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The Big Yoink: A Smol Detective Story, Chapter 7

Standard Disclaimer: I do not take credit for the setting, this story is set in the 'They are Smol' universe, written by our very own u/tinyprancinghorse.
TPH has a Website, a Patreon, and also a Discord if you need more smol shenanigans.
The first Smol Detective story can be read starting here.
There will be some spoilers/references of the first SD story in this one, so consider yourself duly warned.
First Chapter
Previous Chapter
Next Chapter
In the previous chapter:
The Plot acquired a Complication.
Road Trip!
Myyreh did a Yoink of her own.
In this chapter:
The Road Trip makes a Stop.
There is some Screeching.
The Plot Complication acquires another Complication.


Ter'yeik combed a claw through his crest. The listless, reflexive movement resulted in another cream-colored feather coming off in his hand, and he stared at it in dull surprise before letting it drop to join the others strewn about the deck. He looked up at the terminal in front of him, the screen of which was half-filled with his meandering thoughts. Thanks to his deactivated implant he was forced to resort to manual entry. He found the process took some getting used to.
At least his quarters were comfortable, if on the small side. He could hardly complain about the latter. The ex-Second Claw scratched absently at a healing welt on the side of his neck. He could just barely feel the little lump of the implant now nestled close to his spine. It was a small but powerful piece of technology, capable of broadcasting his location if he managed to slip his current prison. More importantly, it could also be commanded to shut down his central nervous system and leave him paralyzed and helpless until he was back in custody.
Back into a custody that he still didn't know the end of. Would he be simply sentenced to prison? Would the Matriarch break his claws as a permanent mark of his treachery?
No, not treachery. He had acted as Ta'irrl'qc had commanded all those [millennia] ago, and he needed to make everyone understand his reasoning. It would do no good to sit in his cell and stress-molt himself featherless. He had to reach people...
Hmm, perhaps even the other Path's Matriarch? She might be a heretic, but surely she could be reasoned with? The Karnakian straightened up and began typing again with renewed purpose.


Tra'nel'ril Station was a slowly-rotating cylinder of dull gray metal festooned with twinkling lights and antennae. Oscar thought it looked rather uninteresting until he saw a Karnakian dreadnought pass in front of it. The miles-long warship looked like a flea when beside the gigantic construct.
"Whoa." Maria stood next to Oscar's chair on the bridge as she gazed with awe at the scene projected in front of the crew. "This sort of stuff never gets old. When was this place built?"
"[It's fairly new, only about five hundred years in age.]" replied Ngralh.
Maria's brow furrowed. "Wait, if it's that new then why does this place use rotation to simulate gravity? We figured that trick out even before we went into space. Why not use gravity generators?"
"[Because gravity generators can break,]" said the XO. ["This station has an expected lifetime of about five thousand years, and that assumes minimal maintenance.]"
By now the petite human was bouncing on her toes while grinning. "We did a couple of expeditions in an abandoned station...well, in what was left of it. I can't wait to get on board and see how this one compares."
Rgrarshok let forth a soft whoof that was somehow more commanding than a snarl. "[I'm afraid you'll have to see it from afar, little one. As will [Oscar].]"
Oscar had expected the first statement, but not the second. "Hey wait a minute, Captain. I need to be there if I'm gonna get a read on the 34th Path Matriarch."
"[It's too unsafe. You have no idea how intense the enmity is between these two Paths. They haven't spoken directly to each other in [centuries], and we're still trying to figure out how to set this all up safely. If the meeting goes wrong I'm not having two [humans] stuck in the middle of a firefight.]"
"I'll have Reshy looking out for me," said Maria.
"Yeah, and I'll have Myra and a drone. We can program Junior to look after Maria as well, or just get her a drone of her own...]"
The Captain made a slashing motion with one paw. "[This is not open to debate. [Oscar], surely you remember what happened the last time I allowed you to go into an unsafe area?]"
He leaned back and shrugged. "Worked out okay in the end." Left unspoken was the fact that he was only alive thanks to some quick thinking and a healthy dose of sheer dumb luck. Not to mention Myyreh had damn near died during that whole mess.
Rgrarshok put a paw on his shoulder. "[We'll have plenty of camera drones at the meeting. It'll be just like being there.]"


Ma'elge'yk, known to most as The Most Reverend Beacon-of-Light-and-Matriarch-of-the-34th-Path, smoothed her yellow-hued crest in an irritated preening manner. "|She still insists on only two guards? Impossible. She still hasn't told me why she's requesting this meeting, and I'm not about to face that heathen scum with no back-up.|"
Her Second Claw looked miserable as she lowered her head in genuflection. "|Most Reverend, the other Path's Matriarch claims that she will also be accompanied by only two guards. She says that there will be one other Karnakian present in their delegation, but he is apparently her prisoner.|"
The news of the prisoner sounded intriguing. Ma'elge'yk rose and began pacing around her large office. Large windows gave the room a commanding view of the city around it. As opposed to the low-slung approach of the Thirty-Third Path, her Path's main temple consisted of a huge tower. Her office, of course, was at that tower's apex.
"|Do we know the identity of this prisoner?|" she asked.
"|Not yet, Most Reverend. Their ship is docked at Tra'nel'ril Station but no Karnakians have emerged. I have checked its registry and the ship is that of a Senate investigation team composed of Dorarizin. They are known as 'We Who Hunt Between The Spaces' and they have a reputation for extreme competence.|"
"|I see. Were the guards all that the Matriarch requested of us?|"
"|Not quite. She insists that we bring two other Karnakians to the meeting. The names are Tk'rii'na and Ka'iirt.|"
Ma'elge'yk stopped pacing and tapped one foot-claw on the stone floor in deep thought. "|That first name is familiar...oh, yes! He's the defector who arrived recently.|"
"|Correct, ma'am. I'm still trying to find out who this other 'Ka'iirt' person is. We have no record of her and she certainly didn't arrive with Tk'rii'na.|"
The Matriarch stopped her wandering and stared out the window at the sunset that streamed golden rays over the low roofs of the city beyond. She ignored the sight as her brain worked over the political ramifications of this unexpected visit. "|Very well. Contact the head of the Dorarizin and notify her that I am holding them personally responsible for our safety during this meeting. Make sure we send a copy of that message to our bishop. In the meantime, get in touch with our contacts in the Senate bureaucracy. I wish to know everything I can about that team before we meet.|"
"|It shall be done as you command. I will also make every effort to determine the identity of their prisoner.|"
Ma'elge'yk relaxed and allowed herself to drink in the vista outside. She bared her teeth without humor. "|I know of one area where we can start asking questions. Have Tk'rii'na brought to me, now.|"


Rgrarshok looked over the atrium one last time. It was a green and humid place, with several large pools ringed by abundant shrubs. A drone hovered above the center of each pool, casting artificial daylight over the growth. Above the drones stretched a domed ceiling, mostly transparent and overlaid with a metallic latticework. The station's current orientation meant that the ceiling showed nothing but a star-speckled blackness.
That ceiling was what really worried her. The two contending Paths were technically pacifist, but each had a congregation numbered in the billions. When dealing with such numbers even a vanishingly small percentage of bad actors meant there was a credible threat of assassination. Having a big window looking in on the meeting seemed like an open invitation for some splinter-group of feathery nut-jobs to go and get creative with a mining laser.
She turned to Ngralh. "{We've planned out each Matriarch's approach?}"
Her XO pointed at the two opposite doors leading from the atrium. "{The corridor for each has been locked down, and any corridor leading into them is covered by security drones.}"
"{Good. How are the station personnel dealing with all this?}"
Ngralh shrugged. "{Some grumbling.}"
"{If it gets bad refer them to me. Then I'll go and refer them to the First-Pack-be-Damned Senate.}" She rubbed absently at one ear. "{Also let the crew know that when this whole thing is over I'm putting in a liberty request for all of us. We could use the break.}"
He reached up and rested a friendly hand on the back of her huge neck, then squeezed gently in a massage of her tense muscles. A [human] would have thought the gesture incredibly forward, but among Dorarizin pack members such a caress was normal.
