Scavenging

It's all about the leftovers...

The ECHO suit fits like a glove, my rifle is loaded and primed, and I even managed to clean (most) of my ship while I waited for the battle to end. I'm so ready.   I reach up and slide the steel shutter back, revealing a viewport and a wide view of the carnage. It was like having a front-row seat. My ship continues to orbit the nearby moon and a sudden flash of light catches my attention.   It wasn't the telltale nuclear flash of another Dhital ship being blown apart. It couldn't have been an eden ship meeting its end. Those implode when they die. No. It was the glare from a ship orbiting above me.   I narrow my eyes and slam the shutter closed. I rush to the bridge, check the communications panel, and see no transponder from the ship above me. I can't even tell what the ship's name is. That can mean one of two things.   If a ship isn't flying colors, they're either up to no good or are wanted for the no-good they got up to some time before. Maybe both, in some cases. On a hunch, I open a short-range channel.     I try to sound as confident as I can, but my voice shakes as the adrenaline surges. "Unidentified vessel, this is captain Amberlie "Pariah" Hurst, of The SVN Castaway. This is my perch, and I must insist that you find your own. Failure to comply will lead to immediate boarding."   It needs work. The silence that followed my initial message proves it. I'm still trying to perfect that official bounty hunter voice. I speak again, "Both of us know you're not supposed to be here. I tried to be polite. Let me be more direct." I take a deep breath; an effort to calm down. "As an agent of The Lodge, I'd be happy to bring you in, or you can kindly piss off. Your choice."   I watch the scans of the vessel as they scroll across the screen. A sudden shift of energy is detected and soon after, their warp drive kicks in. The ship fades away; a blur streaking across the stars. Nailed it.   Another half-hour passes and the battle finally ends. I watch the eden ships leave the system, and they do so in a hurry. The corpses of a hundred vessels lie ahead as I kick on the engines. Time to get to work. I wonder what I'll pick up today?


Scavengers are an interesting bunch. With every major conflict, especially when large amounts of ships are involved, you might notice small vessels nearby. They watch the victors leaving the sector like crows and vultures ready for a feast. I've been a scavenger since leaving Safeharbor.   It's like a race. We listen for the dinner bell, a moment of pure silence as the wreckage drifts further from the scene of combat. The weapons stop firing, the engines are quiet. 3...2...1… and they're off.   Ships come from all sides, scanning the field of debris, the wreckage still smoldering with plasma and radioactive flame. We scan the debris so frequently, the signals cancel each other out, a useful tactic if you know what you're looking for. It's a cutthroat life. Salvage is like gold, and many are more than willing to kill for it.  
 

Like Worms

Scavengers flock to clean up the trash when the powerful come to blows. This puts them in a curious place on the totem pole. Salvage operations are illegal in some sectors of space, but these sectors are also the most turbulent. Debris fields can be dangerous.   Scavengers help clear these fields. It's our duty, in a way. Who wouldn't want to keep this vast and depressing expanse of pure nothingness clean? If you ask me, I'd say the job is undervalued. Even though it's all about the profit you can always feel the difference in areas where scavengers are shot on sight.   In most sectors of space, after a battle, each side has a limited amount of time to claim their salvage. If all players leave the field, It's officially free salvage. It's just a polite way of saying, "We don't need this anymore. Come and lick the plate clean, peasants."

Harvesters

Some areas of space take their salvage recovery to a whole new level. The eden matriarchy has an automated fleet of drones called harvesters. These large freighters catch debris and recycle it for later use. If eden are involved, you know the harvesters can't be far behind.   The purpose? It saves valuable resources, particularly the precious Prism they love so much. It also protects their investment in technology. eden tech is the best, and they like to keep it that way. It's important to reclaim that salvage so people like us don't sell such treasures to the highest bidder.   My mom used to show me pictures of animals from the earth. Have you ever heard of a whale shark? That's what the harvesters remind me of every time I see them. They're long, with a gaping maw that consumes indiscriminately. Don't get caught in there. You won't be coming out. Enjoy your new life as furniture, or whatever those monstrosities do with organic matter. Maybe you'll be turned into a rug… do eden have rugs?
My ship gently glides on a wave of ruins. I scan every chunk of metal as it passes. The battle turned this once beautiful system of paradise worlds into a ship graveyard that could take eons to clear.   Collision is a big concern for any salvager, so I watch for incoming debris as my tech does all the work. I sit at my station, plotting a path through the field in the pilot's chair. The ship obeys.   That's when I see the severed stern of a cruiser, a mercenary ship. It fought for Dhitol, its crew paid quite a fee, and is now unable to spend it. It was probably a beautiful ship once upon a time.   I look at the hardpoints, weapons, and modules fixed to the hull. Most were destroyed or fired when the ship broke apart, but the shimmering of untarnished steel flickers at me as if begging to be taken. I look at the scans and smile. That's a particle ram, and I want it.   It's no big thing for a cruiser, but for a corvette, it packs a punch. By sending out trillions of subatomic particles, a particle beam disrupts the atomic and molecular structure of a ship and everything in it. Worse still, the crew won't even know until it's too late.   Imagine being fine one moment, then suddenly your skin is melting. Actually, you may not want to put too much thought into it. The only defense is electromagnetic shielding which is pretty rare since it exists as a counter to this specific weapon. If I can get it on my ship, the likelihood of being a target by basically anyone will be drastically reduced. I park the ship and get to work. This cub just grew teeth.
   

