time there continues whether I am present or not. I told the tale a while ago about my first combat in the current incarnation of Elite. So now I have to report that I have a total of 4 kills. I guess you will all realise that these happened as a result of being attacked first – I remain very much a trader in a poorly equipped vessel.

My second combat was in the Erevate system and once more it was an Eagle. The minutes of chasing each other’s tails resulted in a win for me though he tried to flee the scene of battle towards the end. His Frame Shift Drive was still charging when my strikes on his hull wrecked his ship.

Erevate seems to be attracting some dubious characters – Next time I flew in I was interdicted almost as soon as I moved away from the system’s star. This assailant was flying a Cobra and he was clearly better than me. We swooped around and I knew I was in trouble as he continued to hit my shields – taking them down to failure point. As we sought positions to gain advantage two other ships joined the fray. I took my chance and hit the warp button. Escaped and free again… Phew, that was close!

This shook me a bit – I don’t want to be getting killed unnecessarily. It was time to look at improving my ship’s defences and weapons. One of the good things about major MMO / PvE games is the amount of recorded support out there to assist newbies and old hands alike. So I went and did some research about how to upgrade my Sidewinder, bearing in mind that I’ll probably have to live in her for quite a while to come – and that’s part of what Elite is about… It’s real time life!

Watching AdoredTV’s Elite videos on YouTube suggested that buying better Power Distribution Couplings was the best upgrade you could do to the Sidewinder – 20200 credits… Not Cheap and not a weapons upgrade either. The sort of thing that goes against the grain for most gamers! But an upgrade that really improves your chances in a fight by ensuring your shields, weapons and engines all receive the best from your reactor! So you could say that it’s an indirect upgrade to the weapons allowing them to fire longer before overheating 😉 I sploshed the dosh!

I’m returning again to the Erevate system and once more I’m being attacked 😦 This time it’s a Viper and the Pilot is a Novice – much better than my Sidewinder and two grades above me in the pilot ranking system. We swirl around each other but he can’t drag my shields down then, I gain the advantage and take his shields out. As much as he weaves I keep hitting him – don’t understand why he doesn’t warp out? Then he just explodes… Wow!!! I learn when I dock that I’ve earned over 4000 credits for shooting him down. But he would have had me if it wasn’t for the improvement to the power distribution – that made all the difference!

More trading runs until I get dragged out of supercruise in the Yakabugai system. This time I’m attacked by a guy flying an Adder. The battle swung both ways but I never felt that I had the ability to win this one 😦 His manoeuvring was great. Despite getting his shields down I couldn’t take him out – his armour was too strong and his manoeuvring too good for my firing. He took my shields down and I found myself dodging and weaving to allow them time to rebuild – I pushed all the spare power to the shields. The Distributor did its job – suddenly I had full shields again. I feigned continuing the battle by launching some limited laser bursts against him and then, at an opportune moment, hit the warp and escaped.

But not for very far… I was almost at Serebrov when I get interdicted again. This time it’s an Eagle with beam lasers. Despite his better weapons I was able to maintain my shields quite well and start hitting him where it hurts. I’d just got his shields down when two other ships joined the fray. I was contemplating getting out of there as I assumed they were his wing men but no – they started attacking him too! The battle raged and I had to stop firing on one occasion as one of my new found friends flew into my line of sight. However, in the end I was the lucky one who nailed the Eagle and claimed the bounty of 3500Cr.

It’s one of the anomalies of Elite currently that the bounty goes to the person who scored the last hit no matter what assistance they had from other Commanders and it is a subject of discussion on the forums with people suggesting that it might be fairer if the bounty was divided up amongst all the Commanders who were involved in the fighting based on the amount of damage each had inflicted. That does sound fairer though how easy it will be for the game’s developers to execute I don’t know?

As I completed the journey to Serebrov I pondered the interest shown in the Eagle Pilot by the other two ships – why had they joined in on my side. You learn quickly in Elite that nobody does anything for nothing – so I assumed that they were after the bounty on the Eagle for attacking me? I was in for a shock while I was checking out my Target Panel in dock – In the transactions section was a notice of a Bounty of over 9500Cr! I initially thought – what did I do to incur a bounty against me? Then I realised it was additional bounty on the Eagle that I’d be able to collect next time I visited a Federation colony – no wonder those other pilots wanted to kill him! I wonder what he’d been up to in Federation space to incur their wrath?

Anyway, I have subsequently claimed that bounty and with that fourth kill I find that I’ve earned over 26000Cr in bounties – no wonder some Commanders decide to take up a life of bounty hunting! As I said at the start of this post, I’m sitting at Fullerton in the Mbukuravi system. I feel I have reached an evolutionary point in my career. Mbukuravi is beyond the cluster of stars around the LHS3447 binary system where I started. It’s over 20 light years from one of the systems that I have visited there. I have been able to sell maps for the first time and I’m beginning to wonder if it is time to move from pure trader to become a trading-explorer? Or will I shrink from the unknown and make my way back to the trade routes of Erevate? Watch this space…