"{You need relief,}" he said matter-of-factly.
She allowed her heavy shoulders to droop a little under the force of his kneading. "{Not right now. I'm the Captain, I can't afford to play favorites...}"
"{You can't afford to run yourself down until you're furless either. You only need to say the word to any of us, you know that.}"
Rgrarshok smiled as she reached over and pulled Ngralh into her chest. "{I know, dearest. And I'd happily take any of you to bed...well, except for [Oscar]. He's a brave little thing, but perhaps too brave for his own good.}"


Oscar looked on glumly as he strummed his guitar. The atrium chosen for the meeting of the Matriarchs was projected in perfect resolution along one long wall of the Claw's recreational lounge, as if they overlooked the space through a clear window. He still thought it was still no substitute for the real thing.
"Must you do that?" asked Maria from her seat upon Hrathra's 'lap' of coils.
"Yeah. It helps me think," he replied.
"[Free Bird!]" said Resh'ssk.
Oscar looked in shock at the huge Jornissian curled up next to him in a loose pile. "Where the fu...flipping hell did you hear that?"
Resh'skk motioned towards Maria. "[She says it all the time whenever anyone so much as picks up a musical instrument. She refuses to tell us what it means.]"
Hrathra shushed them all with a wave of her hand. Her eyes were fixed on the display with laser focus. "[They're entering!]"
With a simultaneous precision worthy of a Marine drill team, two pairs of Karnakians emerged from opposing entrances and took up station on each side. Oscar recognized the two nearer guards as Frick and Frack.
Then with equal precision the two Matriarchs entered almost in lock-step with each other. The copper-colored feathers around Ck'Trrk'Ka's neck spread out in an instinctive threat display, then laid back flat against her neck. For her part, the yellow-colored Matriarch across the way also had a similarly brief flutter of neck-feathers which betrayed her own anger.
The two Karnakians paced closer to each other, and Oscar half expected to see them start to circle and get ready to throw down.
"[The Matriarchs have never met in person before,]" said Hrathra. "[This is a historic moment, regardless of its outcome.]"
The Dorarizin crew were spaced out in an obvious skirmish line between the two parties...with one notable exception.
"Where's your girlfriend?" asked Maria.
Oscar smiled. "She's somewhere around there, getting ready to do a ninja attack if somebody acts up. I still don't know how somebody that big can vanish so well."
Rgrarshok moved to the exact center of the atrium, then turned to address each of the posturing Karnakians. "[We are recording this meeting, but our records will be held secret as requested by both parties. My team is acting as a mediator for this conflict. I trust there will be no issues?]"
"[None on my part,]" replied Ck'Trrk'Ka. "[As for Ma'elge'yk, I would advise you to be on your guard. Who can say what sort of schemes she has planned?]"
"[May you always nest in darkness, Ck'trrk'Ka]" said the other Matriarch. She bowed, and even though he was a human Oscar picked up the sarcasm in that alien gesture. "[I see you are the first to resort to insults.]"
"[At least I'm up front about my feelings, you wretch! Admit that you possess stolen property! GIVE ME BACK TA'IRRL'QC'S CLAW!]"
Ck'Trrk'Ka gestured behind her and from that entrance Ter'yeik came slouching out. He wasn't in chains, but from his shuffling posture and downcast head he might as well be.
The coppery Matriarch turned back to face her foe. "[This fool has admitted that he goaded Tk'rii'na and Ka'iirt into stealing our most sacred object. He intended it to be a simulated robbery, however those two made it a real one. But you know this already, don't you? Bring those miscreants forward, AND the Claw!]" Her feathers began to rise in fresh rage.
Ma'elge'yk's front pair of eyes narrowed at Ck'Trrk'Ka's last imperious chirp. "[Would it surprise you to know that I had no idea of what had happened until you insisted I bring those two?]"
Ck'Trrk'Ka's feathers subsided. "[What?]"
"[I am being nothing but honest with you, which is more than you deserve.]" Ma'elge'yk turned and made an imperious gesture of her own.
The gray-feathered Karnakian that emerged into the atrium wasn't in chains either, but he walked forward as if he expected to break into shards at any moment. He held his arms against his stomach in a way that Oscar recognized all too well.
The detective stopped strumming his guitar. "That poor bastard's been beaten on."
Maria gave a little gasp. "You think so?"
"[[Oscar] is correct,]" said Resh'skk. "[I'm guessing he's taken a lot of body blows, perhaps some joint manipulation. Nothing that would leave a mark or do permanent damage.]"
Oscar saw Rgrarshok's paws clench into fists and knew that the Captain had come to the same conclusion.
Ma'elge'yk pointed at the deck beside her, and the gray Karnakian flopped forward onto his belly on the indicated spot. Oscar winced and felt a sympathy pang in his chest. He'd only gotten one good beating during his previous career but it had taken weeks before he could so much as breathe without hurting.
Ck'Trrk'Ka lowered her head in a way that looked like a bull getting ready to charge. "[Where is Ka'iirt? You will present her immediately or this meeting is at an end!]"
"[Patience, dear Reverend Mother.]" The yellow Matriarch nudged the prone Karnakian with one foot. "[Well, Tk'rii'na? Tell your former Reverend Mother where your paramour is.]"
Tk'rii'na mumbled something too softly for the camera drones to pick up.
"[Louder!]" shrieked Ma'elge'yk.
He raised his snout and gave a despairing cry. "[She stole the Claw from me on our way here! She's vanished, I don't know where she is, but Ka'iirt still has Ta'Irrl'qc's Claw!]"
The Dorarizin on the display froze while those in the rec lounge stared in shock.
Oscar stopped his plinking. "Aw, crapola."
Ma'elge'yk gestured in a 'there it is' way towards the sobbing gray form. "[You see? He showed up at our temple claiming to be a refugee from your accursed Sect and that he'd seen the error of his ways. He never mentioned taking part in any theft. We welcomed him into our group and started him anew on the path of enlightenment.]"
Ck'Trrk'Ka let forth an annoyed grumble. "[You wouldn't know enlightenment if it pulled your tail-feathers off.]" She took a few careful steps towards the prostrate Karnakian. "[Tk'rii'na, you and I have had our differences but I am willing to forgive that...]"
Ma'elge'yk gave a derisive snort, and Ck'Trrk'Ka glared up at her for a moment before continuing.
"[Help us, please. The Final Sutra is now loosed upon the universe for all to see. Surely you don't want that.]"
The miserable Karnakian shook his snout. "|My help is worthless. All I can tell you is that Ka'iirt was the real instigator. She poured honeyed words into Ter'yeik's ears, convincing him of the necessity to 'pretend' to steal the Claw. For me Ka'iirt used more, er, direct methods.]"
"[You knew from the start that the two of you would truly steal the Claw?]" asked Ck'Trrk'Ka.
He gave a slow nod of his crest. "[I confess to taking shameful delight in tricking Ter'yeik...while never imagining that Ka'iirt was tricking me just as much.}"
Ck'Trrk'Ka stared into space with a lowered crest and a haunted look in her eyes. "[So we must continue our hunt and track down Ka'irrt. She seemed to be a promising student, if a bit shy and reserved.]" She shook herself out of her musing and glared again at Ma'elge'yk. "[You do realize we'll need more evidence than this?|"
"|Of course. Interrogate him yourself, and don't spare him any pain on my account. I'm still angry he didn't tell us the truth until you arrived.|"
Rgrarshok stepped forward again. "[May I remind everyone that this is still officially a Senate investigation. If I hear or see so much as ONE more hint of torture I will take personal charge of this entire matter and pursue it as I see fit. Trust me when I say that neither of you want that.]"