Power and profit

Scavengers have only two goals in mind when they ply their trade. Either they seek wealth, or they seek power. While dodging authorities and trying our best to not be eaten by The eden war machine, our focus lies on what can be useful. We want to get paid and we want to have better equipment to ensure we live long enough to get paid. While common scrap of any material has its value, we seek something more. We want ship systems. Intact weapon installations, engines, and fuel cores. We don't just want chunks of the hull.   You want a small ship to navigate the chaos and avoid detection, but I've seen freighter crews haul massive amounts of salvage before, too. Granted they were protected by hired fleets of bodyguards while doing so. That's smart. The biggest threat to successful salvage operations is unsuccessful salvage operations.   Human ships are particularly suited for scavenging. Our ships are powered wirelessly, meaning all I need to do to upgrade my ship is weld something to the hull and adapt it to receive power. I make it sound easy but there are some key problems to consider. I ignore battleships. If I tried to fire a railgun fitted for a battleship, the roof of my dingy corvette would tear right off. You have to keep things in mind like, you know, the basic laws of physics.

Doing your homework

Salvage isn't as common as many would think. It takes time to find it if you don't know what you're doing. This has led to an unfortunate stigma for us. It's one thing to be called a bottom feeder, but in reality, it's war profiteering. Battles can be predicted before they happen, they can be watched and followed. It's a high risk, but a high reward.   Knowing who's who in a battle can easily tell you where you should look first. If you need something, in particular, learning how a particular player fights can tell you where you're most likely to find it. Do they field cruisers in the back with their capital ships or descend on enemy fleets en masse? Do they prefer long-range weaponry or do they like to fight up close? You get the idea.   It's also important to understand what the ship represents. eden vessels are a prime example. The eden won't even give you a warning if they catch you snooping too close to their ships. They've been in space so long, ship construction is considered an art form. More than that, some of these ships are the stupid kind of old; ancient vessels that somehow remain perfectly suited for war. They see these ships as their gods, fallen in battle, and then there's this insect picking at the bones. Yes, You… you are that insect.
       
I finish welding the cannon to the hull, and immediately rush inside to power it up. The adapters work beautifully and soon the weapon primes. With a win under my belt, I continue combing through the wreckage and find some loose bits of tech, a navigation system here and a missile rack there. The true treasure revealed itself to me then, something you'd never expect to find as a scavenger.   "Holy Grail" doesn't quite cover it. I see the pristine white of an eden vessel. Not only that, it's intact. I scan it and find nothing that justifies why it's still here. It should be fully operational, yet not a single life sign can be found. It's cold, lifeless, and that's what scares me.   The eden wouldn't leave this behind on purpose. This was an oversight and one that could end with lost jobs or worse. This wasn't just any eden ship. I'm looking at an Avatar class. These are eden gods given shape and form. I check the transponder, and it sends me a name, one that seemed familiar; Viritine.

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
Dec 2, 2021 09:35

SEASON 3! Woo! :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 2, 2021 10:42 by Catoblepon
Dec 2, 2021 22:04 by Andrew Booth

"The eden won't even give you a warning if they catch you snooping too close to their ships" *sees an Eden ship* oooooooh pretty I love Amberlie so much already I can't wait to see where this goes

Dec 2, 2021 22:43 by R. Dylon Elder

Lol She makes poor life choices doesnt she. Also I should mention shes high on her meds. XD your summery is a perfect picture of the results. I'm glad you like her!

Dec 3, 2021 06:14 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Interesting insight of scavenging here!   And I think we've got our first big plot hook, too...

Dec 4, 2021 23:50 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I feel like that's a terrible idea, Amberlie.   I love how you've described scavenging in this article. You've got just the right balance between dangerous and lucrative.

Dec 5, 2021 02:11 by R. Dylon Elder

Truth. Lol not a great idea as a scavenger. Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it.

Dec 11, 2021 10:22

I've just started reading these properly and I have to say a very cool concept for a story with each article covering a specific topic. Also helps the fact that I basically jumped in a few articles ago and still understand from each article enough to be interested!   Great Work :)

Check out my world World Behind the Veil!
Dec 11, 2021 20:53 by R. Dylon Elder

Thanks for the kind words my friend! I love this world so much and it's fun to be able to link the articles together. People reading tend to enjoy it as well, though getting new readers can be tricky. New articles may not hit cause lack of context and if it's a huge story, it can be really intimidating to start lol. Again thanks si much!

Dec 28, 2021 21:26 by Avalon Arcana

I can see this happening. In my head. It’s totally believable, and well thought out: it’s amazing.

Also, Amberlie, darling, don’t got to the eden ship, they’ll kill you.

As usual, amazing article, :DD

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
Jan 7, 2022 15:01 by Bart Weergang

WOW, I love the combination of story and explenation, it really builds to a great end. Looking forward for more.

Jan 13, 2022 22:04 by TC

AAaaah I'm obsessed with how this flows! Leaving only a short comment because I just have to read the next one!!

Creator of Arda Almayed
Powered by World Anvil