Ever since I was a wee lad my parents had but one dream for me: they wanted me to rule a space empire. I’m pretty sure that’s what they had in mind, at least, and it’s a dream I shared with them. Sure, they always referred to it as “dentistry,” but I’m pretty sure that in one of the many galactic languages it refers to conquest.
Things didn’t really work out that way, though. It’s all well and good to assert yourself against parental authority, but it turned out they were a little more confused than I’d thought. Sometime around the third year of dental school I realized that my subtle hints, passive-aggressive notes and flat-out screaming weren’t having much of an impact. I had to do something drastic or I’d be spending the rest of my life pulling out molars or whatever it is dentists do. The last straw came in the form of a little-known passage stating that anyone even remotely associated with dentistry wasn’t allowed to become a galactic emperor. That was it. With drill and water jet in hand I set off to hijack a starship. It was time to leave this life and go to work cleaning the metaphorical plaque of the galaxy rather than the literal plaque of, erm, plaque. It was time to become a Drox Operative.
Something To Smile About
The basics of the job were pretty straightforward. I’d go into various galactic systems and do some jobs for the Drox Operatives’ Guild to advance our presence there. This could involve ensuring that one of the races in the system conquered everything and was allied with the Operatives, ensuring that all races were allied with the Operatives and each other, earning a huge amount of money for the Guild by completing missions and trading with races, and finally becoming feared or revered enough in the system that none would stand against the Guild for fear of my wrath. Heavy stuff for an ex-dentist, but I only had to complete one of these tasks in a system for my mission to be considered a success. Alternatively, if one of the races conquered the system and weren’t allied with the Guild, if the Guild ended up at war with everyone in the system or if I lost the Guild too much money by being destroyed and cloned too often, my mission would be a failure. I had to act precisely but prudently to ensure I was serving the Guild’s best interests.
I was outfitted with a standard vessel based on those used by the Fringe, the energy-being race seen in some corners of the galaxy. There were a few other options available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but the Fringe offered craft well-balanced in attack and defense that seemed like a great choice for a newbie Operative. I was also able to determine the size and type of galactic system I’d be working in. When everything was confirmed and all the paperwork was submitted in triplicate, I was sent in.
“Eons ago the Drox ruled the galaxy through their mighty Operatives. These elite starship captains were trained to accomplish the impossible at whatever cost necessary.”
I found myself in the Syrma system, a peaceful area cohabited by several Human colonies and the pacifist vegetable Dryads. Since there wasn’t a lot of combat going on aside from minor skirmishes against roaming pirate ships, I took the chance to look over my ship’s equipment. I could mount components on three different types of hardpoints: heavy points generally held weapons, thrusters and heavy armor; medium points were for computer targeting systems, shields, batteries and light armor, and light points held crew members and energy rechargers. I was further limited by my ship’s power capacity which was based on my power generators – I could mount these on heavy hardpoints or use my Fringe ship’s special slot to mount them.
After introducing myself to the locals I picked up several quests revolving around blowing up some pirate ships or collecting debris from the wreckage of pirate ships. The locals, incidentally, appeared to be fairly single-minded in their hatred of pirates. I took to battle, using my ship’s laser component to blast holes in the pirate menace. Thanks to the advanced autopilot and guidance systems in my ship, combat was straightforward – all I had to do was select which components to fire and maneuver manually to avoid shots and missiles. Firing on enemies consumed Energy, which recharged over time; I later found I could increase the recharge rate using recharger components or by leaving more of my ship’s power capacity free. After some simple battle I had completed my quests, earning experience, money and reputation with the various races.
Drakk Have Fillings Too
Experience allowed me to increase my skill as a captain and train in a variety of statistics, such as Tactical, Helm and Engineering. These all affected various aspects of my ship’s performance, like damage and energy; further, most components couldn’t be installed without enough skill in the respective statistic. The Command statistic was unique in that it increased the size of my ship and number of available hardpoints at certain milestones. As for reputation, it was key to keeping the races on my good side, which I figured was the ideal choice until I decided how I was going to deal with this sector.
“…build the coolest, deadliest ship in the known universe. Not many screw with an Operative captaining a Dreadnaught!”
I continued to explore the sectors using the ubiquitous Stargates for transportation. I came across space junk, which could contain components or dangerous traps, and anomalies which had all manner of crazy effects when researched. Finally, I met another alien race. The gluttonous Lithosoids were none too bright, but they were expanding toward Syrma quickly enough that I began to feel they were a threat. After ransacking their worlds for the best components their shops could offer, I communicated my plans to the Humans and Dryads and launched an all-out war against the Lithosoids. By now, the other races and I had forged alliances, so I found myself with plenty of backup for the battles to come.
Since the Lithosoids were still a fairly young civilization, however, I found this wasn’t necessary. My weapons proved just as effective against their planetary colonies as they did against their ships. Before long, I received a notice that I’d wiped out the last of the Lithosoid presence in this galaxy. The few survivors would carry word back to the higher-ups in the Lithosoid chain of command that the Drox Operatives were nothing to toy with. I had done well, but this sector had not yet been broken to our will. There would be more battles, diplomacy and exploration to come.
This wasn’t dentistry…but it was definitely a living.