She pointed a finger at the cowering figure of Tk'rii'na. "[That man is a key suspect in my investigation and I am taking charge of him Right Now.]" The Captain peeled back her lips and showed both Matriarchs all of her teeth. "[Unless someone would like to complain about that? Anyone?]"
The Matriarchs might be blinded by their hatred for each other but they weren't idiots. Both of them gave hasty nods of their crests while Ma'elge'yk made as if to nudge the gray Karnakain again. She stopped with her foot halfway to his body, looked up at the grim-faced Captain, and settled her toe-claw back down without touching him.
Rgrarshok sighed and spoke in a more gentle tone. "[[Tk'rii'na], do you have any idea where [Ka'irrt] might have gone?]"
He didn't speak, just shook his crest in a negative.
"[All right. I'm taking you to my ship, we'll have our medic look you over and perform a more detailed questioning there.]"
Tk'rii'na shuddered, and in response Rgrarshok spoke even more quietly.
"[We'll just ask questions, all right? You might know something important and not realize it.]" The Captain looked up towards one of the floating camera drones. "[Kgrashak and [Oscar], meet us in the hangar.]"
Ma'elge'yk raised her crest. "[You would involve a [human] in an internal Karnakian affair?]"
Rgrarshok narrowed her purple eyes. "[You know of him?]"
"[I make it my business to know everything about the people I meet. I'm surprised you trust a primitive to run about loose on your ship. Or perhaps you merely use him as a distraction?]"
Rgrarshok didn't reply. Instead, she walked over to Tk'rii'na and gently pulled him to his feet.
"That's bullshit," said Maria. "You were the one who nailed Teriyaki. Why doesn't the Captain correct her?"
"Because she wants them to underestimate me," said Oscar. "And so do I."
As the Captain began to lead Tk'rii'na away, Ma'elge'yk chirped up again. "[Hold! That creature has brought dishonor to our Path. I insist on being present for his questioning.]"
"[As do I!]" chirped Ck'Trrk'Ka.
The Captain performed The Migraine Salute as she gently rubbed her temple with her free hand. "[Okay. You may both be present at Tk'rii'na's questioning, but only the two of you. No guards. And if either of you so much as raise your voice to me or to each other during my questioning I will invite you both to watch the proceedings from inside our lovely and spacious airlock.]"


Ma'elge'yk stopped dead as she settled eyes upon Oscar. She was halfway out of her own shuttlecraft; letting the latter land in the Claw's hangar was a necessary allowance since there was no way they could put the two Matriarchs in the same shuttle. That would just end in a lot of blood and many loose feathers.
The 34th Path Matriarch continued to stare at him for a long moment while Oscar realized that being stared at by an apex predator didn't trigger a 'flee for the hills' response in him like it used to. It seemed that humans could get used to almost anything.
"[What an amazing sight,]" she murmured.
"Yeah, yeah, humans got a sparkly soul, heard it before. You go stand over there."
Ck'Trrk'Ka emerged from the Claw's shuttlecraft parked on the other side of the deck, and Oscar turned to point at a spot opposite the 34th Path Matriarch.
"Ma'am, you stand there please."
He looked up at Kgrashak, and the ship's medic nodded. "[We're ready, [Oscar].]"
He glared at each Matriarch, then hooked a thumb over his shoulder at the dull metal sphere of the security drone hovering behind him. "Okay, ladies. This here's Junior. He takes it unkindly if anyone comes towards me, and he's got lots of tasers and nano-net guns with which to express his displeasure. So I'm gonna stand next to Mr. Gray Boy while Kate does her exam and while the Captain talks to him. If either of you get all antsy and approach, he's gonna take it as a threat to my person. Understand?"
He got two reluctant nods in response. Oscar knew that Myyreh would not be happy with him for placing himself right in the middle of two feuding Matriarchs, but he figured it was a reasonably safe situation. For starters, there were only the two Karnakians to deal with instead of them plus their respective retinues. Second, each of them was trying to act as the 'reasonable adult' while goading the other into doing something foolish. Oscar figured that their pride wouldn't allow them to make the first attack. Not to mention that with him in the center there was no way they'd risk harming a human. Again.
He made a mental note to treat Myyreh to a nice long ear-rub session tonight as an apology for making her worry.
While he mused, the Captain stepped out of the Claw's shuttle while holding Tk'rii'na's wing. She led him to the center of the hangar. "[This is our ship's medic, Kgrashak. She'll check for any serious injuries.]"
Tk'rii'na still looked miserable, but he did seem to appreciate the attention as Kgrashak stepped forward and began to touch his chest with gentle paws.
As the doctor and patient murmured to each other, Rgrarshok turned to Oscar. "[What did you make of the meeting?]"
He blew out a breath. "This is turning into an absolute clusterfuck." He nodded towards the gray Karnakian next to him. "If it turns out he's telling the truth then it seems this Katy-bird character played everybody for suckers. Do you think money's her motive? I can imagine the Claw would be worth a lot to the right people."
The Captain gave a thoughtful click of her fangs. "[It is a unique item. There are certain unscrupulous collectors out there who would pay a great deal for such a thing.]"
"Would the 33rd Matriarch have Katy-bird's picture and DNA on file?" asked Oscar.
She nodded. "[I already have Bgrarh and Egwreh scanning public records for [Ka'iirt's] likeness and DNA. We should be able to correlate it with [Tk'rii'na's] information and track her from the time she left him.]"
"[I already tried searching for Ka'iirt,]" said Tk'rii'na. "[I was hoping that if I could contact her then I could convince her to return the Claw.]"
"[With respect, our people are very well-versed in this sort of search,]" replied the Captain. "[How is he, Kgrashak?]"
The medic straightened up from her examination of his wing-root. "[No broken bones or torn tendons, just a few contusions. More painful than anything else, certainly nothing life-threatening.]"
"[Bunch of savages,]" muttered Rgrarshok. "[They're no better than the Inquisition.]"
Oscar was surprised that the Captain would speak of a Dorarizin institution with such venom. She looked down at him with a half-smile at his unspoken question. "[One can be a Dorarizin and still object to their methods.]"
Her eyes unfocused, and Oscar knew she was thinking of the past. Then she shook herself back to the present. "[Now [Tk'rii'na], let's go over what happened in detail...]"


"And she didn't say anything before she up and vanished?" asked Oscar.
Tk'rii'na shook his crest. "[No. That last night we nested together as usual, and when I woke she was gone from my arms, and so was the bag that held the Claw and its case.]"
"[We might be leaping before properly cornering our prey,]" said Kgrashak. "[Perhaps [Ka'iirt] was kidnapped?]"
"No, she did leave me something,]" said Tk'rii'na. "When I woke I found a note from her along with a crudely-made replica of the Claw.]"
Oscar rubbed his forehead. "Talk about burying the lede. That's the first piece of physical evidence we've heard of! Why didn't you say so before now?"
The gray Karnakian motioned with his snout towards Ma'elge'yk. "[She told me not to speak of it until on board this ship.]"
Rgrarshok looked daggers at the yellow Karnakian. "[Is this true?]"
"[Such evidence represents a great deal of leverage,]" said the 34th Path Matriarch. "[I knew you would interrogate him here and I wanted to ensure that I was present.]"
"[You see?]" hissed Ck'Trrk'Ka from across the hangar. "[I warned you of her deception!]"
"[True, and I warned both of you I was not going to put up with any shenanigans,]" said Rgrarshok. She pointed a claw at Ma'elge'yk. "[If that evidence is not in our hands within [sixty seconds], I will charge you with obstruction of justice and arrest you. I am not bluffing.]"
