Space Flight

Your quest will eventually take you into space. (Don't think about that too much, or try to reconcile it with later games in the series.) In order to reach space, the first order of business is buying a Shuttle. This will set you back anywhere from 720 to 1,368 pence, depending on your Intelligence. Not only that, you'll need to bring along at least 1,000 more pence to cover docking fees. Before launching, make sure you're wearing either a Vacuum suit or a Reflect suit so you can survive the docking procedure.

Your goal in space is to become a space ace, which requires you to destroy 20 enemy vessels. You can fight them with your Shuttle if you want, but its limited fuel and shields will be a major liability. Your fuel and shields are not restored when entering orbit and re-launching, so one way or another you're going to have to dock at the nearby space station at some point. Be careful, as you need to be moving at minimum speed and be perfectly aligned to dock. Docking costs 500 pence, restores your ship's shields and fuel to their maximum values, and allows you to switch to any other ship at the station. Because only the space shuttle can safely return to Sosaria, you'll have to dock at least twice to complete your trip home (hence the total cost of 1,000 pence). To decide which ship to take, consult the chart below.

Craft Type Shields Fuel Can Land on Planet?
Space Shuttle 1,000 1,000 Yes
Large Fighter 1,000 5,000 No
Small Fighter 5,000 2,500 No

The larger, thicker ship has a huge amount of fuel, but not much in the way of shields. You can certainly destroy 20 enemy vessels with 5,000 fuel, but you won't survive unless you're good at the space combat. On the other hand, the sleeker fighter has half the fuel but 5,000 shields, meaning that you'll very likely not have to worry about being destroyed. The choice is yours. I'd suggest sticking with the smaller fighter if you didn't bring enough money for an extra docking fee, just to be safe.

Once you've chosen a ship, it's time to find some enemies. Use the Inform and search command to bring up the sector scan map. This map is generated randomly on each playthrough, much like dungeon layouts. Plus signs denote systems with a space dock (with Sosaria being in the center system), which H's denote systems with enemy vessels to destroy. The small circles are systems with suns, while the set of three dots are open space systems. You'll be able to destroy a random number of enemy vessels in each system where they are found, so it's hard to predict just how long a trip you'll have to make. Just keep in mind that you can only move to adjacent systems (including diagonals), and try to plan a route that takes you through as many enemy-infested systems as possibe. When planning a route, keep in mind the amount of fuel needed to perform various actions, especially the 100 fuel to HyperJump to the next system.

Fuel Use
Action View Cost
HyperJump Front 100 fuel
Move cursor Front 2 fuel
Center cursor Front Free
Fire Front 10 fuel
Thrust Top 5 fuel
Retro Top 5 fuel
Turn Top 2 fuel

When you're ready to HyperJump, the first step is to start moving your ship in the direction of the system you want to travel to. (Note that you will HyperJump in the direction(s) your ship is moving, not necessarily the direction it is facing.) From there, use the View Change command to switch from top view to front view. Be careful when entering front view, because when you return to top view, even in another system, you will retain your speed and heading. This is likely to cause you to run into a space station or other object. Not only that, your speed in front view is based on your speed in top view, and it is more difficult to destroy enemy vessels at high speeds.

Once you enter a system with alien vessels in it, you cannot leave front view until they are all destroyed. Only one will appear at a time, and they appear very much like TIE fighters. You can use the arrow keys to adjust your targeting cursor, but be aware that every adjustment costs fuel, so don't go overboard. You can immediately recenter the view without expending fuel by pressing the spacebar. When you have an enemy in your sights, use the Fire command to take a shot. It's easier to hit them when they are close enough that you can see the round (well, square) central section.

Dogfighting enemy vessels isn't very hard if you have a good grasp on the system. Each alien will appear in a random location and move diagonally away from your targeting cursor. If they reach the edge of the screen, they will disappear and be replaced by another alien. Therefore, your first act is usually to move your cursor past them to the nearest screen edge, to cause them to move back towards the middle of your view. Once they get close enough to hit, take a shot. Take too long, and they may take a shot at you instead. Once you've defeated every enemy in a system, the game will let you know. At that point, return to top mode and plot your next course, then repeat as necessary.

While the game keeps track of your enemy vessels destroyed in the Ztats page, you don't need to worry about it because it will also announce when you become a space ace (and continue to remind you after each subsequent kill). At this point, your time in space is at an end. You'll want to return to the Sosaria system, retrieve your Shuttle, and approach the planet to land.

If you should die in space, all is not lost. You will suffer the usual penalties for death and reappear in the vicinity of the location you launched from. You will retain any kills as well as your space ace status, but your Shuttle will be lost. If you haven't achieved space ace status, you'll have to save up for a new Shuttle and continue where you left off. At that point, it may be better to reload your last save.