Star Strider: the second agent
My first three runs of Star Strider were so bad, that clearly that guy was the decoy agent. Here is the story of the real Star Strider whom Tracebeam sent in to get the job done.
Skill 8, Stamina 22, Luck 11, Fear 12
Oh for goodness’ sake – an 8 skill and 22 stamina, same as the last guy. I doubt that the 11 luck and 12 fear will make up for it, but let’s see…
Shuttle lands, Silverhound rocket bus. Cops pull us over. This time, I try something new: I run for it.
The police android hits me several times before I finally take it down:L I am down to 13 stamina out of my 22, before it finally crashes and the other cops give up and fly away. Sheesh, cops in this world are super easy right? Assault two of them then hide in a bush and they’ll go away?
Eventually I come out and start walking. I recognize the page as 327, and I recognize the car by the road. So I’m not surprised when he throws a rock at me…and I’m also not surprised when the dice are against me again during the fight. He has only 10 stamina, but the dice and broken or something – he rolls high and I roll low time and time again, and I only get in two hits before he has knocked me out and tied me to a tree.
This is becoming a bore, honestly. The very first combat of every playthrough has proven fatal, and completely one-sided where I get in maybe two his by the time they’ve scored 11 hits. It’s not that they have 11 and 12 skill either, just a phenomenally reliable and replicable run of phenomenally bad luck.
So fuck this. I’m setting 12 / 24 / 12 / 12 because I’m sick of playing the same 10 pages of book.
It’s time to send in the elite Star Strider like it says in the intro. The decoy teams are soaking up fire and suspicion, while I silently land and slip aboard the Silverhound to Madrid.
The cops pull us over, but I tell them to stuff it and we move on to the diner. I see the guy I busted last year, and he gives me the stink-eye. So I follow him outside and beat his ass, leaving him in a dumpster with an AirTag so I can collect my pay. I go back inside and chat up the owner of the diner, who tells me about the local gangs and that his son is in a gang (with a number in his name, so I note it) and he generally grouses about the Gromulans, and I don’t get any dinner after all. Good thing I ate on the shuttle.
We arrive in Madrid after 2 more hours – 6 down, and I’ve finally arrived in a city.
I saunter up to the schedule board to consider my next move, I get a ping on my wristwatch; the android standing next to me is one of my contacts. But I’m given the choice to watch & follow it instead of contacting them… so I do. Good thing, too; it goes and talks to the cops, reporting that nobody has tried to contact it yet. Yikes! The android moves on, and I decide to talk to a bunch of rowdies who are vandalizing a food cube dispenser. I may be a tool of the oligarchy, the very embodiment of The Man, but I do enjoy watching anarchists at work. They, on the other hand, are less fond of me and they get in my face. But one of them I recognize as the son of that diner owner – how fortuitous! I drop a name, and things immediately get chummy – we head inside a food serving place and get some food. Strangely, the place serves fish and grains and other bizarre things instead of proper food cubes (gross!) but it fills the belly. Fortunately, the gang of street urchins knows a fair bit about Gromulan data terminals and lead me to “the hacienda” where some rich Grom lives, and figure I can take it from there.
Now comes a point in the book that’s familiar: roll two dice, and if they match then you trigger a trap; repeat for a total of three times. I remember that this book is full of “roll a pair and you’re hosed” bits, and that it’s really lame. And I don’t just mean because I rolled a double and set off an alarm.
I am instantly immersed into a sim of a chessboard, with a pawn and a knight menacing me. I stop in front of the pawn and hope that it really can attack only diagonally. Whew! Yes! I skedaddle off the board and off the property. I hide for a bit, then see that the Silverhound to Roma is leaving soon. Odd, since I didn’t even know I needed to go there yet, having not yet achieved my mission of getting at a terminal for more intel. So here I am with 40 hours left, and nothing to show for it, before I’m off to the station.
Two more hours later, and we arrive in Roma. I’m exhausted and I go directly to sleep.
In the morning, I roam the market hoping for some stroke of luck. And one comes – a ping from a robot. We chat, and it tells me that I have two options: there may be some clue at the shuttle landing site where the president was brought in at a salt mine, or there’s a Gromulan sub-station where there would be records. I consider the two… and decide on the sub-station.
We start off by killing the two guards, then the android goes in to fetch the data while I stand guard. Two more guards come: an Excel android and a Gromulan. I take out the Excel in a single shot, in what I’m sure was a remarkably cinematic cut-scene, then I kill the Gromulan hand-to-hand. My android contact comes out of the sub-station with multiple gunshots in it, and also with a printout indicating coordinates in London. But there’s no time to check the android’s warranty status – a Gromulan gunship screams into sight and opens fire.
Do I dodge left or right? Uhm, left!
Right into the cannon. 50/50 with no information, and I picked wrong. I disintegrate into a cloud of hydrogen.
Damn, this book is hard
First published July 29, 2022. Last updated July 25, 2022.