The yellow Matriarch bowed. "[I have seen your service record, Captain. I know you never bluff. And I also know why you object to the type of...physical persuasion that I used on that wretch.]" She settled her red eyes on Oscar and grinned. "[Does he know, I wonder? Have you told him anything of your former career?]"
Oscar folded his arms and gave her an unimpressed stare. "Lady, are you expecting the cute little human to be shocked by someone's dark past? You have no idea of the shit I've been through. And by the way, you've now got thirty seconds left to make with the handing over."
Ma'elge'yk sighed. "[Very well. Consider this a gesture of good faith.]" She unfastened a side pouch from her clothing and held it out. "[It may not be the most pristine piece of evidence. I haven't touched it, but other than that I can't say.]"
Within moments Rgrashok had the pouch in her paws while Oscar reached into a side pocket to retrieve a few self-sealing evidence bags. The Captain shook the contents of the pouch into separate bags while the pouch itself went into another.
Once the bags were sealed, Oscar finally took the time to look their contents over while Rgrarshok looked over his shoulder. The note was on a piece of scrap paper and was of course unreadable to him. The fake Claw was as Tk'rii'na had described, a rough copy of the real thing formed from some sort of red clay.
He pointed at the note. "Can you read this?"
The Captain peered closer. "[It says, 'This is the only Claw you deserve, you fool'. It's unsigned.]"
"[It's her handwriting, though,]" said Tk'rii'na. He stared at the deck sadly. "[In the end, I was nothing more than a convenient idiot for her.]"
Oscar bounced the bagged-up fake Claw in his palm. "Why this, though?" he mused. "The note kinda makes sense, but this bullshit is way too theatrical. There must be some reason she left it."
He bounced it again. Something was off about the replica, something his hindbrain was yelling about. "Is this clay?"
"[It appears to be,]" said Rgrarshok. "[It must have been air-dried instead of fired. It's already starting to crumble at the tip, there.]"
"Yeah..." Oscar bounced it once more, and knew what was wrong. "It's too heavy."
Rgrarshok tilted her head. "[Eh?]"
Oscar held out his palm with the bagged Claw resting on top of it as he judged its weight. "This is too heavy to be just clay. Now you folks might not have noticed, seein' as how y'all can pick up cars with your pinkies and whatnot. But this feels more like a metal in density."
He held the bag up so that it was in line of sight of his drone. "Junior, can you do a scan on this and see if it has anything inside it?"
A grid-work of glowing blue lines appeared over the fake Claw, then the grid collapsed into a single dot in the center of the clay replica. "[There is a metallic device buried in the middle of this object,]" said the drone in a monotone voice.
"[Does it appear dangerous?]" asked Kgrashak. Her paws twitched as if she was getting ready to grab for Oscar.
"[The object is quiescent at the moment,]" replied Junior. "[It appears to primarily consist of a Galnet node.]"
Oscar felt the familiar endorphin rush from figuring out another big piece of a puzzle. "Shit. I was wondering if something like this would turn up."
Tk'rii'na looked up in surprise. "[You expected such a thing?]"
"Sure. See, if money's her motive then Katy-bird can try to sell it to a shady collector. But it would be even better to sell it back to the people she stole it from. Which means she's got to have a safe way to get in touch with us..."
"[The device has reacted to this unit's scan,]" said Junior in the same robotic voice. "[It is becoming active.]"
Before Oscar could blink the evidence bag was gone from his hand and tossed into the far corner of the hangar. In another eye-blink his world went dark as he was surrounded by dual mountains of muscle and fur.
"Pthah!" He spit out a mouthful of the Captain's gray fur. "Guyth, theriously, ith not a bomb." He wriggled against both Rgrarshok and the medic as he tried to figure out which way was up. "Let me out, dammit!"
From beyond his little cocoon he could hear an unfamiliar voice. It sounded a bit tinny, as if projected from a loudspeaker. "[Eh? What's that? The signal! Ah-HA! Yes yes yes, it's about time!]"
Oscar made a desperate push in the voice's general direction and managed to pop his head out from an area near Kgrashak's armpit. He spat out more fur and looked in a hurry towards the bagged fake Claw while the rest of him was still swaddled between a pair of Dorarizin.
A holographic projection now stood over the bag, a Karnakian with bright green plumage accented by a 'collar' of yellow feathers around her neck. Her teeth were bared in a triumphant smile as she swept her gaze over those assembled on the hangar deck.
"[Ka'iirt! You TRAITOR!]" yelled Ck'trrk'ka. "[We know of your crimes! Give back what you've stolen!]"
The green Karnakian peered at her. "[I'm afraid that Ka'iirt is not my true name, dear Reverend Mother.]" She looked over at Ma'elge'yk on the other side of the hangar, then reared back and let out a trilling cackle as she raised her clawed hands in triumph. "[Both Matriarchs are present! This is glorious, truly a fitting finale to a crime [three decades] in the making! You privileged few are witness to the greatest criminal feat of the last [five hundred years]!]"
The Dorarizin unfolded themselves from around Oscar. The Captain held him off the floor with one paw before setting him carefully down on his feet. "[Rgrarshok-of-of-Ngraz, Captain of the Senate ship Furious Claw of Inquiry. Whom am I addressing?]"
"[And there's a [human] here too!]" said the projected Karnakian as she gazed at Oscar. "[Even better that the newest species be present to see my triumph. My dear Captain, I shall not be so foolish as to give you my real name. But in due time all shall tremble when they hear of my deeds, of the crimes committed by...]"
She paused, Oscar couldn't believe it, the crazy dino actually did a fucking dramatic pause and looked around at all of them while she bounced on her feet like a kid bursting with a secret. She clenched her claws together before screeching out...
There was a very long and utterly silent pause on the hangar deck, one that was finally broken by Rgrarshok.
submitted by Frank_Leroux to HFY

My 30 page master FAQ.

EDIT: Link to whole thing: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GzFkfApcl7CrdpFep5Y6N6oEvtUwoB_F/view?usp=sharing
Been planning to write a guide up for new players, and now that the website revamp is out, seems as good a time as any. Not a play guide (though there is a tutorial of sorts at the end), more of a general “navigate the complexity that is Star Citizen” because it is super confusing. Heaping full of opinions. It is also TREMENDOUSLY condescending and downright surly in places, so all these people I find annoying are free to stop here, because I will be calling you names. Anyways, here we go. Sources where they were easy to find and I felt they significantly contributed, but if you think I'm going to hunt through 5 years worth of ATVs and RTVs because you want to see exactly where X said Y, remember that I just wrote a 30-page newbie guide for free, so stop being an entitled brat do it yourself. See? Already condescending.

Table of contents: Some may be in comments below

(ctrl-F to find in page; if you are question is not here, please see Table of Contents on follow-up comment (because character limit)
  • What is SC/Why play SC?
  • Hot diggity, how do I join up?
  • What game package do I select?
  • Why does this game run so badly despite me having spent [rich person] amount on my computer?
  • Why does this game run badly despite me having spent [rich person] amount on my computer a decade ago/Why does this game run badly on my low end PC/laptop that “definitely runs some AAA games on medium settings!
  • Related to previous question, why use Cryengine if it's caused so many issues with netcode?
  • What controller should I use?
  • What is insurance?
  • This game is cool, but my [insert ship] sucks. Is this game P2W? Do I have to buy bigger ships to compete?
  • Ok, but I still want another ship. How do I do this?
  • Price increases? What?
  • What is the best ship? What is the best fighter? What is the best ship for [x]?
  • What ship is most like Milano/Serenity/Millennium Falcon...?
  • What are the professions in this game?
  • Healing?
  • Mining?
  • Repair?
  • Passenger transport?
  • I just bought super-mega-huge Ship, and all I have is this Andromeda/Why do I have this ship I didn't buy/Loaners?
  • What is the grey market? Or gray market for you American folk?
  • What are the rules around Gifting/buyback?
  • How do I spawn things in hangars/Items I own are missing from the hangar?
  • What about console players?
  • Mac/Linux/Weird ass OS?
  • What are all the speeds/drives in SC? AfterburneQuantum/Jump/FTL?
  • What is subscribing?
  • What is Concierge?
  • What is Evocati/PTU/PU/updates/bug tracking?
  • Economy
  • Death
  • Carrying other ships
  • Why is X Feature not in yet?
  • Why is X ship not in yet?
  • Why did they change [feature/ship]?!?!?! I loved it how it was! Alternately, why won't they change [feature/ship]?!?!?!?!?!? I would love it like this!
  • Any question to do with EVE
  • What are all these currencies?**
  • I bought an upgrade, and my ship didn't upgrade!**
  • How do I outfit/equip my ship?
  • HOW DO I PLAY THIS F%[email protected] game?/Tutorial?
What is SC/Why play SC?
Star Citizen is a game in development. Not the "pre-release" stage we're used to, where AAA games show a trailer and BAM 6 months later game is released; we're talking development stage where Fallout 4 was when Fallout New Vegas was released. What we have NOW is much less than advertised, but it's already amazing. We have 3 moons to explore, each with hundreds of thousands of square kilometres, with wrecks and outposts and easter eggs, and all in a game where gameplay is routinely mistaken for cinematics (seriously, trailers are all filmed with just regular gameplay). Squadron 42, the single player game...the demo speaks for itself (https://youtu.be/BHR1aEdTA4M). The planet sized city you may have seen at Citizencon (https://youtu.be/mGcG0g7GsOI) is a taste of what's coming up. Eventually, we'll get even bigger planets, cities filled with NPCs, missions, unique vistas, and shipwrecks to explore. Dotted with outposts, new fauna, new flora to find or exploit...and all walkable to your hearts content.
In Star Citizen, you can go from one side of the planet, onto your bike, ride to the far side chasing the sunset, into a bustling settlement, onto a landing pad, to inside your ship, to your cockpit chair, to flying, to the orbital station, around the moon, out to interplanetary space, to the next planet over, land INSIDE your buddy's capital ship to refuel, head back out to the far reaches of the solar system, hop out of your ship, and just...hang there, floating in space, all without a single loading screen. Where you can do what you want to do, because the game lets you do it. You could spend your entire game life without sitting down in the pilot’s seat; maybe just manning a gun turret, or being an FPS marine, or mining all by your lonesome on the edge of space, or even farming your plot of land without ever leaving your home on one planet out of hundreds. Explore the farthest reaches, boldly going where no man has gone before. Assemble a fleet, and lead them against the Vanduul threat from the bridge of your massive Javelin destroyer, or have fun with the crew playing basketball. Build a merchant empire. Establish yourself as the reliable bounty hunter who always gets his man, or the pirate that always gets his booty. See all this with cutting edge motion capture, procedurally generated but hand polished planets...and then there's Squadron 42, the single player game with such A-list acting talent as Luke Skywalker, Gimli, Agent Scully, the Onion Knight, Commissioner Gordon, and Gollum; a sprawling space opera about kickass space ships, and human stories play out onboard giant kickass spaceships.
That's the plan anyways, so much of it is still on paper. Even now, most of it is still just words on a page, an outline someone laid out half a decade ago. Star Citizen is more than just a space sim, more than just a game; it's an experiment. What happens when we take away the investors, the publishers, and all the men with suits who want the game out for Christmas THIS year, because they want to see a return on their money, even if the game is half done? What happens when the programmers and artists and designers are told "Make this feature happen, come hell or high water". Things like procedural cities, or multiplayer star systems without loading screen, such things were decried as impossible, that they couldn't be done. And they couldn't, not how games are made now. AAA games today, the CoDs and assassin's creeds, they're all just recycled engines, to fit the demand for an ever prettier game released every year, for the same $60 we paid 10 years ago, despite inflation and increased development costs; reality steps in, so corners are cut, innovation reduced. But...what if it wasn't? What if we waited, and paid whatever we could to ensure that this game happened, whether it's a humble $60, or a thousand, or more? What kind of game could we make? So that's the sales pitch. You pay $60, and you get a ship, with access to Star Citizen and Squadron 42, for the entire lifespan of the game. You want to contribute more, you can get access to another ship, but it's the same ship that $60-paying player could earn in game. They could even crew (or steal) it on Day 1; it's possible the richest players will be the ones who are really good engineers, get paid doing that on the ships of others, and never dust off their Auroras in their entire lives.
But the catch is, the game isn't done. We've got some pretty ships, the flight mechanics, impressive but still basic FPS content (with matching 1st person/3rd person animations rigs), a few stations, and a lot of empty space around one planet. We have a few moons to explore on the ground, a few hours of missions, and some basic cargo, economy, and piracy. It technically works, but the network issues haven't been solved, FPS is still practically unplayable, and there are bugs enough to blot out the sun. You can trade a little bit, and there's things to find, but nothing you can call an exploration profession. It's a far cry from the dream of 100+ systems with sprawling galactic economy, an ongoing alien war, and a couple dozen careers with their own unique mechanics. There's literally nothing in game that could be considered complete enough to be “as will be in release”, and that's good, because it means they only get better. You've got to wait, and agree to wait as long as it takes, because Chris Roberts won't compromise with his Magnus Opus, like he's had to do with some many games before. It might not do everything it promised to do, and it almost definitely won't match what we've all hyped in our heads to be; it conceivably might not even get finished (though that's pretty unlikely at this stage; SOMETHING will get released, even if funding stops tomorrow). That kind of wait...it's not for everyone, and there's no shame in that; some people want a game they can play now, whether because of impatience or limited entertainment funds. They'll be welcome to join whenever it's right for them, whether that's before or after release.
You back now, when there's just a little more than hope and promises, not because you want to play, but because you want to help MAKE Star Citizen, because you want to come for along for the ride that is building a game free of publisher constraints (for good or ill). You back today because you want to show the world not everyone is happy with the same game year in, year out, with a new coat of paint, even if it means the game won't be done for a few years yet. You back today because there's finally a game that promises all of the "Wouldn't it be a cool if a game did this" we ever dreamed of, and you'll wait as long as it takes to see it.
You back today because you want to help build the Best Damn Space Sim Ever.
Hot diggity, how do I join up?
  • First, make sure you meet minimum requirements (Windows 7 (64bit) with Service Pack 1, Windows 8 (64bit), Windows 10 - Anniversary Update (64bit) DirectX 11 Graphics Card with 2GB RAM (4GB strongly recommended) Quad Core CPU 16GB+ RAM SSD strongly recommended)
  • Go to https://robertsspaceindustries.com/enlist. Not hyperlinked because don't just click random hyperlinks by people for sites you're spending money on, as I can make whatever text I like hyperlinked to a different url. Lesson 1.
  • When making your account, make sure to ask for a referral code from a friend, or a content creator you feel has particularly influenced your decision to back Star Citizen. Alternatively, use the randomizer for this subreddit to get a random referral code http://gorefer.me/starcitizen/#button to get 5000 free in game currency. You are free to add your own referral code to the randomizer for your own chance for referrals
  • You will enable 2-factor authentication IMMEDIATELY. No, you will not wait till after you play, or even after you buy. 99% of the time when someone says they were hacked, it's because they did not take this elementary precaution, because they ignored prompting to do so.
  • To enable 2FA, again click “account” on top right corner, click on the left most available button, and then click Security on the left nav bar (with a big ass unlocked lock on it).
  • Once you have an account, go to https://robertsspaceindustries.com/star-citizen/fly-now to select a game package. A game package is a type of item which always contains a Star Citizen Digital Download, a ship, and insurance (more on this later). It is impossible to play the game without a game package. No, the cheaper versions in the stand-alone ship section do NOT grant access to the game, because if you are capable of reading at a kindergarten level, you will see that those do not contain Star Citizen Digital Download.
  • You will be asked if you would like Squadron 42 for $15. The correct answer is “yes”, because did you see that Vertical Slice demo, like come on. Squadron 42 is the story focused single player experience extraordinare, Completion is also planned to have real ramifications on your character in SC (previously hypothesized was your character starting out with Citizenship, which is most often earned through military service, which non-S42 players would have to earn another way. You COULD skip S42, if you were a moron and wanted to realize a month from now you DO want S42 and then have to pay $45 instead. No, “I won't have time for both” is not a valid excuse, because Squadron 42 will be released before SC is, so all of that time is now S42 time.
  • Once you own a game package, you are all set up, and ready to download the game! Make sure to install to an SSD, as performance gains are SIGNIFICANT, even compared to other games. Seriously, I would go so far as to say do not even bother installing this game until you have an SSD.
What game package do I select?
  • Aurora MR: Has external cargo space and a bed, is much tankier, and will probably have longer range than mustang.
  • Mustang Alpha: External cargo space, is much faster, better armed. Is also “worth” $5 on upgrade screen (will explain later), so upgrading this ship will cost $5 less. Is very buggy right now, but currently being reworked.
  • There are other packages with other ships at https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/game-packages but honestly, don't. Backing early access games is not for everyone, and many people fall madly in love, only to get tired of the alpha quickly. Back the minimum amount, upgrade later.
Why does this game run so badly despite me having spent [rich person] amount on my computer?
  • Network issues. Currently, the game is sending way too much data at your CPU, trying to update everything at once. It's not optimized for multiple thread or cores, so even the most intense CPU will still have issues. You'll just have to wait for network optimizations. Don't expect anything more than FPS in the 20's for now, with periodic spikes below.
  • Some of the biggest updates we are expecting in the next patch, but the necessary network developments are some of the most revolutionary work CIG is doing; literally no one has had to move this much data for a game before.
Why does this game run badly despite me having spent [rich person] amount on my computer a decade ago/Why does this game run badly on my low-end PC/laptop that “definitely runs some AAA games on medium settings!
  • One, it's in development, which means optimizations haven't been done because of course they haven't, you don't get the painter working when the cathedral's walls are still going up and might have to be torn down a month from now.
  • This is a cutting edge open-world game, and CR explicitly said this is for people with advanced hardware. You don't need the best of the best, but you a reasonably high tier machine.
  • Also, don't upgrade just for SC, because by the time it comes out, hardware will have evolved and what we have now will be old (making that old creaker you're using a veritable dinosaur). SC's textures are also built with this in mind, so models are made such that detail can be increased as hardware capabilities do.
Related to previous question, why use Cryengine if it's caused so many issues with netcode?
  • When SC was first started, they had NO idea it would grow to this size, so Cryengine at first was good enough, and we got a good deal (for reasons that later became apparent).
  • Of course, NO engine has ever existed that is good enough for what SC is now, Cryengine, Unreal, or otherwise. Doesn't matter what they started with, they'd be rewriting most of it.
  • Could they have built their own engine? Sure, but anyone in the game industry knows that scratch-building your own engine is basically the most expensive thing you can do, and again, they had no idea of the scale they'd be building at the start of all this.
  • Plus, using CryEngine worked out for us; when Crytek (yes that Crytek) went basically bankrupt and stopped paying all their developers, CIG snapped them up for cheap. That meant we had the people that BUILT Cryengine. Crytek was always a decent developer tech-wise; it's been more than a decade, and Crysis is STILL a watchword for beautiful open world games that pushed hardware to its limit.
  • Regardless, CryEngine got by Amazon, who just slapped a new Lumberyard Label on it. CIG has since switched to them, which really changed nothing code-wise (since it's was mostly all rewritten code anyways), but now we get access to Amazon's amazing AWS server infrastructure.
What controller should I use?
  • CIG has repeatedly made it clear they want to make the game “controller agnostic”. That being said, here's how it shakes down.
  • First, SC is NOT a flight sim. It is a SPACE sim. That means newtonian motion, not flying, which is a distinctly in-atmosphere activity. How is that different?
    • Well in atmospheric flight, forward is a privileged direction, because you have to be moving forward at all times, or your wings don't work, and as the saying goes, you stall-spin-crash-burn-die.
    • SC is in space. That means there is no reason for any direction to be more important, so your ability to move “sideways” is just as important as forward. Now, this is not strictly 100% true; we're still limited by the human body, which of course only sees forward, so all our guns are forward. Plus, g-forces are simulated, and we handle acceleration going forward better than we do going straight down. As such, our main engines are oriented in line with what we would expect for today's aircraft, and our afterburners do accelerate forward only.
    • Nonetheless, the result is that we need significantly more axes of control than even other space sims like Elite: Dangerous, which cheat and make things more atmospheric-y for the purpose of making it feel more natural for regular flight sim players. A regular flight sim needs 3 and a half axes: pitch, roll, yaw, and a 0-100 for thrust.
    • A newtonian space sim needs 6 axes (forward/back, up/down, left/right, pitch, yaw, roll).
    • This style of control is actually going to feel arcade-y, rather than realistic, because a lot of the complications we associate with “realistic sims” are really due to relying on wings and air. Example: arcade games use yaw, real sims use roll and pitch to turn, but that's only because airplanes need to apply a component of the large lifting force of the wings in a horizontal direction. Spaceships, having maneuvering thrusters, have no such limitation, and thus yaw is really is the superior way to alter heading in a horizontal plane.
  • M/KB: Obviously cheapest. Surprisingly good. Lots of buttons, and mouse provides the most precise aim of all, which means those who enjoy gimbals (guns able to aim in forward cone). However, a Mouse only has two analogue axes (gradients rather than off/on like a button) and we need 6; every other axis must therefore be bound to keys, which are digital (on/off). This works, but doesn't quite enable the same fine control as analogue (imagine trying to drive your car with an accelerator button that is only off, or flooring it)
  • HOTAS: Stick and throttle, most common one used by previous sim owners. Usually three axes available, 5 if you have a thumb stick and 6 if there's a twist axis. Great for most sims where forward is a privileged direction, but the single main throttle axis is less useful here in SC. Also, even if it has a thumb stick, it will always be inherently less accurate than a full stick. However, has more buttons available than equivalently priced dual stick set ups but more axes than an M/KB, and are of course more useful for games other than SC.
  • HOSAS/Dual stick: two sticks. Always at least 4 axes, which is perfect if you want to add rudder pedals. The standard recommendation is dual T16000m's. They are cheap but reasonably good quality sensors (about $50 each), and are ambidextrous out of the box, so you can get one, and upgrade your main stick later without wasting money. They also have a twist axis, so you will have 6 axes even without rudder pedals. Tends to suffer from lack of buttons, especially the T16000m which does especially suffer from this, but often used by top racers/dogfighters as it provides the most accurate ship control.
  • HOMAS: Mouse and stick. Great for precision control (stick for translation, mouse for rotation), but even fewer buttons than HOTAS. Will DEFINITELY need Voice attack.
  • HOMAT: Mouse and throttle: more buttons, but less control than HOMAS
  • Xbox/PS4 controller: Don't. Sure, it can be done, but you will be in no way competitive. Console controllers are designed for super-simplified games, because console peasants can only handle two axes and max 16 buttons. Look at the key bindings page. Do you see how many inputs are required? And the complexity will only climb as more systems are brought online. It might be ok for relaxed flying when you're not expecting to DO anything except basic controls, but if you want to be any good at literally anything, don't use a controller.
  • Voice Attack: just a voice control program; all it does is attach button inputs to certain voiced phrases. Free version works, paid version allows more customization, including fully voice profiles. There are several voice packs available, most commonly used are HCS voice packs, which have professional voice acting by such known actors as Alix Martin, the voice of Anvil ships, Captain Kirk, and Data. Works great for those who enjoy HOTAS/HOSAS, which will have trouble getting enough buttons for all necessary functions without removing hands from controls.
  • TrackIOpenTrack/TrackHat/etcetec: Multiple head tracking softwares exist, most powerful (and expensive) of which is TrackIR. Allow you to turn your head IRL, and your character's head will turn (more than you, since you still have to be looking at the screen) Great for looking around, but may want to hold off until FOIP, or FaceOver IP is in. It's a planned feature where webcam will not only do the headtracking, but also track facial expression and use them on your character; this will have a specialized camera available, so investing in a third-party one now might not be desirable.
  • VR headset: Support is planned, and lots of work is going in towards making that implementation smooth and effective, but not being done right now; it's for too small a population base to justify work right now. Trust me, I have a Vive, and I have flown VR flight sims; no one more eagerly awaits VR implementation than I. Those who want to try VR can use VorpX. I haven't tried it myself, but it provides the VR headtracking, while just displaying the same thing on both eyes. Not nearly as good, but all we have for now.
What is insurance?
  • When your ship is destroyed, stolen, or damaged beyond repair, you are able to make an insurance claim
  • You will then be provided with a STOCK version of the ship as a replacement (ie no, it will not replace the ultra deluxe mega blaster death ray you installed on your Aurora).
  • As this game strives for realism, you will have to wait for it to physically come off of the assembly line, and then be flown to you. There was in fact a lore piece written on how there's an entire profession built around flying ships with the least wear and tear possible. This might be mere seconds for an Aurora within core UEE space, but if you want an Idris Frigate sent to you out on the Vanduul border, be prepared to wait awhile.
  • Insurance is NOT ticking down today, it only ticks down once game is released, so no need to concern yourself about losing your pledge early. As far as the alpha is concerned, we all have unlimited insurance.
  • Insurance will only tick down when PLAYING the game. So if you have not played for a month, your insurance will be in exactly the same time remaining as you left it.
  • Insurance IS planned to tick down at a in-game time, which is an unspecified time faster than IRL
  • Renewing insurance is planned to be very cheap compared to the actual cost of the ship. CIG knows that this is a game, which is supposed to be fun, so insurance costs will not match what they would be IRL for car insurance. Costs will scale with the ship of course.
  • What is LTI? LTI, or Lifetime insurance, is the exact same as everyone else's insurance, but doesn't have to be renewed; it otherwise confers no benefits in terms of expedited fees, or quality of ship received. This only comes with Original Concept ships (ie the first time a ship is sold, when it is nothing but pictures, as a reward for pledging early). CIG has adamantly said that LTI is a tiny buff, because insurance of ship hulls will be so cheap (it'll be the COMPONENT insurance they nail you on). That being said, you're a gamer, and you like maxing out things like that, so I'll teach you how to get LTI on your ships later.
  • What happens if your insurance runs out? Can you lose your IRL money? A good question. Well first, there will be multiple warning before you take off in a ship that lacks insurance. And not something you'll just rapid click through either, it'll be a pain in the ass to fly without it. Still, they'll let you do it. With the cost of insurance being so low, and the huge availability of jobs not requiring a ship (ie you could just offer to work aboard someone else's ship), it is very unlikely you will ever not have/be able to make the money. If you still fly without insurance despite that, and your ship is destroyed? Tough luck moron, no replacements. Do you drive without car insurance? Yes? Then report to your local police office, because that shit illegal. So, if you are an absolute moron, who is probably too dumb to breath let alone play a space video game, you can lose the real money you put into the game. But you should probably be more worried about remembering to pass basic reading comprehension tests.
  • You WILL be able to lose your insurance if you participate in fraud. Exactly how it will be detected, and how many warnings are given are yet to be nailed down, but CIG has made it clear that those who try to abuse the insurance mechanic to copy ships will lose their insurance, even on ships paid for with real money (though I am sure that fraud cases involving pre-release pledge ships will have an extra layer of scrutiny prior to insurance being cancelled due to IRL money being involved)
This game is cool, but my [insert ship] sucks. Is this game P2W? Do I have to buy bigger ships to compete?
  • SC is in development. Systems that would provide some ships with their designed advantage don't exist yet. For example, the best dogfighters are currently the Super hornet and Sabre. The Vanguard warden meanwhile, is a more expensive ship ($250 vs $180), yet performs worse. Why? The Vanguard is designed as a long-range fighter, designed to be as survivable as possible; she gets pilots to the fight, and brings them home afterwards. Its redundant component design means it's unlikely to suffer failures compared to other craft. It's escape pod is second to none in survivability. Unfortunately, escape pods don't work yet, the Item 2.0 system is in its infancy, and we operate around one PLANET, not dozens of star systems, so you can see why the Vanguard does not perform as well as expected RIGHT NOW. Rest assured that it will fair better than the carrier-based hornet series when both are asked to carry out strikes 3 systems over. Other ships carry different trade offs. The Avenger is an objectively worse fighter than a gladius, but has a bed and cargo space. Even the humble Aurora, will have the advantage of being exceedingly cheap and easy to repaireplace, will providing the versatility of cargo and a bed. Larger ships meanwhile, require a larger crew and more support in the form of escort and supply ships.
  • All ships will be available for purchase in game; even the most limited of ships (like the Vanduul Scythe) will be obtainable in game, though the difficulty will match the rarity. Remember, we are pledging to help fund the BDSSE, not buying exclusive access. A Carrack earned in game will not be materially different than one bought now. Of course, you can hire yourself out as crew for the larger ships of other players...or just steal them.
  • Finally, all ships shall have a role, and all players a role. Picture a Javelin destroyer, the final word in player -flyable firepower. Absolute torpedo bait for bombers and Polaris corvettes. So you need escort fighters to drive off bombers, and escort Gladiator bombers to deal with the Polarises. The Javelin only has one hangar spot, so you'll need some Idris frigates and Crucible repair bays to handle all those small short-range craft. Now you have a battlegroup, and those all need Starfarers to bring fuel and Freelancers to bring supplies, all which will need their own escort fighters, otherwise they'll be ripe targets for Cutlass and Caterpillar pirates, which means you'll need some Stalker and Hawk bounty hunters to dissuade that kind of behaviour. Now you have enough players in one place to justify a hospital ship for respawning. With so many ships in one place, you'll be a ripe target for enemy orgs to drop an Eclipse surprise attack, so you'll need Terrapin picket ships. With all these resources being used to afford this fleet, you'll want to USE it for something, and that'll be holding ground; that means Prospectors, Orions, and ground installations made by Pioneers. Those mining installations will need Hulls to bring the material to market, which will in turn need their own escorts. Each of those ships will need pilots, gunners, marines, etc etc.
  • So now, for just one Javelin, you have dozens of ships, with hundreds of crew, with gameplay opportunities for hundreds more. Even with most of those roles filled with NPCs, that's too many roles for anything but the biggest orgs, so then you have small orgs with a Javelin that need to contract out their hauling, and the escorting, but also contract themselves out to mining orgs for protection. Every ship will have a role, every player a job to do.
Ok, but I still want another ship. How do I do this?
  • Before doing so, has it been one whole month? I recommend not spending more than $60 for one whole month. That gives time to get over the “this game looks amazing”, and for you to see all the flaws, as well as get impatient with the process. Backing an alpha game is not for everyone after all. If after that month you still feel like pledging more, here is what you do.
  • First, anything purchased, whether ship or game package, will be known as “Pledges”, which can contain one or more “Items”. There are many types of Items, the major ones I will outline here.
    • Star Citizen Digital Access: this item is MANDATORY to own the game. Do you have every ship ever released, but not this? Tough tuckas, you can't play. As a rule of thumb, a Game Package Type Pledge that includes this will be $15 over the value of the ship it comes with, though this is not universally true, and does not apply to older packages. This price will only go up as SC is developed (it used to be +$15 for both SC and S42).
    • Squadron 42 Digital Access. Same as above, but for the single player Squadron 42. There are two ways to obtain this. First, you can get a Game Package like this (https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/Packages/Mustang-Alpha-Star-Citizen-Squadron-42-Combo) which includes it as a base. Second, you can get obtain a regular SC only game package, AND IF YOU DO NOT CURRENTLY HAVE ANY GAME PACKAGE OF ANY KIND, you will be offered a $15 Squadron 42 add-on AT CHECK OUT. There is NO WAY to obtain this later without melting your game pack; this is not a big deal, but you do lose giftability (more on this later). If you do not get it now, it will very soon go up to $20; like SC, as S42 gets closer to completion, the price will get closer to final release price of a AAA game.
    • Ship: Easiest to understand. Having a Pledge that contains a specific ship as an Item, will confer use of that ship, now and in the final game. If it's not released yet, you get a loaner (see loaners below)
    • Insurance: See insurance explanation above.
    • Decorative items: posters, models, different ships skins, all fall under this category.
    • Hangars (not hangers): space you will have available in final game to store your ships. This system is currently undergoing major reworks, so don't worry about it.
    • UEC: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/extras?product_id=41&sort=store&search=&itemType=skus&storefront=pledge&type=extras& Some Pledges come with UEC, the in-game currency (for currencies, see another question below). It can also be purchased separately. DO NOT FEAR IF YOUR PACKAGE UEC DOES NOT SHOW UP ON THE WEBSITE. This is a system being significantly altered.
    • Cross Chassis Upgrade: a unique item, only contained within the “Upgrade” Pledge. See below.
  • There are 4 main types of "Pledges” to be bought, and all can be found in the “My Hangar” portion of your account on the website. You can pick up on the others later.
    • Game packages (https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/game-packages). This comes with SC (+/- S42 access), a small amount of UEC (ie the in-game currency), a hangar, a game manual, a ship and insurance for that ship. This can be confusing sometimes. You MUST have a Pledge that contains “Star Citizen Digital Access” to play the game. The available Game Packages are in general the cost of the ship + $15.
    • Standalone ship (https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/extras?product_id=72): come with the ship, insurance, and a hangar. If is original concept, it comes with Lifetime Insurance, and certain decorative flair. Notably, this does NOT include Star Citizen Digital Access.
    • ship packs: multiple ships in one "Pledge", typically with extra flair or some lower price. All have the same insurance. All upgrade separately, but must be melted (ie exchanged for store credit) together. Otherwise the ships are indistinguishable from regular ships.
    • Upgrade. Obtain here: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/ship-upgrades Is an actual "item". that converts ONLY THE SHIP within a given "Pledge". It alters no other Item in the Pledge it is applied to; insurance stays the same, hangar flair stays the same, Star Citizen access stays the same. Is purchased for the difference in price between the two ships (ie freelancer and connie taurus is $40). Again, is a "Pledge" that contains one item, the upgrade. You go into My Hangar on the website, and manually apply it to convert the ship. It cannot be undone. Ships obtained in such a way are called "CCU'ed ships". Ie the Taurus is the above example would be a "CCU'ed Taurus".
  • You can only obtain CCU's to ships of higher value. That's why they call it UPgrading.
  • You can obtain a CCU to a ship only when the ship is available. CCU's can be held onto for use AFTER a given sale has ended
  • Any “Pledge” can be exchanged for store credit; this process is known as “Melting”.
  • You will get as much store credit as you put in when you melt your Pledge.
  • If a ship subsequently goes up in price, you do not get that extra money as store credit.
  • You cannot melt specific items within a Pledge, only the Pledge itself.
  • When melting a Pledge, the BASE Version of that Pledge (ie without any CCU's that have been applied) goes into the “Buyback” subsection of the My Hangar page. In this section, one can buyback previously melted Pledges. With cash, they can be bought back at any time. One may use credits to do so, in whole or in part, but doing so requires the use of a “Buyback token”, which every player gets one token once per quarter. They do not stack (ie you can only ever have 1 or 0), and cannot be sold, traded, or bought.
  • For most people, that's enough info. They'll get the ship they want, sit on it. However, the CCU system makes several things possible, if one understands several fundamental tenants.
    • It only converts the SHIP, not the rest of the contents of the "Pledge".
    • Most importantly, the INSURANCE within the Pledge is unchanged (ie if you upgrade an LTI Hawk to a Cutlass, the Cutlass keeps LTI, but if you upgrade a non-LTI Cyclone to a Nova, it would NOT have LTI). Put another way, insurance is not tied to a specific type of ship, but to the Pledge that is originally purchased. There is no way to alter the insurance within a specific Pledge (well there is, but it is a VERY rare upgrade, that was sold only a few times years ago, and is going to be so hard to find that you can literally buy a new ship for the price of this upgrade on the grey market, if you can find it at all)
    • If you melt a Pledge, any CCUs applied to it disappears. You get the credit back in the melting of course, but the actual CCU itself is gone.
    • When melting, only the base Pledge (ie the ORIGINAL ship within the item you upgraded) is added to the buyback pile. So, in the above example, if you upgrade your Freelancer (worth $110) to a Taurus with a $40 upgrade, and then melt it, you will get the 150 credits back, and in your buyback pile you will have the ORIGINAL FREELANCER. This means if you have any limited CCUs? Gone.
    • There is no way to downgrade (well not quite true, but it's an advanced technique that only works in absurdly specific circumstances)
    • “Sidegrades” or changing to a ship of the same value, is also difficult. It used to be that $0 CCU's (upgrades between ships of the same value) were easy to obtain, but CIG has started to restrict them in fairly inconsistent and haphazard fashion; the official reason is that they want to know what ships people are using and the $0 CCU made it too easy to swap, but in reality, the reason is people were using it to take easy advantage of price increases without at least paying for a CCU. Long story short, don't rely on $0 CCUs or sidegrades.
    • Each ship within a Ship Pack can be upgraded individually (ie in a Multi ship type Pledge, which contained an X1 and Nox, you could convert the Nox into a Cutlass and the X1 into a hornet). However, you cannot MELT each individually (ie if you didn't want the hornet anymore, you'd have to melt the WHOLE pack. You'd get the credit to buy it back, but as in point 4 and 3, you lose the CCUs applied, which can be costly if you had a price-increased CCU or a limited CCU applied.
    • All Pledge melt (exchange for store credit) the EXACT value you put in, regardless of the current value of a ship
  • Applying these principle, we can obtain LTI on almost any ship, provided we have a ship of lower value that has LTI (particularly cheap, and thus versatile, ships are known as “LTI tokens” in the community). There is no way to transfer insurance, only to CONVERT the ship contained within the same "Pledge" as the insurance.
  • Note that NOT ALL SHIPS ARE AVAILABLE THE TIME. Certain ships are permanently available, and can be purchased or upgraded to at any time. Others are limited, and can only be obtained, or upgrades to that ship purchased, at specific times. This time is usually “concept sale” and “anniversary sale”, as well as other sales held throughout the year in for certain thematically appropriate ships.
  • The anniversary sale is the big sale in November, to commemorate the initial Kickstarter, when nearly all ships are available.
  • Some ships are by design, limited in number, and can NOT be upgraded to. Some, such as the Scythe and Idris-M, are so rare that they were only ever sold once, and now only obtainable via prohibitively expensive multi-ship Pledges, while others are limited but sold every year without LTI, such as the 890 jump and Phoenix.
submitted by Ravenwing14 to starcitizen

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